Friday, October 14, 2016


When times are hard, we tighten our belts. We hope to tide over the bad times. We partake in a few more luxuries when times are good. We brace ourselves for the worst of times.

I have varied interests in my life. I don't do them all at once. I wish that I can, however, I rather spend my time doing what interests me than wishing for them to happen.

If there is one thing that I have learnt well is: Time is a finite resource. Once you use it, it is gone. We can regret time lost in wasting it away, or appreciate the ‘moments’ we have created with another person.

Despite what we have learnt, we cannot ‘save time’, ‘buy time’, ‘make time’ or ‘invest in the time’ – we can merely make full use of it at every moment. Medication and healthcare may ‘buy us time’ with another, yet spending time connecting with a patient means more as our sense of time is distorted (in a good way). How we spend our 24 hours in a day needs to be ruled by our clarity of thought, strength of purpose, and fervency of choice: Profession, recreation and service to others.

Time is a ‘sense’. It is an abstract like human emotions.  We can measure it with watches and clocks, yet these instruments merely provide us with a reference point. There numerous points in time we can refer to: memories, accomplishments, achievements, celebrations, and milestones.

Each of us has a unique ‘sense of timing’. How we pace ourselves can be learnt, yet we have a natural cadence that we are ruled biological by. Yet, this metronome within us can be calibrated to our priorities, passions, and purposefulness.

These are my approaches to how we can utilize time, and be timely in our delivery and decisions.

1)   Set deadlines for mundane matters and chores (give yourself a Self-Compliment when you meet each mini-deadline; use a Gantt Chart to visualize your progress).
2)   Set SMART* Goals for mid- to long-term achievements.
3)   Plan ahead, and make simultaneous preparations (engage your personal Project Management for your next vacation).
4)   Take on a challenge. (22-day Pushup Challenge for PTSD patients, 1-Minute Plank Everyday For 30 days, NanoWriMo 30-Day writing challenge, 5km run race).
5)    Learn a new skill within 3 days, 30 days or 3 months.
6)    Give yourself 20 minutes to write all you can on your blog (or somebody else’s). Ensure it is edited. Yes, that is how fast you have to think, write and edit. Keep the piece short: 3 minutes worth of ‘eyeball time’.
7)   Like an exam-paper, if you get ‘stuck’ – move on to the next task. Return to this later, but you still must get it done! (I am writing a book review, which I put aside for now, and will complete within the hour).
8)   Stand up, for a few minutes. Sitting is hazardous to our health long-term. Avoid painful conditions that can be reduced through ‘mindful’ posture and activities.
9)   Be creative. Start with the first answer/solution, and apply the next. Never stop thinking too quickly. There is always more than one right answer!
10)                 Be inspired, be stoked by other’s achievements, be happy for their accomplishments, and ask yourself one Key Question: WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM THIS? Be present for the next surprise coming…

By the way, this post took less than 20 minutes to complete. Secret ingredients = Motivation + Discipline + Inspiration (from my friends).

SMART*: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely.

Sunday, October 9, 2016



I watched the Ironman World Championships today, and was stoked not only by the winners and professionals, bu also with the age-groupers. Each age-grouper - all amateurs - earned their spot to participant by some form of qualification. It is one thing to qualify, it is another to complete the entire 226km of swimming, riding and running within 17 hours. There are also wonderful stories of these age-group athletes who brave many trials and tribulations to take their spot at the deep-water start-line of the race.

Queen of Kona - Paula Newby-Fraser - who dominated Kona in the Ironman eight times. 
Having completed my dream of finishing this same race in 2013, I was assisted in reliving my own memories vividly. I recall most of the details, mostly of emotional upheavals and suffering. However, indelibly etched in my brain are my personal experiences. Again, these involve inspirational people - competitors, champions, volunteers, and supporters. 
My friend's father, Kor Hong Fatt - octogenarian Boston Marathon finisher encouraged me to qualify for this race, and I did.
Soonchul - Sydney-based friend who is a Ironman finisher and consistent sub-3 hour marathoner.
I love inspirational people! They inspire me to get off my seat. I assure you, I spend a lot of time sitting with my notebook or paperback book - so these people help me kick my ass from the comfortable throne of procrastination and Sloth. 

It is so easy to conjure excuses. It is much harder to do what we are supposed to do: choose, duties, errands, paperwork, cleaning up, organising, and the like. Sometimes, part of the process of achievement involves doing what is necessary and needful. Inspiring people have fewer excuses, and they inspire and motivate us indirectly by doing the seemingly impossible.
Dr Hannes Koeppen - World Champion in the Ironman triathlon (Physically-Challenged). Strong and fiercely determined. I appreciate that - as a corporate trainer and speaker - that my profession allows me to stand 95 percent of the time, and that hobbies also engage my mobility. Thus, I have been busy writing, interviewing and researching actively these past few days. My fellow blogger and former-corporate leader, Khairil Annuar has stimulated my mind with attractive conversations. Of course, our mutual interest in India Pale Ale (IPA) beer and craft-beers lubricate our dynamic arguments.

And, of course, when training with other athletes I have to work harder. Plus, the people who nominate me for physical challenges. I am glad you know I would likely complete my task. 

Once, I blogged everyday for three years - thanks to a challenge suggested by marketing-guru Seth Godin.

Thank you, to all my connections on Twitter, Facebook, as well as face-to-face friendships and acquaintances.

Friday, May 13, 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.

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.