vlm2018

vlm2018

I’ve gained all the weight I worked hard to lose, and then some. I’ve lost every scrap of fitness I also worked hard to get.

I’ve made a couple of pathetic attempts at running in the past 13 months but currently I’m unmotivated, lethargic and alternate between having zero interest in or mildly angry at the world around me.

It must be some sort of pavlovian response. See that it’s the week VLM lottery is open, click on the link, fill in the form.

Sod’s law means the year I’m in no shape physically or mentally to train for a marathon is the year I’ll get in the lottery.

global running day

globalrunningday2016

5.0km 38.11min 7.38min/km

1 June is global running day:

a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running. Participation is easy—just pledge to take part in some type of running activity on June 1, 2016. It can be a solo lap around the block, a long run with friends, or even a game of tag with your kids. The key is to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving

Brooks made a bib template to encourage people to participate in the event. I asked G if she can draw something for my bib. She didn’t use the template but what she gave me was a million times better. So cute!

running20160602

We’re under the first big heatwave of the year, temp up to 32ºC. Not wise to run during the day so I ran around the streets downstairs after dinner. Started faster than I’ve run recently, but then the heat got to me and I slowed down a lot.

running20160422

running20160422

5.25km 43.41min 8.19min/km

Small steps. Most of the run was in the rain,;not heavy enough to bother me as I had a hat but heavy enough to make puddles on the path. The last 400m or so I heard incoming thunder so I got out of the park asap. Went inside: market, had my glasses fixed, shuttle bus home.

Chicago marathon application just closed; Brighton and Paris marathon applications are still open. London is this weekend so applications will likely open soon. Sigh. Not sure if I should run one more marathon or give up and switch to halfs.

Get back to running regularly and building base first. Plus I’ve probably lost close to half a stone in a month. It’s a good thing, losing the weight. Now need to build up fitness. Keep healthy. Small steps.

#41: running PR

running20160314

Task #41 of 101.1001 is to break a running PR.

When I started the challenge, I thought I’d be able to get a PR at one of the races if I pushed myself to do marathon training. It’s been very difficult to gain speed, and I’ve all but given up.

The weekend long run went well, so while I had a little time before we need to set off for our cruise, I went off for a quick run. It was pretty good, even a little flow-like. Felt like old times.

The problem was the GPS. There is no way I did km 3 in 1.37. That’s equivalent to running 100m in 9.7 seconds. Km 4 and 6 were weird too. Luckily I was running at the baseball park so I was able to estimate distances. I think the GPS overestimated my run by around 1km.

wonky GPS: 8.0km 46.59min 5.52min/km
more realistic: 7.0km 46.59 6.43min/km

If we believe the GPS, it’s a PR by 1 second. Of course, it’s more realistic to stick with the 6.43 number, which is close to what used to be my baseline of 6.40. This is the best since I started 101.1001 and is basically telling me not to write myself off. May be there’s time to get a real PR in the next few months.

running 30k

running20160312
30.36km 4.36.18hr 9.06min/km (I took 7 minutes off for stoppages, see post)

It’s been said that a marathon is a 20-mile warm up followed by a 10k race. There is definitely something mystical about the 20-mile marker. It’s the longest long run in many training programs, and is also the point where the wall hits.

After bonking last weekend’s long run, I approached this weekend’s milestone 20-miler with trepidation. Argh the first few meters: shoelaces felt too tight, knee brace kept falling down. Not a good sign.

20 miles is 32km, so I mentally split the run into sections: 12k, 20k, 27k, 32k. Increasingly smaller distances between breaks, because inevitably I get tired towards the end. Surprisingly I got to 8k and felt all right. Had a stroopwafel and the green tea I brought as hydration at 12k. Another fuel break between 19-20k of gu and water. Went over to the smaller park for the final third. Slow for a bit, another gu break at 25k after which somehow I found second wind. Legs even felt fresh at that point. Huh.

I stopped at 30k or almost 19 miles because I ran out of time–I volunteered to get dinner, prices go up after 6pm and it was 5.45pm. Could I have gone another 2k? Yep, I was slowing down a little, but not significantly.

Overall I think I did some stuff right. Mentally I wasn’t putting pressure on myself. I foam rollered my ITB beforehand. I made myself take fuel breaks, because I remembered that by the time you feel you need food and/or water, it’s too late. Unlike previous long runs, I didn’t physically stop for fuel breaks; I kept walking. Although I did take 7mins off my total time for stoppages–traffic lights and water fountains.

Quite pleased with completing this milestone training run. Legs were okay afterwards, I walked around the shopping centre in search of dinner and walked to the bus stop without too much pain. This is the key. If I’m pain-free on race day, I have a chance of finishing in decent shape. It’ll never be a PR time, I think those days are gone. Still, if I’m able to replicate today’s performance in 3 weeks’ time, I’ll be okay.

running 13km | myrtl routine

13.0km 1.51.13hr 8.33min/km

This is a very busy week for me, I’m at sis’ a couple of days and staying over on friday. The movers are coming thursday so I have to go home tonight to finish packing tomorrow. Plus there are a couple of people who want to buy the stuff I advertised.

Have to fit in running in between, as much as I can. Did the midweek 8-miler early as I won’t get the time later. Only one more month. Haven’t been running well the last couple of times, there’s a pretty sharp pain in my left hip and, no surprise, down the ITB. I thought the squats and lunges I’ve been doing would help.

myrtl

Found another routine that target the hips called the Myrtl routine. Takes 5-10mins. Some of the stretches, like the fire hydrant, seems to be working new muscles, although i’m still hurting. Not a lot of time left to get rid of the pain. Sigh.

#40 walk to mordor 1779 miles

mordorwalk1786

20.75km 2.56.00hr 8.29min/km

Task #40 of 101.1001 is to complete the walk to mordor challenge of 1779 miles / 2863km.

With today’s long run, I’m now at 1786 miles / 2874km, so I’ve reached the target. This is the last part, when the fellowship broke up at Rauros. Frodo and Sam travelled 470 miles to Mt Doom in a tough 30 day journey, first paddling and then climbing, climbing, climbing. Plus meeting and fighting Gollum.

mordorwalk1786chart

It’s taken 26 and a bit months to do this. Some months I clocked more than others. Initially I was just getting through the minimum and then marathon training helped a lot–probably if I weren’t training for 2 marathons I may find if hard to finish.

To recap:

  • 458 miles: from Hobbiton to Rivendell
  • 462 miles: set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien = 920 miles total
  • 389 miles: from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls = 1309 miles total
  • 470 miles: Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom = 1779 miles total

101.1001 challenge done, but the overall challenge continues. I wonder how long it’ll take me to complete the remaining 1618 miles / 2604km that takes the fellowship from Minas Tirith back to Bag End especially since there’s no deadline. I work best with a target date.

running 20160207

running20160207

10.13km 1.15.17hr 7.25min/km

An unremarkable distance over an unremarkable time. But it’s my first run in 12 days, so it’s a small achievement. I’m ignoring that according to the training program, it’s supposed to be a 17mile/27km run this weekend. I need to slowly get back on track.

I have a suspicion that the GPS is short when I run along bowen road. It felt slower than 7.25. I don’t remember stopping halfway, even though the app says I did. Hmm. The first dip is a long uphill stretch and the last 2 dips are for uphill and traffic light.

I’m still coughing, but I don’t feel like I’m coughing up my lungs constantly. It’s gotten better the last 1-2 days but I know it’ll take a few more weeks to clear.

Another positive: no knee pain, yay.

atlas wearables fitness tracker review

tl;dr: crowdfunded a fitness tracker from atlas wearables, delivered one year late. Has some potential, functionality hit and miss, doesn’t track running. First impressions: a disappointment.


Two years ago I saw a project on indiegogo, a fitness tracker wristband by a startup called atlas that not only tracks exercises but learn new ones based on the user’s body movements through the device’s motion sensors. At that time (Jan-2014) it seemed to be a really great invention. The wearables market then wasn’t as huge as it is now; fitbit and pebble were new, most people’s idea of a fitness tracker were running watches with heart-rate monitor straps like garmin or polar.

I paid US$175, not an early bird price but one of the second wave backers. For that, I was promised one atlas wristband as well as a technical t-shirt. The t-shirt duly arrived around april. It’s nice, I wear it quite often on runs.

The delivery date of the wristband itself was initially late 2014, in time for Christmas. The first sign of trouble was when atlas’ lead engineer was hired away by apple, presumably to work on what we now know as the apple watch. Late 2014 came and went. Delivery date was pushed back to april 2015. Another email in april 2015, stating delivery

late June through early August

and that there will be

no compromises

Ha! Guess what, they went back on their word. They stopped sending detailed timelines and switched to vague traffic light updates.

I thought, summer 2015, I’ll at least get to use it for chicago marathon training. Ha! October 2015 came and went, and still no sign of delivery. There were emails enthusiastically saying “soon, soon, soon” and then hints that we’ll be getting emails to confirm our addresses shortly. People were getting frustrated and angry, for good reason. But short of asking for a refund, nothing much we could do.

Backing people on crowdfunding platforms is not buying. There have been sordid tales of kickstarter campaigns completely failing to deliver, or the originators disappearing with backers’ money. Someone described crowdfunding as a donation, so basically donor beware.

Finally in november, an email that said emails to confirm addresses have started and the devices will be shipped imminently. But to add insult to injury, instead of fulfilling backers’ orders, they had a black friday sale that promised delivery in 30-45 days. PEOPLE WHO BUY IN NOV-2015 WOULD BE GETTING THEIR DEVICES BEFORE PEOPLE WHO ORDERED IT IN JAN-2014. There was an uproar, again for good reason. They backtracked and clarified that black friday orders will not be sent before backer orders. Yeah, riiight.

At that point, I was this close to writing in for a refund. There wasn’t a lot of patience and goodwill left. Then I realised they were probably victims of their own success and I should give them one last chance. I decided to stick with waiting and see if it delivers the great functionalities it promised.

When they asked me to confirm my address in december, I told them that I don’t want it to be sent to the US anymore since they missed the windows of time when I was around. I refused to pay international delivery, and they relented. Honestly, if they’d asked me to shell out US$15 for delivery I would have asked for a refund there and then. Anyway, I got my atlas wristband just before Christmas, almost 2 years after I ordered it.

atlas01wristband

I watched the intro videos and downloaded the app. The impression I had gotten when I ordered is that I can just put it on, press a button or two and start working out. It’ll then track the exercises. Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. Here’s one month’s experience.

setup
The device seems sturdy and well manufactured. Chunkier than I thought. The tracker snaps into its slot on the wristband and is held in place by a magnet, so there’s little chance of it falling out. Charging via micro-usb, the port is on the inside of the tracker so it’s protected from the elements. On the minus side, the screen is small and a bit too sensitive to touch. It’s also designed to be used on the left wrist; it’s possible to wear it on the right, but it’s awkward to control.

The tracker has to be synced to the app. In fact, all controls are via the app which then syncs to the tracker using bluetooth. Many complaints on the atlas fb page about units in pounds and feet, it’s straightforward to change to kg and km on the profile page on the app.

exercises
The device comes pre-loaded with a workout called #firstworkout: 10mins of jumping jacks, burpees, crunches etc. There are other pre-set workouts on the app: a strenghten 4 week series, one called the core blaster and one called wods.

What I figured out is that the system works on a 2-step process: a) set the exercises I want to do on the app; b) sync to the tracker. So if I want to do the core blaster, I have to sync it to the tracker and it will replace #firstworkout. This means there can only be one routine on the tracker at any one time.

own workout
I can set a routine by selecting from a bunch of available exercises on the app then sync it to the tracker. The list of exercises include the usual suspects: bodyweight exercises like crunch and pushup as well as a bunch of dumbbell, kettlebell and TRX exercises. Some are not available, like planks.

atlas05trx

To actually do the exercises, the workout routine has to be synced to the tracker. Only one own workout can be loaded to tracker at one time, so own workouts replace the stock ones. I made one with my usual routine and another TRX one. It says 8mins, I doubt I can finish all those in 8mins.

freestyle exercises
A second slot on the tracker is for freestyle exercises. Like the stock and own workouts, these have to be pre-loaded to the tracker. I can pre-load up to 15 of these.

The biggest problem is the pre-loading. Yes, 15 exercises should be enough but what about when you’re in the middle of a freestyle routine and want to do an exercise that you haven’t pre-loaded? You have to stop what you’re doing, open up the app, select the missing exercise, sync to the tracker. Or, not track that particular exercise. It’s a PITA.

The tracker is supposed to recognise exercises based on body movements. This I find to be hit and miss. It recognised and correctly tracked tricep dips and burpees from the get go. It needed a few times before recognising crunches and mountain climbers and it didn’t count correctly every time. I gave up on having it track squats. It doesn’t track lunges, so I end up with data that is never 100% complete.

atlas06freestyle

When I finish and sync back to the app, I get some basic stats. I spend a lot of time editing the exercises, both the name and the number of reps.

running
It doesn’t track running: this is a MAJOR disappointment for me, and looking back at the indiegogo campaign, running was one of the ‘exercise footprints’ advertised.

atlas02fingerprints

We’re told to use heartrate mode. Okay, yes it tracked my heartrate and time and calories, but no distance. Plus I don’t believe I burn 570 calories running 50mins. A game tracks more than this dedicated fitness tracker. This is utterly useless.

atlas07running

battery
According to atlas, the battery is supposed to last an entire week of 1 hour workouts. I find that to be a blatant lie. I switched it off at 100% one night, and when I woke up, there was 4% left. Running for just under 1.5hrs causes the battery to go from 100% to 58%.

Like iphones, the battery is housed inside the tracker and can’t be replaced. We’re told the tracker has

a tested lifespan of 2-3 years, which is standard in the electronics industry

Wait, wait, what?! It only lasts 2-3 years, then it dies? Oh, I see. I’m expected then to buy a new one, at full retail price. It’s currently US$225, so who knows what it will be in 2-3 years’ time.

You know what, atlas? When my device dies, I will definitely buy a new fitness tracker, and based on how I feel now, it almost certainly will not be your product.

running 20160116

runningfield201601

6.03km 47.15min 7.50min/km

Weather is grotty: heavy rain and windy yesterday, less heavy today but still steady. Swapping the weekend long run with monday’s short run since it’s supposed to be at least not raining on monday. Ran around the field I discovered last week. The field was actually very quiet during the week, with around 10 walkers and runners plus one kid playing basketball. Today there were baseball lessons for small kids, and one team was there practicing.

Like all parks here, it’s gated and staffed by a cleaning crew so there is always someone around. Makes it a bit safer, even though generally it’s a safe area. What I like about it is that I don’t need to cross any main road or traffic lights to get to it. Leave our building, turn right, right again at the bottom of our street and straight up. Most of the first 1.5km is uphill, which also means the last 1.5km is downhill. Wheeeeee.

running 20160101 | baseball

baseball20161010

13.01km 1.42.36hr 7.53min/km

I really didn’t want to go running but somehow forced myself outside. Couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way to the parks I normally go to, just ran up to the sad housing estate and back a couple of times.

The second cycle I went into the estate via a different street and saw a pedestrian bridge leading what what looks like another park. This one is well hidden between buildings and a giant flyover. I thought I’d go exploring.

Turned out to be quite a large flat area. One basketball court and the rest is dirt field. Today there were lots of teams there playing baseball. There were at least 3 games going on and the rest of the field were occupied by teams practicing. One or two runners there running around the entire field. I knew baseball is played here, an ex-colleague used to play (still does, I see her posts on fb), I didn’t know where. Now I know. Seems like this is one of a few local venues.

Oh, running. Not too bad. Between foam rollering, squats as part of the 30 day challenge and wearing a sturdy knee brace, the pain has subsided a fair amount.

running 2015

running2015

Summary of 2015 running, by month, showing total distance and average pace. Combined with walking and biking. More stationary bike and walking during early months; a lot of walking in March and April during our Europe trip, which still didn’t make up for the lack of running. Looking back, slow pace especially during the summer months wasn’t just because of heat and humidity, there was also the hip/knee injury that I ignored. The sudden speediness in July was due to shorter indoor runs at the hotel treadmill.

By the numbers in both km and miles:

running2015table

High points: finished Chicago marathon
Low points: finished Chicago marathon in a crap time; injuries

Someone on reddit asked if you could have one wish for your running in 2016, what will it be. Run Faster? Run Longer? Run Injury Free? For me, definitely injury free, because:

injury free –> consistency –> longer –> faster

Interestingly, a commenter said,

if I was offered a deal by a genie that I get my sub-3 marathon, have to miss a month due to injury, then can come back healthy, I’d take it

If a genie offered me a 4.30 marathon but I have to miss a month’s running due to injury, I’d take it. If the genie offered me a sub-4 marathon then have to miss running for the rest of the year, I’d take it too.

#43: 101 crunches

30daychallenge

Task #43 of 101.1001 is to do 101 crunches.

Compared with 101 squats, this took longer to achieve because I’m poorer at crunches than at squats. What helped a great deal was I’ve been following a 30-day challenge that focused on crunches, squats, lunges and wall-sits. Started with 10 crunches on day 01 and reached 100 crunches (plus 75 squats and 100 lunges) on day 30. Not a problem to add one extra to get to 101.

A bunch of other people on fb are also following the program, which makes it more fun. It’s well known that crunches, squats and lunges are beneficial for all levels of fitness. I should continue the program to help strengthen my hips and core for running.

running 10 miles

running20151222

16.42km 2.13.36hr 8.08min/km

The 5-day rest seemed to have helped. I rearranged this week’s runs since I won’t have time on saturday or sunday to do the long run. Started off fine, pretty decent (for 2015) pace and good range of motion around hips and knees. Slowed down as I got tired. Around 12km the spot above my knee started to hurt, and it persisted till the end. Overall, the pain was manageable.

I split the run into 3 different missions, with two drinking breaks between missions. Miscalculated a bit, should have doubled back 500m or looped around a side street. The scheduled run is 11 miles or 17.6km, I was short 1km.

What I don’t like about zombiesrun is that it doesn’t give pretty graphs like nike+. I suppose I can turn on both nike+ and zombiesrun, they seem to coexist happily enough. It’ll be a drain on the battery.

paris marathon training

higdonparismarathon

5.51km 45.44min 8.18min/km

18 weeks before the marathon means the start of training. Higdon novice 2 got me through chicago, but I felt undertrained. The difference between novice 2 and intermediate is the extra weekend run (in red). I’m going to try to add more miles if I can; I doubt I will make all the extra runs, let’s see.

The 5k today to start the program is supposed to be easy. No more excuses of hot and humid weather. It’s around 23ºC in the afternoon.

But hell damnations. First run of training and within 400m it’s ITBS. Bloody hell. And I rollered it beforehand too. Hoping that rollering, stretches and squats will improve hip extension and loosen the IT Band.
 

chicago marathon race report

chimarathon101split

42.2km 6.35.15hr 9.22min/km

overall: 36785 / 46033
gender: 16841 / 16955
age division: 1029 / 1041

Set alarm at 5am but woke up at 4am. Tea, a couple of waffles, a banana and a cereal bar for breakfast. Superfriend Carleen dropped me off and I joined thousands of people walking towards the start line. Found a quiet spot to watch the sunrise then joined the horrendous line for the portaloo. After half an hour in the cold wind the line hadn’t moved much but then someone came over and told us about other portaloos with shorter lines.

The corral was crowded. Wave 2 start was 8am, I crosssed the start line at around 8.11am. I felt great and happy. The crowds were fantastic and pushed me on, soon I found myself at LaSalle and 5k already. Lots of fun signs from spectators urging us on.

chimarathon049theatre chimarathon063drums

Things haven’t changed from 2010 and 2011: I stopped for the traditional pic outside the chicago theatre, there was warm support at Moody’s church, music at boystown, Japanese drummers at mile 10, the lasalle church opening their toilets up for us at mile 11. The roar of the crowds really did help.

chimarathon058flag

I also caught up with a runner holding an American flag at lincoln park, same as 2011 but different guy. Saw a fireman in full gear too. And a man in his 70s with “50th marathon” on his shirt. I spent quite a bit high-fiving kids and grinning.

Around mile 10 was when it started going pear shaped. First I got a nasty side stitch, which I hardly ever do. Then my left knee started hurting, which affected my calf and then moved to my right leg and finally my back. Basically anything that could hurt, was hurting. So disappointing, the wall came early. Even the biofreeze and tylenol at mile 12 wasn’t much help.

chimarathon071beer chimarathon077turbo

It’s always good to reach halfway, located just behind the old office. HM was at almost exactly 3hrs. I was pretty behind schedule at that point. After mile 13, the crowds thinned out and there wasn’t much shade. I started slowing down significantly and walked a lot. From mile 14 onwards it was boring and tough. Mile 19 was good, loud crowds through Pilsen. Lots of music and drums. Still a lot of walking. When first the 5.10 then 5.25 and finally 5.45 pace groups caught up with me, I tried my best to follow them for as long as I could.

After mile 22 from chinatown to sox park it was awful. Walking and walking. Turning into IIT and back north on michigan was more walking. I was keeping track of my time and I knew I was perilously close to the 6.30 cut off time. At mile 25 it was the final push. I picked up the pace and ran the last mile. It seemed forever before I saw the screen and the right turn up the hill. 400m, 200m and then it was finally the finish line. My iphone registered 6.33. I think they pushed the cut off time because of the hot weather.

chimarathon092finish chimarathon096medal

I collected my medal, a couple of bottles of water and a banana. There was a beer truck right at the finish, but unfortunately the beer was warm. The best thing was a cool, wet towel they gave us. Had my pic taken with the medal, couldn’t be bothered to go to the other side of the park for the tents. The exit closest to me was nearest the train station so that was where I headed.

I had more than 30mins to wait for the train. Felt a little dizzy and realised I hadn’t had much to eat for 7 hours apart from gu, bloks and gatorade. Fished through the goodie bag and found chocolate, and chocolate milk. That helped.

Carleen picked me up at the train station and we had pizza for dinner. I was more tired than hungry, and my feet were hurting. I came back to the house with the news that my fb friends had been tracking my progress online and there were dozens of comments and well-wishes. So moving. I posted a thank you status plus a pic of the medal and there were even more well-wishes. My fb friends are so wonderful. I didn’t even meet my most basic goal (beat 6.30) but the overwhelming support from the organisers, volunteers, fellow runners and my friends more than made up for the disappointment. Looking on the positive side, I finished. And that’s the most important accomplishment.

I didn’t take my camera with me, just used the iphone: uploaded to flickr.

p.s. this also counts as #99 of 101.1001 because I found a race, and I trained for it.

#chimarathon prep

Race day prep consisted of resting and getting into a positive, relaxed state of mind. Packed for the race and for Ptown, since we will be leaving first thing Monday morning.

Race goals:

  • D goal: finish before cut off time of 6.30
  • C goal: beat 5.38 (Chicago time)
  • B goal: beat 5.05 (Brighton time, all time PR)
  • A goal: 4.59.59

I signed up with the 5.25 pace group, I hope I can keep up with them. My aim is to keep them within sight at all times and it’ll be a bonus if I can go past them.

 

Here’s a really nice view of part of the course, taken by drone. It shows the city at its best. Drones are, of course, not allowed on the race (except officially sanctioned ones).

Some of the good things I remember from last time: the excitement going through the Loop, beautiful Lincoln Park, noisy crowds at Boystown (but that’s also where I lost my sunglasses clip-on), halfway point near the office, the nice Hispanic grandmother who gave me an orange ice lolly at mile 19, struggling back up Michigan and then hitting the crowds and cowbells on the final right turn.

People are joking about why runners run and put ourselves through this. The answer is simple:

runforbeer

There’s a free 312 waiting for us at the end, plus pizza and bananas and water and free massages. I’ll see what my time is, and how long I have to hang around the park afterwards. May be a second beer before I have to catch the train.

 

 

#chimarathon expo

Caught the train to the city and walked about 15mins to the Hilton to catch the shuttlebus to the marathon expo. The queue for the bus was long, I had to wait for bus #4 before it was my turn to board. Took about 15mins to get to McCormick Place. The expo started at 9am this morning and I got there around 10.30am. The place was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded.

chimarathon011fast

Got my confirmation scanned, got my bib, got my shirt. Nice shirt colour this year, a deep red, more maroon than the bright red of 2010. I made it a point to systematically visit every stall. I had on my shopping list the race cap and a few gu packets. I bought the cap ($30!!!) and resisted the t-shirt ($45). Bought a combination of gu and bloks. Sampled many cereal bars, bloks and gatorade. Bought a set of 3 bondi bands since the ones I have are getting grubby. Looked into socks but decided the pair I brought is good enough and I’d buy socks when I get back.

There were also tons of freebies. Encouragement signs, cowbells (sponsored by ML so in ML blue), a poster, space blanket, shoe bag and lots of leaflets in the official bag. Got a 30 second massage on my ITB at the free massage stand. Chatted with people at other marathon desks. Osaka marathon in October (though I’m wary of autumn marathons now) and Dusseldorf marathon in April. The lady at the Dusseldorf desk was super nice, it’s just a shame that it clashes with Paris.

chimarathon029pizza

By the time I was finished it was 12.30pm. The bus back downtown was less crowded and I walked around the corner to go to Lou Malnati’s. It’s been a while, and I had a craving for deep dish. The wait was around 15mins for a table, during which we were encouraged to put our order in to shorten the wait for food. I ordered the lunch special — small pizza with salad and a drink for $8.95. The pizza was smaller than expected, very tasty especially the crust and the sausage. It appeared that many people had the same idea for carb-loading, I saw many people with the marathon bags or marathon t-shirts in the restaurant.

chimarathon031gear

Train back and it was time to empty the bag and sort out my gear. Less than 2 days to go, it’s getting closer.

 

 

running on relatively fresh legs

nikelast

6.5km 51.13min 7.53min/km

Rested for 2 whole days, what a luxury. It’s still ridiculously hot and oppressively humid, but I felt good running on relatively fresh legs. I also strongly believe it’s mental—I know it’s only 6km today so I allowed myself to go out faster.

Someone on runnit asked why marathon training plans top out at 20 miles when the race is 26.2 miles. What I’ve always been told is that race day adrenaline and (hopefully) crowd support will get us through the last 10k. There’s also the fact that it takes a few days to recover from a long run; during training we’re going into weekend long runs tired from all the running during the week and we need too many days to recover from 26 miles to fully follow a 4-5 times a week training program. If we taper correctly, we’ll be starting the race having rested and recovered by doing shorter runs.

Marathon season is in full swing. Berlin last weekend. Brussels, Cologne, Kuala Lumpur, Portland (Maine and Oregon), Minneapolis/St Paul this coming weekend. As I run Chicago, others will be participating in Budapest, Munich, Buenos Aires, Ottawa, Lake Tahoe, Albany and my family’s hometown of Newport RI. Then in the coming weeks it’s the MCM in DC, NYC, Niagara Falls, Snowdonia, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Seoul, Jo’burg and the Antarctic Ice marathon on 19 November. Plus many many more, too many to list.

What will all of these marathons have in common? A winner, probably from Kenya or Ethiopia. And someone who finishes dead last. Just in time for marathon season is Nike’s newest ad, in which they salute the last place finisher. It’s so realistic. To the sound of Every Little Bit Hurts by Aretha Franklin, the stragglers slowly trudge through on a carpet of paper cups and dodging the cleaning crew and the pedestrians who’ve already begun to reclaim the road. The voiceover (Rooney Mara!) is guaranteed to bring tears to any runner’s eye:

You are not a runner.
You are especially not a marathon runner.
But at the end of this, you will be.

The ad promotes the nike+ running, and even though I don’t use it any more, I started with nike+ and it’s a place where runners of every ability can find inspiration and motivation.

Okay, enough running posts. Only a couple more weeks to go then I’ll stop the incessant posting.

 

run light stand race

7.0km 53.09min 7.36min/km

Whilst Chicago people are doing the ready to run 20 miler this weekend, I tested my race readiness by running a local 7k night race. It’s the first time I’ve participated in a night race.

Not a big race, around 1000 people. The race itself is along a dam then into a park. Took over 1.5hrs to get to the starting point, via train then bus.

runlightstand03kids

There were 2 races. The kids race started at 6pm, a shorter 1.5km distance. Those kids were fast. The winner of the age 6-8 category ran the distance in something like 6mins, which I can’t even do. What’s great was the top 10 in each category got prizes, and that probably covered every single kid in the race.

runlightstand02tattoo

The adult race started at 7pm and by then it was dark. They gave us temporary tattoos and the shirt was a little flourescent too. Some people were prepared with headlamps or made bracelets from glowsticks. Since it was along a dam and into parkland there were no streetlights at all. A couple of volunteers with glowsticks stood next to the various sleeping policemen along the way telling us to be careful. I couldn’t really see where I was going, I tried to follow people with lights as much as I could.

There were also a group of visually impaired runners with their guides. They were fast too. The guides had lights and shouted warnings when they approached. I always get a warm feeling when I encounter disadvantaged athletes.

My time was…okay. Faster than normal training runs, and conditions were similar. Even though it was night, it was still hot and humid. I hung around for a little bit to watch prizes given out. The top male runner finished in 23mins; the top runner in my division finished in 37mins.

 

running 20-miler

running20150913

32.04km 4.56.47hr 9.16min/km

I moved the 20-mile training run up one week because: a) I had the time; b) I have a race next weekend and c) I was worried about it so wanted to just get it over with. So I set off for bowen road armed with a 1l bottle of flavoured water and 4 gu packets. I planned my breaks so they were all at the second water fountain. It was fine to leave the water bottle there too, lots of people do that.

Started off not too badly, it was hot but there was a little breeze. Many people hiking and running but by and large they knew how to share the path. No stupid mainland tourist groups. Pretty boring, running up and down one path. Pace was slow and the last 5km had a lot of walking. I did it though, so it’s one training goal finished.

The last 20-mile training run was 4 times around Hyde Park and with a much more respectable pace of 7.24min/km. I’m still hoping I’m so slow now because of the hot weather.

After that 20-miler in London I treated myself to a big huge 24oz bone-in rib-eye, which I couldn’t finish. This time round, I don’t have the luxury of getting lovely steak from Whole Foods. I debated whether to go out or to stay in. My calves were hurting so on the way back home I stopped at the supermarket and bought chicken legs which I baked. Lots of foam rollering and I kept my legs elevated, feeling tired but not injured tired.

running 17mi/27km

running20150904

27.06km 4.12.33hr 9.20min/km

Long run this week according to higdon is 19 miles, according to the one-year plan is 18 miles. Since I’m only up to 13 miles, I didn’t want such a big step up so aimed at 16/17 miles (26/27km).
Not much to report, aside from the sheer mind-numbingness of running for 4hrs up and down a stretch of 4km running path. Not too many people, and I recognise a couple from last week. Everyone was faster than me. Had a couple of breaks, at 12km then 8km. Progressively slower, the last 7km was pretty much walking.

Completely knackered. Cooked mushroom pasta (with a whole can of cream of mushroom soup) for lunch. Didn’t have energy or appetite for big dinner. Even with my usual unhappiness about the slow pace—9.20min/km is 15min/mi and just about makes the 6.30hr cut off point for the marathon—I’m a bit more encouraged, that I have this long run under my belt.

running #fastestmile

running20150831

8.22km 1.06.59hr 8.09min/km

Nike had a fastest mile virtual event on the 30th. It was a rest day for me, so I thought I’d go out to the track today and see what my mile time is. The weather is still not good for running, but it was only 29ºC, so better than before. Thunderstorms and rain means high humidity though.

I’ve never gone out and deliberately run one mile. My best mile time was at the 2010 corporate challenge when I finished the 3.5 mile course in 33.24min, meaning a mile pace of 9.13min. I was at my fastest during early 2010, getting my first sub-30 5k at ravenswood, before I got injured. I’ve never been able to get back to that pace.

Today I did a 3km warmup run to the track, then ran 4 times around to get to 1.6km. Instead of using a stopwatch I used the supply run part of zombies run. The app registered 10 even for 1.61km, I know that at 1.6km / 1 mile it was 9.54min.

Obviously not my fastest mile, although I’m okay about the pace. I did another mile at a slower 12.30 pace. To beat 5hr in the marathon, I have to average under 11.30, so I have a little ways to go yet.

running201508

Anyway, today’s run brought me to a total of 170.63km for the month of august, or 106.02 miles. I’ve had months where run/walk/bike total was over 100 but it’s been a while since I’ve had a 100 mile running month, I think it’s during the last marathon training round in 2012.

running 20150823

circlerainbow

16.01km 2.33.25hr 9.35min/km

tl;dr: wanted to do 17 miles, couldn’t even manage 17km

Long runs need to get longer, and yet I don’t have the endurance. Ran up to the desolate housing estate, then to a new park a little further away. It’s divided into 4 sections, with oddly-communist sounding names: Morse Park no. 1, Morse Park no. 2 and so on, divided by roads. The largest one is no. 3, which has several football pitches, basketball courts, a swimming pool and an indoor sports centre. About 1km to run totally around the park. It’s surrounded by the nearby housing estates so is busy with runners, walkers and people taking a shortcut. It’s nice. The problem was, there seemed to be only one water fountain and it was out of order, ugh. I’d brought a bottle of energy drink with me, but it wasn’t enough. Managed 8km up to that point.

Crossed the road to no. 1, which is quite small so I just did one circuit. No. 4 was better, medium sized with a garden, tennis courts, children playground and even a skateboarding section. And a working water fountain. Got another 5km in.

The route home was through another park, quite small and very crowded due to its proximity to a shopping centre and station. By then I was barely able to put one foot in front of the other so I struggled to do a couple of circuits then headed back. 3km home.

16km is 10 miles, so at least I got to that milestone. Aim for HM distance next long run.

Anyway, this was a circular rainbow mum spotted the other day. Enhanced via instagram.

running 20150812

running20150812

11.02km 1.43.31hr 9.24min/km

8 miles on the schedule. If I were still at home I’d go out around 5pm, but it’s more difficult at parents’ place. 3.30pm at 33ºC is not an ideal time. The sun was blazing down fiercely. There were more people running at the park towards the end of the run, this is when I get envious of men, because most of them were shirtless. Sigh.

I took breaks every 4km, stopped at the water fountain for 2-3mins. Split conveniently into 3 missions. The first half was at a decent pace, then slower and slower and slower. The last km was walking. Summer training is brutal.

marathon training part 298

8.15km 1.05.40hr 8.03min/km

Is it possible to train for a marathon in 11 weeks? Essentially, no. But I’m going to try anyway and hope that I’ve retained some residual fitness from before. I only managed a few 5k and 10k runs in July, the longest was 12k. If I’d followed the plan, I should be doing 15 miles or 24k weekend runs by now. So I’m woefully behind and to all intents and purposes, starting from scratch. Well, not exactly from week 1, I’m going to follow the plan as if the July blip hadn’t happened. Week 9 starts with 4 miles, which in theory should be fine.

Except for jetlag, plus cough, plus it’s 32ºC. Excuses excuses.

I did drag myself out in the afternoon. All the way to the second water fountain and back, except the second water fountain was out of order. Have to remember that, and bring water next time. I got home and drank a whole litre of herbal water afterwards.

dldnfdns

The problem is, I know what it takes to train for a marathon. I even know what I need to do
if I want to PR. At this rate, I’m hoping I don’t go slower than my slowest. I mean, 5.38 is ridulously slow. Any slower is almost dead last. There are all sorts of encouraging quotes around, that dead last is better than not finishing or starting; or a slow runner is lapping all those on the couch. In other words

DL > DNF > DNS > couch

I take a small amount of solace from that.

stop apologising for being a slow runner

kor548ihwamural

I’m still smarting over the truncated slow run yesterday. It’s less than 100 days until the marathon and I don’t have my training act together. It’s frustrating.

A little encouragement from lifehacker, that it’s okay to be slow. Then again the article is by a runner who wins age-group medals so I’ll take what she says with a large grain of salt. Her article is based on one by a running coach Jeff Gaudette who talked about people reluctant or too embarrassed to join a running group because they are slow:

chances are there is always going to be someone faster than you, fast is relative

He also says that runners are one of the most welcoming group of people, which I guess is true. Whenever I meet someone who runs, we can always find topics in common. An interesting question from Coach Gaudette:

No runner I know has a problem slowing down to run with a friend. Think about it. Would you enjoy a run with a friend, even if you had to slow down considerably for them to keep up? I bet you would.

Again, true. Occasionally an idiot on /r/running will humblebrag about his 15min 5k and not wanting to slow down for his friend, but posts like these are always downvoted.

Still, I wish I had the motivation to: a) lose a stone so I’m faster; b) run more so I’m faster; run smarter so I’m faster.

running 20150628

running20150628

18.19km (11 miles) 2.49.47hr 9.20min/km

The training schedule for this weekend is 6 miles, for next weekend is 11 miles. I switched the 2 weekends because I’m travelling and unlikely to have time for 11 miles next weekend. It’s a band-aid solution, because in 2 weeks it’s 13 miles and I’ll be in Chicago. I wonder how I can run a HM on the treadmill.

Anyway, it was a tough run. It started okay, I had oatmeal breakfast so I felt fueled up. It was very hot though, I was dripping and thoroughly wet quickly. So much so that my t-shirt and shorts were totally soaked.

Ran to the end of Bowen Road (6km), back to the first water fountain, then back to the end. I’m lucky that there are 2 water fountains, so I didn’t need to bring water. I split the run into different missions on zombies run, because that’s how ZR4 missions work now. There was a 5min rest period in the middle. Towards the end, I was pretty knackered so it was a lot of walking. Went to the supermarket to pick up some quick stuff and I could feel my calves beginning to tighten, but I walked it off.

It was so hot and I was so tired I didn’t have much of an appetite. Ham & egg sandwich for lunch, and I couldn’t finish the sandwich. Fish and salad for dinner. Definitely lots of calories left over for the day.

back stretches

backstretches

All of a sudden yesterday night my lower back started to really hurt. I get back pain sometimes after a run, which is why I rely so heavily on my foam roller. I’m at parents’ so no roller or alternative, and this time it’s especially painful and stiff. I googled and found quite a lot of stretches aimed at reliefing lower back tension. Put the images together in one place for easy reference.

Wow, I didn’t realise how stiff my hips and hamstrings are. I could feel the strain when I do these exercises. Not quite cured of back pain but feeling a bit looser in places. Plus, improving hip extension is good for running.

I especially like this hamstring stretch. I use a resistance band and a small pillow in place of the yoga gear.

running at night

runsculpture

5.0km 40.22min 8.04min/km

A rare beautiful blue sky day without visible pollution. Going out during the day was impossible so I made dinner early and went out at around 7.30pm. Still a little bit of light out in the beginning. The park was probably lit and still open, but since it’s just a 5k scheduled today, I ran up and down the street. Gentle hills, not a lot of foot traffic and definitely not stiflingly hot.

When I started running, I used to run after dinner, well into the evening. I remember chatting with Car (on yahoo messenger!) and she was so worried because it was almost 11pm. Yes, need to be careful, but it’s pretty safe. The downside of night running was that I drank a lot of water afterwards and I normally avoid drinking so much water too late into the night. Then again, it’s replacing water not storing. I think it’s worth going for the short runs at night, makes a change and I can do some speedwork.

#chicago marathon training: higdon w01s01

higdonFM2015

5.01km 45.20min 9.04min/km #running hills 32ºC

18 weeks till Chicago Marathon marks the beginning of proper marathon training. Following Higdon novice 2, like last time.

According to the program, today is a rest day actually. But I changed his plan a little—switched all his tuesday runs to monday. I’m also not going to find a HM race, or any race, in August so that’s a bust.

I went for the first run of 5k (3 miles) around the neighbourhood. This means up and down hills. Not required, but I’ll try to add more intensity if I can. Running through Central London with a backpack for my midweek run last time helped with the weekend long runs. The heat will also help build my endurance.

#45 kickboxing class

boxinggloves boxingring

Task #45 of 101.1001 is to take a tai chi, yoga or martial arts class. This is one of the ones carried over from the 2007 challenge. This time I was determined to sign up and attend at least one class. The opportunity came when Sis said to come with her to kickboxing class. That counts as a martial arts, right?

The gym looked pretty serious, with separate men’s and women’s sections separated by the reception area. There is a small changing room with showers. Sis had spare gloves for me but I had to get wrapping bandages for my hands and ankle protectors. The class was definitely a beginners’ class and it was more like using kickboxing moves in a cardio routine. Punching with or without gloves, kicking in the air or against the punchbag, squats, pushups, and combinations. The first part of the class was easy enough, and then the instructor started giving us more complex routines. Burpees combined with punching and kicking; crouching (as if to avoid an opponent) and crunches.

All in all, an intense workout. I got tired towards the end. Not sure if I’ll go again, perhaps. Some people like class exercises, I don’t. I prefer running and doing weights at home so I don’t need to be in the company of other people. Plus, I don’t see the point of paying so much for gym or kickboxing studio membership and class fees.

restart running

runwalk201504

5.0km 41.02min 8.12min/km

Went over to Sis’ to use the treadmill. Back to square one in terms of speed. Sigh. Looking back through my notes, the last run was on 16 March and I did 5k in 33.30min (6.41min/km). Argh.

Even though the second half of March was all walking, there was a lot of it and I ran a lot the first half. I managed to clock 95 miles for March. April, yuck. So dismal. I’ll be lucky to hit 40. Not a lot of time left, proper training starts in June and I have to get back in form during May.

run 10 miles okay; walk 1 mile knackered

tired

Interesting.

I ran 10 miles yesterday and felt fine. Drank 500ml of energy drink, munched on a few biscuits, took a shower and I was okay. Slept a bit earlier so it helped.

Walked a mile to the local market today to run some errands and I’m knackered. My knee hurts, my back hurts, I sat at my desk and fell asleep.

I guess it’s not the mile-long walk, it’s recovery from the long run. That said, I’m quite happy with training progress. Slow and steady with, touch wood, no major injuries. Knee pain and back pain are to be expected, and at the moment they are both manageable. I’m a little worried about the month-long holiday, I definitely will not get the chance to follow the training program.

running foot and knee pain argh

running20150222

14.29km 2.04.08hr 8.41min/km

It’s taken 20 weeks for the first major injury, so I guess it’s not too bad. This week’s long run is the furthest in the program so far, 9 miles = 14.5km so I set a 15km target. Uphill and around to a new park, then across to the usual park.

The discomfort in my knee is always there, so I try to ignore it until it suddenly gives out when I’m running or walking or going up stairs. It’s currently manageable.

About halfway through the run, I started getting an acute pain at the top of my foot, near the ankle joint. Felt like a sprain. It’s my right foot and with pain in my left knee, it was impossible to limp. I plodded my way through the second half.

There are a lot of articles about ITBS and plantar fasciitis but fewer people seem to be suffering from top of foot pain. From what I can gather, it may be due to tying shoelaces too tightly (not likely, if anything I tie them too loosely) or pressure on ligaments and tendons rom barefoot or minimalist running (again not likely, the lunar racers today have seen at least one marathon and a few hundred miles). I just have to monitor the pain and hope it doesn’t turn out to be a stress fracture.

Stupid headphones gave out on me towards the end. I was close enough to my target to stop and walk the remaining 1km home. I was really knackered and hungry and thirsty for the rest of the day. Definitely staying in and doing very little tomorrow.

spotted on my run: city limit marker

hkvictoriacitylimit1903

13.08km (8.12mi) 1:40:08hr 7.39min/km (12.19min/mi)

Did the 8-mile long run scheduled for the weekend today, I mix up days, as long as I get all the runs in sometime during the week. From home to the end of the bowen road running path is 6.2km or 3.8miles, so I did a few short doubling back at straighter parts of the path.

It’s been a while since I ran all the way to the other end. I’d forgotten about the city limit marker over there. The marker is dated 1903, and the plaque says that it’s one of the remaining markers that marks the then city of victoria. Not a lot of history available, the city of victoria was established in 1843, and this marker is one of seven placed in 1903. As a sign of the attitude towards history here, one of the seven disappeared in 2007 during slope renovations.

trashy exercise, trashy discovery shows

An upset stomach together with niggly aches and pains provided the perfect excuse to skip running today. I wasn’t entirely delinquent, I did 45mins on the stationary bike. Someone, somewhere posted that we should substitute elliptical or stationary bike for running by doing around the same amount of time with similar intensity. So, 6km was approx 45mins.

I tend to watch mindless discovery shows while on the bike, because it’s so old that the sound of the belt covers a lot of the sound from the tv. The shows tend to involve small groups of people fighting against each other in auctions to buy stuff cheaply, they then fix them and hopefully sell for a profit. The stuff range from old cars in Texas, houses in Arizona or abandoned storage units in California.

One theme that runs through these programs are how nasty most of the buyers are. There’s a lot of trash talk and boasting. Probably exaggerated for the cameras but by and large I find people on US reality tv to be rude egomaniacs. Of course everyone wants to win or get a profit, but they can’t seem to do that with even a modicum of manners.

Ambulance in Motion
flickr / benjamin ellis

If I can catch it, I watch 24hrs in A&E, which is as different to those trashy, trash-talking US reality shows as night is to day. It’s described as a medical documentary and is filmed in an A&E department round the clock for 28 days straight.

First of, it’s filmed at King’s. I’ve long ago gotten over the fantasy that I could have studied medicine there rather than chemistry. Some of my undergraduate friends lived at KC Hall over at Camberwell, so I know the area well. Even with gentrification, this is still a working class, gritty area. Not the posh Britain of Downton Abbey or Sloany Britain of Ab Fab or Privileged Britain of Sherlock.

One theme that shines through is the dedication of the staff, even though they are working in a busy, underfunded inner city hospital. I love the end when the patients are interviewed, most of them obviously having recovered. It’s been described as exploitative, then again which documentary, especially one that takes a fly-on-the-wall approach, isn’t? The patients and their friends & family are shown sympathetically. This snippet about a 5 year old with burns [youtube, can’t embed] brought in by her dad is typical of the realness and the professionalism of both the production and the staff at KCH.

jan-2015 runwalkbike total 100 miles

runwalkbike100

Yay, I broke 100 miles of run/walk/bike in january. Actual total 103 miles, of which 60 miles was running. That works out to be 15 miles a week, so there’s a long way to go in terms of marathon training—I need to get to 25-30 miles a week by the time the proper 18-week training program begins. Most of the walking was at the end of a run, when I go to the market near the parks and walk back after grabbing some fruit & veg or coke zero. So-called biking is on mum’s stationary bike.

I know it’s only the 30th and I could go tomorrow for an easy 4km to get to 100km running total. It doesn’t matter, I’ll get to 100km running soon enough, long runs in february are ramping up to 8miles/13km.

edit: did a couple miles walking on the 31st, bringing the monthly total to 105 miles / 169 km.

resistance band

resistanceband

I like training with weights and TRX, but to mix it up a little, I played with mum’s resistance band for a bit. Lots of exercises available online, articles and youtube. Tried front chest press, bentover row, lunge with twist and pilé squat. Easy to use, and even more perfect for travelling than the TRX. 

check out wall climbing course

Organic Wall
flickr / steve oliver

I called the YMCA about their indoor climbing wall. For anyone to use it, they must show that they are competent by being a member of a climbing club, or having gotten a certification from the YMCA themselves. The introductory course is on tuesday evening or saturday afternoon, for 3 hours, and very reasonably priced.

When I was very young, I loved climbing on rocks and stuff. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at wall climbing. I hope I have enough upper body strength for it, but apparently it’s leg strength and coordination. I’m okay with leg strength—at least what I’ve built up whilst running. My only reservation is the current state of my wrist; my left wrist has always been problematic and it’s been swollen with sudden sharp pain for a couple of weeks. The pain manifests in certain situations and positions like taking the laundry from the washing machine, or doing bentover rows. Seems to be fine when gripping.

Anyway, I have the details now. 

#thisgirlcan ad campaign wants women to exercise

 
It’s January. People make resolutions which inevitably include losing weight and exercising more. Newspapers and magazines are full of articles about the 10 ways to start running or 5 foods to eat instead of cake. The intentions are noble and grand; the tone of these articles at times seem condescending, but if it inspires someone, then it’s all for the good.

Except, apparently, women in the UK aged 14-40 are not exercising. Sport England conducted extensive research to find out that 2 million fewer women than men regularly participate in sports. Worryingly, there doesn’t seem to be such a big disparity in other European countries. They heard that one of the main reasons is that of body image and fear of judgement. With that in mind, they launched a campaign called this girl can:

to inspire women to wiggle, jiggle, move and prove that judgement is a barrier that can be overcome

 

The campaign includes videos showing real women of all ages, shapes and sizes exercising and enjoying the exercise. The beat of Missy Eliott’s Get Ur Freak On is combined with catchy inspiration quotes like “I jiggle, therefore I am” and “hot and not bothered” to get the inactive off their couches.

There are criticisms for the campaign. The ads have been described as clumsy and and having some of the worst typographic design you’ve seen in ages. The Guardian is disappointed that the campaign still plays into the norms of objectifying female flesh by referring to women of all ages as girls and using the familiar video formula

where highly mobile, athletic female bodies are performing for a male audience

I think that any campaign that gets people exercising and watching their health is a good thing. Healthcare shouldn’t be just about curing illness; it should also focus on improving health to prevent illness. Not enough money, resources or focus goes to the latter. With binge drinking in women increasing at an alarming rate, any effort to get them from the pub to the gym is worthwhile.

thisgirlcan

Will the campaign succeed? Let’s hope so. It needs more positive images and messages. I guess they had to use innuendos like “I kick balls” to grab attention when they should have focused on the friendship and camaderie of participating in a team sports. I like the one of the cyclist lapping everyone on the couch. I also like the one where a mum exercises in the living room with her kids [youtube]. There should be more emphasis on the benefits of exercise besides looks.

Will it change people’s attitude towards body image? That’s a longer battle to fight. I never understand the issues behind body image concern, although I know plenty of people who are worried about how other people see and judge them. I’m puzzled at why, for instance, mum spends so much money on eye gel, goes for dubious skin treatments and stands in front of the mirror for what seems like hours before going out. I try to tell her that no one on the street will give a damn about how her, and why on earth is she bothered about what the shop assistant thinks. I’ve come to the conclusion that people believe certain things and act in certain ways because they themselves are like that—people who are afraid of being judged on how they look are the ones who are guilty of judging others. This type of attitude is what needs to change.

Anyway, I have 6 miles to run this weekend. In my tatty t-shirt and cheap shorts. I will end up covered in sweat with my hair like a rat’s nest underneath my cap. I won’t look at anyone and I don’t think anyone will look at me.

 

running new shoes

nikefree201501

9.51km 1.12.09hr 7.35min/km

Opened a new pair of running shoes and braved the crowded weekend route. A little surprised at the discipline of the people running and walking there today; the majority were able to keep to one side of the path and share happily with other users. Except one idiot dog owner who was playing catch ball with her two medium-sized dogs on a narrow path that barely accommodates 3 people abreast. What did I expect? It’s a dog owner, dog owners are the shits.

The new shoes are nike frees that I bought either at an outlet or as a running warehouse special. Can’t remember: I’ve had them a while. They are 3.0, and even though the newest versions are already 5.0, I’m happy with these older versions. Most of the time, it’s worth buying one generation back because they are a lot cheaper. They feel a bit long, fit comfortably and definitely light. I like lightweight neutral shoes and these are exactly what I want.
 

exploring the parks I run in

klntsaipark01

8.22km 69.50min 8.30min/km

If I’m at home I run along Bowen Road, which is a 12km round trip if I go all the way to the end and back. At parents’ place I run at two different parks. Shorter runs I go to a small park nearby (which I’ll call park A) which has a small football field, 2 basketball courts and a jogging path. It’s not even a running path because it’s only 265m around and usually overrun with old people. One circuit of the jogging path together with 2 circuits around the football-and-basketball area just about makes it to 1km.

For longer runs I go to a larger park (park B) that has several full-sized football pitches, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an athletics track. For odd reasons they close the track at weekends, but there is a marked running path that goes all the way around the athletics arena that measures 600m. The trail (pic above) that surrounds the various playing fields in the central area is 1km so between the 2 routes, it’s already 1.6km (1 mile).

Parks A and B are next to each other on the map, separated by the famous checkboard hill, that was where airplanes made the 47° right hand turn before landing at the old airport. As an aside, watch the video, it shows how planes used to make that spectacular (and dangerous) landing in the middle of a crowded city onto a runway that has notorious crosswinds.

Anyway, I tried to look on google map and street view to see if the two parks are connected. Couldn’t really tell, but it seemed like there is a narrow path that goes up the hill and back down. So I went exploring today. The answer is, yes, the two parks are connected. As expected, from park B it’s a steep, narrow path partially hidden by trees that leads to about 100 steps on one side of the hill, then a steep and winding road down the other side that ends up at park A.

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What was utterly charming are two discoveries at the top of the hill. The first is a lookout point, now partially blocked by trees. I guess that’s where plane-spotters used to go to look at planes landing at the old airport. The second discovery is an enclosed field with a big open grass/dirt area in front and a few benches at the back. Only one entrance which is gated. The sign says something like water department recreational park (can’t remember exact name, forgot to take a pic) and it’s right next to a few buildings with water department signs on the outside. What a discovery. The pic makes it look bigger, I’d say it’s about the size of a football pitch. Hard to get to, with steep access up and down, there were only about a dozen people there. I’ll try to go there again next long run. 

2015 run #001: 5k 38.37mins

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5.04km 38.37min 7.39min/km

May be it’s the longer distance weekend runs, or may be it’s the modified strides I did the other day. I finally managed a sub-40 5k at week 12 of the 52-week marathon training program.  

I guess I should be cautiously pleased, at the beginning of the program my pace was abysmal, sometimes struggling to reach 9min/km. I can’t be complacent though, I need to shave another min/km to get to my baseline of 6.40min/km and I have to do it in less than 12 weeks. The real challenge is then to take 20 seconds off. A 4:30 marathon is 6.24min/km.

 

running 07-dec-2014

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9.02km 1.18.34hr 8.42min/km

This is the longest I’ve run since I started the 52 week marathon training program. End of week 8 already. I haven’t followed the plan exactly. I’ve run fewer days but longer distance each run. Week 8 weekend run is 4 miles (6.5km) and total for the week 12 miles over 4 runs. I did 15 miles (24 km) over 3 days this week.

I’m trying not to get too unhappy about the speed, or utter lack of it. My baseline is 6.42 and I’m two whole minutes slower. I have only myself to blame for losing my fitness level, so I’ll have to get over it. The good thing is, I ran all 9km. The only stopping breaks were at traffic lights to cross the road and a couple of stops at the water fountain. So if I don’t have my speed back, at least I’m working towards getting my endurance back.

There’s a long way to go yet. I should get started on hills or strides soon. I’m using the zombies run app so there is an element of intervals. It really is a very good app, I paid $9.99 for an all access pass when the offer was on, and it’s money well spent.  

workouts with a twist

#‎weights‬ 3×8: db bench 20, bbell squat w/curl 30, goblet squat w/twist 10, woodchopper lunge 10, pushup, crunch

Trying to get back into training. After more than 2 years, sigh. Running and weights. For weights I’m adding movements to bodyweight exercises. Squats with twist or curls, woodchopper lunges. Hope they do me good. I’m still not very good at pushups, will keep at it. 

4 ways to improve running

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New article 4 actionable ways to start improving your running. Makes sense.

1. strides

run at an easy pace, and then gradually get faster until you’re at about 95% of your maximum effort. Hold that for about 2-3 seconds, and then gradually slow to a stop

Another type of intervals, a bit like sprints. The advice is to start with 4 strides, then increase to 6-8.

2. balanced strength training

There are 3 types of workouts: front & back, lateral, and rotational. Running is front & back, so to balance, do exercises that are lateral and rotational like side lunges and hay bales. Hay bales are like goblet squats with rotation.

3. negative splits are good

Some trainers say negative split means not enough effort has been put in the first half of a race. This advice says it improves endurance.

4. different long runs

Accepting that long runs are boring, it’s good to add some variety and fun. Hills, farteks, progressions.  

marathon training week 01 day 01

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The 52 week marathon training program I found calls itself couch to marathon. I’m not a big fan of the name couch-to-[distance] but I guess I have to accept that this is exactly what it is. It doesn’t make any fancy claims:

You won’t break any records by following this plan, but it will get you to the point where you can finish a marathon with periodic walking breaks in a year’s time

It starts off really easy, and builds up distance. There are a lot of walk and rest breaks. For example week 10 mid-week 3 miles come with the instruction to run 1 mile, rest 3 mins then repeat. By the time we get to week 40 mid-week 8 miles, it’s run 4 miles then rest for 3 mins. The weekend long runs, which get up to 24 miles in week 49, tells us to run 1 mile then rest for 1 min. Honestly week 49 is the last week before taper and I should think that by then I can run more than 1 mile before resting.

I think I will follow the plan with variation, the 4-times a week schedule I like, the distance progression makes sense too. I’ll use the plan as minimum and try to do more, better. For the mid-week runs the breaks can be used as interval training; for the long runs I will let myself walk or rest more. I think that in the past I’ve done too much boring useless steady-state running as opposed to intervals.

Every training plan tells us to cross train. I have at my weights, TRX and found a bunch of interestingly named bodyweight workouts. With names like mulan, hold my beer and sherlock workout, I’m sure I’ll find a fun one.


So today is week 01 day 01. The instruction is to jog (not run) 1 mile then walk 1 mile for a total of 2 miles. That’s it. And so I did my usual 5k run except I just ran around the flat instead of bothering to go outside.

 

marathon training, smart sock sensor, heel strike

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Four years ago today on 10-10-10, I ran my first marathon, Chicago, in 5:38. This coming Sunday, 45,000 people will race the course over 19 neighbourhoods. Next year, I hope to join them. I deferred my 2014 place so I basically have a guaranteed entry for 2015.

I’m both scared and excited. I have not been running as much for the past year or so. I found a 52 week training plan which includes runwalking and allows short breaks during longer runs. Towards the last 18 weeks, it puts in more mileage than the Higdon novice 2 plan and gets up to 24miles (vs 20 for Higdon). Sounds good.

Technology and theories have changed since 2010, the market is flooded with wearables and fitness trackers. I retired my garmin, because it’s too bulky, too limited, and takes too long to find a satellite signal. Saw a new sock sensor that does real-time analysis of foot-striking position and stride and gives feedback via an app. Not sure I want a voice shouting “you’re heel striking!” in my ears when I’m struggling in the middle of a run though.

chimarathonbbheel

Ah, heel striking. That’s me, 2011 chimarathon. Note the knee brace, the KT tape, the orange sauconys and the heel striking. I have repeatedly been told that heel striking is bad, it increases the chances of injury and all that. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to change to fore- or mid-foot striking, and whenever I manage it, I feel quicker. When I’m tired, I lapse back to my natural heel striking form.

Turns out, heel striking isn’t the enemy of good running form. Changing footstrike may reduce knee injuries, but it may also lead to other types of injuries. My takeaway from the article is, it’s okay to heel strike at slower paces, it seems that both stride and strike will change with faster speeds. Since I’m aiming for a 12:00/mile, it probably doesn’t matter that much. 

30in30 #6: TRX 3 sets of 12

Task #6 of 30in30 is to do 3 sets of 12 weights or TRX.

Lots to do tonight: sort out some spreadsheets, update apps, buy the all-season pass for run zombies (on sale for $9.99), defrost my fridge (again) and other stuff at home. In between I found time to get a TRX workout in, because: a) it’s one of 30in30 and b) I haven’t done TRX for a while.

I don’t usually do so many TRX reps. Two sets of 10 or 12 is what I usually do, so 3 sets of 12 was a little more strenuous. And it was great! My shoulder and triceps are already telling me they got a workout. The TRX is one of the best things sis ever gave me.