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.

A new running challenge – the flying kiwi?

One of the great things about running is not matter what your fitness level we all have to competing against the clock. Some days the clock can be your friend but more often than not it is a hard task master that never gives an easy second.

For most of us regular runners achieving a personal best time is one of the best things we can accomplish from a race.

I am heading into a period where I am not going to be participating in many races so I can build a stronger running base in an attempt to attempt to smash a few outstanding personal records in the 5km and half marathon distances, and have for a brief moment a feeling that I have beaten the clock.

5km

The first of these distances is the 5km distance. I have not done a lot of short distance runs but want to do the East Coast Parkrun at least once a month with the aim to get below 19 minutes. My current best time is around 20 minutes and 2 seconds, which I achieved yesterday.

Up and down the steps at Fort Canning - I am sure they have been extra steps to the hill.
Up and down the steps at Fort Canning – I am sure they have been extra steps to the hill.

I have started to change my training program by incorporating more speed session and more time in the gym. I am trying to take my average training time down from around 5 min/km to around 4 min 30 sec per km.

Living close to Fort Canning means it is easy to incorporate one hill session a week. I am sure they have been adding steps to the hill recently.

The aim is to focus on the 5km as a good building block to take on the bigger challenge of the half marathon.

The Half Marathon

I have once before managed to run a 90 minute marathon but I want to run a sub-90 minute half. The best time I have done here in Singapore is 1 hour 40 minutes 28 seconds, taking off 10 minutes and 29 seconds is going to take some work.

This means I need to take my per kilometer time down from 4:44 to 4:16, all achievable but will require some smart and hard work. It is not just about running long distances but running each session with some purpose.

To achieve this goal I aim to build additional strength at the gym and aim to reduce my weight by around 5-6kg. The Singapore humidity is a killer if you are running with extra weight.

I may not d another half marathon until the end of the year and that is fine with me. My goal is not to accumulate a large number of slow runs but focus on running a few great races.

In the past I have put a lot of faith in running longer distances, the next few months the aim is to work smart. The end goal is to achieve both goals in 2015.

Until next time, happy running.

Things making me happy this week – 18th March

What has been making me happy this week is 39 Steps by John Buchan. First published in 1915, this adventure/murder mystery has become a classic novel and has stood up well to the test of time.39-steps by John Buchan

Set in is pre-war London, the novel takes you on an adventure across England and Scotland as the main character first attempts to avoid capture and then tries to stop events that could lead to the start of war.

The book kept me engaged throughout the story. I plan to read more mystery, murder novels over the coming months.

It was also nice to have a shorter story, with work being busy at the moment it nice to start and finish something that does not need to use too much of the grey matter.

Back to the books until next week.

Things making me happy this week – 9th March

This is a new section to the blog that cover moments, events or things that have made me happy in the past week. I can not take credit for the idea as I have stolen it directly from one of my favorite Podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour.

In the past week I have been enjoying the first single from the upcoming album by Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best.

I recently saw Courtney play at the Singapore Laneway Festival and though the song was at best average, I might be getting old but I just could not hear the words. The song is all about the lyrics.

Since then I have heard the studio version of the song a couple times and loving it. I love the hard rock edge to her song, the fresh clever lyrics and something a little bit original.

At this stage I can only listen to the song through YouTube here in Singapore, so looking forward for the release of the album later this month.