Setting Goals and Becoming Stronger

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So I survived the testosterone raging Army Half Marathon (AHM) a couple of weeks ago. It was exhausting but fun. I realised that there is something different doing a run predominated by men. The kind of satisfaction that you get from overtaking young Army boys half your age is something you can’t get from the usual runs, especially the all-women’s kind.

It was my 3rd half marathon, 2nd time running with the Army but the 1st time running alone, without my husband. We had agreed that he should try his best instead of running at my pace. He came in with an impressive sub 2 timing while I came in more than half an hour later!

It was nerve wrecking to be running alone and not having my running buddy and water boy with me (aka my husband) and I had to be so lucky that my period came less than 24 hours before the run (now that made me sound like a certain Chinese swimmer). I ended up completing a very ‘bloodied’ run which I shan’t gross you out with the details.

I came in later than my 2xU run in April and my legs started to show signs of fatigue at the last 3 km even though I started splattering on copious amounts of heat rub at the the 16 km mark. The run was definitely more painful than the one in April.

I could console myself that my body wasn’t at its best or that I could have done better with more rigourous training. But the fact is, sticking to a training plan is tough. Having the discipline to follow through a plan, having the determination to push yourself is tough. It’s even tougher if you have been a stay-at-home mom for more than a decade, wearing the lady-of-leisure label proudly.

And we go on to tell our kids about emulating these Paralympian girls’ never-say-die spirit, but the truth is, it’s hard to teach them about grit and perseverance when the most strenuous exercise they see their mom does on a regular basis is carrying groceries bags and brushing the bathroom tiles.

A friend who was set to improve his timing managed to stick to a 10 week running program and shaved off more than 15 minutes during the AHM. I was truly impressed with his focus and determination and I wonder whether I will ever be able to do that.

So far, I have always participated with a ‘run-to-complete’ kind of mentality. Seeing how my friend’s training had paid off has inspired me to do better than just completing a run. I am actually aiming to improve my timing for my next run and trust me, that is a HUGE commitment coming from lady-of-leisure me

As usual, my very supportive husband has his views on how I can achieve my goal. Apart from aerobic exercise such as running and cycling, he suggested some circuit training which could help build on my strength and anaerobic fitness. And that was how we ended up trying out at my brother’s newly minted garage circuit training program at MoveFusion.

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Over the weekend, we went over to his warehouse gym and did a morning of jumps, shuttle runs, lifting balls, pull ups, burpees and flipping ginormous tires that weighs more than a hundred kilograms. I nearly died! It was more exhausting than running 21 km! I couldn’t go anywhere after the workout and would have slept the whole day if the kids let me.

The next morning, I woke up with aches and sores all over and it lasted for close to a week. I can’t remember the last time I worked my body that hard and I felt like I grew muscles instantaneously.

The garage circuit training was held at an industrial area in the West and it reminds me of CrossFit in the States where they have their workout at big warehouses. Instead of your usual indoor, fully air-conditioned gym, the training was held outdoor on raw bitumen roads. There were no mirrors or nicely shampooed carpet, instead we were surrounded by wooden planks, concrete slabs and occasional foreign workers spectators. It was a no frills workout place where you get dirty and sweaty, the real serious stuff and I kind of like it that way!

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As much as I enjoy the solitude of exercising alone, a group class like that actually motivates me in a different way. I was inspired by other girls in the class who don’t look any bigger than me but were much stronger.

Most of them were mothers who looked very fit and trim despite having to juggle family, kids and work. It was such a relief that the trainers cater for people like me who are new to the workout. I actually completed the circuit at my own pace, using lighter weights and pull up bands with higher resistance which were easier.

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So if I am really serious about improving my fitness and timing for my next run, I think simply add the garage circuit training once a week to my regular running and cycling would help me achieve my goal. The challenge now is to take the plunge and make the commitment!

 
If you are interested to find out more about the garage circuit training at MoveFusion, they will be having their first pop up mini garage circuit in an urban setting this Sunday, 18 September. It will be an urban garage circuit and they will be conducting high intensity interval training priced at $20 per participants and all proceeds will go to Edwin Chen’s medical treatment.

There will also be a 3 minute Plank challenge and whoever completes the challenge will walk away with their tastefully designed t-shirt and a free trial lesson at their Sungei Kadut warehouse gym. Hop over to their Facebook page for more details and book a lesson with them directly!

 
 
Here’s a list of other Moms and Dads who also workout, be inspired by their stories!
Angelia’s 10 weeks to my GE maiden run
Ai’s Wendler’s 5/3/1 to reach strength target operations
Christy’s Mizuno’s Ekiden 2016
Susan’s I survived my first 10km run
Madeline’s My 2.5 years postpartum weight loss report
Lynn’s Shape run 2016
Meiling’s My first 21km finisher as a racy Mama
Andy’s 2016 Sundown Marathon
Nick Pan’s 5km x 30 days
Jenn’s 6 tips on how to survive through Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG)
 

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This entry was posted in Fitness.

Happy Teacher’s Day

It’s Teacher’s Day and the boys had their celebration in school yesterday. Every year, we would make it a point to brainstorm on gift ideas for their favourite teachers. I have to admit that most of the time, the boys were clueless and Mom ended up being the one scouring the internet for ideas. So far, the internet has served us well.

We made Granola last year and Rainbow Bath Salt the year before. This year we found these cute printables and decided to make these candy cards for their teachers. They were really easy to make. Just print, cut and stick.

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We used Hershey’s Nuggets which were just the right size for the printed candy wrappers. The elder brother helped to hot glue all the candy wrappers to the candies and the little one did the easier job of sticking the candies onto the cards. I contributed by giving them access to my stash of card stock. We had a little problem trying to get the cards to stand due to the weight of the candies and had to improvise by sticking some sturdier cardboards to the back of the cards. Thankfully it worked!

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My elder son is actually at the stage where ‘it is not very cool to give a teacher’s day gift’ but these were so cute, he decided to grab a handful of them to place on the teachers’ desks. The little one was delighted when told by his form teacher that his candy card was the BEST present she had received this year. It was delightful to know that the teachers enjoyed this simple gift.

My husband chirped that he had NEVER given any present to his teachers before! Perhaps it’s a guy thing and it made me wonder how many teachers went away feeling unappreciated because they did not receive a card or a gift on Teacher’s Day.

Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of an individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me. ~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

I always believe that teaching is a noble profession and that the really passionate ones are often driven by more than a fat pay check. Unlike a parent who teaches her own offsprings, it takes a big heart for someone to dedicate his/her time to teaching and shaping minds of little ones who are totally unrelated to them. What drives and motivates a good teacher is usually intrinsic and perhaps even beyond the tangible.

If children are the future pillars of our nation then teachers are the ones, along with parents, who help lay the foundation for our pillars. What job can be more important than this?

It is not an exaggeration to say that a great teacher can change a student’s life. I have seen in my boys, how a good teacher can make them enjoy a lesson on a subject that they hate. They are motivated to do well for the subject because they don’t want to disappoint their teachers.

Then there are teachers who may not always hold it together. These are times when we get the opportunity to teach the kids about empathy and respect.

They learn that they should hold their tongues and show respect even if the teachers weren’t always nice. That if their mom can go berserk trying to manage 2 kids, what more for a teacher who needs to teach a class of rowdy kids on a daily basis.

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The work a teacher put in might seem invisible but I believe that the effect goes beyond an award, a gold star or what KPIs can measure. We probably can’t tell when their influence will stop but we know it will leave a trail on the hearts of the students that were being taught.

So to the teachers who inspire, motivate, encourage or simply show us that you are just human, thank you and Happy Teacher’s Day.

 

 

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The Miracle Ball

It’s less than 48 hours away from Army Half Marathon and I can’t keep calm!

I have been taking it easy and haven’t been running much since Singtel Cancer Run in July. I had strained my muscles a few weeks before my Cancer run and suffered an acute pain around my waist and my back area. I couldn’t walk without limping and resting didn’t help. I ended up doing lots of massaging and managed to recover in time for the run.

A search on the internet shows that one needs at least 10 weeks to train for a half marathon. Depending on whether you are a first timer or a beginner, the recommendation is about an average of 14km to 36km of running per week. I think I barely meet the minimum mileage!

My Runkeeper record showed that I only managed to do 3 outdoor runs for the month of July (which added up to about 28km). I don’t really stick to a schedule or train with a plan but I do turn on my Runkeeper whenever I cycle or run outdoors. (Runkeeper doesn’t work on treadmill!)

The last 2 weeks felt like a final dash to the finishing line, a desperate effort to build myself up for the run.

So for the month of August, my Runkeeper showed
Week 1: 9.81km run (Sunday)
Week 2: 8.36km run (Wednesday) 53.89km bike (Friday) 32.22km bike (Sunday)
Week 3: 12.74km run (Tuesday) 16.71km run (Friday) 10.23km run(Sunday)
Week 4: 31.41km bike (Monday) 5km treadmill (Monday) 5km treadmill (Tuesday) 10km treadmill (Thursday)

I was told that I should be resting my muscles this week, but instead, I have been doing more runs. I am left with a couple more days to go and my son said that I should be more disciplined with the resting and massaging!

Research on the internet shows that muscle recovery is just as important as the workout. In fact, muscle recovery should be part of the workout.

There is a whole lot of science on recovery process and it includes hydration, rest and eating the right kind of food. Part of the recovery process is getting a good massage.

Massage can help to speed up recovery by improving circulation and helping to remove waste products from your muscles. You can either go to a certified massage therapist or do it yourself. My friends in the fitness industry swear by these massage balls and they use them for their whole body, from head to toe.

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It requires some practice to get good with these but once you get the hang of it, these massage balls can take over the job of your massage therapist. They are very convenient to bring around and definitely cheaper than going to a massage therapist!

My husband and I have been using massage balls for a while now and we pack them in our luggage whenever we go for holidays. They are good for relieving tired muscles after a long flight and are especially useful when we go for our hiking and skiing trips. We use them to relieve aches and sores from a day of outdoor activities.

There are many videos on the internet that show how to effectively use them, from massaging the sole of your feet (from too much walking on high heels) to shoulders blades (from sitting too long in front of computers). I used them mainly for my legs especially my hamstrings, calves, hips and quad areas after running.

Basically, all you need to do is put the ball between your body and the floor (or wall). The massage ball works by releasing tight muscles either by rolling through muscles or working with specific pressure points for a sustained period of time. You will feel pain and sore but trust me, those shall pass and you will be rewarded with a satisfying sensation!

Since the pain on my waist and back, I had stopped going for my pilate classes and relied solely on these balls to help me get back to running. I would highly recommend these not only to people who work out a lot but also to anyone who suffers from muscle aches and pain!
 

Let’s hope that this Sunday’s run won’t be too painful. Meanwhile Keep Calm and Keep on Running!

 
 

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This entry was posted in Fitness.
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