Monday, May 24, 2010

Back to Basics

Yin Yin

I joined Pacesetters sometime last year to which I started to read back issues of the club's magazine. The magazine had many interesting articles written by PACM members. An article by Ms Boey Yin Yin caught my attention. No Caffeine or Alchohol? What ? Both coffee and beer are my must haves.

Yin Yin attended the Back to Basics Running Clinic for SCKLM Run in 2009, and had taken the trouble to jot down notes during the clinic session. Back to Basics is what we all need to reset our misinformation and bad habits in order to get us back on track. I reproduce her article in full (less pictures). It is worth reading, particularly if you are new to marathons.

No Caffeine or Alchohol?

Event: Back to Basics Running Clinic for the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2009 (co-organized by PACM and SCKLM)
Venue: Tapak A, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur.
Date: 19 April 2009, 8:00am
Speaker: Mark Williams, Elite Runner

Yeah, no caffeine or alcohol on race day - so that's one of the points given by elite runner and coach, Mark Williams, during the first of the three running clinics co-organized by the Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2009 team and PACM.

My initial plan of doing the 10km double hills at 6am followed by the running clinic at 8am was derailed after the visit to the doctor but I figured I could still listen and learn even though I couldn't do the run round the lake.

Rummaging through my backpack I realized I had forgotten to bring a pen so I used the next best thing, my Nokia E71. Found that keying out the notes on my mobile phone keypad was most probably faster than writing with my hand ;) Some of the participants thought I was sms-ing throughout the clinic, so here's proof of my note-taking:

1. Get a medical check-up if this is your first marathon
2. Attire - not too tight, as this will cause chaffing. Not too baggy as you will sweat. Shoes - select a well-known brand and ensure a proper fit.
3. Find a running partner, running with someone helps
4. Where to run? Lake gardens is good. Watch out for KL drivers!
5. Music - Mark doesn't advocate wearing headphones as it might pose a hazard if you can't hear
6. Ladies – be careful and alert when running in remote areas
7. KL marathon starts in the morning - you MUST train in the morning
8. Mark distributed a 10-week plan for beginners and intermediate runners. The focus was on timing of runs, not the duration
9. Fartlek - play with speed. 100m jog, long fartlek, speed, 2 long runs
10. Stick to the plan and don't miss the Sunday long run. But never try to catchup on the training plan.
11. Check pacing from website -
12. Heart rates - Mark doesn't use them. But if you want to, warm up for 15 mins, do 2-3 sprints, 2 minutes of hard running and that should be your max heart rate. Run at 65% of that heart rate.
13. Overtraining - watch out for symptoms: colds, inability to sleep, weight loss. Stop training up to 10 days
14.Orthotics - he's had the inserts for 7 years and no running injuries. He spent 500 dollars on the inserts (I’m presuming this is New Zealand dollars)
15. Vaseline - apply that to avoid chaffing in between legs. And for guys, don't forget the nipples too.
16. Running surface - concrete is the worse thing to run on as there's no “give”. Tarmac on road is slightly better. Running on grass or trails is the best.
17. Downhill running will cause injuries due to impact on knees. WALK downhill.
18. Get plenty of sleep.
19. Core muscles - these are the essentials. When we're tired we tend to lean forward, contracting the diaphragm which leads to us taking in less oxygen. To strengthen the core, do The Plank 2-3 times a day.
20. Gear - never wear new shoes on race day. When selecting shoes, look for arch support. Train in a heavier pair - 450gms. The bulkier, the better.
21. Warm ups - do NOT bounce during warm ups as this will cause real injuries. Do a 5 minute run instead. Stretch, but not for too long. Stretch muscles that are key to running - the calf muscles, Gastrocnemius (big muscle) and the Soleus (the small muscles) as well as your hamstrings and quadriceps.
Each stretch should be 30 secs. Breathe when stretching.
22. Sports drinks - 100plus, Gatorade. He obviously didn't want to be seen promoting a certain brand, he just mentioned that the gas doesn't bother him.
23. Pace - this comes with time. Go to a track and measure your timing. Run 1km and check your pace.
24. Listen to your body. Recognize why you stop running. Is it because you're tired? Is it due to your blood sugar level?
25. Change your shoes after 700k. Look at the bottom of your shoe to understand whether you pronate. It should wear out at the top, not the sides.
26. Strengthen up your legs, run on your toes. Hill running.
27. Practice 21km training before you go for your full marathon
28. If experiencing cramps during the race, stop.
29. Nutrition - eat healthily. 65% of a runners diet should be carbs - rice, pasta, sports drinks. Carbs before running, protein after. Mark takes a protein shake after running to repair the minor tears.
30. Marathon runners talk about “The Wall”, where the body runs out of carbs and converts the fat into energy. To prevent this, practice carbo loading 3 days before the marathon. Take in 550gms of carbs. Mark takes cereals, Rice Krispies to be exact. 1 portion of pasta is about 50gms which means you'll need 11 portions of pasta! Mark has run 25 marathons and hasn't hit the wall in 22 of them with carbo loading.
31. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Drink water 2 hours before the race. Get in 1-2 litres of water. In cooler climates, runners practice caffeine-loading but Mark doesn't recommend this in the hot weather of KL. Beer is a good source of chromium after the race ;)
32. Be careful of heat, take that into consideration.
33. Try different gels - don't take something new on race day.
34. Practice how to run and drink at water stations. Squeeze that paper cup and pour the water into your mouth.
35. Ladies have smaller hearts, hence less blood per contraction which means we don't run as fast as the men. Lower haemoglobin levels result in less oxygen transfer to the muscles. Take iron tablets and have read meat 2-3 times a week. Guinness after a run helps too!
36. Do not drink tea of coffee with meals as this may hamper iron absorption
37. Drink Vitamin C drinks
38. Remember, after the marathon, your immune system is at the lowest. Be careful, take care. Do not expose yourself to others with the flu, etc.
39. DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness - if you experience this, walking downstairs backwards helps
40. Recovery is 1 day per mile ie. 26 days for the marathon.

His last piece of advice to all marathon runners: You've already taken your first step in registering. Do it. Believe in yourself. The sense of achievement will be amazing.

By Boey Yin Yin (PACM 5070)

Yin Yin is also featured as a runner extraordinaire in this website. Visit Yin Yin's website here.

Thanks Yin Yin, finally I think we have done justice to your wonderful article above. Thank goodness no coffee or alcohol on race days only, right? Maybe I'll try MILO in lieu of coffee.

Allen Lai

1 comment:

  1. Hi Allen
    I'm glad you found the article useful - it was worth keying all those notes onto my phone :)

    I hope the rest of your readers will benefit from this as well!

    A bit embarrassed that I'm featured as a "runner extraordinaire" ;) I'm just a social runner who is running for two top reasons: firstly to hopefully continue the running legacy that my late dad, Boey Kong Wah, left behind and secondly, to accompany my mum.

    Safe and Happy Running to all!