Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hydration On The Go

I popped over to the Running Lab today to see Frank to get myself a fuel belt. I normally don't carry water on me when I run and most times, though I know hydration is important, my runs turn out fine. Besides, during races, there are hydration stations along the way (well, most races anyway). But there are days, especially on longer training runs, when the weather is hot and the air is drier than the Sahara and halfway through the run, when the throat feels like sandpaper and craves for hydration is when I long to have water with me.

I'm not the kind to hide bottles of water along my preplanned route or to even hold a bottle in my hand while running. The routes I run also don't pass any convenience stores or sundry shops where I can stop for some fluids so most times I just struggle along in thirst.

A couple of months ago, I bought a Camelbak Fairfax and though I've tried using it on three long run occasions, I found it to be a little distracting and bothersome. While I enjoyed the benefits of having ice cooled (along with the ice cubes) water/Gatorade at my disposal, I was really distracted by the water sloshing sound and the shifting (no matter how tight I pulled the bungee) of the Camelbak. The unit has been lying in my wardrobe collecting dust since then. I don't know, maybe the Camelbak is just not for me.

So it was back to running without the benefits of available fluids. I do most of my runs in the late evening when I get home from work and it's a touch and go thing, especially with the weather. Evening runs can be pretty darn hot, humid and dry, especially if you live in my area where the traffic is heavy in the evenings with people heading home from work. The body will start craving for hydration pretty fast and the throat can dry up in a jiffy unless of course, it rained earlier, then the weather would be just about beautiful to run, with or without fluids.

Running without fluids tend to affect my performance and I finally decided to cave in and go look for something that I could bring fluids along in my longer runs on a hot evening that wouldn't be too much of a distraction and settled for the Fuel Belt Helium 4. After checking with Frank who told me he had stock, I went over today and got it from him.


I like running with the least amount of stuff attached to my body and having this four bottles attached around my waist was giving me the hibby jibbies. I was pretty darn skeptical but couldn't wait to give it a try. So when evening came, I filled two bottles with Gatorade and the other two with plain H20 and headed out the door. It was pretty odd having four bottles hanging around me as I ran and I felt so darn self conscious. The wife said I looked like a suicide bomber ... hahaha!

Well, the verdict is, while it was a tad heavy, especially when full, it did serve its purpose of providing fuel on the run, though I'll only be using it for my really longer runs on a particularly hot day. I still like the feeling of running light. I find the fuel belt to be a little distracting and though the website said it would fit really snug, it still moved around as I ran, as Frank said it would. But at least now I'll have an option besides the Camelbak on a really hot long run session. Besides, the wife said she'll smack me on the head if I just keep it in the wardrobe since the thing is not really cheap ... LOL!

Anyways, what do you guys think? Is having hydration at your disposal albeit it being a hindrance a good thing or not? What do you do to solve your thirst on a particularly long and hot run?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Color Of Silence

Man, this waiting to run a race is really killing me. It's been a while since my last race and my feet are itching to run one. The next race is about a month away, which is the Siemens 10K and I'm looking forward to it. The race will be flagged off at Dataran Merdeka, which is my least favourite race route but it does have some pretty cool hills amidst some nice lush green scenery running through the neighbourhood of the luxuriously rich folks :D At least I think that's where the race route will be anyway.

Besides, I haven't used my Green Silence for a race in quite a while and what good are racing flats when you can't use it for races. Unfortunately it's only a 10K race and I still can't put the GS through its pace for a longer distanced race, at least until the Adidas KOTR. I've run with the GS in a few short 10K training runs and it's absolutely all its touted to be. Light with just the right amount of cushioning and practically keeps you landing on your midfoot everytime without even trying.

The Green Silence has so far been pretty good for me on the only two races that I used it for, which was the Orange run and the Shape run, and it came through with flying colors. I hardly felt it on my feet and there was so much less fatigue on my legs compared to when I was using the Ghost 3 for races. Comparing the GS with the Ghost, it makes the Ghost seem like a block of wood!

But that's really an unfair statement, the Ghost 3 is a heavily padded trainer and has served me well for lots of miles and it should never be compared to the GS. I still use the Ghost for training runs and I still love the shoe but I feel I need a shoe that will give me more speed with less leg fatigue during races. The Ghost can tend to tire your legs out much later in a race and you end up spending a lot more effort to finish the race.

For now, it's a waiting game for a nice long distanced race to really test the GS but Jamie assured me the shoe will hold up to at least 15K or more, so I'm putting my faith in that. I have this worry about how a certain shoe will affect my legs. I tend to get injuries pretty easily and having the right shoe is very important to me.

The good news is all my injuries that I was suffering from has completely healed and I'm finally running pain free again, which is a feeling I treasure. I'm not pushing myself too much these days and am just simply enjoying my running. I don't want a recurrence of any of those excruciatingly painful injuries especially now since I'm already in the midst of starting my marathon training programme. Getting injured at this stage will really put a spanner in the works.

Friday, August 12, 2011

PJ Half Marathon ... Twenty Two Years Ago.

I was going through my old stuff this evening and came across my old race number bib from 1989, my first ever half-marathon run. It brought back some happy memories of running. Twenty two years ago, on the 6th of August, I was a skinny wee lad of 22 waking up at an ungodly hour of 5am to follow my best buddy down to the Padang Timor field in PJ, which was the race start/finish location to run in a half-marathon that I practically never trained nor prepared for.

Race number bibs of bygone days ..
I wasn't really unfit, at that time I was pretty heavily involved with the martial arts of Tae Kwon-do but that didn't mean I could actually run a half-marathon. I only went because I thought it was a fun thing to do (I was delusional). I even ran with my martial arts Gi bottom under my track pants, yes I actually wore a martial arts Gi and track pants to run the event ... hahaha! At the first sponging station, I soaked myself silly and my clothes ended up weighing twice its weight!

Well, suffice to say, I practically struggled throughout the 21KM and was literally crawling through the finish line 22 seconds from the cutoff time of 2:30:00! I came in with a time of 2:29:38, to say I was cutting it close would be an understatement. But, I was exhilarated for even crossing the finish line and not giving up. I ran/walked/crawled but I didn't give up and swore that I would do better the following year.

2:29:38 ...
The week after that event, I started training in earnest for the event the following year. I put my heart and soul into running and having a best buddy to run with and against paid volumes for me. We were constantly pushing and spurring each other to do better with each run. I was also young and could take the punishing regime of training on a daily basis back then.

The retro looking programme book ...
All that paid off for me in the next installment of the PJ Half Marathon the following year and I managed to cut my qualifying time by a whole 20 minutes! I was ecstatic. I knew from that moment that running was all I wanted to do. I did take part in a few more races but work and other commitments (namely being lazy) got in the way and I put running on the sidelines for years. I did try to revive my running a few times but it didn't last long.

That was until last year when the wife and me decided that we need to get fit again. Well, with that first step of starting again, I would say the rest is history. I'm running better and faster than I ever was in my youth, though I wish I had taken advantage of this when I was much younger, who knows, I could be running even faster than I am today. But all that aside, I wonder how I could even put running on hold for so long.

These days, I don't think a day goes by without me thinking about running, yes I do think of you too, honey ... LOL! But going through all my old running stuff sure brought back some fun running times I had with my best buddy. Those were the days.

Now though, I can start a whole new chapter of running with the wife and maybe one day when we're old and grey and we're not running (god forbid!) anymore, we can sit back on that rocking chair in the porch as the sun sets and reminisce about our running days :D

With that said and done, does anyone know if the PJ Half Marathon for this year is going to be held at all? I read about it months ago but now there's just deafening silence. I would give my right arm and left toe to participate in it again.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Marathon Preparation

The month of August is going to be a barren month, race wise that is. Either I'm totally in the dark or there really isn't any races scheduled in my part of the world this month. Even the wife is complaining about lack of races ... LOL!

The earliest race that we have scheduled is The Siemens 10K which is only in September and even then it's closer to the end of the month. If anyone does know of a race in August, I would be eternally grateful if you keep me in the loop.

Anyways, at least the lack of races will give me time to work out a decent marathon programme for myself. I'm thinking of trying to run my first ever FM either before the year end or the beginning of next year at the very least. Other than reading through online marathon tips, I have no idea how to prepare for one.

I probably could run a FM in my present state but heck, I'd probably suffer just trying to finish it. I have this mindset of only wanting to attempt the FM when I'm completely ready and know for a fact that I can do it in a comfortable time. I want my first ever FM to be an enjoyable one and not something that I want to do just for the sake of having full marathon status under my belt.

And for that reason, I've been reading a lot about full marathon preparation. Like I said earlier, I have no idea how to prepare for a full marathon. I've done some research online and while there is a whole load of full marathon training programmes, they're all totally different in their approaches. It confused the heck out of me. Which one to follow? Which one not to follow? Is this the best training programme? Will this work for me? So many questions and so little answers.

In the end, I'm just going to go with the gut feel. I'll work on the basis of a progressive training programme. Slowly but steadily build up the mileage with more regular days of running, some speed and hill work with a few 30K long runs under my belt and learn to listen to what my body tells me. I don't know if that will work or not but I suppose I'll know deep inside when I'm really ready for a full marathon.

There are a few things on my 'to do' list and one of them is to complete my first ever full marathon soon. The other is to one day (and it's a big one day) to try my hand or rather legs in an ultra-marathon event, though let me just get through my first FM before even thinking along those lines ... LOL!