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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To stretch or not to stretch?

Recently there were some articles in the media about stretching before exercising. This follows yet another recent study by USATF. Naturally, there were some discussions on this in the forum as well.

I shall now throw in my 2 cents worth. Traditionally, runners have always been advised to stretch before a run. I remembered when I first joined the Running Lab Thursday Night Run, we will kick off every session with a close to 15 minutes of stretching conducted by a qualified trainer. Ditto, the I-Run in its early days before the Fatbird took over.

Some time later, after studies came out that proclaimed stretching on ‘cold body’ before exercises can cause muscle tear, the idea became not to stretch but to do warm up. However, many people do not think that they need to warm up. Statements such as “my first 10 minutes of the run is the warm up”; “I run so slowly, there is no need to warm up” were thrown about frequently.

A while ago, I attended a Nike Trial session and this young man, Ben Pulham from Racers’ Toolbox took us through an interesting pre-run routine. We were kicking our legs up and down, sideway and generally looking like a monkey who has lost its balance! Upon further research, what he took us through was the latest in pre-running routine: dynamic warmups. Read more about it here. So now those of you who are in the RL TNR knows – the monkeying around we do before our run has a name:)

So exactly which is the correct routine before run? Personally I subscribe to the idea that there is no need to do a warm up if the objective is just a jog or a slow run. And if the run is at the end of the day, because our body is generally warm up by the end of the day, there is no harm in doing some static stretches before a run. If however the run is early in the morning when the weather is cooler and the body is still in half asleep/half awake mode, a static stretch is a big no no. But generally what I do is a combination of everything (kiasu people are like that), jump around a bit, kick the leg up and down a bit (dynamic warm up), and when there is a thin layer of perspiration on the body, some static stretches like calf stretch, hamstring stretch, lunges before going off with a slow run or jog as a warm up which is why you will never catch me chionging off at the start of a run.

So there you have it – 3 in one warm up/dynamic warm up and stretch. The answer to all the questions about whether to stretch or not to stretch.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Racing the Sahara

A young friend of mine is going to do something real crazy. She is going to run 250km in 7 days in one of the toughest terrain in the world – the Sahara Desert.! And all this with only 3 years of running experience and without a full marathon to her name!! Oh yeah, she did completed the latest edition of the Sundown marathon finishing in 12 hours 35 mins or thereabout but what 84km compared to 250km?

You can find her almost every weekend morning at MacRitchie Reservoir or East Coast Park with a 7 – 9 kg load on her back doing 20 – 30 km runs. So why is she putting herself all this torture?
She is running to raise funds for a very worthy cause – the World Vision ‘s Vision Fund. The Vision Fund is built on the premise of "teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime". Its purpose is to:
        · provide micro loans of $50 to $500 to families
        · help develop necessary business skills
        · provide material resources to help families develop their own business within their communities and become self-reliant.
The key is to help shift families and communities out of the poverty cycle by providing loans at reasonable interest rates to families who would otherwise have found it difficult or near impossible to obtain financing.

Jane aims to raise US$40,000.00 and as of todate, she is still rather far from the target. She will be holding a fund raising drinking session on 5 September 2010 at LOOF. So do turn up to lend your support or pledge your support here. Every cents count!

For more information on the World Vision’s Vision Fund, click here
For more information on the Loof ‘s Desert Party, click here
For more information on Jane’s click herehere and here

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CBD Run finally

CBD run. The last time I joined the gang at Tanjong Pagar was way back in December 2008. Has it really been that long ago? Anyway, just for this week only, and because a time slot came up and before the gate closes again, was able to join the run up to Mt Faber. Hopefully this will not be the last one for this year although most likely I reckon it will be the one and only. M of course came along to ‘protect’ me from the ‘elements’. Ha ha ha!

The crowd had grown. There were many new faces and fast runners. As usual, we (meaning M, me, myself and I) ran at a nice jogging pace at the back. Didn’t want to exert too much energy. Got a long climb ahead. And so when we reached the foot of Mt Faber, we managed to coax that little bit of reserve out and ran up the hill without having to stop to walk. Three cheers for myself:)

Some of the ‘on’ runners ran 4 or even 5 rounds of the 1.6km loop at the top of the hill while cowards like me did only 2 and at a very nice relaxing pace too. After all, the scenery up is so nice – must enjoy. Run too fast cannot see anything leh.

After that, we trotted down. And just as MR is a jinx place for me, Mt Faber (or rather the CBD Run Mt Faber route seems to be a jinx route for M. She fell again. Sighed, so now I got 2 walking wound in the family. Fortunately, we were running so slowly that all she got was a bloodied knee and some blueback on her shoulder. Maybe I should really stopped doing this route totally?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

MR and beyond.

21km. 3 hours. Ha ha ha. The runs just went to the dog!  But actually I am quite happy with today run. 2nd time went beyond MR to Bukit Timah. This time all the way to the Visitor Centre.

Weather was good with just a wee bit of rain. Started at MR and went up the Northern Trail. Damm, the trail after the Ranger Station leading to Rifle Range is still close. Got to u-turn. Met a number of people doing the North Face practice run. Me also doing the TNF practice run but too kiamsiap to pay $16.00 so ran my own with M and a friend; following last year route. Hit RRR and bumped into some friends from SAFRA Mt Faber. Asked Melvin what was the distance from MR and he said 6.8km. Sianz, 57mins and only 6.8km? Die - like that how to complete the event in a decent time. Reached foot of Bukit Timah and stopped at the Visitor Centre. Another guy from another group that we bumped into said distance from MR to Visitor Centre 8km! I nearly got heart attack! Heh I thought I was doing decent time and it was only 8km? and I took 1 hour 35 mins! Double die!! Luckily Melvin was there as well and he said his Garmin shows 11km so I think I take his version of the distance.

Decided not to go up the hill and instead u-turn back. Skipped the Kampung Trail and ran along RRR. Legs very heavy, breathing very heavy, water bottle very heavy. Like cannot move. No choice still got to plod on. Met another group, friends from CBD run and got a gummy. That lifted spirit a bit and give a little lift until hit the slope after ST. No strength to run. Walked up the slopes. Finally, after what seems an eternity, hit the familiar trail of MR. Goodie, only another 4km to go!

After the fitness corner, M found her running legs and went ahead leaving the 2 of us guys struggling far behind. Very malu! Finally reached the multi-storey carpark. 2 hours 55 mins exactly ~ after numerous walk break and chat break whenever bump into friends along the way.

This run was intended as a sort of rehearsal for the actual race. Original target is 3 hours for the 25km. Looks like I am overly ambitious so maybe 3:30 will be more realistic? Gonna try one more - this time up all the way. Anybody wanna join me?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

F1 Sports Hydration Bag

During the F1 Sports Nature Run in April at the MacRitchie Reservoir, participants were given a "hydration bag" as part of the goodie for signing up for the race. I finally decided to try it out during Friday's run home. I have never used a hydration bag before. So I didn't really know what to expect. One thing I know from friends is that this particular bag has some very obvious design flaws. Firstly, there is no hook to hang the bladder bag so the bladder bag will flop to the bottom. Also, there are no straps within the bag to keep the bladder from moving around   Therefore the weight will not be evenly distributed. Finally there is no hole along the vertical strap for the tube and mouth piece to come out. 
Also, there is no additional holder within the bag to keep the bladder from moving around   

With that in mind, I decided not to use the bladder and proceeded to use it as a running pack. First impression was the pocket was too small to put my wallet, keys and phone. What I did like was that there was a pouch on the horizontal strap to keep more frequently required items. In my case I put in my compact camera.

And so off I went. And within 2 minutes, I had to stop! The front pouch which to me look so convenient earlier was bouncing and sliding up and down like a yo-yo and causing a lot of discomfort. Turn out it was not fitting enough and without any stopper in place. Irritated by this, I remove the camera and put it at the back together with the rest of the stuff. There goes the convenience!

Another 10 minutes later along Marina Boulevard, the whole bag started to swing wildly. What happened? And I discovered one of the freaking vertical strap had broke! What the hell! And so I had to tie it to the horizontal strap but that cause the whole thing to become lopsided and rubbing against the nape of my bag!

Final conclusion - dump the damn thing and get a proper bag. Cheap thing or in this case free thing no good!

Monday, August 16, 2010

2 Special Runs

Haven’t run home from office for a long time. Since October 2007 to be exact. So decided to repeat the run and managed to drag M and a friend along to keep me company. It is true that time and tide waits for no man. The last time I went this route, I took 2 hours 17 minutes to complete the run all the way home to Simei. This time round and based on what I think was a reasonable effort, I took 2 hours 14 mins to reach Bedok Corner (2 km short). Seriously, time to hang up the running shoes perhaps?

Not so distant back but still the last time we had an Eastside run was early this year and not counting the special one in February for the Fatbirds. On Sunday, we had the official 2nd and probably last Eastside Run for this year. Perhaps because it was organized by the popular Broken Runner and not the 2 old uncles, more people came including those from the West and North East and there was even an official photographer!
Happily, it took me just slightly over 2 hours to complete the 18km or so distance. So maybe not that slow after all eh?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MacRitchie Jinx

So the MacRitchie jinx strike again! But this time round I was not the one to kena instead the poor kid was the victim.

We had made a last minute decision to go and run at MR in the evening so the 4 of us went.   All 4 of us started on the Northern Trail. I was supposed to do the 10km route with the kid while the Mrs went the 5km route with the Princess. The ladies were to turn back at the 2nd boardwalk entrance the Petai Trail and ran along the boardwalk while we go the usual route. Unfortunately, both runs got short circuited. The Princess got distanced by a snake on the boardwalk and thereafter they decided to walk from there. I was huffing and puffing when I saw the kid standing in the middle of the trail. Turned out he had tripped and got a bloody mess on his legs which was  fine but the ankle didn't look too good so we also turned and walked back.

This is my 11th time at MR this year. Compared this to 2006 - 7; 2007 - 1; 2008 - 2; 2009 - 6. Seems like I have been spending too much time there. Maybe I should switch over to Bukit Timah instead.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Barefoot Running - the Cure?

Some of my friends have converted to barefoot running or at least some sort of minimalist footwear like the Vibram Five Fingers. I am very tempted to follow - I have so far tried a total of 3 barefoot runs  each time all in a stadium on soft track. I haven't got round to buying a VFF or even a Nike Free yet though I am very tempt.

From talking to some of this guys, I am amazed that some of them think that barefoot running is the cure all for all their running injury. One guy who suffers from Plantar Flasciitis, when asked whether he was undergoing treatment said that he just need to run barefoot once or twice a week and it will go away. And this is not an isolated case. Many others swear by this - that running barefoot will eradicate all their injuries. No need to see the doctor. I have heard something like this so often that nowadays whenever I hear somebody with some running problems, I also automatically tell them to try barefoot running and see whether there is any improvement.

But is this a placebo effect thing or is it for real?  Does it really works? Can somebody enlighten?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Inter Constituency Road Run 2010

Normally I don't like this race because it is hard and fast and old man like me cannot take last the pace. But this year I enjoyed it tremendously cos I wasn't running in it!

This year I got a substitute to make up the number and even though I put down my name for it, I didn't run and took over as the acting Team Manager covering for the absence super runner the real Team Manager who unfortunately was involve in the NDP. Too bad for the team. Last year he was first in the Men's Veteran and that helps to pull the team to an eleventh finish - the highest ever.
The Members of Changi-Simei CSC in action

Anyway, we had an almost full team. 3 ladies including poor M who despite her protestation, somehow still got roped in. There was another young lady whom we were pining our hope on for getting a top 10 finish but this young track and field runner from Temasek Poly fell sick at the last moment and had to opt out. We had 2 Veterans after minusing me and real Teal Manager and another 8 runners for the Men's Open. Our best runner for the last 2 years has gone AWOL so this year we roped in a young 15 years old boy whose best time was 17mins+ for the 4.3km round Bedok Reservoir. While that was superb timing by our standard, at this race, that counts for nothing. The first place finisher took only 14:14!.

Anyway, my substitute was the Kid roped in to help out his dad and he did well despite his short running background coming in 2nd fastest among our team members. M also managed to finish the fastest among the 3 ladies so it was a rather proud family affair for me. But without our twin speedy Gonzales from last year, there was absolutely no chance of us finishing better than last year. So sad that I cannot end my association with the Changi-Simei CSS on a high:(

Yes this will be my last association with the Changi-Simei CSC and the Inter Con Road Race as I will be moving out from Simei soon and I don't think I will be joining another CSC. It has been a fun but tiring 4 years of associating with the Inter Con (2 years as runners and 2 years as kapo) but I don't think I gonna miss it though.. Ha ha ha!

More photos here