Monday, July 29, 2013

Low Heart-Rate Training: An Update (Part 3)

In a continuing series, we discuss the relevance of low heart-rate training.

The CrossFit school of athletic excellence prescribe shorter, intense, strength-based, activities to stimulate the entire body. Unusually stressful, these rugged workouts are designed to stimulate the endocrine systems including the release of cortisol, Growth Hormone, and adrenaline. Their prevailing school of thought is that 'less is more' and that most endurance athletes over-train.

Lower heart-rate training, mainly in the Aerobic Zone has benefits to the endurance athlete. As long as you do not depart much from the prescribed target heart-rates, you can reap extensive benefits from aerobic training. These include lower risks of injuries and illness, less fatigue, and faster recovery times.

With low heart-rate training, you can approach it in the following way:

1) Lower intensity, and higher cadence.
2) Less reliance on carbohydrates (mainly simple sugars), and more on fat.
3) Split a longer workout into two parts (AM and PM).
4) You can perform 'bricks', which is a tandem of two activities done back-to-back (riding following a swim, or run after a ride).
5) Get into it, soon after a meal. Your stomach does not have to compete with your muscles for blood.
6) You can/should include one or two anaerobic (race-pace) session each week, but not more.

Let Us Not Get Caught Up In Titles

The revised versions of standard dictionaries tend to include new words. Additions are made when nouns become verbs. Consider words like google, xerox and texting, were once processes or applications, and now part of our daily lexicon of use. Applications (now 'apps') become the method of digital communication in a world comprising smart-phones. In a time when face-to-face conversations are reduced, on-screen personalities and characters matter just as much. 

Likewise, professions have evolved by way of titles like 'educationist' and 'sanitation engineer';  and, 'consultant' and 'manager' have become standard titles for the corporate world. On Social Media 2.0, your onscreen appearance and moniker are your part of your brand qualities and attributes. Both expression and impression matter, when you project your online brand across the digital landscape.

Titles, unless bestowed upon by honour or recognition, mean little. Most importantly is, how do you live up to your title? If it boosts your self-esteem or boasts your ego, use it. If you are a manager, manage as best as you can. If you considered a 'boss', stop being 'bossy'. If you are a leader, learn to lead fairly and with competence. Address your weaknesses, incompetencies, and shortcomings. Unattended to, these will leak through our persona and reputation. We can only pull the wool over other people's eyes for so long. A wold in sheep's clothing, is still a wolf. Some wolves' have barks larger than their bites.

Review your biography and resume - how much of it is actual, perceived and embellished? We can share our dreams, intentions and inspirations - yet we need to be mindful that we are true to ourselves and to others. Let not the hype of titles detract and distract us from our purpose and performance. Aim to build relevance to your titles. Live up to your true calling. Achieve your potential.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Garnering Support And Its Evidence

Readership of a blog may suggest its following. A larger number of 'hits' or 'visitors' may infer that the medium attracts 'eyeball' investment. Representing one's flag, community, club or cause denotes support, and carrying oneself as a face (within a crowd) whilst at the forefront.

Even on Facebook, a company's FB page is either attractive enough to be read and monitored by its 'tribes' or abandoned. Social media can be fickle and impatient, and much can be done to initiate a 'conversation' with the masses, through feedback, input, suggestions and social exchanges. The Law of Reciprocity operates, even with passive media for its followers function and interact round-the-clock. Close monitoring ensures ideas are shared, considered or responded to.

An athlete - be it amateur or professional - may attract support through his/her sponsors. Sponsorship reflects on the strength of a relationship. It also measures the values of loyalty, trust, and recognition. Continued sponsorship indicates the value each places on the relationship, and goes beyond the transaction and commerce. When athletes behave badly, sponsors may rescind on their commitment, by pulling out of the sponsorship. You cannot leverage on bad behavior, poor role-models, and contradictions. Brands can be ruined by this partnership and collaboration, for each partner draws on one another on their leverage points.

Content is king! Raise the bar of excellence and engage in conversations of worth. Value each relationship with respect, recognition and reassurance. Building rapport is key to continued loyalty and following. Companies and individuals can lead the way towards a sense of common purpose, rallying hearts, heads and hands.

Leadership Lessons: How you behave as a leader reflects how worthy you are to a potential sponsor or supporter? People followings are based on an alignment of beliefs, values and behaviors. What are you doing to create support and supportive fans, fellowship and follower-ship?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Low Heart-Rate Training: An Update (Part 2)

I spent about eight months on developing my aerobic base, mostly on a diet of long-duration riding and running. It has been challenging to slow down. My, naturally, high heart-rate makes it harder to keep within my 'aerobic zone'. In my case, my Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) is based on Philip Maffetone's prescription of (180-Age+5). Maffetone advised Ironman-legend Mark Allen to develop his aerobic base, and that was one reason how he stood out on 'Iron Wars' (1989), when he went mano a mano with Dave Scott throughout the race in Kona.

Be patient when developing your aerobic base; it may take 9-12 months to fully develop it. The emphasis is 'within your aerobic zone'. Whether you use (180-Age) or (220-Age) as your higher limits, stick to it. Be consistent, and be disciplined as you are teaching your body to become more efficient in creating energy in the presence of adequate oxygen. Certainly, do at least one session of anaerobic/speed work/race to jog your other part of your energy system. 

The Kreb's Cycle is worth appreciating and applying. It describes how our mitochondria ('powerhouse of our cells') produce energy molecules called Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) from each molecule of carbohydrate, protein or fat. Oxygen is the catalyst that combusts the living cells into action. When you factor pacing into the equation of creating a continual flow of energy to sustain your muscles for endurance activities, then staying in the aerobic zone promotes energy and wards off fatigue. ATP + Oxygen + Fuel = Energy. 

Working in the aerobic zone reduces the occurrence of injuries, fatigue and muscle imbalances. In fact, it can buoy your anaerobic/racing efforts by relying less on stored sugars and nutritional assistance. It takes a while to educate our body to become aerobically-efficient, but it is worth it. 

Good luck, and better patience!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Low Heart-Rate Training: An Update (Part 1)

For the past 9 months, I have focused my attention and efforts on building a strong aerobic base. Having consumed thoroughly the performance of Ironman Hall-of-Famer, Mark Allen and his work with Phil Maffetone I have developed a fair degree of aerobic fitness to launch me into a higher level of performance.

The notion is this: the discrepancy between our aerobic system and anaerobic system may be unnaturally narrow. This is the cumulative effect of too much, poorly monitored, anaerobic efforts during training and racing. Anaerobic workouts deplete our muscle glycogen (fuel for our cell). By fully tapping on our aerobic system, we can spare glycogen and utilise more fats instead.

I kept my heart-rate to within this training limit: 180-Age (plus 5 bpm more, for no illness within the year). In effect, I I worked my maximum heart-rate from 143-148. However, at least one or twice a week, I worked at a higher heart-rate from racing or a higher-intensity tempo run. My base aerobic training comprised running and cycling; both sports are linear in direction and motion.

My recent timings attest to the fact that this disciplined approach towards aerobic/endurance training has worked for me. It was tough sustaining it, for I had to develop a strong belief that my apparent loss of speed (in the short-term) would lead to immense gains down the road. Plus, I became leaner and lighter than ever before. My pacing improved from a 5 min/km to 4:40 min/km for a full marathon. My half-marathon pace is slightly below 4:30min/km.

Some of these recent data include: Berlin Marathon (post-injury, 4:00) in September 2012; Singapore Marathon (3:38) in December; marathon in Ironman NZ (4:27 - PB); Ironman NZ (12:57, course PB); 21km run in March (1:41); 21km in May (1:34); Gold Coast Airport Marathon (3:16:49 - PB/BQ). My last BQ was 3:29:59 in 2011. So, from December till July, I scratched off almost 22 minutes - a fair deduction from an investment of nine months of committed training. 

I am not a pure runner, nor do I enjoy long-distance running however my times have been improving. Other factors need to be computed such as dietary adjustments, more sleep, core strength/stability and cross-training. But, for now, I can ascertain that my base fitness has buoyed my racing (anaerobic) fitness. In the next few weeks, I will test my fitness over a few more races including a half-Ironman triathlon, one 10km run, and another half-marathon. I hope to improve on my PBs. (to be continued)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Boston Strong & Kona-Bound

For long-distance triathletes, going to Kona to do the Ironman World Championships may be a dream. For elite age-groupers, this prestigious honour can be earned with a podium placing (or a roll-down slot). For others, it may be through the General Lottery and Legacy Lottery (more than 12 Ironman finishers to qualify). The Everyday Person gets a chance to race the Big Dance on the Big Island, alongside their favourite professional athletes.
26,839 runners were registered for the 2013 edition.
Now that I am closer to doing the Boston Marathon, the holy grail of a 116-year-old marathon seems less elusive. Most times, we have to work (hard) for what we desire most. Thanks to Dr Kua Harn Wei for sending me these photos that describe the collective spirit of endurance runners. In the face of tragedy, the true faces of the human spirit rise to greet us. Already, a few fellow runners told me of their desire to race there next year. No self-serving act of destruction can disrupt, distract or destroy an iconic event that continues to celebrate the human spirit of personal excellence.
Entrants who completed at least half the course and did not finish due to the bombings are to get automatic entry in 2014.
I am grateful to those who honour the event, its runners and its continued presence. I will aim to remember those who paved the way for our entry. I hope to join many runners at the start-line of the third Sunday of April 2014.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Drawing Inspirations From Others

Thank you, friends and supporters for your kind words over my personal best (PB) time for my marathon last Sunday on the Gold Coast. It has been a culmination of two years of preparation, and a past year of athletic disappointments. I feel very fortunate to set my second Boston Qualifying (BQ) time in two years; my first being a 3:29:59 at the Hong Kong Marathon in 2011. I sliced about eight minutes off, for a 3:16:49 timing. I hope to do a sub-3:10 at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in December. This will depend on how my body holds up at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona on12 October.
I draw inspiration for running through other runners. I am not a fan of running. On fact, I find it to be mentally harder than riding or swimming. I enjoy running competitively, for I do my best by being inspired by others. I was surrounded by many good and excellent runners throughout Sunday. I latched on them as my motivators, absorbing their energies as mine. With over-5,000 pacers around me, how could I go wrong?

Uncle Kor Hong Fatt was the fastest male runner in the 80-84 years category - he had a smashing finishing time even younger runners would envy. We congratulate this Boston Marathon finisher for his latest accomplishment. He encourages us, through his passion and enthusiasm for running. I would be stoked to be able to run marathons when I am 81-years-old!
Dr Mok YIng Ren continues to inspire local runners for being our fastest male marathoner. He is working very hard towards achieving his goal of representing Singapore in the Rio Games 2016. He recently earned a new personal best time, and is just two minutes off from establishing his own national record. We wish this affable and amiable role model, continued success in his sporting endeavours. 

Leadership Lessons: Who inspires you? How do you respond to excellent people around you? How do you draw inspirations from others?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Training Strategies For A Marathon: GCAM 2013 (Part 2)

2) Very Light
I am not a proponent of weight-loss for sporting performance. I have an ecto-mesomorphic build, and a high metabolism to support it. Endurance sports merely stoke my basal calorie-consumption (rest) and active calorie expenditure. I have to eat a huge amount of carbohydrates (simple and complex) to maintain my race-weight of 77kg. In recent months, due to my preparation for Kona I have a training week comprising 12-18 hours. As these are mainly aerobic sessions, spread over three disciplines (swim, ride, and run), my bodyweight and bodyfat has fallen appreciably. I have a smaller waistline and defined abdominal muscles. Although this may be aesthetically pleasing, a impending danger for me is being too ‘skinny’.

I found out in 2009 at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, that when I lost 2.5kg (and had 7.7 percent bodyfat) my cycling power plunged. I had my worst performance compared to the championships on 2008, where I earned my PB. I am cautious about losing too much weight, for I will need both muscular strength and power (and therefore, muscular mass) to ride better in the cruel Kona headwinds and side-winds.


Let your body decide. If you feel fatigued, and your recovery is slow – enhance your nutrient (and caloric) intake. Fuel your body before, during and after the race.

Nutrition-wise, I used the following nutritional assistance:

a)    Deep-sea fish oils (Omega-3 fatty acids): 2-3 capsules (1,500mg each) daily. Load up on this as it is an alternative to glucosamine, and it helps lubricate our joints and strengthen our cells.
b)    Virgin coconut oil: The secret weapon of CrossFit/WOD athletes. I take 2-4 teaspoons daily. One of the man effects of coconut oil is that it stokes your metabolism, and is a valuable source of essential fats (even though it is saturated – thus, it is very stable even when cooked). I drizzle it over my salad or chase it with a whey-protein drink or mix it in my coffee (Super-Coffee). Thanks Karolina for this valuable serving tip!
c)    Organic, tart cherry juice (half-mug) for significant reduction of muscle soreness.
d)    Pomegranate (organic) juice: For added antioxidants (one of the highest fruit sources) to neutralize the aging effects of endurance sports.
e)    Whey protein. Next best source next to a steak (beef). I use Muscle Milk (from Cyberhealth Pte Ltd), once or twice a day. I either supplement my breakfast, or use it before sleep to stimulate Growth Hormone (GH) release.
f)      My overall fat intake has increased. I take more butter and olive oil, but avoid margarine and related products.
g)    I spend more time in the sun to enhance my vitamin D production, and ward off depression. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, so my higher cholesterol intake is justified.

Let us be serious about nutrition. Endurance sports is damaging to our body on many levels. It ages us. It depletes key nutrients, which is hard to track until symptoms reveal themselves. Consider it this way, when you feel sore after each run session your body is undergoing major changes and it requires repair and replenishment.

3)    Very Strong Core

I supplement my triathlon training with short, strength sessions. I apply the principles of CrossFit training focused on a circuit of 5-6 exercises done with my bodyweight and external weights (Kettle-bell). I ensure that I work the major muscle groups (especially the opposing muscles). Muscles work in pairs: agonists versus antagonists – push and pull.

My core workout may look like this:

Balance-Disc (10 minutes)
Push-Up (15-20 reps) followed with one-arm, kettle-bell Rowing (12-15)
Shoulder-Press (kettle-bell) followed by Upright Rows (12-15 reps each)
Parallel Squats (15-20 reps)
Plank (60 seconds)

I don’t normally stretch, however I do ensure a proper warm-up.


I use the Balance-Disc to build my proprioceptive balance. I believed that balancing activates deeper, underlying muscles required for running. Balancing on the disc challenges your lateral muscles (sides), your lesser used muscles of your legs (adductors and abductors) which are needed for dodging runners in the early stages of the race. To challenge your core further, you can add light weights, or close your eyes.


If you must stretch, do it after an aerobic/anaerobic session. Muscles are more pliable after your core body temperature has risen.

Although brief and simplified, I hope that this piece has been useful. Write me if you have questions. May you achieve your running PB soon!

Training Strategies For A Marathon: GCAM 2013 (Part 1)

I like to share my tips on how I achieved my recent personal bests time for my marathon. On 7 July, I earned a PB and BQ at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. In addition, I enjoyed good splits for my 10km, 21km, and 32km marks.

In summary, if you aim to excel in your run times you will need to be:
1)    Very fit (aerobic base/cross-trained).
2)    Very light (run racing weight).
3)    Very strong (core).

The first two goals are the crux of success of the top Tour De France riders (minus the ‘edge’ they gain from pharmaceutical assistance). The third factor is required to maintain good form (gait) throughout the race, especially when you want need to ‘dig deep’ or push through fatigue.

1) Very Fit

Since I suffered an expensive hairline-fractured toe (metatarsal) last August (confirmed during Ironman Zurich), I have built my aerobic base – gradually – with low-heart-rate cycling and running. During my two months of active rehabilitation, I rode indoors and swam regularly. In spite of ZERO RUNNING (except for two short runs during race week), I finished in 4:00 Berlin Marathon – one of my worst finishes, yet it was encouraging for my aerobic base supported my comfortable completion.


Since August last year, I have focused on building my aerobic base. Based on Phil Maffetone’s philosophy, I ensured that my heart rate did not exceed 133-138 (180 minus Age + 5bpm for no sickness in entire year). It was cruelly slow and I had to walk sometimes (as my heart rate threatened to climb). However, I was allowed up to two anaerobic sessions per week. A race constituted an anaerobic session, which meant racing above my aerobic threshold (138bpm).

My halfway splits in GCAM 2013 for the 21km was 1:34:47, almost equal to my performance at the Sundown Marathon in late-May. How I managed to achieve this similar timing was probably due to my dedication to tempo runs on my 10km and 21km sessions. I kept to my pace of 4:25-4:35 minutes per kilometer. In fact, I extended my pace further than 21km hoping to sit on a ‘second and third wind’ (fat oxidation stage). However, I over-arched myself and could not sustain my pace and faded into 4:45-5:15 min/km pace range after the 30km mark. I was tempted to test my limits (as a 3:08-3:10 finish was within my reach), so I braved an ‘All or Nothing’ call. I paid for it in the back-end and missed a negative split by a mile (literally in minutes equivalent).

Analysis: I did not get to do my long run of 28km at 5:05-5:10 pace due to the haze/smog. So, that bit of tapering was forgone and forgotten. I continued with my taper of two 21km runs (within three days) and a few 10km sessions as part of my taper.

My approach to running is contrarian: LESS IS MORE. Caveat: This may apply only to the older athletes. Because I train over three disciplines – swim, ride and run – I can afford to run less as I activate my aerobic fitness constantly. Plus, I believe that the ‘cross-over’ effect of the swimming and riding rolls over into my running fitness.


Rest is crucial to full recovery and recuperation. I cannot over-emphasise its importance. My training schedule, done alone, is:

1-2 sessions of 21km runs (long runs, at tempo/fartlek pace).
2-3 sessions of 10km (shorter runs, at tempo/fartlek pace).
*Maximum run of 28-32km (once a week, 4-6 weeks out from race-day)
No hill-work (okay, one bridge).
No interval sessions.
All workouts are performed at tempo (fast/moderate).
Base, aerobic, training is the slowest (done 6-9 months out).
Caveat: I may be faster IF I incorporate a systemic run program, with track intervals and hill-work.

Instead, I use Fartlek (‘Speed-play’) that is an intuitive, variable-paced, approach to running. I observe that clever racing is a combination of various paces and patience. You can run intuitively as you can logically. The various interplay of speeds, pauses and alertness/awareness determine your performance. If you are not aware of your fatigue levels or monitoring your watch/heart-rate, it can spell disastrous results.


My mileage for GCAM was only 40-45km per week. It falls far below the 70-90km serious marathoners usually do. Most of my sessions are aerobic (lower heart-rate). I include only two anaerobic sessions per week. I subscribe to the training philosophy of Dr Phil Maffetone and Ironman legend Mark Allen. My increased use of essential fats was also attributed to the Maffetone, as I was focused on building a strong aerobic base for Ironman triathlons (where it ends with a marathon after 3.8km of swimming, and 180km of cycling). I would recommend a base training of 60-120 minutes per session at aerobic zone (180-AGE = maximum, and avoid exceeding it). Do this for at least 4-6 months. You will feel you are too slow, but you will become faster once your HR falls and you increase your pace. I believe that mileage is not the key, as is training in your aerobic zone/fat-burning zone.

Too much mileage can lead to one road: injury. Common maladies of over-distance and intense speed-work are plantar fasciitis, heel-spurs, archiles strain and possible stress fractures. I did not want to risk that.


I have discovered over my last few A-races (Ironman New Zealand 2013) and Sundown Marathon (21km) that my aerobic base allowed me to operate in new territory of sustained anaerobic pace (4:30 min/km). My training tempo pace have been about 5:15-4:45 min/km, which is unusual.

With my recent results, although the training is specifically geared towards the Ironman World Championships in Kona-Hawaii in October, I am pleased. I hope to meet my dream-mark of a sub-4:00 hour marathon during an Ironman race. With a differential of about 30-40 minutes for a stand-alone and Ironman marathon, I am well within the hypothetical measure. Fingers crossed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gold Coast Marathon 2013: A Personal Best & Boston!

I finally did it. My plans fell into place with a clarity of vision, erasing years of disappointment and near-misses.

I earned a personal best (PB) for my marathon by 13 minutes, am eight minutes within my Boston Qualifying (BQ) time, and improved on the course by 16 minutes (in 2011). I almost earned a half-marathon personal record, however deliberately held back. With any more luck, I will be Boston-bound next year in April. In 2011, I qualified by a margin of one minute (3:29:59).
My 2011 results and placing. I cramped at the 36km mark because of over-heating.
It has been a hard few weeks of preparation, with primary focus on doing well for Kona on 12 October; but with my eyes on my dream of doing Boston Marathon once.
Circa, 7 July 2013, I earned a PB but did not get a negative split, and inadequate training accounted for my 'bonk' at the 30km mark. 
I am hobbling along today, with a severe case of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), but it has been all worth it. I have been cycling indoors a fair bit, sometimes twice a day (what with the terrible haze/smog) we experienced region-wide. The swim sessions and core-strengthening workouts helped heaps, I believe. I was in unfamiliar territory, holding 4:20-4:29 minutes/kilometre pace. At one point, I thought I was on-track for a 3:08-3:09 finish, but that soon evaporated as my body surrendered to my physiology. I wore a black, two-piece, tri-suit with FUEL-BELT, CrampFix electrolytes, Hammer Nutrition (Perpeteum mixture), Road-ID, Garmin 310XT watch, and ON running shoes. I kept things simple, so I could focus on my 42.195km plan. 

I hope and believe that I can earn a sub-3:10 marathon by year's end. I will, therefore, refocus after the Ironman World Championships.
Time to recover before I resume training for Cebu Ironman 70.3, and Kona. More details of my Gold Coast Marathon training shortly. Thank you supporters and sponsors for your continued encouragement!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pre-Race Rituals: Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2013

Day 3: In the hotel lobby. Surfer's Paradise is the place to be, with the vast ocean, incessant white-water, waves, eagerly pushing towards the flat shores.  The race fair looks the same as 2011, with the major players intact. I got my race-bib (and an empty sling-bag) yesterday at the race-expo. I am tagged and ready-to-go.
My race-kit has been laid out, albeit in a cluster. My race-kit will be a two-piece tri-suit, race-belt/bib, Ryder sunnies, Fuel-Belt, Perpetuem (Hammer Nutrition) gel, CrampStop salt tablets, ON running-shoes and RoadID wristband. My BBQ awaits me: Brisbane Boston Qualifier (3:24 or less).
I ran 10km yesterday at about 6.15pm and it was almost dark. After dodging traffic and running into cul-de-sacs, I managed a moderate 51 minutes ending at the weekend flea-market. I sensed that I am responding very well to the beautifully-clean, cool and salted air. I will be doing a short workout soon; my pre-race ritual. I intend to do a 30-minute stationary-bike ride, and 20 minutes swim. I feel inadequate without doing any endurance training over the weekend. Kona beckons me in about 13 weeks' time; a few A-races frame my passage to my dream race in Hawaii. Of course, the holy grail of Boston Marathon is my goal in April.

Have a great race, all marathoners and runners. Big shout out to Team Singapore - Have a brilliant race on a fabulous, flat course, with huge support from volunteers!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My New Sponsors

In the past week, I have been fortunate to be in pleasant discussions with sponsors for my upcoming races, including my participation in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii on 12 October.

One of my sponsors will attend to my running needs with training and racing shoes; certainly I will be exclusive in my commitment to their brand/designs. The other sponsor will offer me music devices to train and be motivated with. I am excited about the latter as a three-time Ironman world champion is currently representing them. I am honoured to belong to a privileged position. So far, my initial discussions have yielded positive intentions and a flexibility of approach. I attribute this to my fervent supporters in the multi-sport endurance community, professional athletes, other sponsored athletes, and friends. I am so fortunate and surprised by this generous gesture of optimism, faith and collaboration.

I admit I have been passive about sponsorships. After all, I have self-funded all 15 of my previous Ironman triathlons all over Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the USA. Some of my more successful compatriots have earned major sponsorships through their competitive achievements. They have pledge their case, backed it by their strong and consistent performance, so they deserve their sponsorship and sponsors.

Certainly, the sponsored athlete has to make certain reciprocations with their time. They may make public or private appearances, share their experiences with fans and the sporting community, and perform well in key races. Otherwise, the least they can do is represent themselves well as leaders and ambassadors of the sport/brand, and 'sneeze' their opinions and recommendations to the universe of social media. They rouse the tribes, hopefully, into supporting a sponsored event by participating, supporting a charity, or making a purchase of the sponsors' product line. Sponsorship is about initiating the Law of Reciprocity, and Social Evidence. It is about engagements and conversations with the Tribes.

I will update more as I inked the deal, and tattoo their brands on my 'presence'.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Successful Brands

What makes a brand successful? 

Many factors may account from this, including brand loyalty, annual sales, sustained sales, repeat sales, positive brand associations, tribes (promoting their cause on social media), and brand extension. Merchandising is an extension and expansion of positive brand reputation. Wearing attire with the brand/logo is a testament to brand loyalty and strength.

In some cases, emerging brands earn cult status, and can be painted not only on merchandise but also on one's person. Tattoos are a permanent statement of brand faith and appreciation. How logos are tattooed on one's body as a badge of honour, or as bragging rights? There are, interestingly, only a few. Harley-Davidson and M-Dot (Ironman) are two that can be seen on the skins of adventurous athletes.

The M-Dot logo has been imprinted on the skins of many finishers of the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. I have seen mini-versions as well as scaled-up versions in blood-red ink. Some unique ones include a circumference of flags to commemorate countries where the finisher has completed the 226km triathlon. Such is the strength and cult status of a fairly young brand (born in 1978), where finishing such a challenge is life-altering and mindset-shifting. The M-Dot events attracts up to 2,000 participants per race, and the lottery for 200 slots (for non-prodium qualifiers) is a yearly subscription.

Do you know of established brands that end up on a large body of followers' bodies?