Monday, May 23, 2016

My Fifth Comrades...

By Frank

And so, I am finally here and certainly am glad I am. The end of the fifth month as the training for Comrades comes to an end. With 1,688KM covered by those legs of mine over here, the work is done here. Just a couple of runs more to round up the distance to 1,700KM over at Durban's North Beach when I arrive there to keep my legs going and that should be it, for my fifth Comrades will take place this Sunday, 29 May 2016. And this year, only myself, Chee Kong and a novice Chris Yeoh will be running the race as Malaysians.

Yeap, time certainly passed swiftly as I remembered my very first back in year 2012 and in a blink of an eye, it' half a decade already. This year's training was the toughest of all due to the combination of the West Highland Way Race 3 weeks later. I only had a month's of off-season in December last year. Not a total rest and with that, I managed to maintain my fitness and swing my momentum into January where it all officially started. With a training regime given by coach with a mixture and not to mention an increase of intensity of running and strength training, I had doubts if I can pull this year's training off. But with a  positive mindset, I set myself off cause knowing with will, confidence and discipline, I know that even if I am not able to hit it spot on at 100%, I should at least able to get near it. And those who knew me, knows that like previous years,  I've used running to run away from my thoughts and problems I faced, and that may indirectly help. And to quickly recap, here's what happened in the past 4 months since training all started.

January started almost with a bang. With my unsuccessful ballot for this year's Hong Kong 100, I opt for the local Watergate 16 Hours instead. Didn't do very well in that though as sleep got over me again, but it was still good indicator. It was also from this event that I stopped sharing my blog entries on my Facebook due to some very negative people. A couple of weeks later was then the Cyberjaya Twincity Marathon. I did well on this one cruising through the entire course without any difficulties. With that, I knew I had already had a positive start as I conclude the month with 346KM covered. The link to January 2016 report card HERE.

February was a tough month to forget. Though it all started positively continuing from January, things got rough during Chinese New Year when mum and Bailey was injured during a dog attack. That derailed my training a lot as family will always comes first. But by the third week after both of them making their full recovery, I slowly made my way back into training with some proper time management and ended the month with the Gunung Nuang Ultra. With that, it was a surprise 352KM for the month where I told myself how much I wanted it! The link to February 2016 report card HERE.

Next, the much dreaded month came, known to most Comrades runners as Hell March. 400KM was needed and not forgetting strength training too. I asked myself on how am I going to achieve this as I know I can no longer depend on the training group. But looking back at last year, I actually managed to do it and that certainly gave me a motivational boost and coincidentally, it was the month where I hit the milestone of a decade of running injury free too. *fist pumps! However, with the legs still sore from the Gunung Nuang Ultra, I started the first few days of the month by resting before resuming. The rest though took some much needed time away, did proof beneficial as I felt it help me build my quadriceps which will be important for downhills. With Twilight Ultra Challenge at the third week of the month, I knew at that time that 400KM was possible. However, my left shoulder blade issue returned during the run and I struggled with it towards the end of the month before it subsided. But all in all, 415KM was covered and I felt not only relieved, but strong. The link to March 2016 report card HERE.

Moving into April, though the distance and the intensity is reduced, it was still a tough month. With the shoulder blade issue out of the way, came the "dead" leg syndrome on my left. Not sure what happened but it eventually went away just in time for my final long run at Route 68 Challenge. Knowing that my big races are nearing, I held back throughout the race and surprisingly felt good completing 70KM injury and soreness free, and in a very decent time too. With this, I knew that I was on the right track and I carried on with the rest of the regime given. 375KM was covered and it was time to taper. The link to April 2016 report card HERE

I welcomed the fifth month May with much anticipation for it's tapering month. After all the hard work, it's time to slowly decrease the running mileage and intensity. However with the expiration of my gym membership, the handover process of my work and also the presence of an unwelcome guest fro Singapore office, it was not an easy tapering period too, especially for the first couple of weeks. I id most of workouts at weird hours and managed to survive that before it got better as the third week arrived. And by then, everything was smooth sailing except with one problem, my nagging issue of my left shoulder blade returned. I couldn't turn my upper torso and head properly for about a week before it finally subside. Hope it won't happen again though, especially for the next 1 month ahead. And with all of this, 200KM was covered for this month, a dramatic drop compared to last year, but I believe there is a reason for this.

1,688KM of pain, soreness, tears, blood and many thoughts.

Overall, the result of from the past 5 months has been really positive and I am glad training is all over now.  I felt throughout the months, I have greatly improved on my uphill strength while improving slightly on running downhills. And not only that, after 2 years on the MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) Method by Dr. Phil Maffetone and LCHF (Low Carbs High Fat) diet, I am finally feeling the results from it for I am able to cruise better now at a very manageable heart rate. And those are all performed in the very hot and humid weather of Malaysia. Hope it will be even better over at South Africa and Scotland where weather is much more forgiving. What is left now is to implement what I gained from the training and to remember what I have learnt from these past 10 years of running into the 2 biggest race of my running career.

And so with that, concludes all the training needed for Comrades here as I fly off tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 24 May) to Istanbul on board Turkish Airlines (shame on Emirates for charging a premium this time) for a 7 hour transit before landing at Durban. 5 months since it all started for my fifth Comrades. And during the process, 2 pairs of Kinvara 5 and a pair of Zealot ISO met their end of life with the Kinvara 6, Kinvara 7, Ride 8, Peregrine 5 and Peregrine 6 being my other workhorse. And not only shoes, my body fat percentage took a dive too with the lowest reading at the end of April with a record reading of only 4%! Even a 27 inch jeans is loose for me now. It's going to get extra tough to be shopping for apparels now. Sigh...

However, during the tapering month and 2 weeks into the month of May, I managed to increase my body fat percentage back up to 5.8%. And not only that, my muscle mass increased too and that was certainly positive. I hope this will continue to build up though I may lose a little more during Comrades.

Though I am feeling strong, I am not looking for an improvement of time at Comrades this year unless some miracle happens. More importantly is to get myself to the Kingsmead within the cut off time safely and without any injuries. And this year being the down run, I have to be extra careful. So in other words, Comrades this year is more about a long training run for the West Highland Way Race though the 5 big hills and the countless nameless ones still needs to be respected for it will shatter even the strongest runner.

There will also be no plans at South Africa after the race this year as myself and Chee Kong will leave for Scotland the day after. Therefore, apologies to my South African friends just in case we are not able to meet up this year. But I think this will be good for me to rest up and recover, and at the same time to acclimatise myself with Scotland's summer. That however, will be under another separate entry for now, it's all eyes on my fifth Comrades Marathon.

So before signing off here, here are my thanks to everyone who had help me got this far. And to my sponsors Saucony, I will race in your colours proudly and strongly! Till my race report, wish me luck this Sunday, 29 May 2016!

1 comment:

Nick Phillips said...

All the best and #FindYourStrong, Frank!