Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doing It Again, For The 3rd Time!

It's the time of the year again. With the Comrades Marathon 2014 fast approaching, here I am again together with Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF) in "re-launching" again the Be Frank campaign. Similar to the previous 2 years, I will once again dedicate my Comrades Marathon towards cancer research and staying true to how it was done, special edition shirts were printed. And this year, we went a little more adventurous by using brighter colours in celebration of life. The following is CARIF's write-up about this year's campaign.

Frank Chong, a cancer survivor who has inspired the "Be Frank" campaign is going for his 3rd attempt at the Comrades Marathon downhill run in South Africa on 1 June 2014. Why is he running the world's most challenging ultra-marathon instead of taking a walk in the park? We speak to him to know more:

Why are you running the Comrades Marathon?
The Comrades Marathon is certainly the toughest run I have ever done and as part of a cause to raise awareness and funds for cancer research in CARIF. I am uniting my passiion of running and a role as a cancer survivor, hoping it will be a small step towards a future free from fear of cancer. Like the 89.28KM Comrades Marathon, fighting cancer is one long and tough journey. Therefore, support cancer research, support CARIF!

Frank donating his Comrades Marathon medals from 2013 to CARIF. Receiving it, Professor Teo (CARIF CEO) and YM Tunku Tan Sri Dato' Seri Ahmad (Trustee)

What is the "Be Frank" Campaign?
I strongly believe that cancer is not a death sentence and that hope is certainly out there. With CARIF, the "Be Frank" Campaign was launched in order to inspire and urge the public to join us to raise funds and awareness for cancer research in Malaysia.

How can you contribute?
Again this year, Frank will dedicate this year's "Downhill" run of the Comrades Marathon towards cancer research in CARIF. You can support Frank by a simple donation of any amount or by purchasing the official Be Frank t-shirts priced at RM50.00 which are tax-exempted, available at Running Lab, Tropicana City Mall or call us at +603 5639 1874 to place your orders.

For more info, do visit the following site:
CARIF - www.carif.com.my
Be Frank - www.befrank.com.my
Be Frank Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/befrank.my

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Correct Breathing Tips for Runners...

Do you love to run? Are you just planning to start running as part of your exercise regimen? Running is a rewarding, and at the same time, exhausting exercise, but if you know how to do proper breathing, you can certainly reap the optimum benefit of this cardiovascular activity. Run a lot farther, and for much longer, by remembering the following things:

Do deep breathing exercises.
Proper breathing while running is important. Breathing techniques can contribute significantly to improving your speed and resistance. The proper way to breathe is by inhaling a lot of oxygen without affecting your running efficiency. Because of this, you have a greater advantage among other runners who struggle to breathe properly.

Train your lungs.
A lot of runners make the mistake of thinking that training their legs for running is enough. Don’t forget the importance of training your lungs as well, when preparing for a marathon, a triathlon, or even your early morning jogs.

Did you know that the more chest heaves you do, the more you struggle to breathe. Your lungs go into overdrive when you reach the end of a speed interval. Your breath becomes shallow and rapid, as your heart starts pumping more blood and you pull in more air. You end up being exhausted, bending over to gasp for air.

According to Mindy Solkin, the owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City, "A strong respiratory system can improve your running. It's a simple equation: Better breathing equals more oxygen for your muscles, and that equals more endurance."

There are a lot of breathing exercises you can try to boost your lung power.

Avoid leg sprain.
Have you experienced leg sprain while running? Did you know that right breathing can also prevent leg fatigue? Taking deeper breaths gives your body more oxygen, which it feeds to your muscles, including your leg muscles. Take slow and deep breaths as you run to enhance the process.
Breathe through your diaphragm.

Most runners are used to breathing using their chest rather than their belly. Whenever you breathe in, your belly should fill up like a balloon, and then deflate when you breathe out. Chest breathing can be a hard habit to break. You can try breathing through the mouth so you can take in more oxygen and be able to release more carbon dioxide.  

Breathing in patterns.
When we do exercises, we count 1 to 8 or up to 16, then repeat them in sets. The same can be applied to breathing exercises. This method is called rhythmic breathing and is an effective way to avoid injury. To start breathing in patterns:
- Start with a 2-2 pattern: Breathe in while stepping left then right
- Breathe out while stepping left to right
- Advance to a 3-3 pattern: (Breathe in, step left, right, left; breathe out, step right, left, right), and then a 4-4 pattern.

Do cross-training exercises.
You may also try doing cross-training exercises to reduce huffing and puffing. Exercises like Pilates or yoga can also help you train your lungs and perfect your breathing techniques.

The breathing exercises mentioned above will not only keep you away from any injury—whether it may be leg sprain, muscle fatigue, and more—but also help you run or jog without feeling too strained.

Running is a great activity to engage in, and proper breathing can do a lot to improve your running experience. You may be exposed to some injuries, as with any other exercise activity, and in such cases, a medical insurance can come in handy. 

Want to know more about medical insurance? Check out MoneyMax’s comparison tool and find the best medical insurance plan for you today. 

*disclaimer: The above article is contributed by Cristina Beltran a blogger and writer from MoneyMax.ph..

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Milestone...

By Frank

It's about a week into the fourth month of the year and also the fourth month of my Comrades training for year 2014. And with all the positive vibes and progress, I am absolutely proud and happy to myself that I've managed to hit the 1,000KM running distance milestone. 

Hitting 1,000KM distance isn't exactly a priority in the regime, but to hit the magic 4 digit distance within the given short span of time  is certainly something I can pat my own shoulders on. 4 months seems and sounds short, but the journey has been a long tiring one. But at the end of each session, the feeling is just absolutely great knowing that my effort will be justified on race day itself.

I didn't recover very well from the recent Twilight Ultra Challenge 2014. Probably due to the travelling and also the bad timing of the company's audit period. A bit behind schedule now but that's fine as I do not intend to add back any lost session in the next. Am just moving forward with each day.

Another which isn't exactly a good news will be after battling haze back in March, April "welcomed" another challenge in the form of water rationing. With the critical level of water in our local dams, my residence  has been put under Phase 4 of the rationing period with water only flowing in every alternate 2 days. After a sweaty run, clothes are screaming for a wash. And with no water, they will pile up and certainly will smell. In the mind, I was telling myself not to train because of this, but certainly, that isn't the answer. Therefore, the show must still go on while I await things to turn for the better. In the meantime, I will just have to find my own way to prevent the smell from spreading.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"March"ing Through The Toughest Month...

By Frank

It's 60 days to go as we enter a brand new month again, this time April, the fourth month into training. When I first started drafting this entry, I really do not know on what to talk about for the month of March. I was tired but at the same time satisfied. Tired from the long haul of long training which was almost marred by factors including the weather and also some of my emotional trouble, the one thing I had in mind was just to get pass "Hell March" with positive results. I'm glad I did though it was done the hard way.

And so, I achieved 371KM, once again achieving what I was set out to do. When the month started, I didn't think I can achieve my training target due to the very bad haze. But as I was a gym member, I kept myself positive about it and made full use of the facilities without thinking too much of it. Yes, running long distance on the treadmill is not easy and its bored, but something needs to be done and run on it I did. And I guess, running keeps emotional troubles at bay too. Then of course I had work to juggle with. And the month of March is certainly the month I hated most as it was audit month. But am just glad I survived the audit.

Long distance progress.

I also called upon Jamie for his help too as I needed his assistance to run long during the weekend. We managed 2 outings together the first together with Zijill and Nick with the latter bringing me to new places around Subang. It was a nice run indeed at 19KM for me only to be plagued with a little haze on that day. The second saw me returning to Kinrara Puchong, the every famous "Amah Hills" together with some from the Gold Coast Marathon group. I managed a long 32KM there with the help of Julia and it was a good build-up to the following week's 16 hours Twilight Ultra Challenge at Singapore.

And to close the month off, came Twilight Ultra Challenge (TUC). This event has been an annual thing for me since the first edition back in year 2010. And when Comrades Marathon became a part of my running life, it was automatically upgraded to an annual event where I am suppose to peak for my training. Though I ran my best Twilight Ultra Challenge this time, I still thought I was unlucky again as I was hit by headache even before the start of the run. But the post run feeling the next day was good and that was the result I was looking for. Legs didn't feel too thrashed out and the physical cardiovascular health was feeling good too.

Back in my previous TUC entry, I mentioned briefly about my weight and fat percentage being very low. Despite all the effort in trying to gain, it was loss that I went through. A dip into the abyss, my fat percentage drop to a drastic 3%! The reading was taken mid March and although I felt good, I was really shocked at what the training did to me. 3% can't fuel me long for the distance I am tackling and I really hope to bring it back up to my normal level soon.

I need to EAT!

So talking about gaining weight, in this month too, I was introduced to Joey's homemade peanut butter. I wasn't a fan of peanut butter during my childhood days but that changed drastically when adulthood hit me. Peanut butter is essentially a sport's person type of food where it provides good fat to our body, and being homemade, I find myself eating Joey's version like a peanut butter freak. It was simply delicious too! I did overdose on it once and had to run to the toilet during one of my weekend runs with Jamie. I guess that not only it provides all the essential nutrients to the body, but it also helps to clear the bowel contents too! Talk about trying to gain weight! Anyway, if you are interested on Joey's homemade peanut butter, do visit his link HERE and all purchasing methods and contacts are listed there.

Yummy homemade peanut butter from Joey.

Now having survived the "longest" month, I will now enter the "fastest" month where April will involve lots of interval and hill training to build pace. Pace will be build during the weekdays while weekend will see the usual long runs. Interval training isn't exactly my favourite, in fact I favour long distance more. But once again, it has to be done as per instructed. And if everything goes smoothly, the following month of May will certainly be a month to be look forward to. So let us feel the need for speed this April!