Thursday, May 31, 2012

Making Your Entry

Drawing up initiatives is about taking the first steps. Every business or social process involves an entry strategy. How do you join? How will you get in? How will you get close to people of influence? You may not be able to entertain the idea of new connections until you enter into a relationship, and formalize it.

The desire to be fit involves an entry strategy, with multiple tactics:
1)    Questioning the importance of your wanting to get fit (to look younger, be more attractive to your partner, to fit into your wedding clothes, to feel more energetic)
2)    Joining a gym (paying the hefty joining fee, and monthly membership fees)
3)    Seeking and engaging a personal fitness coach
4)    Writing a list of races/activities to do (walk, run, biathlon, swim, triathlon, marathon)
5)    Signing up for these activities (e.g. Singapore Biathlon, Singapore Marathon, Yellow Ribbon Project Run, Army Half-Marathon, Gold Coast Marathon, half-Ironman)
6)    Showing up and completing your first workout

How do you gain entry into a club? Does it require a sponsor? Do you have the qualities the club is seeking? Do you possess the requisite professional qualifications in order to be considered for the public tender? How extensive is your track record? Some clubs make entry stringent, and value the exclusivity that comes with the commitment. ‘Membership by accomplishment’ may be the key to unlocking the door to possibilities. The timings for qualifying into the world’s oldest marathon – the Boston Marathon – makes it tough but a worthwhile challenge to the global ‘club’ of ‘finishers’. The international society for high-IQ individuals and geniuses, Mensa requires at least a 140-point score on their test. As the challenge becomes more physically demanding and risky, the smaller is the size of that club (e.g. Seven Summits finishers; those who climbed Mt. Everest, Four Desert Challenges).

In starting up a new business initiative, you will need to do the following:
1)    Register your business (under the correct category)
2)    Create a new business/corporate bank account
3)    Begin the process of seeking business (making pitches and presentations, drawing up proposals)

In change management, after all the consideration and preparation, you will have to take the plunge. Wade into the deep end, and assess your ability to stay afloat or swim. You are beyond the conceptualizing, and now into the exploration process.

Leadership Lessons: What are the entry requirements of your new business? How comfortable are you with ceremonies and social rituals? How do you earn inclusion into exclusive memberships? 

Are You the Hunter of the Hunted?

In 2009, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander chased the lead pack during the marathon leg of the Ironman World Championships in Kona and found his victory. He patiently ran as he sliced of 40 seconds per mile, as he found his true place in the race. In 2010, Andreas Raelert, finally, caught up with Macca during the last few miles of the marathon, only to be spent. Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack applied mind games with him, and beat him up the hill and won his second world title in Kona. My friend, Tobias Frenz overtook a former-professional rider at the 300K mark of the double-Ironman race in Abu Dhabi. Tobias won, back-to-back, the single and double-Ironman races held on two days!

There are both positive and negative connotations of being a hunter. If you are the hunter, you will be managing your pace so as to overtake any stragglers or competitors? In running, you make your pass, increase the lead, and hold it. Unless the overtaken runner challenges you, it means that they have conceded the pass to you (until the next opportunity). A hunter can also be perceived as combative, militant or threatening as he is seeking the bounty. Legal bounty-hunters assist the law with search-and-arrest of criminals. Sales professionals and top legal-eagles focus on the ‘closer’. To be able to ‘close’ is to be able to successfully influence the panel of decision-maker to ‘buy’ into the concept or contract.

The hunted, is pursued by the relentless. They will be eyed as a 'prize', and the fitter and faster runner will make his move upon closing in on you. You can prevent it from happening, by increasing your pace, and applying tactical interventions that are offensive or defensive in nature. Last Saturday night, for the first two kilometres of the 21K of the Sundown Marathon, a female runner ran closely with me. As I shifted ground, she followed opting to run side-by-side with me. Instead of shrugging with mild annoyance, I elected to shrug her off by increasing my pace. My watch showed 9:30 for the first 2K's, which exceeded my initial pace. Thankfully, I held this pace for most of the remaining 19K's in case I was further hunted. In my second-half of the race, I overtook 32 runners and was overtaken by three others. Pretty good returns on my investment, if I may say so.

To be hunter or the hunted requires values of patience, persistence, endurance and tenacity. If you surrender too soon, the game is over. If you insist in chasing, the game is afoot. Set your values alight, and trail-blaze your way to the finish-line.

Other times, what is hunted is not the position, it is the timing or ranking. Beating your personal best time may mean qualifying for the Boston Marathon or the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Whatever your intellectual, physical and emotional investments, your holy grail may be worth the price of purposeful pursuit.

Leadership Lessons: How are you making yourself sought after as a valuable resource? How often do executive search professionals (headhunters) call on you? How do you make yourself the hunted in your field of pursuit? How enduring are you when chasing your dream, or dream job?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Working the List

I almost completed all my tasks for my ‘To-Do’ list for the day. I attended an online/audio-conference, trainer’s session on 360 Degree Feedback System (360DFS). I followed this up with a productive conversation with Melbourne-based trainer/consultant Keith De La Rue who is off to London to deliver a conference session, and then on a 3-month tour of Europe. He introduced me to Twitter and blogging, so is an important person in my online presence. This, was after I ensured that he spent some tourist dollars on the Apple Pad 3 he wanted to buy.

I am completing my preparation for my half-day workshop for administrators and operational staff tomorrow. I will be collaborating with an expert on this brand-new teaching design, and I look forward to our results. The list that I have drawn up includes materials to bring, PowerPoint slides, and activities to conduct. My racing list for the year is almost complete. After last Sunday’s 3K swim and the half-marathon a few days ago, I will have a 60K riding time-trial, a 10K hilly run, and another half-marathon before I depart for Ironman Switzerland. I will integrate a ride or two in Malaysia, too. A list in time, saves nine!
Thank you Sundown Marathon Pacers for leading the way for first-time racers as well as seasoned competitors! You led with courageous commitment through the early-morning torrential downpour. You suffered as much as the other 28,000 midnight runners in a scenic route, so we recognize you for your performance.
Congratulations to Justin Chua for co-authoring his first book – a compilation of successful entrepreneurs.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Is The Day To Draw Up The Lists

To list, or not to list – that is the question.

Lists are points of attention, or contention. If you write a Pros/Cons list, you are weighing the benefits/risks or advantages/disadvantages. It gives us a balance sheet of how we can audit our lives for actions to take. As written some time ago, you can design lists for ‘To-Do’, Traveling list, or a Bucket List. Most of our lists revolve around things/tasks to do. We merely tick off (de-list) upon completion of each challenge or mundane activity. Whatever remains on our lists should be completed or we invite procrastination. You can draw lists as a mind map, or a traditional left/right column listing. Just remember to activate it with a dateline and priority of action. As endurance athletes, we also draw up a list of the races we would like to do, then assign a ranking of ‘A-race’ for the most important ones, and regress with a ‘B’ and ‘C’ rating.

Our organised lives revolve around lists, and this is unavoidable. This article from the Harvard Business Review suggests designing two lists to help you operate in your landscape of your lifestyle
I ran hard home for the last three kilometres. Reckon I should buy this photograph? It seems to show off my white-hair well. (Credit:
On another note, the official results of my Saturday past-midnight race can best be described in pictures. As my Coach, ‘Fox’ predicted I did earn a sub-1 hour 40 minutes completion time. In fact, my timing for the 10K mark was slightly faster than my tempo run with Fox the day before the race. Despite running on slightly ‘spent’ legs, I was still fit enough to do my trial run/speed training within 30 hours of recovery, and bag a top-1 percent ranking. I assure you that my thighs are now noticeably sore; a remindful testament to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), or the badge of honour of racing hard. A few more long runs, and tempo sets should give me the legs I need for Ironman Switzerland in July (second and last Ironman on my 2012 list). Dr Kua Harn Wei has offered to guide me through to a 3:50 marathon in Zurich, although I will need to be holistic in my approach within the next six weeks. I was dressed in my two-piece, triathlon race-attire as I always simulate racing in Ironman conditions. Thankfully, this reliable set yielded minimal abrasions.
Charted results of my Sundown Marathon performance.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Very Wet Sundown Marathon 2012

This morning, I completed my 21K race at the Sundown Marathon. The day before, I ran a tempo run with my coach Craig ‘Fox’ Holland, who was in town on business. He advised me to treat it as a training session, taking it easy for 10K, cranking it up slightly for 6K more, and then winding it up for the last 5K. I am pleased to announce that my plan was executed closely, and I returned a 1:38:55 (nett timing), far better than the 1:45 I was aiming for. My negative split was a bonus as it is hard to do so, unless you pay close attention to your pacing and racing tactics. Dr Phil Maffetone categorises racing as anaerobic workouts, which requires slight more recovery time.
Preliminary Results.
Due to lightning and the eventual heavy rain (torrential downpour), the music and announcements were, momentarily, discontinued. The international emcee and ‘Voice of Ironman Asia’, Whit Raymond apologized for not calling me in. I appreciated his presence, as also that of Adrian Mok, co-organiser (Hi-Velocity) and uber-triathlete/marathoner. The race met Category 1 conditions (meaning highest lightning-risk) and urged participants to seek shelter where possible. Participants were sent a thoughtful but serious text message to seek shelter.
My Garmin data for the entire half-marathon. On-target for my Ironman marathon.
I spent the next hour chatting, firstly, with Terrence D'Silva and then with Singapore Blade Runner (and coterie). Shariff, who is physically-challenged on one leg did his 10K in a commendable one hour. He recently completed the prestigious Boston Marathon. I noticed many new faces in the refreshment tent, and it is suggestive of the growth of endurance sports among the masses. The Singapore Sports Council’s initiative of ‘Sports For All’ seems successful in the past decade, with large subscriptions for local-branded races like the Singapore Marathon, Sundown Marathon, Army Half-Marathon, Yellow Ribbon Run, Mount Faber Run, and the wide mix of triathlons including the Ironman 70.3.
Published results of actual winners on that rainy morning. This time, I am still behind Lim Baoying (Dr) and Rachel See (21K Women's Open).
Congratulations to Ironman Chris Smith for completing the marathon. That means he has completed his last longest run before our Ironman Switzerland challenge. I still have my work cut out for me in the next six weeks, and need to be smart in my workouts. My nutritional plan seems reliable, with no gastro-intestinal (GI) distress. This morning, I subsisted on water and electrolytes at the aid-stations, with a pre-race protein drink (breakfast) and Hammer Nutrition’s Perpeteum Solids (tablets).

Additional considerations for runners doing a night race include:
1)    Take smaller steps in dim lighting conditions.
2)    Walk, if the terrain is grassy, wet or bumpy.
3)    Be cognizant and aware of other runners when you race with musical devices.

Have yourself a very happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Attack Of The Midnight Insomniac Runners

I hope that you are ready to race tonight. The Sundown Marathon is an annual marquee event for serious runners. The nature of the race is straight forward: Choice of 10K, 21K or the full marathon (42.195K). The approach is not so simple. It is, probably, the most humid time of the day with limited evaporation of sweat so hydration and pacing are key factors to your personal success. Here are some considerations if it is your first time:

1)    Hydrate, in small amounts, regularly from now till the race. Drinking in large amounts merely leads to urination, and dilution of body salts – not a good thing.
2)    Select the right pacer. If you are a first-timer, aim for completion, and choose a pacer nearest your average training time. Do say hello and be guided by our friendly and experienced Sundown Marathon Pacers. They have volunteered to assist you, indirectly, in your personal quest.
3)    Drink, at least a cup of water or electrolytes, at each aid-station.
4)    Bring your on nutrition, if this what you trained regularly with. Heavy 'sweaters' and those who cramp easily should use salt tablets at intervals. Bring your own energy-gel (calories), and refrain from using an unfamiliar sports product.  
5)    Dress in running attire that you have used in training with. No new gear (including the anathema called ‘new, minimalist, light-as-a-feather shoes’, which time and again, has disappointed with battered feet). Use good-condition socks, however not brand-new. Use vaseline or body-lubricant on areas that chaff (abrasion) easily.
6)    A 10-15 minute warm-up is useful. Never run at a fast pace, when you are ‘cold’. Warming up, literally, increases body temperature and enhances muscular activation (flexibility, strength, power, coordination and agility).
7)    Use self-affirmations to encourage yourself on. Write on your arms (in permanent-marker) your favourite sayings. Keep them as positive as you will. This can include ‘Go for it’, ‘Keep running’, ‘I will complete’, ‘I love the challenge’ and ‘Enjoy my race’.
8)    Stay alert to your surroundings. Be aware of those around you. Read messages. Listen to conversations (if these are loud enough). Watch others manage their race. Pay attention to encouraging fellow runners. 
9)    Be respectful to fellow runners. If are drinking at aid-stations, keep out of harm’s way. If you need to stop, go to the side of the road/path. Collisions are not good!  If you are listening to music, still be aware of verbal announcements of those coming by.
10)Pay attention to road-signs and traffic. It is still our responsibility to protect our own safety. Read the race-map again, and appreciate where the major turns. If you are alone, for a while, you are probably lost.

All the best tonight, Fellow Runners! See you at the Pen, and the End-Point. Have an amazing experience. The Sun seldom sets for those with a Purpose.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plans Change & We Have To Move On!

The race-route for tomorrow's midnight marathon has been modified. The flag-off timings were also adjusted, thus the reporters decided to take an interesting (albeit emotional angle) at the response. It is natural to be upset if you are participating. Surely it affects one's plans of an earlier race, and a projected earlier departure for home. However, plans can change when other agents of change, as well as jury of decision-makers, are involved. The abject lessons of a consumer of public races include the caveat 'buyer beware', plans do shift, and move on/not. We have the power to proceed with our original plans, or be stifled by our lack of flexibility and open-ness to change. In the film 'Forrest Gump' the idiot-savant was asked: 'Shit. It happens?' He replied: 'All the time!' 
Conditions can change. Organisers can warn us of eminent change. Few things are permanent and we need to operate based on information in a timely way. It is important to be updated in a timely fashion, be well-informed, and act on the new information. Sloth can be a heavy burden to carry on the legs of a tired runner. Rain or shine, stay focused on the goals in mind. Have a good race!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do You See In The good In Others?

Perception is reality. What you see is what you get. The optimist sees a glass half-full, and then pessimist sees a half-empty glass of water.
Where is the purple M&M?
Where's Wally?
What and where do you choose to see? Gandhi said: 'Be the change you want to see.'
The above newspaper feature is on eminent triathlete and neurosurgeon's Dr Ivan Ng's view of his inner sanctum. What lies deeper in the recess of one's mind? How do you enter the 'zone'? Enjoy your search.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lead In To Your Future

Either you lead, or you follow. Sitting on the fence too often can be a reflection of your indecisiveness. Eventually, you will follow when you over-deliberate and get confused with too much conflicting information. People can be highly persuasive and use manipulative devices to lead you to see their way is the right way. What about your right to your own way?

The future has a place for leaders, whether in the workplace, business, or your community. Step forward. Make a change. Do something different. Make a difference. You would be glad for doing so.

Here are some drills to accelerate your way to the front of the swim pack. If you find a pack that swims as fast as you, you can 'sit' on their feet as you earn free 'speed' from the physics of the bubbles.

In open-water training, you can add lots of variety to make each session useful. From purposeful warm-up (out/in the water), putting on the wetsuit, sighting, drafting and entry/exit from the water.

Time to, seriously, make and hold the lead! Swim on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Building On Your Skeleton

Early in my biology classes (which I had a strong fondness), I learnt the relevance of the skeletal structure. How could something that looked so disturbing (without the flesh) be so vital to our movement? I also learnt the fact that ‘Function follows form’, or that the structure determines the functionality. As an analogy, both bats and birds have similar wing structure so they fly although one is a mammal and has no feathers.

In writing, we follow a simple structure of Beginning, Middles and End. We start with an Introduction, Main Body, and the Conclusion. We flesh it out with facts and content, which makes the written correspondence or verbal presentation useful and relevant to the audience.

I am reading again, Chris McCormack’s book ‘I’m Here To Win’. Macca describes the relevance of a skeleton for training. It is the basic foundation upon which to address your weaknesses, and build your performance from. The skeleton is a structure that allows you to build upon it, with flexibility so that one does not become regimented and rigid like most endurance athletes can be. Macca identifies one key workout for the day, and if he feels tired he can skip the other sessions.

My skeleton before an Ironman race is:

1)    Three (3) training sessions for each discipline per weekly block (could be a 7-8 day week)
2)    Key session for each training day; it must be completed (tired or not): technical, or strength-building
3)    Integrate key rest days, usually once in 4-5 days
4)    Whey-protein drink at breakfast or before I sleep, or soon after a key workout
5)    If I am fatigued or tired, I sleep in an hour or two, and train more refreshed and alert (makes more sense than to over-train)
6)    Races are my training days/time trials and constitute my anaerobic/strength sessions

This skeleton follows the guidelines of my expected outcomes, age, committed time for training, and my recovery status.

Leadership Lessons: What is your skeleton for your career? How do you design your lifestyle (considering work-life balance)? How often do you tweak your skeleton training program? What is you skeleton plan for your personal learning and development?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Extreme Endurance?

As if the marathon was not enough, endurance runners upped their ante with multiple versions of the 42.195K running format. Road, off-road, and trail are some of the cocktail mix of terrain they have tossed in, to  test the mettle (and values) of the runner. Here is one such race that is becoming popular among seasoned and serious runners. I did the 50K last year with a partner, whereas there is a Solo 100K personal challenge. MR25 Runners have an annual ultra-marathon which requires a minimum commitment of five loops of 10.5K (52.5K total) or as many loops you can complete from 7.00am till 7.00pm (12-hours limit) at the Macritchie Reservoir. May you decide, plan and train well!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Running Past Your Bedtime

The annual, marquee event – the Sundown Marathon – is less than a week away. For those who are racing, here are tips and cautionary notes (by seasoned and experienced runners) for running at the most humid time of the day in Singapore. Dr Ben Tan opined from experience that, running at 1-3am can be most challenging and risky to those who intend to push harder.

Melvin How: I hate running past midnight because I miss my much-needed beauty sleep. Anyway, how humid it is will depend on the period before the race, as I run better if the ambient temperature different is more than 10 degrees, i.e. lower than my body temperature as heat-load is a critical issue for runners, unlike cycling where the faster speeds cools the body. Pre-race hydration is definitely more important. as drinking too much during race is going to lead to feeling bloated. With higher effort to run, refueling with energy gels will be crucial to keep the body moving as the calories utilization will be much higher even at the same pace on a cooler day. For night race, past the sleeping time, it is best to forget about getting a PB.

Dr Derek Li: ‘Do not skip water-stations for the first half, preferably for the first two-thirds of the race. Drink, frequently, as early as 2km into the race. I personally take an energy-gel every 30 minutes. Stick to water for the first hour, then switch to isotonic (electrolyte) drinks thereafter. Finally, PB is never achieved by positive-splitting (meaning: run fast for the first-half, then slower for the second-half).

KK Chin: Agreed with Ben Tan on the humidity, nowadays. Personally, I have also experienced it during my evening run recently. Just for an hour run, I can easily bottle up a 1.5 litre of H2O as I was sweating profusely. Anyway, it is good to hydrate yourself sufficiently throughout this night race. Who knows you might need to double your usual hydration intake. If you don’t mind losing a few minutes to refill your water-bag, you can carry a small Camelbak or additional water bottles. As for energy gels or equivalent, just practise what you have been doing during training. Never try anything new during the race. After 3am, the weather might be cooler to run but your body fatigues, or sleepiness might kick in. That's when you will execute your own mind-over-body strategies. As I have seen in my past ultra races, different people will have different ways to get over their wall by moving at this critical stage. By and large, pacing still plays a very important role, especially in the first half. In the second half, your form will be very much dependent on various external & internal factors. To me, getting PB or not, is secondary. If I do, it will definitely be a bonus. The most important thing for me is to finish strong at the end of the race. 

Tri-Factor Swim 2012

This was my first swim with this series. I did the Olympic Distance triathlon a few ago, and last year, I was the 'momentary winner' of the 21K Veterans category. The faster runners were misled into running more, while I  followed my Garmin 310XT and short-term memory of the race-route. Matt and I went for breakfast, so I was unaware I bagged the Ironman Timex watch, until emcee Ross Sarpani alerted me on Facebook.
This year, I swam the 3K at the Tanjung Beach Lagoon in Sentosa Island. As I completed a wetsuit swim yesterday, I had better sense of the water this morning. My wave, comprising the oldest age-group flagged off at 8.30am. The first pack of seven ‘invitational only’ swimmers set the pace of the race, as each category was dispatched. I had a very comfortable swim, using the front-crawl and the occasional, breast-stroke, defensive posturing when a few rampant and random swimmers wafted into my field of movement. My breathing was consistent, and I focused on my ‘feel’ of the water, and practiced my navigation/sighting. On my second lap, stray jellyfish stung me on my left cheek (which is still throbbing now) and the top of my left foot. As annoying and disruptive the stings were, I had to focus on completing the remaining three laps (which was fast becoming over-crowded). Upon my exit from the water, I felt positive and pleased, and appreciated the offerings of cups of SIS protein recovery drink. The volunteers did a commendable job, without drama or injury.
After our shower, we chilled out at the beach-bar over expensive lemonade. The pack of sun-kissed swimmers (Triathlon Family members from Monday Night Swim, and Saturday's Lagoon Swim)  envied Matt and Agatha’s avant-garde healthy breakfast of muesli, berries and yoghurt in a glass. Teryn earned a 3rd place for her category, which was a subject of interest.

It was good training day for me. Races constituted my training skeleton program (under time-trials/strength sets). Our Fearless-Leader (Saturday Swim) Matthew Wong suggested that the distance could have been longer, which I was delighted by. I enjoyed catching up with old friends, mainly those who have kept up with the active lifestyle of endurance sports. I was pleased for those who completed the race in formidable time, despite having undergone healthcare treatment. Who says surgery can keep a good person down?

Photos: Richard Leong

Friday, May 18, 2012

Feeding The Engine & Your Computer

As active professionals and amateur athletes, we spend a considerable amount of time stressing our minds and bodies. The Law of Conservation of Energy, as applied to our physiology of the human body, suggests that we balance the simple equation of input/output. When energy (calories) expenditure equals to energy intake, we tend to keep our bodyweight and meet our bodily needs for activity and normal functioning. This equation, obviously, shifts when you participate in endurance activities, be it work, sports, or sustained wakefulness.

With the plethora of television programs by celebrity medical practitioners (Dr Oz, The Doctors) we are introduced at an accelerated rate tips and factoids that are aimed at helping us ‘live longer and stay younger’. Nothing too complex as long as we avoid excessiveness, exercise discipline in our eating, sleep adequately (7 hours, at least), and manage our stress well.

Here are some of my learning and leanings in recent months:

1)    Increase your intake of antioxidant-loaded foods, especially if you indulge in endurance sports. Aerobic activities involve larger intakes of oxygen, and the pool of free radicals in your body (if unattended to, nutritionally) can accelerate the ‘aging’ process. Seek organic sources of fruit concentrate if you cannot get them straight from the fruit (for example, pomegranate juice and tart cherry are not as popular so are harder to get freshly pressed). Avoid watered-down versions of the juices. You are better off buying the organic version and diluting it yourself.
2)    Eat colourful vegetables. The traffic-lights remind us of eating veggies that are ‘red, green and yellow’: we can then enjoy plant pigments and natural chemicals from lycopene to chlorophyll to beta-carotene. Have a rainbow of colourful plants that include variations like purple, orange and blue.
3)    Drink clean water, regularly, in small amounts. It takes 24-48 hours to properly hydrate our body. Water is found both within and outside of our muscles. The intra-muscular (within) water is most critical to performing well at races, as well as a hectic corporate life. Ensure your water is as fresh as possible, and bottled water is not the best source as it is contained in plastic vessels, sitting for weeks or months on the retail shelves. Drink from a glass bottle.
4)    Have a healthy breakfast. This is, perhaps, the most important meal of the day after a night of ‘fasting’. A whey protein drink is a convenient and effective form of restoring your blood sugar level to normal. Otherwise, consume low glycemic index (GI) foods with protein added. Eggs are natural foods that should not be avoided as it has all the metabolisers within to digest this complete food. Great news: An avalanche of recent reports indicates that coffee is touted to be loaded with antioxidants and may deflect some major illnesses including some forms of mental disease. I drink a cup 2-3 hours before a race, as it helps me be alert, and metabolises fatty acids.
5)    Eat a small nutritious snack within 30-60 minutes after exercising. The window of opportunity for recovery is determined by this period of cessation of activity, when your body needs to repair damaged cells and restore its energy sources (glycogen, blood sugar). Whey protein (which is closest to mother’s milk) is a useful ingredient during this time. Choose a whey protein with no artificial sweeteners (as these are toxic and carcinogenic in large consumptions).
6)    Avoid whey protein during a race as it builds up nitrogen that is best kept after a race. Instead, use a soy-based protein as it reduces this fatigue build-up, and keeps your appetite sated. Focus on proteins which are complete (all 22 amino acids, with the Essential Eight). Branched-Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) are most vital after strenuous endurance or strength activity.
7)    Our bodies take a slump around 1-3pm. Stand up, and take a walk! Activity reduces release of your serotonin levels. Serotonin, long thought to be encouraged by high-carbohydrate meals and certain foods (like turkey, because of its natural-occurring tryptophan) it is just ‘that time of the day’.
8)    Reduce your intake of table sugar and simple sugars. Whether you seek a sleek set of washboard abdominals, or want to perform to the best of your athletic ability, reduce your intake of high-GI carbohydrates. Snack foods and breakfast cereals contain lots of the cheap flavour enhancer, corn syrup. Even sports-gels and drinks contain this energy-sapping sweetener.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pro-Life Skills & Being Prolific

I have observed that several of my friends have been making, or are considering mid-life career changes. This is not unusual, as PMETs do reach a point where they wish for a change in lifestyle, slow down their pace, and shift their attention to something different. Many talk about pursuing their passions, purge themselves of corporate slavery, and hope to plunge into the dark waters of self-employment, or buy/bury into a new business.

For fans of Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant, you can attain any of these four dimensions of wealth: employment, self-employment, business, or investor. Where do you seat yourself in the flow of Multiple Streams of Income? The transition into new transformation can be challenging if you jump into the deep-end with little protection. In business – corporate or your very own – you work with a dream/vision, planning, strategies, and learning-on-the-go.

Triathletes have moved to sport like off-road running, desert challenges, adventure-racing, or ultra-distances. This is a natural process, as boredom and monotony takes it toil and toll on their minds and bodies. Others attempt new feats of physical tests, as part of a personal need to be altruistic, philanthropic and charitable. They raise funds for charity as an integrated challenge that also benefits others. We tend to progress to larger pieces, and a Higher Purpose in our lives.

For new graduates into the working life, or self-employment these skills may (still) be critical for the future:

1)    Influencing skills (selling, leading, marketing)
2)    Presentational skills (face-to-face, educating, mentoring, coaching)
3)    Language (written and read, instead of purely spoken)
4)    Confidence, commitment and clarity of thought
5)    A sense of open-mindedness, being broad-minded, and appreciating differences (as uniqueness)
6)    Creativity (street-smarts, synthesis, common sense, uncommon sense, applying wisdom)
7)    Being and staying hungry (self-motivated, self-directed, purposeful)
8)    Universal values that connect and align with others

How will you sell yourself to your next employer? How will you promote other people’s products and services? Which future skills will you consider developing?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Will You Add Value To This Job?

‘How do you think you can you add value to this company?’ is a valid question that experienced interviewers may ask. It may be over-asked until it is a cliché, yet it has it relevance. In marketing, we call this a differentiator. How are you positioned differently from others?

Corporate headhunters will not call upon you unless you have made a mark in the ocean of professionals. What is your specialty, and have you attained expert-status and mastery? How do you stand out? How do you demonstrate that you are out-standing, while retaining your humility and humbleness?

Do a SWOT analysis. Identify at least three factors each for your Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. When applied from product branding to personal branding, the SWOT analysis reveals useful information about your value. Define ‘experience’ beyond the fact that you are aging, or spent more years in the company than the junior staff. What have you done to convert your years of loyalty to the company into the reputation as expertise, subject-matter expert, creative problem solver, and leadership?

In competitive sport, your results indicate your place in the universe of competitors. Your competency in one area of talent and development, leads to your competitiveness. By moving up ten ranks, and improving on your relative and absolute rankings, you will move up from amateur to elite status as an athlete. The podium-winners become a preferred choice for selection for interested and eager sponsors.

If you are not a leader in your field, then you are a follower, and, there are many of them out there. Mediocrity is in abundance. Mastery is rare. Re-position yourself a resourceful professional and prove your worth. Back up your talk and promises with results and resolve. Prove to them that you are worth it.

Leadership Lessons: How educated are you about marketing? How seriously do you apply Personal Branding 2.0? How do you brand yourself as a leader in your field? Distinguish what your worth is, how you can be valuable, how you add value and value-add, show your worthiness, and make it worth their while.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stop Being Invisible

The Invisible Man had a, unnoticeably, hard life. On one hand (when he could see it), he could operate undetected his clandestine tasks. On the other, he went about life relatively unnoticed. It is like you are a superhero, and nobody know you exist, or somebody more expressive steals your identity (and credit that goes with it). Thankfully, somebody noticed him eventually, too late for him to enjoy post-humous, Hollywood and publishing royalties based on his biography.

How many of you live your life invisibly?

I have heard the excuse of the recluse: ‘I just want to stay humble. It is the culture here: Don’t stand out too much. Avoid being loud.’ They sorely missed the point. Humility and humbleness are different values that you can exercise. Humble usually leads to grumble, in my observation.

Take the backseat, or drive the car! It is your choice. If you think somebody will steal your job, you are probably right – and because you allowed them to. If you think you are valuable and relevant still, you probably are. Back up that faith in yourself with concrete competencies and confidence. Nobody can MAKE you DO what you refuse to, unless you relinquished your decision-making ability!

My close friend, Kenneth last night shared with me this recent anecdote. He asked an interviewee for an administrative position: ‘How do you think you will add value to this company?’ She looked liked she had great difficulty with this question. She could not articulate herself clearly and lacked confidence. Most jobs evolve through time. Job descriptions and job scopes will expand and become distinct. Ken was patient and generous to spend some time coaching her for her next job. I hope she learnt to bag her next job interview.

Appear. Be noticed. Make your presence felt. Take on challenges. Be ‘salmon-like’ contrarian – swim against the river. You can be physically-challenged and take on physical challenges! My friend Adam, a one-armed runner has shifted from ultra-marathons to triathlons. He is planning to do the Ironman triathlon and Four Desert Challenges.

You can stand out with your actions. You can be spotted by your conviction. You will be noticed for your energy, enthusiasm, vigor and joyfulness. Stop letting other eviscerate you with their insults, sarcasm, and put-downs. Nobody can put you down unless you give him the permission. It is only after you have given them permission to offend you, that you pass on and pass up your power and authority. It is still your choice. It is your Personal Branding, or lack of it.

Better still – make your absence felt (in a good way, of course). Never fade out into the obscurity of the background. Play the foreground, sometimes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Efficiency & The Time-Crunched Athlete

Being efficient is the key. Efficiency is the value of reducing wastage. It is not merely about doing things fast, often mistaken for efficiency. Expediency and effectiveness are factors in this simple equation of being efficient.

1) Planning and organising
Where will your training take place? Proximity and ease of access is critical. Will you be doing your core-strength workout at home, or at the nearby fitness park? You can do a warm-up jog to the park, then do your exact sets based on your prescribed menu of exercises. If riding, factor in warm-up and cool-down time, so you are not late in your appointments, thereafter. Today, as planned I did a 60-minute pool-run, and this evening a 105-minute ride/60-minute swim 'brick session'.

2) Specificity of Sports
You can do one type of exercise, or a combination. Squeezing in too much into one workout may be counter-productive. Our body responds specifically to the type of activities we do. Type refers to any of the platforms of fitness including flexibility, aerobic, anaerobic, strength, power, agility or balance. For triathletes, you need to do 2-3 sessions of each discipline depending on your next race. For maintenance, two sessions of each discipline will be adequate to provide the ‘training effect’. It is akin to musicians practising occasionally once they have mastered the chords/keys. Amplify the workouts to three each before a half-Ironman or full one. Rule of guide: one workout for endurance, one for strength, and one for race-pace. If you are training exclusively for a marathon, you can still incorporate cross-training. That is why I run only three times a week, and I rarely exceed 40-45K in total mileage. My base fitness allows me to train with less chance of injuries, and I enjoy integrated fitness from my swimming and riding.

3) Stay focused on your goals
What is your intention of training? Is it to complete a race, earn a personal best time, to maintain basic fitness, weight-management, or to enjoy more vitality and vigor? Every session, however long or short must serve its purpose. You must also inject a modicum of commitment to completing the sessions you set out to do. Excuses are easy to formulate, however when they accumulate can/will impair your progression. There is no reason you cannot achieve more, with less (more concerted, focused and scientific approaches) sessions (total hours). Even a short 30-minute home-workout can comprise proprioception (balance) work, core-development, muscular strength, flexibility and anaerobic/power work.

Leadership Lessons: How do you organize your life? How much planning and preparation goes into your day and week? How efficient can you be at both your profession and pastime? How do you pack more bang for your buck with your time? By the way, I wrote and published this piece in 25 minutes after helping a friend remove her pedals from a road-bike.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nine Ways To Update Your Profile

Profiles that are left idle, may affect your personal branding. By updating your online profile, you are keeping yourself fresh and contemporary. Otherwise, your presence is, at best, temporary. Remember the platinum rule in online marketing: Content is king. When face-to-face, your personality and character makes you royal and regal. Your profile is your summary of your comprehensive file (i.e. resume, CV, or biography). However, never attempt to over-inflate your resume even for the Head Honcho's position (especially in Yahoo!).

It is not difficult to update your profile:

1)    Keep in constant touch with your online community. Announce interesting developments. Only if INTERESTING or USEFUL.
2)    If your social media campaign is not useful, remove it. Having less is useful. You need not be on all popular platforms.
3)    Post regularly on your blog, especially when you have an established readership.
4)    Seek recommendations and testimonials, especially when clients are pleased with your work. Indicate awards and commendations, when you receive them.
5)    Housekeeping is vital. Which new developments are occurring in your profession or life now? Edit or delete.
6)    If it is too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true. Report factually. Avoid exaggeration.
Special mention of our blog by Dr Mok Ying Ren, Singapore's top marathoner & weekly columnist.
7)    Remove controversial or demeaning material, including photographs or remarks that may be deemed insensitive or inappropriate.
8)    If you are not comfortable with the details, tweak it.
9)    Sharing useful content to those that it matters to is a powerful approach.
Photo-credit & design: Dr Leow Jo Lene
Leadership Lessons: Which three things will you update to your online profile? When signing off on your e-mails, what would you distinguish yourself by? When was the last time you were recommended for your services?