Yan Longfei is Talking Trail Running

One of the early protagonists in our inaugural Asia Trail Master series is China's Yan Longfei. Winner of the Tsaigu Tangsi Plus 58km race in his home country's Linhai (Zhejiang Province) in April, Yan Longfei continued with another solo victory only one week later on the 50 km race distance in Dalian. Before that, he had already beaten the course record on the Vibram Hong Kong 100 in January. As successful Yan Longfei has been in Greater China, outside of Asia fortunes have been more mixed in his first season as an international elite. Modest by nature, Yan Longfei knows his current limits and continues to train and learn to push those limits ever further. A short Q & A with an impressive athlete. 

Translated from Mandarin by Xiaozhao Zhao

1)You run a 2:15 marathon and were part of the China National Team, what made you make the leap to trail running instead?

YLF: I chose to end my career as a professional road marathon runner in 2013 out of my free will. Because I think, as I get older, I am more and more eager to be myself and do not want to live under the regime of a team. My first trail race is the 2013 Hanghzou 100km, but due to little experience in training for trail running, I hurt my Achilles tendon one month before the race and had to quit after about 20km.  However, I fell in love with trail racing from then on.

2)You won't miss the possibility to go to an Olympic Games? 

Of course, I would try again with a full effort provided there is a chance. Running the Olympic Marathon for Team China has been a kind of honor and a boost to my self-esteem when I entered the professional team.

3)What is your main goal to achieve in trail running?

I do not have any specific target and just like to keep running like what I have been doing. I enjoy running and racing, fulfilling my deepest love of the sport.

4)Where do you usually train?

I usually train in Shanghai, where the atmosphere within the running community is very good. But Shanghai is a city and relatively flat. So I have to go to Hangzhou for training on proper trails.

5)What is your favourite type of terrain? High mountain, hilly or flattish?

Hilly terrain and mountain definitely. After trying trail running, I have found road running to be quite boring. Perhaps I ran too much flat courses before, I prefer the alpines now.

6)How do you prepare for a race the day before?

Nothing special. Just prepare the necessities and my favorite food for the race,  and then have a good rest.

7)Do you drink a lot during a 100k race? What do you eat? 

I do not need to drink much. 3 litres is enough, usually. I eat some gels and bananas, plus some nuts.

8)What made you start running and try to become a professional runner? Did you have any idols as a child or teenager? 

I was a naughty boy in my childhood. I started running because I did not like sitting down in the classroom all day. Since I have become a professional runner, I have not really had any idols. I just admire and respect some people and I hope I will be better than them in the future.

9)You have won the Tsaigu Tangsi Plus 58k race and the Dalian 50k race, so you have a high place in the Asia Trail Master ranking. Are you keen to take part in a 3rd race of the Asia Trail Master series to try and become the 2015 champion?

If I have enough time, I will try for sure.

10)What do you think about the Asia Trail Master series? Could this be a goal for the 2016 year? 

The more quality races the better. But together with my sponsors I have to negotiate and select races for my international calendar.

11)What have you learnt from your races outside of China, such as Gran Canaria and Australia?

Running abroad has made me more mature than before. I can feel my own growth in thinking. I have learnt a lot about oversea races and have had more opportunities to communicate with  and study from elite runners all over the world.

12)Your more experienced compatriot Yun Yanqiao finished ahead of you in TNF Australia. Does that bother you? Do you think you can beat him next time?

I think no one is perfect and will be invincible forever. Most important is to remain humble to be able to enjoy the races.

13)You have won Vibram Hong Kong 100 in a new record time (9:52:42), will you defend your title there or rather try to win the 170km Ultra Trail Hong Kong on 19 February?

I will again run the Vibram HK100 in 2016. I fear races longer than 100 km are too long for me at this stage of my career.

14)How long do you need to recover after a 100km race?

I need around two months for full recovery.

15)What should be improved in the organisation of trail running races? 

I think it is vital to understand the needs and demands of trail runners. For example, what do runners need specifically in a given race?

16)There are more and more trail running races in China, some better organised than others. Do you have any tips for organizers in China?

I hope the trail running scene in China can keep on developing and attracting more people to come and enjoy the trails and open nature. I support any endeavor which is good for our sport.

Kris Van de VeldeComment