Monday, 21 November 2011


Acceptance... because it isn't always success-failure, it isn't just black-white... there is a world of grey in between making it and dropping out that the world doesn't always see or acknowledge. So sometimes you have to make it up as you go along!

Last year was a year of gratification for work put in - I followed my training plan to a T, hit some wonderful new records (mileage ran, race times etc) and generally kept injuries to the niggling. I expected much the same and a little bit more from this year, it only being my 2nd full year of 'serious' running. I felt confident building on a decent foundation but also saw the opportunity to just push the envelope with my goals. As I've grown older, I've found myself getting less gutsy, less motivated and more inclined to keep to my comfort zone - running was my way of transcending this.... In simple goals, I saw my to-be-fulfilled potential and new found fearlessness.

Sadly, plans get thwarted, as they do. First, my LA marathon plan had to get canned because the business trip (that was to get me to LA) ended up a week earlier than the race itself. In addition to that, my training has been interrupted every 1-2 months or so with my foot flaring up (2-3 times now), unexplained fatigue and various illnesses (colds, tummy trouble). I am not one to visit the doctor any more than once or twice a year at the maximum, but this year has seen me at the doctors a few more times than that.

I'm happy to say that I am not seriously sick, thankfully. What has turned up though is a range of dietary intolerances, including eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, yeast (and a number of other items that I won't even begin to tackle because I won't have anything left to eat!) that is likely to have contributed to my ever worsening issues with heartburn and gastrointestinal discomfort, as well as my fatigue and susceptibility to infections.

My foot is yet a whole other story. I hurt 1 foot in Feb when I ran my longest run ever. That went away, before my right foot started up in the summer and has never really resolved. Even as I speak, the top of my right foot is swollen and a bit bruised after my 16km run yesterday. There's a pattern of it hurting after my long runs, then easing back within 1-2 days to a "minimal-but-I'm-still-here" level for the rest of the week as I've tried to still hit as much of of planned training as possible but of course, never quite letting it heal properly.

So as I head into race week (I'm doing the Unicef Half Marathon at Hong Kong Disneyland again this year), I'm wondering what my 'goal' ought to be. I'm feeling just a little bit beat up and less than confident. My original plan had been to better last year's PR, and secretly, I was hoping to get my time down to 1:52-1:53. But realistically, I accomplished my training this time round at about 50-70% of the level at which it was designed (with the bulk of the tempo/speed sessions missed or compromised) and I'm conscious that I have an injured foot.
Is simply turning up and trying to enjoy it while I do my best enough of a goal? Or even if it is one, is it enough to make me feel satisfied, like I've achieved something after all this hard work and angst? I wonder, what will I have to speak of when this year is over? To what end have I committed myself and what will I have to show for it?

"When you run, there are no mistakes, only lessons. The art and science of ultra running is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the successes as the combination that eventually works.
Lessons will be presented in various forms and intensities. Each lesson will be repeated until it is learned. When you have learned one lesson you will be presented with another.
The learning of lessons does not end. There is no part of your running experience that does not contain lessons. Each time you run there are lessons to be learned.
Life's answers lie within. Life's questions can be answered from within. Running is the medium through which these answers will be revealed. All you have to do is look, listen, feel and trust.
As you advance to greater challenges, you will continue to gain knowledge of yourself. Periodically you will be required to reach ever deeper in to your inner being, seeking out the strength needed to continue the endeavor of the moment. The strength you seek is layered within. The number of layers in infinite. All you have to do is believe, have faith in yourself, and expect to find that which you seek." - Keith Pippin

And so it is, bringing me back to Acceptance. I am a control freak/perfectionist who thinks - if you don't have a chance to get that 'wow' result that you were aiming for, it's a let-down no matter what. It's a disappointment to even try. It's even more of a defeat if you still go and 'prove' yourself right, "I told you so... why did you even bother?". What honour is there in turning up anyway? Will you gain anything at all?
There is a kind of denial/resistance in that mentality, a turning away because I do not like what is happening and refuse to accept the limitations subjected upon me. There is a feeling that it was my own fault, I MUST have done something wrong or simply didn't try hard enough. The thinking revolves around me and what I do (or do not). And then I flip completely in the opposite direction, feeling the victim for being subject to my body and my failings - I tried my best but it failed me, so I throw my hands up in despair and surrender.
But Acceptance, as I am learning, asks me to tow the middle ground. It says, "I agree that you are not 100%, but it seems to me that you could still finish the race. Let go of your fixations, of your expectations. Allow other ways of seeing and experiencing to show you what might be lying in wait at the finish line. Sometimes you can just show up and be there. It doesn't always have to be perfect, who knows what is in store?".
This is, for me, a lifelong lesson... how true that "Lessons will be presented in various forms and intensities. Each lesson will be repeated until it is learned." Balancing ambition with acceptance. Sitting with discomfort and disappointment, not turning away and giving up. Putting in the effort and knowing that that is 'good enough'. Recognising the doing and determination rather than just result.
This Sunday morning, I will read this again and remember that I can go and give it my all, and still have a good run.
Goals are good, but Acceptance, even wiser.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Today. Present. Taste it.

Close your eyes. Release. Breathe out. Watch.

Content. Simply.

I will die soon. Life is short. Today could be my last. What matters now?

-written today

My heart and mind have been caught up with a lot of thinking and wrangling... many Should I's and What If's...


I gather myself back, my energy, my being. Just to sit with me right now.

Friday, 15 July 2011

A thought for this weekend...

"While investing in gold, stocks, and bonds might be a recipe for hedonic wealth — riches that can be used to buy the dismal, mass-produced, rapidly depreciating, worthless-by-next-month commodities that line the sagging exurban shelves of every crammed-to-the-brim, beige big box store from here to Pluto — my little suggestion's a set of ingredients to craft your own recipe for eudaimonic wealth — riches that are made up of the stuff you probably can't buy, but have to earn: the stuff that people usually don't (and probably won't) sell, but can choose to freely bestow upon you, give to you, and keep in trust for you."
- Umair Haque over at Harvard Business Review

Yes, we are talking about things like love, kindness, compassion, true passion and dedication, creativity, beauty, freedom, peace, contentment and sufficiency, wisdom, courage, sacrifice...

His challenge to his readers... and mine to you this weekend:
Put what, why, and who you love ahead of what, why, and who you don't, and your roadmap will begin to write itself.

I value all the things that money and corporations and careers and material goods cannot give me - running, time, goodness of my fellow people, contentment, handiwork and gardening, physical well being and health... let this guide my thoughts this weekend and my life's roadmap.

What does your list look like?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


I'm out of the rut! Yay!

I allowed myself some time 'off', took the pressure off, came back from holiday, started looking into training plans, started ramping up on running again... and bam, I'm back in the game!

Running thoughts and other related items...

1) So what training plan should I use?
I'm reading Run Faster by Brad Hudson and playing around with what my plan should look like. I may have already mentioned before that I've adjusted my goals slightly for the year - taking into account the number of times I've been ill this year and the niggling issues (right SI joint and left hamstring/knee), I've decided to push back my virgin marathon, but still work on a HM and maybe a couple of 10km races this year (hopefully with PBs in both!). I had originally thought of doing a combo of the usual Runner's World plan and the FIRST plan (of Run Less Run Faster fame) - that would mean alternating between weeks of 3 and 4 runs, with 1-2 hard workouts (hard = tempo or speedwork), as well as long runs at quicker paces than I'm used to (the FIRST plans actually suggest paces just 20-30 seconds off race pace... which I am unsure I can do week on week, and I certainly cannot achieve on the hilly roads around home).

But the more I read, the more confusing it all gets - you have plans advocating 3 days of running, others that say 6... and then add in tempo, speedwork, progressing, hills, sprints, fartleks... heart rate, all types of suggested pacing, effort based training... oh my goodness! So now I'm thinking that I may need to review...

So this is where I am at:
  • Choose the number of runs per week - I'm probably going to settle for 4 as an average, with more 3/4s at the start and then working up to 4/5s later.
  • More variability - up to now, I've predominantly based my training on the Runner's World type of plan which is quite repetitive. I'm going to mix it up a lot more with my speedwork especially. Also, 2 new things that I'm going to add are - Progression runs and hill sprints/intervals.
  • Paces - don't know about this one. FIRST paces are killer. I can probably do a bit better than the RW's suggestions. So right now, I'm hitting somewhere in between. Haven't quite gotten to that bit in Run Faster.

2) Cross Training and Strength Training Joys
Just ordered a bike trainer and looking forward to doing more cycling. I'm also squeezing in at least 1 full (1 hour) yoga session at home weekly and may even go for classes again.

My core/strength training has also gotten a bit stale, so I've upped the ante with this a bit and think I could still dial it up another notch. So if you're thinking of that too, then enjoy these killer training vids by Coach Jay - check out in particular the videos he did for Running Times, as well as the ones featuring the lunge matrix, Core H routine and running-specific Swissball work.
Just like running plans, there are just so many different things you can do - the trick is to balance time, simplicity, practicality with need, outcome and specificity.

3) And just to keep things complicated...
More thinking to do?!?! Isn't running touted as the simplest of exercises, just lace up and go?

Still, I thought it would be good to mention this study comparing barefoot and shod runners and their injuries over a period of time.

This study, like most others, are not without limitations but it does bring up many salient factors. In my mind, though, there is almost too much variability in the exercise of running and in the history of runners to make it possible to ever draw a final conclusion.

If anything, it just highlights the fact that it's good to have this debate and an alternative viewpoint, but that with running and shoes, as with life, it's never one-size-fits-all. Like my training plan and strength work gets pieced together from a wealth of choices, so my shoes and how I use my minimalist versus 'normal' shoes will be something I trial over time - I won't hit jackpot immediately, but will learn and adjust along the way... hoping for wisdom and patience as I find the way to self-improvement with minimal casualty.

4) and some YUMS....

Try this if you have a sweet tooth (or are in need of reward!) - I found this fantastic banana bread recipe over at Runner's Kitchen!!! Tried it and approved!

So with this, I shall leave you! Happy running and experimenting!

Monday, 4 July 2011

I'm back...

Through the rollercoaster ride of my mind these past few months, up and down and up and down... I'm back running, at least, and loving it again!

been wrestling with myself of late... struggling to get myself excited about my life... but then a chink of light - do epic shit!
Getting tied up in my thoughts doesn't serve any purpose... but connecting with the greater goodness and reaching out to crawl in that direction will be a start of a new beginning!
What a wonderfully liberating thought - the world does not bat an eyelid if I fall splat on my face... but I would give everything I have to make my life mean something. So go, now, and do!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Today, just Today...

Wow... it's been a long time since I've written.
In fact, it's been a very long month.

Physically and emotionally, it has been trying. I prefer to think it's the former causing the latter.... and all the angst and annoyance at feeling so lousy only adds to it.
Last week, my tact was to lie low as much as possible, at the same time obsessing about what was wrong and what I can do about it. It's not nice feeling like I want to be in bed all the time... and even worse, to be in bed but wondering if I'm letting myself off to easy.... kind of ruined everything so I neither rested nor got off my butt.
Yes yes, signs of that very neurotic me...

Well into week 2 of this yet-undiagnosed malaise and I've kind of had it. Time to just throw up my hands, shrug a little and realise that I should just resign myself to taking it easy until I am well again. Simple as that! Whining like a big baby sure ain't gonna help me recover.

The little voice in my head still torments, but is slowly fading by the day - I only ran twice the week before last (less than 15km) and did not run at all last week (partly deliberate... I thought that some of the lassitude could have been boredom with running, but that's probably not the case).
Did well with keeping up with core/strength work though, still managed 4 days worth, in addition to 1 elliptical session.

In the whirlwind of my mind, not much has managed to stick. I've felt very lost, disengaged and lacking in focus.
And then I come across this article in Zenhabits and I make myself take pause... so many nuggets of wisdom, of which I choose just this one for today:

"The moment is all there is. All our worries and plans about the future, all our replaying of things that happened in the past — it’s all in our heads, and it just distracts us from fully living right now. Let go of all that, and just focus on what you’re doing, right at this moment. In this way, any activity can be meditation."

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Losing steam...

Sorry I haven't been around much. This is one of the reasons why...

wow... no words needed.

Running has hit a slump, a major motivational hurdle, the pits.
Last week - I ran once, 5km.
I haven't run so little in years.
A plethora of excuses masquerading as reasons (or vice versa)... my holiday, a mild tummy bug, a very tight left buttock/hamstring...

But all thoughts do not cause me more anxiety than the realisation that the desire to run fades by the day. Not running means I forget the joy and instead, get caught up in the stress-y-ness of getting myself back into it... not running means falling out of a habit and having to claw my way back... not running means sliding backwards in fitness and routine, therefore losing some of the positive reinforcement that kept me running before.

So today, I made a choice. I have a cold and an annoying itchy cough, but I got off my ass and went to the gym - did 5.5 km and some strength/core work. Can't say I feel the better for it just yet, but I remind myself - Daily Choices, my choice is today! Hopefully tomorrow too!
I guess it isn't out of the ordinary to feel this way since I've been training quite hard for over a year now - for my half marathon last year and then for the LA marathon which I ended up missing in March... so I'm allowed to kick back a little, aren't I?
*just not for too long....*

Anyone with tips or stories to share about coming back from the brink - drop me a note or a comment please!

and until then, I'll keep hoping and trying - most importantly, to rediscover the Joy.