Friday, May 13, 2016

BOSTON MARATHON 2016

It has been about a month since I completed Boston Marathon 2016, in its 120th edition. These were the highlights for me.
I met my team-members at Changi Airport: Coach Lexus and assistant-coach Zhi Yong
It felt good the second time round. My first was in 2014, Boston Strong. I managed to qualify after one missed opportunity in 2011, in the Hong Kong Marathon.My next BQ came in 2013 and 2015, both earned in the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. The climate suits many Asian marathoners as it is cool, but not cold. Plus, the course is a fast course.

I missed the BQ-within-Boston by 2 minutes with my 3 hour 32 minutes and 4 second finish. With each year's cutoff hovering just under 3 minutes, I was off by 5 minutes. I was pleased  that several of my friends from Singapore earned BQs, which was done under slightly warmer conditions this year. I was pleased my injuries healed before the race, having suffered a sprained left ankle and suspected calf sprain/tear. With my BV Sport compression-socks and lighter Mizuno running shoes, I cleared the 42.195km in decent time.
We met CRO of Runners World - Bart Yasso. It was a real treat to meet the creator of the Yasso 800's
I held back on the first 10km, as it was mostly downhill. This year had more women participating, and I was gladly 'out-chicked' by this wide and deep field of great runners of all age-groups. My last 10km was hard, as I heated up a little and had to hold back. Although I was stronger on the hills this year, the do sap the legs. I improved a total of 16 minutes over 2014, and moved up the top-31 percent of the overall field. for that, I am grateful for the three-run-sessions per week I had with my new running group, F1Runners and the JRLAcademy of runners. The diet of interval-track sessions, strength-endurance were adequate to give me a very good Return On Investment (ROI) on my training. The rest of the time I spent on strengthening my body with cycling, swimming and circuit-training/kettle-bell training.
I applied what I learned over the years in my book 'Clocking Your Boston Qualifier: Run Less; Run Faster', and so was assured by my wisdom gleaned from experience and experts. In fact, one of my interviewees in my book - Andrew Cheong - earned a strong BQ of 3:26. He is a proponent of FIRST, and runs three key workouts a week: one long, one tempo, and one speed session.
It was a richly rewarding second outing to Boston, and the magic of this race never ceases to amaze me throughout the entire point-to-point course. The spectator support was generous and encouraging. For the first-time Boston marathoner, there will be many memories to relish over.

I hope to return in 2017, and qualify at the end of this year in cooler climates.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

New Training/Racing Gear For Challenge Roth 2016

Hello, Dear Readers! 

It has been a while since my last post, and fresh from my second completion of the Boston Marathon 2016, I share these thoughts. Since my relative 'absence', I have published my book on running, completed Boston Marathon, earned new sponsors, and acquired new wisdom.

These are my training tools for my next Iron-distance race - Challenge Roth. All the opinions are entirely and truthfully mine, and the products are either on review (or seeding) or on sponsorship.
I have been using BV Sport compression wear for a few months, and I can attest to their French-made functionality. Of the four styles and designs, I have found physical support when I was injured (sprain ankle and suspected torn/sprained calf muscles on the same left leg) before Boston Marathon, so that I could train and race through the injury. I survived one interval track session, and one strength-endurance session (road) with the high-socks.

When you use compression-wear, ensure the following conditions and considerations:

1) Get one near-medical grade standards. After all, compression-wear and wraps were designed to reduce swelling/oedema from acute inflammation. I completed Boston Marathon 2016 with BV Sport compression socks as part of my RICES treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Support. It addresses all five factors if you keep the area immobile, and insert ice cubes underneath the fabric (and against your skin) after each run. My ankle was puffy after each high-intensity run and circuit-training session.
2) Compression-wear does not work in water! Avoid swimming in them, as they get stretched and your tactile ('feeling' sensations on your skin) ability will not be as clear in water as the liquid medium seeps between skin and fabric.  
3) Compression-wear works best on its tautness and firmness. If you lose bodyweight through dehydration or fat-loss, the tension of the attire against your skin and muscles will be reduced. Therefore, fit is important in order to gain the most benefits from such therapeutic and training devices.
4) Hand-wash them to extend their life-span. Avoid over-soaking as it may lead to shrinkage or, otherwise from rough machine-wash.
I have been running, occasionally, on the MBT GT-16 shoes. This pair of shoes appears more built-up with its perimeter of sole - like Hoka - and are, interestingly, light enough. If you are a long-distance runner, and suffer from sore soles (say, from mild PF), these may be a solution for you. I ran two rounds in them in Central Park, New York City and over several, recent, 10km social runs. They weigh as much as some of the lighter, popular models - 355g for a US size-9 shoe. The ASICS Gel Kayano weighs 309g for the same reference size. 

The advantage of these MBT designs are that the deliberate weight distribution shifts your footfall near to the mid-sole or fore-foot position. Some running shoes use 'lugs' or 'steps' that create an imbalance forwards when you run, encouraging toe-off. This model and its sister creations, work on the physics of simplicity: weighted front. I attempted to run on the heels, and it was fairly challenging.

Ensure:
1) You get a half-size larger. Your feet swells when undergoing physical activity.
2) Replace the laces for those with better grip, or tie a double-knot.
3) You run in them several times to get use to its chunkiness. It is supportive, I assure you. 
Like all new products you use, give them at least 3-5 sessions to break in, before judging them. Above all, feel and fit should be weighted heavier against aesthetics and design. Weight can become negligible after training adaptations. I will review the racing model shortly.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Racing To Decide

Decisions can be hard to make. Yet, we still have to make it.

We make decisions about our career, choice of work, relationships, finances, lifestyle, beliefs, and levels of comfort. Without deciding, we may be unable to progress further and employ leadership values like discernment and diligence. A clear goal (SMART) directs us to purposeful actions, and therefore, the investment of focused and guided effort.

When I left full-time employment to pursue my dream of being an independent corporate-trainer, I had to decide after making intense preparations. I had to completes my tertiary education (my first degree), hone my skill-sets and develop my expertise and confidence over-6 countries. Each decision led to more preparatory work and applications. I had to decide to make a bunch of mistakes to engage my penchant for success and failures. The fear of success is as jeopardising as the fear of failure.

Mental conditioning - learning how to develop patience, tenacity, endurance, persistence, perseverence - is as important in the decision-making process. We train our brain to visualise the future, imagine, recall key information, gain insights, develop foresight, and prepare for unpredictable events and opportunities. 

Some decisions are born of dreams, desires and wants. However, each is different in type, relevance and approach. By identifying what these are, and determining how important each is - we can begin be decisive of how we spend our time and expend our resources.

When I started running marathons, the Boston Marathon was not on my list. It was not even on my Bucket List. Subsequently, after many years of training and excelling in the 42.195km (26.2 miles) running format, I decided to challenge myself to earn a Boston Qualifier (BQ). My first BQ in 2011 led to more focused training. A second and third BQ in 2013 and 2015, respectively led to completing the Boston Marathon (Boston Strong) in 2014, and my next attempt will be on 18 April this year. Essentially, one decision led to another, buoyed by action (strategic training) and measurements.

Which leads me to ask myself: Which are my main races and expectations for this year? I may need a beverage to consider this? What will it be?
Leadership Lessons: Learn to decide: snap it (fast) or deliberate over it (slower). Do it by yourself. Do it with a team. Learn to agree. Know when to disagree. Above all, take action after deciding.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ruminations and Reflections

My latest acquisition: Small guy but he packs a wallop with his weapon - his Mind.
Be a Master of my life and events. Achieve and apply excellence in whatever I do.

These are some thoughts and actions for this year. No resolutions - as I don't believe in them. I am goal-orientated, and have found from my experience that these work better than wishful thinking or empty dreaming.

My Boston Marathon training is coming on, purposefully and progressively. I am into my third week, and have been capturing my workouts on Facebook for my friends and students to access. This evening, I ran a half-marathon distance in 1 hour and 49 minutes, 3-4 minute faster than I projected in my last 19km run three days ago. Each workout gives a 'sense', intuitively and scientifically, on how to approach the next. 

After this evening's 21km run.
Analytical thinking has consumed my mind for the past fortnight. I attribute it to my time spent with magicians recently. I have begun performing again for selected audiences, and resumed my study into the Magical Arts (not the dark type, as I am a good Jedi). I have begun dissecting illusions in print or production, and appreciated the thinking and motivation behind the creator. I have also begun practising and rehearsing specific routines for my commercial acts in 2016.

Like theatrical magic, I enjoy movie magic. I enjoyed 'The Force Awakens' and will watch it again on Wednesday. I am intrigued by the script, hidden 'Easter Eggs' and uncredited actors. Did you know Daniel Craig and a leading character from 'Game of Thrones' had bit parts in the new installment? What is more interesting are the various theories of who Rey is. I know that 'Rey' is gleaned from the English actress, Daisy Ridley. Ridley contains 'Rey'. Coincidence - I think not!

More theories abound, and we shall expound on them later. Isn't part of leadership about applying critical thinking, insights, foresights, hindsights and listening to perspectives (without judgement)?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Year of Focused Discipline

I will begin this year's post on what is, oddly, an unusual theme: Discipline.

My goals for this year are to apply focused discipline, so as to deliberately realign my efforts to wards purposeful use of my efforts. How we spend our efforts - with a mindful goal - may then translate into results. The use of discipline can reduce inefficiencies, increase our professionalism and enhance our credibility.

Discipline need not be a painful thing. It can be reframed as being more structured, more organised, committing to goals, learning new things, doing new things, and doing what needs to be done. In terms of behaviors, it may mean committing to sleeping earlier, spending less time on social media, reading a few more books, doing in-depth research for a report, rehearsing more before a presentation, or eating better. It can be, as simple as, finishing what you began.

By focus, I will magnify the important, details, and the overlooked. I will pay heed to risks, pay attention to others, pay homage to those who need recognition, and paying it forward. It means using my three sights more: insight, hindsight and foresight. It may require that I use different lenses to identify perspectives, and consider then when making decisions.

Leadership Lessons: Awaken your leader within you - be it within your industry, business, community, profession and in your own consciousness and awareness. Be focused in how you sensibly treat others and influence them.

Have a splendid year ahead!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Leadership Lessons From 'The Force Awakens'

Spoiler-alert. That's it.

Here are some observations of my mind, from the distillery of my mind, culled from the past week. I watched 'The Force Awakens' on the third day of its screening, and I kept mum about the details with those who did not watch it yet.
My long-time and good friend, Elliot Lee surprised me with this complete set of plush (stuffed) toys from the world-class Changi International Airport, Singapore. I was gobsmacked as I did not make a single purchase to buy these character that I grew up with.
Many of my friends have concluded that I am Star Wars fan and geek. I may be, and I think I am. Perhaps, I am in denial asI have other distractions like my fondness for racing in marathons, triathlons, Ironman triathlons, magic and writing.
This was my 'costumed' debut at the IMAX 3D screening of Episode 4. I wore my Uni-Q-Lo tee-shirt that my friend, Nicholas Khaw bought me while he was in Japan in June. My dueling light-sabre and Jedi-belt are from Park Sabers - they do splendid work and craftmanship with these 'laser-swords'. I kept my 'blade' at home. Few people wore their costumes that evening (it was past midnight), but Nicholas and I brought our sabers and confidently carried them. 

I have begun 'sharing' my toys (for Big Boys) around. Like my library of books, I believe in sharing knowledge, wisdom and stories of my experiences. If teachers do not share, teaching becomes pointless. Material things are just that - immaterial, if these are not spread around generously. The intangible things matter just as much: friendships, sense of accomplishment, sense of purpose, generosity of spirit, consideration, caring, respect and passion. Share in your passionate pursuits, and our indulgent pastimes become more relevant to others, and they can relate to our quaint hobbies. We move from 'obsessive' and 'possessive' to 'enjoying it with others'. Just a thought.

Leadership Lessons Learnt: Be confident about what you are passionate. We tend to be very knowledgeable about our hobbies and subject-matter (related to our profession). When we talk about what we love or are familiar with, the words flow out smoothly and easily. Leadership is about making that first step, first move, first question, and first initiation. Take the initiative; take your initiative. Be pro-active, and may the Force (or Influence) be with you!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

For Sparta: Spartan Race Singapore 2015

The inaugural, Spartan Race Singapore was held on Sunday, 15 November 2015.

I bought a last-minute slot ( expensive, by local standards), and got the 2.00pm flag-off.

The event was well-organised, despite the 6,000 participants that ploughed through from dusk till late-afternoon. They were altogether 15 stations, or series of stations in the 6-8km route. The route was designed along the scenic Bayfront area.

I was in the lead for the two loops until I suffered two penalties at two stations: Monkey-Bars and Spear-Throwing. Each of my failures cost me 30 Burpees (with pushups and squat-jump), and these left me fairly knackered. I was happy to jump across the hot fiery coals just before the finish-line. I think I may be fifth or sixth, due to lost minutes.

I look forward to next year's edition, likely a 16km, however with more preparations in the following areas:

1) Join a CrossFit class to learn the specific movements required in Spartan Games.
2) Really strengthen my body in all planes (forwards, sideways and rotatory).
3) Achieve completions in  various WODs (Workout of the Day).
4) Perform run-push-pull-climb-run 'brick' sets.
5) Ensure complete recovery of my shoulders and rehabilitate. This is my Achilles Heel.
6) Lift heavier weights, and perform Spartan-related exercises.
7) More plyometrics (jumping and landing) in my exercise diet.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Endurance Events & Being In The Zone


When I participated in the Nanowrimo 30-Day Challenge, I wrote 50,000 words for an unedited story/novel in 30 days. If I missed a day, I had to catch up with twice the amount. Each session was described as hectic, and sometimes, being ‘in the zone’. Yet, I got it done despite he crazy self-imposed timeline.

Athletes have described being ‘in the zone’ as a trance-like state, where focus becomes pinpoint sharp, and performance feels effortless. It is distinctly different from ‘zoning out’, where focus is lost due to daydreaming.

Endurance sports and its requisite training sessions, demand that we activate our values of patience, tenacity, determination, persistence and resourcefulness. Long sessions require such values to complete long sessions for swimming, running and cycling.

Leadership Lessons: Just do it. Plot a time slot, and commit to completion. Do your best, and exhaust your time. Assess your results. Write first. Edit later.

Beat Your Best: The Time-Crunched Athlete


If you need something done, give it to a busy person. If you are time-crunched for a race preparation, you can do twice-a-day sessions. The current ‘haze’ condition and bad air quality has led to jettisoned sessions, or indoor-sessions. Nevertheless, with creative scheduling and workout design you can still save your race (and race fitness).

Upside: You can split a long run into two shorter sessions. For instance, a 21km run can be split into 10km and 11km sessions. I have done two hours of indoor-cycling on the turbo-trainer in the morning, followed with an evening o1-hour session. My legs, generally, feel fresher and I can opt for similar intensity, or higher. It is now wonder that elite swimmers train twice a day, 4-5 days per week. When I was training for my Boston Qualifiers (BQ), I sometimes did two sessions per day as my additional session in the ‘Run Less, Run Faster’ approach. I never exceeded four sessions of running, all done at tempo-paced. A second session may be shorter, and focused on slopes or off-road surface.

You can also integrate short (15-20 minutes) strength and core stability sessions. These sessions will shift focus onto rehabilitative interventions, muscle-rebalances, and developing functional strength. I end each aerobic session with balance-work (proprioceptive), kettle-bell training, and free-hand/bodyweight exercises.

Down side: You will have to wash another set of exercise attire. Also, be mindful of your energy levels. If need be, fuel up about 15-20 minutes before a session with Hammer Nutrition Perpeteum or Hammer Gel. I use a 645-ml serving bottle (26 servings). Hydrate throughout the day. I use ginger-tea to reduce post-exercise swelling and inflammation.

Leadership Lessons: Prioritise. Make important things important. Shift your focus to relevance and the necessary. However, chores still need to be done.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Valuing Oneself & Others

How do you measure performance and value your talents?
Have you 'actually' measured your value?

'Perceived value' translates into 'actual value'. That is why the best people are sought after by potential employers and executive search specialists. When these people value your skills, wisdom, experiences and competencies you get compensated more, are recognised and  valued even further. 'Pay for the best' is the truism when it come to employment and employability.

How do you appraise your value? How do you get valued like a precious diamond is assigned a price-tag, or your property/real estate is appraised?

Before your next performance appraisal, do a SWOT Analysis. Born of marketing, and used to assess the value of a brand, SWOT can be used to assess your valuable skills, and Unique Selling Points (USPs). SWOT is an acronym for Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. By identifying, in detail and exactness, your Strengths (abilities and capabilities) - you can project your Opportunities (including future value and potential). Your Weaknesses need to be reduced, and converted into competencies or your Threats increase to become your risks.

Do a SWOT Analysis before your next Performance Appraisal interview, job interview, or when updating your LinkedIn profile. 

Leadership Lessons: How do you value yourself? How do you value others? How do you answer questions relating to value, relevance and importance?