Monday, January 31, 2011

Ambiguous Anagrams and Atmospheric Anomalies

How’s the weather? It rained overnight – sustained over 48 hours – and now we glimpse a punctuated sigh of arid relief. Funny how we like to wish for opposites when we are racing for we - homiothermic creatures - abhor extreme weather conditions. I moderated my warm-blooded, body temperature today with the ambient cool winds, afforded by the torrential downpours. You have got to be creative when you face variations in the external variables: weather, stock markets, delivery schedules, late showings, people’s moods and reactions, and misplaced parcels.
I was examining my EDGE wheel-set when I realized that its logo was an ambigram. An ambigram is word-picture that reads the same upside-down. If you remember well, the word Illuminati was featured in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. 
Here is an ambigram of my name that was designed by a secondary school student.

An anagram is a word that can be reconstructed from the same number of letter. Thus, Scrabble is a game of figuring out the highest scoring word for the longest word you can propose while sorting through the ambigram-ic possibilities. Twitter is a derivative, in that you squeeze up to 140 characters in each tweet, within your précis writing ability.

It is always good news when a fellow multi-sport athlete is featured in the newspapers. Here is a winner at last week’s Duathlon.
*****
I could not attend this evening’s TriFam club swim training, as I was preparing for a new workshop tomorrow. Instead, I did a short, intense session of unshod intervals (4:55-5:20 minute/K) with a short CrossFit Endurance training session. Since it was my second self-prescribed session, I did three sets of [push-ups, chin-ups and step-ups (off a bench)]; I topped it off with core exercises that included the Plank, and proprioceptive work (close-eyed, balancing). That took the wind out of me, and I then walked back as a cool-down. I wolfed down several slices of pizza and a generous helping of raw-fish salad as my post-training, recovery meal. Early to bed should see me fresh tomorrow with a lower heart rate, and better muscle tone.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wet and Wild, But Whatever!

‘One day it started to rain, and didn’t quit for four months! There was a little bit of stinging rain…and big old fat rain…rain that fell sideways…and rain that seemed to come up from upside down! Shoot – it even rained at night!’ ~ FORREST GUMP.

We could have stayed in bed, and found solace and excuse in the rain. Yet, we chose to commit to our plan to ride in Desaru, Malaysia – a boat-ride away. The weather held, gingerly, in the early morning when we enthusiastically met up at the immigration checkpoint of Changi Jetty.

Over at Desaru, the main group splintered away early, with a 6:3 split. Andy, his friend Alev and I decided to wait out the sudden downpour. After some preamble, including a quick breakfast (as it rained mercilessly with minimal visibility), we met up with the rest about one hour out from the town – with pelting rain, persistent headwinds and wantonly speeding traffic. Once again, the group connected, and then disbanded as quickly – headed for the jetty.

Hui Koon described his experience in our wettest ride ever. It pretty much sums it up. I am glad we did this trip, despite the challenging conditions. I also adored my relatively new bike, and the latest finer fits to my aero-bars. My ride was smooth and comfortable in spite of the numerous pockmarks on the foreign roads.

It was a cold day, which reminded me of the cold races I had to bear: Berlin Marathon, IM New Zealand, and IM Western Australia. I prefer my races and training hot, as I am consciously hydrating my body with fluids. Today was exactly one year since I did my last Desaru ride, where I was unfortunate to be hit by a taxi on home soil, after a satisfying long ride. I had to face my demons, and overcome my residual anxiety with riding.

Leadership lessons learnt today: Never let up on an opportunity to test myself. Keep my sense of adventure. Manage the variables. Stick stubbornly to the plan. Adapt and adjust your plan when risk factors surface and accumulate. Above all, engage my values of persistence, patience and sense of purpose.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Consequence of Cheating

He, who has cheated, is defeated.

Cheaters never prosper. Track stars Ben Johnson and Marion Jones both disgraced themselves and their sports; they lost financially and in reputation. Recently, Alberto Contador, 3-time, Tour de France winner has been issued a one-year ban for failing a drug test. He is adamant that he has been unfairly accused, although he may not contest the ban because of severe repercussions emanating if he fails in his appeal.

What goes through their minds when professional athletes are busted? Are they sorry? Or, are they sorry that they got caught? Time will tell, as more revelations un-fold. Scorned ex-team mates may emerge as whistle-blowers, creating awkward public relations moments. I may be keeping my yellow wristbands into a box soon…
This is a photograph of the mini-burgers we ate at our gathering last night. The consensus was that these meat sandwiches were tasty. Now, do you know what Chrissy Wellington eats after an Ironman race? She devours two hamburgers, six plates of fries, onion rings, four slices of pizza, and15 doughnuts – and she is skinny like a stick! 
****
This morning, about 15 swimmers turned up for our fortnightly open-water swim. Today, most of us completed about six laps of then swim and run. It was assuring to note that with our two co-facilitators, Sin Guan and Danny the swim proceeded safely and surely. Both leaders are highly competent endurance runners, who made the transition into swimmers comfortably. We met new swimmers through Andy, and these include Matt and Ralph who both completed the 6-day, 254K, endurance race across the Sahara - Marathon Des Sables - in 1997 and 2010, respectively. Another swimmer, Stein I met in 2006 when I did my second Ironman race in Jeju, Korea. What a delightfully small world!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Timeout: The Pause That Refreshes

It is nice to take time out to chill. The hustle and bustle of everyday, mundane, work-driven life can be quite a burden on our sense of self. The occasional break, whether deliberate or random, can provide relief to our sense of direction and bearing.


Tonight, my team of endurance sports friends gathered for drinks and food. We exchanged war stories, and traded moments of humour. It makes what we have worked on more meaningful. Beyond the training and strenuous work, is a pot of pleasurable and productive conversations. 


Tomorrow, we head out for our open-water swim. Our fearless leader, Matt will be headed for Bali for a week of well-deserved rest with his wife. The usual gang of suspects are quite motivated, so the team looks intact, with new faces joining us at almost every session. I believe that the group is self-motivated and will sustain in numbers until the end of the Singapore Biathlon. Then, we will assess if the team was truly born out of interest or of desperation. It does not really matter, as there are enough races to keep us focused on developing our personal capability. I would fully appreciate the integrity and intent of the team.
I had my bike fit this afternoon with Master Bike Fitter and Elite Bicycles founder, David Greenfield. I am appreciative of the company's sense of delivery, where they actively follow up on my progress and riding comfort. I had some significant adjustments to my aero-bars, but beyond that I was reassured that my bike measurements were consistent, and that my core strength was enhanced. David has his subtle way of, elusively, taking other peripheral measurements. I believe that he and his colleagues are seriously passionate about the quality of their work, and demonstrate values that will see them through to a successful business future.


Next week, we will hear read about shocking news concerning celebrity sportspeople. It make shake your confidence about the revelations of foul and unfair practice. Anyway, one thing at a time. Enjoy your weekend! I am looking forward to my Desaru long ride, and  quality family time. Thank your for reading, Readers! I am deeply touched by your support of this blog. Live long and prosper!


Photo-caption: Sentosa Swim Team (Karolina, Richard, Enrico, Desmond and Vijay) with Elite Bicycles co-director Adeline Khoo and David Greenfield (4th and 5th from left) at an open-house talk session.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Running Out of Ideas?

Can we ever run out of ideas? That is akin to your brain running on fumes, bonking on blankness. Is it possible to be bereft of an idea?

Ever had a runaway idea? What did you do with it? Did you build on that idea? Have you ever sprinted towards a possibility?

Every product (widget, gadget and budget), service, book, and sentence sprouted from an idea. An idea is a seed. It may contain an embryo of another idea. Ideas are abstracts. They have no real form until they are realized as a something concrete. Concrete is reinforced cement; it was born of a basic idea.

An idea can become a goal. It can incubate or fester into an achievement and accomplishment. Start small and slow, and build up to an experience and milestone. The run-up to a race is paved with many foot-steps.

As you may have noticed, today’s piece was analogous to running. I was out for an easy 11K run and am still stoked from the fact I had a low heart rate. Last night, I ran for an hour with my Vibrams Bikila and I liked the fact that my soles are able to take a harder pounding, although I am stepping close to the ground. I am tempted to get a pair of Newton Gravity running shoes as I feel I am ready for unsupported shoes. I am three weeks out to the Hong Kong Marathon and I am looking forward to the challenging, hilly course. I will also be riding in Desaru on Sunday – my first ride since a year ago.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Service Over!

When was the last time you experienced excellent service? Seriously. What has the last two decades yielded with the plethora of service training opportunities? We talk about service standards, moments of truth, customer satisfaction and excellence, yet we experience more disappointments than fulfillment.

Can you be excellent in service if you don’t excel in it? To excel in something is to want to be better at what you are good at. How many of our staff enjoy serving the customers? How good are they?

If staff disliked customers, how can they truly serve the customers? It would be hypocritical. It would be tantamount to giving lip, in lip service. Service should include values – both personal and professional; these are you personal touches, useful touches, and significant touches. Otherwise, the attempts to raise service levels become flaccid, confusing and lacklustre. Training harder does not make you a better runner if you lack the talent and the heart. It is about finding your forte and passion, and then running away with it.

Consider this: Instead of service excellence, focus on getting things right, and then doing the right things. Be effective before being efficient. Notch your service levels. Exceed yourself. Raise the bar of your competence. Create relationships of worth with your customers. Give them pleasant experiences they will remember fondly. Build on your capabilities. Create a sense of delivery. Create a sense of occasion.

How would you serve another? How would leaders serve their team? Which disservice would you eliminate from your approach?


On another note, here is my wish-list for sports-event organisers:
1) Ensure champion-chips/timing devices work as not getting a timing is a major disappointment.
2) Provide adequate nutrition at aid-stations; never run out of water and sports-drink.
3) Charge participants reasonably, if the race-kit is minimal; seek sponsors to defray your operating costs.
4) Provide reassurance that our sports equipment is well looked after.
5) A race t-shirt would make the event memorable. If you charge us for it, ensure that you have a wide variety of sizes.
6) Respect your sponsors and participants: We are an influential tribe.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Three Spots Off the Podium

This was the third race, within seven months, that I have placed three positions off the prize-stage or podium. I was 13th in the Sundown Ultra-marathon (Masters), 6th on the Tri-Factor 21K run (Masters), and 6th on Sunday’s Duathlon. An athlete can only take so much! Or more, for time will tell.

I sprinted with battered legs, 3 seconds behind the 5th guy (the friendly Hogi Hyun, USA who I chatted with), 25 seconds for the 4th place (Mathia Deubel, Germany), 28 seconds for 3rd place podium (Ryo Sasaki), and 1:32 for 2nd.
What did I learn from this event? Mainly, I have it in me to pit against the best in my field as the time differential can be drawn from either the run or the ride.  My ride was compromised by an, annoyingly, detached bottle-cage and pronounced concern for speeding on a crowded and prematurely shortened bike route; filled with hesitant inexperienced riders and impatient seasoned riders. Also, I will need to review my training approach, and focus on my core strength, pedal power, and speed-work. I believe that I still have the legs to ride and run faster in time, and I can handle the heat and humidity much better. It may not be about the bike, but I had a darn good Elite custom-made and fitted bike, with comfortable ISM saddle. I recalled suffering heat exhaustion on my first biathlon sprint – it was a disaster, and I still had a finish time!

The One-Hour Challenge I proposed, recently, continues to interest people. The setup is as such: Give yourself exactly 60 minutes, and do as many tasks as you can, or one complex task as well as you can. You must complete it by the deadline.

Here is Macca’s interview (with FirstOffTheBike.com) the way I like it: tough, honest and gritty: Like a day riding in Desaru. Read it and drip! It also conveys the idea that journalists who quote out of context, or make liberal edits can misrepresent professionals and fuel the fire, if conflict exists between subjects. On Leadership Lessons From Triathlons, we report as is, in situ. Nothing is taken apart, except with expressed permission, and to clarify the questions.

Photo-credits: Tey Eng Tiong

Nr
Bib
Name
Nationality
1stRun
RnkR1
Bike
RnkB
2ndRun
RnkR2
Total
1
1386
Matthew Quin
Australia
00:43:31
1
01:03:03
1
00:24:52
1
02:11:24
2
1354
Gianfranco Matteucci
Italy
00:46:41
5
01:08:28
4
00:28:43
7
02:23:50
3
1394
Ryo Sasaki
Japan
00:45:58
2
01:09:51
7
00:29:10
9
02:24:58
4
1367
Mathias Deubel
Germany
00:45:59
3
01:11:32
12
00:27:31
3
02:25:00
5
1351
Hogi Hyun
United States
00:50:03
10
01:06:30
2
00:28:47
8
02:25:19
6
1385
Enrico Varella
Singapore
00:46:44
6
01:11:58
13
00:26:41
2
02:25:22

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Day After the Race

About 310 participants took part in the fifth edition of SAFRA AVventura yesterday morning, the largest x-terrain adventure race in Singapore. The Singapore Duathlon was also held that morning at the East Coast.

Two of the Ultra categories were won by familiar faces from the Adventure In Motion teams. They bagged top placing in the Men’s Open and Mixed Open categories in the past two years. While Alvin Lim Sing Hock, 40, and Yeo Kim Hong, 39, took the top spot in the Ultra Men’s category with a timing of 3 hours 52 minutes 43 seconds this year, Wilson Low and Chang Ee Pin took first place in the Ultra Mixed category with a timing of 4 hours 31 minutes 42 seconds. Congratulations, Wilson for your achievement! Wilson is a endurance coach who has competed and finished well in both the Ironman World Championships (Kona) and Ironman 70.3 World Championships (Clearwater).

I woke up to reasonably mobile legs, although somewhat tired. The residual adrenaline in my body may have caused my disturbed sleep pattern. Tonight’s swim session, as I anticipated, was physically demanding for me. Coach Dion prescribed us swim drills, and a 1,500m time trial that I fluffed due to residual fatigue. I suspected my body was still depleted from yesterday’s trial-by-heat, run-ride-run. Some of us stayed back after the session and benefitted from swim correction feedback: mine was irregular kicking, and too low from the surface. With the 3-beat kick suggestion by Coach and follow-up feedback, I was eager to get a feed thereafter. The duathlon results should be out tomorrow, and I hope I placed high enough. I received nice race photos from photographer friends, and am grateful for their attention.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Afterthoughts About the Singapore Duathlon 2011

The reality about races is that you have to take it for what it is worth. You sign up, and you race with the caveats. Despite the sad excuse for a race-kit, I made race preparations, and slept for eight hours. I arrived 90 minutes before the race, racked my bike, and greeted familiar faces. I acknowledged Craig Tucker, who was next to me, and reminded him that we both had Elite Bicycles.

Richard Leong, elusively, captured me on his camera while I was running my first 10K. I promised him that he would see his tri-suit design on me in this race. One spectator called me ‘Schneider’ as the company’s name was distinct on my heaving body. I decided to run the first run leg (4 loops of 2.5K) in a conservative 46 minutes, as I did not want to blitz my leg. Already, from the rising heat and humidity, I knew that this race would feel long and unforgiving.
The bike leg caused me the most grief. In the past, this popular bike route tested newbies who crashed and injured themselves taking the curves. This year, the critical area was removed, although that did not remove the jinx. Six loops of the 6K-circuit saw two fallen riders on my first loop. I swerved clear of them, allowing my riding muscles to accommodate the new workload. I found my rhythm and speed at sections of the course, although the headwind met us, straight on, in the first-half of the circuit. I sat on the aero-bars as it gave me brief respite, and compose myself for the slower, crowded sections on the remainder of the loop. I focused on doing all six loops, and not get penalized for miscounting.
My second run of 5K saw me start off with heavy legs; this is why brick-training (back-to-back disciplines) is a critical component of training. However, I soon found them worthy enough to kick out a sub-5 minute pace, overtaking a few of my age-groupers – it was my consolation for a hot day. Up till now, I consumed fluid at each aid-station, and opted to forgo the last two since it would barely matter much. I, gratefully, attempted to sprint after another age-grouper in the last 100 metres although it was futile; the lad had a far better kick at the end. I congratulated him, collected my finisher medal, got my champion-chip removed from my left ankle, and grabbed my bottle of water and 100-Plus. I bumped into my friend, Wan Yang, who returned recently after graduating from an Australian university. We shot the breeze with his girlfriend as we received the incoming finishers. I had another photo opportunity when the trio from Crazy2Tri returned: Reese, Ivan and Lawrence. Hopefully, I may get to wear their group colours at a future race.
I met my Monday swim group, who finished with some annoyances. Most of them cramped on the ride, and my conjecture was that they attacked hard on the sharp turns, and their calves surrendered. I met Muscle Poon and his friend, Alex (who did a 39-minute, first 10K); Poon got a podium finish!

To borrow a quote from Matthew, who did the Desaru 100K-ride today, ‘You got to be happy about that!’ Although I was not fast enough for a podium placing I was glad to race with the big boys. I learnt what to focus on, in my lead up to my A-races.

Have a good week ahead!

Photo-credits: Reese of Crazy2Tri (group photo); Richard Leong (run photo);

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Power of Purposeful Rest

Hui Koon reported on how he found naps before training benefitted him immeasurably. I tend to agree with this approach, since I sleep less before my training workshops. David Greenfield, Master Bike Fitter of Elite Bicycles agrees with me that sleep makes a great deal of difference in training performance. I function adequately with six hours of shut-eye, and best with nine hours. Albert Einstein used to subsist best on at least 11 hours of sleep – it must be because of prime numbers and the massive amount of thinking he did whilst awake.

Training is a destructive (catabolic) activity; we damage muscles fibres and other soft tissues in the process of exercising. It is during rest that our body recovers and recuperates – this is the anabolic (build) stage. Training prepares us to meet race day conditions, and sleep allows our body to recover completely so that we can repeat the process of the grind. Fail to meet our recovery requirements, and we flirt with fatigue and exhaustion; this can stall your training efforts significantly.

This morning, a group of 13 swimmers gathered at Tanjung Beach. Led by Matt, we did 4-5 sets of swim-run bricks. A brick is a back-to-back, combination of two activities done with little rest between. We swam a lap of about 350m followed by a short shoreline jog. This session was to prime the group for the Singapore Biathlon that occurs on 12 February. Bricks can be demanding on the body despite it mild, short appearance. Time for my Big Nap (one nap followed by another) now! My Duathlon beckons me. I start at 11.15am. Since it is the weekend, get some well-earned rest, too!

To the riders at Desaru tomorrow, ride safely!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Art of Productive Conversations

Keith Delarue writes about the Art of Conversation. Conversation is what occurs between our noses. How do you express, impress and compress your thoughts in verbal communication?

Lim Leong starts a new series called Spin-Off Mondays, about how to create a productive week beginning with the first 10 seconds. How do you frame your week with activities and mental strategies that trigger off Real Work, versus Fake Work?

Online forums are useful for initiating conversations, of sorts. Social media allows some form of real-time conversations, provided you wish to engage in such form of mental exchanges.

How would you engage in productive conversations? How do you inspire staff to do the Real Work? What can you do to reduce the occurrence of Fake Work?
*****
Tomorrow morning (Saturday, 22 January), a small group of intrepid endurance athletes will be making a pilgrimage to Sentosa Island and do a swim-run brick session. Please drop by at 9.00am at Tanjung Beach if you think you can benefit from these sessions, held in anticipation of the Singapore Biathlon. It will be a short and simple session for me, just before the Duathlon on Sunday. I hope that the midday sunshine will be forgiving. I just sent a friend my running approach via Facebook, and it reinforced the relevance of writing replies – it crystallizes my beliefs and thoughts, while allowing me to engage in another form of conversation. Have a splendid weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are You A Groupie?

Kevin blogged about his first group ride in weeks; he completed IMWA in December. Read his blog about the exploits of this elite-level, age-group, triathlete – and he is fast!

A groupie is a person who chooses to hang out with a celebrity. This was clearly described in the film, Almost Famous. The groupie offers himself or herself to musicians, who return the favour with the residual notoriety or fame that rubs off them.
Having recently returned to group training for swimming and running, I have made several discoveries. Mainly, I can engage more in competitive type efforts. We can push each other harder, or encourage each other further. Plus, we can simulate race-day pace when we decide to test each other’s mettle. Monday evening pool swim session has activated my interest in pacing at a higher threshold. I am also inspired by the progress of my fellow endurance athletes. Hui Koon is improving nicely (in all three disciplines) after his PB at IMWA, and his training regime for Cairns Challenge has begun.

This evening, after a punishing rainfall, I took off for a run. It was raining cats and dogs, and when I left my home I stepped into a poodle. I had the good luck to pace after Danny Lee, who was finishing his 10K run, and stalked him for about 3K at 4:30 pace. After we bade farewell, I continued at a moderate pace (my heart-rate monitor did not register anything!), relying instead on my breathing, Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE), and my intuition. I timed at 52-plus minutes at the 11K mark, so knew I was on-track for a sub-1:45, half-marathon timing. I opted not to drink much fluid, and ran at an easier pace of 4:50-4:55 to compensate, as I wanted to tap on my fatty acid system, thus the higher aerobic/low anaerobic pace.

I picked up the pace at the last 3K as I was starting to fatigue, but sprinted eagerly home to a much-appreciated time. One more month to the Hong Kong Marathon, and I hope to do reasonably well. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Muscle Memory & The Slow Learner

Do you take a while to learn something physical? Does it take you many sessions to learn new psychomotor skills?

Termed as one of the nine multiple intelligences (by Howard Gardner), kinesthetic intelligence (KI) is the ability to learn psychomotor movements through physical activity. Dance, sports, knot-tying, obstacle-crossing, driving, juggling, playing a musical instrument, and the like, are activities that demand use of both gross muscles as well as finer ones. It is part action, rhythm and feeling.
People who are kinesthetically more intelligent learn physical skills fairly quickly. They can tell their left from their right foot, so dancing may be a sport that they take to fairly quickly. When you watch Dancing With The Stars, you may notice that the sportspeople tend to move quite gracefully as they have a highly attuned sense of body and its space. They are seldom described as clumsy. They pick up new sports fairly quickly, including their exquisite ball sense.

Writing is a good exercise, as the process of putting pen to paper is based on unconscious thought. Most people don’t think very much about how they write; they focus mostly on content. Those who write in manuscript and have beautiful penmanship have practiced this physical skill for a long time. When I started learning sleight of hand magic, I had erratic results. Many years of dedicated self-practice with massive amounts of feedback allowed me to hone these hard-earned skills. I am confident to wield a deck of cards and a couple of coins to entertain. My hands are very comfortable with these two tools – muscle memory is reliable.

Tonight, I swam for an hour in the public pool. It was a peaceful session, with less than a dozen swimmers doing their laps beneath darkened skies. I was mindful of what Coach Dion addressed of my swim strokes after Monday’s class, so I focused on having more propulsion from bent arms. 60 minutes later, with a medley of drills, my upper body was pumped up. I am looking forward to my next pool session as well as Saturday’s additional open-water swim. Hopefully, my neurological system makes the adjustment into new muscle memory, and I don’t have to think too much about the strokes, but on the rhythm and the glide.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Staying Focused Both Inwards and Outwards

It was a busy afternoon, having spruced up for an important business presentation – I left the process, fairly spent. This evening, I ran 11K at 4:30 pace, and nose just under the 50-minute mark. I am glad as I jettisoned another 10K set for I originally intended to do an easy half-marathon. Considering that I wrote about the one-hour challenge yesterday, I decided to test it further by intensifying the challenge.
I ran in my new sponsored race-top by Schneider-Electric Tri-Team, and was checking which areas would require lubrication. Chaffing is an abrasive and potentially debilitating process that interferes with your pacing; made more physically pronounced when you shower. Richard Leong designed this set of top and tights for the company. I may just race in it this weekend after a few more sessions.

I was focused on three things during my run. Firstly, I focused on my breathing, noticing when I panted, huffed and puffed (like the Big Bad Wolf). Secondly, I ensured my running posture was comfortable, with light and aligned steps; my calves were still tight from my unshod run on Sunday evening, and yesterday’s fining session. Thirdly, I wanted to stay lucid and alert to familiar faces on the road as I ran. I was delighted to meet two friends from Crazy2Tri, one of which was fast runner Danny Lee. I also acknowledged non-verbally a regular runner (I have nodded or waved to him before) who was delighted to return the greeting. He gave me the thumbs up when we crossed paths for the second time.

I realized that runners may be too introverted and anti-social when we run, so we display the characteristics of avoidance. I decided that it was reasonable to demonstrate my personal values for rapport, during an intense activity. If I could not focus on my outside, then I felt I was being self-centred and inward-looking. All this made for a very satisfying solo run tonight, albeit I was spent like an empty wallet!

Time to write: 20 minutes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are You Ready For The One-Hour Challenge?

This evening, I did my third swim squad training session for the year – big turnout of about 20-25 with new faces. Coach Dion instructed us with swim sets that included warm-up, kicking, and front-crawl with fins, paddles and pool buoys. It was a short session, yet it did the job for me as it tapped my physical abilities and taxed my energy, without exhausting me completely. I was pleased to finally include fining as one of my swim drills, and learnt that it was not easy. Working new muscles, it is analogous to running unshod. I think it is a deliberately good attempt to balance dorsi-flexion and plantar-flexion function of our lower legs, as our muscles do risk imbalances from working on one plane only (from running and riding).

One hour, albeit short, does allow much to be accomplished if we focus on disciplined efforts. The results can be revealed as a sense of accomplishment and achievement. My thanks go out to triathlon partner, Hui Koon for twisting my arm in psychologically-creative ways to join this class.

Here’s a challenge for you: give yourself a task that is somewhat complex and aim to complete it within an hour. It can be a simple yet challenging task as doing your chores in one hour. How much can you accomplish? Clean your house: give it a good vacuum and a committed wipe-down, followed by removing the thrash. Do an easy one-hour run. You can write the bare bones of a business proposal, or revise a training manual in those 60 minutes. You can call as many people as you can over the telephone, or on Skype. Send out as many well, thought-out e-mails to you friends, business associates and family to keep actively in touch. Be high-tech and higher-touch!

An hour carved from each day is a discrete packet of time and possibility. It is how we use our time purposefully that allows us to do more, with less. Lead with your time.

Total time to write this: 30 minutes

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Working the Angles

When I was working as a journalist, I learnt very early in my career to work the angle for stories. What this simply means is to find interesting perspectives for the piece I was doing. I had a certain knack for stories, opting to explore the road less travelIed. It was not difficult, when all I needed to do was put a spin on the obvious, or focus on the elusive. I, eventually, learnt as an industrial psychologist that humans sort through priorities that include people, place, events, time, objects and knowledge.

Predictable can be safe, but boring. In a fastidious and fickle-minded world we live in, consumers want to do more with less, convenience with lower risk. However, this may lead to depreciation in value. More customers will be asking the question: What makes you different from others? How can you make the difference in our business? Is a sports event without a key sponsor valued highly than one with an anchor sponsor? Is loyalty of fans be unfazed when race-kits provide only the minimal? What is the angle when there is no official race-tee?

Innovative practices require working the angles. It is about shifting perspectives towards more useful outcomes. Traditional thinking demands traditional answers to problems, whereas contemporary thinking focuses on solutions-based approaches. Have you substituted, combined, adapted, amplified, eliminated or rearranged anything? What else have we not done yet? What else could we attempt differently? Who can we turn to for expert guidance? John Cooke blogs about perspective from his book review.

What’s will be your angle tomorrow?
***
Today was a busy menu for me. I rode 75K in the morning, and ran unshod (with VFF) for about 10K. In between, I collected my race-kit for next week’s Duathlon. I met friends from Crazy2Tri as well Ironman finishers Victor Chan and Teryn Tham. I encouraged my Crazy2Tri to consider using High5 sports nutrition pack that was on introductory promotion. The science is that you can absorb up to 60 grammes of carbohydrates in a 2:1 mixture of glucose to fructose, instead of 30g! For $25, we received the Marathon Race Pack with 12 sachets of drink mixes and gels. I first saw this pack at the Berlin Marathon. On its cover are three triathletes, including regular podium/Kona finisher John Hill, who I met through Coach at IMWA last year. Our individual race waves are 11, 12 and 13 and it will take place near midday next Sunday. It should be an interesting day to race; I assure you a complete race report with photographs.