Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Marathon – Part 3 – After the Race

As soon as I crossed the finish line I caught up with my Mom (Who had flown down from India to see me) and remember feeling great after that. I was not tired at all, I was sore but I felt I could run around 10km at least.

One thing I did do wrong was that in the 2 weeks prior to the race, I cut down my running as I was afraid I’d injure myself. Because of this, on race day I found myself 3kg over than when I was training full-on. So basically I put on 3kg in 2 weeks, which is quite scary when you think about it.

But 3 weeks on (as I’m writing this) I do think about the time during the race my mind was asking me “What’s next after the marathon?” and I can only think of one response, and that is; “Its no pointing worrying about what’s next?, so long as I know that there will be a another goal soon and I have that to look forward to”.

Here is the offcial race video of me at the 21km mark

Here is the offcial race video of me finishing

Here is a video my good friend put together:

My First Marathon – Part 2 – During the Race

So I trained as hard as I could have and finally it was race time, September 20, 2009 and the gun fired off at 7.30am.

1) I eased into the run, just focusing on getting to the first 14km mark (warm up), I was very stiff as my warm up was not that great (no matter how much you plan things still go wrong, the taxi cab I called for the journey arrived 30mins late and I ended up rushing to the start line – you need to be prepared for these things as well).

2) I carried my own ‘drink bottle belt’ and kept my bottle consistently full so I could follow my hydration plan here.

3) I was aiming for a time of 4.45 and had my “Pace Band” printed out and around my wrist near my watch, this Pace Band also had the location distances for my “personal hydration packs” I had prepared and handed over to the race organizers. These packs basically had a bottle of Gatorade, a Banana and a GNU Gel in each. I didn’t use them all but because I had these packs available to me I was able to have a GNU gel available when ever I felt I needed energy. I honestly believe that as a first time marathoner, if it weren’t for these packs I would not have made it as the refreshments the race organizers provided was terrible, most drink stations had just water.

4) At the end of the first 14km I felt really good, it was starting to get pretty hot and I started to sweat a lot. I upped my hydration after that, drinking when ever I felt like it. I also had a banana and a GNU Gel (Never over drink! As it can cause serious medical conditions like Hyponatremia).

5) After I reached the half way point of 21km I still felt extremely good and even started running a bit faster. I had a GNU Gel as well.
6) At around 30km it was really hot and I was losing a lot of sweat. I started drinking a lot more Gatorade and started having a GNU gel every 30-45mins after this.

7) At 32km I remember feeling really low and depressed, both my thigh muscles started to cramp and I was starting to hear voices in my head. One of the loudest voices as telling me “Even if you finish this, what next? It’ll all be over; do you really want it to be over?” It’s actually a funny thing the mind and how it can completely overpower you when you are fatigued. But I knew I was in the “Chronic” phase and I had started to “hit the wall”. All I can do now is keep running.

8) At around 35km the cramps had spread to my entire lower body and my lower body started to ‘twitch’ making me lose balance a few times and almost fall face down. I just stopped and walked during these times but I never walked for more than a minute and resumed running soon after.

9) At around 40km I got a second wind! The doubt and pain disappeared and I was excited about the finish. I could see the Sydney Opera House and the finish line and actually stepped up the pace with the hopes of getting there quicker.

10) The last 500m was magical, people were lined up and cheering and you just feel so proud. I only have one requirement from myself during the closing phases of every run I do, and that’s t finish strong and sprint at least 200m. I did exactly that and finished at a time of 5:01:25 (5 hours and 1 min).

Read my next post for photos and videos.

My First Marathon – Part 1 – Before the Race

On September 20, 2009 I successfully finished the Sydney marathon in 5:01:25. It’s my proudest achievement to date as it took me three months of full time training and it was still an unimaginable challenge in the end. I thought it would be great to write down the key processes I followed during my training and hopefully it may prove useful to any first time marathoners and help me improve my training processes for my next big race.

It all stated when I read the book, “50 Marathons in 50 Days” by Dean Karnazes. It’s a remarkable book with a wealth of knowledge for runners. I didn’t have too much time for training but I decided that a dedicated, intense 3 month training would be sufficient as I was relatively fit at that stage (I used to run around 15km a week and cycle and do a couple of Muay Thai sessions a week.)

Here is the training process I followed:

1) An overall 3 Months of training broken down into 2 intense weeks sessions followed by 1 recovery week session.
Week 1: Intense Week
Week 2: Intense Week
Week 3: Recovery Week
Repeat over and over again for 3 months

2) On an intense week I aim to do at least 2 long runs and 2 normal runs. The longest run was on Sunday (as the marathon is run on that day) and I keep upping my distance each time I do this run. I usually tried to add 0.5 – 1 km more each time, but some times I could not follow this. But I never ran less than my previous highest distance.
If I ran 20km on one Sunday, on the next Intense Week sunder I try to push for at least 20.5 or 21km (more if possible). If I can’t make this distance I somehow at least push my self to 20km. I feel it’s important to maintain this ‘continuous improvement’ as it trains your mind to overcome challenges.

3) On a recovery week, I took it easy and did around 3 easy runs. (5 – 15 km each)

4) Based in my few years of running various races, I realized that each race almost always puts you through 3 distinct phases. I call these phases “warm up”, “chronic” and “home stretch”. These are mental and physical phases you go through.

Warm up: This is the easiest phase as your body and mind is ‘fresh’, your excited and looking forward to the experience. You may be a bit stiff but a few km into the race you usually warm up and feel great.

Chronic: I came up with this name during a run where I completely mentally switched off. I said to my self “this is too chronic”, I know it does not mean anything but my mind was so switched off I just said it and to me it best describes this phase. During this phase you start to tire and your body starts to get sore. Your mind starts to play tricks with you and starts to make you doubt your ability to finish. The mid way point of a race happens during this phase and that’s when you really start to ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”, “I’ve only made it half way and I don’t have what it takes to go on, lets quit now”. This is normal and so long as you are not physically hurt you have to shut the voices in your head and keep going on, just thinking about reaching the final “home stretch” phase. This phase is usually where you ‘hit the wall’ in longer runs.

This Nike commercial video I found best describes this:

Home Stretch: During this phase you somehow control those voices in your head and start to realize that with each new step you take, you are getting close to the finish line. Even though by now you are barely able to put one foot in front of the other, you somehow push yourself as all you can think about is crossing the finish line.

5) For my run, I broke off the total distance in to three equal smaller distances and mapped it to the three phases above.
First 14km: Warm up
Second 14km: Chronic
Final 14km: Home Stretch

6) When I trained I kept this breakdown in mind and during the race, I only focused on achieving one phase at a time. When I started the race, all I saw in my mind was hitting the first 14km, after I achieved that all I though about was the second 14km and finally focused on the finish line. Breaking long distances into short ones, helps you keep focused and calm.

7) As for diet and nutrition, I usually eat pretty healthy and the only thing I did different for diet was ‘carb-up’ on a night before a long run and never skip meals. As for supplements, I focused on ‘recovering fast’ after long runs so each day (throughout the day and not at one go!), I took around 2 Mega Men multi vitamins (GNC brand), around 6000mg of Fish Oil, a antioxidant supplement (proven supplement for muscles that are damaged after long runs) and extra protein drinks.

8) As for hydration, I followed my own hydration plan I wrote up here

9) And finally, I mentally prepared my self for the race weeks in advance. I did not touch alcohol for 5 weeks prior to race day and I really pumped myself up to have an ‘adventure’, because I make each run I do an adventure I never get bored and can keep running for hours on end. To do your best on race day, you need to ‘start on the right foot’, in other words when you take your first step you should be mentally ‘free and happy’, if you are troubled and afraid of what’s coming up you will start on the wrong foot and the road ahead would be much worse than you could possible imagine.

Read my next post for my experience during the actual marathon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Muay Thai Grading - Yellow Singlet

I’ve been meaning for a couple of months to post about this and finally got to it. I recently did my first Muay Thai grading with the Fiterite Gym in blacktown. I am very proud to have achieved this and hope it will be the first of many grading to come and singlets to work towards.

It was around 45 mins of being judged on the following:
  • Warm up and stretch routine
  • Gladiator workout (a continuous routine of various pushups and sit-ups)
  • Shadow boxing
  • Pad work with pouch combos
  • Boxing sparring

My fitness, strength and technique were my plus points but I was told to use my hips more is punching to gain more power and to stop dropping my hands during sparring and combos as I seem to drop my hands now and then which is a bad habit and leaves your face open to punches.

Here are a few pics my of singlet and certificate.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Hydration Plan for Distance Running

This is the hydration plan I hope to follow for my runs more than 2 hours or more than 20km.

My Needs:
  • I hit the wall quick so I need a steady intake of carbs
  • I sweat a lot so I cramp so I lose my electrolytes (Salt, Sodium and Potassium) quickI feel that
due to my seating I need to give priority to my electrolytes intake over my carb needs, as if I stay hydrated I would have more base energy anyway.

My Choices:

Major difference is that Powerade has around half the Sodium but more carbs. i.e Powerade is for people on a low sodium diet or if you dont dyhydrate too fast.

My Pick:
I will drink Gatorade as it provides me with more electrolytes and also a good amount of carbs, hopefully this will keep me better hydrated and as a result I won’t lost my energy too quick.

My Intake:
(Assuming 1 bottle is 600ml)

Pre Run:
  • 2 hours before your run = 2/3 of a bottle
  • 10 mins before the start of the run = 1/3 of a bottle

During Run:
  • Half a bottle for the first hour drinking every 30 mins, then
  • 1 bottle per hour drinking every 15 mins

After Run:
  • 2-3 bottle based on my weight loss

How I worked this out - Based on the Gatorade site
Pre Run:

Drink 2 Cup (235ml), 2 hours before your run = 470ml 2 hours before your run = 2/3 of a bottle

Drink 1 Cup (235ml), 10 mins before the start of the run = 235ml
10 mins before the start of the run = 1/3 of a bottle

During Run:

Drink 150 – 300 ml every 15 mins BUT most importantly drink to replace sweat. Never over hydrate as this can lead to the dangerous condition 'hyponatremia' . If I drink 150ml every 15 mins Half a bottle for the first hour then drinking every 30 mins 1 bottle per hour drinking every 15 mins

After Run: Drink 600ml per 0.5KG of weight loss, I lost about 2 kg on a 2 hour run so 2400ml 2-3 bottle based on my weight loss


I'll keep updating this based on trial and error.. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Sport Diets – Running – Diet 1

Used for events:
10km Bondi Barefoot Softsand + Bolt Runs

Used for following reasons:
  1. I did a very long run 5 days before the actual event and had very bad muscle cramps and tissue damage
  2. I wanted to build my up energy reserves for what I knew would be a high energy consuming run

What I was hoping this diet would do:
This diet was aimed at helping my muscles and tissue recover (high carb, protein and antioxidants) and also boost my energy reserves.

Diet Details

Foundation of Diet:
Week leading to run, eat more -
Carbs: At least 500g per day
Protein: At least 110g per day

1 Glass Grape fruit juice
1 Bowl oats
1 Banana

2 Fish oil tablets
1 Mega Men Multivitamin tablet

Horleys protein shake

Chicken sandwich with brown bread
Half chicken with pasta
Streak and pasta

1 No-sugar electro drink
1 Coffee

1 Steak + 2 Whole grain toasts
Boiled Broccoli and greens
1 Handful berries (blueberry, cranberry or blackberry)

2 Fish oil tablets
1 Mega Men Multivitamin tablet

Sunday, May 31, 2009

10km Bondi Barefoot Softsand + Bolt Runs

Before the run

I signed up for the 10km soft sand run one month before actual race day thinking that it should be a very easy run as the distance was nothing new for me. But what I failed to consider was that running in soft sand whilst being barefoot can be a real nightmare, especially if you run using the same technique you use when you run on the road with shoes. As a result I did not do any actual training runs in the soft sand until a week before the run after I stumbled across an article on the web which mentioned how you have to change your running technique on soft sand whilst being bare foot to avoid injury. The article mentioned that I had to “Crunch my toes firmly and run on my toes whilst keep my stomach muscles firm (to avoid lower back stress)”, so I tried this out on a beach and after doing 8 laps of what I thought was a 10 lap course, my calfs, hamstrings and most of my other lower body muscles simultaneously cramped up and I came crashing to the ground. It was the weirdest experience I had and it took me a good half day to recover and walk normally again.

Knowing that I had grossly under prepared for this event, I decided to rest for the following 2 days and do some basic runs before the event which was in a week. But in order to get some advantage I changed my diet and ate a heavy carb + protein + antioxidants filled diet for the next week. The idea was to fuel up for a tough and painful run (carb), repair the muscle damage I had after my training run and strengthen my muscles (protein) and repair the tissue damage and build up resistance (antioxidants).

In 5 days I was going to do a run which I was so not ready for…

After the run

I felt good on race day and but I was really nervous as I was not sure I could finish and I was very worried about cramps. I took an extra long time warming up and did a lot of stretching, especially all my leg muscles. Once the run started, I picked a position at the back, paced myself and ran in someone’s footsteps (a technique used in soft sand running), after 4 laps I was feeling good and by some weird coincidence struck up a conversation with the guy in front of me. He told me that he had 2 laps to go but as I was following him I corrected him and said he had 6 lap to go (as I thought It was a 10 lap race), the guy laughed and told me that I was wrong as he had done the event before and It was only a 5 lap race, each lap being 2 kms.

I really did feel silly at that point (also a little relieved), and wished my friend good luck and doubled up my pace as I did not want to end the race in 2 laps and have more in my tank. I firmly believe that you have to leave everything you have on the course/field as that’s what you train to do. In the end I comfortably fished the 10km race in 1h 05m. And thought about the 8 laps I did as training, which worked out to be 16km of soft sand running. No wonder my muscles gave in and cramped.
I also took part in the Bondi Bolt, which is a 70m sprint where you keep going through heats until you win. It was a lot of fun and I made it into the second round.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Muay Thai Training at Rawai Muay Thai Camp

I just got from my 3 week training holiday to Thailand where I spent 2 weeks training at the Rawai Muay Thai Camp. I’ll have to say, that it was easily one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. Prior to visiting the camp I had not been Muay Thai training for around 3 months and even though I am relatively fit, I did struggle through these 2 weeks.

The Full time training program goes like this:
Morning Group session, 7am – 9am
Evening Group session, 4pm – 6pm

I managed to do both these classes on my first day and a couple more days towards the end of the week, but I was so overtired and hurt after a few days I did not have the energy to put in 4 hours a day anymore, I did however make it for at least 1 of these classes everyday for the entire 2 weeks.

I also did 4 VIP classes with Chai and Fhad who were both great trainers. I preferred FHAD as he worked me had and made sure I clean up my technique.

Pictures of my trainer Fhad and me

Training with Fhad

Whilst I was there I had the great opportunity to see some great Muay Thai fights, mainly 2 of Petsila (Who also trains students at the Gym). He is a great fighter and he picks some amazing opponents to fight with, the fights are were so evenly matched that they both went into 5 rounds and were decided on points.

Lessons I've Learned
I learned some important lesson whilst I was in this camp, of these the most relevant was ‘respect’. The trainers ‘drill’ respect into you throughout the day. You always bow at your trainers and opponents and this makes you appreciate what makes this sport so addictive, you are trained to understand that Muay Thai should only be used inside a ‘boxing ring’ and nowhere else.
I also learned the importance of the words ‘no fear’ (my trainer Fhad kept shouting this at me throughout sparring and pad work) where to really practice Muay Thai you have to get over the fear of getting hit and be bold, stand up straight and take on your opponent with absolutely no fear at all.
And finally, the importance of discipline and motivation. With Muay Thai it’s all about “how much do you want it”, you can never go into a training session ‘half assed’, as you will struggle. You need to want it so much that you keep yourself motivated every time you walk into the gym/ring.

Well, it was certainly a great experience in life for me and I very much want to do it again very soon. (I actually hoping to do it again this December / January and hopefully take my skills to a new level). I also love phuket so really looking forward to going back.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Running Sores Halts my Training

A week and a half ago after a long run I came back home and noticed that I had a few running sores (blisters) on my right foot. I didn’t take much notice of them as I get them from time to time but they seem to heal pretty quickly. One of the sores was on the side of my foot and the other was right on the center of my right foot’s heal. A few days later I found it hard to wear my shoes as I set off to work and realized that I had to ‘pop’ them to release the fluid, this worked and I was able to put on my running shoes once more that night and get on with my training. But each time I finished a run or a swim I noticed the fluid build up again and as a result I got into a nasty habit of using a disinfected pin (I heat it using a match) to pop it and release the fluid.

A week back all the sores on my right foot got infected! I could not walk properly and immediately saw a doctor as I didn’t want it to get serious. I was put on a 6 day antibiotics course and have not been able to keep to my run/swim/bike training session for the last week. I did however put in 3 gym session to improve my upper body strength for my swimming.

Today, my leg feels much better but the hot Sydney summer (was close to 40c today) is not assisting in the complete healing of my sores. I’ll have to admit that being sidelined for just a week is pretty distressing mentally as I am eager everyday to get back to training. But I now have come to the understanding that the best thing to do with a injury (minor or major) is to just stay positive, rest and eat healthy and mentally be strong.

I’m confident that I’ll be back to training later this week, and what am I going to do to prevent the new running sores? Well, I’m going to be applying Vaseline to my feet before I put on socks from now on to prevent friction on long runs (another lesson learned :)

Update (10 Feb 2009): Unfortunately the running sores have still not completely healed and I have been unable to run or swim. This has been difficult to deal with but I've been hitting the gym to remain fit. Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon and can get back to full training.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Triathlon Brick Training

As part of my training for my first half Ironman triathlon goal for 2009 I have started doing Brick training which is basically training for two disciplines during the same workout. I will be doing bike/run and swim/bike Brick sessions. Here are my personal best Brick session timings.

Bike/Run Bricks

22km Cycle (6 rounds) & 7.5km Run (2 rounds) : 1.50m (31 December 2008 (1 round = 3.7km)

Swim/Bike Bricks

Update 17/10/2010:
I just read this today after almost 2 years and i'm still strugging with the swims, but i will keep trying and not give up. My latest post on swimming is here with a program I am now following -