Race Review: Sundown Marathon 2019 (Half-Marathon)

Remember the day when I was notified that I got my hands on the winning ticket to Sundown Marathon? I attended the launch and fast forward 7 months later, I was starting the half-marathon race right beside Soh Rui Yong. For a non-professional (or I should put it — amateur) runner, it was a dream come true to start ahead together with the seasoned runners.

LEAD UP TO THE RACE

Before I start talking about what happened during race day, I shall share a bit about the lead up to the event. I took part in 2 of their lead-up runs on Saturdays with the pacers from Running Department. From the two runs, I had actually kind of guessed how I would finish my run. The first run, where we supposed to do 15km, was a terrible one. I would hardly complete 8KM without feeling the urge to give up. I eventually decide to end my run after crossing the 12KM mark because I was completely exhausted. I thought to myself, with the race coming in about 2 months time, that should not be the stamina that I should possess.

A few weeks later came the second run I wasn’t sure how much I could do that day so I just told myself to take it easy and follow the 7:07 pacers, staying at a consistent speed instead of going for a fast start. Surprisingly, I managed to go 18KM without really stopping. I took a look on my watch and realised I was going at 7:00 flat – my fastest constant speed ever.

GETTING WARMED UP FOR THE BIG DAY: We gathered together at the 3rd Train with Pacer and the first evening session for a 18KM/21KM run. (Photo: Running Dept)

The good thing about having the training session in the evening is that I can roughly gauge how I will perform on the actual night itself. For some reason, our body is programmed to work differently in the different time of the day. For a night owl like me, I tend to perform slightly better when running at night than running before daybreak.

RACE PACK COLLECTION

The Race Pack Collection and Expo was held on 24-26 May at Sands Expo & Convention Centre. I went down to help Justin and myself collect our race pack on the afternoon of the 26th. Because I had a few errands to run that day, I was hoping that the collection would be swift. To my surprise, there was hardly anyone at the queue so the entire process took pretty fast. Maybe it was already the last day and everyone else probably had collected theirs on Friday and Saturday.

Of course the race pack was not the only thing I brought home. At the expo, I was looking out for two items: restocking my energy gel stash and a small portable speaker. Thank God I was about to get those in discounted price at the expo.

And hey, guess who I saw in the Sundown Marathon edition of the RUN Magazine! It’s Eugene and Sofie — the creators of adidasRunnersSG.

RACE DAY

Race day finally came on 1 June. And guess what else fell on the same day? CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL! And who is in the final? LIVERPOOL FC! It is not every time when you run your marathon on the same day as your team playing in a continental cup final.

In preparation for this memorable night, I decided to race in the 2019/20 Liverpool Goalkeeper Home Kit. The black and gold kit is one of the best jersey New Balance has came out with since signing as the club’s shirt sponsor some 4 seasons ago.

Had a good 6 hours of sleep in the afternoon before heading out at around 8pm. It is important to have adequate rest before a race at night because you don’t want to crash halfway along the route. I am always a fan of night runs but the problem of night runs is that it will somehow mess up my sleeping schedule. But obviously, I am fine with it.

I reached the race village at around 9pm, meeting up with Eugene, Terrence and the rest of the adidias Runners/The High Panters runners at their meeting point. Justin came to meet up with me slightly afterwards. He was taking part in the full marathon event with one of his Sirs from his department. He was telling me how he was not as prepared for the race as compared to Singapore Marathon last year. Yet, I remember telling him that he got the full marathon experience and he definitely trained more frequently than me so he will perform well.

BEFORE THE RACE: Justin and I before we parted ways to enter our respective starting pit.
THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS UP: Everyone was very excited lingering around the race village while wanting for the race to begin.
FUELLING BEFORE THE RUN: Food stores were set up for those who wanted some proper fuelling before and after the run. It proved to be the go-to place for many who stayed back to watch the Champions League final match and Muslim who needs to have the suhoor meal before daybreak.
HYDRATION: Hydration points set up by the Official Hydration Partner Pocari Sweat at the race village.

Making my way towards the starting pen, I witness the excitement that was in every participant prior to the flag off. Everyone was eager to start. While some were busy updating their social accounts (uh-hum I was one of the guilty party), some were focusing on doing their warm-ups. Okay, to be fair to me, I did my warm up when I was outside.

It is not a common scene to see me thrown right at the front of the starting pen so there was some excitement building up within me. Yes, I was eager to start as well but I was more mesmerised by the feeling of being pitched at the starting line alongside Soh Rui Yong and Matthew Smith. That’s some once in a lifetime moment that I couldn’t forget. Ok, maybe if I trained hard enough, I would also be able to compete at this level in 10 years time.

There was some delay to the flag off because the organisers were still trying to get the routes cleared of any obstacles. While those who started from the first pen did not actually feel the effect of the delays, those who were starting from the subsequent pen did — as reflected from the negative feedbacks gathered during and after the race on social media. There were reported delay of 30 minutes which definitely affected those who had signed up for the shuttle service at 0300 and 0430.

To be very honest, having the shuttle service at 0300 when the scheduled flag off time was at 2330. Take note that participants are being pushed out in waves, so by the time the last wave started the race, it could have been 0000. And given those who started last could only finish the half-marathon race in another 2hrs 45mins and beyond, having the shuttle service at 0300 means that they will be rushing from the finishing point to the pick up point, praying that there was no bottleneck and enough time was given for them to take a ‘I’ve-completed-this-race’ photoshoot.

You might argue that they could have chosen the 0430 service. Some people would rather rush than to wait another hour and a half idling and doing nothing — especially if you ain’t a football fan. The shuttle bus could have been scheduled at a half-an-hour interval. I believe that would be a more convenient way for most of the runners.

STARTING POINT: Not every time I could pose right behind the starting point.

After a good 15-20 minutes of delay and the wonderful host trying to keep everyone’s spirit going, the routes were cleared for flag-off. Once we were flagged off, I looked at Rui Yong who spirited off within that nano-second. I tried to pace him for the first 10 seconds before I realised that I’ve depleted most of my energy going at my fastest pace. It was a speed that I was not comfortable and familiar with. That was mistake number 1. I slowed down but still going on at my faster than usual pace. Mistake number 2.

FLAG OFF!: Everyone sprinted the moment the horn was blasted and I went dangerously fast as well. (Photo: Sundown Marathon)

I eventually passed the finishing line 2hrs 38mins later. The good thing about this race was that I didn’t stop for toilet break because I wanted to test how fast I could go without stopping. I did stop and walk because of the inconsistent pace from the beginning. It was evident at the 15th and 19th KM that my pace slowed to a walking pace. I was dead exhausted and my right toe was feeling some cramps. This was obviously not my best race and my search for a sub-2h30mins continues.

While I did stop for water points, I suspected I had spent a little more time trying to swallow my drinks before I carried on running. Anyway, speaking about hydration, there was complaints from most runners (especially those full marathon runners) that some of the hydration points ran out of water before the end of the race. Hence, many of them had to carry on with the race with minimal hydration.

For a race that has been on the local running calendar for years, it is unacceptable for hydration points to even run out of water. I mean, look, hydration is the most basic and important aspect of an organised run. You wouldn’t want someone to pass out due to dehydration during the course of the race. Participants need a wall paced out hydration regime along the way to keep their body going and running out of water is the most ridiculous of all.

Hopefully in the next edition of Sundown, we would see better handling of logistics from the organiser. For example, they could have send for replenishment of refreshments when they realised that stocks are low instead of waiting for things to run out before everyone starts to panic.

Back to some positive points for this race. I need to admit that I loved the creativity behind the design of the finisher medal this year. Can turn one, not bad. At least I could take it out of my medal cabinet and start spinning the medal if I am bored at home.

I took a rest by the road side before limping my way to the main stage for the second event of the night — the live telecast of the Champions League Final. Brought to us by bein Sports, it was technically the highlight of the night apart from the main race events. Kudos for the organisers to bring the telecast live at the race village!

To be honest, I was excited but scared as well. After bottling our chance in Kiev against the mighty Real Madrid last season, I was afraid we might lose this one again. As much as I love Klopp, his track record in cup finals was worrisome. But in Klopp we trust. Also, I do see us having a better chance against Spurs after the stunning performance that saw us coming back against Barcelona from 3-0 down to win the second leg and in aggregate. We could believe again.

Within the first minute, Salah scored through a penalty won after Mane’s cross was blocked by Sissoko’s arm in the 6-yard box. 1-0. And that prompted an electrifying cheer from the Liverpool fans around me. Game on!

It was a nervous 86 mins before Origi’s strike sealed the victory. Origi has been phenomenal for Liverpool this season although he had only made 20 appearances all season. The 96th minute goal that won us the points against Everton. The 2 goals that sunk the unstoppable Barcelona in the second leg of Champions League semi-finals at Anfield. And now, he had just scored the goal that confirmed Liverpool’s 6th European trophy.

By the time the final whistle was blown, I was nearly in tears. I have never witness Liverpool winning a major trophy since supporting the team in 2006 (Yes, I don’t watch football when I was young until FIFA World Cup 2006 happened). The jubilation was unmatched by any sporting victory I have ever witness. I was so touched to witness this significant moment of a club I loved so dearly and for supporters like me who went through one of the most difficult times the club has ever endure during the turn of the decade (cue Roy Hodgson and the era of Tom Hicks and George Gillet), such moment at the pinnacle of European football was very much of a bittersweet moment for all of us.

Well, Liverpool’s run for their 6th European title taught me one very important lesson, as long as you believe in yourself and work hard, even the impossible can become possible.

Now, it’s time for me to get ready for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2019. I will be working towards a PB for my second ever full marathon race.

AIA GLOW FESTIVAL

Everyone has a favourite place and mine’s always the beach. I don’t know why but I always felt at ease sitting by the beach side and hearing wave crashing. As much as I enjoy personal time by the beach, I always fantasise about being part of a beach party. The idea of everyone chilling out by the beach, listening to live bands playing the familiar tunes sounds like a perfect storyboard for a day out.

Last Saturday, together with The Fitspo People, we took part in the 5KM Charity Fun Run at the AIA Glow Festival. For every runner who completes the race, the organiser will donate $10 to children in need at the Children’s Wishing Well. The AIA Glow Festival fits the definition of my perfect day out.

Beach? Checked.
Live bands? Checked.

And on top of that, it’s a fitness event! I enjoy being part of any festival/event that promotes health and wellness and sports. Hence a combination of both kind of events just makes me feel so at ease and this was one of the rare moments that I could really forget about all my worries and relax myself. There was no PB to worry about, there was no work to ponder about. I just let my mind went into relaxation mode.

While the fun run segment supposed to flag off at 4pm, most of us reached the venue slightly later than the timing. Some of us managed to run together with the rest of the participants in waves, the rest just OTOT start the run after the last wave had been pushed out. Shuen, Reb and I were the last few from FPAC to start the run because we arrived a little too late. Yet, the thrills and fun of running in Sentosa was never diminished. The scenery was equally breathtaking, the hills were equally deadly, the sun was equally scorching and the energy level was high.

I went off on my own after I took this video from my Instagram Story. I want to explore one of the running route that I’ve been wanting to try at my own pace – the slow yet comfortable one. I’ve been to Sentosa quite a few times and I’d be lying if I claimed not to be tempted by runners speeding past me along Siloso Beach. The place is as attractive – if not, more attractive – than East Coast Park but the downside is that Sentosa is just too out of the way for me.

I ended up completing the course of the run (which is around 4.3km instead of 5km) within 30 minutes. I couldn’t have ask for a better timing given how bad my stamina and performance is these days. Alright, this is supposed to be a fun run so no talking about form and performance right here.

We gathered back at our meeting spot for a photo before everyone left for their own post-run activities.

Not everyone who was present was in the photo but nevertheless, it was great to see new faces joining us. Even though some of them might be joining us one-off, but it is still a good thing. FPAC really grew from like a 5-person squad into a relatively sizeable community. It started with Viv, Mish, Charmz, Yapz and I during Sundown Marathon 2016 and we ended up expanding and welcoming new friends like Justin, Shuen, Jaslyn and Zongwei.

I am very touched every time when I heard people coming forward to say that they wanted to challenge their limit or indicate their new found interest in running – for example Shuen and Zongwei. Reb ended up liking Orienteering after I invited her to represent us for a ranking league upon invitation from the Orienteering Federation of Singapore. It is heartening to see people who never really run in their life, eventually attempted and completed their first 10km run, motivating each other along the way. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Justin, Farhan and I motivating one another for a good 42km timing.

Breaking physical and mental barrier is one thing, providing the support for each other is one thing, providing the support for each other and promoting active lifestyle is another and those are the most important objectives, I feel. To be honest, I had thoughts about ditching this little project along the way because our schedules made it impossible for us to meet up for weekly runs. But eventually I thought, why not just let this little community slowly builds up and even if we do not meet, we could still cheer on and encourage each other on fitness and maybe, performance.

On a personal level, I felt that we are constantly being introduced to unhealthy living habits as we grow up in today’s society. Junk food adverts are omnipresent, giving us – me alike – the impression of the ‘need’ to reward ourselves after a day or a week of constant overworking. I’ve been trying hard to get myself out of the perpetual cycle of indulging in unhealthy lifestyle, only to find the motivation depleting day by day. Coming to the Glow Festival, I found that huge motivation that I need. Witnessing people from all walks of life coming together to sweat it out, improve their fitness and renewing their vitality, I realised that the best way to reward yourself after a day/week at work is to rejuvenate your body and provide your body with the best nutrients to keep functioning.

BALANCING MY LIFE: Trying out my yoga moves because I see so many people doing yoga-inspired photoshoot around me.
LOOKING BACK: Ok, err… I just want to show off the back of FPAC’s singlet. That’s all.

I don’t know when I’ll be back on track for my fitness and wellness, but I hope that the good vibes I get from AIA Glow Festival will carry me through the next stage of my life.

We Ran A Marathon?! Race Review: Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018

8 months ago, I kept refreshing the official Facebook page of the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, hoping to the first few to sign up for the race. It would mark only the second time I am participating in the Singapore Marathon and the 9th race I have taken part in overall. The previous time I took part in the Singapore’s flagship running event was back in 2016, when I challenged myself to a 10KM distance. Back then, I managed to clock a personal best at an official race at 01:10:39.

After 6 half-marathon, I got a bit ambitious. When the registration for this edition of SCSM opened, I went on to select the Full Marathon category and proceeded to complete the registration. The ‘high’ does not last long, to be frank. Moments after I received the race confirmation slip, I stared into the blank space.

“Just what the hell did I get myself into?” I questioned my sanity.

The Training

I knew instantly that this would not be a walk in the park — even if it is, it’s a freaking long walk with I can compare it against the 24KM route march the PES-fit soldiers have to endure, just that I am without the bulky and heavy field pack contributing to the weight. I knew I need to embark on some vigorous training regime.

I have to admit I didn’t follow the plan my Garmin watch set for me. Thank God for the progressive training I’ve forced upon myself, otherwise, I would probably not be able to complete the race at all. 

Of course, training was much more fun when you ain’t training alone. As much as I enjoy my time alone when I run because I tend to immerse in the surrounding and let my inner thoughts take over me, I still prefer group training at times. The reason is simple: whenever you felt like giving up, there’s always someone there who will motivate you on and you, somehow, find that motivate to keep yourself going. It’s a very psychological thing.

This time round, I am thankful for Justin and Jaslyn. Both were new to FPAC (our running club) but we got along well quite fast. We ended up running together quite a number of times. Justin and I even went a step further to join Running Department for their pacer runs because we do need some motivations to run those extra kilometres when we head into the most intensive period of the training phrase. It is impossible for us – without the necessary hydration points along our usual route – to take on distances such as 27, 30 and 33KM. In addition, it is rather painful to run without much motivation especially after you’ve hit the wall. 

MASSIVE RUNNING COMMUNITY: Running with Running Department exposes me to the large and vibrant running community we have in Singapore. (Photo: Running Dept’s Official Facebook)

I couldn’t count how many runs or how much distance I’ve clocked just for the build-up training alone, but I went into the race week feeling a little more confident. I told myself, no matter what happened, it’ll still be a historical moment.

Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC)

I get very excited heading down to any REPCs. This time round, I got slightly more excited. Viv had told me earlier that there’s a big board located in the REPC expo where the names of all the marathon runners are printed on.

I went on to collect my race entry pack on Friday evening – just one day before the first day of the running event. I don’t know what happened but it seems that most of the race organisers this year have kind of learnt their lesson from the madness of last year and the year before. I ain’t going to comment on how long the queue to everything (from race pack collections to bag depositing to using the washroom) was during the past two years. It was a fast collection, so smooth that the entire process took me slightly less than 10 minutes — despite having two separate booths for race bib and race singlet & goodies collections.

As soon as I am done with the collection, I followed the path into the race expo. I thought I ended up in a retail shop instead. There was so much merchandises on sale that my bank balance got slightly threatened. 

There was this finisher jacket that caught my attention. Oh dear, I love jackets. It is a finisher jacket for this edition. It seems like a very comfortable windbreaker to run in during drizzle or cold weather like we have at the time of writing. Too bad, I was broke from all the 11.11 shopping that I had to give this a miss. Plus, I have enough jackets/windbreaker to last me. But good job coming out with all these merchandises.

I window-ed shopped a while before making my way into the other sections of the expo. I finally get to see the ‘huge wall’ personally. Viv had told us previously that there’s a wall at the expo where the names of all the full marathon participants were being printed on. I don’t exactly know how many names were there but I swear the number could easily start from a thousand. It took me close to 5 minutes to locate my name. Bravo. 

It was a massive expo with all the partner brands setting up booths to try and market their product. Too bad, none of them sells my favourite energy gels from GU (understandable because Shotz was the official energy gel) so I’ve had to head down to Suntec’s Liv Activ to replenish my stocks.

I’ve also captured my REPC experience on my vlog. You can buffer to 9:40 to have a better feel of how this year’s REPC went!

SCSM DAY 1: As A Spectator

The day is here! Not for me but for those who participated in the Kids Dash, 5KM and 10KM categories. For the first time in the event’s history, the races are being held over 2 days. The half-marathon, full-marathon and Ekiden were held on the next day. I guess that’s one way not to overcrowd the entire runners’ village with participants across the 6 races. I ain’t going to imagine having to squeeze through around 40,000 sweaty people to get to wherever I want to go.

That being said, this meant that Michelle, Jaslyn and Hui Shuen would start and complete their run some 24 hours before Justin and I complete ours. Really have to thank Rebecca for the complimentary tickets. FPAC wouldn’t have been represented by this much people without those tickets! It has been a long due club-level participation at a local race. Despite we would be running the next day, Justin and I went down to show some support. Of course, I have other secondary motives as well: to shoot some race day photos. ūüėÄ With the help of some very helpful race day volunteers, I managed to identify the designated walkway for spectators and made my way to the entrance of the viewing gallery at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

GET HYPED: The host at the finishing line gearing the crowds up before the 10KM champion crossed the finishing line.
HERE I COME: Hong Kong veteran runner Chan Ka Ho won the 10KM category with a timing of 34:26.

Not sure about the arrangement past years, because this marked the first year that I was there at the race as a spectator. There are definitely differences being there as a spectator and as a participant. As a spectator, I am treated to the anxiousness of looking out for the leading racer as well as the joy of watching each and every participant crossing the finishing line. The perks of having the ending point set at the Floating Platform includes being able to provide the best viewing positions for spectators to witness the race while admiring the spectacular Singapore skyline. More events should start ending their races there. Really.

1 hour or so went past and I finally heard from Justin — who stationed himself at the 9KM mark which his A3 motivational banner — that FPAC’s first finisher is within sight. I got my camera ready. I actually left everything on ‘off’ mode because I was running out of batteries. (Note to self before next shoot, charge every single battery, including those spare ones.)

Jaslyn crossed the finishing line 1hr 10mins after she started. To be honest, that was a very good result given that this is her debut race. She still dare say that she was very afraid when I ‘Grabbed’ her over to the starting point.

Next came Hui Shuen, who also made her race debut. The furthest she had ran before joining for the race was, I think, 5KM? Well done, girl!

Mish came in shortly behind Hui Shuen. You know, both Justin and I thought she had finished the race way ahead but in the end we both recognised the wrong person. HAHAHA Either Mish looks like everyone, or everyone looks like Mish. Good job in completing!

And ohya, this girl ran for a cause actually! She went on a non-sugar diet for the whole of November in a bid to raise awareness of heart conditions and the impacts on heart patients and their families.

So, if anyone has that spare cash during this season of giving, please help donate. More information can be found HERE.

COMPLETED: (From left: Hui Shuen, Jaslyn, Mish) The girls took a mandatory ‘finisher’ photo at the photo booth provided by Seiko.
AN ALMOST-COMPLETED TEAM PHOTO: We met Viv halfway and we took a group photo. Miss out on you, Mish! (From left: Hui Shuen, Jaslyn, Viv, me, Justin)

Check out the full vlog on the first day of the SCSM below:

SCSM DAY 2 – As A Participant

Alright, shit started to get real. The moment I woke up from the 6 hours of sleep, I knew the day I’ve been looking forward for the past few months is finally here. The alarm rang and I sat right up on my bed. “This is it.”

I’ve prepared all that I needed for the race the night before so that I need to be so rush with the final preparation. I just take some BCAA with 2 eggs and I was ready to head out. This is the first race that I donned a full Adidas kit – Hey Adidas, next time please sponsor me okay. I mean I feel more comfortable with a set of matching kit.

I managed to reach the ShareTransport shuttle bus pick up point at Ang Mo Kio MRT Station at 0200. I swear this was one of the rare times I managed to be in time for any shuttle bus. The partnership between SCSM and ShareTransport definitely made it easier for participants to travel to the starting point without having to manoeuvre through the chaotic traffic due to the road closures.

The 0200 shuttle buses from all over the island arrived around 0230, which meant those of us who registered for the earlier bus had a little too much time to spare at the race village. I spent about an hour sitting down on the floor gazing at my phone and visiting the toilet twice before I made my way into the starting pen. Either I was being too early or I was actually impressed by how there were not much queue for the toilet. I need to admit there were really a lot of portable toilets. The organisers placed toilets everywhere, out at the runners’ village and also over at the starting pens F & G. I never like to queue for toilet especially when anxiety increases my pee frequency. So, a thumbs up for the organisers!

At 0300, after I’ve done charging my phone, I went to deposit my bag. So this year, all the participants were given a transparent bag during the REPC. We were only allowed to deposit our items inside this transparent bag. From what I’ve heard from last year’s participants, this initiative was a response to the long queues and chaos happened during last year’s event. During SCSM 2017, participants were made to transfer their items to a similar transparent baggage on the spot. I supposed it’s due to some security purposes. Good thing that they’ve rectified the issue by coming with a new initiative. I am satisfied with the speed the things went for me — from the REPC to the bag depositing.

However, there was a small episode of disagreement. Or I should say, a drama. Prior to Pen G (where I was allocated) being flagged off, the organisers actually let waves of Pen C, D, E latecomers to enter together with Pen F. It was supposed to be not much of an issue until some Pen G participants were disgruntled that the move had, in fact, eaten into their time. We were supposed to flag off around 0500, but at 0510, the late comers were still coming in. Some of us got too frustrated and found it unfair because, to quote one of the participant, “You let all those late comers go first, do you think it’s fair for us who came at 3.”

I low-key agree.

I think after a series of protest, the security gave up and started opening up the barrier. All of us just gushed through the barriers towards the starting line, eager to be flagged off as soon as possible. I think everyone was just afraid that the delay might cause them to fail to complete the distances before the cut off time. I started to get slightly worried as well. Definitely not the start I want given all the positive experience I had encountered over the past 2 days.

Nevertheless, I started my first ever full marathon at 0520

It started off relatively well. I managed to complete a good 17KM with an easy pace, trying to keep at 07:30 pace. I know to most of you, this could be regarded as a rather slow speed but I didn’t want to use up all my energy. It’s 42KM, not 4.2KM. As much as I would like to go for speed and timing, I need to be realistic and recognise that I do not have that stamina to go at a half-marathon pace for a full marathon. I strategized along the way.

My plan was simple. To go all the way to 17KM before brisk walking for the next 3KM. At 19KM, I had my first energy gel to last me for the next 12KM. I would then take a 5KM walk before finishing the last 5KM.

But obviously, apart for the first two parts of the plan, the rest did not work out well. After I resumed my run at 20KM, I started having stitches at 23KM. I slowed down but I told myself I shouldn’t stop. The stitches subside by 24.5KM and I continued to 29KM before I started feeling a little dizzy. I knew I had to stop. I stopped, struggled for the next 5KM — even as I was walking. I got the full package in experiencing all the stages of running a marathon. I was hoping someone could come and end all my sufferings. 

Then, along the way, with the help of the mist tunnels and powerful fans installed along the route, I managed to slightly cool myself down. But then again, given Singapore’s humid weather, I don’t think I am the only one to find that the mist tunnels are less than effective. The availability of hydration points every 2-3KM and splash zones every 5km (?) does in fact eases my pain.

Stages of running a marathon
Stages of running a marathon

Despite having a new route, the route around Marina Bay shouldn’t poised much of a challenge for me. I remembered while planning for the race, I was rather confident I could pick up my pace along my ‘home ground’. The problem is, I may have run that route a thousand times, but I have’t tried running 35KM prior to my weekly run at Marina Bay. I ended up spending 70% of the time going at a rather pathetic pace. I am not going to further describe how the slope over at the infamous Shears Bridge made me died a little inside. 

I managed to pick up my pace after the last hydration point. I tried to go as fast as possible but my body seems not to be controllable by me anymore. It was a slightly faster pace nevertheless. I think the adrenaline level spiked once I saw the Singapore Flyer. By the time I reached the 42KM mark, I grabbed the national flag that I’ve left inside my phone pouch. I unwrapped it and started sprinting into the Floating Platform. I think I might have caused some hoo-haa when I came charging in with the red and white flag. 

A bit of drama again but I literally collapse to the ground after crossing the finishing line. I was not dead inside, but was crying internally. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve managed to complete my first ever marathon with a sub-6.

Although an average pace of 8:30 isn’t something to be proud of, but being able to finish the race faster than I thought I would go, gave me the confidence to go for another one next year. 

By the time I reached the finishing line, Farhan and Justin had already completed their race an hour or more ahead of me. Farhan completed in 05:06:34, while Justin did a sub-5 at 04:55:26. Sick. Justin even offered to engrave the medal for the both of us, so that we have a record of our respective first full marathon.

FIRST TIMER: We finally completed our first full marathon! (From left: Farhan, me, Justin)

I just lay on the ground for the next 1 hour after Farhan and Justin took their leaves. I didn’t feel like doing anything except for going into the extreme recovery phrase. Eventually, I dragged my lazy ass off the ground to go and meet Viv.

Thank you for all your hard work being part of the team fo making this race happen. Of course, a round of applause and appreciation to the organisers and the ever-so-friendly volunteers. Overall, this is one of the best race I’ve taken part in so far!

It’s time for all of us to rest and recover! 

Check out the vlog on the 2nd day of the SCSM 2018 here:

Sundown Marathon Returns 1 June 2019, Champions Inclusivity in Sports

The Osim Sundown Marathon will return on 1 June next year, with Infinitus Production newly appointed as its event management partner. As per previous editions, the Sundown Marathon will include 4 categories: 5KM, 10KM (individual or team of 4), Half-Marathon and Full Marathon.

For those who know me for quite some time, y’all would realise that I’ve kept sort of like a personal running calendar where I would select a few races to run in the calendar year (like a race season) since 2016. The Sundown Marathon has become somewhat of a fixed fixture ever since.¬†You can click on the following links read about my past experience:¬†2016, 2017, 2018

So days ago, when the organisers updated the Facebook page with a contest to reward loyal runners with race slots for the next edition of Sundown, I was thrilled. Although I didn’t expect myself to win anything because 3 years – in fact – was rather pale in comparison compared to those who’ve been taking part since their inaugural edition back in 2008. So when I received the news that I was one of the lucky winners, I was over the moon.

We were invited to the launch event on 29 November at the Marina Bay Event Square. I was running late (no pun intended), so I rushed my way through The Shoppes@Marina Bay Sands, hoping that I’ll be able to reach in time. It was till later that I realised there were people still on their way here. It is kind of heartening to see how participants were so willing to rush down from work and school or whatever they were doing to grace the event. That’s why I love our running community here — the dedication is beyond question.

We were given a limited edition pink-coloured Sundown Marathon t-shirt and a pair of light bands — maybe so that we could light up the night during the run we had later on.¬†

It was not long before Max Phua, director of F4U, went on stage to address us. He spoke about how Sundown started out with about 6,000 participants in 2008 before growing into 25,800 this year.¬†F4U acquired the rights of Sundown Marathon back in 2016 and has since brought the event to other Asian cities like Penang and Taipei. It was revealed that the organisers are eyeing an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s certification, thus becoming the second event to do so after the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.¬†

Furthermore, as part of the efforts of being inclusive, the organiser has partnered 3 main beneficiaries РST School Pocket Money Fund, Singapore Disability Sport Council and Running Hour Рand others via its ongoing Sundown with Love initiative. Under this initiative, the organiser will donate $1 from the registration fund to the adopted beneficiaries. Participants could also donate additional funds through the official event website. They even invited national para sailor Ng Xiu Zhen to the launch!

Speaking about Sundown with Love, I remembered running a donation drive under the initiative last year, as Fitspo People ran together for the second year. I couldn’t remember the amount we managed to collect and donated at the end of the day. I think I might be running a similar donation drive next year as I gear up for June 1.

After the address, we were release for ‘the thing that we enjoyed most’. Pacers from Running Department brought us for a 4KM run around Marina Bay to mark the official launch. I think I’ve grown a bit too familiar with RD people that I could recognise them just by their faces. (Sorry guys, the names will take quite a while). I’ve been training with them since last month by taking part in the pacer runs as lead ups to the upcoming Singapore Marathon on 9 December and probably one last time this year tomorrow.¬†

It was a short yet scenic run. I’ve ran Marina Bay countless of times but this time, because we were running on a completely different direction, I finally be able to view the evening skyline from a brand new angle. Such wow factor really drives you to put in more efforts in the run.

Because I need to rush off, I didn’t stay for the buffet and sharing session after the run. I merely took some photos and left. It was really a fun evening because you just feel so much different and refreshed running with a group of like-minded people.

So if you guys want to challenge yourself or join me in running, do take note that the registration will start on 5 December. There will also be a roadshow launch at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018 Expo where participants will get to enjoy a special registration rate and receive a goodie bag as well. Check below for the registration fees:

Hope to see you guys then!

Getting The Right Nutrients

It is not easy to sustain my fitness goals. I mean, I’ve been trying relatively hard over the past year to get back in shape but I am still far fetched from the fitspo I once was. I never want to give up my resolution in getting back in better shape.

I run, I gym and I try different ways to reduce my calorie intake. It is a no brainer that a combination of a well-balanced diet and exercise makes up the no-so-secret recipe to fitness. Of course, those who know me well knows that fitness might be something I yearn for but in fact, I was more inclined towards sustaining an active and healthy lifestyle. You have to be healthy and energetic to continue the endless struggle to full fitness.

So where do I get the vitality from? Well, I turn to Centrum, the world’s no. 1 multivitamin brand for assistance. Here is the review based on what I think about Centrum.

Centrum for Men is complete multivitamin specially formulated for men. Men and women have different body compositions and nutritional needs so I have to make sure that I am having the adequate and correct intake of nutrients. This multivitamin contains over 20 important nutrients that I find beneficial

It contains Vitamin B which plays an important role in converting protein, fats and carbohydrates into the energy I require for my runs and workouts. Furthermore, the Vitamins B6, D and magnesium help promote healthy muscles and hence doubling the recovery time I need before my next workout.

It needs no health scientist to advise you how crucial the role a strong heart plays while engaging in endurance sport. The lycopene, Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acids found in the multivitamin provides the necessary support. For those who ain’t an endurance athlete of any sort, these nutrients are still helpful since a strong heart translates into a lower risk of heart attack. 

On top of my multivitamins, I will start the day with a packet of Centrum Vitamin C 1000mg. All I need to do is to grab one sachet and pour the content into the cup of water. It’s part of my daily morning routine immediately upon waking up because I believe that an intake of water on an empty stomach will boost metabolic rate by 24% — especially important for someone like me with pathetically low metabolism.

The Centrum Vitamin C 1000mg is a delicious way to get my daily dose of immunity. It contains actual fruit juice extract. Every fizzy sip supports the immune system further with all the essential nutrients, electrolytes, and antioxidants that fill my nutritional gap in a refreshing burst of citrusy goodness.

Furthermore, as a runner, Vitamin C proves to be the key to sustaining performance as well as aiding in recovering. Vitamin C forms a protein which makes our tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. In addition, it helps to metabolise protein and repair the muscle fibre that might have been damaged by the long, exhausting run.

Review: Sundown Marathon 2018 (Half-Marathon)

One week ago, I was getting myself geared up for my second race this year. I didn’t have much expectation this year after the poor organisation last year. Despite that, I joined out of habit. I mean it’ll be weird if I don’t take part in the night race that I’ve been a part of since 2016. There ain’t many night race here in Singapore to begin with.

However, by the time I concluded the race, I knew that Sundown is so much better than the one last year.

Race Entry Pack Collection

Race Entry Pack Collection (REPC) might only be an occasion organised for participants to collect their bibs and tags, as well as to get their hands on to some goodies put together by the sponsors. However, to me, the REPC serves as an indication of how well the entire race would be organised. You know, the first impression counts.

Compared to the chaos of last year’s, this year the organiser has made some major adjustments. First, the collection point is no longer at an open area, they brought it indoors. I could still remember how we were forced to queue under the sun at F1 Pit last year while wondering how long more would it take before our turn. This year, they broke the collection into two parts. Participants collect their¬†bibs from outside Suntec City before going to the mall to grab the race singlet and the goodie bags.

It was surprisingly fast. The entire process took less than 15 minutes. The queue was cleared quickly before it became a long-winding snake. To make it more impressive, I was there on a Friday evening.

After I collected my goodie bag, I thought to myself: This year’s Sundown is going to be a whole new experience.

The Lead-Up & Trainings

The organisers put in place 3 lead-up runs to prepare the runners for the race. These include 12KM/22KM, 14KM/27KM and 19KM/30KM over three weekends. I wasn’t able to join for the first two runs because of personal commitments, but glad that I was able to set aside some time for the last lead-up. I must admit I was rather excited to go for my first official lead-up run despite having to run the race since 2016.

TOGETHER WE TRAIN: Running with pacers from Team FatBird provides me with a whole new experience. (Image: Team FatBird)

It was during the evening of 21st April, slightly after the afternoon drizzle. Every participant made their way to the OCBC Arena and everyone was feeling energised. I wasn’t that sure if I was ready for a 19km because I hasn’t been training that frequently compared to the race last year. But well… Since I was there, might as well give it my all. I mean, the race was due to flag off in another few weeks times. There was no better time than that.

I remembered I started well, even going on par with the pacer for the 30KM run (that’s for the Full Marathon runners). For a good 5km, I was ahead of everyone. Then slowly, I fell back and by the time I went for my toilet break at around 6km, I lost the sight of the running contingent. I eventually just OTOT all the way to East Coast Lagoon Food Centre before heading back to OCBC Arena.

It was a good run. The hydration points along the route served as an extra motivation for me to complete my training. The 19KM runners were entitled to a hydration point along the route somewhere around Parkland Green. It gave me an opportunity to hydrate myself and take a breather after trying to outpace a girl who appears to have an optimal running economy. I went on to try and outpace two fit uncles after the break. Well, I guess running with a group does have its perks.

Sleep Can Wait

The big night is here! Like I’ve said previously, I expected this year’s race to be a whole new experience. I am not far from the fact before I reached the race venue. For the first time in my three years of participation in Sundown, I was on the verge of running alone. It was not until when Charmaine told me that she was also running.

We met up at Promenade MRT at around 2230 before making our way to the 7-11 at Marina Square so that our little one can get her fuel. We slowly walked to the race village where the containers of last year were replaced by tentage, freeing up so much space for the large crowd to enter and even take group photos.

The organisers succumbed to the fact that fancy exhibition idea is not feasible under the constraint of spaces. They heard the complaints and made the amendments this year. Well done!

But there was one thing we suspected they might have screwed up. The pen allocation. Charmz and I had no idea why we were being allocated to Pen A, if the pen was supposedly for participants who were able to complete the course within 2 hours. Although I was running with my Adidas Sub-2, that doesn’t equate to the fact that I was able to run my race in 2 hours – especially not when I didn’t have enough proper trainings leading up to the big night.

Even if they screwed up our pen allocations, it was a beautiful one. We were entitled to a rather spacious starting pen and since we were being thrown to the front, ahead of the masses, we were given a clear view of the starting point and all the entertainment that was happening. For the first time, we were able to join in for a warm-up session – conducted by TripleFit. After we stretched some muscles, we were ready for the flag-off.

It was a race that I personally would not be proud of. I’ve let down such a well-organised race. On the night that, despite not as fit as I was during last year’s edition, I was expecting to beat my previous records, I succumbed to my intestinal health. I spent at least half of the race going around looking for the washroom. It’s definitely not fun having the urge to go to the washroom during your run. It’s worse when you had to go twice.

It still bugs me why my stomach worked up every time during a long-distance. Charmz told me that it might because of me and my spicy diet. I had to agree. I couldn’t live a day without taking something spicy, even until race day. Look like I have to review my diet for my next race.

Given that we were thrown into the first pen, there was no obstacle for us. No roadblock, no bottleneck, everything was just as smooth. If I had been last year, I guess I’ll be able to speed past the first 5km below 28mins.

Talking about timing, I need to commend Sundown for having this phone app this year. The Sundown App allows whoever who are interested to track the performance of the runners. I basically use it to track myself and Charmz. It would give notification whenever the person you are following past the different milestone. The only downside to this app was that it didn’t manage to tag the correct photos of me. Oops.

You can clearly see the amount I spent at my second toilet break before the 19km mark. Terrible. I was still telling Charmz that my aim was to not go for any toilet break while we were at the starting pen. Ah well. No point crying over poor pre-race strategy.

2 hours and 51mins after we set out for the race, I finally crossed the finishing line. There were regrets for me, the stage was set but I didn’t perform. Disappointing, but thank God that I was finally done with the race.

Charmz was already waiting for my at the race village. She was sitting down doing her post-run stretch when I found her near our bag collection area. We lepaked on the pavement, cooled ourselves down and did some catching up.

While this marked the last paid-run for her, it will be a while before I take part in my next race – yes, I will not be taking part in this year’s Army Half Marathon.

Types of Runs You Should Incorporate into Your Training Program

As someone who started out running only in the past 4 years, it is not surprising that I am still struggling with coming out with a ‘perfect’ running training program for myself. I ain’t any¬†form of expert after all.

Having said that, I still felt a sense of achievement to be able to achieve my PB every year (currently set at 2hrs 18mins). There is no ‘perfect’ training program because everyone is built differently, physically and genetically. I had experimented with different kinds of runs during my training over the past 2 years – when I started to take this sport more seriously. And yes, while I am still experimenting with the different runs , I would like to share what I’ve learnt.

1. Base Runs

(Image: Fredericton Legion Track Club)

Base runs are, in-fact, runs that are of relatively short-medium length. These run are usually executed at the natural pace of the runner. Given that they are shorter than your long runs, somewhere between 3km to 8km in my opinion, base runs are meant to be conducted frequently.

For example, you can fill half of your weekly training schedule with base runs.

2. Long Runs

(Image: Chris Winter / Getty Images)

These are usually the kind of run every marathon runner will take it seriously, most of the time, overzealously as well. Yes, I understand that you want to make sure that you are physically and mentally ready for the distance, but studies have shown that too much of a running volume per week will have an adverse effect on your body.

Yet, on the other hand, too little training and you will find your system crying for help during the run. It is suggested that runners should, at a bare minimum, clock a 30km week during training.

3. Progressive Runs

(Image: ACTIVE)

There is no rush if you find yourself unable to catch up with your peers. Do not try to pace them if you know you will end up gasping for air or sustaining any form of injury.

Not everyone could finish a 5km below 20 minutes, not even myself. Everyone starts from the bottom and they trained progressively. Set yourself a target. Go at your comfortable pace and slowly try to best your previous run (of the same distance, of course) by 30 seconds every time.

4. Speed

(Image: ACTIVE)

One of the training routines many tend to overlook. You must be thinking, I am training for a long distance run, why should I be setting aside time to do speed runs?

The rationale is simple: when you run at your fastest and hardest, your heart rate will spike. This will result in an increase in your aerobic capacity, which you will rely on throughout the course of your long-distance run.

Furthermore, it will help you improve your timing as the time goes. A secret to achieving your PB, definitely.

There are 3 types of speed training you can embark on: fartlek, tempo and tempo, which I am going to elaborate on below.

5. Fartlek

Fartlek is a synonym for ‘hell’ in a runner’s dictionary. It involves unstructured run, at a medium-hard effort before a quick recovery session. What I will do is to run 400m (one round around the stadium track) at the fastest speed I can go, take a minute rest, before continuing the same workout for 7 more times.

You could see me lying flat on the ground at the end of the workout, on the verge of cursing my decision to do as such. You will feel the sore in the thighs also instantly but rest assured, your thighs are getting stronger.

Fartlek is definitely the kind of routine you want to do when you are looking to improve your endurance and mental strength.

6. Tempo Runs

(Image: Run Well)

Tempo runs involve running above your anaerobic threshold (tempo zone). What makes it different fartlek is that tempo runs are, instead of a sudden boost of energy, more constant.

It is easy to know if you have been running in your tempo zone. As long as you find yourself breathing heavily (but not to the point of gasping for air) and experience difficulty in speaking, you are in your tempo zone.

For me, I’d usually conduct my tempo runs in the gym. It is easy for me to run at a constant speed within my tempo zone using the speed selection setting on the treadmill. I will then sustain the speed for a good 5 minutes and slowly increasing it by 30 seconds in the subsequent trainings. Continue it until you can sustain the speed for 1.5km before increasing the speed by 0.2km/h.

I ain’t an everyday runner so my tempo speed is currently around 10.5km/h. (I know that’s considered to be slow to many of the runners out there but hey, I got to start somewhere)

7. Intervals

(Image: Simplifaster)

Don’t confuse interval runs with fartleks. While fartleks are more of track workout, interval runs can actually be incorporated into your base run.

You can try going at an intense speed (maybe slightly at the upper end of your tempo zone) for a minute or 2 before slowing down to a comfortable speed for the next 3 minutes. Keep doing this until you are done with your base run distance.

It will help to improve your running form and running economy, endurance and mind-body concentration. And for those looking to cut some pound, you will love its fat burning effect.

8. Recovery Runs

(Image: Flashstockrom)

Recovery runs are runs that many will tend to overlook, yet this is, in fact, the most important run out of all the runs I’ve introduced.

Despite the widely accepted rationale that recovery runs are used to wash the lactic acids away from your muscles after a tedious workout or after your race. In fact, such runs serve a more important purpose, that is, to find a balance between training stress and running volume. With all the workout/race you’ve completed, there is no doubt that your body is feeling the fatigue.

Going for a recovery run will challenge your body to run at a pre-fatigued state. It will make your¬†body become fitter as it becomes more accustomed to the running volume you’ve introduced to your body, and therefore able to training further. You get to clock more mileage without putting more stress for your body – which is the last thing you will want on recovery days.

Review: 2XU Compression Run 2018 (Half-Marathon)

This marks the third time that I am taking part in 2XU Compression Run, although this would only my second time competing in the half-marathon category. Since last year onwards, I’ve given myself an annual challenge: to run in 4 half-marathon events each year. (Well, I kind of failed the challenge last year because I had to withdraw from Yolorun – which was supposed to be my final HM event for 2017.)

227 days since my last official race (Army Half-Marathon 2017), I was eager to get back on the roads again to further test my limits. If I were still at my fitness level last year, I would set my target at sub-2:15HR (a 16 minutes improvement from AHM17). My form dipped way too much over the months, to the point that I was very worried if I could even complete the distance in 3:00HR.

What’s worse is that I decided to turn up for the run despite suffering from an asthma attack two weeks ago. I could still remember how walking up a flight of stairs could get me gasping for air like a fish out of the water. I had to cancel any form of training. I felt damn lousy. For a moment, I thought of withdrawing from the race altogether.

Just one week¬†before the race, I told myself to slowly get back to training. I did a 4.5km run on Tuesday evening and that was the last run I had. Deep down inside, I knew I hadn’t been following all my training routine tightly – like how I did last year. I was doubting myself: whether I am in the right condition to partake in the run.

I eventually made up my mind.

Race Day

Woke up at 0230 to munch on a bar of Carman’s Oats Slice (Golden Oats & Coconut) and a cup of black coffee before heading to Ang Mo Kio MRT Station to board the 0320 shuttle bus. It didn’t take us long before we were being ferried to somewhere near the starting point.

As usual, I went to deposit my barang-barang at the designated area before proceeding to one corner for my warm-up. It might due to the fact that it was so long since I ran a race, I totally forgot that participants were usually be divided into waves in order to facilitate a smoother running route. I reached the pit late and ended up having to wait for roughly another 30 minutes before I could cross the starting line.

By the time the participant from my wave started running, most of us looked as if we were being deprived of the toilet. Within the first 1km, you could see the guys running towards the bushes and a row of grown-ups peeing was being formed. It reminded me of field camp somehow, just that you don’t see white lines being hoisted near the bushes.

As for me, I felt the need to shit so I joined the queue at the public toilet some 500m away from the starting line. Told you everyone was toilet-deprived.

The toilet break came at the correct time for me. I went on to complete my first 5km with a slightly lesser body mass in half an hour. That’s the first achievement I didn’t expect myself to achieve given my¬†poor form during all my training this year.

Initially, I wanted to continue running for another 3km before slowing down to a brisk walk but God knows where I got that absurdity¬†motivation to get myself to complete 11km before I took a ‘walking’ break.

I basically just tried to run at a pace of around 6:10/km at the first 11km and trying to overtake as many people as possible during this phrase. I knew I might not be able to retain my energy burst/adrenaline rush as time passed by so I always make it a point to run my best during the first half of the race.

During my first ‘break’, I took out my GU Energy Gel (Strawberry Banana flavour) to replenish my system. This, in fact, was my first time trying out an energy gel during a run. I usually will grab a cup of isotonic drink provided but this time I thought of fueling myself differently. Well, they said one should not try new things – especially your gears and nutrition – on the big day, but being someone who loves experimenting, it think it’s better for me to experience things first hand instead.

Surprisingly, I love the taste of the energy gel, despite it being too sweet. I felt like I was eating mashed banana right from a packaging. I knew my system was fueled the right way – I was lucky my experiment went right for me.

I went on to jog for another 5KM at my most comfortable pace – somewhere between 6:50/km – 7:50/km. It was still physically and mentally tiring despite I just need to jog for 5KM before taking another break.

My timer indicated 2:01hrs when I slowed down to walking speed after passing by the 18KM indicator near Marina Bay Sands. I took the time to recharge my earpiece since it died on me at such a coincidental timing.

I was dreading but still resumed my jogging – although this time at a much slower speed – after crossing the 19KM indicator. I told myself, “2.1km more to go. You are on the way to an unexpected finishing timing. Let’s go for sub-2:30.”

By the time I passed the finishing line, I knew I’ve exceeded my expectation.

I ended up with a 2:25HR timing, I couldn’t believe it. I stared right at my watch and wondered if I was dreaming. I knew I was a little light-headed while I walked to retrieve my medal and finisher tee. Everything felt unreal. My timing (according to my watch, my official timing will have a different reading) bettered what I got last year, despite how unfit I am now.

Maybe Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 rule makes sense after all.

Adam also ran the same event. So we met up after he finished his run for a photo!

Now I’ve put in more effort to get myself more prepared ahead of my next HM at Sundown Marathon 2018.

The Importance of Warming Up

Warm-up is considered as one of the important aspects of exercising and probably the most important routine to get your workout started. Despite repeated reminder to warm up before embarking on your exercises or any physical activities, many of us will either choose to take it lightly or not to do it at all.

For someone who just started out on exercising not long ago, I understand the reason behind our reluctance towards warming-up. We either find warm-up a waste of time (I know we are all too eager to sweat it out) or think that the calories burnt during the course of warm-up can be seen as negligible.

I am a very injury-prone person, at least that is the case for the past half of the year. I’ve been doing cardio, gymming and training for half-marathon to the point that there was a period this year when I felt a sharp pain in the ankle of my left leg. The pain came every time I exert a force on it. I continued with my routine nevertheless, telling myself to forgo all the pain.

As many should have guessed it by now, an injury means that my form would be off and every workout that I was doing was not as effective as it ought to be. I eventually had to take a long break to recuperate. It was a month or so before I resumed training.

Now, everyone will say that injury is part-and-parcel of an active person. It’s like the more you drive on the highway, the higher the chances that you might be involved in an accident. *Touchwood*

Warming-up is the answer to injury prevention.

I know that you might have heard a lot about the relations between doing your warm-ups and injury prevention but let me just share with you the science part of it:

1. Increase Flexibility and Injury Prevention

 

Effective warm-ups can help to increase your body temperature and as well as that of the muscles. A¬†‘hotter’¬†muscle would represent¬†a¬†higher blood saturation. High blood saturation plays a part in increasing the elasticity of your muscles, which in turn,¬†beneficial in enhancing the joint range of motion. This will hence prepare the muscles to counter sudden movements in the performance of technical training.

Furthermore, a warmed-up body will stimulate the flow of synovial fluid, hence reducing friction between the joints will allow them to move freely.

The effectiveness of muscular contractions also depends greatly on your body temperature. An increase in temperature will promote blood flow, increase blood saturation and hence, improve the contractility of your muscles and its capacity for work.

To achieve the full benefits of your warm-up, it is advised to do your stretching exercises immediately after you have warmed up. There is always a misconception to start right away with stretching because you have a higher chance of straining your muscles and damaging your connective tissues when your muscle temperature is relatively low.

2. Reduce Stress on the Heart

Warming up will help to increase your heart rate gradually, minimising the stress your heart has to handle.
Warming up will help to increase your heart rate gradually, minimising the stress your heart has to handle. (Image: enfermedadesytratamientos)

If being injury-prone and becoming more flexible do not give you enough reasons to start putting efforts into your warm-ups, this reason alone probably will.

You might have heard how people suffer from heart attacks during their exercises. One reason is due to the fact that they did not warm up enough.

Warming up helps to increase your heart beat slowly, giving your heart enough time to get used to the changes in the heart rate. A sudden increase of heart rate will result in an increase in the stress experienced by the heart, which will result in a heart attack.

When you warm-up gradually, you will also help your blood vessels to dilate and giving more space for blood circulation to occur. A dilated blood vessel will increase the efficiency for blood circulation and therefore decreasing the resistance the heart experienced to push the blood around the body.

3. Psychological Boost

Keeping yourself motivated ahead of your routine.
What’s better than keeping yourself motivated ahead of your routine? (Image: Pixabay)

Although there might not have studies that show evidence regarding the psychological aspect of warm-up, yet it does provide a very-much-needed boost ahead of your routine.

Personally, I’ve experienced the wonder warm-ups can do to your routine. Every time after a warm-up, I felt extremely pumped up and that gave me the motivation to go for an extra rep during gym or an additional kilometre for my runs.

Of course, any element that involves psychology has a different effect on different people. Some people, like me, tend to perform better with a warm-up, while others can just do as well without it. A review by Bill and Geoff Tancred stated that this could be due to some individuals ‘feeling hesitant or even afraid to perform maximally without warming-up’.

There could have been some truth in there, yet there is more to that.

When you embark on an exercise, your brain will release two kinds of hormones: adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine. These two hormones will increase your heart rate and, at the same time, allow more blood to flow into your muscles.

Together with the increase in the muscle temperature, which acts as a catalyst in lowering the activation energy for essential metabolic chemical reactions to occur in the body, will help your muscle to perform at an elevated level, enhancing your performance as a whole.

In addition, if you are involved in a competition or race, a warm-up prior to the actual event will be beneficial. You can make use of the duration of the warm-up to concentrate, which can help to discharge or increase aggression.

It is important to take note that the benefits of warm-up will be reduced and lost once the body returns to its resting states of heart rate, respiration and, body temperature.

I will share more about the different kinds of warm-up you can do in my subsequent article!

10 Reasons Why We Should Walk More

Walking is one of the simplest exercises that most people tend to neglect. It is the most basic aerobic exercise, yet the most underrated one. We walk to the kitchen, to the bedroom, to the food court, to the bus stop. The Japanese even came up with Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, as a preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.

However, with the advancement of technology, the convenience of transportation and the sedentary nature of jobs here in Singapore, fewer people are spending enough time walking. Studies have shown that a minimum of 10,000 steps should be attained each day in order to achieve the best health benefits.

If you are lazy to walk, maybe you want to read the following 10 reasons why you should start accumulating the mileage.

1. It Helps To Prevent Diabetes (and lose weight too!)

(Image: American Diabetes Association)

Walking has the ability of shrink your abdominal fats, which makes it THE EXERCISE for diabetes prevention. In the latest study published in the International Journal of Obesity mentioned at the start of this article, researchers did a research among 111 postal-service workers of both genders. None had a personal history of cardiovascular disease. Each worker wore a sophisticated activity tracker for a week. At the end of the week, the researchers determined how many hours these workers had spent in sedentary and active position.

The results were not surprising at all. Workers who spent most of the day sitting down tend to have larger waist circumference, higher BMI and worse blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles as compared to those who were more active.

A 2014 report by UK’s Public Health England (PHE) showed that men whose waist line exceeded 102cm are five times more likely to develop diabetes as compared to those with smaller waist line. Women whose waist line exceeded 88cm have three times the risk.

The hypotheses behind could be that 1) abdominal obesity may cause fat cells to release inflammatory chemicals that disrupt the body’s response to insulin and that 2) obesity may trigger changes to the body’s metabolism that cause fat tissues to release substances involved in the development of insulin resistance.

Hence, by reducing abdominal fats, you could well reduce the risk of diabetes as well.

2. It Helps To Control Your Cholesterol Level

(Image: Healthworks)

A 2005 study published in the Official Journal of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology suggested a relation between an increase in walking time and a reduced non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) level. Non-HDL-C (otherwise known as Low DL-C) are the bad cholesterol (as opposed to HLD-C) which will eventually lead to atherosclerosis – a common underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases.

3. It Helps To Strengthen Your Heart

(Image: The Heart Foundation, Australia)

Lower LDL-C will, in turn, make your heart stronger. According to the researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, while the lowest and highest levels of physical activity stood the greatest risk of heart failure at 47% and 51% respectively, walking or cycling for 20 minutes each day helps reduce the risk by 21%.

4. It Helps To Reduce High Blood Pressure

(Image: Healthline)

Not surprisingly, walking can also help to reduce high blood pressure as well. Researchers at the Korea Institute of Sports Science in Seoul studied the blood pressure of 23 men with prehypertension and hypertension after a brisk walking session. Four of them were made to walk for 10 minutes while the rest, for 40 minutes. The results reflected that blood pressure dropped by at least 2 points after each type of exercising session.

In fact, reasons 2, 3 and 4 are interlinked. When you exercise, your heart becomes stronger and LDL-C will be eradicated from your system. Hence, your heart will become more efficient and able to pump blood throughout your body better. As the heart pushes more blood with each beat, it will beat slower and your blood pressure will, therefore, be under control.

5. It Helps To Tones Your Legs And Butt

(Image: Verywell)

Since walking puts your quadriceps, hamstring and glutes and your lower leg muscles to work, it will eventually help with the toning of your legs and (look here girls) glutes (aka butt) muscles.

6. It Helps With Your Mental Health

(Image: Sandstone Trail)

Walking helps to trigger endorphins, which can help to promote relaxation, and prevents anxiety and depression. Since walking is some form of exercise, and exercise also aids in the production of serotonin and norepinephrine hormones Рthe neurotransmitters that can help to eradicate depression.

Furthermore, sport and exercise psychologist K. Kip Matthews also expressed how exercise can help to ward off depression by enhancing the body’s abilities to respond to stressors.

He said in an interview with CNN, “What appears to be happening is that exercise affords the body an opportunity to practice responding to stress, streamlining the communication between the systems involved in the stress response. The less active we become, the more challenged we are in dealing with stress.”

Furthermore, walking (especially in the park or garden during the day) will expose you to more fresh air, and hence, more oxygen. This pure oxygen will provide each and every cell in your system a boost of energy, making you feel better and energetic for the rest of the day.

7. It Helps To Prevent Dementia

(Image: Cracked Hat Illustration)

According to 2010 statistics provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH), there are about 20,000 Singaporeans suffering from dementia, with a prevalence rate of 5.7% among those aged 65 and above. However, the number is expected to rise to about 45,000 by 2020. On the other hand, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Singapore (ALZ) projects such cases to increase to 103,000 by 2030.

However, there is a way we can prevent dementia. Studies have shown that walking can help reduce the risk of the disease by 50%. A study led by Dr. Kirk Erickson in 2011 figured out the connection between exercising and an increased hippocampal volume. Hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain where long-term memories are stored, appears to shrink in size as one ages. Yet, the study found out that even simple exercises like aking a 30-40 minutes brisk walk a few times a week is capable in increasing its volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume as a result.

And even if you are still young, Dr. Erickson advised, “The earlier you begin, the greater the protection for your brain – but exercise leads to improved brain function at any age.”

8. It Helps Spark Creativity

(Image: Alejandro Torres)

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”. Even contemporary French philosopher Fr√©d√©ric Gros assented with him.

Gros wrote in A Philosophy of Walking, “Walking can provoke these excesses: surfeits of fatigue that makes the mind wander, abundances of beauty that turn the soul over, excesses of drunkenness on the peaks, the high passes (where the body explodes).”

He elaborated further, “Walking ends by awakening this rebellious, archaic part of us: our appetites become rough and uncompromising, our impulses inspired. Because walking puts us on the vertical axis of life: swept along by the torrent that rushes just beneath us.”

9. It Helps To Promote Healthier Skin

(Image: Lionesse Gem)

If you want to ‘look’ healthy, healthier skin could be your answer. Walking helps to increase the circulation of blood and thus provides the necessary nutrients your skin requires to be strong, firm and elastic.

The sunlight that you are exposed to during your walk helps your body in the production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect on healthy skin, which works effectively well against acne outbreak. Furthermore, since Vitamin D is essential for the proper control of smooth muscle cell function, cardiac muscle function, and the proper formation of many different cells throughout your body, it can affect how well you age.

It is recommended that approximately 5‚Äď30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis, and healthier skin.

10. It Provides A Great Bonding Time

What’s better than to take a stroll with your friends and talk about your life while enjoying the scenery?


Take part in Step Challenge 2017!

Step Challenge is back for its second season. From 22 July till 9 August, the participant who clocked the most number of steps from each category will walk away (no pun intended) with an Apple Watch.

There are six categories:

For individuals, there are the Active NSmen, Active Youth (< 25 year-old), Active Women and Active Masters (>40 year-old).

Participants can also take part as a team (3-4 pax per team) under Active Families & Friends and Active Corporates.

Interested parties can download and install the ActiveSG App from App Store or Google Play. Sign in and select S’pore Step Challenge on your Home screen and join one individual and one team challenge. Thereafter, you will just need to launch the app every day in order to clock your steps!

Participants who clock 50,000 steps during the campaign period will be able to redeem to a limited edition NS50 Jerrycan water bottle. Furthermore, these participants will also be eligible for lucky draw and stand a chance to win S$100!

Health benefits and material benefits coming together in one. So get up from your comfort zone now and start moving!

Feel free to check out the official website to learn more about the campaign.