Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Warriors Give Back to Ru Yi Home

The idea of setting up a charity program to give back to the community came up one day over a breakfast conversation in Sri Ananda Bahwan after beach bootcamp. A few of us are first timers when it comes to this but have always wanted to start somewhere, just... not to sure where and how. So when the suggestion came up to implement and execute the idea, most, if not all, jumped into the bandwagon to work together to get this going. A working committee was instantly formed right there and then, a private Whatsapp group conversation was created and everyone got to work.

For the first project, we decided to go with something easier, which was to visit Ru Yi Children's Home in  Mount Erskine, Tanjung Tokong. A call was made to the home to arrange the date and time of the visit. Responsibilities were delegated, Facebook pages created and members helped to spread the word. Donations were pouring in and there were even those who volunteered to buy all types of stationery and learning materials for the kids. 

At approximately 4.15pm on 27th April which was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we gathered at Ru Yi Home. 

The kids were doing their homework when we arrived and we took a moment or two to blend in and talk to them. Surprisingly the kids were very friendly, outgoing, and well.. active.. which we soon found out later.

As Junior Bootcamp was part of the planned program, we had some Junior Bootcamp T shirts made for the kids. 

All of them queuing up for T shirt distribution.

I have to say, all of them looked great and adorable in the T shirts!

Next, we had them walking two by two in a line again and we walked up to an open hall area where the games were to be conducted.

They were really active, talkative and excited that it took us a while to speak over all the commotion before we finally got them to listen. As most of the kids speak Mandarin, Kelvin took over as the lead translator for the group by explaining to the kids what Warrior Bootcamp is all about and our program for the day. Needless to say, they were more than eager to start with the games than anything else.

The rest of the volunteers joined in the warm up. 

Luke had those kids doing a few agility movements such as duck walking, hopping on single leg and pushups.

The first game, Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose started...the kids had played a different version before but this time they had to chant in English where some of them got a little confused.

But when they did remember, boy oh boy, those kids can really sprint!

Punishment for the loser

Of course the volunteers themselves, had to be punished too if they lost. The punishment were given by the kids and they sure had the losers doing different things from 40 ear pull squats to kung fu fighting to sit ups and push ups.

Next, we played Catch the Dragon's tail. This is the ancient way of dividing people into groups.

It was a helluva fun for all. The active kids had no problem following instructions, executing the game at the same time enjoying themselves. In fact, it looked so fun you wished you had their energy to keep going game after game.

Next came the circuit. Luke and Ee Wey demonstrated the actions while the kids observed.

Things got quite competitive between the two teams for a while as team who collected the most items will be the winner. Team spirit was definitely seen in each respective teams as they encouraged and cheered each other throughout the game. Meanwhile, we, the adults had fun watching from the sideline and took great care to re-position the things back so the kids will not trip on them.

We proceeded to Hoopers. 

And a few more childhood games like the A-E-I-O-U freeze game


Basically the kids just turned the area into a circus of their own while the adults took a breather at the side. My, they were really full of energy and still were by dinner time. We had them gathered again and walked back to the house where dinner will be served. 

The kids are vegetarians so we prepared a big sumptuous meal, probably enough to feed them for a day or two. There were also muffins baked with love by Penny and Popsicles prepared with healthy fruits and vegetables by Suan Choo and Kelvin. 

Serving them food. They're so well behaved and good mannered that every single thing you did for them was greeted with a "Thank You"," Excuse Me" if you were blocking their path. A short prayer was said and they addressed all of us as a form of courtesy before they started eating. 

Enjoying refreshing cold Popsicle after meal

After dinner, the obedient kids helped to clean up by stacking up the chairs and placed them where they should be, wiped the table, and oh did I mention they washed their own plates too?

The older ones were assigned to wash bigger stuffs like the pots.

Last but not least, a small gift to all of them


Stationery set and sand art pack. Other things like drawing block, marker pens, books and more stationery donated by the volunteers were passed to the helpers to give out for future use. Those were the items they were in need of. Should you plan to visit them, please call in advance to ask on the necessities they might need.

It was a real rewarding day for all of us. To be able to meet, greet, play, entertain and feed the kids. Their smiles and laughter were an added bonus which made all our effort worth it. Everyone had indeed come together and made this first mini project a success. Let's hope that there'll be more of this to come; different projects, different people in need, different location.. but all with the same cause, to give back to the community.

That's all folks!

Last but not least, I'd like to end this post with a short video of the kids on teamwork :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Worst Post Workout Mistakes

1. Gulping a Sports Drink

One of the worst post-workout mistakes is gulping a sports drink. Unless you’re working out at an intense pace for hours, you don’t need to refuel with a sports drink. Instead of drinking your calories, stick to water and a small snack, like an apple with peanut butter, or carrots and hummus.

2. Staying in Sweaty Clothes for Hours After a Workout

Not only will you feel disgusting if you remain in your sweaty, smelly clothes after a workout, but the moisture underneath your clothes could lead to body acne and yeast infections.

Shower and change into dry clothes immediately after your workout, if you can.

3. Rubbing Your Eyes

Touching your eyes, mouth or nose after a workout is just asking for trouble. The gym is a breeding ground for germs.

Take as much precaution as you can by wiping down equipment before and after you use them. Wipe sweat from your face with a towel brought from home, and wash your hands after a workout. Hundreds of people touch gym equipment everyday, and you’re sharing germs with all of them.

4. Leaving Before Cooling Down

If you’re taking a class, leaving before the cool down is disrespectful to your instructor and bad for your body. If you’re working out alone, you’re only cutting corners. Carve out an extra five minutes per workout to stretch out those muscles. You’ll feel better the next day because of it, and you’ll be at less risk for injury.

5. Skipping a Snack

If you’re not planning to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner after your workout, eat a healthy snack within two hours of hitting the gym- it’s essential for building muscle. If you’re not refueling properly, you won’t see optimal results.

6. Overindulging

If you run three miles, don’t think that you need to eat a hamburger and piece of chocolate cake to make up for it. The reality is, you’re probably only burning about 300 calories, and eating a 1,000 calorie meal afterward will do nothing but sabotage your efforts.

7. Skimping on Sleep

If you’re waking up extra early to workout, but not getting enough sleep, you’re probably not helping yourself. Growth hormones, produced by your body while you sleep, help aid your muscles in repair.

Try to get 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye a night.

8. Rolling Up a Yoga Mat

If you’re a creature of habit, you might roll your yoga mat up after class, and leave it like that until the next one. While this might seem logical, you’re creating a breeding ground for germs.

After using your mat, wipe it down and lay it flat, or hang it up over a door to dry.

9. Neglecting to Wipe Off 

No one likes to workout on a sweaty piece of equipment. Not only is it rude, but it’s also very unsanitary.

When you’re done working out, wipe down your machine so no one else has to touch your germs. If you’re being extra-cautious, wipe down equipment before you workout, as well.

10. Late Night Snacking

If you’re still feeling hungry before bed, don’t reach for unhealthy snacks. Have a handful of almonds or a cup of Greek yogurt, and see if the feeling subsides. Reaching for fatty, greasy, sugary foods late at night will only make you feel bad. Just because you exercise does not mean that you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The New Rules of Fitness

Decades ago, fitness consisted of two workouts: all-out, all the time; and “LSD”—long, slow distance training. Then fitness went high-tech. Personal-metrics devices from companies like Polar, Garmin, Nike, and others became a billion-dollar industry. Nutrition took wild turns, too. Rocky-style raw-egg shakes were replaced by beet juice smoothies as the (legal) performance-enhancing drug of choice. At last, science-based training had replaced superstition.

But along with the research came the meaningless buzzwords, pseudo-science peddlers, and gimmicks (Shake Weight, anyone?). What's more, every age-grouper suddenly seemed to be an expert in exercise physiology. We've been following this stuff for a long time (37 years, to be exact), and we know how challenging it is to ferret out rules that actually work. Here are the 12 you need to know—and apply—starting now. Welcome to the new rules of fitness.

#1: Stop Overdosing on Vitamins and Supplements
The multivitamin industry is widespread and lucrative—but it’s always been difficult to demonstrate that taking supplements offers a real benefit, says Thomas Sherman, an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown’s Medical Center. For years, multivitamins were considered a low-level insurance policy and performance upgrade. Pop one if you’re worried you’re not getting the right nutrients, and you’ll be healthier—perhaps even stronger and faster. The problem: “There is a lot of theory, but no real data,” Dr. Sherman says. To make matters worse, a string of recent studies suggests that antioxidants get in the way of training adaptations, making them detrimental to performance.

#2: Go the F*ck to Sleep
Somewhere along the way, American's, with their Puritan work ethic, decided sleep was a bad thing. But if you're an athlete (or, hell, just a human), you need to take sleeping as seriously as you do training and eating. “In the past, many athletes would continue to train well past their body’s physical ability,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. Less sleep theoretically means more time for PRs, but your body doesn’t see it that way. Performance rests on a good night’s sleep, when your body chemistry shifts, and all kinds of beneficial bodily repair gets underway.

Need proof? In a recent study, 11 Stanford varsity basketball players maintained their sleep schedules for 2 to 4 weeks then slept as much as possible at night for 5 to 7 weeks—aiming for about 10 hours. Researchers measured timed sprints, shooting accuracy, and reaction times after every practice, and levels of daytime sleepiness, and mood throughout. The results: Athletes sprinted faster, shot more accurately, and felt better. 

#3: Get Away from Your Chair
You probably go above and beyond the American Heart Association’s guidelines for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week, but that may not be enough if you’re planted in a seat all day. That’s according to a new study that found an hour of sedentary behavior increased people’s risk of being unable to perform basic functions—like doing household chores—by 46 percent even if they still met the exercise requirements. “We don’t like to be idle,” says Allen Lim, Ph.D., founder of Skratch Labs.

There are ways to lessen the blow, though—without having to actually train more. Research by James Levine, Ph.D., M.D. of the Mayo Clinic found small movements throughout the day—fidgeting, walks, or getting up to go talk to someone instead of hitting ‘send’ on an email—can work toward counteracting the effects of sitting.

#4: Train Specific to Your Sport
Ten thousand hours of practice may not make you an expert—if you’re training at the wrong intensity. A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance that studied Olympic medal-winning speed skaters and their fitness regimes reached an interesting conclusion: While performance increased throughout the years, there was no increase in training or skating hours. The shift, instead, was to polarize training—training at a very high intensity in this case.

“It’s important to ask yourself what you’re training for,” says Lim. “Speed skaters do short, high-intensity events, so it makes sense that they train specifically for that,” he adds. But if you’re training for a century—and need the fitness to survive six hours in the saddle—then you need to put in that time. After a disappointing showing at the 2010 Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins revamped his training to meet the exact demands of the 2012 Tour. Forgoing many of the early season races, Wiggins spent time on the island Tenerife, preparing for the races's high-altitude summits. And his approach paid off: In 2012, he became the first British cyclist to win the race.

#5: Quit Flexing in the Mirror
The media has driven home the same message for years: If you look good with your shirt off, you’re healthy. The truth? “You can be protected from disease if you exercise—even if you are over eating and gaining weight. Unfit and skinny may be worse than fit and fat,” says Lim.

The new mantra is simple: “Beat yourself up over whether or not you are getting enough daily physical activity not over how you look,” says Lim. “Thin man syndrome”—or being skinny, but lacking muscle and having a high percentage of body fat—can put you at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, says Stacy Sims, MSc, Ph,D., co-founder of Osmo Nutrition. Carrying a little extra weight—so long as you have the muscle—won’t negatively impact your hormone profile or appetite like being scrawny, she says. Fit versus fat is an ongoing debate—and the jury’s still out on how much fat you can have without being “unhealthy.” The bottom line: Lean muscle is critical for overall health—even if the mirror isn’t reflecting those results yet.

#6: Be a Little Salty 
“Sweat sodium is much more variable than we thought with a stronger genetic link than previously known,” says Lim. What he means: When you sweat and lose salt, there’s huge variability between you and the guy next to you. “Someone can lose 200 milligrams (mg) of sodium per liter of sweat an hour and someone else could lose 2,000 mg per liter of sweat per hour,” he says. That’s like having a shoe store and needing to stock size 2 to 200 to accommodate everyone.

The practical application of this is listening to your body—and not assuming that salt is always so bad for you. “Our own mechanism for taste can be affected by how much you salt you lose,” he says. So if you’re athletic, you sweat, and you crave salt, eat salt,” Lim says. The ‘salt is unhealthy’ mantra probably doesn’t apply if you workout frequently.

#7: Stop Playing the Age Card
There’s a common misconception about aging that needs to be laid to rest—and it’s that you get old, and you lose your ability to move. Some research suggests that you lose 8 percent of your muscle mass each decade after age 40 and muscle loss increases significantly after age 75. But in a recent University of Pittsburgh study of 40 competitive athletes ages 40 to 81 who worked out four to five days a week, researchers found that athletes in their 70s and 80s had similar thigh muscle mass as those in their 40s. The 40-somethings were also just about as strong as the athletes in their 60s.

Those results make sense when you look at people like Kelly Slater—the 42-year-old pro surfer, the oldest to ever win the Surfing World Championship—or American cyclist Chris Horner, who last fall became the oldest champion of one of cycling's three-week grand tours. Though a calendar would tell you their time has passed, a lifestyle of movement has kept them in the game. 

“As you get older, you simply have to take training in a different approach,” says Sims. Plyometric work and pure strength workouts help maintain neuromuscular connections and muscle mass and help generate speed and power.” 

#8: Minimize the Junk Miles
Give those long, slow jogs a break. According to a 2008 study in the American Journal of Physiology, one and a half hours a week of high-intensity intervals will improve arterial structure and function just as much as five hours a week of lower-intensity workouts. Even more: When highly trained recreational cyclists reduced their distance from 200km per week, swapping it with 12 x 30s sprints a few times a week and four minute intervals, their performance improved.

With intensity, your body learns to recognize stress, and overcome it without taking hours out of your day. Being more responsive to immediate stress increases your aerobic capacity, decreases bad cholesterol, works to build lean mass—much more than a long, slow fat-burning workout can offer, says Sims.

#9: Experiment on Yourself
"There’s a tendency to say, 'This is the average result, so this is the result,’” says Lim. But at the end of the day, we are our own experiment, Lim adds. Take research that looks at how different athletes respond to variables like altitude. In a recent Australian study of 16 highly trained runners with maximal aerobic power who simulated “live high, train low," researchers found that there was incredible individual variation in both physiological changes and performance. Some people have no response at all—others have a massive response.

Another noteworthy study that discovered great variability in results was the A to Z study, which tested people on four different kinds of diets. While statistically, all diets yielded similar weight loss after a year, a closer look at the data reveals incredible variation. “People who were outliers in one group did better on a different kind of a diet,” Lim explains. When it comes to diet performance, it’s—again—so particular. What works for you may not work for everyone else—and vice versa. 

#10: Embrace a New Era of Hydration
In 1965, when Gatorade was introduced to the sidelines of a University of Florida football game, a craze was born. “The typical mindset is to replace carbs and electrolytes,” says Sims. “But the bottom line is that anything’s that over a 4 percent carbohydrate solution can dehydrate.” Why? Water goes from a low concentration to a higher concentration, she explains. So drinks that are too sugary can force your body to move water out of your blood and muscles instead of into them, she says.

Hydration should be about just that: Hydration. And as research continues, low-concentration approaches to hydration like Nuun, SOS, and Sims’ own OSMO, have become popular.

#11: Workout Before Breakfast
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but if you’re waking up to a fast sweat, it can wait. In a recent study, two groups performed a high-intensity workout before or after eating the same morning meal. The results? The group that sweat before eating lost more weight, says Lim.

One reason: When you wake up, you have plenty of fuel stored from the night for a short workout—your blood glucose levels are stable and your body is in fasting mode. “Your workout stimulates muscle sensitivity to insulin, so when you eat, most of the food goes back into muscle rather than fat,” Lim says.

#12: Train Your Brain 
Ten years ago, hardly anyone trained their minds like they trained their bodies. Now, just about every serious athlete practices visualization or specific relaxation techniques—arousal control or pre-performance routines. “Everyone on the world class stage is closely linked when it comes to physical capabilities and technical proficiencies,” says Michael Gervais, one of the best sports psychologist’s in the business who coaches the likes of Olympian Kerri Walsh and professional daredevil Felix Baumgartner.

That’s why the U.S. Olympic Committee staffs five full-time sports psychologists: In order to win a gold, you must have a mind-body connection that’s strong enough to stop worrying about the crowd, failure—or arguably worse, brimming success. Take Team USA Swimmer Eric Shanteau: After receiving a cancer diagnosis weeks before the Beijing Olympics, he spent days at a facility near his home undergoing brain training simulations for focus. While Shanteau didn't medal at Beijing, he set a personal best in the 200-meter breaststroke and went on to earn a gold medal four years later at the 2012 London Olympics.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

What the fxxxk a 100k Ultra Trail Run!

“What the fxxxk a 100km Ultra Marathon?!”  I think these were the first few words that came out of our mouths when Roger decided to challenge us to the Vibram HK 100KM trail run.

What the hell had I let myself in for?  Personally, I’ve had my share of crazy endurance experiences in my military days but that had been a few years back. Now, I have gotten used to a less strenuous life and the joys of nasi kandar & hokkien mee (indulged only occasionally of course)

OK first thing first, let’s have a planning meeting.  Mountains of questions lingered; how the hell do you train for an ultra, what do you need, how much sleep should you get, what about nutrition etc.

To be honest we were a bit unsure so I rang a few friends who had experiences in ultras  for advice, we  also talked to Malaysians who had completed ultra races, we  read books, checked blogs, bought magazines  and gathered as much information as we could for the planning process. I suppose a certain level of anxiety drove us; the fear of the unknown. But we were all mentally ready for the challenge and the best thing is, the training group collectively supported and motivated each other for the build up to the race. This pre-race training personally was the best part, that feeling of being in a team again on a mission of a shared purpose; it reminded me of times in the army.

The funny thing about ultra-running is that it’s actually 90% mental. We have a saying in Warrior Bootcamp that you must first mentally commit, focus (be self-disciplined), believe and finally achieve.  If you have any doubts or don’t put in the training or preparation, you won’t get there or even if you get there you won’t be in good shape.

So what about the training? Well it included many long runs/trail runs normally back to back to build up the physical and mental endurance. Lots of field testing of equipment, weights, hydration and nutrition plans. Btw we always tried to train the same way we meant to fight with the same hydration system, weights and loads as in the race. We eventually developed the love for running in the rain ; nothing like waking up at 4am and running in a cold shower. It really super charges your day. Rain? What rain?

A few tips we learned were:  you don’t need to spend a fortune on equipments but don’t be kiam siap (stingy) either. We used Brooks trail shoes which were great,  also invest in a good pair of socks. I used the 1000 mile socks and had no problem. Wear compression shorts or cycling shorts as they will help to stop/prevent chaffing. I also recommend using Body Glide. Dry fit tee-shirt is fine and you don’t need to look like Mr Compression but if you want to, that’s fine. Also have a good peaked running hat and sunglasses. We also found that the calf compression guards were brilliant for longer runs and I would definitely recommend them.

Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes

So fast forward to the race day, I won’t bore you with the details but let’s say that the HK Vibram 100k was the best race I think I have ever entered to date. Why? Because the organization, the support & the spirit of the volunteers were simply AMAZING.  The people who organised this race really put in effort to prioritize the runners and the spirit of trail running to the fore.

Here we go!

The race itself started off with a run up a tar road then into a trail so jam jam & jam. The advice is to go slowly and get caught up the emotion and then head off fast, remember you have 99 km to go. 

Anyway once we settled into the race, we eventually found our rhythm.  Trail runs are a bit different from road races as the terrain underfoot keeps changing which are both physically and mentally tiring.  Also you must have the agility and courage to decent slops at a good speed without damaging something. 

My advice is you need to set  and keep a comfortable pace;  don’t head off and try to do your 42km personal best, trust me you will hit a wall. Also you must keep yourself optimally fed and hydrated throughout the race as it will also have a detrimental effect on your performance.

With Shannon

Each checkpoint was both first aid and feeding station, actually there were so much food I think I put on weight. The helpers at the rest stations were brilliant, we cannot thank them enough for the genuine care and support given to all the runners ( note this is a 34 hours cut off time race so you need to be committed to be a volunteer)

The race terrain was also beautiful with lots of spotless trails and climbs with steps, steps, steps and  more steps  approx. 4500m climbed in total.

The weather was hot during the day and cooler at night so an extra top was called for, but most of the time I ran in a tee- shirt. For Roger and Kelvin they would say it’s due to their lower body fat levels so they wore more light layers to protect themselves from the cold. :) Also when your body is tired, you will feel the cold even more so when we got into the rest stop at night we usually grabbed one of the blankets on offer to keep the core warm and later in the race I put on a Brooks wind breaker and neck warmer.

One thing we noticed about an ultra- run is that you will run into fellow competitors who had to stop along the trail due to tiredness or exhaustion.  Normally we would try to talk to them to get them moving again and encourage them to the next rest stop. Due to this I would recommend running with a buddy as it’s better for safety, motivation and conversations along the way.

My biggest challenge in the race was I hyper flexed my ankle at 25km. In fact we all had injuries; Roger injured his leg, Kelvin with his blistered feet.

However the team spirit was a great pain relief. One other thing I knew from previous tough situations was that you must have a sense of humour. I think we all laughed at the stupidest things. For example we got an impromptu karaoke session going when we caught up with a runner who was using music to keep himself motivated, in fact on any other day some of my least favourite  80’S music (Leo Sayers ) . However it sounded like manna to the ears and highly motivational when struggling up a few thousand steps.  Also we met another runner with a head torch the size of a car’s headlight! It looked like he was running in daylight while we were running in nightlight if you get what I mean :)  Good on him for finishing the race because  carrying the weight of spare batteries alone must have been colossal feat in itself.

After 90km you can feel the end in sight, however we still had one last large climb to go which we did it with heads down and lots of gutso. To be honest we felt great mentally and physically as we had prepared really well. We were honest with ourselves about the magnitude of the tasks we were undertaking and ran the race as we planned, not pushing at 100 % to ensure efficient energy management. Actually towards the end, not only we felt we were getting faster but also stronger.

When you see the finish line you get that great euphoric feeling, a sense of achievement that all the hard work has really paid off. Next of course you must pose for the regulation photographs. 

Actually every time I opened Facebook over the next few days I only saw Roger & Kelvin’s head haha (only kidding :) ) . We then headed back to the hotel and slept for about 12 hours after which we indulged in the habit of all great Penangnites, which was to eat our way around HK.

To conclude I would like to thank our comrades for the help and support, Roger, Kelvin, Wendy, Ming and also Shannon, another Penangnite who joined us along the way.  Not forgetting Michael from Brooks Malaysia for sponsoring some items we needed in the race and last but not least Sharon for the emotional support. So now onto the next challenge maybe a 150km if I’m allowed :)