5km Everyday for November (addendum)

Dear Boys,

I realised that there are some other details I’ve not explain well in my other 2 posts.

Losing Weight

No, I didn’t lose weight, nor was I aiming to when I started this challenge. The strange thing was the weight loss should have come as a sort of given effect, as I am putting more activities on the road, every day, but no, my weight stays on stubbornly.

What actually happened was my blood pressure started dropping. This was more acute when I run in the morning and take the readings after that, evening reading has traditionally for me been a spike, but even that was brought down during my runs at night.

recorded some of my best BP readings during my 30 day challenge, especially morning runs.

That was an encouraging sign as it does indicate that my body is responding positively to the increased cardio-vascular stress and load.

Breaking Mindset

To be frank the challenge was more like an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I can keep to it, as there are many unexpected things that can happen to break my running streak (pun intended). I could fall ill, got hurt, it could rain, and a lot of other events.

More importantly it is a self-commitment to see how far I can take it, before the challenge, I do felt stiffness/pain on my lower back, and instantly the mind came up with this perfect excuse/reason: “Yeah, shouldn’t run so much/long! Give ya back a break!” Or days where I planned it poorly, and ended up exhausted even before I hit the road, I’d tell myself: “Why the heck are you doing this!” Or “At your age?” Or “Hadn’t you got enough? Aikido, Cycling home, and then another 5km?” 

Cycled home…
…followed by a run

While there are tonnes of reasons why you will tell yourself not to do it, I always give myself 2 reasons why I do it:

1- It’s only for 30 days, consecutively, so don’t break it.

2- It’s only 30 minutes out, it’ll be over before you know it.

These 2 mantras helped me get through the toughest run, which is always about the mindset. Even during the run, these excuses/reasons never leaves me alone. But action builds traction. I learned that as long as I keep at it, I’ll get through it. Except when it rains.

Plan B

I’ve already mentally prepared that even if it rains, I’d run. Unless it is a massive thunderstorm. Then I’ll have to resort to Plan B, and thankfully I have a treadmill at home for such continencies, which I only used once.

The other time which I had to look for a gym/treadmill, was a Thursday where I have to see Ian off, flying to Japan for your 9-day school trip. I knew then the night will end late for me, so I left work a little early, popped into an ActiveSG gym, ran the 5km, showered and head off to the airport.

complements of AciveSG Gym at Jalan Besar

The mind is a very tenacious mechanism, and we need to be careful where we apply the tenacity, it can work for us or it sure has hell can work against us.

Reality Check

The other thing was a reality check which was closely tied to our mindset. We have to hit the action button constantly to make sure we are who we are, and not who we think we are. I also wanted to see how my body espond to a higher physical tempo, will I break? Will I fall ill? Thakfully my body held up well through the entire 30 days.

Putting 5km every day on the road, helps me constantly check myself. If I can do it, then there is no lying about it. And if I pretend to be fit when I am not, then there is no way I can do what I did. And despite of my physical ability to do it. The lazy me, did thought of cheating, like cycle instead of jogging, or do a quick 3 km and qualify it as an effort. The mind is tricky and sly, it is a constant battle to keep at it, and not stray from the goal.

Habit forming

There is a popular saying that it takes about 3 months for a habit to set in. I think that is bullcrap. It takes a long longer, and it takes commitment, discipline, and constant eye on the target to keep at it. And breaking it? It is just a matter of days. And the body will want to stay at rest, and continue its optimum rest position.

But what I learned was to be kind to myself, while it is a 30day challenge, I walsy give myself a caveat. I am not going to die achieving it. If I need to break it, so be it, I’m fine, and I am not going to be unhappy about it.

Besides, this was my 3rd attempt, as I’ve failed once a long time back, and again in Sept this year, where I must stop due to a bad bike fall.

Lessons learnt

At the end of the day, I took away valuable lessons in exercise, and staying in control. You see, to be able to put on your shoes and run, would mean that you have faculties under your control and influence.

While your world might become crazily out of control, as long as you can run and exercise, you will know deep down inside there’s still a part of you, that you have control and influence over. It is important for us to build our self-confidence over our own effort to shape and work our body, this is one faculty, no one has permission to control, except ourselves.

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

Dear Boys,

Your dad challenged himself to a 5 km run everyday for the month of November, and this is how he did it.

Planning

It is not as simple as just pick up the shoes and run, well it is actually that simple but there is some planning to do. You need to run through a couple of things in your head before you actually put the foot on the ground. It is the simple Franklin Covey’s ‘measure twice, cut once.’ mindset, as he as mentioned in his highly acclaimed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Route planning

I need to know where to jog, that is to measure the distance and not do more than 5km, there is a discipline to it that you don’t over-run which is unnecessary, and will do more harm than good, there must be a good pace to contain fatigue (more on that later…)

To know where I am jogging, I use Mapometer. This website helps me plot my route and work out the areas I can jog to get my mileage. It is quite intuitive although in some places the routes are not updated, so you still need to have some ‘on the ground’ knowledge to make this work better.

mapometer.JPG

Planned Routes

After working out Mapometer, I will list out a few routes, so that I don’t get bored running the same route for 30 days. For where we stay, I’ve listed 5-8 routes which is in the range of 5km.

The 5 primary routes are:

  1. Punggol Central =5.47km
  2. LRT = 5.19km
  3. Kelong Bridge = 5.17km
  4. Triple Bridge = 5.06km
  5. FGS (Fo Guang Shan) = 5.18km

Once these are identified, I’ll work out a day to day plan:

october planning

This is to help me visualise what I need to do, and prepare the night before. I will usually have my ‘run package’ ready, which is top, shorts, socks, blister tape (more on that later as well…) running pouch and blinkers (talk about that, safety aspect too…)

Look, the plan is the plan, when it comes to execution, it often don’t go as planned, but without a framework, it will be no problem to start, but difficult to be consistent.

Having the map routed, and days sort of planned, it is time for the run! After every run, I will record it down in the journal:

Scan0009

While I use a running app to keep track of my running, nothing beats, old school writing it down. It helps me collect my thought and look at my efforts so far, there is a minor satisfaction writing down the accomplishment, and it does help me move day to day, with some level of motivation.

Hit the road!

Once all the planning is done, it boils down to the execution of the plan. If planning is strategic, the execution is tactical. In order to be successful, you need both, and with all the planning done, without proper execution, you will fizzle.

I know I can run, the issue is running consistently, and finding the time to do it. The running itself will take typically 30 odd minutes, the warming down, taking a shower and settling down at my journal, takes up another 20 odd minutes, so it’ll take me about an hour to end the whole exercise. Once you get the timing the first few times, you’ll know how much time you need to get it done.

While it is all about putting on the shoes to run, your mind will play tricks on you to drag it out, during the weekends, where you have the entire day to do your stuff and you will tend to procrastinate the run till almost the end of the day. This is even more acute during the weekdays, where a huge chunk of the time is taken up by work and commute. which left my running fighting for time with sleeping.

On top of that I have Aikido lessons in some weekday evenings, so in the most ideal situation, I’d like to jog in the morning, so that I have time for Aikido in the evening, but in reality, I’d ended up doing Aikido and jogging after class, which totally exhausts me.

I’ll talk more about fatigue, blisters, safety blinkers and other more nitty gritty details in the part 2.

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

Dear Boys,

I promised you guys a visit to the fabled SuperPark since late last year when it first opened November 2018, so we decided to visit it for the March holidays.

First of all, the park has an EXPANSIVE array of activities all in one roof, which is great because we can get to try out many types of sports, all in air-con comforts. And this come at an EXPENSIVE price tag.

superpark prices

As we could only make it on a Sunday afternoon about 1-nish, we were deciding on the Middle Session which was priced at S$40 or should we go for a S$48 still, despite of only being able to enjoy the later half of the day. Your mother, the better economist, argued that the One Day Ticket is still a better deal, because if we were to purchase the Middle Session Tickets; we have to exit the park by 5.30pm , and for another S$8 more, we can use all the way to 9pm, park closure.

That comes up to $195 in total for the 4 of us, inclusive of a Grip socks for Wayne.

Ouch.

Yeah talking about the Grip Socks, Super Park only allows a specific type of grip socks.

 

Both Grip sock was from a Tramopline park we went to before and we got these socks, Wayne’s sock was the one on the left, and this wasn’t allowed, perhaps the grip surface wasn’t big enough. So we have to get one pair for Wayne, that’s S$3.

Then off we go!

We were thankful for your mum’s foresight. We played from 2pm all the way to closure, and it was worth the S$48, in a specific way, as we really make sure we played all the stuff within Superpark. And there was more than enough time for us to go through everything twice or 3 times over.

And the spoiler alert was for us One Day Ticket folks, we get to enjoy a lull, between 5pm to 6pm, as there was a ‘shift change’ for those Middle Session Tickets players leaving at 5.30pm, and those After 6pm crowds coming in only at 6pm.

So if you pay a One Day Ticket and goes in the morning when the park opens at 9am, you’ll enjoy 2 lull time one when the Morning Mayhem crowd leaves at 1pm and the Middle Session Tickets crowds comes in at 1.30pm, and the afternoon lull.

Making a fool of ourselves

Personally I enjoyed SuperPark, as it was a place for me to make a fool of myself, without being self-critical or self-judgmental. I confessed I’m not a good ball guy, but I played basketball, soccer and ‘dodgeball’ just for the sake of having fun. Oh, not forgetting baseball and I managed to hit 2 out of 5 balls.

IMG20190318201412

It’s basically a big activity buffet place. There is a skate park where you boys tried skateboarding ( you boys didn’t liked it) then there was skate scootering, which was good fun. You can also try rock wall climbing just round the corner, after you are bored being a skater, and then you can head off to play the slides!

DSC_1307

So technically you can have never-ending fun, running crazy all over the place, from balls to carts to slides to more balls, trampolines, rock walls, and more balls.

Injuries

With activities like these, there is bound to be injuries, as one girl had her nose broken when a baseball hit her. Thankfully nothing major of that sorts happened, but Wayne was hit by the ball a few times on the lips, and it caused some slight bleeding. I was hit in the face by a ball, and thankfully my glasses didn’t break.

But what the heck, if you want to play sports, injuries are bound to happen, just hope it wasn’t a serious one.

Little or no wait

One thing they did right was to time the activities, and most activities have a one-minute timer which the anyone playing must exit when time is up. There was a few times some folks playing ahead of us didn’t activate the timer, and continued to play (of course the system isn’t counting the points, since the timer didn’t start.) but people are usually civil and they realised that and promptly exited after their pressed the timer, and played till their time is up.

The long wait

The long wait was for the rock wall, at the Super-Climb, this one no choice as it is really up to the climber’s finesse and climbing skills. The walls are relatively easy to climb, but it still takes different people different amount of time to climb it.

Besides, the safety aspect of it cannot be speed up; everyone has to be harnessed well and hooked up properly.

IMG20190318192555
safety, safety, safety

Overall verdict is…Been there, done that. 

Your mum and I thought through the whole thing and it was a park that we came, saw, did, and we can move on. While the park was a good mix of activities, each of these individual activities alone isn’t novel to us. We have been to a trampoline park, we have climbed rock walls before, skate scooted, played soccer (downstairs, on the field), basketball at our HDB court. Baseball? Well, yeah, hadn’t done that before. Go-cart? Not really a novelty, since the circuit was a tad too small.

Capture1
Robo Keeper

But I can understand where the Finns’ argument for such a park. I guess it is cold most of the days there in Finland, and there are times it’s too cold to play basketball outside, heck it’s too cold to play anything, so you need an indoor park like such to have everything under one roof.

Here in sunny Singapore, we don’t face such cold weather, and whenever we want it, we can take our basketballs out, play to our heart’s content, changed to roller-blades and go skate till the cow come home. If there’s a sport we would like to try out, we can always go to shop at Decathlon for these games and their products are cheap and good.

Call me a stingy Singaporean, pinching every penny, I had to agree with your mum’s
Cost Benefit Analysis, comparing a SuperPark day with an Adventure Cove  day, with an adult tickets costing S$38 and kiddo price at S$30, the latter would have been a better day spent. We would get the sun, sand and sea, as well as the thrills and spills too.

Capture
No-it isn’t that scary. Really.

No Diamonds

Dear Boys,

I didn’t get your mum a diamond ring for our wedding. She didn’t wanted one as well.

We’re not big fan of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson; yes, but not the Diamond. We are not fans of buying diamonds.

This Rock?
Or this Rock?

Phew! That is a relief for me, since I was going to make your mum my wife, had she asked for one, it’d been a bummer for me.

Anyway, diamonds are overrated. Seriously.

Personally to me, I’d rather keep gold than diamond, as diamonds is basically like most of the material items are value added by humans via marketing and salesmanship. And the market is very much monopolized by one company De Beers, who is one of the market leaders in the Diamond trade, and in the 1950s, they came up with a creative campaign which helps propelled this rock into mainstream consumer demands. Now most men can’t get married unless they have one of these rock on a ring to be able to confidently propose to a girl of his dream (nightmare). Putting much grief in a man’s pocket, and much joy on a woman’s face.

All that glitter isn’t gold

Well, let’s be frank, there are crystals and there are diamonds, both glitters, perhaps one better than the other. There are also glass cuts shaped to look like diamonds, and if you drop both on the ground, will you be able to tell one from the other?

There’s so many times I find one of these glass looking diamond cuts and I wondered if they are the real thing or not. To a layperson, it is really difficult to tell one from the other.

Diamond is forever

Basically this is a marketing campaign by Frances Gerety, a copywriter who came out with this 3-worded phrase that has endeared long after she has died.

It is a catchy phrase that let’s people think that in a tumultuous and uncertain world, having a diamond to seal the union of a couple, would helps provide some longevity in the relationship. Let’s get real, it doesn’t.

It is the magic of marketing that let’s us think narrowly, and spend stupidly. While there is some truth as to diamonds being forever, relationships certainly doesn’t. And certainly diamonds have no power whatsoever as a good luck charm or romantic talismans that glue a marriage together.  It is all about hard work and the willingness of a couple to work with each other to make the union work, and stay together, till death.

(Blood) Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

While I knew long before I watch Leonardo DiCaprio‘s 2006 thriller Blood Diamond, which basically tells a story about the suffering and pain brought about by our demands for this glittery stones.

While the story was fictitious, the background of the story is real. The demand for diamonds is fueling conflicts in Africa. People are going to war and killing each other for diamonds, and these diamonds sometimes makes it to the consumer markets. so much so that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was implemented in 2003 to ensure that diamonds brought to the market are not harvested through illegal means, or gotten through conflict, fighting and other less than humane means.

The bottom line is, there is a lot of people hurt or being made used of just to bring this piece of rock into the market for a man to make a woman happy. All thanks to Hollywood for the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend“, the rock is certainly a man’s pocket’s worst enemy!

Life lessons: Soya Bean Milk and Milk

Dear Ian,

I bought 2 cartons of Soya Bean milk back one day and you handled the groceries for me, and I realised later in the day, that there only 1 of the 2 carton is in the fridge. To my suprise, you put the unopened carton with the milk carton at the shelf, which is not in the fridge, obviously.

There’s an opportunity for a life lesson.

You came over and explained to me that all cartons are to be place on the kitchen shelf, together with the milk.

Then I showed you the difference.

The soya bean milk is pasteurised, which means it was not treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) like the Milk carton on the right. Pasteurised products need refrigeration constantly and has to be treated differently from the UHT Milk, which can be kept in room temperature, and only needs refrigeration after opening.

It’s not your fault you didn’t know, but had you paid closer attention, you would have noticed the soya bean carton was kept at the refrigerated area at the supermarket, and the UHT milk isn’t.

Anyway, the life lesson is that you really cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge the carton all the same. The cartons might look the same, but the produce inside is different and has to be treated differently. You need to read and understand the content and of course know where it came from and give it a different treatment.

This is of course the same for people, never assume that when people came from the same place, country, religion, race and/or education, they are the same. Always read the ‘labels’, understand where they are from, and treat them the way they need to be treated. Of course, if people are so easy to read like they have instructions printed and labelled, the the world will be a much better place.

 

 

 

 

New Year Resolution…Again?!

Dear Boys,

Happy New Year! We hear this every last day of December, and first day of January.

People always tend to take stock of what was done for the entire calendar year, based on the worldwide approved Julian Calendar. Unless you live in an island on your own, where you are the king, prime minister, president and citizen all rolled into one, everybody else uses the Julian Calendar.

it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough…

After taking stock, comes this ‘resolution’ thingy, which usually means trying to do some things as a goal, aim, or target to hit for the new year, and then take stock again, end of the year. It never gets old, because every January is a Happy New Year!

I’m not a resolution person. I can tell you boys why on a blog, but it will take an entire  blog to tell you why I am not a resolution person. I’m just not.

But I was reading this self-help book, at random, 101 Tiny Changes to Brighten Your Day by Ailbhe Malone, and she was talking about well… small things, tiny things we can take notice of that can either brighten our day or darken it.

It’s something like don’t sweat the small stuff, except that you do, because when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff will take care of itself.

Well, it’s not as if I don’t know about the small stuff and we need to focus on it, it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough. So reading that book is a good reminder for me to look into the minute details of things, my daily actions, and let the rest worry itself. Of course there will be consequences of our actions, but sometimes, our consequences is beyond our control, what else can we do? Micro-adjust our next steps, and the next and the next, until we get what we want.

Aikido, it is all about the small things.

I ought to know this since I’m in Aikido, as Aikido is all about the small things. Heck, life is about it, and Aikido as a martial art, is only a fraction of what we succeed or fail in life. In Aikido, we work from a large circle as a novice to a small and barely perceptible circle of a long-time Aikidoka. From small circular movement, you can displace a larger momentum. Our aim is to make our circle smaller and smaller, and the only way to achieve that is to focus on our small movements, a little muscle twitch here, or even a fleeting thought there, that might delay our decision to move a fraction of a second, or too soon.

All the small things

This is not a resolution still, but for 2019- I want to go back to basics, and focus on the minute, nano-scopic details of my actions, and how these little small actions can affect me in a large way, positively or negatively.

That means I need to work on being a more sensitive, delicate and considerate person. Not for a better world, but for a better me, which in turns helps to better the world.

Window for Everything

Window for Everything

Dear Wayne,

I remembered vividly, you were the runt in the family, and as your parents, we were always so concerned about getting enough food into you. But you ate so little when you were a baby.

So one of the afternoon, we were giving you milk, and half expecting you to not finish the bottle. But to our surprise, you managed to finished the whole bottle! That was a moment of celebration.

Well, our happiness was short-lived.

 The next moment, you gave it all back to us, milk vomit.

I never forget that cheeky look you have on you face, almost like telling us, “Hey dad, I finished the entire bottle, and then I didn’t!”

That was an epiphany, I used till this day as a parenting story.

You cannot force things.

Now that you boys are old enough, you are developing the maturity to choose you actions, and hopefully the favorable consequences that follows. It is not always the case, as some things can’t be forced.

Just as much as we tried the best we could to make Wayne drink his milk, when he is not ready to take the full bottle, he will not be able to take a full bottle, period. No amount of forcing can help us better the situation, we can either try our darnest, and just get upset over the failure of the reality to meet our expectations, or we can release ourselves from expectations and let the reality show us how things really are.

This is pretty much the story of the Human Race, sum up in a Dad’s attempt to feed his child one full bottle of milk when the child isn’t ready for it. We are always trying to push our luck, and despite of our best effort, it often don’t go our way. Sometimes is does, more often than not, it doesn’t.

Letting go.

So learn to let go, do what you can, and sometimes, when you are not ready, you simply cannot do it. You can try, put in effort, learn and explain it, it will not happen the way you wanted it to happen.

It is a judgment call, I guess, and there is really no correct answer to it, sometimes, you might be over-doing it, trying too hard; sometimes, you are not trying hard enough. Whatever it is, use your experience and see for yourself, if too much is just nice, and too little is overbearing.