Monthly Archives: January 2014

To Rest or Not to Rest?

You’ve worked hard. You’ve put in the miles. You can go on all night long. You’re unstoppable, unbeatable…… Hold up! Before you continue, ask yourself: “Am I getting enough rest?”

I understand that when runners are “on a roll”, they go all out. No time to sit around and slack. After all, how can we achieve our goals or be great if we take days off? We should be doing what others are NOT doing. Well, not quite. No matter the intensity of your workout/run/exercise, we all need to rest.

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I am guilty of being one of those hard-core, no rest, do or die runners. I hate taking days off. It feels horrible, different and somewhat incomplete. I guess it is comparable to people needing their morning coffee kick. I need my adrenaline kick from running! I schedule 1-2 rest days a week. For the rest of the week, I’m either running or doing some sort of activity. The problem with me is that other than my scheduled rest days, I don’t allow myself to rest even when I need to (due to sickness, fatigue, injury etc…). Two weeks ago, I injured my right calf muscle. It was feeling tight and I couldn’t even flex the muscle. Even then, I didn’t take extra days off other than the two scheduled rest days. I continued to run and the pain lingered for a good two weeks.

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So I guess this post is a subtle reminder to myself and everyone else out there with the same problem. Listen to your body! Nobody knows you better than you. Sometimes we just don’t feel like moving. Maybe it’s the hormones, workload or stress. Whatever it is, it is okay to give yourself a break. Instead of mourning over it, take advantage of it. Eat, sleep, laze around, go for a massage or anything that would get you back in the game. Just don’t overdo your rest days. Once you’re done resting, get back to the grind. Feel that pump!

ImageSleeping in. Bliss!

ImageThe weekly foot massage.

If you’re still as hard-headed and crazy as I am, you can opt to decrease the intensity of your workout/run/exercise. That was what I probably should have done. Instead, I was smashing it on the roads and marching up the hills (of which I paid for in the form of pain).

Guys, take it from me. Your body is already stressing out from trying to repair those torn muscles. Don’t subject your body to more unwanted stress.

So, TAKE A DAY OFF! (But only after you’ve put in the hard work!)

My Personal Take on Trail Running

Here’s a break down of my personal thoughts after my first ‘official’ trail run on the 1st day of the year.

BEACH TRAIL

Physically:

Trail running can be quite heavy on the calve muscles due to a lot of uphills and uneven paths. Your glutes will feel the burn too after a day or two. My toes were slightly sore from hopping around the rocks that laid the trail.

Trail running itself can be pretty challenging, carrying extra weight on me – my backpack – didn’t do me any good. I wasn’t used to having something bulky and heavy on my back (my bad for over-packing). It literally felt like I was carrying the weight of the world.

I had a lot of loose items in my bag which kept bouncing up and down whenever I ran. It was pretty annoying. On top of that, I decided to carry my non-padded strap backpack which kept brushing against my shoulders. Not very comfortable to begin with. Another poor judgement call on my part. Other than that, it was all FUN!

Mentally:

Slightly more mentally challenging than running around your neighborhood or on the track. When you’re running on familiar grounds, you can zone out and just let your legs do the running. You don’t have to think about stuff like: “hmmm…where’s my next step?”, “PUDDLE!”, “HOLE!”, “Can I land safely on that?”, “Am I going to slip?” or worst, “LEECH!”. The last one is for me.

When you’re out there in the jungle, it is a totally different story. The thing is, you have to concentrate and pay 100% to your running and surroundings. It was actually pretty exhausting and not very smooth at the start. But I can assure you that once you get the gist of it, it’ll be a breeze.

Some tips and lessons that I learned:

-Carry a padded strap backpack.

-If your backpack is half empty, stuff some towels in to fill it up. You wouldn’t want your things to be sloshing around as you run. A big no no.

-Opt to wear clothes with more covering. Long sleeve or long pants. I sustained a few cuts and bruises from brushing against branches and twigs along the path.

-Invest in a good pair of trail running shoes. Your feet will thank you for them.

-Pay attention when you run. When I say attention, I mean your FULL attention. This should be applied to your normal running too. (Opppppssss!)

Any thoughts? Do share!

 

Sweet potato…SWEET POTATO!

One of my all time favourite foods would have to be sweet potatoes! My love for sweet potatoes knows no bounds. I even made up my very own sweet potato song! It goes something like this: SWEET POTATO SWEET POTATO!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, that’s about it. With a tune, of course.

Sweet potatoes are grown all around the world. They are often associated with war-time and poverty because they are easy to obtain, grow, harvest and prepare.

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Why sweet potatoes? Because they’re so delish and comes with a truckload of nutrients that are good for you.

The HEALTH FACTS:

CARBS!

Many people have the idea that carbs are the enemy when it comes to losing weight. Well, not all carbs are bad carbs. You just need to eat the right carbs! The good ones are complex carbohydrates – SWEET POTATOES! As a runner, I need carbs to fuel my short and long runs. I don’t enjoy eating rice or noodles as much as bread. To switch things up (instead of eating bread EVERY DAY), I’ve added sweet potatoes into my daily meals. One cup of mashed sweet potatoes contain about 58 grams of carbohydrates. They are easily digested and will fuel you for at least an hour.  Sweet potatoes also act to regulate blood sugar levels. As they are slow digesting carbohydrates, sugars are released slowly into the blood stream preventing the sudden spike of insulin.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is good for both the eyes and the immune system. During training, the body weakens and the immune system goes down. One medium sized sweet potato will supply 100% of your daily needs, keeping your immune system up and running.

Beta-Carotene

This yellowish-orange tuber is a big hint of what it contains, you got that right – BETA-CAROTENE. Beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, is an antioxidant. Like all antioxidants, they prevent the formation of free radicals through oxidation. Free radicals are capable of cell damage which could lead to the development of chronic diseases (heart diseases or cancer). Beta-carotene also protects your skin from the sun by deflecting harmful UV rays. They are also thought to prevent macular degeneration and vision loss.

Vitamin C

The familiar vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant. It prevents free radicals that are created through oxidative stress. They also have anti-ageing properties and are able to boost collagen formation, leaving your skin bright and smooth. Running puts a lot of stress on the body. It is always good to have vitamin C in your diet!

Anti-inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to the purple sweet potato. Their deep rich purple tones come from the anthocyanin pigment. Studies have shown that they prevent unwanted inflammation by deactivating certain important inflammatory precursors (COX-2, iNOS). In our digestive tract, they are also capable of lowering the risk of oxygen radicals and heavy metals.

Manganese

A trace element, often overlooked, is involved in bone metabolism and the metabolism of carbohydrates.

ImageWhat I normally have for lunch: Salad, tuna, egg, avocado and… SWEET POTATO!

To reap the full benefits of this tuber, it is important to incorporate some fat in your diet. Some fat is needed for the efficient uptake of beta-carotene and vitamin A as they are fat soluble. One tablespoon of olive oil or some avocado would do the trick (3-5grams).

Sweet potatoes are so easy to prepare! Their natural sweetness allows you to consume them on their own. No sugar, salt or dressing needed! Roast or boil them and they are good to go! GOOGLE sweet potato and you’ll find a whole selection of different ways to incorporate them into your daily diet.

There is absolutely NO reason why SWEET POTATOES should not be on your plate! HAPPY EATING!

Trail Running to welcome 2014!

Happy New Year! 2013 came, left its mark and left. Time to welcome 2014 with open arms!

How did ya’ll spend your New Years Eve?

It was a little different for me this year. I mean last year. I was partying with my family and brothers and sisters in Christ. My church decided to bring back the “watch-night” service tradition and this year it was held in MCKL.

We had a lovely Northern Indian meal before the service. It was so good. Naan bread and CURRY. Not too shabby for my last meal of the year.

The service was a good time of sharing, singing and a gentle reminder to always be grateful and thankful to God for his providence. After the final countdown and some fireworks, we headed home. The night ended with cake, junk food, chocolates and movies.

Somewhere in between cake and movies, I decided that I wanted to kick-start the new year with some sort of adventure. Kevin suggested trail running. He was partially joking but I was dead serious. I packed and went to bed.

5 hours later, we found ourselves heading towards Perting Valley, located somewhere off Bukit Tinggi Kampung. Kevin had been there several times so we had no trouble in finding the place.

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When we arrived, we parked our car at a designated parking spot which was by a river. We could have opted to drive further in before the real trekking trail began but we decided that we would run in instead (partly for the exercise, and partly because the condition of the “road” would’ve wreaked havoc on the car’s undercarriage). We slipped on our Vibrams and off we went.

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Before the ‘real’ trekking trail.

We started at half past 12. By then the sun was already shining, blazing in its full glory. Thankfully, we didn’t feel the heat. The thick forest canopy and river kept the air crisp and relatively cool.  When we finally hit the trail, we took it slow. The beginning of the trail was rocky and then muddy followed by a mixture of both. We stopped along the way to fiddle with the camera and to take a few photos.

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Paracord bracelet-CHECKED!

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And the trail running begins!

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Weird creature alert!

According to Kevin, the trail had been transformed by nature’s worst enemy, humans. The lush, thick ferns that lined part of the trail were no longer there. Everything had been flattened or chopped away. Once a single track barely wide enough in places for a single man to pass through, the trail was now wide enough for a truck to navigate. It was sad that I didn’t get a chance to run this trail before somebody decided to widen it for vehicles. Nonetheless, it was fun. Hopping and skipping around to avoid sinking into the mushy mud.

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Muddy Mud Mud.

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50 minutes later, we hit the turn-off point to Lata Hammer (Hammer Falls). It was a steep hike-climb down to our final destination – the waterfall. We had to cross the river to get to the sandy flat area where people could set up tents or picnic mats. It was pretty crowded – I guess it was because today was a public holiday.

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Jungle Selfie!

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Hmmmm!

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Weird creature on the rocks.

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We found an empty spot and laid our mat. We quickly settled in and started digging into the snacks that we had brought along. We also started a fire on a home-made stove to boil some water.

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GRUB!

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Boiling water with self-built stove.

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Just chillin’.

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Milo + Nescafe = Neslo!

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Bubblin’!

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Feet up!

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Some of the things that you might need for a hike/climb/picnic or just junk you’d like to carry along. I’ll call them “The Essentials”.

So here’s a list:

-Backpacks (hopefully they’re waterproof!). If not, you could always get what’s next on the list…

– Dry packs
– Flash lights
– Knives, parangs, penknives, pocketknives, Swiss Army knives
– Rope, paracord bracelet (never know when you need some ROPE!)
– Food (bring food that is easy to carry and prepare ie: canned tuna, bread, sneakers, trail mix)
– Mini stove (Kevin made his own), SPORK (as the name suggest, its a spoon AND a fork)
– Fuel to start a fire, lighter
– A good pair of shoes (would be best if it’s waterproof)
– First Aid Kit
– A whistle (just in case you get lost)
– Camera
– WATER!

I guess that’s the end of the list! Hoohaa!

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We chilled and relaxed for a good 2 hours. The sky was still bright and clear but we wanted to get an early start back. We packed up and hiked-ran back out to our car.

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Crossing the bridge back to reality.

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FUN TIMES!

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WHOAAAA!

We took about 40 minutes with a few stops to take photos and to attend to the wound I sustained when I brushed my arm against some dangling branches.

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On the way home, we bought some durians for the family.

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Trail running, hiking, picnic, waterfall, spending time with Kevin, nature, peace and quiet, a time for reflection……

It was indeed the best way to kick-start the new year! Doing what we love to do.

Hello 2014!