Posted by: Armand | March 6, 2011

Malaysian running training #2

A disappointing training day. With the broken treadmill my highly motivating wife suggested we go to a gym, and we found one in Celebrity Fitness, a chain of gyms with an outlet in Mid Valley Megamall, a 10 minute drive from the house and a building full of distractions for Amanda, Emily and Emily’s Grandpa, who volunteered as chauffeur and local guide.

First, we looked for a replacement treadmill. Limited progress was made with the actual dealer we wanted to visit, despite claiming to have an outlet in Mid Valley on their website, actually not so much existing. So it may be some time before we sort that out.

Let’s start with the things that were good about the Celebrity Fitness experience.

1. They had good working treadmills
2. They had reasonable showers

And the bad:

1. Appalling customer service. I was shuttled back between the front desk and the customer service desk, not told where the changing rooms or equipment was, asked for my mobile number three times (“I don’t have a local mobile”), and made to wait for 10 minutes whilst they registered my limited information for a day guest pass. I’d made reasonably clear that I wasn’t going to join and just wanted a transactional relationship with them – give me a pass, damnit! Eventually got in, having eaten into a short window of time I had for the workout.
2. Damnit it was hot. It must have been 30 degrees in there WITH the airconditioning going. The whole point for me in going to a gym was to avoid the blistering outdoor heat!
3. It cost RM60 – about £12. An absolute rip-off for the experience.
4. There were no locks on the lockers (another fact they didn’t apprise me of – should I have just known? I told them I was from the UK, they could have given me a heads up…). You’re meant to bring your own, apparently, so kit stayed with me – including during my shower. Fortunately I found a broom closet to stash my stuff in whilst I had the world’s quickest shower.
5. Crap water coolers, despite the heat.

So… not going back there. Will find another way to work out here. My mediocre run total for the day came to approx 5k in 33 minutes. Not a great time on a treadmill.

0n the plus side, whilst I continued to fail to find a foam roller, I did remember that Sudhir told me I could do the ITB workout with a tennis ball – so will dig around the house for one of them instead!

Posted by: Armand | March 6, 2011

A roller, a roller, my kingdom for a roller

61 dFeEhrnL._SL500_AA300_I’ve been desperately hunting around Malaysian sports shops looking for a foam roller, which you may remember was a big part of my miracle cure for ITBS.

Admittedly my current plans for heavy running training have been somewhat curtailed by  breaking the treadmill but we’re hunting for a gym I can use (only madmen would run outdoors in the 34 degree heat, torrential tropical thunderstorms and / or mosquito haven). Also, without incurring cost-prohibitive data roaming charges, I don’t have Runkeeper here to track distance/pace, and so my motivation for outdoor running falls to zero…

Unfortunately, either Malaysian runners don’t suffer from ITBS (despite previous assurances from doctors in the UK that it was the most common running injury), or… people here don’t really run, and running/sports shops are for trendiness only.Given there is a KL marathon the latter doesn’t seem too likely, but garrrrrrrrrrr all the same.

I may have to resort to tying together several yoga mats into a tight roll and seeing whether that will help. Any Malaysian runners out there can help me find one of these???

Posted by: Armand | March 3, 2011

Oops, I broke the treadmill

Seeing as I’m in Malaysia for the next few weeks all my running training is happening on a treadmill. Which I broke today after my first run – a 5ker which I finished in 27.45. Theoretically this is a good time for me but in practice – the treadmill makes things so much easier I should be able to get closer to a 20 minute 5k. See if I can manage that this trip, once the treadmill repair people see if they can replace the part… Not that its a cheap treadmill (it’s not) or I’m a heavy lump (less obviously untrue) but suspect some of the plastic goes brittle in the hot humid conditions…

The speed wasn’t inspired by this, but in an interestind sidebar: My Dad’s friend popped over the other night and recommended PACE training for fatburning (which I need, the fatburning not necessarily the PACE training). I’d not heard of it before and am slightly suspicious of it despite the logic, which is (in part) – you want to get into the fat burning zone and stay there long enough for your body to switch substrates, but not convince your body to switch to creating fat to support the ‘habit’ – a consequence of which is you should chuck your long distance running/ aerobics routine.

I’m vastly suspicious of anything that tries to make weight loss sound ‘easy’ and Dr Sears’ method sounds a bit too good to be true (12 minute workouts etc)…

I need to understand more about human metabolism. I wish Ben Goldacre would write a book about this stuff as between this and the nutrionist stuff he writes about in Bad Science I’m sure there’s a bunch of debunking (or at least: rational explaining) of this, Sears, Atkins, and every other populist weight-loss plan we get confronted with at parties so that I could provide a semi-definitive – “it sounds great but like too much work for me” or “the science makes no sense.”

Anyway, I mostly run for fun rather than weightloss (although that’s a necessary objective for me if I’m to break a 2hr time for the half this year).

Posted by: Armand | March 2, 2011

Running statfest

YTD mileage total  as of the start of March – 62.9 miles

Minimum target for the year, at approx 6.3 miles per week  69 miles.

So 6 miles down. But now arrived in Malaysia, on sabbatical, and have a working treadmill upstairs so plan to get running later today – although jetlag has slapped me about, as anticipated, and am running on about 3.5 hours sleep so may collapse later today and start tomorrow…

Wish me luck – think this will be what Sensei Paul calls a series of ‘sweat’ runs as  the temperature outside will climb to 34 degrees C today. Crikey.

Posted by: Armand | February 27, 2011

Sabbatical running off to a good start

20k in after the first weekend. Tomorrow is a 16 hour flight so might be a while before I get going again but hoping for a 2 days on / 1 day off routine, alternating distance and speed, and with stretches and some strength work daily. Although not bench pressing Emily, I understand that’s cruel and unusual!

Runs in Malaysia won’t be Runkeeper tracked as they’ll all be treadmill-centric. Here we go….!

Posted by: Armand | February 24, 2011

No more excuses

Tomorrow’s my last day in the office for a couple of months as my sabbatical kicks in and prep starts for the half marathon. The diet will resume, the training programme will start, and I’ll be doing running PLUS for the next 8-9 weeks. I imagine I’ll try to use jetlag as an excuse – off to Malaysia next week – but it mustn’t happen!

Wish me luck. I’ve been out of it for most of Feb so my resolve has been pretty weak. But winter is leaving, and its time to hit the tarmac once again…

Posted by: Armand | February 17, 2011

Scientific testing to improve running technique

In a past life, I was pretty heavily into the science of things. I’m still fascinated by science and all that jazz as a general principle, but the specifics are lost to me.

Which is one of the reasons why I’m so horrible at improving my running process/technique. Instead of changing one thing – new shoes, summer running gear, running in the morning or one of the other half-dozen variables under my control, I change them all in one go so have no idea what it was that helped me break a certain time or that caused me a particular issue.

As I’ve commented before, running is like golf – the number of uncontrollable variables is legion. I may need to introduce some scientific rigour to my process as I aim to improve my half marathon time this year…

Posted by: Armand | February 16, 2011

Welcome, work contacts

I’ve gotten used to the fact that this blog is principally an outlet for my random running thoughts. I guess the fact that people so rarely comment on the posts (except for Sensei Paul!) themselves means I sometimes forget I have readers!

That said, the content I publish here syndicates to homes on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Buzz, so I suppose I should be less surprised when people comment on it.

Last week the surprise came when a research firm I’ve done some work with came in to present to us. The director looked at my shoes and said "Ah, New Balance 850s. For the moderate overpronator. Did you run your half-marathon in those? Have you chosen your next race yet?” I really didn’t expect that as an opener and was duly surprised!

I really don’t mind blurring the lines between my personal and professional life a little bit (I draw the line at headhunters approaching me via Facebook!), and love that knowledge of this blog (and my other blog) brings out some individuality and passion in people in unexpected contexts.

Posted by: Armand | February 13, 2011


This week’s run was blissfully on the beach down in West Wittering. With the tide out, Runkeeper’s official log of the run had me literally running on water. Which is, y’know, cool and stuff.

Of course, it’s not two runs, which was the new year resolution that’s failed to extend into February. This morning I woke up feeling continually ruined by the cold that hit me midweek last week and the theory that the run yesterday would make me feel better definitely didn’t carry through. Argh! Frustration!

So: will I make the distance next weekend? Travelling down to London for my brother’s birthday, so there’s a good chance that I’ll struggle again. And I need to start building the stretching routine in on a daily basis (regardless of runs) as a sore back and tight shins have added themselves to the list of gripes that started with the pinched nerve. It’s astonishing how quickly you start to feel the fundamental interconnectedness of all things as far as fitness is concerned.

<sigh>. I think I’ve found a half marathon, though, that might help the motivation. Anyone fancy joining me for the Bracknell half?

Posted by: Armand | February 7, 2011

Weekend training update

I’m not going to lie to you, I was diminished this weekend. Underslept due to the neck injury, slightly demotivated and struggling… I eventually made myself hit the road on Sunday morning and only managed a 5k. But better than nothing…?

The running helped the pinched nerve thing, with my neck seeming freer after the run… but I seem to have some have back tightness today so will spend a bit of time this week stretching out ahead of next weekend’s training. I’m getting old.

Next weekend will see me down the coast so the running will be a bit more exciting, hopefully, and keep me going for longer!

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