Monthly Archives: September 2015

Taper Week – Dos and Don’ts

Some say taper week brings out the worst in runners. They get grumpy, agitated, angry and frustrated because they are required to cut down on mileage (which means running a lot less than usual).

I don’t know where they come from but TAPER WEEK IS THE BEST!

Less running and more food, what’s not to like? I’ve been waiting for this week to come, since the beginning of training. It feels like a tonne of weight has been lifted off my shoulders.FullSizeRender

Taper week/s is just as important as your other heavy training weeks. Do it wrongly and you risk performing well on race day.

Want to do it right? Here are the dos and don’ts:

Dos

1. Get Enough Sleep!

These days, sleep is considered luxury! We’d be lucky to get in at least 7 hours of good sleep. But to perform at your best, the body needs rest!

As you’ll most probably be too jittery to fall asleep the night before race day, sleep and rest 4-5 days before is crucial!

Aim for some consistency in terms of bed time and sleeping hours.

2. Massage and Foam Rolling

Go for a nice body massage during taper week. This will help loosen up your muscles. It will also relieve your mind of any pre-race STRESS!IMG_4970

Aim to foam roll and stretch every other day to release any tension and tight knots in your muscles. I like to stretch before bed time because it helps me to sleep better!

3. Eat Enough

For most of us, we fear the weight gain by eating the same amount (If not more) and decreasing mileage.

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Just eat as you normally would. Eating the same amount but not running as much will help you fill glycogen stores that have been depleted during training.

Remember not to go to either extremes of eating too much or too little. Both will have an impact on your performance.

4. Carbo Load

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Do carbo load 3 days before race day. You can read more about it here.

5. Keep Your Body and Legs Fresh

It is a fine balance between doing too much and too little during the final week of taper. You don’t want to be doing too much that your body cannot recover and you don’t want to be doing too little that your legs feel stiff.

IMG_6835During the final week, do one short speed session and go easy the rest of the days. You can do a combination of strides, 100s, 200s and 400s. Keep reps to a minimum if you do them at max pace but you can do a little more if you’re going at interval pace. This should get your heart racing, blood flowing and legs feeling fresh.

You should feel strong after the session and not drained. Everyone is different so see what works best for you!

6. Stick to Your Routine

The final week is not the time to introduce anything new. Try not to eat anything new even though it may be seemingly healthy. You never know how your stomach or body might react.

Just stick with what you know and what you normally do.


 

Don’ts

1. No Last Minute Cramming

Unlike when you’re sitting for an exam, last minute cramming WILL NOT WORK!

During taper week, less is always more. Now is not the time to put in last minute lost mileage during training or any sort of key workouts. These will put you at risk for injury and fatigued muscles before race day. Weekly mileage is recommended to be reduced to at least 40% of your usual training week.

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It does require some effort but try to decrease overall volume and duration while maintaining intensity. For example, you can use the same effort for your 200m repeats but instead of doing 10 reps, do 5.

A key thing to remember is that any physiological adaptations require at least 4-6 weeks. Last minute training is not going to improve your performance. In fact, it will probably do more harm than good!

2. No Unnecessary Activities

This is not the time to be trying a new sport or workout. Anything from hiking to a spin class is out of the question. Do those AFTER the race.

At this point, you want to be well rested. Reducing overall stress on your body will help your body to function optimally. This includes keeping hormone levels in check which are responsible for many physiological activities in the body including sleep!

3. Don’t Overanalyse

During the final days, you want everything to be perfect! From the food you eat to the amount of sleep that you get. It can be pretty stressful!

FullSizeRender(1)Just relax. What is supposed to be done has already been done. No amount of worrying is going to get you to run any faster.

Even after putting in all the hard work, you cannot predict what happens on race day. A good performance is never guaranteed to anyone. Just smile and be happy that you’ve managed to put in all the crazy amount of running that is required of marathon training.

Have some confidence by knowing that you have given yourself the best possible chance of achieving your race day goals.


Tapering is serious business. It allows your body to rest and recover from the gruelling hours of training that you’ve put it through. Bodily functions from muscle glycogen stores, hormones, enzymes, the immune system and anything that have gone out of whack during training will return to optimal conditions. Any micro tears in your muscles or connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) will also have a chance to repair and strengthen.

Tapering prepares your body for peak performance on race day. So, TAPER AWAY!

All the best!

Post-Race Report: Sultan Mahmud International Bridge Run 2015

One year ago, I vowed to never attempt this race ever again.

12 months later,

I went back (Haaaaa!).

I had a horrible experience last year. You can read about it here.


The best thing about the registration process was that you didn’t have to pay upfront. I signed up first without giving it much thought.

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I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go. In fact, I only DOUBLE confirmed 3 days before race day. Transport was the main problem (amongst others). But thanks to Wai Ching, he managed to find someone (Lili Suhairi) that we could all carpool with!


 Hello Terengganu!

The journey was surprisingly very pleasant! I had imagined it to be a 6-7 hour ride but we only took 4.5hours with several stops in between! I guess we had a pro driver. Plus, I had the whole backseat to myself! There were supposed to be 4 of us. Affindi pulled out on the morning of our departure.

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This trip was rather spontaneous. We hadn’t even book a place to stay before we arrived! After settling our race kits, we drove around to look for a place to stay.

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We called Muhaizar up and thankfully, his apartment had 2 extra rooms left! So, we bunked in with him and the rest of his mates.

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The biggest room with a double bed all to myself!

After checking in, it was time for dinner! We ate at the stall by the roadside. I didn’t think it was a very good idea to eat by the roadside, especially before a race! You never know the quality of their hygiene and true enough, I found two bugs in my soup! Thank God for my stomach of steel (it was all good).

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Room mates!

After dinner, we bought some snacks and water before heading back to our hotel. It was around 10pm. I took a shower and called it a night. The rest of the guys stayed up to watch football! Take note, this is what elite runners do a day before race day (Haha!).

Although I went to bed early, I couldn’t sleep! I was very tired but my mind refused to shut down. This would have been my 4th consecutive day of disturbed sleep. I am such an insomniac.


My alarm went off at 5am. It felt as though I was awake the whole night!

This is where it gets a little interesting……

Okay, you know how sometimes we have pre-race day rituals/routines that we follow  and how we should NEVER try anything NEW on race day (to make sure nothing goes wrong)?

Well, my routine went out the window and everything that could possibly go wrong, WENT WRONG! Here’s the breakdown:

-First of all, I signed up for the Half Marathon. But I actually wanted the 12KM (this was just me being lazy, blahhhhhhh!). I was so sure that I could change to the 12KM that I wasn’t prepared mentally and physically to run the Half Marathon.

-I wore “new shoes” (a BIG NONO). I brought 2 pairs of shoes – Puma Ignite and Nike Flyknit Free 4.0. My Puma Ignites have been worn down to the core (more than 800KM). I shouldn’t even be wearing them but they are my only pair of training/road racing shoe! I have placed my order for new shoes but they have yet to arrive.sfsr

On the morning of the run, the guys advised me against wearing my Pumas. I felt that I shouldn’t take the risk too. I had no choice but to wear my Nikes. I HAVE NEVER RACED IN THEM. And it was going to be a HALF MARATHON! IMG_8076

*Disclaimer: I have permission from my Sponsors to wear Nike*

-I wore new socks. My usual thicker pair of performance socks was soaking wet so I had to wear the other one which was still new. New shoes + new socks = ?

I didn’t have my usual breakfast. I usually eat 2 slices of Gardenia wholegrain bread and a banana. I brought 5 slices along with me from KL. After knowing that I couldn’t change to the 12KM category, I had to load up for the Half Marathon. I consumed all 5 slices the night before. I wanted to buy a new loaf but I couldn’t find it even after going into 3 convenient stores!FullSizeRender_2

And then the banana. I brought two bananas with me. GUESS WHAT?! They both had worms wriggling around! I had to throw them away.

No bread AND banana!

Whaaaaatttt! I had to settle for a pack of Meiji biscuits and an apple.

-I didn’t bring any gels (because I was so sure that I was going to do the 12KM). Thankfully, Lili had ONE extra pack. It was the High 5 gel WITH caffeine. I hadn’t taken that before.

-I forgot my iPod.

I didn’t get my haircut. This may sound a bit funny but I was planning on getting my haircut before we left to Terengganu. Time was not on my side and I didn’t manage to. I WAS FEELING VERY UNEASY about it! I like to get things done when I set my heart and mind to it.

-I didn’t get enough sleep and my right eye was swollen near the tear gland.

So, yay! Everything went wrong. You can imagine how excited I was for this run.


We made our way to the starting area 30 mins before the flag off. Did a short warm up and met up with all the familiar faces!

The crowd was small but very competitive. We were off at 6.30am. You know how I always dart out at the start? I didn’t do it this time! It was a good start. Ran alongside Annie and Yu Fang for the first few KMs before they broke away. There were a few others following closely behind but I managed to shake them off before we hit the bridge.

I remember hitting the wall last year at KM 15 because there were only 2 water stations! This year, I made sure I drank heaps at every water station! I even drank some of the water from the sponge (they were pouring mineral water over them). To my surprise, there were about 5-6 water stations throughout the entire course! WHOOP! They also had many sponge stations!

When we got on to the bridge, it felt so familiar and I knew it was going to be a long straight road ahead. It was mentally very challenging. I tried to maintain my pace. I think I went a little faster after we made the U-turn.

I decided to take my gel at the last water station on the bridge (KM 15). I was contemplating whether or not to take it because I hadn’t taken that particular one before! I wasn’t feeling spent of energy but I didn’t want to risk not taking the gel. Thankfully, it went down pretty well.

It was very hazy. I could barely see the surrounding buildings. I remember it was blazing hot last year but this year, it was cool and rather gloomy (probably due to the haze).

I wanted to slow down towards the end as I felt blisters forming beneath my toes. When I looked at my watch, I knew I was going much faster compared to last year. I kept the momentum just to see if I could hit a PB (I really wanted to slow down).

I gave 85% down that last stretch! Crossed the finish line and stopped the timer with a smile. I shaved off about 4 mins from last year and a PB for my 4th Half Marathon (if you extrapolate that is. It was only 20.5KM)! I finished 4th too, behind Annie. Double 4! Coincidentally, my bib number was 1163 and hers was 1162. 🙂

My feet were burning. I had to kick my shoes off! Walked around the grass area for a light cool down and met up with Lili, Muhaizar, Amelia and Nik. IMG_8092

Thanks to Nik for the sports drink! Best way to consume it? Put it in the freezer and drink it like a slushie! SO GOOD!

We chilled for a bit before heading back to the hotel room for a nice cold shower! We checked out and went back to the race area to collect our prizes. Had a good chat with the other runners. Everything was fast and efficient. We were done before 12pm!

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Congrats to Wai Ching for his 2nd place in the 12KM Uni category and Lili in 9th in the 21KM Men’s Open. Everyone went home with something!

Every year, this race attracts the elites of Malaysia (well, most of them). It was good to catch up with them and of course, a privilege to race among the best. I am glad I came back for this one! The organisers made the necessary changes (like adding MORE WATER STATIONS) to improve race day conditions. It was a good day. 🙂

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I was in the mood for bread and milk. IMG_8022 JUNK!IMG_8056The guys loaded up on sugar!FullSizeRender_1


Training Progress:

9 weeks in since the dengue episode. Starting from the bottom, I wasn’t expecting much from my body. I pushed when I could and rested when I should. I certainly did not expect to break my 5KM, 10KM and Half Marathon PB!

1. Listen to your body. Many people told me to take 3 months off post dengue. Some people do need that much time to recover. You know your body best. YOU decide.

2. Train hard

3. Be consistent

4. Never give up!

God has been good. Without Him, I would never have had the courage and strength to push through. Praise the Lord!

What’s next? 😉

5 Haze Day Solutions For The Active Person

It’s that season again – Haze Season! Yep, Malaysia has 3 seasons – Rain, Shine and Haze. The haze situation is an annual episode, usually making its grand entrance around this time of the year. For healthy and active individuals, it stops us in our tracks. To make things worse, haze season almost always clashes with the Malaysian Marathon season.

It somehow manages to hit right at the peak of our training, blocking us from reaching the ultimate climax. Of course, there are many other concerns (that are more crucial) in regards to the haze such as our respiratory health. But for now, we will focus on how you can make the most of this hazy situation.


 

1. The Gym

I guess this is every runner’s nightmare. We chose running to avoid the gym. But now, we’re forced back in.

The gym would be one of the best options if you really need to continue your training. You can hop onto the dreamill, I mean treadmill, to clock in your mileage. For distance runners, you will look like a lifeless hamster on its wheel for a few hours. You can kill time by listening to some music, watch TV, play games, read news etc OR you can take this time to work on your mental strength. The mental aspect plays a huge role when running a marathon. IMG_4648

Reminder: If you frequent your local gym, make sure it is during off peak hours and that you don’t hog the machine. Be considerate! I can see some of my friends clocking in 20-30KM on the treadmill. WHAT?!?!

If the machine can accommodate your sprints/faster paced workouts, you can get key workouts (tempo, intervals, fartlek etc) done too. Just make sure you get the speed right and don’t fall off the machine!

If you are just looking for ways to stay active, join a class! Most gyms offer a wide variety of classes and activities from power yoga to body pump! There will be something for you.

2. Indoor HIIT circuits

If you are like me and you dread the dreadmill (I can barely survive 10KM), create your own mini HIIT circuit to do at home! It may or may not be running specific, but at least is gets your heart rate up! You can work on your VO2 Max. If you are not training for anything in particular, this is a great and effective way to torch some calories!

IMG_7938An example of a HIIT circuit:

Circuit 1:

-100 skips

-50 mountain climbers

-10 burpees

-20 air bikes

Set the timer for 5 minutes and do as many rounds as possible. Repeat!IMG_7949

Circuit 2:

-15 weighted squats

-15 push ups

-15 jump lunges

-15 tricep dips

Set the timer for 5 minutes and do as many rounds as possible. Repeat!FullSizeRender

You will have a full body workout done in 20 minutes! Get creative and mix things up!

3. REST lah!

This is probably the last thing that you want to hear!

But if you have been following a training plan diligently, there is no harm in taking a day or two off your feet. Marathon training can be very taxing. Most of us have standard working hours and incorporating marathon training into that schedule can place a lot of stress on our bodies both physically and mentally. IMG_1726

We are not professional athletes in training. We may not have the luxury of extra sleep or access to optimum nutrition to recover from hard workouts. Our energy is stretched to so many other aspects of our lives that running is only a small part of it.

So don’t be too hard on yourself! If you are injured or on the brink of injury, even better! GET OFF YOUR FEET. IMG_5353

I took two days off. In fact, I feel a lot better! The pain in my leg has decreased and I feel so much stronger! Taking time off allows the body to repair micro tears in your muscles. Try not to underestimate sleep and rest. Changes in your body take place AFTER your workout when your body is at rest. If you want to reap the full benefits, make sure you are getting enough REST!

IMG_7951Foam roll, stretch and RELAX!

4. Get other things done!

Take this time off to do the things that you have been putting off! Get your laundry done, do the house chores, a room makeover, organise your to-do list or get out and catch up with your friends! I am guilty of the last one! If I am not running in the evenings, I enjoy staying in for some me-time.

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So, take this opportunity to meet up with your friends. You can also take this time to do some research and reading. There are so many things about running that you can read up on (nutrition, training, injury, recovery etc).

Load up your brain with some running knowledge that you can use in your next run!

5. Be THAT #hazerunner

Ok, if you are that stubborn runner that refuses to do any of the above, join the #hazerunner club. *AT YOUR OWN RISK!*IMG_8006

If you really want to run in the haze, take extra precaution. It is difficult to predict the long term effects of the haze on the body.

Drink a lot of water and try not to stay out for too long. Monitor daily API values and decide wisely. You can try wearing the N95 mask to run. They are effective in blocking out smaller dust particles and having something is certainly better than nothing!

But remember, your health comes first. I know many of you are not running to be healthy per se (we like to torture ourselves). Sometimes, we are too focused on getting our best times that we disregard our health!

Hope this helps!

What are YOU guys getting up too during this hazy season? Share them with me!

Keep Running 🙂

 

 

 

Kit Kat Green Tea!

If you know me, you’ll know my obsession over GREEN TEA!

Green Tea Ice Cream, Green Tea Smoothie, Green Tea Candy, PURE GREEN TEA…… you get my point 😉

Ok, I am not the biggest fan of chocolates (since young). You wouldn’t see me craving or buying chocolates. I have them occasionally.

Kit Kat Green Tea has always been a rather special treat when friends/family members bring them back from overseas. And now, Nestle Malaysia has finally decided to bring in Kit Kat Green Tea! 


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I had the opportunity to join in the buzz on the launch of this product at Farenheit 88. It was a small event with Mr Sachin Goel, Business Exec Manager of the Confectionery Business Unit, giving the opening speech and introducing the product.

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The best part was of course getting a taste of Kit Kat Green Tea that is 100% made in Malaysia! It is made with authentic Japanese Green Tea powder and mixed with white confectionery over their signature wafer. It does have a rich green tea flavour but it was a tad too sweet for me. I don’t have a sweet tooth but this snack will surely satisfy all the green tea lovers out there!

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It was a really good day and I got a chance to mingle around. Refreshments were served at the Café outside Farenheit 88. I had a huge helping of Mac and Cheese to counter the sweetness from the Kit Kat Green Tea.

IMG_7780 We also had a chance to taste the Kit Kat Green Tea Ice Cream. I had 2 helpings! YUM!

As the iconic Kit Kat phrase goes, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat!”

I don’t mean to sound cliché but it was a good mid day break from work, uni and assignments. At the end of the event, I was fuelled with more sugar to get through the rest of the day!

Green Tea all the way!

Food Journal Challenge

One of the first steps to eating well is being aware of what you are putting into your mouth.

I have people telling me that they only eat 3 meals a day or “very little” but they still cannot seem to lose/maintain their weight. There are many aspects when it comes to weight loss but we’ll focus on the food that you eat.

I am usually very curious as to what exactly are they eating in 24 hours. I get them to list out every food/drink that they consume.

From there, these are the 3 most common scenarios:

  1. They actually stick to 3 meals a day BUT those 3 meals are loaded with sugar, saturated fat and trans-fat (Fried foods, oily foods, sweets, dessert, cakes, ice cream, canned drinks etc)
  2. They eat 3 relatively small and healthy meals BUT snack continuously on the foods mentioned above.
  3. They do not eat ENOUGH.

get off your assSo, before you start eating right or make any changes to your current eating patterns, you have to find out what is wrong with it. The first thing you can do is to start a personal Food Journal. Write down every time you take a bite. Yes, that one bite of Snickers count!

The Challenge: Start a food journal today and eat as you normally would. That way, you can monitor your current eating patterns!

I have a Food Journal template that I use. Drop me an email or leave a comment if you want it! FOR FREE! 🙂