May the 4th be with you!

Enjoy Star Wars Day. I am one with the force. The force is with me.

force choke

2015: The Training Awakens

Hi Readers

force choke

The Force has not been strong with this blog but I believe it was strong with my training in 2015.

It’s been a long time since I last posted anything on this blog (March 2015!!!). I just had a look at the stats and was surprised to discover that I’ve still had a few views despite the lack of activity. Thank you! I plan to blog more regularly this year and I also plan to focus the blog more on running, triathlons, fitness and martial arts and less on just general ‘remarkable’ topics. That’s a nice big clue as to what I’ve been up to in 2015 and what my plans are for 2016. 🙂

In 2015 I changed the way I approach my training. It started in 2014 already when I used my commute to-and-from work for my training runs and cycles. Instead of just having one workout or training session a day, I was now doing two on many days. It was tough to begin with and I struggled most evenings. However, as I stuck with it, things did improve. Then I started thinking about the training regimens that pro-athletes and elite age-groupers follow. These fit folks spend 6-8 hours a day training. Even with two sessions, I was still only doing 1-1.5 hours a day with longer runs on weekends. I reckoned that it was conceivable that I could up the daily sessions to 3 or 4. So towards the end of May 2015, I started doing 3 or 4 workouts on 3 or 4 days of the week. Again, it was tough to start with but it was manageable.

At that point, the training mix consisted of running, biking and martial arts. I started doing Kuk Sool Won twice a week for an hour. More on this martial arts system in a future post but you can find some insight into the practice from the point of view of another student (my lovely wife) in the posts on Junbi. The running was still mainly my commute and weekend long runs. I started cycling more often – substituting some of my runs with a bike to work and also going on weekly lunchtime rides with a couple of colleagues. As my body adapted to this increased regimen, I started seeing a general improvement in my endurance in particular. In June and July, I added 9Round training to my workout mix. This is a 30 min workout based on kickboxing where you move from one station to the next every 3 min. There are nine stations or rounds. It’s a high intensity workout and definitely boosted my fitness level. I feel that it took me through a plateau. I had bought a two month membership on a deal website and didn’t renew afterwards.

KSW family

It’s a family affair

In September I started crossfit of all things. There is a fantastic crossfit gym close to my home and they have a 5:30 am class – perfect for someone with a busy schedule trying to squeeze in a workout. I Will Crossfit has definitely taken my results to another level. I’ll write more about the classes but the workouts I’ve been doing there have benefited my running through heightened strength and endurance.

weekend iwc

Saturday Partner WOD – me in the Green Lantern Shirt

Event-wise, I took part in my first triathlon in the USA – the 29th Annual Tri For Real event held in Pleasanton. This was a shorter triathlon consisting of 700 yard swim, 19 -mile bike, 4-mile run. I also completed the Berkeley Trail Adventure half marathon course (the toughest half marathon I’ve ever done). Just look at the course profile!

 

BTA

After you’re done climbing, let’s climb some more

The California International Marathon held in Sacramento was my final event of the year and my first marathon since 2013. This, for me, was the true test of all the training I’d put in over the year. I had three goals depending on how the race progressed.

  1. A new PR (my previous best as detailed in my last blog post was 4h28)
  2. A sub-4h15 race
  3. A sub 4h race

I managed 1 and 2 – I finished in 4h11. My training came through – I managed to run the full distance (no walking) and I recovered faster than expected (I had a 1.5 hour drive home following the race but was nowhere near as stiff and sore as I expected to be). I definitely felt stronger.

CIM

We’re all wearing the same colours!!

So all-in-all, 2015 has given me hope for further improvements in 2016. I have entered the San Francisco Marathon  which promises to be incredibly scenic and incredibly grueling. I have plans to try a Spartan Race and/or a Tough Mudder and I’m eyeing the Ironman 70.3 in Santa Cruz. In crossfit this week we started with our baseline check. We were doing 1 rep maximum testing. It’ll be interesting to see our improvements in 12 weeks time. I’ll keep you posted. If I’m feeling brave, I may post some before and after photos.

I look forward to sharing my training journey with you.

What are you goals and events for 2016?

 

Fear is the path to the Dark Side

A race to overcome fear

A race to overcome fear

Yesterday I was having a conversation with someone I’d just met. We were talking about the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. I have been a massive fan of Star Wars since I first saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ with my dad at the iconic Luxurama cinema in Wynberg, Cape Town. Going to ‘bioscope‘ was always a major treat and this one stands out in my memory. It may have been the start of my love of fantasy and sci-fi.

I was a bit frightened at the start of the sequence in the swamps of Dagobah. It looked creepy and scary. But this is also where we first meet Master Yoda, who, despite his size is one of the biggest icons of the Star Wars franchise and possibly had the strongest connection to the Force. Master Yoda is also the main source of wisdom throughout the series. His guidance always in the form of short, memorable pearls of insight. One of the more famous he delivers to Anakin Skywalker: ‘Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’

I thought about that line this morning as I contemplated my failure in the 7 day #YourTurnChallenge. I didn’t post anything yesterday – day 6. I missed a day and I was trying to figure out my next step. Do I bother with day 7? Is this failure final? Did anyone miss my daily post? Much of my responses to the above questions were initially quite negative. I didn’t want to bother today. I had failed and should give up blogging. Nobody would miss me.

Then I thought about Yoda’s words and I realised that I was giving in to fear. I was fearful that my blog isn’t good enough. That I don’t know what I’m doing. That people don’t care what I have to say so I shouldn’t say anything. I also spent much of yesterday angry. So fear did lead to anger :-). I’m writing today to ensure it doesn’t lead to hate because I want to do this regularly. I want to record my thoughts about things I find remarkable. I hope that people find these thoughts worthy reading but that is not the main motivator behind recording them. I’ve found that recording them in this way actually brings further insight and understanding. It’s helping me learn more about the world. About myself.

So, thanks, Winnie Kao for the challenge. It’s been a journey I’ve enjoyed and a journey I’ll continue.