Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad Swim No Roll

I went for swim tonight although I was supposed to not do anything this week after a 'bone-setting' session on Fri. My hips were still aching. But we were having term break next week - ie. 2 weeks of no swim! So I showed up for class. Oh gosh, it was rather tough with an aching back and pelvic.

I realised that I could not roll properly or kick hard. So I dutifully stayed behind as one of the last few swimmers in Lane 1. Did not bother to time my laps. Really bad. At this rate, I would lose my cardio power soon! Crap....

Oh recovery.... it was not happening. :(((

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Disappointing Jog

Canterbury attempt.

First 30min, ok. Then tension. Light stretch.
40min. Tightened, stopped to wait for Alber as he did a second loop. Thorough stretch.
20min jog back to club, with intermittent 5min tighten-stretching routine.

Frustration to irritation to depression to what-the-heck....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Swimming in the Rain

What a hardcore group of fish we were. The skies opened up in the late afternoon, and slowed to a steady drizzle in the evening. And of course, our group of diligent fish was in the pool, splashing our way through the night. The light drizzle became steadier and heavier. In the far far away distance, we spied lightning. But no, there was no thunder nor lightning threats where we were. And so the good 'ole Coach continued with what he did best - .... And Go! Each time I finished a lap, I wondered if class would be halted. No, he donned his yellow rain jacket and went on.

Drills - some combination of bilateral swims, and 10 sets of 4-pulls-1-breath (or was it 6-pulls). No matter, giddying.

Swim - 7x 200m @ 5min
4:55, 4:55, 5:02, 4:59, 5:09, 5:10, ... 5:10 (?) almost non-stop

Easy 2x 50m - ??

Sprint - 10x 50m, almost following Lane 4's cue. Non-stop, not even reaching the end of the lane, and the first swimmer had started on the next lap, and it was almost a messy collision. With an equally messy time recording:
1:06, 1:08, 1:10, 1:12, 1:12, 1:21, 1:16, 1:20, 1:05, 1:03

The drizzle continued throughout the night.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Solo Ride

I pulled myself out of bed (well, not literally since it was already 1030am) and made a pact with myself to go cycling. Not being able to run was getting on my nerves, daily. It had been an irritable week, and I could feel my fitness plunging.

Proven right, because when I got on my bike, it felt strangely heavy. Or maybe it was the weather, midnoon sun. I took Bt Batok Rd to Ten-Mile Junction and headed to Mandai. 12km. Then a loop. At the Seletar Reservoir, I managed to learn how to cycle in a straight line while standing on my bike. A cheap thrill of learning a new trick. Almost completing the loop, I went over an uneven road surface just before the Shell station, hard. And my toolkit flew out of its cage, and spewed its contents all across 3 lanes of the road. Luckily traffic was very light along that stretch. But I could not run in my cleats, so I had to go shoeless across the road and retrieve everything. My carbon handpump was lying in the middle of Lane 2, and a car came by. Arghhh! A hugh relief when it safely went under the car, rather than its tyres. Whew. I managed to pick up everything. 38km.

The weather was hot, and it would have been a mental 2nd loop. I decided to take Kranji-Neo Tiew, and cut through Brickland Rd to get home. 51km to the start of the windy flat stretch outside the cemetries. The headwind was strong, nothing to draft, no shade to hide. I was going at about 20kmh, on a flat. So encouraging... And meanwhile, my phone was beeping non-stop because I was trying to arrange some appointments, and it was very disruptive.

I got to BB West Ave 8, stopped at Shell for a drink, and made my way home. 67km.
Darn, could not even hit 70km....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Another Test Run

Getting most frustrated. I put on my shoes and headed for a neighbourhood test jog. It was about 1030am, but the weather was beautiful today. The kind of perfect race-day weather, overcast but no rain, cooling. Also the kind of perfect training weather.... Sigh.

I attempted an easy trot. It was the kind of recreational jog, the get-fit routine that middle-aged aunties and uncles do weekly. On normal days, it was have been my warmup jog. That made it even more frustrating to me.

Out of my house, up Toh Tuck steep slope, wound through the private estate, followed on to the prata eateries along Upp Bt Timah Rd, back down to Old Bt Batok Rd/ Jln Jurong Kechil, BB St 25, and home.

I went very slowly. Initially, it felt really good to be out there, pounding the roads in my runners. Ahhh that familiar carefree running feeling, the feeling that I could go on and on and run forever. About 20+ min into the run, legs still felt ok. Perhaps a little tension around the knee or the hip. But ok, did not have to stop and stretch. Or rather, a deliberate decision that I could go on without stopping to stretch.

Finished the jog in 37min. It was such a short distance, probably 5km?

End of run. Felt good to generate some sweat, but still half-hearted disillusioned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spin Reacquainted

I did not want to be at the track tonight and watch others run while I sat there sulking. Sandy offered me a free pass to the spinning class that she was conducting. Such a last minute arrangement but thankfully I had the right gear with me. So I took up her idea.

The last time I sat on a studio spinning bike was almost 2 years ago. Although it was a different bike, that familiar spinning setup and feeling came back instantly once the music started. A little short-breathed from the sudden intensity but it was good fun. And good sweat. Coincidentally, Andy was there as well, right on the bike next to mine.

The nice thing about spinning was that it loosened up my back (unlike running which was a stiffening sport), and I could spend time after class for a nice long stretch. Which I did, setting my bent legs on the saddle and 'sitting' down to thoroughly stretch those butt and hip muscles.

It was fun!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Giddying Swim

There was a drill we did tonight that left me all breathless and giddy - 2 pulls, 1 breath, 4 pulls, 1 breath, 6 pulls, 1 breath, 4, 2, 4, 6, 4, 2, 4, 6, etc.... I diligently pulled through the first set, but had to cut corners on the subsequent ones. The lack of oxygen was making me light-headed, exacerbated by the rolling action underwater.

4x 200m @ 5:30min - 5:02, 4:57, 5:10, 5:15
1x 100m - 2:31min

4x 200m @ 5:30min - 5:00, 5:09, 5:15, 5:17
1x 100m - 2:38min

Some random easy 50m

Sprint 6x 50m - 1:08, 1:12, 1:09, 1:14, 1:06, 1:06

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Failed Attempt

My attempt to do another short test run failed. We were at MR this morning.

25min into the run, at the end of the northern trail, my legs were still ok. I stretched a bit, and continued.

32min at the ranger station toilet. Ok. More stretching.

45min in the trail. The tightening sensation crept in. I slowed down, stretched regularly, and pressed on.

Thereafter, it became a jog, walk, stretch sequence until the end of the loop. Alber had to keep waiting for me. It was only a 10km loop, and I could not even complete it properly.


*Double sigh*

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It was hard to swim 30 laps

I wondered why it felt so tough to swim 30 laps, alone, when we cover a much longer distance at higher intensity during our weekly swim classes. It was quite a drag. I was just counting down the laps and trying to get them over with.

Sets of 10 laps - 12:30min, 12:57, 12:38. Total 38min+

Oh well...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No-go Jog

I tried to test my ITB tonight. While the Safra runners went to conquer MF loops, I trotted alone to Canterbury. I thought I'd do a short slow run and test how much pain-free duration I had.

Disappointing. Not much. 20-30min. Then the tightness returned, and soon the locked feeling. Sigh. For a short slow 1hr run, I stopped 3 times to stretch.

Depressing. Morale all-time rock bottom...

Monday, August 9, 2010


We did another Desaru long ride this National Day. There was an early morning shower because the roads were still wet when we started our ride, but luckily we had avoided the rain. It was a good ride, but I got totally dropped by the guys. Three times. So much for morale.

First drop. From jetty towards Petronas. I missed a right turn, together with Andrew and Ansley. And then they missed a left turn, so I called them back. By the time we turned around, we lost everyone else.

Second drop. From Petronas to Jade restaurant. I was left trailing smoke after abt 5km, and rode the rest of the 35-odd km in silent cursing of the headwinds. It was strong, reminiscent of IMWA. There was nobody to draft, and it was all I could to keep on pedalling. Sometimes my tired speed dropped to 17kmh, but mostly I kept at 24-26kmh. It was hard work battling the wind. Today's ride was really a bummer. I could barely hit 30kmh.

We stopped for lunch. Then back to the jetty.

Third drop. From restaurant to jetty. Right leg ITB. Left leg almost cramped. The irony was that the cramp was a result of a squatting loo, rather than cycling. Brilliant. I was trying hard not to cramp, so I practised pulling instead stepping down. And in the process, over-pulled my hamstring. And got dropped within a few km.

Sigh. A crappy ride. Hardwork, yet still so slow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ITB Belly

I went to Frankie at lunch time. My ITB was still tight, although thankfully, I was able to run some hill loops last night.

So we focused an hour just on the ITB. The knee hurt, but it was really a result of an upward pull of the ITB and not the knee cap or bones per se. So we started with relaxing the entire ITB first. Then worked on the upper end of the big bulky muscle group - near the hip. After that, we found the belly of the ITB. Bingo! I could already feel the tightness when rubbing down my entire upper ITB side, on the side of right thigh. There was a certain 'piece' or hardness in the middle.

Basically, when a muscle cramps or tighens up, it pulls on its two adjoining ends, thereby causing pain to the joints around those muscle ends. It is usually the belly (aka the middle segment) of a muscle that contracting and pulling inwards. (Image of a human with stomachache, bending over.)

We attacked the 'belly'. It was a really deep muscle, very hard to reach. Luckily Frankie was strong, thumb attack! Like a thumb print along a 10cm length alongside my right thigh. Continuously. And it felt really good that we managed to isolate and target the problematic spot area. Spot attack!

Ooooh lightness. I did not feel like there was something rubbing against the side of my knee now.
Ooooh happiness. :))

Let's see how it goes after a few more rest days. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Start Stop Hills

I decided to test the extent of my ITB strain tonight, after 4 days of resting and massages. We were doing MF hills for our Strides class. I parked at Safra and jogged up Morse Rd. It was my test to see if my knee was ok for today's class. If it hurt during the 2km warm-up, I would skip class.

Knee felt ok. So I thought I would try the loops. 5 loops in the reverse direction, and 4 in our normal Safra MF direction. I completed 7 loops, having to stop every 2-3 loops for a thorough stretch.

Running up was fine, but not down. My right knee tightened progressively as I gingerly jogged downhill. My timings were so irregular that Coach gave up recording. "They're not real.", he said.

Reverse direction:
10:50min, 10:26, stretch, 9:57, 10:39


Normal direction:
8:28, 9:59, stretch, 11:27

But just so thankful that I was still able to run.

Running into Triathlon

I am a runner. Not too good at it, but unabashed to declare that I am one. In the past, I never ventured into traithlons because I could not swim. I do a decent job of floating, on my back. Or doing a handstand underwater. Or sitting cross-legged on a swimboard in the pool. Or a backward flip. But laps? Aren't they part of our body anatomy?

And as with most runners, I paid lip service to the idea of cross-training. I just wanted to be out there, running, burning, relaxing. Cross-training was something to be done on non-running days, which were rare. Until I was forced into it by injuries. And at that point, I transited into triathlons.

It is interesting to observe how runners become triathletes. For many of us, we start off training for a triathlon just as how we would train for a run. Run. So we hit the pool and start splashing laps. We get a bike and start riding. Since we run about 85% of the distance that we are racing, we apply the same principle to triathlon. Swim 25 laps in the pool and let adrenalin handle the remaining 5. I committed that fallacy.

Running is second nature to most people. As children, we had to be reined in from excessive running and playing. Running is about lifting both feet off the ground and putting one in front of the other, repeatedly. As a result, runners usually do not worry too much about form, posture, or technique. Swimmers and cyclists are different. These sports require techniques honed to perfection. Every execution of a pull or pedal stroke is about efficiency. The obsession with drills and proper form is something new to runners, but something that we can incorporate into running.

So when I started swimming (because I could not run), I floundered and splashed my way through. I could do an ok imitation of breast stroke, but could not get through 50m of front crawl without, well, crawling through the water. And then hung by the wall for dear breath. And repeat. But how clueless I was. I was simply programming bad habits and bad form into muscle memory. Thankfully (or not) I was a slow learner and my muscles had retarded memory. So I signed up for proper swimming lessons. It was a culture shock.

Then I got a bicycle. Proud owner of my first wheels. I hit the roads, and committed another cardinal sin. Runners have strong legs and instinctively pedal with low cadence and high gear. Low gear? That’s wimpy. High cadence? Just hammer it! And so it went, until well-meaning friends told me to try the reverse. I was not convinced initially, but the clincher was that it would help my run. So I practiced spinning on light gear, and promptly got dropped.

Along the way I was introduced to the term ‘brick’. So now I have to learn about construction too? I googled the term and was instantly rewarded with pages lauding the importance of bricks, videos showing what to do, and discussion forums gushing over newfound bricks. I eschewed it, and Cramp swiftly taught me a lesson. I was fortunate that I never had cramps in my runs previously. So I foolishly did not know what it felt like to have parts of my legs seize up into solid blocks, as they did in one of my early duathlons. Maybe that was it was called 'brick training'.

Despite our late start and clumsy coordination, runners do have an edge in triathlons. It is relatively easier for a runner to increase his training mileage in swimming and cycling than vice versa. By comparison, non-runners risk many injuries if they try to ramp up their runs too quickly.

We enter the last segment of a race in home ground. The comfort and reassurance of slipping into our trusted shoes. The familiar bounce that is hopefully coupled with a spring in our legs. The joy of a run in itself. That brief ecstasy when we pass people who zoomed past us with wheezing wheels. These keep us going. Runners do not give up on our runs, certainly not in a race where we survived the alien odds.

I am a runner, learning to swim & bike. :)


  • Check, check and re-check your form and technique
  • Swim more than the distance of your race
  • Ride with high cadence and light gear
  • Embrace bicks

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Night of Pulling

I went for my swim makeup class tonight. 1h of drills made a LOT of difference to the swim thereafter. We did drills like fist swim, finger glide, head up swim (killer!). For one solid hour. And then swam.

I was pulling Lane 3 with 1-2 other guys. Hard work.

7x 100m @ 2:45min (deja vu, like last night!)
2:19, 2:18, 2:24, 2:22, 2:27, 2:29, 2:20

Repeat 7x 100m @ 2:45min
2:19, 2:29, 2:29, 2:23, 2:28, 2:29, 2:29

2x 50m easy - 1:16, 1:14

6x 50m sprints - died
1:01, 1:07, 1:05, 1:09, 1:06, 1:06

I think I just lost my arms...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Swim Go Go Go

We lost count of the laps. We must have swam next week's National Day's share tonight as well.

There were very few swimmers in Lane 1 tonight, about 5-6. SL and I alternated and led the swim. I was trying to remember all the drills and corrections from last Friday - closed palms, roll, enter straight & not cross the centre line, enter light & not splash, twist & glide... Too many! Perhaps that was why it took the monotony out of the swim, I just focused on each stroke.

8x 50m hard (actually like not much difference....)
1:06, 1:10, 1:07, 1:12, 1:11, 1:12, 1:13, 1:12

Repeat 8x 50m (kidding?!?!)
1:09, 1:08, 1:10, 1:10, 1:10 1:12, 1:12, 1:12

9x 100m @ 2:45min
2:24, 2:22, 2:29, 2:25, 2:32, 2:24, 2:30, 2:27, 2:36

6x 100m @ 3:00min
2:40, 2:33, 2:46, 2:33, (watch ran out of lap counts, oops....) average of 2:33 ish.

8x 50m sprint (again, felt like similar effort) - Coach got 4 swimmers from Lane 2 to pull for us to draft. :)
1:09, 1:11, ... average of 1:11 ish. Not much of a sprint.

It was a good swim though. Concentrating on the stroke form allowed me to conserve some energy. A good start to my swim week. *PS stares wistfully at ITB knee* :(