RunforFood: Highlights of my 24 months of exercise regiment

Yes, it has been 2 years since I decided that I need to get my act together to get myself back into shape, literally. Peeps who know me personally, know I was athletic when I was younger. Well, not the national level but surely good enough at district level. But I know I need to find the right motivation to get running a  sustainable regiment instead of a short moment of enthusiasm.  Food becomes my motivation factor, and therefore my mantra, “Run for Food”  #irun4food .

My first run was a disaster, but you got to forgive the performance considering that I had not been exercising for at least a decade.

First run in 2011

First run in 2011

Since then, it has been a regiment to run at least thrice a week. At one period, I just keep on running on alternate days, and when I got injured in 2012, I told myself I had to augment my routine with swimming and cycling, which I did subsequently. 24 months later, I can fairly say that there has been a tremendous progress made, whether it’s physically (8″ slimmer and 15kg lighter), pace and timing (4 min/km faster) or health wise (more focused with fewer MC taken). I did a similar run this morning, through the same route as I did on my first run 24 months ago, and the result was sobering.

2013 Run

Run in 2013 on 24th month Anniversary.

I did feel tired towards the end of the run, but hey, I WAS tired from the first second I ran 24 months ago!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of my exercise regiment in the last 24 months.

Less than 80

Less than 80

While the motivation of running is so that I can eat in peace, the “side effect” of physically more trimmed is also welcomed. I lost 8″ of waistline, and more than 15kg worth of calories.  It could be more, if not for my lack of diet control, but I am not complaining. That said, I am more selective with my diet choice though, the food has to be worth my hard earned calories for me to ask for extra serving.

Longest Run to-date

Longest Run to-date

One of my goals is to complete a 20km run before end of 2013. While there is still 15 days before the year end, it is highly unlikely I can last that kind of distance considering the state of my ankles at the moment. I probably could do a mix of run and walk to achieve that goal, but I want to challenge that goal with a consistent pace. In the end, the farthest I can achieve is a 16km run, 4km shy of my target, unless miracle happens in the next 2 weeks.

Best 5km Run (Oversea)

Best 5km Run (Oversea)

One of the things I try to do is keep my exercise regiment in all circumstances, such as travelling. So far I have managed to keep my running routine intact wherever I traveled, whether it’s Bangkok, Geneva or Cupertino. I actually like running oversea, particularly those in Europe and US because of the fantastic weather, cool temperature and low humidity. It is therefore no surprise that one of the best run is achieved when I was running in Geneva early this year during Spring time, clocking a 29.18 min timing for a 5km distance.

BestRunLocal5km

The best, however, is reserved for the run made just few days ago. My biggest peeve with running in Singapore is the heat and the humidity, and therefore I thought I would never outpace what I have achieved in Geneva (per above). It was therefore a pleasant surprise that I achieved my best 5km run, so far, at a sub 29 minute timing locally. The first km was done comfortably and when I saw that it was a under-5:50 min/km pace, I told myself there might be a chance for me to achieve a low 29 min run, so I pushed myself further. The last km was a challenge though, as I felt my leg muscles were too tired to even lift an inch.

Year to Date Exercise Report Card

Year to Date Exercise Report Card

All in all, it has been a great 24 months of exercise.  Over 2600km of distance covered, 336 hours of heart pumping moments and over 230,000 calories burnt. And that’ll a whopping over 800 of burgers worth that I could have afforded to eat! But obviously, it has to be a damn bloody good burger for me to waste all these hard earned calories.

Running Statistics

Running Statistics

 

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RunforFood: “Life to date” Cardio Report card

Swimming-September

It has been a while since I last blogged! Month of September had mostly been a swim month, as I tried to give my feet rest as much as possible. However, I do not wish my exercise momentum to stop, and therefore I focus on swimming instead. It was a challenging because it is not easy to keep to a 3-5 times a week swimming routine, and consecutively for 4 weeks. The end result, at end of the month, is satisfying though, despite the boring routine (imagine having to complete between 40-120 laps per session). I even completed an 1km swim session under 24 min! With my feet having much needed rest, I am starting to ease into running, without any ankle or knee support!

Here’s my life-to-date Cardio report card. I was hoping that I can complete 400 hours of exercise by end of the year, but that looks like an impossible target unless I start exercising every day for an hour!

 

ExerciseReports

 

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.

 

Run for Food: 3-2-1 Swim-Run-Cycle

Last week was a packed week, as far as exercise is concerned. I had decided to do less swim now, and more on running and/or cycling. That said, it all depends on whether my recovering feet and knees can take the physical stress. Based on how my body reacted after a “3 swims, 2 runs and 1 cycle” week, I do have to make some adjustment to my exercise regiment as I feel my left ankle and right knee are not completely recovered yet.

Tired leg after 1 week of exercise

Fitness seems to have improved steadily. I hit a top speed of 30.3km/h momentarily on my 16″ wheeler, but more importantly, I could consistently kept my speed between 20km/h and 24km/h,  throughout the 30km cycling route.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 26th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  128  936.1
 Cycling  11  284.5
 Swimming  40  68.6

Run for food: 100 nickels more to offload

How much is 500g

That will be equivalent to 500g of my body mass. If only it’s that easy to offload. Actually, it should not be too difficult, considering that I have been exercising almost on a daily basis, except on Sunday. But given that we are in the Mid Autumn festive season, I should count myself lucky for not having any weight increase after dumping in dozen of moon cakes!

Me while my virtual race partner is far in front of me, out of sight.

This has been a rather intense week as far as exercising is concerned. I ran 60 minutes of steadfast pace (6.52min/km) in the mid-week, with daily 2 km swim daily in between. The virtual race partner feature in Garmin Forerunner 910xt is interesting. It gives me a sense of how far behind (or ahead) I am from my virtual running partner as I run. A good feature for people like me who runs alone but need some pacer to keep me from slacking away. The Garmin’s lap swimming feature went through a stress test last week, having swam a total of 320 laps over 4 swimming sessions. While it is not 100% accurate, with an average of 1-2.5% miscount rate, I can now concentrate fully on my swim, rather than getting distracted by the tracking of the rubber bands. My main gripe now is the device has problem identifying my breast strokes, as it frequently detects them as backstroke instead. No problem with freestyle swim though.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 10th October  2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  124  892.68
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  26  51.6

I mentioned previously that I like RunKeeper for its dashboard reporting feature. While Garmin tracks and reports all the possible details at activity level, it does not summarize all the activities like what RunKeeper does, such as the one below. Thankfully, RunKeeper is more than just a activity logging website with its strong social networking capability, particularly its support for third party app. With GarminSync, I am able to sync and post my Garmin activities to RunKeeper automatically. To the sports enthusiasts, RunKeeper is the Facebook of fitness.

Total distance and calories spent so far

 

Run for Food: New Motivation Gadget

Rubber band as lap tracker

Having swim for almost a month, I am convinced that I must have swimming as part of my exercise regiment, even after my foot fully recovers from the ligament sprain. For the last few weeks, I have been doing 40-100 laps of swimming, almost on a daily basis. With so many laps covered in every session, I had to have a method to track the laps. So I rely on rubber bands, an almost zero cost solution. Obviously I did not bring 40 or 100 rubber bands to the pool. While the solution is effective, I think an automated one is in order.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

For a while I have been tinkering with the idea of getting Garmin Forerunner 910XT. I like the fact that it can be quickly released for bike mounting, and that it has a comprehensive activity tracking mechanism, probably even better than with my RunKeeper app and Polar HRM watch combined. I did not act on my tinker because I thought it will be an overkill (no, I’m not gunning for triathlon) while  convinced that Polar will do a far more accurate heart rate monitoring than Garmin. However, the recent increase in swimming activities led me to tilt and fast track my buying decision.

I went ahead to purchase one with quick release belt from GPS-Are-Us. Having used the fitness watch thrice in the last 3 days, once during a 60 min run, and twice on a swim, I have mixed feeling about my new gadget.

910XT mounted on my Brompton

The plus

I love the fact that now the watch can automatically count my swimming laps. When in lap swimming mode, the watch makes use of accelerometer to count the lap, determine and measure the swimming strokes (up to 4 different types of swimming stroke). There were inaccuracies in my first swim, where some laps  were miscounted but a firmware upgrade (from 2.5 to 2.6) seemed to have corrected the bugs. Coming from a GPS company, the Forerunner is also far more accurate than RunKeeper in measuring the running distance. With 5 different switch-able display screens (each capable of displaying up to 4 data fields), there are plenty of information for reference as I run. There is even a virtual pacer mode although I have not tried the feature yet. I love the quick release feature and it works just as expected. Having said that, I have not tried the watch on a cycling session yet, but I am looking forward to its rich data capturing and analysis just as I have experienced for running and swimming.

Watch needs frequent charging

The minus

Firstly, huge disappointment creep in when I discovered that the device will not track heartbeat during swimming. I was hoping that I had misinterpreted, or a firmware upgrade could fix it. Unfortunately, the reality set in when I learnt that the inability to track heartbeat is due to the frequency used by Garmin. In contrast, Polar uses dual frequency (one for land use and one for submerging in water) and therefore I have no problem using it to track my heartbeat in the last few weeks. Forerunner 910xt is also not a watch for daily wear; The watch gets too bulky when fitted with the quick release catch and belt system. The watch also needs to be recharged, as frequent as daily especially if I do not turn off the GPS. Last but not least, it can only display time of the day, no date.

Data sync or firmware upgrade are done via the USB ANT.

From a data synchronisation and analysis standpoint, the device synchronizes seamlessly via my laptop to the cloud managed by Garmin. There are plenty of data for analysis, so I think that is one of Garmin’s biggest strength. The activities summary dashboard reports however are left much to be desired, given its lack of proper graph charting feature. There are some workaround though, as I have researched a few app (e.g. GarminSync, Fit2App) that could sync Garmin data to RunKeeper, which still offers the best health reports and charts in my opinion.

Exercise Statistics Dashboard (as of 28th September 2012)

 Activity Type  Activity Counts  Activity Distance (km)
 Running  122  879.02
 Cycling  8  220.5
 Swimming  21  42.6

 

Run for Food: 9 months of “labour”

Counting back, it has been almost 9 months since I started taking the first step to re-exercise my heart. The momentum to stay fit continues with new addition forms of exercising, including the recent swimming regiment. Statistically, I have shaved to a near 15kg and trimmed 7 inches of waistline. I have thought I would achieve more than that, but I guess my passion for sinful food has kept me honest. I have no complains though, because I think its such foods that have kept me going, ironically. Incidentally, I have started another blog, irun4food recently, to blog about the yummy calories hoggers that I cannot resist to.

Beyond statistics, I do feel much healthier. I have hardly fallen sick since I started my exercise regiment, and when I did, I recovered within a day or two. It could also be attributed to the adoption of a more sane working hours, as I recently moved from a worldwide to region role. Beside feeling healthier, I do feel more confident with a leaner body. It has been an amazing journey, to say the least.

For two weeks I have not been running due to the recent foot injury. The daily swimming not only helps to tone my body muscles, it also serves as a physiotherapy to my strained feet and knees. As a matter of fact, i thought swimming is a good fat burning exercisr but only if you have achieved a certain level of fitness and maintain the needex discipline.

Yesterday I decided to try a light run to see how my legs respond to the therapy. There was less strain felt on both feet, probably even lesser than before my foot injury. I did feel a sense of tightness on my right knee cap. While my feet and knees looked like they had lubricated after 1.5km, I was still uneasy for every foot landing, and could anticipate a relapse if I mis-step again. I had started with just a 60 min light jog in mind, but ended with a 10km jog with a comfortable time of 1 hr 14 min. That said, I thought the “swim-o-therapy” will need to continue, and would probably go easy with running, perhaps with just a 5km run a week.

Till now, I have completed 862.12km, 120 running activities, together with 11 swimming activities covering a distance of 16.1km. I do need to reinstate my cycling regiment though, so that’ll be something to work on next.