Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Relevant running tips and advice

I was browsing Complete Running Network and came across some useful tips and advice which are relevant to me now...

1. Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.

2. Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running.

3. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.

4. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.

5. Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.

6. Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.

7. Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.

8. Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.

9. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.

10. Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.

11. On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not (should I practice this? maybe give it a try).

12. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.

13. Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day (very often forgotten).

14. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.

15. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.

16. Do not run two hard days back-to-back.

17. Ice aches and pains immediately.

18. Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.

19. Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes (this works for me, stretching before a run has resulted in muscle pulls during the run).

20. Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing (this I presume includes hot showers).

21. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing (learnt the hard way!).

22. If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.

23. Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger (will do this when buying my new pair).

24. No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.

25. Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.

26. Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.

27. Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”

28. If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work (must start this practice again since I have a shower in the office)

29. Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.

30. Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance speed rest cross-training.

So now let see how I can use these tips to work towards a good race in Penang!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Special day

A short holiday to Genting to celebrate mummy's birthday was planned some time back. Nick has been looking forward to this trip for a long time as we had printed pictures of all the rides and attractions he could go on and he had already planned everything he was going to do there.

It turned out he really did enjoy himself there, but it was even more special to mummy and papa as we had just found out a day earlier that we are to be mummy and papa a second time round. Baby is due sometime in November, we shall be confirming the estimated due date with the doctor today.


Trying to whip myself back into shape is going to take a lot of discipline. Getting back the kind of determination and discipline I had almost 2 years ago when I started the journey and shed 15kg before attempting my first marathon is going to be tough. I'm up 5kg since last year's KLIM.

I've just been feeling so tired recently with work really taking a lot out of me, and the rest of my time I try to spend with the family. Having signed up for the PBIM which will happen on June 24th, I must really get my act together and start a regular training program with decent mileage. I need to also get a new pair of running shoes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

AmBank KL International Marathon 2007

Three months ago when Lim asked me whether he should register me for the full marathon, I opted to run the half instead. I was on a roll at that time, consistently improving my times in training and was comfortably able to run 20k in 1h50m and wanted to clock a good time for the 21k.

It turned out 2007 was to be a really busy year in the office and also in other commitments. My weekly mileage slowly dwindled and there were weeks I could not run at all. It's just amazing how long it taked to build up fitness but how easy it is to lose it. Just two weeks of no running could result in almost total loss for me, perhaps not for some seasoned runners.

Two days before the KLIM I suddenly felt the urge to run the 42k in KLIM. Knowing well I would probably run my worst 21k, I decided I might as well attempt to complete the 42k instead, and try to do it inside the qualifying time of 6 hours.

I knew that plenty of suffering would probably come with this but wanted to know what it would be like to run the marathon completely untrained and unprepared. Facing my worst fears might be the best way to become a better marathon runner. So anyhow it turned out I managed to get a bib to run the 42k from Ronnie and Justin readily took over my 21k bib.

At the starting point with Lim, Lee, Peter, Albert, SJ and others

The only thing that I felt good about was that I had enough sleep on Saturday. Everything else I was going to take it as it comes. Tey asked me to pace with him till 20k and then take it from there. We started slow at almost a 7 min pace. The 10k mat was shifted further down this year. We crossed it in about 1h12m.

I was still feeling ok at that point, considering my longest run was about 8 to 9k in the past 2 months. I could sense we were slowing down once we turned right at Dewan Bahasa heading towards Loke Yew. Tey snapped a couple of my pics before we reached the 15k mark, thanks bro!

I started to lose Tey when we were closing in the 15k water station. I thought he must be busy taking some photos but it turned out later that he started to get cramps. I passed Abu later who was walking and had a fever and cheered him on. I ran the next couple of kilometers with Yong from KLCC before he picked up the pace.

I was still feeling strong at my easy pace as I closed in the 18k mark but that's when the dreaded cramps started to hit. What turned out to be slight muscle pulls became bad cramps after I passed the 20k mark. I passed Lim at that point as well doing some stretching. Crossed the 21k at exactly 2h31m compared to last years timing of 2h25m.

When I reached somewhere around the 23k mark somewhere on Bukit Bintang road, both my hamstrings were hit with such severe cramps that I almost fell to the ground. Stretching did not help much so I moved to the side and just didnt know what to do. It was almost 5 minutes before I was able to start walking.

At this point I didn't know if I should try running or not, never experiencing this kind of muscle cramps before. I just tried running a few steps and brisk walking back to Dataran, thinking whether I should continue or give up at this point. The 21k runners were completing their run around that time and many of the guys cheered me on as they passed me.

I reached Dataran in about 3h20m and decided to continue. I've never DNF any race and didn't want to start. Lim caught up with me by then and was an encouragement, thanks captain! The rest of the race was pure suffering. Cramps would hit if I tried runing more than 20 seconds. I was forced to change my strategy to time myself in walking.

Lim helped me a lot along the way, even getting me to sit down and help me stretch. I knew that I had to walk no slower than 10 minutes per km in order to finish inside 6 hours. I passed the 30k mark in exactly 4 hours. At 32k I had to sit down and get help to stretch again. Cheong passed me at that point, well done to him for his maiden marathon!

At 38k, I saw Tey on the opposite side of the road just about 500m behind me. I was looking out for him to catch up but he never did. His cramps were much worse than expected. As I approached Dataran, I was glad it was over but never once regretted the decision to take part.

Thanks to all the Pacemakers and friends who were there to cheer me to the finish line. Thanks to Lee who welcomed me at the finish line. Even in the last 100m the cramps just wouldn't let go as I tried to run across the finish line clocking 5h59m with just 1 minute to spare! This is one experience that I'm sure will help me quite a bit in my future marathons.

Well done to all my Klang running buddies who did well today. Especially Albert who clocked 4h32m, you are one strong and determined dude! Well done to all runners who had the determination to complete the race today, whether in the 21k or 42k. Keep on running and see you at other races!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Long & hard route back

Work hard, relax and enjoy... that's what I've been doing in the past month. But the 'work hard' part of it was not in my running which has taken a backseat. My waistline can prove it or maybe even the weighing machine! Up 4kg from the last 2 months!!

I think I have run enough to keep my aerobic fitness at a basic level where I would not suffer too much in making a comeback, but it's the shedding of the extra pounds that's going to take a lot of effort now.

Initially I was contemplating on not turning up at the starting line of this Sunday's KL marathon. But after Peter called me and convinced me to sign up for the full marathon in Penang (all for the sake of an extra t-shirt and a touch-n-go card with RM10 credit), I decided it's time to get back into gear and see what's left in me.

There is this nagging doubt that I will have the committment and will power to see through the next 3 months of training for my second 42k feat, but we shall see soon enough. Anyway this Sunday will give me a true picture of where I am in my fitness level.

Oh yes... about my enjoying life, I've been in Johannesburg for the last 2 weeks and it was a blast. My company covered all expenses with no limits so it was a blast of a time! But of course I got a lot of work done there and it was a productive session.

That one golf session I had didn't do me any good as it's left me with a badly injured back with the pain shooting all the way to my ribcage. It just does not want to go away as I thought it would after awhile, which means I'll be running on painkillers this Sunday!