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Monday, November 30, 2009

Running the Marathon for Plodders Part 4

Just a few more days to go. Are you ready? Here are some pointers for this week.

1) Some people said hor, no sex. Sex will affect your performance. But then, some other people believe it will help morale. Er I think unless you are looking at a podium finish, why not? The least it will do is keep your mind off the race and settle the butterflies in your stomach. And also how to pass the time from going to bed till waking up for the race? Read more here

2) Stay healthy. Eat more fruits. Take your Vitamin B. Keep away from everybody who sneezes, cough and got H1N1. Avoid fried and heaty food. You don't want to waste all your efforts to only go down sick at the last minutes.

3) Go for runs. Yes continue running. Just don't run too far too hard. Keep the legs fresh with short runs.

4) Don't go for a massage. Massage can leave your legs especially the calf sore. Wait until after the race. But a nice body scrub to keep you relax might be helpful.

5) Cut out the marathon shopping sessions these few days and especially on Saturday. Go home and rest.

6) Sleep early the night before the race. And if you cannot sleep, refer to No 1.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Running the Marathon for Plodders Part 3

Part 3 What you need and more importantly what you don't need

Start with the basic. What you need:

1) A running tee or singlet. Yes silly of me to remind you of that but I've seen people who wore buttoned shirt; sweat absorbing cheap cotton t-shirt; long sleeve shirt etc. It's going to be hot enough especially if you are going to run 5 - 6 hours so you want to be at the most comfortable. Those nice cotton tees with the fancy slogans or nice logo will absorb sweat and make it heavy. Oh and leave the clown costumes to the clowns.

2) A proper pair of running shorts. No bermuda, no long pants, no cut off jeans and for the ladies no micro jean shorts. I know those micro shorts look sexy on you ladies but the only people who will feel sexy will be the guys running behind you and oogling away while you struggle with abrasions around your nether area. Ditto the bermudas. Leave that for the beach.

3) A proper pair of running shoes. No slippers, flip flops, sneakers or basketball shoes. Need I say why? Also, don't try barefoot or use any fancy footwear unless you have run in it before and is comfortable with it. Believe me, getting blisters all over your foot is no joke especially after 20km of pounding.

4) Gel. So that your hair will look nice when you crossed the finish line when the official photographer takes a picture of you. Ha ha I am only joking although it might not be such a bad idea. I know a lady whose hair looks like a lion mane when she runs. But seriously, gel as in those jelly like thingy that comes in small satchet and you gulp them down during your run.

5) Your Bib and timing chip. These should need no reminder but somehow every year I hear of one or 2 friends who forget them. No bib no race. No timing chip - no time recorded - no finisher tee, no certificate. This one very critical you know.

6) A watch. Otherwise how you going to keep track of the time and pace? No need those fancy GPS watch. Just a simple Casio/Timex watch with a stop watch function will do.

7) A pace band if you are the forgetful sort. A pace band is a simple make it yourself wrist band where you can mark out the timing you expected to achieve at specific distance and you can use it as a guide during the run and make the necessary adjustment to slow down or speed up. You can make your pace band from these websites:

Just key in your desired finishing time and viola. Print it out and copy the tiiming onto a strip of cloth using a waterproof fabric pen. Don't use paper cos once sweat get on to it, it will just crumple up. Don't be a smart aleck and laminate either. The plastic will stick to the skin and cause abrasion.

8) A cap or something (like maybe the Buff) to protect your head from the heat. Not absolutey necessary but can come in useful.

9) PJ(dont't think naughty thoughts here), vaseline or those expensive abrasion cream like Neat, Sportshield, Bodyglide. Absolutely essential. The sight of blood streaking down the front of your tee isn't very nice.

10) Sweets. I swear by them. Not Mentos or Fruittella but powerpack energy loaded energy chews. Get them from Running Lab or at the Race Expo. Keep your mind off the distance and give you energy. Alternate with the gel.

11) Salt Tablet. Not abosultely necessary but some people thinks it will help to ward off cramps. No harm trying. Oh forget to add - don't be too smart and use cooking salt!

What you don't need. Actually very simple - anything that will weight you down. Every little items will seem to weight a ton after you ran for over 3 hours. Even the shirt you are wearing. But specifically:

1) Hydration Bag/Fuel Belt - If you don't know what these are, you can skip this paragraph otherwise there is no need to carry 1.5ltr of water on you. There will be ample water points including isotonic drinks along the route. Unless you only drink Evian in which case I have nothing to say.

2) Towel. For what? Maybe good to flick at people blocking your way but otherwise its going to absorb sweat and become heavier and heavier as you go along. Use a sweat band or wrist band if you absolutely need to clean away the sweat

3) Energy Bar. Most of them will melt halfway and become a sticky gooey mess. Stick to the gel and sweets.

4) A pouch or bag to carry all the aforesaid stuff. Stuff them into your short's pocket, pin to your shirt will do. A pouch bouncing away at your waist or a bag banging your back over 42 km is not gonna be nice.

Did I forget anything?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Running the Marathon for Plodders Part 2

Is there such a thing as a 'sure can' strategy to complete the marathon? Actually no. So sorry to disappoint you guys. That last line in the previous post was a marketing gimmick. You know keep the suspense going, get more eyeballs, get more advertising income. Ha ha ha.

But anyway seriously I think most people will be able to complete the marathon; maybe not in 3 hours, not 4 hours but maybe and that is a big maybe; depending on the amount of training or lack of; in say 5 or more hours.

But before I go on, STOP reading if you are able to run the marathon without walking (okay maybe can walk a teeny little bit at the various water points), this is not for you. This is for the plodders. (But if you die die must read, don't come and suan me when you see me okay?)

Firstly, some preliminaries. If you do not have the mileage i.e. have not consistently chalked up total weekly runs of at least 40km and a few long runs of 20km and above over the past 3 months, I can assure you - you are not going to be able to run the 42km non stop. Along the way, your legs will start to feel heavier and heavier, your heart starts to beat faster and your brain starts frying and you gonna have to walk. Everyone of us can run a little bit but walk a lot. So we gonna make use of what we know best and use it to our advantage to conquer the FM. All of these strategies that I am going to list below will involve walking. A lot. Easy right? Especially since most of us are capable of walking all day in the malls so what is 5 - 6 hours of walking for the FM?

1) Weaning Plodders

Once a plodder always a plodder. No not true lah. Can graduate but first do it one baby step at a time. So if you have been clocking 6+ hours or more previously, wean yourself off with this strategy.

Run 10 mins Walk 10 mins Repeat. Check point: 3:03 hours at the half way mark (21km)

i.e. Run 10 minutes and aim to cover 1.5km. After that walk 10 minutes covering 800 metres each time. Repeat. So for every 20 minutes you will cover 2.3km. Chicken feed right? Keep to this throughout and you are on the way to weaning yourself off from being a plodder.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 6:06 hours. Pace 8.41min/km.

2) Graduation

Break through the 6 hours barrier. If you have done some training and maybe in the run up have done up to 20km, this is for you.

Run 20 mins Walk 5 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 1 hour 21 mins every 10km

i.e. Run 2.5km in 20 mins and then take another 4 mins to walk another 500 metres. Repeat. That will means 3km for every 25 mins. Not very difficult right? Use the 5 mins walk to relax and catch your breath. Get into the rhythm and pretty soon you see the finish line. Hurray you graduated no more a plodder!

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:45 Pace 8:10min/km

3) High 5

Actually it is mid 5 but high 5 sounds better. Yes you can do 5:30 and below if you have some experience in running short distances but have not done too many long runs.

Run 5 mins Walk 5 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 7.5 km every 1 hour or 2:45 at half way

This one is more 'shiong' although it sounds easy. But hor you kena have to run 800 metres in 5 mins which is like 6:15min/km. Easy for most seasoned runners but may not be easy for us plodders. Use that 5 mins walk to breathe. Yeah you probably forgot to breath while chionging the 5 mins. You know who is good at this? Those young school kids you see so often at races. They run like hell and then suddenly stop and walk and then run like hell again. Yeah we follow them but follow smart not like a headless chicken.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:30 Pace 7:50min/km

4) A little bit more

This one a bit more tough - need to be able to run non stop for at least half an hour but hey after that get to walk for half an hour as well. Not too bad a bargain right?

Run 30 mins Walk 30 mins Repeat. Check point: approximately 8 km every 1 hour

Basically, run 30 mins - 6 km and walk 30 mins - 2 km. Or just cover 8 km in 1 hour. How difficult can that be? Seriously if you are fairly fit and have been running consistently, this is gonna be a piece of cake.

Total time taken to complete the FM: 5:16 Pace 7:30min/km

5) Supersub 5

Congratulations and celebration when you tell everyone that you've completed under 5! (sing to the tune of Congratulations and celebration) Okay lah doesn't rhythm so well but hey I'm a runner not a singer

Run 4km in 25 mins Walk 500 metres in 5 mins. Repeat. Check point: approximately 9 km every 1 hour

And if you can pull this off, give yourself a big hug (better still hug the fella next to you) as you cross the finish line because its a 4:45 finish! Pace 6:40min/km

Cheem or not? Difficult or not? Impossible? Nothing is impossible. Just do it!

Er okay question time. How to know how far you've run? Well there are distance markers along the route and together with this little thingy which you wear on your wrist you can do the maths. And of course you can use a Pace Band. Pace Band? What is that?

That, we'll leave for the next post where I shall talk about the things you need or don't need to have for the race itself. Until then cheers and happy running.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Running the Marathon for Plodders Part 1

Nowadays with so much information on the net, everybody seems or claim to be an expert in all sort of things dishing out free advice even if it was not asked for. Like in the forum. And of course this Uncle here is no exception.

So let see. What advice shall I dole out today? Okay this being the final run up to the biggest race in this year race schedule, let's talk about the full marathon. Or more precisely, how to complete the full marathon. Wah damn like real lidat. Like I machiam expert... Ha ha but do read the following with a pinch of salt (you will need it for the marathon by the way... I mean the salt)

First of all, some basic terminology in lay man terms:

Pace - this mean how fast you run. It is often mentioned in relation to how many minutes per kilometre as is 6min/km i.e a runner takes 6 mins to run 1 km. So when someone said he ran a 5 mins pace, he is saying he run the race at an average of 5 minutes every 1 km.

Negative Split - That refers to running the second half of a race faster than the first half. Actually if you know this, you shouldn't be reading this crap but then curiosity......

Of course, the opposite of negative split is the positive split where the first half of the race is ran faster than the 2nd half. This is very normal for most people. You know, somebody actually asked me once why he ran slower and slower as he ran further and further. That - my boy - is a positive split and it's because, tired lah so naturally the further you go, the slower you become. And if you don't understand this simple logic, you are likely not ready for the full marathon.

Last but not least, we got the even split. That simply means running a constant pace throughout the whole race. Like Uncle here during the FM in 2007.

Okay, so we got pace, we got splits so how does that helps you to run the FM?

Oh by the way, if you are capable of doing 4:30 (that is for the uninitiated, 4 hours 30 minutes for the FM), this article is not for you. Please go and read some other people's advice on how to achieve sub 4 or better.

Oh yeah sub means below (like submarine) so if someone says sub 4, he or she means running below 4 hours. Usually refer to a few minutes below the hour and not say 15 - 30 mins below like 3:30 or 3:15.

Here ends Part 1. In Part 2, I will talk about 'sure can' strategy to do the FM. Can wait or not?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tai Chi anyone?

Researcher from Tufts University of Medicine have discovered that people who practice Tai Chi regularly experience less pain in the knee. Read more here

Hurray, good news for runners. Now can practice Chi running, learn a martial art, run faster and experience less pain.

What are you waiting for? Go to your nearest Community Club now to sign up.

But oh wait a minute... before you do that, read this and this.

Sigh... back to square one.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Slacking Week!

I can't remember when was the last time I slacked so big time and I was not sick, injured or on holiday.

As of tonight, it is now 6 days since I last put on my running shoes. Not that I didn't want but then....

Sunday was rest day. You know - exercise 6 days and on the 7th day rest that type of rest
Monday was not a scheduled run day - so went to the gym
Tuesday was running day but of course the run got rained away
Wednesday could have gone running, rain had stopped and weather was breezy and cool but then if I had run, I could have been likely to run 4 days in a row so in the end abandoned the idea and went and freezed my butt in the pool
Thursday was Running Lab run night but it rained the whole day and I didn't want to risk anybody slipping and injuring themselves so cancelled the run
Friday is scheduled run evening with the Kid but he got too hungry after starving himself in school the whole day and so run cancelled in favour of early dinner which is why I am here writing this bo-liao stuff.

Saturday? we shall see.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plodders and Marathons

Late last month, the New York Time had an article asking whether plodders have a place in a marathon. (NYT 23/10/2009). The Free Online Dictionary defines plods as " The act of moving or walking heavily and slowly.

So is it another case of elitism vs puralism? Is there no space in a marathon for those who will take more than 6 hours to complete?

Me - I consider myself a plodder. Although I have yet to finish a marathon after 6 hours, with my aging body and laziness, it's is not a matter of if but when, so naturally I shall side with the plodders. But that said - there should not be any place for those who do not train for it and do not respect the distance and I suppose at the end of the day, this is what most people should be up in hand against.

Coming back to the article, there has been a fair bit of interesting response to the articles and here are just some of them:

There is even a NY marathon anthem:

When you plod marathons
Hold your head up high
And show that you're proud to plod on.
At the end you will come to the finish line
After winners have long come and gone.
Plod on through Bed-Stuy!
Plod on through the Bronx,
Til you think you'll hit the wall
Plod on! Plod on!
Plod through Central Park,
Where you'll never plod alone!
You'll never plod alone!

Maybe someone can come up with a SCSM plodder marathon? Maybe sing to the tune of one of those National Day songs?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Tale of 2 Nikes

Finally got a chance to try out the Nike Lunarglide. But first, a change of shoe laces. Tadah!

Did a short 5km run. The Nike Lunarglide is sort of like a 'rojak' shoe - not a full stability shoe neither a cushioning shoe or even a midfoot shoe. It is a jack of all type of shoe suppose to be suitable for everyone. Its come with flywire and a new lunarlite material which replaces the previous lunarlite material on the Lunar. It has what Nike calls Nike Natural Motion Engineering support and dynamic support system that is supposed to give a better running experience (whatever that means) and better cushioning and support. Read more here.

Of course, I got to spoilt it all by putting in my insole which makes the shoes loses its flexibility and hinder its 'ability' to adapt to my feet. But still, I felt the cushioning was good as compared to the trial pair I worn at Bedok Reservoir when we ran on softer ground. The width appears to be a nice fit as well as I don't feel the side of the big toes hurting (as compared to the Lunar) but the verdict is still out on this until I try longer runs.

Meanwhile, just on this run alone, I am pretty satisfied with the shoes considering its price or rather what I paid for it.

Also, for this run, I finally managed to put in the Nike+ sensor into a Nike shoes. The Nike+ sportsband have so far proven to be trouble free but I don't really wear it for every run so I am not too sure whether it will last the distance. Anyway in terms of accuracy - after a second calibration, it has been very accurate. Take this run for instance. The Nike+ capture the distance at 5.14km. My plotted route at Runningahead shows 5.16km and finally based on the distance markers on the PCN ground the distance is around 5km so I would say the Nike+ is almost 95% accurate which is fairly good for a cheap pedometer based equipment.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

New Balance Real Run 2009

This is the last race of the year for me. Originally, wanted to do 1 more race - hopefully overseas in December but the plan frizzled out so this is it.

I've always enjoyed doing this race - from the time it was held on Sentosa to now at the Changi Exhibition Centre. A lot of people complained about the long run back along Aviation Road facing the hot rising sun. Yes it is tough especially after doing 13km of trail, road and sand but it is part of the experience and which makes the Real Run so different from the many other road races that is available nowadays.

Ever mindful of getting my ankle sprained again, I approached this race with no high expectation. No need any PB, no choning - all I wanted was to run a good race and enjoy myself. Of course, I set a small target of finishing just under 1:30 so that I won't take it too easy.

M and me, we started at the back and crossed the start line 2mins 22 secs after the flag off. With that in mind, I ran off at a slow and steady pace so I wasn't surprised when M overtook me barely 10 mins later. No problem. The same thing happened at the practice run 2 weeks ago and I managed to catch up eventually. The plan was to take it slow on the 4km trail, pick up speed a little on the road, slow down again on the beach and then chiong back to the finish. Throughout the run, I keep checking my watch to ensure that my 2 mins buffer was still there and I wasn't too far off the mark.

These are the splits:

1 km: 5:21 Trail
2 km: 5:37 Trail
3 km: 5:45 Trail
4 km: 6:04 Trail
5 km: 5:32 Aviation Rd
6 km: 6:18 Coastal Road
7 km: 4:39 Coastal Road
8 km: 5:17 Coastal Road
9 km: 5:36 Coastal Road
10km: 5:28 Coastal Road
11km: 5:24 Coastal Road
12km: 5:46 Beach Park
13km: 7:25 Sand
14km: 7:15 Aviation Road
15km: 6:11 To finish

Okay so things didn't turned out exactly as planned. Maybe the distance marker is a little off but I certainly didn't do below 5mins/km. The trail was fairly easy to run. In fact, I found the park connector very difficult to run as it was too crowded and I thought I did fairly faster the last 2 km but oh well. At the end, I still finished as expected below 1:30 although based on gun time was just passed the 1:30 mark.

Somewhere along the run, I thought I was hallucinating when I thought I saw a lady in bikini top. Shouldn't she be on the beach? In fact, I wasn't hallucinating and I caught up with her at the beach! ha ha and she turned out to be Fia from the Punggol Runners.

Back at the finishing line, I waited for M to turn up only for her to tap me from behind. She had finished in front of me! Bravo! That was something I didn't expect considering that she has always been a lazy runner and tend to take things easy. To cap off her performance, she managed to clinch 8th position. The prize presentation was only for the top 3 position so I think she will be expecting some cash in the mail soon.
The starting route to the trail - running into the sun rise

The goodie bag, which came in the form of a messenger bag, a t-shirt, 1 Nature Valley bar, 1 100Plus, 1 Eagle Brand rub, 1 NB 30% discount voucher and some other brochures.

GE Women 10K Video

This is a little late but hey better late than never.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Good Decision - Nike Lunarglide

It was a dark and stormy night. Okay it wasn't that dark and the rain had almost stopped and it was early evening but I like the phrase so ... Anyway, this was Thursday and the RL TNR but I was feeling nuayed this week and with the wet ground and evil looking sky AND my rotten luck this year, chances are I would likely slipped and injured myself so decided to potang the run and go kai kai instead.

So there we were just walking around in Raffles City. Of course as with every shopping expedition, the first stop was the sports shop at the basement. Went into the Sportslink outlet first. Their 25% discount offer was still ongoing. They had the greyish white and blue Nike Lunarglide and at 25% off, it cost only $142.00 but it wasn't what I really want. Yes I was still searching for my elusive Lunarglide. However, the shop displayed out front had the Lunarglide in the new color - dark grey with red or yellow trimming. What the hell - no fish, prawn also can. Went back into the shop but was disappointed when told that the discount was not applicable to those newer models.

Walked a few more steps and next to it was another Sportslink shop. The earlier one only carried Adidas and Nike products, this one had the usual Sportslink stuff. Saw the Brooks Launch but again they didn't have it in my size! Is it really that difficult to get a size 12 shoes here in SG?

And then I saw it. A pair of Black and Orange on display - and it looks big - was it? Yes it was a size 12! I can't believe it! After trekking through the whole of Queensway and Tampines 1, to find it here of all place and the best of all - the 25% discount was applicable ~ which made it cheaper than at Queensway.
Photo from i2runner and with a very powerful review to boot

The timing is just fantastic. I am going to retire my TNF Arnuva Boa this Sunday and to have my final replacement pair found at this time. Wow! Now I can't wait to try it out and hope that it is not 1/2 size too small!

Date of Purchase: 5 November 2009

Purchased from: Sportslink Raffles City

Cost: $142.29

Worn in Races:

20.3.2010 NTUC 350
27.6.2010 KL Marathon
12.9.2010 SBR/AHM 2010
5.12.2010 Macau Marathon

Retired 29 Mar 2011

Total Mileage 546km

Sunday, November 01, 2009

GE Women 10k 2009

Once again for the 2nd weekend running, I got up at an unearthly hour not to run but to kapo in other people's run. But this one today, got no choice otherwise kena.......

Anyway, today was the 3rd instalment of the GE Women 10K Run and this year I have 2 female in the family running. Yes the Princess has been conned into taking part in this and I must said despite her laziness in training, she surprised me by clocking under 30 mins for the 5km fun run. (She still too young to take part in the 10km). M did another normal race - not fast not slow. She need to cross this hurdle to get to the next level but I guess laziness runs in the family so we shall have to be contended with mediocre performance.

The GE run was as per the past years well organised by ESG. Reasonably good goodie bag, no long queue for the drinks, baggage, no human jam and there were free Swensen ice cream! What else can a lady ask for?