Friday, November 30, 2012

The Last Of Movember

November has been hair-raising for me. Apart from raising awareness about Men related diseases such as depression and prostate cancer via a global movement known as Movember, I have earned the moniker "Inspector Lim" in the office due to the Mo' I've grown over the past 30 days.A mid month update was shown on November 16, which drew a lot of laughter among friends and families. For those following my progress, this is a time lapse over the past 29 days of me going from clean shaven to sporting a moustache.
:) SO, Do you all like me with or without any Mo? Frankly, I sort of forgot how I looked like clean shaven.
With that, I conclude my Movember with this last photo I took just before posting up this blog post. Remember, November from now onwards will be Movember - and when it happen, think of men and their related health issues such as depression and prostate cancer. Have a Mo-day!
Day 1..............................................................Day30

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Variation To Tempo Run

You have read about my Tempo run workout that was posted in my blog earlier this week. Because the weekend is coming closer and that simply meant more time for most of you to get out and sweat the weekday work stress away, here is some suggestions on the type of Tempo run you can do. Like The Hill Workout that I wrote about, Tempo run comes in a few variation. The key to  running faster and stronger (and obviously losing some fats in the process) is to keep the muscle and body guessing what will be the next meal workout you will throw at (yourself). 
As this will serve as a guide and most of us would not or might not have GPS-enabled devices to track distances, I am writing this based on TIMING, where everyone would at least have a watch that could tell time. The the Tempo Start.
Tempo Basic
Start and end the run with a 7 minutes warm-up and cool-down. The starting and ending should be done at an easy conversational pace. Run the 20 minutes in between at a pace that is about 30 seconds to 45 seconds slower than your average 5km pace.
Tempo Interval
Start and end the run with a 7 minutes warm-up and cool-down. The starting and ending should be done at an easy conversational pace. Run the 20minutes in four-5-minutes interval of fast and slow pace. Maintain the fast to be 30seconds to 45seconds pace slower than your 5k and run the slow pace at about the warm-up or cool-down pace. 
Tempo Negative Interval
Start and end the run with a 7 minutes warm-up and cool-down. The starting and ending should be done at an easy conversational pace. Split the 20minutes into two-10-minutes and run the first 10minutes Tempo at your 30seconds to 45seconds slower than 5km pace. The second 10minutes of the Tempo is to be done at a negative split aka faster than the first 10minutes. In this case, I aimed to do it at almost my race pace. This Tempo Negative Interval is good to build your confidence on finishing a race strong (as you go almost all out at the end).
Tempo Race Pace
The most demanding Tempo run is the one done at Race Pace. As usual, start and end the run with a 7 minutes warm-up and cool-down. The starting and ending should be done at an easy conversational pace. Then, hammer the 20minutes with nothing less than your race pace and make it count.
Now that you have four different tempo run that you can very well do on your own and as part of your training regime. I perform Tempo run twice a week, with certain degree of variation of distance and also intensity. You can do it too. 
Tempo Basic completed on Nov 27, 2012. 7.3km covered in 36mins.
Finding the Correct Intensity
I've written it in my blog entry about Tempo Run and this will serve as a guidance to gauge your tempo/intensity/rhythm. Here is how:

With a device that could tell you your pace
Take your fastest 5km or your 10km race pace (aka the one you just completed) and add on 30 seconds (to the 5km pace) or 10 seconds to your 10km race pace. Example, if you ran your best 5km in average 6:00 pace, do your Tempo in 6:30 or 6:10, respectively.
Talk Test
I know it will sound funny if you talk to yourself, but that's what I do most of the time when I am running. Ask yourself (in your mind) what is your "pace". You should be able to answer (verbally), so that is what we are looking for. But if you ask yourself "What will be eaten for lunch later today" and you have to answer (verbally) a whole paragraph and can still do it, you are running too slow. Go faster.
With a device that can tell you your heart rate
Aim for 85% to 90%. Enough said. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Roll Buns

Those that know me via this blog would know how much me and my family love food. As a typical Malaysian, we talk about them all the time, sometimes, even in our sleep. However, Malaysian food sold at hawkers are not as healthy as they used to be. One has to be very careful when eating outside with the amount of processed food (bad oil?), enhancer ( E621 is monosodium glutamate) and other preservatives? Eating healthy and clean is easier than you think - simply because of the easily available real food ingredient that you can find easily. Today, we are sharing with you, how to make your own cinnamon buns that would (and did) rival those commercially "designer cinnamon buns" available in shopping complex. This sets of instructions is perhaps the toughest and likely the most elaborate we will post up (yes, We as in me and wifey, this belongs to her).  
The Dough
4 1/2 cups to 5 cups of flour (we uses the Organic flour)
1 packet yeast
1 cup milk (full cream)
1/3 cup (about 1/4 part of) butter
1/3 cup of (brown or) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 eggs (we usually only buy A sized eggs)
The Good Stuff
You can use those "cups" that has been measured from baking stores. This way, you do not need to guess if "my cup is bigger than yours" or what is a "cup". It is not expensive and easily available as a set.
Measure measure
Start the process by placing 2 1/2 cup of flour with the yeast in a mixing bowl or container. Then separately, in a small saucepan, heat up the milk, butter, sugar and salt in low heat until the butter almost melted. Remember to constantly stir the mixture and do not overheat this. 
yes, that is how 1/3 butter looked like.
When this is done, pour 1/3 of the mixture into the mixing bowl and crack one egg in. Start beating this mixture at low speed. Obviously, you will still get them to be powdery. 
The Good Ol'Eggs
Add in another third (the second 1/3) of the butter mixture into the bowl and crack another egg in, beat it at low speed. And finally, add in the remaining mixture and the final egg and beat it at high speed. Reason for this is actually to prevent the powdery mixture to fly everywhere should you start mixing at high speed and with full ingredient.
Pour 1/3 at a time, slowly.
Chef at work
Still powdery/cakey at second mix. Keep going.
Once all the mixture is in, you will get a consistent doughy but liquid-dy mixture of the "dough" ingredient. Continue to beat for 3-minutes (or a bit more) at high speed.
Turning out well
Just Beat it. Now play that MJ's Grammy Award song!
Remember that you still have the remaining flour unused. Now, pour them in slowly and start kneading it with your hands until you get a soft dough that is smooth and elastic. Don't worry about getting your hands and fingers dirty -  just make sure you washed your hands before doing this! Sorry no photo of this process as both our hands were dirty and can't operate the camera! Once you get a smooth soft dough (that do not stick to your fingers), you can now shape the dough into a ball. We knead the bread on a table surface (cleaned, wiped as well).
Knead it.
Punch it. Good anger management. Really.
Once the dough is shaped into a ball, drop it into the same bowl to let it rest (and raise) over a period of 60 to 90 minutes. Cover the dough with a wet towel.
You will see this grow in a while
The yeast, the kneading and the mixture of ingredient will cause the bread to raise. If you have a motion capture camera, this is a good chance to see it come alive. But alas, we have a point & shoot and end up only being able to capture the before and after process.
Leave it for 60-90minutes at a warm place, next to the window is good
Once the dough has doubled it's size, take it out and punch it down (did i hear someone say YES?)
It's alive. 
You punch down the down on a lightly floured surface and then cover with a clean (damp) towel to let it rest for about 10minutes.
I never dare to mess with this woman anyway
While the dough is resting, get yourself ready to make the fillings.
1/2 cup brown sugar (recommended instead of white, recipe call for 1 cup!)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (again, the organic stuff)
ground cinnamon - put as much as you want, one tablespoon is a good start, more if you like it to taste/smell heavier
1/2 block of butter - chopped into pieces
1/2 cup raisins - or any dried fruits you want to try. Imagination is your limit here.
1 tablespoon light cream - and you can do this with milk as well.
The filling
Put all (except the raisins or dried fruits) the filling ingredients into another bowl and with your hand or utensil, mix them all up until it become a crumbly paste. Resist the temptation to lick the paste from your fingers at all time.
Looked unappetising, i know. Now, imagine those sold over the counter ;-)
Assuming that the above filling process takes you 10 minutes, the dough has already been rested enough. Roll the dough into a square of rectangle with yourself determining what thickness you want the bun to be. We made them thinner to get a more loose bread and that worked out to give us an approximate 45 cm long by 20 cm long dough.
Notice the extra dough at the top? That's for the children for bun with no raisins.
Once the dough has been flattened to the desired thickness, spread the filling onto the dough generously. Then sprinkle generous amount of raisins onto the surface.
Spread the filling with hands
Top up with loads of raisins
Then you roll up the dough like a log and pinch off the ends to seal it. You then slice the log into equal size (we managed to get 15 pieces) and arranged them on a lightly greased (with butter) baking pan. Arrange them in such way that you will let them grow further. Because this bun is not done yet.
The Adult Version with Raisins
The Kids Version with some frosties on top
Now, you got two options:
1. Keep this in the fridge to be baked the next morning for an awesome breakfast; or
2. Bake this right away.
For option 1, cover the dough with a microwave wrap and put them into the fridge. Next morning, remove the pan and plastic wrap and let it sit for 30minutes (to room temperature) before baking. As we went for Option 2, we let the dough rise a further 60minutes. Do cover them with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
Minute Zero
Minute Sixty
Saw what happened in 60minutes? Fluffy Cinnamon Roll Buns! For that golden finish, brush the surface of the rolls with some milk and put it into the oven at 180degreeC to 190degreeC for about 25minutes to 30minutes (but monitor towards the end to prevent it from burning). You will know the buns are ready by poking one of them with a toothpick and it should come out clean; or you can tap the top of the bun and it should sound hollow. 
Warning: The Kitchen/home will smell like a bakery by now! Fend off any thieves that will come steal one or two buns away.
The kids' buns
For the kids' buns, bake them slightly shorter as the size is not as big. We took them out in about 20minutes. It was done perfectly. And here, behold, the homemade Cinnamon Roll Buns made in the Lim's Kitchen.
Oh My Goodness!
Now, what is left is to take the bun out, make a coffee and sit down to enjoy a bite.
One, is never enough
Or have two...after all, You know what goes into these and you know how healthy it is!
Tea, anyone?
Try this in your kitchen and you can enjoy some healthy bread at home. Do notice that we did not make any sugar glazing that are typical of those you can buy outside. We feel that the amount of sugar mixed into the dough and filling is already at it's optimal range (for us). 
The Calories Count
It is easy to count the amount of energy you will get from this mixture. The most basic knowledge is to know how much ingredient is placed into it. 
Dough - 5+1/3 cups : 700grams (730g x 4kcal = 2920kcal)
Milk - 1 cup : 240ml (120kcal)
Butter - 1/3 + 1/2 = 180grams (180g x 9kcal = 1620kcal)
Sugar - 1/3 +1/2 = 180grams (180g x 4kcal = 720kcal)
Eggs - 3 large = 65grams each (3 x 80kcal = 240kcal)
Raisins - 1/2 cup = 240kcal
Total calories : 5860kcal
This will look like a lot but if you did notice, 1/4 of the dough was kept aside for the kids' bun. Lets just count the kcal on the adult version.
: 5860kcal - 240kcal (raisins as i want the nett kcal without it) = 5620kcal
: (5620kcal/4) x 3 = 4215kcal (for 3/4 dough with raisins)+240kcal = 4455kcal
We made 12 buns with this 3/4 mixture and this meant, each bun is equal to 4455/12 = 371kcal each. :)
Yes, I am a calorie granny...
But look at it this way, that 371kcal is equivalent to you eating 4 slices of white bread with a teaspoon butter, or 2 slices of white bread (with butter) with a cup of milk. I am very sure that the Cinnamon Roll Bun made above would be more appetising. :)
Happy Baking!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Garmin Forerunner 910XT on Training Peaks

I've been diligently using both Garmin Training Center (TC) and the Garmin Connect (web based) to track my workouts and to make sense of the datas I've collected. Previously, I've struggled to import the workout from my Garmin 910XT to another web-based software known as Training Peaks. What i did wrong was that I've downloaded the specific TIMEX Device Agent, instead of the more "generic" Training Peaks (TP). A write up on the (software) review could be read here.
The "Timex" Device Agent. Works only with TIMEX specific gears.
This (very late) discovery happened when I was configuring an old laptop to be used at home. Being someone on budget and looking out for the best bargain (aka reviving old stuffs) or free stuff, i found out about this when i re-install Training Peaks software. All you need is to install this TP software into your PC. Login with your TP credential, choose your device and follow a few steps (which I am laying it out below) and you are done.
If Garmin Connects works perfectly fine, why bother?
I am a data-whore. Period.
OK. Show me how to Training Peaks my Garmin Workout
Training Peaks is actually a company that offer both free and premium (read : paid) services to analyse your workout. Their aim are mostly for coaches and performance athletes. While I am neither, but it is sure nice to aspire to do my workout like the professionals. I would assume you would already downloaded and installed the Training Peaks software by now. If you have not, get them for free here. So, now, i assume you have the software. Lets start.
The Training Peaks Device Agent
Noticed that the above interface is missing the "TIMEX" header? This will allow you greater freedom and possibilities to "sync" workout from other devices that is supported by Once you get the correct software installed (which took me close to 6 months),  you will be able to sync all your workout directly.
Wooo...I lioke...
Once you identified the device you have from the drop down list, you move to the right side of the screen and click on "Open Files".
Magically, it will link to the default Garmin folder where all *.FIT are stored. This is of course, if you DO NOT change the original config when installing Garmin Training Center.
If this is your first time doing this, go ahead and select all files (click on one of the file name and press Ctrl-A). If you had done this before, or has sync-ed your workout via other mean (such as manual entry), perhaps, you would want to be careful which workout you want to add in. Reason for this is if you fail to selectively choose, you will end up with multiple data's of the same workout (scroll to the (close) bottom below).
Ctrl-A and click on Open.
If you have to ask me why Ctrl-A, you might want to consider signing up for computer basic 101 with me. I charge RM50/hours. ;-) I would assume you would know what to do and when you "Open" it, you will get all the workout "imported".
They are all In, alllllll IN!!!
Now, It is not done yet. Next, locate the "save" button on the lower right and click on it. Make sure all the workout you want to sync are ticked (it's by default, unless you have itchy fingers). Now, go on, click on "Save".
Depending on your internet speed and amount of workout, expect it to take anything from 10second to a few minutes.
If the workouts were successfully uploaded, a completion pop-out will show the amount of workout that was sync-ed.
188 and counting since April 27,2012
Congratulation. You have successfully uploaded all your workout into Training Peaks website. Now, where do you view all of them? Charts, maps and data's are exciting, you know?
The Magic Button
Assuming you already have a Training Peaks account (by now, if you still can't upload any workout, It is obvious you do not have any), clicking on it will open your web browser and take you to the website where all your workouts are stored.
Oh no! Multiple entries!
Now, you see, what happened if you upload and re-upload the same workout a few times? This is one flaw that Training Peaks has that could not manage duplicates like Garmin Connect could (aka marking incidences of multiple upload of the same workout). The only way to rectify this after you uploaded everything? Manually delete.
Apart from being a Data-whore, i have OCD too. Got to keep things...clean.
Now, you have successfully uploaded all your Garmin devices data's into Training Peaks. What is next is to make sense of them. All you need to do is to click on the workout and you will see a window open. Click on Maps & Graphs and you will see your workout data's. I've chosen to show my Hill Circuit that happened on Sunday Nov 25, 2012.
However, because this is a FREE account, i can't see much stuff other than the usual matrices such as average speed, elevation (you can't correct the elevation, because it's...well, Free), my heart rate, the lap speed/pace. To just understand the workout, this is sufficient.
But because...
I am so spoilt by Garmin's web-based training program, I get to see more stuff and understand my workout more in details. Here is a shrink ed (to 33% so i could fit into my 14inch laptop screen) print page of what I see on Garmin Connect of the same workout.
Don't squint to see the details, there are embed here.
Click on the "View Details" and you will see my whole workout in totallity. No way for me to brag more or over-declare the workout.
Hey, this is a Garmin Promo post!
Not really. But just want to offer other solutions to these software. While I have extensively laid them all out. I can now close this chapter knowing that I have more outlet and alternative to store and record my workout online. I love to keep redundancy, as I never know what will happen tomorrow to the data's I've stored online. So, having TWO sync-able options is good. Garmin Connect, however, will still be my main web-based program and the Garmin Training Center would still be my resident-in-computer program as the Training Peaks' software is only for data sync.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tempo Run And How To Do It

You have learnt about HIIT and also Hill workout. Today, It will be about Tempo run. As part of a "training regime" package, Tempo run is considered to be almost a mainstay in my weekly mileage.
So, what is a "Tempo" run?
Tempo is Italian for time. In the running lingo, it meant pace and speed. Likewise in music, the tempo of the music determine if the song/rhythm is slow or fast. But unlike music, a tempo run really meant running at a "comfortably hard" pace. Yes, an oxymoron - how can running hard  be comfortable? It is like someone asking you for an exact estimate, or asking you to run in an irregular pattern. But it is what it is, a Tempo run. A run that is "paced" at almost your fastest pace.
Fast runners (too many to name) will definitely have Tempo run in their training regime. Otherwise known to them as Lactate Threshold (LT) run. Long runs are good for a no-brainer endurance work, but a Tempo ensure you a sustained speed over the whole racing distance. Imagine you can run a whole marathon at the same speed from start to finish. A dream isn't it? Tempo run improves the single most important variable in a runner which is the metabolic fitness or how efficient your body will utilise the oxygen and fuel that arrive at the muscle at any given time during prolonged exercise. I have discussed this briefly in my Heart Rate Training entry and it has a comment section worthy of another blog entry.
85% and above - Lactic Threshold.
Lactate threshold, in laymen term is actually the stage where your muscle fatigue and you start asking yourself why are you putting yourself through this pain. (own up, you have asked more than once in all your long races, then suffer from selective amnesia and sign up for another one as soon as you finish the race). By training close to your LT with Tempo run, you will push the body to condition past the LT, elevating the "threshold" and your muscle continue to work (contracts) allowing you to run at the same pace, or faster and longer. Sounds good?
But to do that, you will need to diligently (read : disciplined) to run at almost your fastest pace.
Yes, almost your fastest pace. This is important to ensure a quality workout. Getting and striking the perfect pace for this Tempo run is never easy. I am sharing with you how I am doing it without getting too technical or relying on hi-tech gears. By getting yourself to the stage where your run become "comfortably hard", you felt you are really putting in the effort, but not all out. Here is a few ways to figure out what that would be.
With a device that could tell you your pace
Take your fastest 5km or your 10km race pace (aka the one you just completed) and add on 30 seconds (to the 5km pace) or 10 seconds to your 10km race pace. Example, if you ran your best 5km in average 6:00 pace, do your Tempo in 6:30 or 6:10, respectively.
Talk Test
I know it will sound funny if you talk to yourself, but that's what I do most of the time when I am running. Ask yourself (in your mind) what is your "pace". You should be able to answer (verbally), so that is what we are looking for. But if you ask yourself "What will be eaten for lunch later today" and you have to answer (verbally) a whole paragraph and can still do it, you are running too slow. Go faster.
With a device that can tell you your heart rate
Aim for 85% to 90%. Enough said. :)
We in Good Tempo now? Great, now this is how you gonna do it.
Lets Tempo
There is a few tempo variants, similar to Hill workout. But as this is an introduction to Tempo, lets stick to the Classic Tempo Run.
A Classic Tempo involves three stages. You begin your workout with a 15 minutes warm up, then a 20 minutes Tempo and finish it off with a 15 minutes cool down. Sound easy enough isn't it? It can range from a short 6km run to a 12km run (all three stages inclusive, depending on your pace, obviously).
The warm up tempo is where you concentrate to just run at a very easy comfy pace. You will cover anything between 2km to 3km depending on your abilities.
Then you shift gear and start running at your Tempo pace. Aim to ensure that the pace is "comfortably hard" and do not at any point slow down more than you should. Maintain the pace or ease away another 10seconds (slower). You will cover anything between 3km to 5km, again dependent on your ability.
The last portion is the Cool Down Tempo where you will ease up and run at the same pace as warm up or slower.
What is important here is the "commitment to the time". Try as much as possible to ensure a 20 minutes Tempo with maximum amount of warm up and cool down to be 20minutes each. Distance is immaterial. Your commitment to the time is!
Example of Tempo Run That I did
I am a hands on person as most of you would know. This was my Tempo workout at close to race pace that was comfortable for me. I started with a Warm Up Tempo that covered 3km in 18minutes.

Then I hit high gear and started running faster to the extend that I am considered to be in "the Tempo zone". I know I can run faster, but had to hold it off in case this become an all out effort. My 100% LT is when i run at slightly below sub 4:00 pace circa 3:50 for about 1minute. So, running at my 4:30 pace is close to my 80% LT pace which is what I am aiming for. Coincidentally, through experience, I know I am working at about my 90% effort.

And coincidentally (i so repetitive , I scored my fastest 5km run to date. a 22:04. Ecstatic. That meant I can actually use this (pace) in future Tempo run to further improve on my 5km timing. Awesome.
Once that was done, even with much reserves in the body, I have to start the Cool Down Tempo phase. Easy 3km run done in 17 minutes.

All in all, it was a good 11km workout taking slightly less than 60 minutes. if you ask me, it was time well spent that will gear myself towards better improvement in both health and fitness. Why am I doing all these? It is to beat the biggest nemesis i ever have in life - myself. I benchmark my own achievement to myself because that is what really mattered. Put in the effort and don't forget to smile and reward yourself for a job well done. You owe yourself that much!
Update: Tempo Run Variation - SOON

Friday, November 23, 2012

Brooks Half Marathon 2013 Open For Registration

Brooks Malaysia is back with another installment of their well received Half Marathon on March 3, 2013. Having taken part in the 2012 edition (race report can be read here), i am definitely considering to run this race as part of my preparation for the Sabah Adventure Challenge Ultra-trail that will take place two weeks after this race.
Last year's race took us running from Bukit Jalil towards OUG area and back. The route was undulating with enough of flats and hills to satisfy all level of running abilities. 
Yeap, all over the places!
For those of you interested to take part, the registration is now open at with 11 categories (age and distance related) to choose from. With Fun Run category of 5km for school boys and girls and choices of either a 10km or a 21km to suit other ages and abilities, this race should be a sold out very soon.
Entry Fee for the 21km distance is RM63, 10km distance is RM53 and the 5km distance is RM30. Head on over to to register before it is sold out.

ps - There could be some promotion that will be extended to those registered and registering for the half-marathon online. Wait up for more update by next week.
Brooks Malaysia Official Website : Brooks Malaysia Here
Brooks Malaysia Official Facebook Page: Brooks Facebook