My Singapore Home-cation – the start if a new trend?

We are all guided by some basic principles in life that drive our actions and reactions. Two principles that have driven my behaviour have been:

  1. the world is just a little too small so we better get out there and explore it;
  2. we never enough hours in the day so we should attempted to pack in as much into each day as is humanly possible.

These principles are a result from growing up in small town New Zealand at the bottom of the South Island, let’s face the facts that in the 70’s this is about as far away from the rest of the world as you get.

The advent of social media has not eased this feeling of wanting to do and see more, seeing pictures of friends travelling to far off locations, just makes travel more.

Holidays in the past were always a scarred object, I would plan my holidays out in detail to make sure I would get maximum use of the days out of the office and always have a few days in the bank to take advantage of last minute deals. For most of my pre-children years I was able to comply with these self-imposed rules.

My worst nightmare of a holiday was to be forced to take time off at a time, have no holidays left at the end of the year and needing to stay home. Due to a range of extraordinary factors I recently faced this situation, yes my first home-cation.

At the same time I didn’t want to take our oldest out of school when we soon faced 8 weeks of vacation (that is a story for another blog).

Time

As I started my home-cation I soon realised that I had one thing that a parent of young children craves, time lots of time with nothing scheduled. Time to watch the TV shows I want, sneak off for an interpreted sleep in the middle of the day or just watching the world go by, pure luxury.

See for all you pre-children people out there, having time and nothing to do means nothing to you, I may as well be talking another language. Michael McIntyre best described the difference in this YouTube video:

Children Time

As a parent you soon learn that the most valuable thing children really desire is not x-box or iPad but time with you. Time to read a book, to help put Lego together or for them to tell you about the world and how it works.

You soon realise that this time is the most valuable and fulfilling way you can spend your time. Our children’s younger years will soon pass and the time will soon come when they will not want to spend any time with me, so spending with them now will pay dividends for years to come.

Running

I am using this time to clock up a few extra kilometres. I would love to run further each day but a combination of my fitness level and the Singapore humidity limits the amount of time I can spend out on the road each day.

What has been good about the home-cation is that I can start my runs just that little later in the morning. My body feeling better for the extra sleep and get to see Singapore in daylight and new group of people on my runs.

Taking my long run for the week on a Friday rather than Saturday has freed up some extra time to spend with the children over the weekend. While I try to minimise the time my running takes me away from the family, if I can find a way to crawl back some time, I will try and get this extra time with them.

Blogging

I have spent a lot of holiday time in my study writing. I have not been concerned about completing posts but writing and researching ideas. I have not spent time at cafés to find inspiration, I feel that cafés in Singapore do not provide inspiration just average coffee. The study in our apartment is the place I find to be the most productive.

It is so nice to spend time writing without having to account for your time, creative without accountability is often an unrated activity.

What have I learnt from this Home-cation?

Nothingness is a good thing

We need to create times in our lives for nothingness. Holidays are becoming too much like work, needing to get “things done”, needing to go places and create new experiences. How often do you here people come back from a holiday to say they are tried and need a rest?

As parents with young children we often lack sleep, it is not until we have had a good sleep and given our bodies time to relax that we can appreciate the power of a good night’s sleep.

Singapore is a great city

Singapore is one of the world’s top holiday destinations and safest cities in the world, so why do I want to leave this place every time I have a vacation.

There is lot of great things to see and do, the weather is always hot and it is easy to get around.

The week of my Home-cation it was 4C at mid-day in Dunedin New Zealand while it struggled to be get below 30C here in Singapore. Heat beats cold any day of the week.

Embrace the area where you live

If you are like me I live a great apartment block in an interesting part of the city. What makes it more interesting is to explore the local cafes you never have time to visit when you are working.

A view from my study in Singapore.
A view from my study in Singapore

By breaking up your routine and doing the same things at different time of the day you can gain new perspective on where you live. We should embrace the areas we live in and try to make them a better place to live.

It is time we stop thinking global and start thinking local by embracing the benefits of the environment around us. It is environmentally friendly and a lot cheaper.

I was forced into this home-cation and I did enjoy it, home-cation, next time I would like to try the experience with more members of the family.

1,000km down and still running

Today I clocked my first 1,000km for the year. One thousand kilometres is the same as running from Sydney to Brisbane or a return trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. I am also 100km ahead of where I was this time last year even though my longest run for the year is over 10km shorter than the same time last year.

Running long distances is not my core goal for the year but it still feels good to clock up one thousand kilometres.

I have really been joying my running this year which I attribute to the following things:

  1. Running less – I know this may seem a little bit of a contradiction given I have just stated that I have run 100km more than the same time last year, but not focusing on distance as goal has meant I have been able to run constantly through the past 5 months. Less injuries and better recovery after my runs has helped.
  2. Singapore Shufflers – I joined this group a couple months ago and have been enjoying the challenge, competition and discipline of track work. The Shufflers has lifted my running game which I should start turning into PBs very soon.
  3. River Valley Runners – it is hard to get up for my Tuesday morning run after running a track session the night before but I really enjoy running in this group. I enjoy my talks on the run and the coffee afterwards, even though I often leave early to see my boys off to school.
  4. Less races but harder goals – my focus on the 5km has me fired up, I am only 3 seconds off breaking the 20 minute mark. By only focusing on a few runs this year, I am aiming for quality runs this year not a large quantity of average runs.

It has taken me 4 months and 27 days to reach the 1,000km, I hope to write the 2,000km post in 4 months 15 days’ time.

Content Marketing is Childs Play

It is not uncommon to get asked a question by one of my boys that I just don’t understand. Normally after a few questions I can figure out what they are on about, it is parent thing. This happened to me the other day when my oldest asked when we were buying the blue apron online.

Blue Apron, was it a new TV show or toy they had seen online? Not knowing what he was talking about I probed for some more detail. I quickly discovered he was talking about an online food service, USA based, that he had been watching on a YouTube channel. He was able to recite in great detail information about the food, how it could be delivered, the quality of the ingredients and the need to order the service online.blueapron

He was a evangelist of the service, he had been converted on all aspects of the service other than the need to eat salad.

Our children have learnt the power of the skip button after 5 seconds with traditional ads on YouTube but they will happily watch Play Doh, Lego and as I found out Blue Apron product endorsement shows. Good content marketing is child’s play.

There is no need for expensive production costs, celebrities (have you heard of EvanTubeRaw before?) or fighting with other ads for attention in a 30 second grab. If my children are anything to go by, children will watch the same show again and again and again.

If we put aside the entire advertising to child debate for a minute, something that Blue Apron are definitely doing, great content marketing should entertain people. The lines are blurred between providing information, entertaining and selling.

Good content marketing also takes the content to the people where they like consuming content, rather than forcing them back to your site.

Buzzfeed are very aware of this changing paradigm and as a result have been able to change their entire business model.  Through content marketing/native advertising they are about to push content out to their audience regardless if they are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any one of the many social media channels.

As both a parent and a marketer I have to been aware of this changing trend.

As a parent I have to be are that our children will be exposed to an increasing array of advertising messages through all  online channels and so I to start  teaching them from an early age the difference between shows and advertising.

As a marketer I have to be aware of new engaging channels to get my message out to customers, some of which I have never heard of before. I also need to start finding new ways to measure the success of campaigns, no longer is it hits and visitors to my website.

The Blue Apron content may appear to be child’s play but in an increasing fragmented and complex digital age we need to be more sophisticated in how we communicate our message.

Author: +Richard Brock

Singapore’s best running event – East Coast Parkrun

Parkrun 2There is no lack of runs here in Singapore, there has to be at least one organised event most weekends but the best running event has to be the weekly East Coast Parkrun. This 5km timed run every Saturday morning starts at 7am from Car Park B on the East Coast Park and isstaffed entirely by volunteers.

The beauty of the event it is simplicity.  Around 40-50 runners take part each week on an out and back course and results are usually posted within hour of completing the event. The run is not completed until you sit down for a chat with your fellow runners over a Starbuck’s coffee (there is not a lot of choice for coffee here in Singapore).

Nice, simple and free.

Parkrun started in the UK back in 2004 and has grown to over 500 events held every weekend around the globe. Just recently the first runner completed his 500th Parkrun, which is over 9.6 years of running every weekend. I currently stand at a total of 3 runs, so just 497 to go.

Parkrun 1Parkrun appeals to all types of runners, both fast and slow.

I have some friends that are very fast runners, they like the event as it gives them an opportunity to test how they’re progressing and it’s an opportunity to run against other runners. People at the other end of the spectrum only have to run 5km so is less challenging than many of the paid 10km events.

The best way to support Parkrun is to:

  1. Take part in a Parkrun in your local town or visit a Parkrun when travelling overseas
  2. Volunteer at your local event;
  3. Spread the word about Parkrun to other runners.

I hope to see you at a Parkrun soon.

Buying new running shoes, will I run faster in orange?

As a runner you are always looking for a way to shave a few seconds off your run here and there. Unfortunately there are few options available in our runners tool kit outside of training, hence the reason I believe that there is a lot of focus on running shoes.

Many runners live under the belief that their shoes could provide the silver bullet for faster times and less injuries, as a result Nike, Adidas and the many other show manufacturers have taken advantage of this perception and made a small fortune from the latest shoe technology.

The selection of shoes one can choose from can be mine blowing, with more choice of brands, models and colours than your average supermarket. Okay, maybe not your average supermarket but you get my point.Brooks

I have read a considerable number of articles on running shoes and come to the conclusion that there is little science to differentiate a good from a bad pair of shoes and there are few people that can provide good advice on finding you a good pair of shoes.

Rather than getting tangled in a web of contradictory information I work by these simple rules when buying my shoes:

  1. If you have been running injury-free with a pair of shoes, the same type of shoe will mostly likely keep you injury-free. I used to get shin splints all the time until I moved to Brooks and never had the issue again in the past 15 years;
  2. Selecting the right shoes for the distance you plan to run will save you a few seconds but that is about it. It will be the same few seconds if you are running 5km or 42.2km;
  3. You are at your greatest risk of injury when you have just changed your brand/model of shoe. With new shoes you will hit the ground slightly differently and potentially expose a weaker part of your body to increased stress. If you change your brand or model, take it easy for the first couple of weeks;
  4. Running shoes have a finite life, after around 500-600km you need to get a new pair. It is a lot cheaper to get a new pair of shoes than paying for several visits to the physio;
  5. The colour of my shoes is neither going to make me run faster or be seen by many people at 6am, but last year’s model will save me a few dollars.

I am about to put my pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS out to pasture after an enjoyable 649km as I start to break in my new pair of Brooks Glycerin. If this new pair give me half the enjoyment the old shoes did I will be a happy runner.

Things making me happy this week – 5th April – Nuun

Running here in Singapore means you sweat a lot and boy do I mean a lot. So an important part of recovery is to make sure you replace the water loss but also the salt and other important nutrients your body has released through your sweat. Nuun

There is no lack of isotonic drinks on the market fighting for your dollar, unfortunately most of these drinks have little health benefit other than the name sports on the packaging.  The are just sugar packed drinks that in many cases have similar levels of sugar to a Coke.

I was pleased when I was recently introduced to Nuun, with the two main ingredients are sodium and potassium this is the perfect post run recovery drink. What makes it even better is that it tastes pretty good as well.

I have purchased my stock from iherb as it is about 50% of the cost of buying it from GNC and is delivered in under a week.

What is making me happy this week after my runs is Nuum.

Things making me happy this week – 26th March – Earth Hour

What is making me happy this week is Earth Hour.  We are only days away from the ninth staging of the event on the 28th March and the excitement is building.

Working in the Earth Hour global team it is great to see over 172 countries and territories coming together to focus on our planet and the climate.

It has been exciting over the past weeks to watch the number of visitors to our website have steady increased, it is going to be another big year for Earth Hour.

Every day the team hear about initiatives within the Earth Hour and WWF networks from legislative changes, to cleaning beaches through to groups enjoying a candlelit dinner with someone they love, individuals and organisations have embraced Earth Hour as there own.

A group selfie just before Earth Hour.
A group selfie just before Earth Hour.

It is amazing how the world has united behind this one simple act started in Sydney in 2007 of switching off the lights for one hour has achieved so much over the years.

During Earth Hour night, our global Earth Hour team have to be available for all 24 of the 1 hour session, I will be working from 9pm to 9am. While coffee will help me get through the night, the excitement and energy of the global community will keep me going.

If you have not thought about Earth Hour until now, here is a few simple things you can do:

  1. Switch off the lights in your house from 8:30-9:30pm local time on the 28th March;
  2. Visit the Earth Hour website and find out what events happening in your area
  3. Take action, help fund a project or sign an online petition to help make a sustainable future;
  4. Join the movement and keep up to date on activities that are happening through the Earth Hour movement throughout the year.
  5. Have some fun and watch the Durex video.

So join me and switch off your lights this Saturday night and use the power of the hour to make a difference on the planet.

Happy Earth Hour.