RunforFood: Report card after 18 months

Reportcard-June13

Back to mix of run, swim and cycle in June 2013.

 

It has been awhile since I blog about my #RunforFood regiment. The ritual to run for food is still going strong, and in fact, I do find myself improving in my fitness over the last few weeks. In May, I managed to catch a few runs while I was on business trip to Geneva, Switzerland. It was a fantastic weather (under 15 deg C!) to run! In June, I continue my running regiment, and augment with cycling and swimming to combat the hazy weather.

Runningreportcard-June13

4 mins more to achieve 200 hours of running time!

 

Running pace vs Distance

Running pace vs Distance – Increase speed trend is a good sign of progression

 

record-june13

A couple of under 30 min 5km run in June proves that the timings are not a fluke.

 

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Run for Food: 500km milestone and new exercise gears

It has been 5 months since I first started running. Since my last blog post, I have not been tracking my running mileage. That is because I have decided to stop the mileage chase, and instead focus on running at the right heartbeat zone, i.e. aerobic zone, for now. Quoting the explanation of the aerobic zone

Training in this zone will develop your cardiovascular system. The body’s ability to transport oxygen to, and carbon dioxide away from, the working muscles can be developed and improved. As you become fitter and stronger from training in this zone it will be possible to run some of your long weekend runs at up to 75%, so getting the benefits of some fat burning and improved aerobic capacity.

This means monitoring my heartbeat and ensuring my running pace keeps my heartbeat stays within the aerobic zone. In theory it sounds easy but application is difficult, because I have to deliberately slow down even if I am still comfortable in running a faster pace. Then I receive a Runkeeper alert email after my usual Friday run.

500km milestone

Wow, I have covered 500km after 5 months of running! My new goal is to be able to complete a 15km distance run with a steady pace, by end July. As such, I am focusing on interval  and endurance (distance and duration) training while continue to keep my heartbeat at the aerobic zone. The pace may be a minute or two slower than previous, but I do find myself pacing better at each run.

While I am continuing my 3 times a week running routine, averaging a total distance of 25-30km/week,  I figure I need to alternate my running with something else, such as cycling. I can swim, but I just hate the idea of exercising in the water. So cycling comes naturally to my mind, and in fact I have been contemplating for the new exercise for the past 2 weeks. I began to research on possible cycling equipments I could use. To be honest, I have never owned a bicycle in my life. When I was a kid, my parents had always thought cycling was dangerous for me. The only times they would allow me to cycle were when we were at East Coast Park for picnic outings. I also remember that my first road cycling was when my junior college classmates and myself set up a round island cycling trip. I had to borrow a bicycle from my sister’s friend, and it was just a single-speed road bike! I still recall the jittery feeling when I first rode on the road after collecting the bike. While I was cycling to the school to meet my classmates, I actually lost balance and fell off from the bike ! I have been keeping that incident under wraps so to avoid unnecessary nagging (or parental escalation) but guess now the truth is out … Ha Ha!

Brompton .. made in England

I explored various options; road bike, mountain bike, hybrid, etc. There are simply too many variants, too many brands and models to choose from. I was confused and lost until a good friend casually suggested that I could look at folding bike. It is a brilliant suggestion because I can bring the folding bike to train, and therefore I can also cycle and train ride to work. He offered me to try out his Strida folding bicycle (which by the way, I thought was neatly designed and engineered with a high tech look) but mentally I was not ready to take up his offer. I don’t like the idea of trying out something if I have not made up my mind!

Two weeks later and now, I decide I should just get the folding bicycle, and before I could go back to my friend to do a trial run (or cycle), I chance upon an online forum thread that is discussing about Brompton bicycle. Very quickly, I am sold with the Brompton folding bicycle, supposedly the “Rolls Royce of folding bicycle”. But I am put off by its expensive price tag. As if it is fated, somebody notices my interest, and make a quick offer to sell his and his wife’s Brompton bicycles to me. The bikes are only 5-6 months old, and have clocked less than 100km each. At $400 discount off for each bike, it has definitely helped to accelerate my decision making process.  So before I know, we are proud owners of these gems.

Brompton M6R Raw Lacquer (Foreground) and M6R (Pink in background)

I am very excited now. Now I have another new mantra, which is “Cycle for Food”. For now, I have completed 503.66km (of running) through 83 running activities. Here’s a wish for many more years for Running for Food … oh and Cycling too! 🙂

Ganbatte!  がんばって!

Run for Food: 12 km and 400 km milestones and some new gears

Ever since I started extending my run to and beyond 10km, I find that I need some energy boosting fluids or at least water during the run in order to keep myself hydrated and going.  I was not sure if I ever need a fuel belt, but I do observed that I usually feel very fatigued in my last 2-3 kms of the 10-11km run, a sign of dehydration. In one of the recent runs, I ran with a hand carried bottle of energy drink, and find that the run is less taxing towards the end given that I kept myself hydrated throughout the run.

Nathan Speed 2 Fuel Belt

So I decided that I should get a fuel belt, as it was so cumbersome to hand carry a bottle of water during a run. Eventually, I got this Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack with two 10 ounce flasks from a sports shop at Changi Point. It was not cheap, but luckily the mall was running a mall-wide promotion so I got 20% off the retail price, and I think it costs me around $48.

I put this into good use today on 26th April, when I try to attempt “something further” than 11km run.  After my night conference at 12.30am, I change up to get ready for the run, just as I had done at this hour previously. Little do I realize that it is a mistake since I no longer just do a 30 mins interval run. My last 11km run was carried out at 11pm. By the time I finish the run, it is close to 02:30am! In fact, along the journey, I did feel a little sleepy at times.

Finishing a 12km run

The good thing about the run though is that I did not feel as tired as before, as I replenished myself with water every 15-20 minutes. At one point, I do feel tough running, especially in the 10th and 11th kilometres, as my ankles seem to be weakening. My injury stricken ankles are really my weakest link in my stamina building exercise. Nevertheless, I manage to overcome the physical pain, interestingly by strengthening my mental desire to finish the run. In the last 2 km, I could comfortably pick up the pace and finish the run with 12km covered. It is a milestone for me since it is a step closer to my goal of finishing a 15km run by end July.

New Balance Minimus Zero

By now,  I have completed 415.15km with 73 activities. I am running fewer now, but longer distance. At the same time, my Adidas running shoe is wearing out fast, and I feel it has quite a poor wear rate. It does not help with a recent trip over a uneven ground as I found out the side canvas is tearing. As such I have also added Minimus Zero, New Balance’s latest running shoe, to my running gear inventory. I have been planning to get a Vibram Five Fingers “Barefoot” running shoe, but has put the thought on hold after doing my research. Not that it is bad, but I think it will require a lot of getting use to, and I thought maybe I should try a “near” Barefoot running shoe first before going for the “extreme”. Minimus Zero seems to fit the bill and I will be trying it out soon.

Run for Food: Four months and going strong

Since I accomplish my 10km goal two weeks ago, I went on to set a new goal, which is to complete 15km by 31st July. While this means I have 4 months to prepare myself for this stretched goal, I know the extra 5km will be a lot more challenging than what I have overcome in the last 4 months.

So I try to complete at least one 10km run every week. Earlier this week, I was hoping to push myself to do a 11km run, although mentally I merely conditioned myself up for just a 10km run. Eventually I could only complete 10.5km distance, which goes to show how (lack of) mental strength can influence one’s ability to complete a task.

15km goal

15km goal

Then two days ago, I decided I would stick to a 60 minute run but with a relatively faster pace (anything less than 7 min/km for a 60 minute run is considered fast at this moment for me :P) It was  a good workout, as I managed to maintain an average pace of 6.49min/km (excluding the first 5 minute of slow warm up jogging). Probably one of the fastest pace I had, if not fastest, for the distance I was going through.

Today, I decide to try for the 11km distance again. I plan my route carefully so that it will be mostly flat ground for most part of the run, and also keep the run within East Coast Park as much as possible.

I start the run at a decent pace (7:08 min/km) but gradually slow down to an average of 7:25-7:30min/km as I know I cannot afford to “puncture” at the early stage of the run. The 4km run to East Coast Park en route Mountbatten and Tanjong Rhu Road is therefore easy. Physically I feel I am still in splendid condition so the entire 4km run along East Coast Park remains relaxed. (In retrospect, I could have increased my pace to 7:10-7:15min/km …)  Nevertheless, I do start to feel the strain coming on my two ankles as I reach the 6-7km, despite wearing a Phiten Titanium ankle brace on my left ankle. Thankfully, the strains remain to be just a small niggling pain and do not interrupt the run.

The 8th km is a difficult one though, particularly because I have to run across the highway via the overhead bridge.  Every time I reach the other side of the highway, my heart beat would usually jump up by 10, given the elevation I have to go through.

With just 2-3km away from my planned destination, it does spur me forward. Sometimes, you just need to constantly find the right motivation to keep you going. 🙂 In the last 2km, I pick up my pace and accelerate gradually. I find that I am not struggling despite the acceleration, so now my challenge is to extend such accelerated pace for another 1km in my subsequent runs! Finally, by the time I hit my planned destination mark, I complete the entire 11.01km route. Another milestone to my 15km goal has attained!

T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniel's Grilled Baby Back Ribs

As of 20th April, I have completed 71 running activities, and 393.98km. Specifically, this week I have completed a total distance of 30.64km, by far the furthest I have covered within a week. Guess what’s the reward for this accomplishment feat?

After all, that’s the whole motivation behind each run — “Run for Food”  🙂

Run for Food: Magic 22

Ever since I started a formal running schedule, I am making a steadfast progress. I am also constantly running (with walking in regular intervals) more than 4km in each running session. It may be just a short run for many runners, but it is something I would never have imagined 6 weeks ago. At the same time, it seems that I am addicted to running; There were occasions where I ran in the wee morning (such as 3am), and there were times where I ran for 3 consecutive days. I also do not feel as much stress on my knees as I did in my maiden run. All in all, everything seems to be heading in the right direction.

Drenched after the 2.2 run

On 22nd Jan, eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, I “feel” the motivation to run again after two consecutive days of sumptuous reunion lunch/dinner.  Coincidentally, it is also my 22nd run since 15th Jan! Just as I get myself geared up for the running, the sky starts to drizzle. I tell myself, the light drizzle will help to make a cooling run, but how wrong I was! Just less than a minute into my run, the rain starts to pour. I have to abandon my running schedule as it does not seem to be a quick passing rain. But I am very determined to complete a run, so I promptly switch to a 2.2km running route. It is also an opportunity to see how my stamina has improved vis-a-vis to my first maiden 2.2km run.

I remembered 6 weeks ago I had to stop every 400-600km just to catch my breathe. Thus, I aim to complete the run without any stop. The increasing intensity of the rain does help to spur me to achieve this goal, and I am glad I accomplish it eventually! The pace of the run was steady from start till the end. There were moments where I felt I could be struggling, but managed to overcome through controlling my breathing and consequently maintaining the breathing efficiency. By the time I complete my 2.2km run, the timer clock shows a timing of 13.38 min. While it is still far cry from my 12 min target (first goal), it still shows a vast leap from my earlier 14-15 minute timings. Most importantly, I completed the run in a harsh condition (with the rain pouring towards the end of the run) without stopping at all.

Running statistic for period 15th Dec 11 to 22nd Jan 12

With the 2.2km run, on the 22nd of Jan,  I have thus far completed 22 run with total of 70.76km.  Another new milestone achieved for me.

Run for Food: Month One

After running “aimlessly” in the last 10 runs, I decide that I need to have a proper running schedule to be effective. After some (google) research, I adopt the schedule published by Runners’ World, an 8 weeks plan to complete a 5km race.  I tweak the schedule further though. Since I have already had some head start with some running in the past weeks, I skip the “1 minute run, 5 minute walk”, and go straight into the “2 minute run, 4 minute walk”. On the side note, I import the running schedule into the Runkeeper app, which turns into a coaching tool, rather than just a time watcher. Neat!

The first run, guided through the formal schedule, was motivating. The run is essentially made up of 5 repetitive shorter run, with short walk break in between to overcome the huff and puff. Thus, the 30 minutes session was never anywhere breathless and draggy as before. By the 2nd week of the formal training, I move to the next stage of the schedule, i.e. “3 minute run with 3 minute walk”. It’s also the first time I break the 4km mark (although with walk break in between). That spurred me on further. By the end of the 2 weeks running schedule, I progress to the 3rd stage, which is “4 minute run with 2 minute walk”. In those runs, I was constantly pushing myself to run 4.2 to 4.5km, but I learn later that this is actually counter-productive to my running plan. (More about this later)

Running Statistics (15 Dec 2011 - 14 Jan 2012)

On 14th Jan 2012,  I completed 4.14km, at a pace of 7.32 min/km. That marks the completion of 17 runs, or 51.85km since 15th Dec 2011. A month has gone, and I do feel much lighter than when I first started. I was joking about this; If I felt like I was carrying a fullpack then (given my weight at that point), I must be running with SBO now. Certainly, I feel fitter as well, although probably just 5% of my fittness level 20 years ago. The question now is, will I continue this running habit, or will it be shelved a side once my hectic work schedule is back.

I told myself, think about the food. Hopefully the run continues 😉

 

Run for Food: Run #8

With all the running gears I could have possibly think of, I completed 7 runs within 12 days. A casual conversation with a friend over a hearty breakfast, prompted me to explore getting heart rate monitoring device. After researching on Garmin Forerunner series and Polar RS series, I decided to get Polar RS300X. While both series offer heart rate monitoring functionality, I went for Polar simply due to the consideration the brand origins (portable heart rate monitoring for Polar, and GPS tracking for Garmin). Nevertheless, I am sure Garmin Forerunner is a good product as well.

Polar RS300X

Polar RS300X comes with a trademark Wearlink+ heart rate monitoring technology chest strap, a transmitter, and a watch that receives and records the data from the transmitter. As I discovered later, while RS300X monitors  the heart beat constantly, it does not log all the raw data, but only aggregated data. What it means I would not be able to plot out how my heart rate fluctuates throughout my run, although I can tell my maximum and average heart rate, and the heart rate zone I am in during the run. It is not a big deal for me, at least for now, but for serious runner, I think a Polar RS400 or higher model range might be more suitable.

My first run with a heart rate monitoring device was revealing, and shockingly as well. My heart rate was at one point pumping at 180 beats-per-minute(above 90%), and average at 173. Running has become more scientific indeed (as when I was younger, I would just run and run). I noted that I was running at an unhealthy heart rate zone. Not only I am running close to my maximum heart rate (which is 185 beats-per-minute), it’s in a maximal or red line zone where I won’t benefit much as far as fat-burning is concerned.

By now (29th December 2011), I have completed 18.53km, over 8 runs. I knew the distance is nothing to shout about, particular to regular runners. But for someone who had not run for the last 10 years (or maybe even more), this is an amazing start, at least for me.

Ops .. zero heart beat.