The Tailor Motivation

After running for a while now, I came to realise that I needed motivation regularly to keep running, be it a new running route, a new running gadget, a new pair of running shoes or even a change in the training schedule. Recently, it came from a very unlikely source – the tailor.

The last time I went to the tailor was back in 2011. Surprisingly, they still have the record of my measurements then. The tailor, who did the measurements then, even added three Chinese characters on the record that said I have spare tire. Brutal, but honest.

I mentioned to the tailor that they will need to re-measure since I have lost some weight, so he did. However, he simply refused to believe the measurements as he said it deviated too much from those on my record. He measured again and again, while referring to my old records again and again. Finally, he was convinced after I told him I have been running.

I know I lost weight, as a matter of fact, I lost 12kg since I started running regularly at the end of 2012 even though I have a lot more to go before my ideal weight, but I did not realise I lost that much till I compared my current measurements with the one back in 2011. It definitely did wonders to my ego, but most importantly, it provided me with another motivation to keep running.

The next time if I have any doubts as to why I am subjecting myself to the pain, the misery, the cramps from running, I just need to think of my tailor.

It Will Never Be Perfect

I was reading this book about running. I hardly have any time nowadays to read, so when I do get the time, I want to make sure it has something to do with what I am currently interested in.

The author mentioned that there will never be a perfect time to run. There will always be something that prevents from having a perfect run, be it the weather, a muscle ache etc, but what runners do is to just take everything in their stride, and run. It is this ‘can do’ approach to running which runners should also apply it to their life.

It’s true. After running for more than a year and half, there is always something that gets in the way of a perfect run. If it is not hot, then perhaps there is rain. If there is no rain, then perhaps I have not recover sufficiently from the run yesterday, or if I did, then perhaps the calf muscles are still aching. If I was to find an excuse not to run, I will have the whole book as thick as the dictionary to choose from.

It is the same with life. There will never be a good or perfect time to do anything. If I am forever waiting for the perfect moment to do something, I will most probably end up doing nothing. I will just have to know what is lacking, what is bad, find workarounds and just go ahead and do it.

Learning life lessons from running. Another benefits of running.

Running Plan

I started running again after 2 weeks. I was down with flu, which took more than a week to recover. And I gave myself a few extra days to recover fully. Just in case.

During this down time, I went about reading up on a training plan. I never had one, I thought all I have to do was to run, and run, and as long as I am running further, running faster and running more, then everything will just work out.

However I have been noticing I am not improving. My run times have stagnant, and I could not increase my mileage. Perhaps I need a structured training plan.

I did read up previously on a training plan, but as with all other information from the Internet, everyone has their own training plan, their own thinking of what a training plan should be like. It was really confusing so I gave up.

During this down time, I went reading all the training plans on the Internet and in books again, picking up the similarities. I concluded a training plan should consist of the following:

1) At least 1 tempo run per week

2) 1 hill/track/interval run per week

3) 1 long run per week

4) Fill up the rest of the week (depending on how many days I am running per week) with base/easy runs

So a typical week should look something like this (assuming 6 days of running):

Monday – Tempo Run

Tuesday – Base/Easy Run

Wednesday –Hill/Track/Interval Run

Thursday – Base/Easy Run

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Long Run

Sunday – Cross Training/Trail Run

For the rest day, it is either I rest completely, or I should do something call ‘Active Rest’, where I basically should be doing core strengthening exercises. On the subject of core strengthening exercises, I should be doing this least 2 to 3 days a week. For Sunday, I should be doing some kind of cross training, like cycling, swimming, yoga or running trails, any exercise that does not involve the same group of muscles as road running.

As for total mileage per week, there are quite a lot of conflicting information on this one, but it seems almost everyone agrees it is beneficial to run more, though for people like me with time constraint, I should be training wisely, and try to gain as much as possible from each run. Also, a rough guide is the total mileage should be at least twice of the distance that I plan to race, so since I will be doing 21km this year, I should have a weekly total mileage of at least 42km. A running week will therefore look something like this:

Monday – Tempo Run 7km

Tuesday – Base/Easy Run 7km

Wednesday – Hill/Track/Interval Run 8km

Thursday – Base/Easy Run 7km

Friday – Rest

Saturday – Long Run 15km

Sunday – Cross Training/Trail Run

To prevent injuries, the total weekly mileage should increase gradually, with the fourth week total mileage reduced to the same as the first week, to prevent injuries by giving the body some rest. I am still trying to find out what the mileage should be for the fifth week though. So the total weekly mileage should look something like this :

Week 1 : 30km

Week 2 : 35km

Week 3 : 40km

Week 4 : 30km

Week 5 : 37km

Week 6 : 42km

Week 7 : 30km

I am still trying to verify if my assumption on the total weekly mileage for week 5 onwards is correct.

I shall not go into detail what are the various types of runs listed here. Googling the various types of runs will bring lots information on them. There are also a lot of other types of runs which I have not put into this plan, for e.g. Fartlek run, as I want to keep my initial training plan simple. I want to see the results of this training plan I am putting together before I decide on whether to tweak it further.

That is the beauty of running, I tweak a bit here and there, and I can feel the results eventually. Always cause and effect.

Sick

I fell sick.

I was going for my usual long run during the weekend. As it was my first long run after the physically exhausting Sundown Marathon, I decided to just run 10km and go home. The moment I started running, I knew something was wrong. I was feeling really tired, could not find any energy, and was perspiring more than usual. In the end, I stopped after 5km, went home, showered, and slept almost the whole day.

Two days later, feeling slightly better, I decided to go for another run after work. Again, I felt terrible after my run, my throat was itchy and painful. Next day when I woke up, I knew I was sick.

The first thought came into my mind was that I will not be able to run. I think it says a lot about how much running is becoming such a major part of my life.

There is nothing that I can do in the meantime except to rest more so I can quickly recover and go back to my running. The next race is end of August, there is not much time left to train for it.

SAFRA Singapore Bay Run 2013

The Adidas King of the Road 2013 was meant to be my first race after I embarked on this journey to stay healthy. However, it was cancelled due to the heavy thunderstorm on the actual day itself. I was very excited about it actually since it was meant to be my first race, got all drenched to get to the race only to have it cancelled.

As such, the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run 2013 became my first race. It is a half marathon 21km, longer than the 16.8km of the Adidas KOTR 2013. I am not too sure I could even complete it. I have been doing Long Slow Distance runs on weekends, but the furthest that I manage to complete was a 19km run just the week before, so I was pretty nervous about it.

The night before I was to sleep at 8pm so as to have 7 hours of sleep when I wake up at 3am. However, I just could not sleep till past 12, perhaps due to the excitement or just that I am not used to sleeping early. After struggling to wake up at 3am, I took my breakfast, a meal of overnight oats with banana and honey. Then it was off to the starting point.

I arrived early, around 4.35am, and there was already a huge crowd at the starting point. The place was lighted up with the F1 lights switched on (must be specially arranged). This was also the first time that I have seen Kenyan runners up close. They looked lean and mean. I was wondering the kind of training they went through to stay in such shape.

Soon it was 5.15am and the Chief of Army flagged off. There was a lot of overtaking, jostling as some runners wanted to be in front. As for me, my strategy was pretty simple, to try to maintain a consistent pace of 7 minutes per km, a pace that I have been training at, and enjoy my first race.

The route took us from the start point at Esplanade Bridge through Robinson Road before making a U-turn at Shenton Way. This was when I realised running in a race is very different from training runs. It was hot, really hot even though it was early in the morning and the sun is not up yet. The body heat generated from thousands of runners around me caused me to be drench in sweat even before the 2km mark. Also, it was really crowded, and I really have to be careful where I was running as runners were jostling and overtaking dangerously, flying elbows hitting me a few times.

Towards Marina Barrage, it was dark, and the route was getting narrow. As I have been running along this route for training, it was quite familiar to me, though I still have to watch where I was going.

Then I hit the choke point. It was around the 7km mark, where the route narrows to a path which is wide enough only for 2 person to go through. I was stuck at the choke point for more than 10 minutes (those further behind me were complaining on forums they were stuck for more than 30 minutes). By the time I was free of the choke point, I had already warmed down. At this point I was worried if I will struggle.

I did.

The stoppage at the choke point messed up my rhythm. I was struggling to maintain my targeted pace of 7 minutes per km, and the fact that the route started to go up slope and down slope did not help. By the time I was at Nicoll Highway, the sun was up, and it was getting hot. Upon reaching 16km, I could feel tightness on my legs muscles, a prelude to cramps. I had to walk.

I was walking and running for the next few kilometres, and with the heat, I was clearly struggling. Upon reaching the 19km mark, I told myself I have to run the next 2 km to finish the race, however after passing the 20km mark, my left thigh started to cramp. I was limping and hoping I will not fail just before the finish line. After walking for a bit, the cramp went away, and I could run past the finish line. After collecting my finishers’ medal and tees, and one miserable can of cold 100plus, I found a nice little spot on the Padang grass to rest.

This was when I finally realised I had completed my first half marathon. I was really feeling emotional at that point, coming from unable to run 2km in December last year when I first started, to completing my first half marathon 9 months later. Coming from fat, obese and unhealthy to a thinner, 15kg lighter me. When I was struggling at 15km mark, I was cursing and swearing why did I sign up for races, having to wake up at 3am for a 5.15am race, struggling in pain for more than 2 hours. But upon completion, I found myself reviewing the mistakes and lessons learnt from my first race to prepare for the next one.

There were a couple of lessons learnt from my first race:

1) Train for slopes. I have been running on relatively flat grounds for training. This makes me ill-prepared for slopes during the race.

2) Have to find a better tasting energy gel. I had them during training and had no problems, however I almost threw up after my third energy gel during the race.

3) A better pair of running shorts, one that is not so thick that it becomes heavy after absorbing all my sweat.

4) A running belt that will hold my phone, keys etc and does not bounce during my runs. I was putting them in a ziplock bag and in my running shorts pocket. It became heavier with each kilometre.

5) More cross training, more core and strength training for a better time.

The next run will be the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run on the 15th September, a 10km run. After that it will be my second half marathon at the Standard Chartered Marathon in December.

My first half marathon timing:

AHM2013_Time 

Next target is to improve upon this timing in my next half marathon at the Standard Chartered Marathon. I will have 3 months to train for that!

IMG_3634

Running A Marathon

“A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental, that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow. It’s all in conquering the challenge.”