Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Training update & Further Thought on Running Injuries

After the Newton Challenge, I did my regular training runs on the following Tuesday (easy run) and Thursday (tempo run). After the morning tempo run, my lower back started to ache badly when I back in office. So I need to break on Friday and cut short the weekend long run.
Looking back on the source of the lower back’s ache, I think it’s caused by the last few kilometers speeding in Newton Challenge. Even thought I throated the speed from starting of the race, the body fatigue over 25km still very significant, hence I didn’t focus on my running form when I pushed at the final leg. I forgot the correct pose to run fast, which can be summed up in the Chi Running picture. I ran in bad posture and lots of stress cumulated at my lower back area. It just exploded after my tempo run. For workouts in this week, I kept checking on the gait to make sure I ran with up right body, and keep the up & down body motions to minimum. So far, after 2 easy runs, 3 speed works and a 30km long run, the lower back seem recovered and not giving another problem.

Talking about relation between postures and running injuries, we often refer to running gait only. For us who work in office, the sitting posture is actually far more important then the running gait. You sit in your work desk for 8 hours x 5 days a week, and run 50km in 7 hours a week. The running potion is less then 20% from the 40 hours of sitting! Your sitting posture will post some serious effect to your muscles groups & even to the spinal. I am not a doctor so I will not able to explain much, if you are interest to know more, please refer to here.

Few things you can do on your sitting posture to reduce the impact and risk,
1. Stop crossing your legs.
2. Keep both of your feet flat on the ground.
3. Don’t lean forward.

Some training that can improve your sitting posture and reduce the pain (if you already suffering some pain on lower back),
1. Yoga Butterfly stretching.
2. Superman pose stretching.
3. Spinal twist stretching.
4. Lower back muscles strengthening exercise – V-Up.
All these training can be done in low intensity before your bed time.

Spinal Twist

Yoga Butterfly



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Newton Challenge Race Report

It was 4 weeks after SCMS but I am still struggled on my usual mood swing towards the end of the year. Whenever a major event is over, I normally felt kind of loss. Often, end of the year will posting the similar effect to my mood swing. That why I normally don’t schedule any major event towards year end. This year, this is unavoidable and SCMS is hitting me hard. Especially there the list of registered race is depleting fast and I can’t find any local race (oversea race will burn a hole on my wallet and may worsen the mood swing to depression) to fill it up.

During the Malakoff 12k, I don’t felt the usual excitement before, during & after the race. May be I took it too easy or I really got the over-trained syndrome (as described by Doc PuiSan in HERE). For time being, I am just following the 6months plan to tune myself properly for a sub-5 marathon (SCKLM) and hope I will soon recovered from the dipping mood. The New Year Newton Challenge is actually what I am looking forward to flip the mood.
The race is held at very challenging Bandar Kinrara Ammah Hill. There are lots of warning and sharing by experience runners about this route, so I will not really pushing for any dramatic speeding or PB. On the other hand, I am planning to run this race with slightly difference strategy, starting slow, pushing hard only if I felt like it towards the end of the race.

The race flagged off on time. I started at the mid of the pack and kept my pace at around 7min/km. The first 4km are ok, the usual settling period come and goes, and I can finally settle into the comfortable running mode. Then, the first drastic climb came right after the left turn at the traffic light towards the first U-turn point. My pace dropped but I pushed on and never stop for walking. Pushes my effort to conquer the peak, slow down when the Hearth Rate touched 160BPM, continue to push again when HR dropped to 150BPM, and then wait for the descending come. I hold back my legs during descending so that the HR dropping back to 140BPM zone. You can tell from my HR chart which it peak with the route climbs. After we took the U-turn and back to the traffic light, at 10km point with the dawn skylight, we can see the breathtaking Ammah Hill with 120ft climb for the next 1km. I went on and take down the Ammah Hill with the same push and hold strategy. I was only repeating the same thing for the rest of the course.
Towards the Finish Line, Photo by Louis Ong
Finally, I am at the second U-turn clocking 15th km (average pace 6:50/km). I felt like I wanted to push more, so I kicked in the high gear and pushing all the way back to finish line. Btw, the hilly route limited my effort; I can only do 6:23/km on average for the balance 10km. I took the advantage of the final 2km which is rather flat to push to sub-6 minutes pace and finished the race in 2:42’36”.
I found that I really enjoy this very obvious up-down hilly route. If you look into the elevation chart, there are total of 6 continuous ascends that more than 100ft in 1km. So, on the bright side, there are also total of 6 continuous descends with the same scale. You can really looking forward a good rest after each tough fight with each hard climb. I guess the Ammah hill is highlighted as it actually lay down the total 1km climb right in front of you (without any turns and twists like other climbs on the same route). Overall, the race is well organized but some improvement needed in term of water stations manning (at 14km) and traffic control (from 4~10km, and the finish line area). I fully understand that some of the roads are the only access to some housing area and highway, but a better planning will sure helps to reduce the potential hazard to all the participants.

I am happy with my game plan which actually helps me to finish strong in this race. This valuable lesson will be great helps in my future marathon or other running events. This adds in motivation to my running, and I am now looking forward not only to races, but also to each training and long runs. I guess I had successfully flipped my mood. It may be due to the great run in Newton Challenge, or just because it is now January! I will not digging in further, now, time to enjoy the life with lots of running :)