Friday, 24 July 2015

Running Your First Marathon in 12 Months

You wipe the sweat from your brow, and almost immediately another drop takes its place. You look further ahead and you see the road takes a turn upwards. Your head pounds as you lost count of the number of climbs you have endured. Your calves are screaming and your shoulders are heavy. Your drenched shirt clings to your body like a second skin as you make your way over the hill and towards the finish line. 300 meters to go. You can see the crowd lining the finishing chute, and photographers snapping away. Your mind goes blank. Months of training and sacrifice has brought you to this moment. You can hear every beat of your heart and every breath you take as you close your eyes for a split second to savour the moment. 10 meters from the finishing arch, you pump both hands in the air and grit your teeth in satisfaction. As you cross the line and the race volunteers put a medal around your neck and hand you an ice cold bottle of water, you realize that you have just put your body and mind through an arduous endurance feat that tested the limits of your physical and mental capacities. You have just earned the accolade of a Marathon Finisher.

The Marathon is a running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers and it evokes feelings of awe and respect amongst runners and non-runners even. Imagine running from Klang town all the way to Kuala Lumpur City Centre. You get tired even thinking about driving that distance, what more going on 2 feet. What makes a person willing to run for 42 kilometers? Is it the sheer satisfaction and sense of achievement? Is it the hard-earned finisher’s medal? Is it the marathon finisher’s shirt that you will cherish and have a special place in your wardrobe? Or maybe, it is just bragging rights. Whatever the reason, taking up a marathon challenge is a lifestyle change. It is a test of one’s physical stamina and mental strength and months of hard work and sacrifice leading up to the big event. Every year, thousands of runners take up the challenge of running a full marathon distance race all over the world. Many complete the distance, some struggle through it, others fail in their attempt. It is said that only 1% of the world’s population has completed a full marathon. Will you take up the challenge?

What do runners who have completed the marathon distance have to say about the experience of running one? We asked a simple question to several runners to gauge their response – “What inspired you to take part in your first full marathon?”

The wakeup call was when I discovered during a medical checkup, my cholesterol level was high and because of that, migraine hit me almost every week. It took me a year of training before my first marathon. The aim was to complete the race and with this aim, it kept me motivated to train week after week. At the end, the feeling of crossing the finishing line for my very first marathon was priceless”Imran, 30, SCKLM 2013, Lecturer

When I saw runners older than me who can complete a full marathon, it spurred my instinct to sign up for my very first marathon. I felt that If they can do it, so can I. Other than that, influence from friends did play a part in motivating me to sign up my very first full marathon.” - Vivienne Loo, Energizer Night Marathon 2010, Self-Employed.

My running experience is less than a year and what really inspired me are other runners in the community who have completed the marathon and beyond. I wanted to put myself in their shoes, to feel what they have gone through and all the sacrifice that is required in completing such a journey. No matter how fast or how slow they ran, they finished it and completed it. Running has taught me a lot of respect and to praise God that how lucky we are to be given such strength and determination to achieve and go beyond the boundaries of human capabilities.” – Man Abdul Shukor, 37, Melaka International River Marathon 2014, Senior Engineer

My main inspiration to enter my 1st FM was to reduce my weight.  My weight was around 85kg and the BMI test showed I am in an unhealthy position. Thus, I took up running and eventually ran a full marathon after 10 months of running.”Puvan Maha Iswara, 29, Putrajaya Night Marathon 2011, Engineer

This is the first of a series of 6 articles that will guide the runner to complete his or her first marathon race in 12 months time. For a start, the 2015 Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) will most probably be held in the month of October if everything goes according to plan and it is one of the most well organized marathon events in Malaysia. It is also one of the most popular choices for runners who want to register for their first marathon race. The marathon race scene in Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and this is evident from the number of full marathon events you can sign up for today compared to 5 years ago. Some of the marathon events worth mentioning are of course the above Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM), Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM), Kuching International Marathon, Borneo International Marathon in Sabah, Island Ocean Marathon in Langkawi and the River Jungle Marathon in Klang Valley. With the boom in running, there is also a marathon event that caters for women called the Malaysia Women Marathon and is a day to celebrate the strength of women and empowerment of sisters in running.

This series of articles will encompass different slices of the marathon pie, and when put together, will enable the runner to have adequate knowledge, information and tips to confidently participate in their first 42.195km road race. The articles will cover progressive training programs that cater to running the full distance; nutrition, fuel and hydration requirements; training gear and race essentials; injury prevention and valuable tips for the big day! Knowing that a first full marathon is one of the defining moments in a runner’s career, it is imperative to be as best prepared as possible approaching the big day.

Sharing their valuable experience and in-depth knowledge in running for the benefit of the runners who would like to take up the first marathon challenge; is Team 2ndskin who were featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Running Malaysia. Team 2ndskin are a team of accomplished runners and triathletes, who amongst themselves have amassed a combined total of 88 marathon finishes and 38 ultramarathon races under their belt (or shoes!). Their combined running mileage easily exceeds 15,000km a year and on average they wear out about 4 pairs of running shoes each in 12 months!  The regular marathon and ultramarathon runners in Team 2ndskin are Roy Yeow, Azrulhisyam Hussin, Lim Ee-Van, Annie Yee and Eugene Teoh. They have run marathons in different conditions and weather, in multiple countries and on different terrains. Having tried and tested different running gears and products along the way, Team 2ndskin are well placed to offer advice on the right choice of equipments and gear required to complete your first marathon. They have also tried different training programs and methodologies and are well-versed with different running workout types and the benefits of each type of workout session to the overall goal of a marathon finish.

Ready to take up the challenge of running your first marathon in 12 months? Look out for the next article on basic and progressive training programs that will kick-start your goal to join the ranks of runners who call themselves Marathoners.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tip Of The Month - Trigger Points Part 1 - Jun Shen

Ever feel tightness after some hard training session that makes your muscles literally scream in agony? The muscles experience repetition of intense stretch and contract which causes the formation of muscles knots. This write up will share with team2ndskin blog readers what you can do to relieve the tightness in your muscles.

Commonly, coaches and experienced athletes call “knots” in the muscles as muscles knots or trigger points. Releasing the muscles tightness could be done by massaging, foam rolling or even use a lacrosse ball to apply pressure at specific points. This will help in the recovery process of the muscles so that they stay healthy, elastic and ever ready for the next workout. Trigger point is felt when pressure is applied at a certain area, it will cause slight discomfort but should not be unbearable. Self applied pressure is more precise as the athlete knows where the exact location of the muscle knots is. Releasing the knots helps to rebuild pain free movement and finally enhance performance. 
In the market, there are plenty of tools for releasing muscles knots such as the massage roller stick, foam rollers, or Trigger Point Therapy set. For a cheaper option, a tennis ball can be used for certain area of the body such as the back muscles along the spine and around the shoulder area.

Reminder : If you ever feel any sharp pain, please stop this exercise. This method is not to be applied to the bones. It’s only for muscles, remember that! =)

There are many ways to get the tennis ball to pressure on the muscle knots. Roll it as many repetitions as you feel comfortable, get ample sleep like a baby to accelerate the recovery. Some therapist might recommend laying on the floor and some suggest leaning against the wall. I would prefer to recover while I’m doing my work, lets score two birds with one throw=) Since I am attending a course in Alor Setar, I tend to feel a bit groggy especially in the early morning. The tennis ball on my back keeps me “ahhh and oouuch” as it pressures the muscles knots, so that’s how I keep myself awake=p I will roll left, right, up and down to search for the “knot”. Once found, keep the ball rolling! =) At the end of the class, I feel like I’ve just had an awesome Thai massage session. In the evening, I will be ready for my workout session. 

Hope this tip helps=) I will be writing about trigger points related topics in the upcoming tip of the month. Stay tuned! =)

Friday, 12 June 2015

Alor Setar Jogging Club 21KM Race Report - Jun Shen

Our teammate Jun Shen has moved to northern part of Malaysia in his new assignment as a Naval Officer. Being closer to land (no pun intended) meaning he has more time for some local races nearby. He did not waste time and went on to run the ASJC 21KM. Enjoy the wonderful Paddy Field Run.


Alor Setar Jogging Club Half Marathon 2015 Race Report

Last week I started racing again by completing the Larian Bendang 11km under the extreme Kedah weather. This week is my second race of the month, most likely will be the last one for this month to restructure my training programme. I’m currently based in Alor Setar Airforce College, nothing much triathlon related stuff that I can do due to the road condition and my tight schedule. I could hardly run because the sport period in the college is allocated for group sports. Unless I choose to be anti social, I have no choice but to join all the ball sports that I really suck in.
My left knee injury started few months ago when I was triggered to do my ultra marathon this year inspired by my teammate Deo and Roy. I went through a tough time looking for remedies, doing self physio and stretches, strapped up my knee with kinesio tape in all races and greatly reduced my training mileage. None of that worked, ultra marathon became an abandoned plan. While driving long hours when my knee flexes, the sharp pain starts to torture me. Finally, I went to I-Sihat pharmacy at Manjung and bought myself glucosamine.

Surprisingly, the pain was gone. With just glucosamine?? I should have swallowed it long time ago! Better late than never =) Upon competing Larian Bendang (30 May15), I was quite positive with my left knee’s progression. Larian Bendang was a fun run actually, it was not organized mainly for runners. I mean the run was intended to make the carnival merrier; too many VIPs attended the run. Long story short, race start was delayed almost two hours. I managed to finish the 11km run in 47mins, pace was around 4.16mins/km.

Completed the run with my fellow future aircraft engineer. =)

Pre-Race Drama

I signed up for ASJC Half Marathon which is one week after Larian Bendang. I did a bit of homework studying the route from Garmin Connect, trying to remember some turnings and landmarks. The manual registration is similar to Larian Bendang, fill up forms and be present at certain location to pick up race kits. So the direction given on registration form was 1073, Bee Bee Park, Alor Setar which could not be found in GPS, Google Map or whatsoever. I drove towards the huge maze of Bee Bee Park, stuck inside the housing area asking everyone I saw, “Where is this ASJC (Alor Setar Jogging Club)” before I found the mysterious race kit collection center at one of the corner lot.

My name was missing in the Men Open starting list. =p I stayed calm and once again told the elderly uncles, my name is “Chan Jun Shen, 22km Men Open A category”. When they finally found my name in the veteran category, I was sure that I will be in the podium tomorrow because there were only two participants! That will be one veteran uncle against me, fighting for the RM500 cash prize and trophy=p Anyway, a lot of participants registered at the very last minute so I changed my bib number to A category. 

This ASJC has been around for over 32 years but this is the first time I’ve heard of it.

The registration costs only RM40, I was provided with a collar cotton tee and a cotton race number.=)

The Race
I was ambitious to target 4.15mins/km pace throughout the course. I felt that I could do it so I set Garmins 920xt alerts to beep me at slowest pace of 4.30mins/km. Once flagged off, I just wanted to maintain my pace and not to be bothered with the race field. The first 5km was manageable with 4.15mins/km although I was still synchronizing my breathing and running rhythm. I tried to maintain one inhale and two exhales to make sure the double exhales puff out all the “used” air. The course was “pancake flat” along the “ruler straight” Kuala Kedah road, but I could not see the race leader (just to give you an idea how fast they were going). In my group was Wong Jin Ji, and two Thai runners. I had no intention to drop anybody or chase after the front runners because I feel safer to run at my own planned pace since I don’t think I have much endurance or speed with my current tight schedule. My alerts were to remind me my every 2km pace and slowest pace beeps at 4.30mins/km, so my Garmin 920xt was my pacer.

I wasn’t feeling comfortable with 4.15mins/km pace when I almost reached the turning point at Jambatan Tok Pasai. My breathing rhythm went haywire as I tried to synchronize my steps, my upper posture started to slouch and too much of sideward arm swing motion. Obviously, it is a sign of fatigue. I switched to one inhale and one exhale, grabbed water at all water stations and suck in one caffeinated energy gel. The race course was very well marked and marshalled at every corner, we were provided with 8 water stations (if I am not wrong). The local communities were really committed to organize this race, most of the marshalls were old uncles and MTB escorts were plenty. Garmin non stop alerting me since the 10th kilometre, I dug really deep to shut it up but my pace was fluctuating between 4.25mins/km to 4.35mins/km. In order to be a good distance runner, consistency is the key to a strong finish. I believe in amateur level, there’s not much tactic involved so just stay focus on pace, nutrition and gears.

Out of form =p

Later on, I saw the silhouette of a runner few hundred meters in front; I tried really hard to reel him back since the 16thkilometre. It became more like a mental game already as I struggled to focus on my rhythm and dig as deep as possible. “I have 2ndskin Vaporlite Team Tee, Skechers GoSpeed2 and Garmin 920xt! All are the best gears in the market! If I couldn’t get top 5 I should at least push myself to the maximum possible effort”. I gave 100% to catch him because I am confident to finish this race in top 8 position. I needed three kilometres to overtake him! I did not slow down so that I could get break him mentally and get a comfortable margin just in case I bonk for the final 2km. It was such a battle because I did not have the speed! Moral of the story, “The best medicine always taste the worse, so the medicine for a slow runner is the much hated speed work!”. 

Come the final kilometre, I saw another runner! Haha. My last 400m sprint put me one ranking up but I was about to pass out at the finishing line. After more than 10 slices of watermelon and few cups of 100 plus, I felt much better. 

Met new friends=) 
Kota Kemuning Pacers, they all know Eugene Teoh and Roy Yeow =p
All pictures courtesy Soon Hoe Hin Tak=)

6th place Men Open finish for a 21.32km ASJC Half Marathon. I feel really happy that my knee did well and my timing was an acceptable 1 hour 33 minutes. Frankly, I am coming back and will train harder to shave off a few minutes from my PB by the end of this year.   

Monday, 8 June 2015

Melawati 10km Race Report - Deo

Admin has been lazy the past few weeks (no excuses) and we are back again! Kicking it off, or rather catching up with more regular posting, we are sharing Deo's Melawati 10km race report. A bit overdue - but better late than never.

Awesome Medal
This event has been around for the past two or three years, I can't really remember. But what I can remember is that each year, there was complaints about the route being under distance than the 10km as advertised. But when the event was out for registration, I was not hesitate to register early for some reasons. First of all, the event t-shirt is supplied by my sponsor, 2ndskin. Obviously, it is great to support my sponsor in any way I could, apart from it being of high quality with nice design. And secondly, 10km race would be something more logical to do (than a marathon in Hatyai held on the same weekend), after a three-week marriage leave (from running and any form of exercise). At least I can test my fitness level and how my body cope with racing after a long break. Between my marriage leave and the race, I could only do a few run with the longest one being the 16K. Even so, I could not get to the speed I desire over shorter distance runs. So, when the race day arrived, I told myself to take it easy, just see how the body works.

I arrived at the race site quite early, managed to doze off for a good 15 minutes at the nearby designated parking area. And anticipating that there won't be a big crowd, I took my sweet time to walk to the start/finish venue with some fifteen minutes from the flagoff. True enough, the crowd was rather small and I could right away line up at the very front of the pack if I wanted to. But I decided to walk to the back and look for familiar faces and found my team mate, Roy, and some others. As it got closer to 7am (scheduled time for flagoff), the crowd of runners mostly clad in the bright orange 2ndskin t-shirt started to flock the start pen. But it was still a small crowd of some, maybe, 600 runners, and I could see the tail of the crowd from the first few rows at the front. I slowly made myself to almost the front of the pack and glancing the front rows, I don't recognise any familiar podium faces and wonder why and where are they? Later I realised that maybe the prizes offered were not attractive enough with only top three winners in each of the four categories were awarded with cash prizes. 

The flag off was delayed by 10 minutes but luckily we were saved by the weather that remained cloudy throughout the race. And right from the beginning I was trapped in between the front runners and had to speed up so that I won't got pushed or maybe tramped by faster runners behind me. Right away, a famous Malay proverb came through my mind,"kalau takut dilambung ombak, jangan berumah di tepi pantai" where in this case it literally means, if I can't run fast enough, don't stand near the front pack." Glancing at my Garmin watch, I saw myself doing sub 4-minute pace in the first 500m of the race which is quite a mind boggling for me. Knowing my lack of training, I was wary if the fast pace would not be for long and I would succumb to it. Nevertheless, the body felt good and I thrive to run fast as long as I could. The Skechers GOmeb Speed 3 worked wonders too, kept propelling me for my next stride. The first kilometer was done slightly under four minutes. I could see there were about ten runners in front of me. Not bad, I told myself. I found another motivation to keep running fast - not to let runners behind to overtake me, as much as I could, which in the and only about three or four runners overtook me. 

The route was flat in the first kilometer - maybe that explains the fast pace, before gradually goes up in elevation (although by not much) in the second kilometer hence, my pace dropped to 4:15-minute, which is still fast to my standard. The route went up and down and that correlates with my pace too, around 4:30-ish minute when it goes downhill and 4:50-ish minute when it goes uphill. I tried very hard to run under 5:00-minute pace and that was what I did. Besides some rolling elevation, the route was really nice, going through Melawati neighborhood, running near Bukit Tabur and Klang Gate Dam. The route was also shaded and at one stretch it reminds me the Bukit Tunku stretch near the Arabic School as we ran towards Dataran Merdeka. There were three water stations which I think is adequate. All of them served Revive isotonic drinks and mineral water but the mineral water was dished out in 500ml bottle which I think was a waste when I just consumed a few gulps, poured some on my head and threw it away only half-empty. 

The killer elevation came at KM7.5 and I thought that almost killed me, especially when I felt the urge to pass motion. I knew my heart rate has reached its maximum but I trudged on, kept reminding myself that it would be just less than 2km to go, with anticipation that the race would be about 500m under distance. By that time, I lost count of my placing and how many runners had passed me. The killer incline reached the peak at KM7.9 and it was all the way downhill and soon I arrived at the final turn towards the finish line. The race was only 8.9km in distance, a lot less than what I had anticipated earlier. Nevertheless, it didn't dampen my mood to celebrate my time of 41 minutes and 34 seconds for the 8.9km run (4:40-minute average pace). I was happy with the way I ran the race especially when was only expecting to run at 5:30-minute average. I was elated! It was a great speedwork, I told myself. I later found out that the timing puts me in the 10th position in Men's Open and 14th overall.

With 2ndskin teammate, Roy.

Overall about the event, I think it was well-managed, if you don't mind the under distance. The route was nice, traffic control and marshaling at junctions were adequate. Three water stations should be sufficient for a 9km race. The race venue was an acceptable one, with adequate parking space for this size of crowd. However, I still overheard a runner talking about absence of goodies bag where runners were only given the finisher's medal upon completing the race besides the cereal in cup from Nestle and Milo. Well, the entitlements have been clearly specified in the race information which runners should have read before signing up for the event. Today, runners are spoilt with abundance of race options every weekend so, read the race information carefully. If you like what you read and you feel it compensates the fee you're paying, then go for it. If not, choose other race. Simple. And oh yeah, the event t-shirt by 2ndskin is very nice, receiving many compliments from the runners and so does the medal.

For my race details at Garmin Connect, click here.
For official result (overall), click here.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Tip Of The Month : Making your Own Race Belt - Jun Shen

Ever went to a race only to realised you left your race belt? Have something spare, like a set of shoelaces (from a shoe laying inside the car?) or a loose piece of string? This month, Jun Shen share how he transform what he has extra into a set of good race belt that can be used and reused - at almost no cost.

Making your own Race Belt

Being a Boy Scout in St John’s Institution at the age of 13, I have learned to make knots as it was part of the task need to be mastered I get my “Usaha” badge. The skills of making knots have helped me in so many ways, give me any string and I can make something. Tip for this month, I’m gonna share with our blog readers how to make your own race belt. Either you are gonna use this as your real race belt or emergency survival race belt, it is all up to u. One thing for sure, it is lighter than the race belt you bought for over 50 ringgit. Before that, you need to master two knots, The Fisherman’s Bend and Alpine Butterfly. 
The Fisherman’s Bend is a knot used to join two lines. However, this knot doesn’t work well with slippery nylon strings. 
The Alpine Butterfly forms a loop in the middle of the rope, giving you flexibility to create a loop anywhere you wish. You will need a shoe lace to make this ultralight race belt.
 The self made race belt looks like this =) Much lighter than any race belt in the market.
I have raced Mount Telapak Burok with this self made race belt, and also the recent Shape Run.
Once you have mastered this, no race belt no problem. =)