Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2014

Wishing all of you a healthy and prosperous year of the horse 2014.
(May you have the spirit of the Horse and Dragon - Fast and Courageous)
From all of us at home

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Challenge of Eating While Travelling

The biggest challenge of eating clean while away from the normalcy of home and food familiar to you often wreck havoc if you have the need to "eat clean". I have previously shared 13 tips to workout during travel and part of the equation is the food portion. Often, we eat more than we should when travelling due to the local fare and food. However, if you are like me being able to eat to survive, as opposed to "survive to eat", you will find it difficult to choose the food amid the big spread of hotel buffets and what is served on your table during those business dinners. This is my 5-days in Cebu amidst the 5-star resort known as Shangri-La Mactan.
Image of the actual place I have my breakfast and lunch. Tides at Shangri-la Mactan. Photo from
Most important meal of the day and the right food will set you off the right way for the rest of the day. Hotel buffet spread for breakfast has limitless possibility to overfeed yourself. The spread from the usual cereals, bread, cheese, cold cuts, noodles, rice (if you are in an Asian country, this will almost be staple), more rice (of different way of cooking), sausages, pancakes, fruits, juices and lastly deserts. Super tough. However, as I've worked out every morning before the meetings/work, I have limited time, perhaps 15mins for breakfast and that was all I needed. For the full 5-mornings, I have these without fail and it carry me over until lunch. 
Fresh Fruits - won't go wrong. Shown here are the famous Cebu Mango and melon

Mango Puree - because this is what this place is famous for
Banana and Apple - great post workout food

No Joke. That was what I had for 5-morning together with the compulsory rolled oats mixed with nuts and raisins. Most hotel buffet will have oats (and if you are lucky, rolled oats) and that would go great with the full cream milk and you polish up the morning with a serving or two of fruits. Take the apple and Banana to go, as the other things to look out for will be the Morning Break, which will have many dangerous calorie laden food that you will not need.
Morning Break
Meetings and working meetings are often laden with food. It seems that universally, people need food every alternate hours and this time, as part of the package, we were served snacks twice a day. Careful with the choices of snacks as some carry more calories you won't need. Here are some actual food served and I took only one piece of each to taste and came to the conclusion that I will not have it the next time - not because it's not delicious, but it's more of keeping/maintaining the discipline.
Tuna Salad and Egg

Looked good to me

All vegan

Close up

The above two looked passable for a healthy snack. The Tuna and egg sandwich was a tad too salty due to the Tuna being dressed in too much salt. The egg (yolk) was well cooked and allowable consumption is limited to two servings. It is either one (tuna) or the other (vegan), not both. Remember, Breakfast was already calorie dense with a good mix of simple sugar (high GI) and complex carb (low GI). It should carry you over till lunch.

Sugar coated croissant - avoid at all cost

Together with the above two choices, there were a third serving of a sugar coated croissant. This should be avoided as this pastry is rich and sweet. Becareful what you put on your plate, and becareful what you take as second serving. Always ask yourself if you are just eating or eating because you have to.

People usually over eat during lunch. Being the mid-day meal, we have the impression that we will be hungry. Ever felt sleepy after lunch? That's a sign of "Happy Hormone" working due to over-indulgence on carbs (read : sugar rich food). Rice is staple food for Malaysians and most Asian countries. The white rice we eat are high glycemic index food and many would drown the rice in gravies. If you haven't know, gravies are mostly fats or oil. Those of you that cook will be able to confirm what I've just mentioned. 
So what would be good? Any decent hotel will have a small section of Japanese sashimi (or raw fish/seafood cuts). This below was my food serving on Day 2 and 4. Yes, this was what I had for lunch.
Protein loading
The sate or kebab were observed (when raw) to be lean meat and the temptation to put on gravies were there. However, why cover a nicely marinated skewer of meat with some hot sauce? The above sate were good as it was. 
Day 3 saw us being served a bento lunch set. Choices of fish (salmon) or Chicken (teriyaki) and I went for fish. The box set came with adequate serving of fruits and two makimono (otherwise known as sushi roll) and a side of raw vegetable (salad) in sesame dressing. I had half the served rice as the usual "serving" on an Asian plate is actually equal to TWO servings. For more knowledge of portioning your food, click here
Wished the fish were a full piece and option of brown rice
The food for Day 1 and 5 were similar as I went for my favourite seafood - squid. They are tasteless but when grilled, it's heavenly. I had it with grilled pumpkin and ladies finger/okra and with mango and sate (respective days) Yes, I am a creature of habit and I can eat the same thing over and over again and won't get bored. 
The photo did no justice
With sate, i took less squid. It is about control
Overeating will usually cause you to be sluggish and sleepy. Calorie control is not only good for the body, it is actually good for the mind too in terms of alertness. Next, come Dinner.
Super duper tough as the food were pre-ordered and comes in set. I am not the wasteful type, so I had to maximise on what was served on the plate and within acceptable limits. Some may say I am taking the fun out of eating. I agree to a certain extend - but at least I won't need to feel guilty about overeating and blaming the food for the increased bodyweight. Here was what I had on the second night (first night I've skipped dinner for Gym)
Bread, with relish
Mushroom soup from mushroom (earthy taste and smell) with cream and olive oil
portion of lala or mussels. More shell than food
A side of salad, in olive oil
Main of rib, served on mash potatoes
I've finished all of the above short of the mash potatoes and the gravy. The meat was lean with some traces of fats (it's rib) very well stewed that very little residual inter-fiber fats were present. The meat tears away easily.
On Night three, it was Thai food, as some of the meeting participants has never had Thai food before (yes, in Philippines haha!) and mine was limited to padthai, which was sufficient for me. Night four as free and easy as I joined two Muslim participant and ended up with grilled fish served with a lot of vegetables. I skipped the last night with double session in the gym.
I am happy that I managed to keep with the non-availability of my usual dinner of steam fish or light carbs. Comparatively, the meals (for dinner) I had in Cebu is already more than what I usually would consume at home. Living a little eh?
Coffee - lifesaver
In recent years, I've turned into a coffee drinker. At 0-kcal, the thoughts of not drinking a cup a day is hard to pass. Thank goodness there were free flow of brewed coffee over the week I was there! Black, no sugar, no milk for the win! 
And tea too!
I've made it a habit that if i were to travel, I will bring along a container of nuts and raisins mixture. It make great snack and nutritious too. Not tough to mix one yourself and you are limited by what you can find in a baking shop or in your fridge. Here is mine in a Nutella container that kept me entertained while in transit!
And a good book!
And one last tip - Stretch everywhere you can, especially if you can't workout (while in transit). Nothing shy to do this and people looking. It is better than sitting in a cafe eating away or trying to look busy getting wi-fi signal in a foreign land!
Selfie - fail
Hope the sharing today helped with some of you that travel much and always not too sure how to "structure" your meal. Keep it to the thumbs rule of KISS of Keep It Simple, Silly and you will not go wrong. Sure, you can have a bit more if you are in a foreign land, but remember that moderation is utmost important and always choose the healthiest options you can. You client may be paying, but no reason to overeat just to compensate for the time away from training (or home).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Save Bukit Kiara : Manslide Damaged Part of 4K Loop

Many of us has seen how the open cutting of the slope in Bukit Kiara, triggered by a small landslide that happened halfway up the tarmac, has became a full blown open-cut slope "rectification" that has been ongoing the past 2-months at least. With my very limited engineering knowledge and based on logical observation - this is accident waiting to happen.
Can be viewed all the way from Sime Darby Convention Centre
And while nothing (yet) happened at this slope, the excess soil removed from this open cut was stock-piled on the other side of the road about 20m away. And perhaps the contractor has thought they got things under controlled with the little logic they have.
What happened about 3 weeks ago goes to show how things that will go wrong, will go wrong. The stock-pile collapsed and washed the tonnes of soil down the other side of the slope, creating what I call a Manslide or Man-made landslide.
Photo from TRAKS FB clearly show how the soil were dumped! This is fixing landslide the JLN way, by creating other landslide!
This is one part of the "Park" that I guess they don't think anyone will notice. Because afterall..."WHO RUNS IN THE JUNGLE ANYWAY".

WRONG, as the most valid reasons many I know fighting to preserves Bukit Kiara trails from being destroyed and capitalised by developers is the wonderful trails that hides there. 

The Manslide has covered and destroyed an essential path of 4K loop, right after the technical downhill portion many Mountainbikers (world class included) cherish.
View to the upper section
View to the lower section
 This is how this section looked like before the Manslide
Yes, 20 to 30m of this section, wiped out!
The video below will express my view in more words than a write up will do.

So, what say you of this? Mother Nature of Human Nature?

JLN has purchased one (observed) All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and one may wonder how wise will that be. These machine will tear up the pristine trails, leaving more ruts and creating more water ponding situation that will only serve to destroy what has been in place for at least a decade.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Klaus Mitchell : Completed 1000km Solo Walk In Malaysia

Remember this good looking young man I bumped into during Morib Triathlon?
Yeap, Klaus Mitchell, the brave (and crazy) man that trekked solo from Singapore to Thailand to raise fund for Homelessness back in his country (UK). If you had missed the original posting of this, do read them here.
Jan 15, 2014
Klaus successfully completed the whole journey (and what a journey it was) trodding through places I believe many Malaysians would not even know existed. He carry his provision and water on his back. Often stopping for food and water. For sleeping, he make do with anything that would cover/protect him at night. I saw that he sleep on benches, in huts and even along busstops. Luckily Malaysia is pretty safe especially on the out of town area where the locals too are friendly.
Enjoy this 2-mins video of this amazing solo walk of 1000km.

For someone that is suffering from post thrombotic syndrome, where his right leg is at risk, he sure bet the crap out of the condition. The charity he is raising fund is still open for donation. His target has shifted since as he realised his feat is not just a GBP500 effort. Since then, he has changed it to GBP2000 and it is standing at 74% completion at this point of writing

With festivities around and the year 2014 has just started, certainly it won't hurt to "give back" a bit and it is all for a good cause. Click here to share some love!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

13 Training Tips While Travelling

Happy New Year! Challenging year ahead in terms of training, life and work. But as they old adage says, if life gives you lemon, cut it up and suck it all in (lemonade is too mainstream). With Week 13 slotted to be a "rest week", I decided to skip the planned rest and use it to see what improvisation I would need to continue training when away from home. This came in nicely with a few friends asking me for help/tips on maintaining the momentum while travelling for work.
Destination For The Week
Cebu Island. The second biggest city in Philippine. Devastated by Typhoon recently and picking up their life again. Specifically, I will be in Mactan. A few airlines has direct flight there and from Malaysia, Air Asia serves it as a daily flight - likely for the business community than for tourism.
Goodbye KL. 
Flight takes about 4hours and you can imagine what was playing in my mind - HOW to get through 4-hours sitting down not doing anything??? While it may seem impossible, you can actually (Tip 1) use the opportunity for Stretching. Yeap, I use it to loosen my hamstrings by putting one leg over the other and bend infront. That helped loosening tight over trained muscles and tendon.
To the annoyance of the air crew, I did paced up and down the plane once the "take off your seatbelt sign" blinks. Luckily the flight wasn't full and the crews were pretty free after serving the (prepaid) meals on board. Since airline food will not taste good anyway, (Tip 2) Do not order or buy anything to eat when onboard. If you must, bring some snacks (though they won't be happy) and limit them to nuts and raisins. Once they see you munching on those and not a fastfood meal, they will let you off. Seriously. I meant, healthy food makes people (looking at you) confused, and they will not ask you to put them away. Yes, I packed a full 250grams of nuts and raisins for this trip. (Tip 3) Snack healthily!
Journey To The Hotel
When I landed and on my way to the hotel, I started scanning the road ahead of me. Doing some homework before arrival, I know the hotel and airport is just about 5km away from each other. That provides me a decent 10km run within 1-hour at most if I chose to run outside. With that in mind, I paid extra attention to the road condition.
Out of Airport. OK. Cycling is possible. Got road buffer.
Potentially friendly locals.
Road buffer missing. Flagging this already after 1.5km from Airport. Passing the airport Jet-A1 depot
Reckless Jeepney at road shoulder...uh oh...
Crazy traffic...How many lanes are there on a two-lane road??? I counted 4-lanes in 2-lanes!
Road buffer is someone's home...
Too tight of a space
After 10minutes of driving from the airport, I've pretty much written off the possibility of running on the road. I will stick out like a sore-thumb amongst the local running along as I've noticed no one does it. Not worth the risk at this point of time, i reckon.
Sizing Up The Hotel
The meeting was scheduled to be at one of the best resort in Mactan. Shangri-La Resort where it faces the beautiful beach and sea. I know I won't be enjoying it both due to the work/meeting nature that will lock me in the room between 8am to 7pm everyday. With this hotel being a "Full-Fledged" resort, I know the gym will be a good one. (Tip 4) Research on the Hotel's facilities before landing so you (Tip 5) pack the right things. For this trip, I packed in my luggage bag :
- Running shoe Skechers GoBionicRide
- Running Shorts x 2
- Running Singlet x 2
- Swimming trunk x 1
- Swimming goggle Aquasphere Kaiman
- Swimming earplugs
Lucky for me, the hotel comes with a 150m2 "Health Club".
photo from Shangri-la Mactan
Some hotel has gym that opens 24hours. This one operates from 6am to 10pm. That meant I get an hour of workout every morning or evening if I wanted to. Lets see how this play out. But before that...some photo sharing of this resort.
Room 5106 - facing the hotel roof. Skip.
I will soon reduce my toiletries to my own toothbrushes when travelling. Lighter weight
The lobby
The indoor park with real trees
And the tight security in and out of the resort
The Modified Training
An hour after I've checked in and cleared the last (6pm) email for the day, I kit up and headed to the Gym. As with every place that can call themselves a "gym", they will have two very basic equipment - a treadmill and a spinning bike. Of course the compulsory weight stations and if you are lucky a cross-trainer. However, as the training I am in concentrate on Swimming, Biking and Running, I will use whatever machines there are in the gym as baseline for training. Here are my 5-days training.
Treadmill: Making The Most out of it
Treadmill is an assisted machine powered by a motor to keep the rubber moving. You then step on it and move along. Treadmill is about 20% easier compared to running on road and they are usually flat or inclined. You can not simulate a "downhill" scenario on treadmill unless you suddenly bump the speed up to 18km/h for maximum effect. At best, it gives you a good cardio workout. At worse, it gives you an impression you did a workout. The best way to get the most out of a treadmill is to perform High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or do a progressive load workout where the intensity increases the longer you run.
If you can put in a HITT, a tempo and a progressive, you are good for 3-workout. That was exactly what I did.
Hammer Time
(Tip 6) Note on progressive load : very much like lifting, you increases the "weight", in this case the speed as you lessen the "reps" in this case, duration. I started off with a 6:00 pace (super easy) and move towards the treadmill maximum speed (19km/h). Here are the distance (pace) : 1km (6:00) - 1km (5:00) - 800m (4:30) - 800m (4:00) - 400m (3:45) - 400m (3:30) - 200m (3:15) - 200m (3:15) - 100m (3:15) - 100m (3:15). Yes, the unit paced out at 3:15 or 19km/h. Reason why pro runners can't run on treadmill - it's simply NOT fast enough for them.
All blurry at Max Speed
(Tip 7) Note on HIIT : The whole purpose of Intensity training is to race the heart, allow it to cool down a little before revving it on high RPM again. Done right, you will get a pump. Key point to remember is that the speed will be similar to progressive load, but what happen is during the "slow" phase, you slow down to 10seconds slower than the last fast. Example : 6:00 - 5:30 - 5:40 - 5:00 - 5:10 - 4:30 - 4:40 - 4:15  - 4:25 - 4:00. As you get fitter, the interval become a blur where you tend to overlap either one speed and before you know it, the whole run become a speedwork at a fast speed (and that is the intention).
(Tip 8) Note on Tempo : Treadmill are tempo-king. Set it to be at your best 10km pace and go for it. 

Biking : Recumbent or Upright Spinner?
Bike spinner is the easiest exercise you can do in the gym. Many do not crank the resistance up and hence "going through the motion" and calling it a "workout". Get that out of your mind and go onto the machine as if you will be sprinting away. (Tip 9) Get In, get it done, get out. Spending more time in the gym will NOT increase your fitness. Do some real work and if the exercise is seen as "easy", make it hard. 
Recumbent Bike : (Tip 10) Saving Your Hamstrings
No secret that my hamstrings has been screaming for some help being super tight and overused. Recumbent bike, or bike that allows you to sit down will load more work onto your quads than the hamstrings. Done right, you get the burn in your quads and at the same time offload the stress from the hamstrings. Crank up the intensity and maintain the 90-110 cadence to get the maximum out of it. Make sure it's set to the resistance you know you will break a sweat - you don't get fitter by cheating, so do yourself a big favour, keep it real!
Getting the burn
Just like running on the treadmill, Recumbent bike allows the same type or level of workout such as interval and tempo. (Tip 11) Plan the training before you go onto the bike and stick with it. For this trip, I managed to squeeze in five sessions of recumbent bike - mainly because it gives me the most burn and still allow me the needed saddle time for my triathlon. Each session is 30mins with exception of one session where I wanted a tempo (longer) workout. 
Flight Deck
Swimming : Pool or Beach?
Not many of us would be lucky to be posted for work where the beach is right next to the Hotel.
Click on the photo for full panoramic view of the resort beach side
Well, as luck has it, the management do not allow swimmer in the sea without a life vest, no matter how I tried to convince the lifeguard I am a triathlete (you see, he is one also having done Cebu 70.3). I initially had the plan to swim almost 190m length of the sea and it did excite me - crystal clear water in a tropical island. Fish swimming in the sea with me as I clock in the mileage. Perhaps closest I could get to experience a "Kona" like race.
As seen from Google Earth
So i resorted to swimming laps in the pool. (Tip 12) Know the length of the pool as you will then use it to plan your training. A few sections of the odd-shaped pool and the sea-facing pool has a straight line distance of 25 to 35meters. That play out well as I jumped into the water at 6am (when it open for use) and complete a 1000m swim before heading for my meeting. The thing about swimming is the time it takes to get there, prepare, jump in and swim. Then getting out, get back to the room. A typical 30mins will take 45mins including swim. So, always give yourself the (Tip 13) time to prepare for the swim and getting out. As much as I love to continue to clock in the training, I had to go as I need to remember I was not there for a holiday, but for work.
Getting wet
So you have it, 13 tips on training when you are travelling, more so for work where there isn't much to do before and after the work sessions. While the above may not be perfect, I did managed to clock in very decent mileage for my Week13 of Ironman training. It is no fluke that I managed that as it all boils down to yourself and self discipline. No doubt you be tired - and that is the single easiest excuse to give yourself. 
Ironman Training Week 13
6:30hours 146km. All in Cebu
It was almost like breaching a plateau in training. Just when I thought I needed the break something happened. While the trip did trigger (primal?) instinct for training survival, the push for intensity was not plan; and it sort of just happened. It marks the preparedness of my own physical and mental self should a "race happens tomorrow" scenario. With (now) 14 weeks of solid training clocking no less than 2400km in mileage, the best is yet to come as the next race will happen in less than 4 weeks (Xterra Teaser, Feb 9) from now. My mountainbiking skills however, need more than just luck and polishing if i want to survive the race in decent time. We will see.

But this is not the end for this "Training While Travelling" sharing, because the next article I will share will be related to this as well. Wait up for "Eating While Travelling" and how to be selective but at the same time able to enjoy the local food.