Friday, 31 July 2015

Basic and Progressive Training Program for First Time Marathoners

Decision made. 12 months. One goal. To complete your first Marathon distance event.

The question that comes next to mind is; how do I train for such a distance? Granted that 12 months seems like a long time away, but where do I start? How much mileage do I need to clock? How frequent should I run a week? I’ve heard of Tempo Runs and Long Slow Distance (LSD) Runs, but what do they mean? Should I be taking part in any other running events in between? If these (and other questions) are playing over and over in your head, this article was specially crafted with you in mind.


This training program was prepared with the assumption that you have been running regularly for some time already, have a couple of half marathon finishes under your belt and are committed to training for what will be the longest distance you have ever covered on foot. This program was also designed to ensure that you complete the marathon distance within the standard cut-off time of 6 hours, and to do it comfortably.

The base of every long distance running program is the LSD whereby an LSD run is a form of aerobic endurance training done at an comfortable pace which one can hold a conversation while running. Generally, LSD’s are run at about 65-80% of your maximum heart rate. Why run LSD’s, you ask? First, it prepares your body to adapt to the constant pounding of pavement and prepares your joints and muscles to withstand the repetitive motion of running for longer durations. Secondly, it improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply to the muscles; which biologically enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Third, by going for a slow and long run, it teaches and enhances your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy rather than the limited stores of glycogen. Depleting or fully utilizing glycogen early in a race would lead a runner to experience sudden fatigue and loss of energy or in running term, “hitting the wall”.

LSD runs also give you opportunity to practice your fueling and hydration strategy, learn how different parts of your body react to long runs, e.g. are there any chafing, blisters, side stitches, joint pains, muscle cramps, etc., and also to try out new gears you plan to wear on race day. Run LSD’s once a week for a start starting with your longest distance you have run and gradually build up by 10% distance for each subsequent LSD run. Every 4 weeks, take a break from LSD running so that your body recuperates from the stresses you put on your body. Slowly increase your LSD mileage until you reach a long run of up to 32km in training. Remember that timing does not really matter in your LSD runs.Azrulhisyam

Another aspect of training that gives good benefit to long distance runners is interval training runs. Interval training is an important part of any training program. A misconception is that interval training is only for shorter distance training, which is so untrue. We run the most efficient when we run fast. By doing intervals, we are training our body to be more efficient by repeating the coordination of the muscles and nervous systems, while at the same time, teaching the body to be more efficient in the delivery of the oxygen rich red blood cells through the body and helps strengthen the cardiovascular system. In general, interval training comprises of the following: warm up, high effort, recovery, cool down.

Use the warm up to prepare your body for the workout, while cool down is to ease the body back after the hard session. The high effort and recovery sections will be repeated N numbers of time, with the high effort section being hard effort, while the recovery sections give you the breather before going for next hard effort. You can use time or distance for interval, example: 400m/100m (400m fast, 100m recovery jog or walk) or 2 min/1 min (2 min fast, 1 min recovery jog or walk). The ratio is important, as you become fitter; the high effort section naturally should become longer while the recovery section becomes shorter. Another way to do interval is to use signage or fixtures around you, for example run from one lamp post to the next three, and then recover for one. 

The unstructured nature of this is normally called Fartlek, and it can keep you alert as you engage with your surroundings. Hill work is also another variance of interval that can improve your strength as well. For marathon training, incorporate at least one session of interval training in a week, and make sure the high effort section is at least 1KM or 5 mins, with recovery section slowly ranging down to 200M or 1 min, repetition should range from 3 to 6 reps each session. – Roy Yeow

A third type of training session that should be incorporated into marathon training after building up base fitness, is the Tempo session. Tempo refers to “time and pace” and it is run at a “comfortably hard pace”, which is an oxymoron actually. Tempo run is easily the hardest to perform, as the key to a good tempo is to commit to the workout.

Long runs are good to build endurance but a tempo run ensures you a sustained ability to hold race pace over the racing distance. Imagine if you could run at a same constant speed over the racing distance – tempo run sets you up for that. Tempo run improves the metabolic fitness or how efficiently your body will utilize both oxygen and fuel at any given time during the training or race.
For tempo run to work, you will need to commit to a known best 5km or 10km run timing. This will be the reference where your tempo will be derived. Next is to know the average pace (in minute to complete a km distance or min/km) from those results. A 30-minute 5km lands you a 6:00 pace (meaning 6 minutes to complete 1km, so 6mins x 5km =30mins). Likewise, a 60-minute 10km gives you the same 6:00 pace. Lets use the 6:00 pace as example. Tempo pace is just a simple addition of 10 seconds to 30seconds slower than your best pace. This gives you a 6:10 to 6:30 pace range. If you feel the slower pace (6:30) is too comfortable for you, run it at decremental pace of 10s until it gets “comfortably hard”. There is always the tendency to go faster, but remember this is not speed work. Stay with the pace!

During a tempo session, warm up with a slow jog for about 10mins to get your body into gear. Start off the tempo with a run about 15 mins at a slower pace (eg 6:30 tempo pace), followed by next 20 mins at higher intensity (eg 6:10 tempo pace). If you feel up to it, continue with a slightly decremental pace (eg 6:20 tempo pace) for another 15 mins. Cool down with a slow jog or walk for 10 mins to finish off the session.

You should continuously reassess your tempo pace, as the longer you train and the stronger you get; your tempo pace gets faster and faster. Make the tempo workout the mainstay of your training of 2 to 3-times a week. Slot in the other workouts above like the interval runs and LSD and you are ready to take your run to the next level.Lim Ee-Van

You may also consider signing up for shorter running events like the half marathon distance or 10km runs in the lead up to your marathon. Run these races as part of your training program, either taking them as an LSD session, or a tempo run. However, try to do your last long run or race at least 2 weeks prior to marathon race day, so as not to burn yourself out with an effort that will tax your body.

Running a marathon is not just in the legs though. It is a whole body workout and the upper body, shoulders and neck gets stressed from hours of pounding on the road towards the finish line. To complement all the running sessions, a marathoner-in-training should also incorporate some basic strength and conditioning exercises into their regime. Simple bodyweight exercises like push-ups, chin-ups and planks work the upper body and core muscles, and allows for better posture and efficiency during running. It is also advisable to perform static stretching exercises for your major muscle groups like your quads, hamstrings, calves and hip flexors after every running session. This helps keep your muscles limber and reduces muscle tightness which may lead to injuries. Yoga exercises are also highly recommended as complementary workouts, especially on rest days.

The beauty of running a marathon; is not just about the race itself. It is not only the destination, but the journey that matters. Every ounce of effort you put in, every early morning run you wake up to, every drop of sweat you shed, and every kilometer of mileage you clock builds the story of your marathon. Write that story with passion, and enjoy the journey injury-free by understanding the basics of a marathon training program that will guide you towards your goal.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tip of the Month : Trigger Point For Plantar Fasciitis

Massage therapy for plantar fasciitis (under foot arch) is relatively simple compared to other parts of the body. Being one of the hardest working muscles located under the foot arch, it is often exposed to great amount of stress causing the “stiff” feeling. The arch basically functions like a bow. It is curve in shape and has strings-like muscles and connective tissues. The arch retains its form through a complex combination of bone shape, springy ligaments, tendons and elastic muscles. Once it fails, the connective tissues in the arch will start to degenerate resulting a tendonitis called the plantar fasciitis.


What we can do about it? The cheapest and simplest way is to use a golf ball. Put the golf ball on a mat so that it doesn’t slip away as we step on it. Place the foot arch right on top of the golf ball and slowly press it with your body weight. You can do it while seated or in standing position depends on your personal preference. Roll the ball slowly under the foot and look for the trigger points/pressure points. They are usually tender to pressure. Once you have found it, roll it as many times as you wish.
If there is any sharp pain, you can opt for an iced bottle treatment. Fill up a mineral water bottle and freeze it, then roll it under the foot to ease the pain. Roll it for 5 minutes, not too long till get cold injuries. This self-physiotherapy is very popular among the runners in parallel with the R.I.C.E method (Rest Ice Compression Elevation). 
Hope this tip helps=) Stay tuned with our team blog for more monthly tips.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Running Your First Marathon in 12 Months


You wipe the sweat from your brow, and almost immediately another drop takes its place. You look further ahead and you see the road takes a turn upwards. Your head pounds as you lost count of the number of climbs you have endured. Your calves are screaming and your shoulders are heavy. Your drenched shirt clings to your body like a second skin as you make your way over the hill and towards the finish line. 300 meters to go. You can see the crowd lining the finishing chute, and photographers snapping away. Your mind goes blank. Months of training and sacrifice has brought you to this moment. You can hear every beat of your heart and every breath you take as you close your eyes for a split second to savour the moment. 10 meters from the finishing arch, you pump both hands in the air and grit your teeth in satisfaction. As you cross the line and the race volunteers put a medal around your neck and hand you an ice cold bottle of water, you realize that you have just put your body and mind through an arduous endurance feat that tested the limits of your physical and mental capacities. You have just earned the accolade of a Marathon Finisher.

The Marathon is a running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers and it evokes feelings of awe and respect amongst runners and non-runners even. Imagine running from Klang town all the way to Kuala Lumpur City Centre. You get tired even thinking about driving that distance, what more going on 2 feet. What makes a person willing to run for 42 kilometers? Is it the sheer satisfaction and sense of achievement? Is it the hard-earned finisher’s medal? Is it the marathon finisher’s shirt that you will cherish and have a special place in your wardrobe? Or maybe, it is just bragging rights. Whatever the reason, taking up a marathon challenge is a lifestyle change. It is a test of one’s physical stamina and mental strength and months of hard work and sacrifice leading up to the big event. Every year, thousands of runners take up the challenge of running a full marathon distance race all over the world. Many complete the distance, some struggle through it, others fail in their attempt. It is said that only 1% of the world’s population has completed a full marathon. Will you take up the challenge?

What do runners who have completed the marathon distance have to say about the experience of running one? We asked a simple question to several runners to gauge their response – “What inspired you to take part in your first full marathon?”

The wakeup call was when I discovered during a medical checkup, my cholesterol level was high and because of that, migraine hit me almost every week. It took me a year of training before my first marathon. The aim was to complete the race and with this aim, it kept me motivated to train week after week. At the end, the feeling of crossing the finishing line for my very first marathon was priceless”Imran, 30, SCKLM 2013, Lecturer

When I saw runners older than me who can complete a full marathon, it spurred my instinct to sign up for my very first marathon. I felt that If they can do it, so can I. Other than that, influence from friends did play a part in motivating me to sign up my very first full marathon.” - Vivienne Loo, Energizer Night Marathon 2010, Self-Employed.

My running experience is less than a year and what really inspired me are other runners in the community who have completed the marathon and beyond. I wanted to put myself in their shoes, to feel what they have gone through and all the sacrifice that is required in completing such a journey. No matter how fast or how slow they ran, they finished it and completed it. Running has taught me a lot of respect and to praise God that how lucky we are to be given such strength and determination to achieve and go beyond the boundaries of human capabilities.” – Man Abdul Shukor, 37, Melaka International River Marathon 2014, Senior Engineer

My main inspiration to enter my 1st FM was to reduce my weight.  My weight was around 85kg and the BMI test showed I am in an unhealthy position. Thus, I took up running and eventually ran a full marathon after 10 months of running.”Puvan Maha Iswara, 29, Putrajaya Night Marathon 2011, Engineer

This is the first of a series of 6 articles that will guide the runner to complete his or her first marathon race in 12 months time. For a start, the 2015 Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) will most probably be held in the month of October if everything goes according to plan and it is one of the most well organized marathon events in Malaysia. It is also one of the most popular choices for runners who want to register for their first marathon race. The marathon race scene in Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and this is evident from the number of full marathon events you can sign up for today compared to 5 years ago. Some of the marathon events worth mentioning are of course the above Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM), Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM), Kuching International Marathon, Borneo International Marathon in Sabah, Island Ocean Marathon in Langkawi and the River Jungle Marathon in Klang Valley. With the boom in running, there is also a marathon event that caters for women called the Malaysia Women Marathon and is a day to celebrate the strength of women and empowerment of sisters in running.

This series of articles will encompass different slices of the marathon pie, and when put together, will enable the runner to have adequate knowledge, information and tips to confidently participate in their first 42.195km road race. The articles will cover progressive training programs that cater to running the full distance; nutrition, fuel and hydration requirements; training gear and race essentials; injury prevention and valuable tips for the big day! Knowing that a first full marathon is one of the defining moments in a runner’s career, it is imperative to be as best prepared as possible approaching the big day.

Sharing their valuable experience and in-depth knowledge in running for the benefit of the runners who would like to take up the first marathon challenge; is Team 2ndskin who were featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Running Malaysia. Team 2ndskin are a team of accomplished runners and triathletes, who amongst themselves have amassed a combined total of 88 marathon finishes and 38 ultramarathon races under their belt (or shoes!). Their combined running mileage easily exceeds 15,000km a year and on average they wear out about 4 pairs of running shoes each in 12 months!  The regular marathon and ultramarathon runners in Team 2ndskin are Roy Yeow, Azrulhisyam Hussin, Lim Ee-Van, Annie Yee and Eugene Teoh. They have run marathons in different conditions and weather, in multiple countries and on different terrains. Having tried and tested different running gears and products along the way, Team 2ndskin are well placed to offer advice on the right choice of equipments and gear required to complete your first marathon. They have also tried different training programs and methodologies and are well-versed with different running workout types and the benefits of each type of workout session to the overall goal of a marathon finish.

Ready to take up the challenge of running your first marathon in 12 months? Look out for the next article on basic and progressive training programs that will kick-start your goal to join the ranks of runners who call themselves Marathoners.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tip Of The Month - Trigger Points Part 1 - Jun Shen

Ever feel tightness after some hard training session that makes your muscles literally scream in agony? The muscles experience repetition of intense stretch and contract which causes the formation of muscles knots. This write up will share with team2ndskin blog readers what you can do to relieve the tightness in your muscles.

Commonly, coaches and experienced athletes call “knots” in the muscles as muscles knots or trigger points. Releasing the muscles tightness could be done by massaging, foam rolling or even use a lacrosse ball to apply pressure at specific points. This will help in the recovery process of the muscles so that they stay healthy, elastic and ever ready for the next workout. Trigger point is felt when pressure is applied at a certain area, it will cause slight discomfort but should not be unbearable. Self applied pressure is more precise as the athlete knows where the exact location of the muscle knots is. Releasing the knots helps to rebuild pain free movement and finally enhance performance. 
In the market, there are plenty of tools for releasing muscles knots such as the massage roller stick, foam rollers, or Trigger Point Therapy set. For a cheaper option, a tennis ball can be used for certain area of the body such as the back muscles along the spine and around the shoulder area.

Reminder : If you ever feel any sharp pain, please stop this exercise. This method is not to be applied to the bones. It’s only for muscles, remember that! =)


There are many ways to get the tennis ball to pressure on the muscle knots. Roll it as many repetitions as you feel comfortable, get ample sleep like a baby to accelerate the recovery. Some therapist might recommend laying on the floor and some suggest leaning against the wall. I would prefer to recover while I’m doing my work, lets score two birds with one throw=) Since I am attending a course in Alor Setar, I tend to feel a bit groggy especially in the early morning. The tennis ball on my back keeps me “ahhh and oouuch” as it pressures the muscles knots, so that’s how I keep myself awake=p I will roll left, right, up and down to search for the “knot”. Once found, keep the ball rolling! =) At the end of the class, I feel like I’ve just had an awesome Thai massage session. In the evening, I will be ready for my workout session. 

Hope this tip helps=) I will be writing about trigger points related topics in the upcoming tip of the month. Stay tuned! =)

Friday, 12 June 2015

Alor Setar Jogging Club 21KM Race Report - Jun Shen

Our teammate Jun Shen has moved to northern part of Malaysia in his new assignment as a Naval Officer. Being closer to land (no pun intended) meaning he has more time for some local races nearby. He did not waste time and went on to run the ASJC 21KM. Enjoy the wonderful Paddy Field Run.

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Alor Setar Jogging Club Half Marathon 2015 Race Report

Last week I started racing again by completing the Larian Bendang 11km under the extreme Kedah weather. This week is my second race of the month, most likely will be the last one for this month to restructure my training programme. I’m currently based in Alor Setar Airforce College, nothing much triathlon related stuff that I can do due to the road condition and my tight schedule. I could hardly run because the sport period in the college is allocated for group sports. Unless I choose to be anti social, I have no choice but to join all the ball sports that I really suck in.
My left knee injury started few months ago when I was triggered to do my ultra marathon this year inspired by my teammate Deo and Roy. I went through a tough time looking for remedies, doing self physio and stretches, strapped up my knee with kinesio tape in all races and greatly reduced my training mileage. None of that worked, ultra marathon became an abandoned plan. While driving long hours when my knee flexes, the sharp pain starts to torture me. Finally, I went to I-Sihat pharmacy at Manjung and bought myself glucosamine.

Surprisingly, the pain was gone. With just glucosamine?? I should have swallowed it long time ago! Better late than never =) Upon competing Larian Bendang (30 May15), I was quite positive with my left knee’s progression. Larian Bendang was a fun run actually, it was not organized mainly for runners. I mean the run was intended to make the carnival merrier; too many VIPs attended the run. Long story short, race start was delayed almost two hours. I managed to finish the 11km run in 47mins, pace was around 4.16mins/km.

Completed the run with my fellow future aircraft engineer. =)

Pre-Race Drama


I signed up for ASJC Half Marathon which is one week after Larian Bendang. I did a bit of homework studying the route from Garmin Connect, trying to remember some turnings and landmarks. The manual registration is similar to Larian Bendang, fill up forms and be present at certain location to pick up race kits. So the direction given on registration form was 1073, Bee Bee Park, Alor Setar which could not be found in GPS, Google Map or whatsoever. I drove towards the huge maze of Bee Bee Park, stuck inside the housing area asking everyone I saw, “Where is this ASJC (Alor Setar Jogging Club)” before I found the mysterious race kit collection center at one of the corner lot.


My name was missing in the Men Open starting list. =p I stayed calm and once again told the elderly uncles, my name is “Chan Jun Shen, 22km Men Open A category”. When they finally found my name in the veteran category, I was sure that I will be in the podium tomorrow because there were only two participants! That will be one veteran uncle against me, fighting for the RM500 cash prize and trophy=p Anyway, a lot of participants registered at the very last minute so I changed my bib number to A category. 

This ASJC has been around for over 32 years but this is the first time I’ve heard of it.


The registration costs only RM40, I was provided with a collar cotton tee and a cotton race number.=)

The Race
I was ambitious to target 4.15mins/km pace throughout the course. I felt that I could do it so I set Garmins 920xt alerts to beep me at slowest pace of 4.30mins/km. Once flagged off, I just wanted to maintain my pace and not to be bothered with the race field. The first 5km was manageable with 4.15mins/km although I was still synchronizing my breathing and running rhythm. I tried to maintain one inhale and two exhales to make sure the double exhales puff out all the “used” air. The course was “pancake flat” along the “ruler straight” Kuala Kedah road, but I could not see the race leader (just to give you an idea how fast they were going). In my group was Wong Jin Ji, and two Thai runners. I had no intention to drop anybody or chase after the front runners because I feel safer to run at my own planned pace since I don’t think I have much endurance or speed with my current tight schedule. My alerts were to remind me my every 2km pace and slowest pace beeps at 4.30mins/km, so my Garmin 920xt was my pacer.


I wasn’t feeling comfortable with 4.15mins/km pace when I almost reached the turning point at Jambatan Tok Pasai. My breathing rhythm went haywire as I tried to synchronize my steps, my upper posture started to slouch and too much of sideward arm swing motion. Obviously, it is a sign of fatigue. I switched to one inhale and one exhale, grabbed water at all water stations and suck in one caffeinated energy gel. The race course was very well marked and marshalled at every corner, we were provided with 8 water stations (if I am not wrong). The local communities were really committed to organize this race, most of the marshalls were old uncles and MTB escorts were plenty. Garmin non stop alerting me since the 10th kilometre, I dug really deep to shut it up but my pace was fluctuating between 4.25mins/km to 4.35mins/km. In order to be a good distance runner, consistency is the key to a strong finish. I believe in amateur level, there’s not much tactic involved so just stay focus on pace, nutrition and gears.

Out of form =p

Later on, I saw the silhouette of a runner few hundred meters in front; I tried really hard to reel him back since the 16thkilometre. It became more like a mental game already as I struggled to focus on my rhythm and dig as deep as possible. “I have 2ndskin Vaporlite Team Tee, Skechers GoSpeed2 and Garmin 920xt! All are the best gears in the market! If I couldn’t get top 5 I should at least push myself to the maximum possible effort”. I gave 100% to catch him because I am confident to finish this race in top 8 position. I needed three kilometres to overtake him! I did not slow down so that I could get break him mentally and get a comfortable margin just in case I bonk for the final 2km. It was such a battle because I did not have the speed! Moral of the story, “The best medicine always taste the worse, so the medicine for a slow runner is the much hated speed work!”. 


Come the final kilometre, I saw another runner! Haha. My last 400m sprint put me one ranking up but I was about to pass out at the finishing line. After more than 10 slices of watermelon and few cups of 100 plus, I felt much better. 

Met new friends=) 
Kota Kemuning Pacers, they all know Eugene Teoh and Roy Yeow =p
All pictures courtesy Soon Hoe Hin Tak=)



6th place Men Open finish for a 21.32km ASJC Half Marathon. I feel really happy that my knee did well and my timing was an acceptable 1 hour 33 minutes. Frankly, I am coming back and will train harder to shave off a few minutes from my PB by the end of this year.