Monday, January 30, 2006

Year of the Dog

The Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated event in the world. The Chinese are everywhere in every nook and cranny of the world. This year is the Year of the Dog and what’s even more special is the fact that this year will be a “long” year with 385 dog-days. Such phenomenon will only occur 12 times from 221BC to 2100AD. The last such phenomenon was in 1944. I guess I wouldn’t see another such lunar cycle in my lifetime.

I have 3 dogs in my Cheras home and one in Happy Garden. The Year of the Dog has seen a sudden surge of people owning dogs. A UM professor commented in TV3’s Buletin Utama that people own dogs in the belief that their barking “Ong! Ong! Ong!” would bode well with the Chinese strong superstitious belief of "ong" equals to prosperity. I never knew dogs’ barking has changed from Woof! Woof! to Ong!Ong!Ong! I guess Ong sounds more like a puppy than a rocky Rottweiler. However, many people who were not prepared for the new commitment of owning a dog found themselves unable to cope with the added responsibilities of cleaning them up, feeding and giving them the required attention. So, the unlucky dogs were reportedly abandoned on the streets when the reality sunked in on the owners. As I ponder over such report, I realized our family gave a lot of attention and spent huge amount of time and money on our dogs. We are the proud owner of one of our 3 dogs in BTHO that is already 15 years old and that is equivalent to 105 dog-years! Going by this record, we may soon have one of the oldest dogs in the world!

My CNY celebration with family is a bit different this year. We took on the steamboat approach. It’s more convenient that way and we get everything in a pot of wholesome CNY goodness. We have fish, prawns, Foo-Chow wantan, and many many more, all the stuff that forms the usual CNY greetings. And we get a tastier pot of soup everytime we put in the fresh ingredients and the taste just gets better.

This year it’s just me receiving ang pao. My brother’s married last year so I inherit all the red packets including double takes from him since it’s his first year of marriage. The traffic was quite good in the morning but not until it turned afternoon. I bet a lot of people have made KL their homes. Just my area in Happy Garden alone, I noticed each of the houses was still occupied and cars were streaming and parking onto the roads for CNY visiting. Working for and constructing highways have made me gone numbed with the daily traffc jams and so a traffic jam-free CNY is what I wished for before I get back to work.

I had been receiving poetic SMS-es on the CNY. Actually I have my own created much earlier, just that I refused to send it out and be "another" of those poetic SMS-es. But here it goes..."Missing Chicken, Golden Retriever. Chicken or Fox Terrier? No answer will get mini pincher, When you feel a Hush, that's when it's Chi-wa-wa-nese New Ear!"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Training Schedule for Marathon Race

I did a 26km run yesterday and felt great about it. It’s not the ego-boasting feeling but physical feeling of greatness i.e meaning clocking a mileage of 26km and yet not feeling exhausted by it. The weather was just nice and the slight drizzle at the beginning made it a perfect weather for long run! But why 26km on this particular Sunday? Because it is in my training schedule and I was supposed to do a 24km run. Training schedule??? What the….?? Doesn’t everyone have a training schedule? I don’t know….

But the thing which I noticed about running is that many people do not actually know why they are doing a 20km on a particular Sunday when they should be going slow on a 10km or doing a 10km run when they should be hovering at the mileage of 20s and 30s. I also noticed people repeating the Hartamas run week after week or doing 30s without any sign in reducing the distance when the weeks are approaching to D-day! That is hell lot of risks to play with.

There is no focus and objective, because many of us, including myself regard running as a recreational sport to burn fat and keep that body fit. However, marathon is a different “leg-game” altogether. We need to talk about science and techniques. If you still don’t agree, then why purchase that new pair of New Balance and stock up on your PowerGels for your coming marathon? Aha, because there is science involved. There is nutrition and there are techniques.

There is no fast solution to running a marathon and we need to be serious about it. That is why a line is drawn between a recreational RUNNER and a MARATHONER. Both terms do not come by accident, and definitely it takes something to be a MARATHONER.

Let’s talk about techniques since it has always been on the backseat in talks and articles. Touch on Training Schedule then. An 18-week program is actually a good planner, at least that was what I observed and used as the maxim of my trainings prior to marathons. The schedule does not only focus on running but also cross-trainings and rest days. This is essential for exhausted muscles to recover.

In the pent-up to a marathon race, a mileage vs week graph should ideally look like an inverted bell-curve and not a straight line. There are weeks which we need to reduce the mileage to give time for the muscles to heal and build. And there are weeks which we need to go the extra miles to improve our stamina and endurance. So, there is no one-rule to say that we have to go Hartamas every Sunday morning!

Of course, a training schedule is always flexible and easily customized to your needs and suited to your rest days and other trainings if you do triathlons or duathlons. If on a particular Sunday, we are supposed to do a 13km run, it is perfectly alright and easier to go 15km. Just do a double hill and a Carcosa then. It does not matter if we do an extra or less 1 or 2km. In any circumstances, at least a training schedule keeps and guides you in the range that you should be running for the week. So when it tells you that you should be doing a 20km, you do not end up doing 5 or when you should be doing a 5, you do not end up with 35. That's a huge disparity! O and come to think of it, who says long runs must be done on Sundays?

A training schedule is not created to give us the extra headache and add up to those from work and the KL traffic. It is a source of guideline to ensure that we do not end up doing too much or too little. And most importantly, we know what we are doing and why…..