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).

Subaru Forester XT vs 2.0iP - Visual Differences

Subaru Forester has been a more common sight on the road in Malaysia in the recent years since this All Wheel Drive (AWD) mid-size SUV has been made more affordable to the general masses. Most of the Forester running on the Malaysian road are the naturally aspirated (NA) version, which are usually marked as 2.0i (standard trim)and the 2.0i-P (premium trim). Then there is the turbocharged version which are rare and not often seen known as the 2.0 XT.
Subaru Forester 2.0i-P. Photo taken from CarSifu.My
Performance differences is huge. the NA is 150ps and the XT is 241ps. Torque is 190Nm vs 350Nm. Pricing wise, it is also significant with RM100K between them mainly due to the CKD (NA) vs CBU (XT) which meant higher tax structure.
The Forester XT engine bay with top-mount intercooler. Not obvious as no scoop over the hood
The older generation Forester (up till 2006) was shaped more like a station wagon and with an intercooler scoop. To the Subaru community, they are known as the SG version.
SG version. 2nd Generation XT. Photo: Wikipedia
It then evolved to the SH version (third generation, up till 2013) where it starts to take shape as a mid-sized SUV vs a stationwagon like stance.
SH version. Third generation XT. Photo: Wikipedia
When the 4th Generation (or known as SJ) came out in 2013, they took the shape of what you are familiar with. And with Subaru going mainstream and offering NA version of Forester, the XT (or FXT) became similar looking as the NA (of FNA). Some of you may had seen these Forester on the road more than once - and may had tried to outrun them if you are driving similar SUV such as CRV and CX5.
Same-Same, but different. You can't tell which one is NA and which is XT
So, if you are a new car owner or not been aware of these "Wannabe Sports SUV hiding as Soccer Mum Vehicles", you may had on many occasion, managed to outrun (speed and pick up) these 2.0i and 2.0iP which only packs 150ps (about 148hp if you prefer metric).  And maybe, on the rare occasion you came across one that looked exactly the same, only to be humbled - and that Forester ain't even trying. So this post is to help you to identify the NA and the XT.
The physical signs it's a FXT
If you are looking from your rear view mirror, It is often not too obvious other than the silver roof rail. Only the FXT has a silver roof rail. While it may take some effort to see, that is why I felt the scoop of the FXT should remain...
Silver Roof Rail vs all Black Roof Rail.. 
And if you are tailing from the back, the double muffler is a clear sign it's a FXT. And while these can be installed by FNA, you can't fake it without cutting your lower bumper lip.
Double muffler with corresponding cut off bumper lip - and the XT emblem
The FXT is shod with 18 inches wheels with very different rims pattern, while the FNA is on 17 inches (6-spokes). The FXT is 5-spoke in Y-shape. Some FNA are known to replace their 17inches with the FXT rims for the more "complete" look. 
Not the best photo, but here you go with the rim!
These are just a few tell-tale sign of the FXT that you can see physically. The other not so obvious are the huge sun/moonroof that opens up big enough for two adults to climb through. I love the sunroof as it provides a very roomy feel when the interior liner are pulled back. 
The Forester XT.
Hope this thread was useful to help you recognise and take notice of the rare FXT!