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 – the 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 Frédéric 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 5–30 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.

No Time To Run? You Don’t Need Too Much Time Actually

Always find yourself not having time to exercise? Looks like you’ve greatly estimated that amount of time required to keep yourself active and healthy.

In a research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers have come to a surprising conclusion that participants who run less than 150 minutes per week have lower mortality risk.

The research examined the associations of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in 55,137 adults, between the age of 18 to 100, who received at least 1 extensive medical examination between 1974 and 2002. Out of 5,089 of adults who ran 51-80mins and 81-119mins reported a death rate of 29.7% and 29.8% respectively.

On the other hand, among the 42,121 sedentary non-runners, there is a death rate of a whopping 45.9%. Death rate due to cardiovascular diseases for non-runners is at 17.8%, compared to the mean death rate of 9.6 among runners of various intensity.

Moving is Key

PUT ON YOUR RUNNING SHOES: Even a slow jog around your neighbourhood for 20mins can lower your mortality risk. (Image: KOTB)

The key to a healthier lifestyle is to keep active. According to the aforementioned report, the group of participants who do not run accounted for 16% of all-cause and 25% of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

Another study, The Copenhagen City Heart Study, done in 2015 also managed to support the report. The result from the later study claimed that “compared with sedentary nonjoggers, 1 to 2.4 hour(s) of jogging per week was associated with the lowest mortality”.

The reason behind this is simple. When you exercise, your heart beat increases in order to pump more blood to supply your muscle tissues with oxygen. Over time, such involuntary actions will help to expand both the atria (the top part of your heart where blood return from the rest of your body – except for your lungs) and the ventricles (the bottom part of your heart where blood is pumped out of your heart) to be enlarged. This is, therefore, help to increase the efficiency of your heart.

As more blood is able to be pumped out of the body, it will increase the flexibility of the arteries too. This is to allow more blood flow during exercise and also prevent arteries blockage even when you are in sedentary position. As a result, the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD) will be greatly reduced.

More doesn’t mean better

However, although we always encourage everyone to push their limits, it is advisable not to overdo and overexert yourself. It is especially so when your primary goal is just to be healthy.

U-SHAPE RELATION: Studies suggest a U-shaped association between mortality rates and the amount of running you do. (Image: JACC)

Studies by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in 2012 have shown that excessive endurance exercise may lead to adverse cardiovascular effects, such as abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmias) and heart attack (acute myocardial infarction). This is because strenuous endurance exercise such as ultramarathon is capable to causing your atria and right ventricle to overload, hence resulting in the buildup of scar tissues in the heart.

The heart valves will eventually become thicker (patchy myocardial fibrosis), therefore “creating a substrate for atrial and ventricular arrhythmias”. The Mayo Foundation research also warned that long-term excessive exercise could also lead to coronary artery calcification, diastolic heart failure (diastolic dysfunction), and large-artery wall stiffening.

In conclusion, as long as you put aside some time, be it 15 minutes, 30 minutes or 1 hour, to keep yourself active, you will find yourself leading a healthier lifestyle.

Looks like the excuse of having NO TIME TO RUN is no longer valid anymore.

Eat To Lose Weight

People like me have lower metabolism weight, hence we tend to go on an extreme diet to cut down on our calorie intake in order to lose weight. Yes, we probably need to cut down on about 500 calories per day to lose at shed at least 1-2 pounds of weight. However, here’s a quick fact: the more extreme your diet routine is, the more ineffective it will be.

And the reason why? Because starvation can lead to the decrease of your metabolic rate.

1) Your body will go into conservation (or starvation) mode and it will stop burning calories for you. AND THAT IS NOT GOOD. Yep, our body does burn calories even when we are at sedantary position. Digestive metabolism (or thermic effect of food) for example, helps you to burn 10-15 percent of your daily calorie intake (that equates to about 250kcal if your suggested daily calorie intake is 2200kcal).

2) Starving yourself will also lead to losing your lean body mass, which is your muscles. You won’t burn as much fats in the end. Muscle actually helps to increase your metabolic rate. Research has shown that 1 pound of muscle actually burns between 7 to 10 calories per day. In contrast, a pound of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories.

So what should we do instead? If eating too much gains weight yet going on an extreme diet doesn’t work as well, there must be the golden mean. Balance your diet. I know we heard that a lot from the dietitian, Health Promotion Board (HPB)’s advertisements and fitness literature, but how do we get about making sure we eat enough yet lose weight as well?

(Header image: Athleta)

Increase intake of high-fiber foods

HAVE IT: Fibre can help lower blood sugar, and cut cholesterol. (Image: The Asian Age)

These include your cereals, fresh vegetables, and whole wheat bread, etc. High-fiber foods are found to contain appetite-suppressant, which will make us more satiated and reduce our tendency to snack. This, in turn, will help with the regulation of your blood sugar level and also cholesterol level – which in turns help to improve your metabolism.

It is recommended that adults take 30 grams of fibre each day.

Personallu, in order to make sure that I am retrieving the necessary amount of fibre that my body requires each day, I’ve, in fact, replaced my rice for oatmeal completely.

I have my daily serving of Quaker Instant Oatmeal in the afternoon to go with my other side dishes. A serving of the oatmeal (35g) consists of just 129kcal and 3.5g of dietary fibre. I normally have 4-6 tablespoons, which kind of tally up to about 1.5 – 2 servings.

To add on to the list of benefits, a high-fibre diet can also reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

However, if you’ve decided to make the switch, it is recommended to increase your fibre intake a little at a time to prevent fluctuant and bloating due to the excessive gas forming inside your stomach. It will not be that comfortable, trust me.

Don’t eat only when you are famished, but when you are hungry

As mentioned above, starvation can lead to the decrease in your metabolism. Scientifically, metabolism refers to ‘the amount of energy expended by an organism in a given time period – usually daily‘. To put it in layman term, it is the amount of energy burnt by your body to function.

For weight loss, we will need to focus on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – how much energy your body burns when it is at rest. Weight loss is simple mathematics – you’ll just need to burn more energy than your body consume. Hence, it is better to increase your overall BMR so that you can achieve weight loss without embarking on a torturous fitness campaign.

Believe it or not, the timing and frequency of which you have your food determine how much energy your body burns throughout the day.

It is important to understand the difference between famish and hunger. Famish is when you go through a long period without eating, which is especially that case when you ‘eat by schedule’. Our three meals schedule that we are most familiar with are in fact about 6 hours apart. Yet, your body requires enough fuel to produce the energy that we require.

The benefits of snack when you are hungry in between your meals (but don’t snack an hour and a half before your meal) is to prevent you from becoming famished by the time of your meal. We tend to overeat when we become over-hungry. If you are afraid of those extra calories, start drinking your plain water. Water helps to keep you full – it works for me most of the time. This will help in preventing your body to go into the conservation mode that I’ve mentioned earlier.

Smart snacking

SUPER SNACKS: Nuts contain unsaturated fats and protein which can help control your appetite. (Image: Connect Vending)

Of course, the kind of food that you’ve decided to snack on is as important as well. You don’t want to let your efforts go down the drain.

If you get hungry in between meals, opt for healthier snacks. Choose those with more fiber and protein and most importantly, lesser calories. Make it a habit of reading the nutrition label, and avoiding munching on snacks that are high in trans-fats and calories. If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.

If you are like me who needs a daily dose of chocolate to kerb the stress levels, feel free to opt for dark chocolate. My favourite would be the 75% dark chocolate. It contains more cocoa which helps to make you feel happier. When you are less stress, you won’t go for emotional eating.

I also go for nuts whenever I feel hungry. Nuts are very good source of protein and can help to control your appetite as well. Furthermore, it contains the unsaturated fats (more on that in a while).

Take your fats

GOOD FATS: Fats like Omega-3 helps to reduce appetite yet increase metabolism. (Image: Active Body Nutrition)

You didn’t read it wrongly. Go ahead and eat the fats.

However, you have to choose the correct kind of fats. There are 3 kinds of fats:

    1. Saturated fatsFound mostly in red meat and dairy products, saturated fats are not as healthy as the unsaturated ones but it is not exactly bad for the body either.
    2. Trans fatsThese are the fats that are bad for your body and will sabotage your plans entirely. Studies have shown that industrially-produced trans fats made from hydrogenated oils are linked to greater risk of death from coronary heart disease.
    3. Unsaturated fats (Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
      These are the healthy kind of fats that you should be including in your diet. Unsaturated fats promote satiety, hence reducing after-meal cravings. It can be found in nuts (as mentioned previously), certain fishes such as tuna and salmon, olives and avocados. I would like to give Omega-3 fatty acids a special mention. These fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These polyunsaturated fats are commonly found in fishes and are especially beneficial to our human body if the right amount is taken. 

      In a study done by Bastard et el in 2006, low-grade inflammation of the white adipose tissue (where energy not used by the body are stored as fats) can lead to obesity, and subsequently, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerant and even diabetes. Omega-3 will help to reduce such inflammation and thus helps control fat deposits in your body. It has also been proven that Omega-3 can help to build lean muscle when you take it as a supplement to your exercise routine. This is extremely important to your weight loss programme because a pound of muscle burns more energy than a pound of fats! It will hence provide a boost towards your BMR as well.

      Although unsaturated fats can be beneficial, yet it should be taken with moderation. It must be noted that there are some polyunsaturated fats like the Omega-6, despite its positive health effects, will cause the body to produce pro-inflammatory substances when taken excessively. Hence, a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 intake in the ratio of between 1:1 and 1:4 is recommended.

According to dietary recommendation by the HPB, total fat intake should be limited to 25-30% of your total calorie intake – 10% of which from your saturated fats and the remainder from unsaturated fats.

Eat slowly

There’s no need to rush when you are eating. Enjoy the taste of the delicacy as it is being brought into your month. Studies have shown that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to register that we have eaten enough (satiation). Hence, the best way to prevent overeating is to eat relatively slowly.

Another research by Andrade et el (2012) has found out that, the most advisable strategy to maximise satiation and regulate energy intake is to allow yourself time to ‘drink sufficient quantities of water along with a given meal while slowing down eating rate’.

I’ve tried it personally as well – the slower you eat, the faster you’ll feel full (although I still eat faster than most of my peers).

100 Days of Fitness

8 February – 18 May, the 100 days that literally shape myself.

I embarked on a 100-day fitness journey earlier this year to kick start a few of the New Year resolutions that I promised myself.

It took me a month into the year to finally embark on the journey. For a person who has been

Let’s look at my past ‘track record’.

2011: 

2012:

 

2015:

I’ve been plaque by obesity since young, which I didn’t really bothered until recent years. As I grow older, I become more concerned about the number on the weighing scale and, most important of all, how I look overall.

I’ve always wanted to go on a fitness journey since last year so I finally find the opportunity to get it going. 8 February marks the first day of my post-Poly life after submitting my last assignments the day before. I decided that I shall start slow – with a 100-day fitness routine to build the base for my long-term fitness plan in the future.

Of course, that 100-day fitness plan that I embarked on didn’t really turn out to be full workout mode. That means, to be frank, I didn’t really exercise and workout every single day. There are rest days, there are cheat days. But all in all, the thing that stayed constant throughout is my total calorie intake – which I set not to exceed 1, 500kcal. I went on to remove fast food and sugary drinks from my meals to ensure that what I put into my body will not jeopardise the effort that I’ve actually put in.

This 100-day programme was also planned in a way that it compliments my race training for the 2 half-marathons that I took part in in the first half of the year (Sundown Marathon and 2XU Compression Run).

In order to jot down a ‘complete report’ for my programme, I decided that I shall combine my relevant Dayre posts into one long omnibus blog post here.

It is very important to take photos of your progress throughout a fitness journey. So, this was taken prior to 8 Feb.

DAY 1 – 8 FEB

Started out the entire programme with a 5KM run with Vivian on a rainy Wednesday evening. Since it was raining, we didn’t get to run around the usual route around Marina Bay, but instead at the 100Plus Promenade just outside the National Stadium.

Featuring my fitness partner right from the start.

This marks the first ‘healthier meal’ after those binge eating throughout the Chinese New Year. It took me months after the commencement of the programme to realise how important it is to have a balanced diet. I’ll elaborate more on what I’ve learn with regards to dieting later.

DAY 5 – 12 FEB

Apart from just running, I also make sure that I build muscle mass. By adding muscle into your body, it will help to increase your metabolism – which means your body tend to burn more calories on its own when you have more muscle mass. I hadn’t been to the gym for quite some time prior to 12 Feb and I feel so lousy after each reps. The core strength was not there and out of the sudden, I feel weak.


But I understand one thing is that, even Arnold Schwarzenegger started out somewhere. No one is strong from the start. The only few things that are between my current self and the self that I aspire to become will be perseverance and effort. The sad fact is that no one can do it for me, it is up to me to make that break, to achieve what I’ve planned for myself. I round up the gym session with a 5km jog that evening to take advantage of the cool weather that is outside.

That’s probably the last time I combined core training and race training in one evening. Here’s another that I’ve realised over time: Focus and concentrate on one thing at a time. There’s no point dividing my energy to different training, it will just make you more tired and reduces the entire efficiency of your workout.

DAY 12 – 19 FEB


Day 12 was the start of a more serious race training regime that I put myself through. By then, it was just 5 weeks before Sundown and I was kind of worried that I might not train my physique and stamina in time for the race. New milestone achieved! I finally managed to push myself to run/jog non-stop for a good 12km within 80mins before spending the next 20mins walking the remaining 2km to cool down.

Progress pic after 15 days.

DAY 29 – 8 MAR
One month into the programme.

It wasn’t easy maintaining those weight. I remember I deviated from my diet plan for one week back then and my weight went back to 70kg. I admit those are some moments throughout the entire plan that actually caused some inevitable setbacks. It demoralises me a little because for so much that I’ve put in – my heart, my sweat and my time, there are actually possibility of it being undone just because of my indiscipline.

I recalled that this was the period in which I was down with a middle ear infection. I had to minimise on my exercise routine because I was afraid that sweat going into my ears was going to further implicate the infection.

As long as I got a little better, I returned to the gym and the road as well to resume my trainings.

DAY 43 – 22 MAR

Closing into 50% of the entire programme, I finally get to see some legitimate improvements. The ‘abs’ are showing, despite me having to do some flexing. Although there are still visceral fats – which I haven’t got rid of it even up till this day – I still find pride in the kind of improvement that I see on myself as the days passes.

I remembered how I used VSCO to enhance my photo a little because that perfectionist mentality in me was not that comfortable with the idea of posting up my progress picture (which requires me to bare the top half of my body) onto Dayre – even though it’s only followed and, most probably, read by my closest allies. I have never been satisfied with how I look, even though that can sound superficial.

Unlike others who have unwavering motivation and determination, my progress is slower and henceforth, pale in comparison.

DAY 46 – 25 MAR: SUNDOWN MARATHON 2017

Throughout the 45 days of the programme, it was not all just about gym-ing, weight loss and reducing visceral fats. Like I’ve mentioned earlier on, the routines actually form part of my training ahead of 2 half-marathons.

The big night finally arrived on the 25th of March.

Donning the race bib with such a nice number combination, 23450, I presumed that it would be a lucky race for me. My definition of a ‘lucky race’ would mean that there will be chances for me to outperform my past self and clock my personal best (PB).

This is not the first time that we ran together in the same race. Alright, maybe with the exception of Kishan. He was already running at the half-marathon level while we were challenging ourselves over at the 10km category.

Running 21 is, no doubt, totally different from running 10. It requires more than stamina and speed. At some point, you will realise that pace and speed will be at the back of your mind. Those would probably be the secondary thing in your mind, especially when you are a leisure runner and that the idea of half-marathon running seems rather new to you. As you cover beyond what you’ve tuned yourself to run, the exhaustion and the diminishing will to continue running will start to take over your mind eventually.

It is the battle of perseverance and how your body responds to the long duration of physical activity. Viv and I considered ourselves to be more race-fit as compared to the rest. We had been preparing ourselves physically and mentally week in and week out.

Despite it being the second half-marathon that I’ve attempted, it was still inevitable that I am feeling nervous. Signs of regret can be

As I sprinted past the finishing line, I was so relieved and that sense of accomplishment was real. Despite that, it still an easy race because 1) I was running on a full bladder, and 2) I had a stomachache halfway.


It’s a sub-3hr in terms to moving time (which means I deducted the time I’ve spent during in the toilet). It was pale in comparison if I were to pitch my own timing against the majority of the runners. My official net time was 03:06:34, as reflected on my e-certificate. Nevertheless, there was an improvement from my previous 21km (Army Half Marathon last year). I managed to run/jog for a good 15km before I started walking. I could remember how I actually struggled after the 10km mark during last year’s AHM. A 30-mins improvement is really something to cheer for.

DAY 50 – 29 MAR

After 50 days of trying to get myself into a fitness regime, I was finally halfway through. The progress had been slow but at least results are gradually showing. For the past few days, it seems that my weight is stable at the 68-something region so it has been a morale boost for me.

 

By Day 50, I realised that work out alone is not adequate. There is a saying: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”. Giving your body the correct nutrition is as important as conditioning your body in the gym. I started out going all out with a low/non-carb diet but as time goes, I realised that I get a little lethargic – less tenacity than I used to prior to the addition of the diet plan. No carb diet is not sustainable at all because carbohydrates are the nutrients that provide our body with energy. Without enough carbohydrates powering your cells and bodily functions, it is inevitable that one will lose their energy fast.
I brought back carbohydrates into my diet slowly. It wasn’t any kind of carbohydrates but whole grains. Wholegrains contains Vitamin E, selenium and phytic acid which help prevent blood vessel damage. The fibre found in whole grains will also aid in making you feel full, hence reducing risk of over-eating.
I think I will elaborate on whole grain diet next time.
I eventually opted for a low-calorie yet well-balanced diet because the most important thing is that I’ll have to give my body the correct nutrition to compliment my workout routine. Fitness is more than a programme for better well-being, it’s science and it’s art. I am still learning about the importance of nutrition and the science behind nutrition and exercise as I work towards my long-term fitness goal.

It is true to say that exercising may well not be the most difficult part of the journey, dieting is. There are many times that I make to control myself to not eat those things that I love. Looking back at my past eating habit, it kind of evident how I allow myself to end up in the unfit state.

But then again, the stricter your diet is, the more it will fail. The more you restrict yourself, the more you’ll crave for the thing that you want to it, and as the craving builds up, there will be a high probability that you will binge eat and undo what you’ve worked so hard for.

Hence, I gave myself leeway – or what they call it ‘cheat meal’. Once or twice every week, depending on my active level that week, I will allow myself to eat whatever I’d like to have – be it BBQ or non-whole-grain carbs or even process food. The only thing that stayed constant is the amount of sugar intake.

What’s a better way to keep track on your calorie intake than doing meal prep? Meal prep, to simply put it, is to prepare your meals way ahead so that you wouldn’t need to think of what to have that week. The calorie counter is clearer and more controlled when you cook your food by yourself. Hence, for the next half of the programme, I decided to try out meal prepping and I admit, I did have fun doing all the research, grocery shopping and cooking. Yet, it can be quite time-consuming at times so after the programme ended, I just try to meal prep as and when I am free. The rest of the meal I’ll just make do with what my family has cooked and just replace my rice with my oatmeal.

DAY 54 – 2 APR

One week after Sundown, I put on my running shoes once again to compete in my second half-marathon of the year. I think I went a little nuts when I decided that signing up for two half-marathon back-to-back (I mean, week after week) was a good idea.
I had not actually recovered from the previous run and I hadn’t been going for a time trial or anything in between these two runs. I thought me condition was going to be real bad because 1) The recovery run that I had three days before 2XU was horrendous; 2) I am never a morning runner. Flagging off at 0515 for me was just too early.
Surprisingly, I managed to keep my pace for the first 13km under 7 mins/km (roughly 8.5kph). Although I was 2 mins away from clocking a 10km under 1 hour, but today’s timing is already a PB, so I’ve nothing more to ask for.
I’ve also managed to push myself to run for 17km consecutively, a feat that I still looked back at it with awe. As I grow into more of a frequent runner, I suspect that I might have developed ‘runner’s diarrhoea’. I don’t know if that actually makes sense but for the two races that I’ve went, I ended up with stomachache halfway through. I had two toilet breaks at Sundown, the second after slowing down due to the pain in my abdomen at 12km. At 2XU, I had to relieve myself after the 17km mark.
I planned to walk of 2km before completing the race running.
That’s when all good things come to an end. I wasn’t that sure if I’ve actually over-exert myself for the first half of the race but my stitches acted up when I was about to resume my run at 19km. I eventually took a deep breathe, held my hand against my abdomen and completed the race with a final 100m sprint.
Started the race well but didn’t do myself much justice towards the end.

Didn’t get to run with Kishan because he was running with his army friend so I went to find him after my run for this photo. He was another one who ran 2 21km over two weekends and I think it’s already an incredible feat for the both of us because we only started running over the past few years.

Yapz, be proud of your boyfriend.


One race, a few PBs:

– Fastest half-marathon.
– Fastest 10km during an actual race.
– Longest continuous run: 17km.

I realised a thing about long distance running is that, one you started walking, you might never put on that pace again once you resume. Fatigue tends to get the better of you and you start to lose all the momentum.

Kishan and I were like saying that we are going to take a break from all these running. Meanwhile, I gave myself a few days to recover before heading back to the gym at the end of the week.

DAY 68 – 16 APR


It was less than a month to Graduation and I was trying to make sure I grind enough to make me look more presentable on that very special occasion. I stared into the mirror, as I always do to check on my ‘progress’, I could finally see some ‘abs’. Although it was made possible with the good lighting in my parents’ room, I couldn’t help but felt rather proud of how far I’ve come.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth – that’s one thing that I’ve to really point out. There were multiple occasions that my self-doubts clouded over my mind. I became more sensitive towards the numbers – on the weighing scales and on my food diary.

I tried to make sure that I kept within a certain weight range so that I could be classified as ‘acceptable weight’. No one could really understand how is it like to be labelled as ‘overweight’, and worst still, ‘severely overweight’ for a good decade of your life. Many people came out with campaigns or what sorts saying that be confident with how you look. I used to be that kind of people. Perhaps not accurately true. I was more of having a care-less attitude towards my own weight and physical looks. My lack of physical activities up till 2013 showed how lackadaisical I was towards any attempt to get myself in shape and healthier state.

Indeed, a person doesn’t change overnight. There are many factors contributing to the change in my attitude towards fitness. I think being fit is something more than the ability to be gungho in anything physically straining or to have abs. I am guilty of the allegations that I’ve just put forward. Being fit is more of getting your body to function healthily and hence to lift your confidence.

DAY 82 – 30 APR

 




DAY 94 – 10 MAY

How my basket looks like during most of my grocery shopping during this period.

Another 6 days to go.

DAY 100 – 18 MAY


Day 5 (First day at the Gym) vs Day 100.

Not saying that there is really some major transformation like those you’ve seen in fitness magazine or motivational sites but as I look at my progress, I am glad that I actually made the effort to step out of my confort zone

100 days passed by rather quickly and I kind of feel a little sense of achievement here. Although I didn’t actually work out every single day throughout the duration of the programme but in these 100 days, I’ve already worked out more than my past 5 years combined. Exercising slowly becomes a habit and I no longer felt obligated.

There are many ups and downs during this journey, just like the fluctuation of my weight. I’ve been ranting a lot about it on Dayre with regards to my weight issues. But this is one of my struggles – together with my lower body problem (how I got so frustrated with my broad hits and the fat deposit along my thighs).

By Day 100, I managed to weigh in at 66.8kg. I was around 69-70kg 100 days before. Weight dropped but I think I’ve actually gained some muscle mass along the way so the programme has been a successful one.

Reflection
The entire journey, like I kept reiterating, was never easy. There are times I felt happy because my form improved (either in the gym or running) and my weight dropped. But there are also times when I got very emotionally affected by the dropped in form (especially after not gymming for a while) and during times when my weight increases (usually after feasting or when my body resumes its water retention after my runs). I know this entire thing should be a healthy one, but I need to admit that it does affect me mentally sometimes.

But eventually, I learnt that these are just part and parcel of the process. I can’t possibly ensure everything suits my plan. At the end of the day, as long as the results are visible, nobody actually cares what happened during the process.

It’s just like life. In life, there are many expectations people have on you. At the end of the day, people are just going to judge you based on whether you’ve exceeded, met or do not meet the expectations. Not many people will be interested in the process (although I still take time to blog about this). And what should you do? Like fitness, you just have to continue working hard, keep on trying – if this doesn’t work, try another way. Take my diet plan for example, it no-carb diet doesn’t work in the long run, research and develop a new kind of diet that suits you and your activity level. Staying consistent is key, but of course, you’ve got to improve yourself along the way. Lay out a plan for yourself (like my diet and exercise routine) and force yourself to meet your own expectations first. There is the ultimate goal but to reach goals, you need steps and these small milestones can be your steps.

Throughout these 100 days, I’ve really learnt a lot. I’ve definitely become a stronger and more confident person than I was before (knowlegable as well, given a number of readings and research I’ve done). I became more disciplined as a result.

I couldn’t have done it without support from my friends as well. Viv, Yapz and Wanz. They’ve been motivating me via verbal means and/or physically as well. It gave me the strength to perservere on despite those few times when I almost wanted to give up completely.

Although 100 Days of Fitness ended a month back, I’ve continue to pick myself up from where I’ve left. Fitness is not just a 100-day goal or programme, it should be a lifetime one. I admit I am starting to get rather lax in terms of gymming and running, but own time own target. Fitness should add positivity to your life, not more burdens.

The Night is Ours: Sundown Marathon 2016

28 May, 2016. It was a night that I will never forget. For the first time, I am running a 10km race with a group of friends (Let alone Will Run 2013 since it was a school event). The Sundown Marathon 2016 marks my second 10km long distant competitive run (after 2XU Compression Run in April) since I returned to running after taking a short break last year.

Initially, I signed up for the run alone. It was until Yapz told me that the other girls and her were also running the same event (except Viv – she participated in the 21km run) on Twitter when I was complaining that I did not have much training leading up to the actual day.

And so, we decided to run together in the end.

It kind of reminded me about running Will Run back in SRJC and the trainings we received almost every PE lesson.

We took a photo before we headed to the 10km starting point.

Oops, I think my shadow had kind of eclipsed Charmz face.

The race supposed to start at 10PM but because there were too many participants that they dispatched us through different ‘waves’. I think by the time we started to run, it was already 10.20pm. The 4 of us basically ran in pairs: Charmz with me while Mich with Yapz.

By the 1st KM, Charmz and I were separated from Mich and Yapz. Despite the early human congestion, we managed to squeeze our way to the front and avoided the bottlenecked route. While Charmz ran all the way, I needed to make a few timeout during the course of the race. Despite that, I was in a much better condition to run compared to during that 2XU Run. This time, maybe because someone was there to motivate and pace me, I managed to only brisk walked for just about 1KM.

Maybe it’s beneficial to have a friend to run beside you during such event.

We continued running and didn’t get to meet the other two girls until when we were on our final kilometer. While we were heading towards our final 100m, we decided to sprint all the way. I swear if I used that speed throughout the race, I would have been on a prize-winning journey (of course I am not that disillusioned into thinking that I could be a road champion). To be honest, I almost ran out of breathe and consciousness.

By the time I crossed the finishing line, two things came to my mind: toilet and water. I needed to use the latrine and I was very much dehydrated. Here comes the horror story: the queue to the toilet was the longest queue (apart from the one during Lee Kuan Yew’s tribute last year) I’ve ever encounter. It felt like gravity was so strong that it was pulling everyone’s blatter and the contents in it.

Charmz and I went to the toilet at Promenade MRT instead before we returned to wait for the other two to complete their race.

We managed to meet with the Mich and Yapz back at the starting point. I went straight to the water station to gobble down a few cups of water before we find an area to lepak while waiting for Viv and Yapz’s bf (and his friends) to return from the 21KM race.

It was a little past midnight.

While prostration had taken over us, we tried to squeeze that remaining energy and zest to enjoy the rest of the night. Because, as the organisers said, “The night is ours”. We didn’t want to waste the night.

And so, it became a night of cheerleading, dancing and photoshooting.

Ya. Cheerleading. I wasn’t even kidding. But I swear they looked legit though.

We were so loud that the guy beside us decided to just take out his earpiece to isolate himself while he was reading his book. We were semi-conscious of our surrounding but I think our lassitude made us a little zappy.

Despite that, I almost fell flat asleep in the middle the road where a Ferrari or a McLaren would have speeded past every September. Before I really fell asleep, Yapz’s boyfriend and his friends joined us after the run. I could here every pathetic whine they made because of their strained muscles. We couldn’t help but to laugh.

Viv joined us a little later and she seems to be alright. Perfectly alright. We applauded her for her completion. And that means we can take a group photo with our medals finally at around 3.30AM.

We just spent the entire night with one another.

We might just decide that this might become our annual run, where we will all run for Sundown every year. I heard someone said that we could try 21KM next year. I am holding my breathe.