Seduction

Sweating profusely, heavy breathing, gasping, muscles cramping, very hard strokes  – albeit wrongly, strong winds on my face; That is how I muddled through the numerous unforgiving hills of the tough 90km 2014 Gong ride from Sydney to Wollongong. Twice during that ride, I flirted with the idea of quitting and letting the ambulance take me to the finish line but no, I kept going till I got to the finish line.
I would immediately, after tending to my sore buttocks, calves, hamstrings and quad muscles, register for this year’s ride. I know it sounds crazy but I must have registered for the 2015 ride to proof to myself that I can do better. That I can take on those hills semi-effortlessly, with a finish time of 4 hours and not whinge about how sore I am to everyone I meet the following week – yes that is what I did last year. I thought to myself, a training plan is all I need, I must do this again! And the training did pay off.

2015 Start Line

2015 Start Line

I now feel great! After finishing this year’s ride just after the 4th hour mark. With much less pain than last year and no cramps. I don’t feel like I owe myself a challenge anymore, the debt has been paid. I even managed to have a beer with my team mates at the finish line. What an achievement!
I was seduced in to this sport by the idea of just being fit but now I think I am becoming a cyclist. I am not yet there though, especially since I am still learning how to take both hands off the handlebar while in motion. Hopefully I will be able to ride without holding the handlebar and smash a new personal cycling record in 2016.

Part of the course

Part of the course

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On-road exploration

Today I went exploring, but not offroad this time. I went exploring a new challenge, participating in my first ever IAAF endorsed international marathon event, the Sydney Marathon.

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And though my form was wack, I am happy I managed a time of 02:11:34 on the half-marathon.
I honestly believe the last 3kMs were from hell. Just when I was getting ready to sprint to the finish line and hit my target time of 01:50:00, my hamstrings and calfs started giving way. Cramps and similar ‘hell-ish’ symptoms all kicked in and I had to stop to recover, hence going off my target by 21mins.
I guess next year is another opportunity to hit my target but for now, I’m off looking for the next exploring opportunity 🙂

Is running for everyone?

I have been running for years now and I frequently suffer knee injuries and pain after long runs. I have always attributed the pain to a bad knee which meant I would naturally look up to knee support technologies to help and a solution for my knees. Sometimes these solutions worked but for a little while and I’ll go back to knee aches after a run.

Recently, I needed to buy a pair of new running shoes so I decided to look into shoe sole technologies to help with my knee woes. That’s how I landed on a medical article on pronation and supination. Obviously, this was the first time to come across such terms and I was instantly intrigued.

But before we get into the intricate bits of pronation and supination, it’s important to note that there are two natural motions of the foot when you walk or run and in fact they exist to help you balance and absorb the pressure on landing.

What is pronation? You ask.  Pronation is the inward roll of the foot during motion when the outer edge of the heel touches down. Some amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly. Generally, people with flat-feet are more prone to be over-pronated.

Supination on the other hand is under-pronation – the outward roll of the foot during normal motion. Some amount of supination is also required for natural movement as the heel lifts off the ground (the push-off phase).


However, if any of these motions occur in excess, it puts strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You would see this in symptoms like ankle sprain, knee and/or hip pain. Sometimes it’s manifested in lower back pain.

The picture below demonstrates the motions.

gait

Another term I would like to define is gait. Gait is how we walk and/or run; also defined as the locomotion achieved from the movement of our limbs.
People have different gait – some are neutral, some are over-pronated while others are under-pronated.

The good news is there are different types of running shoes for the different gait types. The two main categories are:

  1. Neutral suited for normal and underpronated feet and
  2. Stability suited for the overpronated feet.

But if you fall under a rare category like I do; flat footed, which means naturally I should be over-pronated, but I am also bow-legged which has an interesting effect to my pronation, causing me to be just a little over-pronated.

Some sports shoe brands like Brooks make shoes for this third rare category. They  call them  Guidance running shoes and they work best in my case because I don’t need that much stability for my ankle nor am I neutral.

So there it is. Running is for everyone but before you take off, please ensure you get the right shoes for your gait. If in doubt, you can get a gait analysis done by your local running shoe store.

800+ steps, 1000ft climb

I posted about my visit to the Blue mountains and hike on this blog sometime last year already but what I didn’t mention was that I took a video of my return climb/hike back up the 1000ft high bush trail.

I thought it was pretty cool to have done both the descent and ascent legs of the hike in 45mins, so I decided to share the video in this post. Some kids made it to the bottom but in my defence for panting as hard as I did in the video, they weren’t going to climb back up the stairway, they used the scenic railway available to take people back to the top of the plateau. 🙂

Here is a little more information about the trail: The Giant Stairway provides a spectacular entry to the Jamison Valley, descending approximately 300m (1000ft) via more than 800 steps and runways. It is located adjacent to the Three Sisters, at the blue mountains, NSW Australia.