It's synch and swim for busy boss

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2011, 12:00am


Despite having a mother who was an aquatics instructor, Scott Levy, 45, could barely swim. So when she died in 2005, the New York native decided to learn as a tribute to her and put a time line to the goal by signing up for a triathlon that year. Since then, the father of two teenage boys has completed many triathlons and will race his first half-Ironman (1.9 kilometre swim, 90.1 kilometre cycle, 21.1 kilometre run) in the Philippines next month.

'The great thing about triathlons is that you race to beat your own personal best,' says Levy, the senior vice-president and managing director of Hong Kong-based NBA Asia. 'And while I like to be in the first quarter to third of finishers, you won't see me on the podium any time soon.' With family responsibilities and business travel for nearly half the year, just completing a triathlon is worthy of a medal.

How do you find the time and motivation to train for triathlons?

Not surprisingly, it's tough. In addition to triathlons, I play basketball and softball regularly. I wake up at 5.30am and train before work. The hardest part is the travel. I'm on the road about 40 per cent of the time, and the jet lag and wide range of hotel facilities can make it difficult to maintain a routine. I have to be really flexible with my training programmes, and sometimes I go for long stretches without swimming or biking.

Any tips for keeping fit while on the road?

Dive in. Start exercising as soon as possible upon arrival. If I can get a 45-minute workout in - especially a relaxed swim - before going to sleep the day I arrive, I usually sleep better and get on schedule more quickly. Eat right. I try to eat seafood, lean meat and lots of fruit and vegetables. This helps my metabolism adjust and catch up with the rest of my body. I also drink lots of water and carry energy bars so I always have something healthy when I'm hungry. Starbucks helps when I'm struggling to get through the day. Find friends. Given all the travel I do, I now have friends in many cities who can join me for a run. Having someone to show me the trails and, more importantly, force me to get out of bed, makes the whole process much easier. Sleep, drink water and stretch on the plane. I can sleep anywhere. I'm usually a bit behind on sleep, so I often fall asleep before the plane leaves the runway. Upon boarding, I immediately adjust my watch to the landing time zone and then try to sleep as if I were already there. During the flight, I drink lots of water and get up frequently to stretch. I also use noise-cancelling headphones. All these things make a huge difference.

We hear you excel in muddy, cross-country races. Any reason?

I'm not sure 'excel' is the right word but I love to get off-road and dirty. I don't like running on pavement for long distances, and Hong Kong offers so many different areas to run off-road. When I was in the US, I regularly competed in a race called the Leatherman's Loop, which involved long, deep mud pits, river crossings and other tough terrain. The music is cranked, everyone is laughing and within 100 yards you're covered in mud. I have yet to dive into the range of adventure races here in Asia, but I plan to do so this year.

You run races in aid of Fred's Team (a cancer fund-raising programme) and the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Society. What inspired you to do so?

Running for a cause makes the whole experience more meaningful. There are so many worthy charities for which to raise funds, and with groups like Team in Training, the support network is great. Also, the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of those affected is great motivation during the race.

Which would you rather be: an NBA player or a professional triathlete?

It's a close call, but probably a basketball player. The creativity and teamwork necessary make basketball such a great game. I'd really enjoy holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy during the Championship parade.

Your wife, Ilene, is a first-degree black belt in Goju karate and trains in Chinese kung fu. Who'd win in a fight?

I'm pleased to say that in nearly 19 years of marriage we've never had to test this. However, having been the practice dummy for each new technique my wife has learned over the years, I wouldn't stand a chance.