Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 10-Minute Challenge

These are ways to raise your heat-rate, and ‘drive’ home a point. Daniel Pink wrote 'Drive' and shared that tribes (like-minded people) can band together (for 20-30 hours outside of their work-time) to produce valuable work, only to give it away. Why do professionals behave like that? 10 minutes is as much time as you have to do ‘stuff’. It helps dispel extended moments of procrastination (that ‘thief’ of time). Here’s what you can consider to lead yourself in a short span of your time:
1)    Learn new words. Play a few games of ‘Scrambled’ or 'Word Hero' with others (compete). (This are ‘Boggle’ applications on Android phones).
2)    Clear the thrash from your office and kitchen. Physically, move and re-move them, permanently.
3)    Clear your files. Thrash useless, out-dated material. Hoarders, this is 'thrashing' therapy time.
4)    Arrange and organize your office.
5)    Write a 10-minute article (like this, and edit it for relevance; write from your heart, then head).
6)    Update your software.
7)    Send out birthday greetings, and personalized messages.
8)    Stretch major muscle groups.
9)    Plan your week, and re-prioritise your schedule.
10) Consider doing an act of charity or faith.

There’s More to Questions & Questioning

'To be or not to be, THAT is THE question.'

Leadership Lessons: When was the last time you asked a tough question? What is a tough question to you? How do you know a question is a ‘good’ question? A good question presupposes that there is a ‘better’ question? Ask that. Which was the ‘best’ question you have asked? Teach a friend to ask better questions during a performance appraisal interview, job interview, story interview, during a coaching or mentoring session. When meeting an inspiring person, which questions would you ask? To amplify your questions, combine comprehension questions to gather more depth, reflection and introspection. When was the last time you were asked a difficult question and how did you respond?

Monday, August 27, 2012

TRI-Factor Triathlon 2012

The fourth medal in a 4-piece design. (Photo-credit: Richard Leong)
I was a spectator at yesterday morning’s event. It is, probably, the second last triathlon of the year before the Singapore Triathlon (known formerly as the OSIM Triathlon, and soon the Cold Storage Triathlon). The annual fixture for triathlons in Singapore includes the Singapore Biathlon, Singapore Ironman 70.3, and a few other biathlons such the Aquathlon. More road and off-road running races pepper the race schedules of weekend athletes, including the Army Half Marathon and Singapore Marathon. Yesterday’s triathlon was the culmination of four events that comprised an open-water swim, road bike race, and a 21K road run. I could only complete the swim and ride legs, until my stress fracture (and an Ironman Switzerland completion) relieved me of my duties. I am two medals short of the uniquely-designed collection that formed a large triangle.
Richard had a good showing at a challenging race: a 2:47 finish and 10K PB. (Photo-credit: Richard Leong)
Here is a photo-log of the events during the run leg, as well as post-race activities. Congratulations to Richard Leong for a PB on his 10K run, as well as other friends who finished: Dr Derek Li, Tomoya, G Y Chau, Kenneth Tan and Theryn Tham. A big shout out also to finishers of Team Bandung, especially Andy and Apple!
My swim buddies (from left to right) Kenneth Tan & Richard Leong; with Paully Glassman. (Photo-credit: Richard Leong)

A befitting gesture to a fallen cyclist, just before the flag-off; kudos to the organiser.
 Supporters having fun.
Team Bandung bandits ambushes their team-mates.
Singapore Mad Runner salutes us.
Three of the hairiest runners around.
Masked triathlete with WWE ambitions? Nacho Libre?
Another Blade Runner: a regular personality, next to Shariff Blade Runner. These athletes inspire us!
 'Where were you?' asks one half of the racing couple. He is wearing the Emperor Penguin hat.
The line forms - for speedsters. 
 One of our TriFam lagoon swimmers smiles broadly despite the humiliating heat.
Elite Bicycles buddy, Craig Tucker on his home stretch. This senior executive completed the entire series with commendable timings.
 My alter-ego whizzes past in his PB-making 10K.
 Fit sports professionals pause to chip in for a healthy cause.
 Slogan says it all. Lactic acid all the way in an Olympic Distance triathlon.
 Another regular Master-class triathlete punishes on.
Norseman finisher 2012, Tee BT at end of a 60K easy ride.
Post-race mucking around - recovery.

Lessons Learnt From OWS Coaching

I have spent the last few weeks immersed in studying and practising the concepts of Open-Water Swimming (OWS). It is interesting how being injured leads to a change in perspectives, goals and actions. I have been focused on my core strength, muscular strength, cycling and swimming (every chance I get).

Yesterday, I spent time with coaches from TriZen at the East Coast beach. I learnt from coaches Kua Harn Wei (a deca-Ironman finisher and former age-group world champion) and Kelvin (a professional swim coach). We interviewed Harn Wei (a university professor) a few years ago, and may know that he trains hard still despite being ‘retired’ from active competition. I recommend his one-on-one sessions as he has a wealth of knowledge and he loves to share. So, my lessons learnt from OWS were:

1)    You can apply most pool techniques and training to OWS. Only factors that are challenging are: debris, currents, waves, water conditions, visibility, and temperature. Never swim alone!
2)    You train for fitness and speed in the pool, and translate it into OWS.
3)    Key points to observe in OWS are sighting and stroke rate.
4)    I learnt to reduce my sighting patter to: four-strokes-one sight. I veer too much off-course, so need to sight more.
5)    Your emerging arm is to be as relaxed as possible; breathe deeply.
6)    The acceleration of your pulling arm is critical: extend your forearm as fully backwards.
7)    The distance afforded by a complete stroke can be as much as twice the distance earned from a partial stroke.
8)    Activate your lats (latissiumus dorsi) muscles as much as possible. Power comes from your ‘wings’ muscles and your core muscles drive the power for the rotation. I tend to over-use my shoulders and upper-arms that are (effectively) weaker than the lats. Combine them all as a synchronised whole.
9)    Kicking is personal: it is, mainly, for stabilizing. You can have a 3-beat kick for every two strokes (both arms). You need not use a powerful ‘egg-beater’ approach as you may exhaust yourself prematurely when you swim above-1500 metres.
10) Visualise before you swim, what your outcomes are. ‘See’ yourself swimming well.

Desperately Seeking Advice

What happens when you face a rut in your professional life?

Coaches or mentors can be useful allies when we hit our plateaus in our performance. They can assist us in building our potential by nudging us forward. They function best by shifting our perspectives to usefulness and relevance. Productive conversations with your coach orientate around how we can move from our current state, to a future ‘expected’ state.

Effective coaches will ask questions that help us reflect on our condition. They lead us into our future with our visions of achievement. Skills-wise, they give us feedback that corrects our techniques and approaches, so we earn more ‘bang for our buck’. They help us move from ‘define’ to ‘refine’. Once we achieve our objectives, they disengage from the process of coaching. This relationship is about building independence and inter-dependence, and not dependency.

I have sought the assistance of coaches for my triathlon training, especially in swimming and running. My physiotherapists and sports-doctors are also my coaches, in that they provide consultation on which movements to do or avoid for my rehabilitation. I also seek the counsel and advice of business mentors on developing my consulting and performance audits businesses. The relationships are different, but similar in process and outcomes: to achieve my best in my performance and build my capability, capacity and interests.

This working relationship relies on a maturity that presupposes that you (being coached) are open, broad-minded and receptive to learning.

Leadership Lessons: How many coaches do you have? How do they assist you specifically in your competencies? How do you respond to your coach’s feedback when you need correction?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tanjong Challenge - Mini Biathlon 2012

Here are some OWS action shots from yesterday's race. Observe the swim strokes of the lead swimmers: graceful, powerful and relaxed. Translate your pool sessions into open-water finesse and fierceness.
Taking the plunge and powering through the front.
The swimmers pick up momentum, and sighting is important.
The distance opens up significantly after 200 metres.
Pacing is crucial, so swim at your own race pace. Stroke, breathe, sight, repeat.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

TriFam Lagoon Biathlon (Part 2)

Pre-race briefing by OWS leader, Desmond.
Yesterday’s inaugural event still left a buzz of excitement, and post-race euphoria for newbies and seasoned endurance athletes alike. The Facebook updates are coming in fast and furious, with videos and photographs being posted up on this pubic holiday. From initial estimates, we are likely to host similar events as pre-race simulations prior to key races. Congratulations to our regular open-water swimmer, Alethea for completing Ironman Sweden yesterday! The turnout from the finishers of the recent Cobra Philippines Ironman 70.3 in Cebu was encouraging – although they ended up 'recuperating' at the strategically-located, aid-station as officials, safety-officers, volunteers and spectators. Essentially, there were parts for everyone and they chose them intuitively and with reason. We noticed that Ironman finishers know when to 'rest', especially after major races.
Open-water swimming (OWS) is becoming a common feature among triathletes and biathletes. It is with regular training sessions in the sea or natural water bodies that we can learn to become confident about OWS. That same morning, the triathlon teams from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) were training hard for the upcoming TRI-Factor Triathlon (next weekend) as well as Singapore Triathlon (September). The narrow lane was packed with endurance athletes running up and down; the lagoon was scattered with capped swimmers. Do join us for our fortnightly lagoon swims if you are a TriFam member, or passing through Singapore. After all, we are all friends in the international sports of OWS and triathlons.
A few stray jellyfish spotted in our two-lap warm-up swim caused some mild concern, however with assurance from the experienced swimmers they were assuaged. In attendance we had the President of Triathlon Family (TriFam), Andy Ng who is highly supportive of our ancillary activities within the TriFam umbrella. It was a great union of old friends and new ones yesterday united by a common love for being fit and active. Leaders will be self-directed and purpose-driven in their various roles in their lives.
Swim Kommandant-successor, Desmond doing a splendid job in organising the event and making pre-race announcements.
The swimmers flag off! It is about own-time, own-target.
Near the end-point of the OWS.
Our strong swimmers emerge from the high tide.
Monkeying around at the impromptu aid-station: It will have to do, under the circumstances.
Our finishers run in with style and positive attitude.
Even Kona-qualifier, Clifford Lee acted as ‘serious sweeper’ for the remaining runners. All the best Cliffy to your Kona completion!
Highest combined partners score, get prizes. Woo-hoo!
Successful succession planning: The next generation held the baton well.
Birthday celebration for Matthew and Karen.
A glimpse of the post-event mayhem and musings. Happy times!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

TriFam Lagoon Biathlon (Part 1)

Photo-credit: Richard Leong

This morning, a large contingent of about 35 swimmers/endurance athletes gathered to do a biathlon: one lap of the Tanjung Beach lagoon and 4.5K run. In this fun race, you were paired up with another partner and their combined completion time were evaluated. Organised by a team of rag-tag seasoned and sun-kissed swimmers, headed by Desmond and Wilson, we first completed a two-lap warm-up before we proceeded for the race briefing. There was a finish-point complete with cold drinks, hot-dogs and prizes (High 5 food supplements). After the race, Dennis briefed us on the progress of our charity swim in October, where an exclusive lane would be designated to us. Last year, we enjoyed an explosion of participants for the aquatic event, so race organisers felt it eminent to offer us a lane all to ourselves. We also celebrated with birthday boy and girl, Karen and Matthew, a song and cake. It was a fun morning for all of us.