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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tanjong Rhu/Gardens by the Bay East

Next week is the 2nd Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. I will not be doing it but just so that I can get a whiff of the excitement, I decided to run a teeny weeny portion of it. East Coast Park don't count so settled for the 2 km (I did say teeny weeny portion ok!) stretch along the new Gardens by the Bay East. 

Started off from East Coast Park Car park B1. The actual full marathon route takes one up the green metal bridge to Area A but since that is still closed off to public, we detoured and went via Fort Road/Tanjong Rhu.

We ran into Kampong Arang Road and hit the waterside. This was part of the route for this year Marina 21 (I think they could have done better if they have adopted my route today). Running along the riverside was great. It was partially sheltered from the heat by the trees and building along the side and we had a great run along the river bank. There were nice view of the buildings in front and on the opposite bank like this view of the Tanjong Rhu estates with all the condominiums in the background. 

Further down across the water, we can see the construction for the new Sports Hub. This area is going to be real hot in a few years time!

Once passed the condominiums, we were in the new Gardens by the Bay East, a big hot park, hot as in searing hot from the sun. The park like all other new parks in Singapore, does not come with big shady trees, just saplings which does not provide any shade at all! Also didn't notice any shelters and Singapore is one of the most lightning prone place in the world! I seriously wonder where all these people who design our parks come from. Don't they know the weather here is not great for outdoor strolling! The plus side is there is a nice wide asphalt path to run and walk on. The view on the other bank was gorgeous. And that distracted me enough to take my mind and body off the blazing hot sun.

Soon we reached the Marina Barrage. There was a gate between it and the Gardens by the Bay but it was opened and we ran through to cross the barrage. Behind the gate, other than the sea was more construction.

But on the other side, looking back where we came from, was more great view of the city skyline including the now iconic 3 main structures, the Marina Bay Sands, the Flyer and the Gardens by the Bay's Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. 

All in, a great place for a short run or a stroll, provided it isn't so damn hot!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Since my first injury in 2006,  I have been using some sort of orthotics for my shoes. Over the years, I have chosen not to use the insoles that comes with the running shoes and chosen to use my own. But ever since I moved on to mid foot running, I stopped using them and just went with the conventional insoles. However, with the latest injury, I have switched back to using orthotics again.

Here is a rundown of the orthotics that I have used or am using (left to right):

1. Sole Footbed. This was one of the earliest orthotics that I got. It is heat moldable. Just put it in a toaster or oven and heat it up. Once it soften, stand on it and volia, an insoles that mold nicely to the foot.  I worn this pair for a long long time back in those days when I was a heel striker.  Like most typical orthotics, it is semi rigid and do not allow for any flex at all. Looking back, I wondered how in the world I got used to it but it certainly does provide very good cushioning and support. Till today, I am still using it, but not in running shoes but my heavy duty walking shoes. The Sole Footbed is available at Running Lab outlets.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Which is the most suitable running shoes/form?

Over the years, I have been asked many times by friends, fellow runners and others some very interesting questions about running. Of course, I am not qualify to answer their questions but that does not stop the questions from coming. I suppose it is par for the course since I have been a run leader for the Running Lab Singapore for some years now and that adds some legitimacy to my status.

Picture from
In the early days, the most common question I get was which is the best running shoes for them,  Back then, my answers would have been "depends on your foot type and your running gait". And most time, I will add in a "do not choose shoes purely for the design". Of course, people who knows me well, know that that is an advice I never follow myself . There was no such things for me as stability shoes or cushioned shoes. I chooses my shoes primarily based on 1) the color and 2) how cheap it is.

In more recent times, the  question becomes "which is the correct running form re mid foot or heel strike?". When I first started running in 2005, it was heel strike. Not that I consciously adopted it but it came naturally to me. Back then, it was the most natural way to run and I corrected a few friends who were running on their toes.Of course, when the trend moved to mid foot strike, I kept up with the development and switched over to mid foot strike in 2008.
Nowadays, the question has evolved into "should I go into barefoot running or not?". Me again had kept up with the latest development and indulged in it since 2 years ago and has formed some opinion about it.

So what answers do I gave for all these 3 questions? Actually, I cover my arse and give the most general answers - which is "whatever you are most comfortable with" and "do not change for the sake of changing". Incidentally, these answers are more or less the conclusion that these group of researchers came to after  their research, Quote: We tell people we don’t know a thing about the best technique,” he said. He tells runners to use the form they naturally adopt." unquote. And they need to do research to come to this conclusion?

5 years later and older and hopefully wiser, I have come to realise that there is no one best shoes or best running form. Likewise, barefoot running is not the cure all for all the running injuries.   The most expensive shoes are not necessarily the best shoes. In fact, a lot of runners swear by Saucony shoes which is one of the cheapest in the market. Likewise, while heel striker tends to get injuries to the heel, mid foot runners gets injured on the shin and achilles. Ditto barefoot running which comes with its own set of injuries. While I have many friends who are happily running barefoot, I have just as many friends who have gotta injured after switching over to the 5 Fingers. So I end with 3 last words or sentences:
  • Don't fix it if it ain't broken. 
  • To each its own
  • Change only if there is a need. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 210

On the spur of the moment, went and bought the Garmin Forerunner 210. The 210 is the upgraded version of the 110 which I bought almost a year ago. Back then, I bought the basic set without the heart rate monitor  for $299.00 but now due to the favourable exchange rate, the 210 with the heart rate monitor is only selling for about $260.00.

The 210 looks classier with its all black strap. Other than that, it looks no different from the 110 down to all the printed words on the face.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still Exploring - Ponggol Coney Island

It started off as a routine run just to get back in shape. The plan was to just run along the new Ponggol Waterway and Ponggol Promenade and hopefully survive a distance of 16km. 

After crossing the nice red bridge to the Ponggol side, our tour leader for the day decided that we should cross to the far bank of the Ponggol Waterway and run, hopefully, to Ponggol Jetty/End. This part of the route was surprisingly not the usual asphalt/concrete/tiled road but what the signboard there said "natural" road. Actually it was nice soft laterites soil. I just hope it stays that way but judging from the many waterlogged spots along it, sooner or later some idiot will complain that the ground spoils his/her shoes and it will be paved over.
The "natural" path on the left and extreme right of the picture. Photo by Broken  Runner
We ran with Coney Island on our right separated from us by the sea. Then we came to an abrupt stop as there was a zinc gate right across the path. Apparently, the path on the other side was not completed yet. Awww, shucks! But then every cyclists, walkers, joggers and the ah ma ah kong were just causally walking through the unlocked gate despite the warning sign. So we did what every natural Singaporean does. We copied them and walked across and continued our run.

We ran and then we came to this bridge that connect the path to Coney Island. So of course being the typical Singaporean, we walked across to take a look at what lies on Coney Island. The only problem was there was another gate and this one was locked! And there was a sign that says

Too bad........but hey we Singaporean are quite well known for being kapo and we definitely have to satisfy our curiosity. So locked gate or not, we walked right through. You guys won't want to know how we did it:)
Looking back where we came from after going through the fence

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Chia Seeds

In Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, apart from the story of the Tarahumara, he also mentioned one of the food that they ate, a drink the Tarahumara called iskiate and which supposedly gave them the energy to run all day. The main ingredient that went into iskiate is Chia seeds.

I have been eating Chia seeds for the past 2 months or so. Did it gave me the additional energy that I need? The verdict is still out since I am not doing a great deal of running. But I am eating them regularly if not for the energy but for the many health benefits that purportedly comes from it.

But just how exactly does one eat Chia seeds? In the book, chia seeds is added to water and lime juice and stirred until the Chia seeds expands and dissolve into a soft gel. Nectar is added to taste. This is a picture lifted from this website. Doesn't look very appetizing does it?

Me? I am the lazy sort and I can't be bothered to go through all the trouble. These are some lazy man way to eat Chia seeds.

1. Put 2 teaspoons into your drink. Fruit juice or milo. No need to add anything else. Great as a pre-run drink.
2. Sprinkle them on bread spread. I love it on kaya
3. Add to bread, muffins before baking
4. Add them to pizza in addition to the chilli flakes and cheese
5. Add them to egg or tuna mayo for a delicious sandwich
6. Add as toppings to ice cream

In fact, they are so versatile that one can add to almost anything or just eat it on its own.

Finally, where to get them in Singapore?

I got my first bottle from a shop in Parkway Parade at $15.00 for a 250gm bottle. They are also available in satchet from the major supermarket, marketed as Chia Shots but I think this one is quite ex. Finally, they can be purchased from this blogshop at $19.50 for a 400 gm pack.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Super Efficient

I am really impressed with the organiser of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run. I have just received my race certificate in the mail just a little bit over 1 month after the event. In fact they are so efficient that I even got a certificate even though I didn't run the race!

I did signed up but didn't start. The bib was kept in my camera bag and I was outside the prison gate taking photograph. I didn't even went near the start line. Hmm okay that's why there is no Net time stated. But then again I also make sure I didn't cross under the finish line. I took care to walk along the side pavement. The super duper timing chip machine they used must have been so powerful that it somehow managed to capture my bib inside the bag. If only the TNF 100 organiser has used the same chip system than it wouldn't have so much problems!

So now I have an official slowest 10km run timing:( Hopefully the next time I do another 10km race, the timing will be better than this:)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Running is Good for You?

Singapore's No 1 runner, Mr Mox Ying Ren wrote this article for the Straits Times some time ago. For a clearer version of the article, read in in his blog here.

To summarise, running can be done anytime, anywhere, is cheap, can be done alone and is directly related to the effort you put in without needing to rely on somebody else, and has health benefits. These are all rather common sense isn't it?

But surprisingly, a few days later, somebody wrote to the ST Premium to rebut that. And surprisingly, it came from a doctor who should have know better!

So are they talking about the same thing? And who is talking crap? The doctor wannabe or the qualified doctor? The pro runner or the social runner? And who is right or wrong?