Friday, November 27, 2009

Form Five Photo

What a surprise!!! I bumped into a photo from one of my friend's Facebook with me in it during my time in Hill Crest Secondary school, which is in Sri Gombak. This was the class group photo when I was in form 5. I was in 5Science1 back then. Thinking back, it actually took me 4 long years to climbed from the bottom class when I was in form 1 and gradually reaching the so-called top class upon entering form 5. Not bad huh? All the hardwork paid off haha.. Well, actually I'm glad it happened that way coz going into different level of classes gave me the opportunity to get to know different people.

Really missed those good old times and the people I used to know. Those were the days.

Penang Bridge Marathon

Der Pacemakers Group Pictures

Penang Bridge Half Marathon 09

This was my first time participating for the Penang Bridge Run, which is considered to be one of the major running events in Malaysia. Well, for the sake of experiencing it and to add into my medals collection of different races, I volunteered to drive with Kenny & wife and Rujhan car pooling with me.

Took off from home at 9.30ish and stopped for lunch at Bidor for the famous wantan mee (recommended by pm1). Reached Penang at around 3pm and checked in at Krystal Suite. At around 5pm, off we went for our final carbo loading and dinner at a nearby hawker centre known as Super Tanker. Stuffed myself with a plate of Char koay Teow and chicken rice. It was delicious. Everyone planned to sleep at around 9pm as we need to wake up at 2am. Could hardly sleep though, due to the new "atmosphere" plus the sheer kancheongness whenever there is a race the following day. Woke up at 2am, grabbed some bread and energy bars for breakfast and immediately changed into my running gears: Adidas Orange vest (KOTR 09), Adidas running shorts, Nike Elite DryFit socks, New Balance RC1002 racer.

Felt tireness and aching on my legs especially on the calfs. It could be due some muscle strain which failed to recover in time after weeks of hard training. At around 2.45am, off we went to the starting point which is only 10mins jog from the hotel. I took it as a warm up prior to the race. Upon reaching, the huge crowd had already started booking their place at the starting line. As usual, I would take my time to do some stretchings at the side near the front and only make my way as near as possible to the front when it is 5min to start.

Guns off.. the race started with people pushing against each other. Due to the small space of the exit from the starting line, I've wasted about 2min of time just to find a clear passageway to run. Started with a comfortable 4:30 pace, pacing which Ronnie (pm1) all the way to the bridge. We overtook many runners along the way and even some were from the Full Marathon batch which had started about an hour earlier. Pm1 and I exchanged lead several times with him having the upperhand at the hills while I having the upperhand at the flats. Everytime there is a water station, pm1 would create some gap from me as he is such as fast drinker. That's one skill I need to learn in racing. The weather was good that day with the wind blowing against me making it abit dry and thirsty. Made a u-turn at 10km mark on the bridge where my time was 42.56. Things were looking good from there and I got myself mentally ready to finish the 2nd half of the race. Hopefully can achieve my target of 1hr30min.

Disaster happened at the 15km mark, where cramps started to hit my left calf. At the water station around 15km or 16km mark, I stopped for a moment quenching my thirst and doing some quick stretching on my calfs. Pm1 was already 100m ahead of me that time and he was on firery form that day. There goes my hope of beating him for the first time in half marathon. Struggled through the remaining few kms where my pace slowed doing substantially due to the cramps. The last 2km seemed to be a journey that last forever. Completed the race with a time of 1.36.32 which is a PB for me but still far from my targeted time of 1.30. Will try again next time.

Felt so tired after the race and I was unable to fall asleep due to the overexhaustion. Lied down on the bed and started to contemplate on what went wrong during the race. There were a few key factors which I had concluded that needs improvement on my part for me to improve next time.

1) Sufficient LSD - I find that I'm lacking in LSDs in my training schedule which may have caused my legs not being used to running long distance at a fast pace. Most of my trainings had been focused mainly on speed and tempo runs.

2) Recovery - Having most of my trainings carried out in a high intensity fashion may have prevented my muscles from recovering fully. The could be the reason behind the muscle soreness. I would need to include some easy runs in my training schedule.

3) Mental strength - I may have done well in the first 15km, but it is the last 5km that matters. This is where most experienced runners will rely on their mental strength to carry them through eventhough the feeling of tireness is overwhelming. How can I gather more mental strength? Some people said it is from the experience gained by participating in many races but I don't have the luxury of joining so many races due to priority reasons.

4) Hydration - Rushing through all the water stations may have also contributed to the cramps where dehydration is one of the main causes of muscle cramp. I think the reason I did this is because I don't want to loose gap from pm1 who happened to my pacer that day.

There may be more, but I felt that if all the above were done correctly, wonders can happen. The best part of the trip started after the race. It was the "Makan adventure" in Penang with pm1 being our tour guide as he is a "Penang Lang". Spent the rest of the day at a Resort where we stayed overnight in a chalet, thanks to our friend Rujhan for booking. Everyone made a trip back to KL on monday.        

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fear Not

Today, we live in a world filled with fears, fear of cancer, fear of robbery, fear of loosing our love ones and even fear of loosing our jobs. In the midst of all these fears, remember that we have a God who watches over us and ever ready to protect us when we call out to Him. Let's look at Psalm 46:

" God is our refuge and our fortress, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is shaken and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled and the mountains quake with thier surging. "

Do you know? Even if we have tsunamis, earthquakes, and pestilences around us, even though natural calamities and economy crisis may happen around us, one thing we need to know, our refuge and our strength comes from God and He is our help in times of trouble. Call out to Him and He promised that He will answer us when we call. I pray that God will give you the breakthrough that you seek in life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Living Faith

L i v i n g  F a i t h
    T ake one day at a time. - Matthew 6:34
      R  emember, all things work
             together for good.  - Romans 8:28      

        U nder no circumstances
                should you worry.  - Philippians 4:6

         S tart every day with prayer
                and thanksgiving.  - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

         T the Lord will never leave you or forsake you;
                Don't ever forget that!  - Hebrews 13:5

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Good Backup Training Plan

Woke up early at 4.30am this morning with the eagerness and excitement to do a good quality LSD at Bkt. Aman. This is part of my preparation for the upcoming Penang Bridge Half-marathon with only 3 weeks to go. However to my dissapoinment, I was greeted by the sound of heavy rain which can be heard from the window of my room. Arghh... *crying out in my heart*. I'm lacking in LSDs and there's only 3 weeks left for me to prepare. Recently, my training has been focused mostly on speed training without much emphasis on long distance. Well, just hope that my stamina is not affected by much due to the lack of distance training.

So, after resumed sleeping for another 3hrs, I turned to the Plan B training program. It is the resistant band which I've bought from Julie a few weeks ago. This has been a reliable tool for me so far especially in times when running is not possible, just like today.

Here's something you need to know about the resistant band. According to some sports researchers recently, performing an hour of exercise with a resistant band offers much higher benefits and improvement to our core muscles and strength development as compared to weights. This is because resistant training doesn't require the aid of gravity. In weights, usually it is the lifting which makes it difficult for us and too much weights makes our joints prone to injury as well.

The extension and retraction motions of resistant band simultaneously works out our muscles where the further the band is extended, the more resistant it is being applied to our body. With some creativity, many different forms of exercise can be performed with it where total body workout can be easily achieved.

Praise God for another beautiful day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Improve your running speed & performance

By Matt Fitzgerald

There are literally dozens of different variables that are relevant to running performance. Among the more familiar ones are VO2max, lactate threshold speed and running economy (or the rate of oxygen consumption at a given speed—the lower the better). One of the most under-appreciated performance-related running variables is ground contact time, or the amount of time your foot is in contact with the ground on each stride.

Ground contact time always decreases as running pace increases. If you accelerate from 6 miles/hour to 8 miles/per hour in the middle of a run, your ground contact time will decrease as your stride length increases and you spend more time airborne. But not all runners have the same ground contact times at the same speeds, and not all runners are able to reduce their ground contact time to the same level when trying to run fast. The fastest runners tend to have the shortest ground contact times. Training specifically to reduce your ground contact time is an effective way to improve your running.

Some interesting studies have demonstrated the importance of minimal ground contact to running performance. For example, a study by Finnish researchers investigated the relationships between running mechanics, top running speed and economy in young runners. Twenty-five runners performed two separate tests on an indoor track. The first test was 8 x 30m at increasing speeds, up to maximal sprint speed. The second test was 5-6 x 1,000m at increasing speeds. In the first test, ground reaction forces and stride characteristics were measured at each running speed. In the second test, running economy at the speed of 3.89 meters per second and maximal oxygen uptake were determined. The researchers found that, of all the stride characteristics measured in the short sprints, only ground contact correlated significantly with both running economy and maximal running speed. The authors of the study wrote, “It is concluded that the short contact times required in economical and high-speed running suggest that fast force production is important for both economical running and high top running speed in distance runners.”

Why is short ground contact so beneficial to running performance? When your foot is in contact with the ground during running, you are not moving forward. You are only moving forward when airborne. So the more time you spend airborne and the less time you spend on the ground, the faster you run. Ground contact time is determined by three main factors: the ability to apply force to the ground very quickly (that is, power), by the stiffness of the leg at the moment of footstrike (a stiffer leg is able to capture more “free” energy from the ground and then reuse it), and by biomechanical characteristics such as the position of the foot in relation to the center of gravity at footstrike (a foot that lands in front of the body’s center of gravity acts as a brake and thus increases ground contact time).

So how do you train to reduce your ground contact time? Simple: You train to increase your stride power and leg stiffness and improve your biomechanics. The most basic way to add power to your stride is to regularly include some very fast running in your training. Once a week, after completing an easy run, do a set of short sprints—say, 6 x 60m at full speed. To minimize the risk of pulling a hamstring, do these sprints on a steep hill, if possible. Also include regular submaximal running in the 5K-1500m race pace range. At least once every 10 days, complete an interval run with at least 2 total miles of running in this pace range (e.g. 6 x 600m @ 3K race pace with 400m jogging recoveries).

---