Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Training Log and Happy New Year!

My 2018 Training Log. 340 Activities covering 7606.20km, taking up 292H:59M:28S. I burnt 159,737kcal (that's 697.54 Big Mac if you want to compare). I say 2018 training has been pretty alright. Thank you to Garmin Malaysia, 2ndSkin Asia, Lifeline-ID, Hammer Nutrition Malaysia for the support all these years.

Notably, I have not been racing since Feb 2015 and it has been a cat and mouse game when it comes to finding time to race (on weekend) - as those precious weekend/time off was spent with the family.

Do I miss racing? I will be lying if I say i did not. So, what i been doing the past 3-years (coming 4), was to continue to train even when I was travelling (and for the record, I have clocked in close to 420k km over the past 4-years, with 89 business trips, been away cumulatively about 15 months worth of nights).

Here wishing the better 2019 to all of you! Happy New Year and stay healthy

(Watch this space for come back races).

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Garmin Fenix5 Plus Series Officially Launched In Malaysia

The Malaysia Garmin Fenix5 Plus Series
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (F5 Plus) series was available about a month ago in the authorized Garmin shops and it wasn't until yesterday August 14, 2018 that it was officially launched in a very impressive event. I was invited by AECO Technologies, the distributor of Garmin Products in Malaysia. The event was held at Deep Blue, Level 51, The Face Suite. The venue itself was a nice one. I can see where Garmin Malaysia is heading with this launch - placing the Garmin F5 Plus series as the premium high end "to have" watch.
The view from 51st floor of The Face Suite was very cool - more so when the window had the Garmin and Fenix5 Plus decal on them. Gives "ownership" to the whole event. 

I will share more photos of the launch at the end of this introductory write up of F5 Plus series. 
Fenix5 Plus Series What?
So what's new? Everything. While the F5 Plus appeared to be an extension of the new (relatively speaking, just launched Q3 of 2017) Fenix5, there were enough new features to warrant this to be called the Fenix6. Never mind that Garmin skipped "4" after Fenix3, this is legitimately a F6 in forms and function. Everything you can think off, except the shape, says this is a new product by Garmin under the Fenix range. For the record, I own Fenix(2011), Fenix3(2015) and Fenix3HR(2016) Proudly know the functions and nuances inside out - until Fenix5, which I do not have the chance to play with yet. Fast forward, it's time for Fenix5 Plus!
Variations - 15 in total, 6 in Malaysia
To start with, there are so many permutation of the series where consumer has choices to choose between F5S Plus, F5 Plus and F5X Plus, with different type of straps, color and metal treatment. Garmin Malaysia has brought in a total of six different combinations. Globally, there are 15 permutation of the F5 Plus series... The complete list of Malaysia's F5 Plus is at the end of this write up.
F5s Plus with Leather Strap not shown here
Strong, Solid, Sexy
I am still using my Fenix3 and my Fenix3HR (at least 3 years old) and it's holding up really well. Now, with refreshed materials used on the F5 Plus, the premium material used are built to endure and designed to perform. 
The 5 Plus and 5X Plus comes with the the Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) Bezel. A very fancy coating that increased the hardness, wear resistance and slickness (smoothness) to the material. Couple this with Sapphire glass - it will now take a diamond (ring) to scratch the F5 and 5X Plus. 
See Under Direct Sunlight
While all three variant of the 5S/5/5X shares the same 1.2inches 240x240 pixel always on, color screen and sunlight visible display, the watch (bezel) size ranges from 42mm for 5s, to 47mm for 5 and a large 51mm for 5X. Unlike other smart watch where they "save battery" by periodically blanking out the display, the F5 Plus series stays ON constantly and has great contrast to allow you to see through direct (reflective on screen) sunlight. No excuse not being able to see your pace under the noon sun!
Juices To Keep You Going
This may limit you wanting to have the function of the 5X Plus on a 5S Plus variant. If you want the Mother of all 5 Plus series, it will be the 51mm-sized 5X Plus. So, what's so different between the three variants? To start with, the Battery Life which correspond with how large the watch are - hence, can fit higher capacity battery.
Music To Entertain

Impressive battery life but severely impacted if you choose to use it for music. Yes, you read it right, the Fenix5 Plus series has music capability much like the FR645Music and the Vivoactive3 Music that was just launched. Equipped with 16GB of space, this will be more than sufficient to store up to 500 mp3 songs - and that would meant a great 25hours of non-repeat music , or no repeat until you charge your F5S Plus 6 times.

The only thing about music while running or cycling is the usage of the Bluetooth compatible headphones or earphones which can be distracting and may be a hazard especially if you are out running or cycling in open road. It can be perfect for gym or in a park. Too bad Garmin do not produce Bluetooth headphones/earphones! 
REM Monitoring For Dreamer
A new feature in the software is the ability to record not just your sleep, but also the REM or Rapid Eye Movement. REM is when your brain is at most active when you are sleeping, but your body remains to be in paralysis. This REM is where your dreams happens. This also ties back to your deep sleep pattern - and how well rested you can be. Perhaps one day I will write about REM and how it effects athletic recovery abilities! Until then, I will continue to monitor my own sleep pattern based on the Fenix3HR I wear to sleep every night. 
Activities or Apps For Serious Activities
The Fenix series is a born and breed multi-sports watch and the F5 Plus series is no exception. Preloaded with no less than 30 activities, with many more possibility to customize it, you only have yourself to blame for not exercising. It has everything, including ability to track Elliptical machines, Rowing, even Jumpmaster if you are into diving. It has sports function and has 40,000 golf course data in it's cache. 40,000... that is a whole load of golf courses... Without a doubt, the F5 Plus will do them all, if not more. It does what it is supposed to do, and it will do it well. 
Mapping In Case You Got Lost
New to the F5 Plus series is the ability to navigate through Point of Interest (POIs), including Topographs and ability to route out-and-back route. Garmin as the forerunner of computerized navigation has brought what they do best into a 1.2in screen, and in color. It doesn't get any better than this.
If Mapping functions doesn't impress you, the F5 Plus series has Trendline ability where popular route around where you are will be mapped for you. Now, Imagine you are at a new place, not sure where to run, and you switch on your F5 Plus and it shows you where local would run... this give "running the world" a new meaning. Many times in my travel, i have to plot my runs on Garmin Connect, and sync them separately. With F5 Plus series, this may be the future... Only caveat is that the Malaysia version comes pre-loaded with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei maps. I would not have idea if this may allow someone to load other country map into the system. I am sure there is a way and hopefully I will get to try and report back!

Hiking Much?
Another new function in the F5 Plus series is the ability for the watch to break your hike into separate sections of climb. With the ClimbPro function, your routed hike will be broken into parts so you can "strategize" as you hike or race. Ultrarunners and Hikers may find this to be very useful. Instead of having to plot these physically, all they need to do now is to upload the GPX file and all these data will be populated to help you plan your race!
Blood Oxygen Level Now Possible
This is likely the most anticipated function or addition to the Fenix5 Plus series. While it is only available at the highest end version, the functionality of it really depends on how you want to maximize this function. The testing a few of us did during the product launch gives us mixed results.
We then realise the Oximeter reading will only show up as a trend when you couple in changes in altitude. So it does make sense in the way that if you are racing/hiking/up in the mountain, the level of oxygen in the blood (that is what Oximeter does, it measures the oxygen in your blood ;-)) will also change. Blood saturated with oxygen is favourable to athletes, and having these info will help you with your training data. The oximeter works via a red LED at the bottom of the casing, next to the green LED for the wrist HR function.
If you have any experience using the Oximeter function in F5X Plus, leave a comment below!
The F5 Plus series has packed in a new GPS Chipset that includes the ability to detect not two Satellite system, but 3. If you are new to this, GPS of Global Positioning System is owned by the US. GLONASS is owned by the Russians, and now with Galileo which is owned by the European Union, your position under the sky will now be tracked even more accurately and search for Satellite will be faster lock on. For the record, F3HR locks on to GPS and GLONASS in less than 30 seconds if you activate it after a long "sleep", less than 10 seconds if you managed to lock in the first time (30s), and your watch is still "hot" under the satellites. With Galileo, Garmin claims to allow you to lock on in less than 10 seconds, with or without hot start! Now, that I got to experience! Also, it is worth to know that Galileo has accuracy of 1m for commercial use and 1cm for military precision. They are often the preferred "tracking" when critical positioning is required. Question in mind - will Garmin next make a chipset to include Beidou (China) system? If you travel to China and activate your Garmin for a run, expect the accuracy of the tracking to be off by a few hundred meters consistently... talk about shifting the map!
I own a Fenix 5. Do I need a Fenix5 Plus series?
The answer to this question, and if you indeed own a F5, is to leave me a note and offer me a decent price. I may just agree (haggle, take if off you etc) so you can own a F5 Plus. Joke aside, there are the differences between the F5 and the F5 Plus. It's quite significant - and hence, my opening remark about this being qualified to just be known as Fenix6.
How many kidney should I sell to get one?
The F5 Plus series command a premium pricing for the premium features. It is as expensive, maybe more expensive than an entry level Swiss branded watch. But those watches only tells you time - and you need to give them a lot of tender loving care - where else with the DLC and Sapphire coating of the F5 Plus series - jumping out of the plane, whacking through 40,000 golf courses, climbing Everest in sections, or just wear them to the boardroom may just justify the pricing. Here are the six variants and pricing for the Malaysian market.
So, which Garmin will I be getting?

Bonus: Product Launch Photos

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

3-Ways To Improve Running Fitness In An Hour

I believe in committing to at least 3-times weekly of run. It has to be a variety of tempo run, interval run and speedwork. Often, many of us are short of time to exercise and we often find excuses not to commit ourselves to a regular fitness workout, or in this case, a run. Depending on your level of commitment, my "go to" workout that I will share in this article revolves around your ability to commit a 30mins or a 60mins workout duration. 

Why Time-based workout?
Simple. Time doesn't change, the level of effort and distance covered does!

How # 1: 30Minutes Blast
Suggested Running Workout: 
Run at Tempo pace for 30minutes. If you are a beginner to an intermediate runner, you will get between 4.5km to 6km. Aim to cover more distance as you progress.
Focus On: 
- Discipline to maintain the tempo pace. 
- Avoid going too fast at the start.

This HIIT should allow you to try beating your 5km effort. If you have a 5km PB of about 30mins, expect yourself to cover the same distance in less time. Use the balance time to run at tempo pace. Be surprised what you can achieve!
Focus On: 
- Breathe. Do not hold back your breathing.

How #2: 60mins Endurance
Suggested Running Workout:
A beginner to an intermediate runner should be able to cover between 7km to 10km within 60mins. Because you have more "time", you can opt for a few variation to the Tempo run. My personal favourite is to do a Tempo Negative Split where I run the second 30mins faster than the first 30mins. Sometimes, I couple the Tempo run with an easier Tempo basic, or hammer the Tempo at race pace for 60mins. Either way, the aim for the 60mins is really to run as far as you can. 
Focus On:
- Discipline to maintain the tempo pace. 
- If you are gonna go fast, make sure you can last the next 58minutes!
- Breathe. Do not hold back your breathing.

Gamify Your Run
I benchmark my 60mins run to cover these milestones: 5km (time), 30mins (distance), 10km (time) and 60mins (distance). By doing this, I come out with a set of data where I know i am improving or at at a plateau. It is "racing against yourself". Bonus point - trying to remember all the data while pushing at 80% effort, it's a good mental exercise.
Focus On:
-Having Fun
- Remembering your data!

How #3: Stair Climbs!
This "cross workout" is pretty new to me and inspired by a fellow Garmin athlete which has made running up stairwell his niche. Soh Wai Ching's feat of running skyscrapers prompt me to think on how/what other ways for me to improve my run. We all know Soh is fast. We know he always strive for improvement and hungry to be the best... 
I made the stairs at home my next best friend when I do not have access to the gym or opportunity to run outside due to work calls or rain! This workout gives you strong quads and calves muscle, making you run-ready if the race requires a certain level of climbs up slopes.
I utilise my Garmin device (Fenix 3HR) that helps track the floors I conquered. By definition, one floor is about 16-steps or 3-m elevation. So, if you do not have a device to track, paper and pen can help! 
Focus On:
- How many floors can you climb in an hour
- Safety! Hold the handrail!

Since January 1, 2018, I have been consistently doing the above at least 5 times a week, missing out only on days I am required to travel. The benefit has been great and it provide a great challenge for me to #BeatYesterday, as how Garmin says. I have improved my 5km and 10km tming for this year - bearing in mind that I have been training, but my past achievements goes back 3, maybe 5 years ago. It is a good reality check that I am not as strong or as fast as I used to be. With priority changes in life, we have to be dynamic and remain focus on the one thing that matters to us apart from family and work. For me, it is my "race readiness" - and for that, I can truly said i am 90% ready (the last 10% is to sign up) ;-)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire Review

A very late review of the Garmin Fenix 3HR which I have been using the past 2 years, almost. I got this as part of the yearly collaboration with Garmin Malaysia and Team 2ndSkin. Needless to say, the relationship has always been very productive and this review of the Fenix 3HR continues the commitment I have to review products shared by Garmin. As you all may already know, this F3HR, as it is called has been supersede by the new Fenix5 variants. I do not have the opportunity to review the F5, but think of the F5 as F3 on steroids - bigger screen and bigger memories to even include a color map. The other big differences with the F3 vs F5 is that the strap is a quick change on F5, which requires no tools. Software wise, the F5 supports "True Up" which essentially allows multiple Garmin devices to be used and for all datas to be included (such as daily HR and Stress indicator). The differences between the two stops there, as far as I know. And this review, as outdated as it may sound in the world where gadgets are replaced faster than running shoes... will be about the F3HR.
The photos below will do most of the talking. As you can see, the F3HR even comes with an USB wall plug, which is rare nowadays as Garmin look to cut cost by not providing any USB wall plugs. The Charger can fit into the older F3 (wiithout HR, but not vice-versa as this charging cradle has a recessed area where the HR sensor sits. So, for my F3 (being used by my wife now), we just need to maintain one docking when travelling.

Cover/sticker to give the faux screen. 

How the items are stacked up in the box.
Two chargers bundled! I am impressed.

The recessed part is to house the HR sensor.

Two buttons on the left. Top is for Select - start-stop. Bottom is Lap/Return.
Left side is three button, top is for power/light. Middle is UP and the bottom is Down.
The straps is standard Garmin... since using it for the past 2 years, I have changed the original strap out and used OEM products, mainly for color and price.

Setting Up
First thing when you fire up the Fenix 3HR is to set which wrist you wear the watch. The reason for this is not well known even to the Garmin community. The biggest guess is the orientation of the accelometer and how it will assist the auto-light up function. Flick the wrist to get the light up. It may also be for swim stroke recognition? Some has tried this on both wrist with no reported differences to the results. I would say... just set it up as which wrist you are usually wearing your watch. 

The original/standard watch face is a bit boring, It was the first thing I change in all my newer Garmin devices (since 920XT).

Updating with a new watch face is via Garmin ConnectIQ, which is a no fuss. The best watchface app for me is an app called "Face It". Which convert any photos you have to be your watch face.
Then the pairing will be standard Garmin-style. No fuss here.

Once all the setup is done, the Fenix 3HR will sync with all the items you want via Garmin Connect App, on Website and also using the Garmin Express app on computer. 
The Fenix 3HR is a very robust watch with Sapphire glass and I have never had a nick/scratch on the watch glass. The metal part/bezel was sturdy as well, saved a few part with discoloration due to wear and tear. the only other issue may be what appear to be "hairline" cracks on the resin of the HR sensor. While it doesn't effect the performance and accuracy, it can be quite a shock to some that has invested in this device. My advice is to bring it to AECO Technologies for it to be checked! If you are interested to get the Fenix 3HR, My advice is to get it from AECO and their authorised distributor for a peace of mind. It is currently retailing at about RM2099 (including GST).