Wednesday, December 28, 2016

10 Nutritional & Training Hacks for Endurance Athletes

In the last few years, I have earned these bites of wisdom, having applied them and observed the results and impact on my body before, during and after training/racing. Some of these are worth repeating and for your consideration.
1)   In the off-season, focus on building a strong base of endurance.
2)   Using Dr Phil Maffetone’s approach, train within your Maximum Heart-Rate Zone (180 MINUS AGE). If you have not been sick for 6 months, ADD 5 more beats per minutes.
3)   SLEEP is key to recovery and reducing hunger pangs (and thus, unnecessary snacking and weight gains). 7.5 hours minimum per night is expected on a heavy training schedule. Tart cherry juice helps you sleep better an reduces muscle soreness after an intense exercise session/race.
4)   Learn to be less Insulin-Resistance by reducing overall carbohydrate intake, mainly from fructose and high Glycemic Index (GI) foods. Consider training on a Bulletproof Coffee (coffee with coconut oil and butter) and train with just that on some workouts. Learn to utilize fat efficiently, and rely less on sports-gels during races.
5)   Include more Good Fats and Essential Fatty Acids from a variety sources – mono-unsaturated, poly-unsatured, and saturated fats – butter, coconut oil, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, and eggs. Many commercial oils are 'blended' with mixtures of oils as it is cheaper.
6)   Have EASY, MEDIUM, and HARD days for training. Two sessions of intense HARD training per week is adequate. Seek the expertise of coaches for your weakest discipline and for a Race Preparation Program.
7)   Add an additional day of rest should you feel fatigued. Learn to be intuitive and alert to how you FEEL. Perform self-massage daily, and have a deep-tissue massage once a month to knead away kinks and knots from excessive scar tissue buildup.
8)   Hydrate, and hydrate more. Get a filter for your tap-water. Reduce fluoridated water consumption. It is harmful in large amounts. Add lemon-juice to flavour your water during exercise and outside.
9)   Since we suffer oxidative stress from endurance training and racing, include more natural foods with high antioxidants (including phyto-phenols, Omega-3 fatty acids, lauric acid, DHA and EPA, astaxanthin). Consume high-staining fruits and vegetables in the colours of the traffic-lights (RED, GREEN, YELLOW), krill oil and deep-water fish (salmon). Farm-bred fish are not your best source of protein and fish-oil.
10) Monitor your stress levels with a Heart-Rate Monitor (Garmin watches have wrist-sensors that measure our HR quite accurately), check your body-fat levels in the mirror, use the Pinch-Test for excess body-fat, energy levels, and monitor any sudden mood changes.

For more clarification, direct your questions to me. Have a great training and race season!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


 Qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2017 (In Cebu, The Philippines).
Completing Boston Marathon (2016) for the second time.
Lots of clich├ęs abound, such as: Another year older, another year wiser! I don’t know about that, however these are what I have Iearnt about aging up.

1)   I am in another age group for triathlons and marathons (50-54 years). I am in the younger side of the spectrum, so I have a psychological edge. My performance in 2016 have ascertained that I can achieve much more, when I commit deeper to a cause or challenge.
2)   I have earned another batch of tacit experience and wisdom to accompany me for the next few years. It is fascinating to note how my opinions have changed, and how these have influenced my lifestyle changes.
3)   I thought I’d be more patient as I grow older, however I find that I am – with new staff and newbies – but no so much with staff I expect to have the experience. I am impatient and annoyed with mediocrity when most of us have so much more to offer and promote.
4)   I prefer people who are ambitious about challenges, and take these on with less complaints and gripes. I have also become more competitive in sports and my profession, aiming for more ambitious projects and goals.
5)   I continue to set goals for myself, and I encourage those who write resolutions for 2017, to do likewise. Goals are more purposeful than ‘wishful’ thinking. Thus, I continue to update my Bucket List.
6)   A major motivator for me is developing personal mastery: be it my profession, passions and pastimes. How do I get better? How can I develop further my expertise in my field? How do I continue to build credibility? These questions occupy my psyche constantly.
7)   I enjoy traveling and visiting places and meeting people. I deliberately coincide with my vacation with my athletic and hobby pursuits.
8)   I feel a strong need to reconnect with my friends, family and places. I am likely to spend the next decade visiting friends abroad – just to hang out, drink coffee and engage in conversation.
9)   I sense a need to align my mental, physical and spiritual dimensions. I feel that I have a ‘Renaissance Man’ waiting to emerge from a cocoon of distractions.
10) I am driven by my appreciation for laughter, humour, and the lighter side of things. My perspectives do shift, and reduce judgement.
Meeting my favourite actor, Keifer Sutherland from TV series '24' after Boston Marathon.
So far, it has been very good! Correction: It has been better despite a rougher year in my business. However, these challenges have served to make me tougher and stronger.

I remain optimistic and look forward to a brand new year of grand possibilities, new collaborations and wisdom.

I wish you a brilliant year ahead, and may you be nearer to your potential!

Friday, December 23, 2016

8 Tips For Mastering A Secondary Language

I graduated from English-speaking schools all my life. English was my lingua franca (and cause of some of my fracas, too). In kindergarten (5 years old), I spent a year learning both English and some Mandarin. I learnt Malay as a third language until I was in primary 3, and my geography and history was Mandarin until primary 4. Strange, but true; however, it was very useful. Unfortunately, I spoke not a word of Portuguese although my ethnicity was half-Portuguese. My Chinese mother exposed us to Malay and Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) since we were young. Thus, my sibling and I developed confidence in verbal communication.

I studied English as my first language, and Mandarin as my second. When I was in secondary 1, I was offered the choice of French, German or Japanese as my third language. As much as I adored the French language – and as much as a teenager undergoing puberty with grand plans about meeting French-speaking girls would – I dropped out of the program after two years. I could not find a single student in my immediate community to practice with.

I could mimic well – and I was a darn good imitator of phonetics – however, failed to convert these foreign sounds into palatable conversation when I was interviewed. Comprehension became my Achilles Heel, which encouraged me to become a journalist and become a competent interviewer.

I focused on my Mandarin instead; a good decision on my part, but a far greater decision on my Mom’s part as she was a visionary in our education. Her decision to have both her children study Mandarin, and do reasonably well in this language was a major turning point in my life. My versatility with this language (and English, too) led me to involve myself in work assignments in The People’s Republic of China in 1994. Since then, I have delivered my leadership workshops bilingually in several countries where my confidence in four Chinese dialects mattered. My biggest pride was to teach classes of 40 students in Mandarin (or, more correctly, PutongHua)! 

I only learnt the term ‘polyglot’ last year. I mistook it for a part of the voice-box, mainly the epiglottis and glottis. I always fancied my ability as a multi-lingual speaker, and put these languages to extensive use. I suspect and believe that my career would have turned out much differently if I did not pay heed to my linguistic intelligence – one of my most developed in the Multiple Intelligences model (by Howard Gardner).

Like all abilities and skills, without constant practice the skills can deteriorate. Before you can develop competency as a translator or interpreter, you would need to study at least two languages deeply. By regularly using these languages, you can then develop the fluidity and ease to use them at your will and pleasure. 

I would urge you to practice your arsenal of languages regularly, receive honest feedback, and make corrections. Expand your vocabulary by speaking, reading and writing these unique languages.

My learning tips for supporting languages are:

1)   Listen to the radio and imitate the pronunciation.
2)   Watch the news on television and appreciate how foreign countries and names are read.
3)   Read publications or online posts with such languages.
4)   Use as a resource for word definition and pronunciation.
5)   Write when you can, as often as you can. Use it for texting of messages, e-mails and on social media platforms.
6)   Speak the language with a native speaker of that language.
7)   Elect mentors or coaches who can correct you and provide invaluable feedback on grammar, and structure of language.
8)   Travel to these countries or localities where you can apply it in daily situations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


2016 has been a tumultuous year, yet one that has been satisfyingly sweet.

In a nutshell, these were my new experiences and achievements:

APRIL: Completed Boston Marathon 2016 (my second since 2014)
JULY: Completed Challenge Roth
AUGUST: Ironman 70.3 Cebu (secured a spot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee)
OCTOBER: Earned my fourth Boston Qualifier (BQ) in Osaka Marathon (and a potential Boston Marathon 2018 slot)
NOVEMBER: A podium placing (3rd) in my age-group for the CSC Duathlon (10km run, 36km ride, 5km run)
4 DECEMBER: Garmin Pacer for the Singapore Marathon 2016 (my next big challenge and my attempt to ‘pay it forward’)

It was a year of personal challenges and disappointment at work as well as in sports, however these were neutralized and aligned with these personal achievements. I found renewed interest in my pastimes, assumed new leadership roles in my volunteer work, and rejuvenated my racing mojo.

I allowed myself to surrender to the process, go with the flow, not ‘overthink it’ (as my training buddies remind me), and be motivated and be inspired by running-friends near and far. Taking on feedback and responding to these positively was harder than I thought – I suspect my Zen-glass was full – and had to drain it and learn with ‘Beginner’s Mind’.

The results have been encouraging so far, and I have committed to a year of more focused training and racing. Since 2016 has been a more run-centric year (with running-based sponsorships), I have spent more quality time running and less on cycling (particularly in the second-half of the year) and swimming. In fact, I experienced injury before Boston and just before Osaka. I healed adequately to run the two 42.2km races in 3:32 and 3:19 respectively. A great part of my recovering was attributed to rolling (massaging) my legs and glutes with the ribbed-ball.

One week after running the Osaka Marathon (30 October), I ran a 5km Parkrun as part of World Toilet Day. I ran a sub-21 minute race and scored a season’s best timing. I caught a bout of the flu after that race, resulting in a persistent ‘nasal drip’ (also known as the ‘100-Day Cough). Two weekends after the marathon, I did a 35km, pacesetters’ training run with my Garmin team. About eight hours later, I ran an 8km fun charity run (Lunghi Run). Amazingly, I clocked 43km in total on that day. I assure you I completely rested the next day!

Two days ago, with residual buildup in my upper-respiratory tract, I completed a duathlon. I did well for my run (1st in both 10km and 5km) however faded in the ride. I lost a fair bit of riding fitness due to the heavy running schedule. Fortunately, I earned a 3rd place and an overdue podium placing. I admit that this hard-earned ‘win’ has stoked my enthusiasm. Thus, I feel more committed to do better next season. I will be focusing more on my riding power, and swim competency (my weakest station). My friends have been encouraging of my efforts, and I feel assured that I will do well with their feedback and coaching advice.

My next A-race will be as a leader for the 3 hour 30 minutes Garmin Pacers. This will be the first time I will be a marathon-pacesetter and contributing to the running community. I hope I will do justice with my team of pacesetters on 4 December.

Next year’s A-races will be: Ironman 70.3 World Championships (9-10 September) and Ironman Cairns (11 June). I will focus on these races soon after the next marathon is completed.

I wish you better performances and achievements to you!

Thank you, my sponsors BVSport compression-socks, Mizuno Singapore, F1 Runners, and Garmin watches for assisting me on my journey. Photo-Credits: Joe Goh, FX Shots, Mel C. and Ming Ham.