Monthly Archives: December 2013

Freaky Looking Footwear

This year, the boyfriend gave me my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers! I’ve been wanting them for the longest time (secretly) but never got around to getting them for myself.

At first glance, it looks pretty freaky. I couldn’t stop laughing after opening the box. The base is black with green linings along the “fingers” and pink stripes all over the body! The colours are all part of the forbidden colour scheme. It is bad enough that the shoe moulds your feet. Now, with it being BRIGHT and FREAKISH looking, I guess I’m a running clown!

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Excited with my new Five Fingers, I wore them the next day. I’ve always wanted to try barefoot running but I couldn’t imagine putting my feet through the pains of running on asphalt. .The Vibram Spyridon was the closest I could get to barefoot running.

As expected, the first 20 minutes was pretty torturous. I felt a lot of pressure pressing against my feet. This forced me to land on my forefoot to reduced the overall impact. I began using different sets of muscles which were probably underused over the years. My core and calve muscles were activated to keep this running form. I had to listen to my body and constantly change my running form to reduce the pain. I was doing great and soon, the pain left and I was running wild and free!

With traditional running shoes, forefoot-striking doesn’t come naturally. I had to always remind myself of it. I tend to get lazy and put the pressure where I’m not supposed to.

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Nike Free 3.0. I still LOVE them.

Recently, much attention has been given to barefoot running or minimalist running. Before the first running shoe came about, running barefoot was the only way to go. It was probably better if humans left it at that.

Scientific research has been shown to support the benefits of barefoot running. Some cultures, such as the Tarahumaras and Kenyans, still practice barefoot running till this very day. The evolution of the running shoe towards having a more padded heel encourages the runner to heel-strike as oppose to fore-strike. The impact from heel-striking would shoot straight to your knees and hips because they’re not meant to absorb shock.

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Barefoot running has been known to reduce chronic running injuries such as the popular Runner’s knee which is a result of wearing cushioned shoes (heel-strike). Still, barefoot running remains a controversial topic and it may not be for every runner.

Transition to barefoot running would take a considerable amount of time. Be patient. Good things are ahead of you! The pain you feel when running barefoot would force you to change your running form and to land on your forefoot. Forefoot striking allows the activation of your natural shock absorbers: lower legs, foot arch and Achilles tendons. These places would hurt initially, but as you ease into it, you’ll soon be up and running in excellent form.

Say Hello to PAIN FREE RUNS! 

What do you think?

Tis’ the season to be EATING!

It’s that time of the year again! Christmas and New Year celebrations are rolling in! When you think of these festivities, you’d think of your loved ones and of course, FOOD (the best part!)! There’s something so comforting and warm about being surrounded by your loved ones while enjoying a home-cooked meal.

EAT LOVE

Once you hit the relaxed and stress free mode, you tend to want to indulge in all the glorious foods that this season has to offer and break free from your healthy habits. You tell yourself that you’ll “get back on track” once the holiday season comes to an end. I usually fall into this trap. I tell myself that I’ll indulge NOW, and work twice as hard LATER. Well, that usually never happens. And if you’re living in Malaysia, festivities occur all year round. There is always a reason or season to be stuffing your face. Chinese New Year, Mooncake Festival… not to mention taking advantage of our multiracial culture by riding on other celebrations such as Hari Raya and Deepavali!

You may tell yourself that its only 1 pound of weight gained over the festive season, but 1 pound times 3-5 seasons a year adds up and you could be gaining a lot of weight over a few years.

What’s the harm you say? According to an article in the Nutrition Journal, it is difficult to lose the weight gained during the Holiday Season, even if it’s just 1 pound. This retained weight gain could have potential long-term health consequences. It is also important to note that this is a factor which contributes to adult obesity.

SISTER LOVE 2

Obesity? SAY WHAT?!

We all know that the key to enjoying holiday treats without the extra pounds is portion control. The problem lies in executing what we already know (portion control!) when temptations are right before our eyes. The next question would be: does this even apply to us runners? What better way to clear all speculations than to experiment with your own body. Studies and scientific research will give you many different views and answers, some saying that you may gain weight and some saying that you may not.

So, the best way is to be your own lab rat. For me, I find that when I over-indulge for just over one week while still continuing my weekly mileage, I’m pretty much immune to the unsightly tummy bulge. Of course, if you plan to continue at this rate without doubling your weekly mileage, you’ll be in for a surprise at the end of the holiday season!

SILLY PEOPLE!

Portion Control. Hmmmm…

 I came up with a few tips on how to not go overboard during this festive season! I am sharing what has worked for me but they may or may not work for you. At the end of the day, it is not what we know or don’t know. Rather, it is whether or not we are willing to and determined enough to avoid temptation.

  1. Put in that workout! This one is obvious and full proof against holiday weight gain. I know it is hard. I’ve been there. Quick tip: GET IT DONE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING! Get it over and done with and out of the way. That way, you’re free to help out around the kitchen or do your last minute shopping or maybe just spend quality time with your loved ones.
  2. Pace yourself. If you know that you’ll be attending a party that night, avoid heavy meals and unnecessary snacking throughout the day. The point is to eat light and not starve yourself.
  3. Doubling up! If you want to eat and not gain weight, you have to put in the work. Try doubling your workouts one month before the holiday season or slowly increase the intensity of each workout to burn off the excess fat. Come holiday season, you’ll be lean and mean to stuff your face with food. I’m kidding. You’ll just feel less guilty because you know you’ve worked your butt off for it.
  4. WATER WATER WATER! I cannot stress this enough. Hydration is so important! We tend to mistake thirst for hunger. And this is true because I have experienced this myself. Also, when we’re dehydrated, fatigue sinks in. And when that happens, we look for FOOD! Always keep a water bottle with you. STAY HYDRATED!
  5. Reflect. Think back on all those hours, blood, sweat and tears that you put yourself through. Waking up early in the morning when you’d rather be sleeping just to put in that run. Think about how far you’ve come on your journey. This should give you enough will power to say NO to over eating. Well, if it doesn’t then I don’t think you’re working hard enough! (HAHA!)
  6. The main focus. The focus during these festive seasons should be on your family and friends. This is the one time when family and friends from all over the world gather together. Use this time to catch up with them instead of stuffing yourself silly. Opportunities like these don’t come very often!
  7. Choose wisely. Always start off with fiber rich foods: fruits and vegetables! This would leave you feeling partially full. Decide on what you want to eat. If you want to spend your calories on that slice of cake that you’ve been eyeing on, then cut back on your mains.
  8. Maintenance. The goal for the holiday season should be focused on maintaining instead of losing or gaining. Rest well, eat well and run consistently. Put your weight loss goals on hold and don’t miss out on the holiday treats!
  9. It is OKAY to indulge. If you slip up, forgive yourself and move on. Don’t beat yourself up. Try eating a healthier meal the next day and slowly get back on track. You can do it!

SISTERLY LOVE

Ahhhh. NOM NOM NOM!

So there you go! I’m still cracking my head to come up with a 10th tip. Just to make things even. I’m OCD like that. When I eventually come up with one, I’ll add it in. Any ideas?

Till then, BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR GUYS!

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Where do vegetarians get their protein?

Before we jump into where vegetarians/vegans get their protein, we need to know how much protein our body needs to function optimally. The Institute of Medicine suggests that the average adult should consume about 46-56 grams of protein a day. By looking at it in terms of percentage, 10-35% of your daily calories would have to consist of proteins. Unless you’re a serious body builder or somebody who is keeping track of your macros, you probably wouldn’t give a hoot about these numbers. To help you visualise this, one large chicken breast contains about 30 grams of protein. So, if you’re happy, healthy and eating a perfectly normal diet, you should be getting enough proteins into your system, maybe even more.

Many plant-based proteins lack certain amino acids that are found in animal protein. Vegetarians/vegans would need to combine a few plant-based proteins, like tofu and brown rice, in order to get the complete set of essential amino acids that are found in animal protein.

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My personal favourite green proteins in no particular order are:

  • TOFU!
  • Black beans
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Quinoa (you can buy cereals that contain them)
  • Chickpeas
  • Brown Rice
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds

Just thinking about that list makes me HUNGRY! If you cannot stand their individual taste, there are many ways that you can incorporate them into your meals. You can toss them in your salad, make soups or even add them to your breakfast yoghurt or froyo!

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Froyo and pumpkin seeds, my favourite! Trust me, your taste buds would sing! Also, you’ll be getting plenty of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that come with eating plant-based proteins (plus points!).

Don’t worry if you end up consuming too much protein, just as long as they’re plant-based proteins. Recent studies have shown that increasing plant-based protein intake to 20-25% of calories while cutting out refined carbohydrates can reduce the risk of heart disease.

I still get stares and I can feel the people around me rolling their eyes when I eat a very vege-fied meal. Even my kakak has a few things to say about my lifestyle. Well, I don’t really blame them. Throughout history, meaty meals were a symbol of an affluent lifestyle. Meals without meat were for the poor. These are just perceptions that humans have created.

Do it for yourself and your health. Famous Olympic coach Joe Vigil did not say “…eat as though you were a poor man…” for no reason! That translates to lots of whole grains and vegetables!

 

Have you eaten your veges?

White Ribbon Run 2013

So last Sunday (8th Dec 2013) was my last run for the rest of 2013! 5 runs in 3 months (Starting from October) after my long hiatus since January 2013 (whoopps). I haven’t been lazing around though. I’m still putting in my weekly runs and a bit of strength training whenever I feel like it.

On the morning of the run, we (Kevin & I) were unusually early (for once!). We had ample time to walk around, take pictures and slowly stroll towards the starting line. Actually, I went straight to the starting line to make sure I was right at the front and then started taking pictures. That’s just me being very kiasu (Ha-ha!).

The weather that day was perfect! It rained the night before so it was cool with a little wind. Though the run started at 7.30am, the sun was only just peeking through the clouds so it was not too hot. Hot and humid weather is every runner’s nightmare!

Being at the front, I had a strong start. I was running in first place before a veteran runner overtook me at the 4th kilometer (ARGGHHH!). Needless to say, it was still an awesome run. Many people cheered me on along the way. It is always so encouraging when other runners and volunteers by the side of the road push you to run a little harder. Never underestimate a simple shout of: “KEEP RUNNING!”. Whenever I see a runner slowing down, I give them a tap on the shoulder and wave them to run with me. It makes a difference! Do it! At the end of the race, a young man came up to me to give me a thumbs up and said :”You’re really fast!”. I remember passing him somewhere after the 5th kilometer. He was not easy to miss because he was tall, lean and was in really short shorts! I was pretty stunned and at the same time still struggling to recover after the run and all I could do was smile. Anyway, I came in 2nd place but there was no prize because it was a charity event (Boohoo!). Oh well. At least I know I ran 7KM in 33 minutes! I sliced off 10 minutes since last year (Yay!).

Upon reaching, I went straight to the Milo truck to grab a cup of Milo for Kevin before the crowd arrived. I waited, with the Milo in hand, for Kevin to finally roll in.

The whole event, AWAM’s White Ribbon Campaign Run and Walk, was pretty well organized with loads of goodies and freebies! AWAM (All Women’s Action Society) is a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness and prevent any form of violence towards women. Violence against women in Malaysia is not as prevalent as in other countries, but the numbers are still there. According to the little booklet provided in the goodie bag, the number of cases have been creeping up the ladder since the year 2000. And that number only represents the cases that have been reported. Thankfully, through this event, I am now AWARE!

Men! Stop hitting women!

I personally enjoy participating in charity runs because I know for sure that my money is going to go into supporting the people who really need it. I guess I can kill two birds with one stone: giving back to society and doing what I love.

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Ummm…this is Kevin’s “SAY NO TO VIOLENCE” pose.

“A real man never resorts to violence.”

So, why are you running?

I stumbled upon this article the other day. The title caught my attention and I just had to read what this writer had to say about runners.

Link: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304448204579186401818882202?mod=trending_now_1

I hate to admit it but I agree with the writer. I myself have witnessed the sudden surge in the number of people getting into running and the astonishing number of running events being held every other month (not complaining about that though!). Back in 2010, when I first took part in the KL Standard Chartered Marathon, there were only about 10,000 runners in total. Two years later and that number skyrocketed to 25,000+ runners. Now, aside from being ecstatic that more and more people are making an effort to run, I question the reason they get into it in the first place.

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These days, people tend to participate in events, parties and the like because they happen to be the “hype” of the moment. The same can be said for marathons and runs. Instead of focusing on the run, people are more concerned about what they wear to a run. Marathons become their fashion runway to flash their running apparel because they probably don’t wear it often enough. I know I don’t speak for the masses and I know that there is no harm in wanting to look good for a run (I do too) but please, before you start spending hundreds on compression shorts and overly priced running shoes, take note of your running form. Are you doing it right? Are you hurting yourself?

And before you start judging me, I have been running for a few years now, way before Facebook and Instagram became popular (or even existed). I almost never share anything about my runs or running, until recently. I’m doing it now because I want to motivate people. I want people to take up running (or any other sport) seriously and not just for the sake of having something fun and interesting to post on social media.

Evidence:

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I looked like this when I first started running. Baggy shorts I wore to sleep, baggy free T-shirt, old socks that were too loose to hug my feet snugly and shoes that weren’t made for running. I got my first pair of running shoes 1.5 years later. I have come to learn that what you wear says nothing about how you run. People decked out in running gear from head to toe are not necessarily top accomplished runners. So don’t be fooled or feel intimidated. What you see is only part of the story. Focus on you and your running style. The only person you have to battle with is your inner self.

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Aside from all that, I have to admit, I am one of those crazy runners that can be found reading books, magazines and articles about running, go shopping at sport stores (more than I should) and can be seen wearing running jerseys half the time. Sorry but not sorry. (haha!)