Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pain-free Run

I went for Gino's running clinic this evening. It was useful, because he ran alongside with us and pointed out our mistakes, postures and so forth. The idea was similar to Chi Running, falling from one's ankles, and to have that 'falling' feeling throughout the run. Landing was on the whole foot/sole, rather than heels or too much forefoot/ tiptoeing - which kills our calves. We wanted to let the big muscle groups absorb the impact of the every landing step, and not our joints. Think of the cartoon, LoadRunner, whose legs spin very fast, behind one's body. Not overly high knees, which kills our quads.

Ok, a laundry list of things to remember.... :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Ole Stairs

I had company for stairs training tonight - Joanne & Carmen. :) Deja vu, like the old times, sharing the same stairwell and lift at Blk 21 Tiong Bahru, and staring at the pair of boots in front of us. Good company made the monotony of stairs so much more bearable!

I used the same backpack configuration as Sunday - 21kg, which eventually went to 20kg. All that sweat and I only drank 1l of water?? I was dripping sweat like it was FOC. Every stairs training was a toxic affair, nothing was spared in the sweat arsenal.

I started earlier and finished 4 sets before they began. They good naturedly accompanied me for another 6 sets although they were planned only 3-4 sets. Yeah!

8:25min, 8:23, 8:26, 8:50, 8:09 (must have gone crazy), 8:47, 8:59, 9:51 (clearly, degenerating), 9:18, 9:50

Last week I did 10sets with 16kg, approx 160kg of effort. Today, similarly, by the 8th set (8x 20kg = 160kg), the lactic had built up and I was losing form. Every step started to burn, my quads oh my. The last 2 sets were purely mental, for which I was grateful to have company. I have never trained with that weight before. Perhaps I should also be thankful for my (body) weight gain. Haha. Oh ouch my quads....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Struggle Swim

Legs felt like rock, like they would cramp any time. I did not dare kick too hard. The lane was fast today, by the last few sets, I had to merge a couple of times. Crap, I hated to merge laps. Why do I need to merge just because others are fast? Haha... that was my Ah-Q thinking.

7x 100m @ 2:45min -
2:27, 2:24, 2:21, 2:22, 2:23, 2:22, 2:24

7x 100m @ 3min -
2:26, 2:28, 2:27, 2:25, 2:26, 2:26, 2:31

5x 200m @ 5:15min - this one really got dropped, big time.... until I was simply swimming by myself most of the time. :(
5:13, 4:47, 5:21, 5:43, 4:14 (merged)

I think we ended with about 4-5 x 50m sprints. But it was so messy and I simply could not catch up, I gave up timing.

Sigh.... splish, splash, struggle....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bt Timah Stairs

Alber nicely agreed to forego our ride and accompany me to Bt Timah today. We got there about 130pm, the place was cool and uncrowded. I had my pack at 21kg today, the heaviest I have ever carried! I must exploit my recent weight gain to full advantage. :( My trekking poles had been left aside for months, and we realised that 2 out of 4 could not lock properly. Argh. Still usable, without the 3rd extension. I would have to get it checked next week.

Summit - Rengas - Jungle Fall

Summit 3 sets: 3:25min, 3:27, 3:29 (descent avg 3min?)

Rengas 4 sets: 8:09, 9:02, 7:33, 7:07 (I think I drank up my water and the pack was getting lighter with each set.) Each descent took about 7min.

Jungle Fall 3 sets: 7:18, 7:30, 7:02. Descent about 4-5min

Legs and knees were wobbly. Pack was really heavy by the end. Shoulders sore. More training to come.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Sloshing Trail Run

I reached MR at noon, to a light drizzle. The cool weather looked very inviting for a nice afternoon run. The drizzle stopped after a while and the air crisp and comfortable. I started off slowly. It was my first run back in the trails. To where my injuries first began. Like the chinese saying, to resolve a problem by going back to where it all began. I managed to complete the first round ok. 1:15h.

For the second loop, I decided to swap shoes, from my GT trail to my normal GT road shoes. Naturally, the latter felt softer and more comfortable. Alas, it started pouring soon after, and I was sloshing in mud puddles. My white GTs went from clean, muddy, to clean again after repeated splashes. I had to walk through many puddles but it was nice to run in the rain actually, very in touch with nature. 1:24h.

Just happy to be able to complete 2 loops decently. Hopefully I can survive TNF race.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stairs Refresher

I finally unpacked my new Osprey backpack and readied myself for stairs training. I stuffed it to 16kg and headed for the Tiong Bahru flats, again.

30 storeys x 10 sets x 16kg

The weight got light as I drank up the water, but per set timing got longer...

8:16min, 8:01, 8:24, 8:12, 8:50, 8:44, 8:35, 8:48, 9:06 (trying to do a mixture of double-steps, tough!), 8:45

The pack held up rather nicely, the fit was quite good. Proud of myself that I managed to drag my fat bum through the 10 sets. A decent refresher for a start. I was totally drenched in sweat, dripping. I drove to Safra for a shower and dinner.

Eventual target, 20kg load.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Short Canterbury Run

I was packing my office cubicle the entire day, back and legs were so tired. I did not want to join the Safra training of tempo run by the canal, I was not sure if my injury might be rekindled. So Alber and I did a short run into Canterbury. He was trying to conserve his legs for IPPT on Thursday. We ran and returned from Kg Bahru. 1:04h.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gym Day

I spent the evening in the gym, working out my back, core and stretching. Amazing how one could spend almost 2 hours on those machines and the mat. I was supposed to do 5 sets of 10 reps per exercise. Alber showed me some workouts but I was not able to execute some of them - my abs and core were weaker. Tough work, I think I would ache a few days thereafter.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baked Swim & Run

We had a sea swim this morning, the distances were 1, 1.5, 2, and 3km. I chose the 2km while Alber went for the 3km. The sea was surprisingly friendly, without the usual seabug pricks or bloated carcasses, jellyfish and weird objects. Some swimmers blatantly cut the buoy markings and short-cut the distance, not just once, but every single buoy. I was miffed, why did they bother swimming the distance if they had no integrity to follow the route? For 2km, we did 5x 400m loops. I finished my swim in 52min, relaxed pace.

Then we attempted a run in the hot wilting weather. The aim was 1h or 10km, but we did not survive the run. We ran from F2 to NSRCC to the Eastern PCN and the start of Coastal Road. The sun was relentless, stuffy, hot, humid. We walked and jogged the return. Jogging was hardly the appropriate description though. I tried to move my legs and maintained my posture (which was extremely hard to do when one was tired), and trotted 3-4min. Stopped. Walked. Repeat.

We finally made it back to the car, did not bother with the timing. I was hungry. Alvin's boy, Adriel, had a pack of koko-krunch and a mouth smeared with chocolate. I was tempted to grab a handful too!

Showered, and had lunch at Royal Cafe, for its superb mee siam. Next stop, KPI tri-sale.

100km Ride

We headed out at 130pm for a long ride. The weather was very sunny in the morning but surprisingly became cooler when we started. There was a strong tailwind and even some light overcast.

Route - Home, Upp BT, Mandai, did 2 loops, detoured to Woodlands to Alber's house to pick up something (beats burning petrol and driving over again!), Kranji, Neo Tiew, Brickland, B.Batok and home.

On our second Mandai loop, we witnessed a horrendous irresponsible act. A bunch of 6-7 kids on 4 bicycles were trying to get to Seletar Reservoir via Yishun Ave 4. From a distance, I could see their bikes zooming down slope. Then it occurred to me that they were riding on the opposing lane to the traffice direction. As they came down the slope, so did the cars, but on the other side of the divider. Suddenly, at the junction, the bikes turned left as the cars were turning right! So the bikes came down-left, and the cars down-right. Gosh! Not once, but 4 times as the bikes separately cut the traffic. The drivers horned, and one of the kids even showed his finger at the cars. My goodness, such a dangerous and hooligan act! It was amazing none of the bikes were knocked down.

Even after the junction, the kids rode in a zig-zag manner, spanning the leftmost curb to the rightmost curb. Incredulous! As we caught up with the kids, we scolded them. But the look on their faces told us that they thought they were not in the wrong. I really wondered how parents could give their children bicycles and not teach them basic road safety. I was not even talking about wearing helmets, reflective lights and so forth.

Anyhow, back to the rolling hills ride. 100km. Legs were so not conditioned. How was I supposed to repeat that distance in a race? Ooops.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Core oh Core

Did a short slow 1h run with some friends this evening. Again, trying to get my form correct. It was hard hard work holding up the core. I was not breathing deeply enough. The tendency for inexperienced me was to hold my breath and/or core, and then breath shallowly. Which meant that I would have suffocated or tired out myself through lack of oxygen over a long duration.

Hmmm..... how to hold a tight core for 7h of running?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Long Run

It sucks to be overtaken all the time. As was the case again tonight, I went about my slow trotting manner. Soon, everyone and every group came past me. Arggh. Fume.

Nevermind, I told myself to concentrate on my own pace, posture and focus on completing the 15km. Yes, just 15km. But it was 7-8 weeks since I ran that distance or duration.

My leg felt ok, but not my lungs. We ran into Labrador Park and I went up the slope inside. Pant. Huff. Puff. I had to persevere and finish the full route. I reached HarbourFront, and the fatigue set in, so I had problem holding my core tight and running. I stopped a couple of times, walk-run-walk-run. Oh this was so bad. I felt like I needed a power gel or some energy. The weather was hot and humid and I was thirsty and hungry. I could not believe that I had 'energy' problem at just 1:20h! Grrrr....

I finished the run. 1:45h. What a pain... But glad to have survived the distance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Swim Terror Resumed

End of the break. Swim class terror resumed tonight. The first 30min was a culture shock to my system, which had laid off heavy cardio for the past weeks. We did some drills and started swimming.

Coach, in all his wisdom, made us swim 100s the entire night, to re-accustomed us to the rigour of swimming.

Lane 1- 6x 100m @ 3:00 + 50m - 2:21, 2:21, 2:20, 2:16, 2:18, 2:21, 1:12

I felt like my heart was going to fly out of my mouth, and that class should end then.... :(

Then Coach: The next set would be faster.
(You mean it was not fast just now?)

7x 100m @ 2:45 - 2:10 (die, too fast), 2:17, 2:18, 2:21, 2:23, 2:26, 2:24, 2:29

Another 6x 100m @ 3:00 + 50m - 2:31, 2:31, 2:32, 2:33, 2:34, 1:18

Chill 2 laps - 1:08, 1:17

Killer - 8x 50m sprints - 1:01, 1:05, 1:03, 1:09, 1:07, 1:10, 1:12, 1:04

I could not recall the last time my HRM went up so much in the pool - it had been a while. Off for a herbal chicken dinner. Hard-earned!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pre-dawn Ride for Dim-sum

The amazing power of food. Specifically, dim-sum breakfast buffet. We had a big table booked for 9am. Friends who finished the annual Army Half Marathon would join in after the race. For those of us who did not run (my first year skipping the event!), we decided to go for an early morning ride as mitigation for the feast to come.

So I dragged myself up at 5am. It was painful, I was so not a morning person. Alber and I met W, SL and KM at the Mandai junction, and we headed to Kranji. It was rather refreshing to ride in the cool wee hours for once, without traffic and heat. Then wound through Neo Tiew, LCK, Jln Buroh towards West Coast Hwy.

And we decided to split and head home from there. The rest went up the viaduct towards town, while Alber and I proceeded with a South BV and NUS loop before going home.

Total: 56km.
I was so not conditioned, after weeks of no-rides. And 56km was not even 1/3rd of the IM distance! Oh not good....

Meanwhile, dim-sum beckoned. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another Swim Drag

A long weekend, feeling rather lazy. Slept in til late, ran some errands and decided to make amends by going for a swim at Safra. It was probably more demoralizing than uplifting, but oh well, better than nothing.

Swam 30 laps - and took 42min!!! *gasps* *horrors*

That was it. Down the path of degeneration.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breakthrough 1.5h

It was a glorious morning. My friends were all out riding, long and hard. Me? Too slack and lazy. I decided to go for another trial run, this time using my brand new Asics. Perhaps my old shoes were rather flat and stiff, and not helping with my injury.

Off I went, bouncing in the new gels. It was hard work sucking in the core, holding it tight all the way. I went to the Clementi PCN. I managed to get past, 30min, ok. 40min, ok. I had to rub my lower back on the run, but nothing major.

So I thought I would aim for 1.5h of run time. So I extended into Sunset Way, winding through the private estate and big houses. 1h. Ok, still there. Core was tight but somewhat breathless. I must be doing it wrong. Headed home, 1:10h, ok. 1:20ish, somewhat fatigue - more from an over-doing it fatigue than any sharp pain. Home, 1:30h. :)

I spent another hour on the trigger ball and stretches. It was so so shiok to have the ball on my back. Oh the soreness....

*more hopeful*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Swim Oh-So-Drag

I swam alone. One week of non activity and no swim made a huge difference. Or rather, 6 weeks of non cardio. Sigh.

Swimming 30 laps was a chore in the Safra pool. Took 41min (!!!). Ok, back to the drawing board, reset from zero.... :(

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Core Running

I went for another test run this evening around Canterbury. I did some light stretching before heading out. The air was cool after a day's rainfall, but my mind was too focused and conscientious over my knee to notice the surroundings.

The first 12min to Hort Park traffic junction went ok. I briefly massaged my knee while waiting for the light. Moving on into Canterbury estate, there was some lower patella pain, especially on the downslopes.

I experimented with the running technique, very mindful to use what Gino showed me - lean & fall forward, tuck in core and use core to run. Gino also explained that that allowed our big muscle groups like quads and hamstrings to absorb the impact of running, rather than our knee joints. To my surprise, when I deliberately sucked in my core and elongated my spine, the pain in my knee lessened. My footsteps landings were also lighter on the downslope. Just to exaggerate, I relaxed my core and sort of dropped my hip. I could feel my steps heavier with more stomping. On the downhill in particular, holding in my core, body upright naturally led to a 'perky' butt position which minimised the impact of downslope braking. Wow! In comparison, if the core is not held, my pelvic drops and each landing resonated up my leg. Hmmm, interesting observation.

Finished the run. The magic 1h!! Yes!!

I continued with another 40min of stretching and conditioning in the gym. *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

5km Test

I tried the 5km loop around Safra. Running posture - had to conscientiously remember to 'lean forward and fall off' instead of just lifting my knees upright.

10min - some slight discomfort (stiffness) and pain in my right front knee. Stopped briefly to rub under the knee cap.

Continued running, it felt much better.

20min somewhere along Harbour Front. Again a very brief stop rub.

Finished abt 34min. Pretty good, no major tensions.

More hopeful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gino Physio

I finally saw Gino on my friends' recommendation after 1 month of nagging knee pain that did not subside even when I scaled back my runs. Prior to joining Physio Solutions and starting up Sports Solutions, Gino Ng worked as a senior sports physiotherapist at the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) for 10 years. He also travelled with many national teams and treated our national athletes. Gino did a few assessment tests on me, & concluded it was my weak gluteus medius. And stiff L3 and L4 vertebrae, ie. if I fully exaggerate my walk or run, my leg will be very bowed out, because the muscle is not holding the leg/ knee in its proper alignment. Plus a very tight side femur dunno what muscle. That's not the ITB. So my right knee is not soft or mobile, and right leg tends to "collapse" easier. So my own guess was quite right - hip & vertebrae, & not ITB. Oh well, got a trigger ball to release muscles. And do strengthening. Fascinating! Maybe I shld study physio!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Andrew Physio

Saw Andrew twice in the week. Very thorough, but oh my very expensive too! Well, ok... standard physio rates. Andrew works out of his apartment, but he was very good with his hands-on deep tissue massages and follow-up.

First session, he tested and explained that my side muscles were very hyper tight - the one that ran along the ITB. So he kneaded the end of the muscle, just about my side knee cap. The explanation was to 'tease open the tight muscle joint that was almost fused together', so it was a very deep and hard massage. Then he moved upwards along the lateral quad. Then the inner groin pelvic area. I ended with giant bruises and was instructed to rub and ice daily. He also taught me some ITB and back stretches.

Second session, repeated the same deep tissue massages on the same spots. Then moved on to inner quad (abductor), and also a little on the archilles lower calf. Major ouch. I dragged Alber along to learn the stretches so that he could help me with them. My ITB was so tight that it 'sprang' back as he tried to press it downwards for a stretch. Uhh.... It was obvious because his ITB was a lot more flexible than mine when he tried the same stretch. Oh oh....

All done, Andrew asked me to try running over the weekend.

Test Run

Physio told me to try a run today. 20min run, 5min break, 20-5-10-5-10. Total of 60min run, with 5min regular breaks.

I had a very bad cramp on my right calf last night, the kind of excruciating pain when I got off bed. So I waited until evening to test run. I trotted along. There was a big bruise on my right ITB where Andrew had executed his very deep tissue massage and done an ultra-sound for me. For the first time in I-can't-recall-since-when, the tension down the right knee was gone! I could bend my quads and flex and walk and stand without feeling the heaviness around the knee. Lightness!

But now I had another problem. Maybe the quad muscles holding up the knee were now imbalanced. So now I felt the pain over my front knee rather than the side. Hmmm...

20min run ok. 5min stretch. 5min run ok. Next 5min tightening started, over the front of my knee. It was like having an abductor cramp near the inner quad. 5min stretch. Further attempts to run lasted only 2-3min each before the pain forced me to stop. But thankfully today, none of the side acute pain that I kept having in the past weeks. Whew. Optimistic that the abductor and frontal knee pulls would be easier to treat than ITB.

Walked the rest of the distance home. Outer knee still felt 'loosened'. Great!