5km everyday for November (Part 2)

5km everyday for November (Part 2)

Dear Boys,

Running everyday for the past 1 month has taught me a few lessons. As common as the saying goes, ‘life is a marathon’, it is actually more than that, life isn’t just 42.195km, to me, it is 5km spread over a month or more, interspaced with interruption, suprises, determination, positivity, mechanism, injuries and a lot more. But I guess it is about going on, and not stopping, well, at least not that often.

Fatigue

The fatigue is not just about exhaustion immediately after a run, I am talking about a longer expereince of tiredness, knowing that the next day is another 5km to complete. And while there is a finite number of 30days, it seems to be never-ending when you’re at it.

Another fatigue is the risk of injury, putting so much physical activity in 30 days, runs into the risk of getting hurt, even in normal day to day stuff. The body is taking a beating from the increased activity and I really need to pay attention to what I do.

The other issue with fatigue is the lacking of rest between runs. Sometimes, I have to do a late night run, followed by an early morning run the next day, due to Aikido class in the evening, this means that the body is being put through a high tempo with less rest, a recipe for injury, and thankfully, none of that happened, although, it did feel like it is going to happen a couple of times.

Safety

November was in a way tumultuous times in Singapore, as there was a uproar of anti-PMD(Personal Mobility Devices) sentiments due to the rising number of PMD and pedestrain related accidents and incdients. Your dad became one of the victims, on the 4th of November, and the government annouced the ban on the 5th.

Since some of my jogs are night runs, I already have a good sense to buy small bicycle blinkers to put on myself, for the sake for visibility, I have one and it is always on my back, but that accident with the PMD was a head on collision. So I bought another one to on my chest, so that I can be seen front and back.

Safety also means that I don’t jog with headphones on, which will reduce my situational awareness, but having music on means that I can have a fast rythmn and tempo, dependent on the song of my choosing.

Blister

From my previous running experience, I know that blisters will develop, along with trauma to the toe nails, I have one on each foot. This is quite normal and it is part of the pain package for sustained running.

 

To save me from this ordeal, I was very fortunate to come across a fantastic anti-blister tape from Decathlon. It was cheap and it was good. The stickiness was just right and it did it’s job protecting my toes from pain and excessive rubbing. You see, despite of that, I’m still going to lose my toenails, but it could be worse.

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Blister management is very important to make sure the run is enjoyable and sustain able, and if you miss out this important minor details, your painful little toes can derail your plan.

Shoes

I’m not a big fan of expensive running shoes. Sure they look good, and comes with a high level of comfort, and some can cost $200 and up. For my run, I did it with this pair, Asics Torrence, a cheap, discontinued basic running shoe that cost me about RM$100… which is about S$30.

It served me well, although it took me a while to get my stride right, but it did the job, gave me good cushioning and there was no major protest from my feet. 

This goes to prove the as long as you can run, any decent pair of running shoes will do, and spending more than necessary will not make you a better runner. Unless, you are a performance running athelete, then a pair of high end running shoes will help put that extra speed into your gait. If not, just get a pair and hit the road.

One very important thing though, socks. Invest in a good pair of running socks, which will help brings confidence in your stride.

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One last thing, boys, a minimum level of fitness is important, so you need to have a baseline level of fitness before you start on this endeavour. If you are morbidly unhealthy, never start on this. Always start slow and go low, as in a low mileage, and build it up from there. Always be kind to your body and listen to your body’s reaction to your efforts, if you really feel unwell, stop. You can always recover and try again, it is fruitless, and also stupid to push this just for the sake of your ego.

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.

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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:

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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.

Our Neighbour- The Kwoks

Mr and Mrs Kwok

Dear Boys,

People often say that ‘Friends are the family we choose.’ There’s nothing much said about the neigbours living next door to us.

While we have many good neighbours, which is another topic that’s too long to write about, I just want to tell you both about the ‘Kwoks’ well, that’s what we call them.

Hit off at first sight

I remembered when we first got our house keys, we were of course excited about it, and from what I can recalled, The Kwoks was here first, they moved in slightly earlier than us, and has pretty much settled down.

It was quite an occasion, and we did made some noise, and left our front door open, which is typical, then The Kwoks, kind of peeped in, when they got home and we welcomed them in, that’s where we hit off.

They were genuinely very nice and we could click, just like that. It was really a rare thing that both of our families got off so well. They brought a kind of comfort and warmth into our new home that very day and both your mum and I liked them, for their down to earth, unpretentious personality. They weren’t proud or trying to act like they were superior in anyway.

Both Mrs

As both were stay at home mum, your mum and Mrs Kwok hit off. Although Mrs Kwok was a good many years older, she could communicate with your mum, and there is no generation gap whatsoever. Over the decades, both families has shared many things, and none of us kept a score. It was pure goodwill where we lend each other stuffs, cooked and shared food, and even shared purchases in this age of online shopping.

We got so close that your mum even taught Esther, their eldest daughter tuition during her primary school days and right now as I typed she has completed her ‘O’ levels, how time flies!

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Mr Kwok and Esther during Wayne’s 5th birthday

Looking out for each other

It was kind of unspoken, we were neighbours and we shared things. We even share the shoe rack outside our house. The shoe rack’s ours but we straddled it between our door and theirs so they also put their shoes on our rack. It wasn’t overbearing on both side thankfully. They didn’t hoard the rack, and they knew not to put too many shoes on it.

When we go for our respective family holidays, we will lookout for each other and help to clear any flyers stuck to our doors. Sometimes, they’d tell us when they will be away and even if they didn’t, we would know they are gone for a short trip and just clear their flyers.

When you boys were younger and your mum needed to rush off to get somethings done, and leave the both of you at home, Mrs Kwok would gladly babysit the both of you until your mum is back, and sometimes, we would tell her that you both are at home and she’d keep her door open in case you boys needed to shout out to her for help.

And of course, we do, trust her with our house keys, when we need to.

Shared values

It helps we bind at first sight and it is pure goodwill on both sides. Like everything in life, there are good and bad stuffs, even with neighbors, we are thankful there is more good stuff to share with them than the bad. We are both constantly and unconditionally helping each other, and looking out for each other, which is more than we can look for in a neighbour as awesome as The Kwoks

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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.

Never Bring Your Work Home

MjAxMy1mY2ZkZDg5ZWY4NDY4MDdkDear boys,

You will hear a lot of work-life advise in your life. Some say this and some will say that. It all depends on what works for you and what kind of a person you grow up to be.

You can either learn to take stress well, and be a tough guy, and be a Type A personality, that’s fine.

If you both gets married and have kids, you must make sure that you have a spouse you can talk to. Whether you choose to talk to your spouse or not, that is entirely a different matter.

Well, actually it is not that entirely different, becoming husband and wife and being in a marriage is building new habits, and the old ones evolve.

What I’m trying to say here is, at this stage of my marriage to your mum, I’ve learned to open up a lot more and tell her a lot of things. It didn’t used to be like that; in the past, I hate being on the phone, as part of my job requires me to be on the phone 6-8 hours a day. Enough of phone conversations!

These couple of years has evolved and I’ve taken to calling your mum ever-so-often, and you boys would have heard me calling home during lunch time and have a quick chat with your mum.

So what do we talk about?

Mostly work stuff, for me and also some work stuff for her and maybe somethings about you boys.

There will be people out there telling you not to bring work home, and when you leave the office, leave the work in the office. It means that you need to sort of compartmentalize some parts of your life and when you go home, you take off your ‘office manager’ hat and put on a ‘husband’ or ‘dad’ hat. Well I wish life is as simple as that!

Psychologically, it is quite impossible to draw a clear line as where your work ends and your family begins. sometimes, you get so heated up with a home argument, you are still carrying that anger into the office, and vice versa. And sometimes, our work and colleagues become our bona fide ‘relatives’, and we start to treat them as such.

What I’m saying is you need some skills to de-personalise your work and profession to be able to not bring work back.

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That’s not my practice. I have full transparency with your mum, and she does the same with me.  

It helps in our relationship as she knows what I am doing in my work. Its not so much about trust, but having someone to share your stories and also your woes. We are married and there are times where we have to fight the battles alone. For me, I sometimes fight those battles, with the full blessings from your mum.

Bringing work home also helps the “You don’t understand me!” department. While this will still sometimes occur, it is mitigated because there is a lot of banter. It’s not really a conversational technique, as it is something unique within a marriage and it differs from couple to couple. It is such casual banter that allows us to weave context into our relationships and when we misunderstood each other, we can pull out past banters ‘records’ and cross reference to help us work between the confusion and ambiguity.

That’s said, I don’t usually bring my family to work, despite of the fact that my wife and you boys are a very big part of my life. It is again a judgement call dependent on the kind of people I am working with. There are colleagues who are family oriented, because they are parents, husbands, wives who can relate to me. If such a connection can be explored, then I’ll sometimes share a bit more. But more often than not, I’d like to keep my personal, family life away from work. After all work is work, you can always find another work, but you cannot find another family.

Drunk? Never, ever

Drunk? Never, ever

Dear Boys,

It is not a matter of bragging, it is a matter of fact, for the records.

Your dad has never gotten drunk. Ever.

High, yes; Drunk, no.

What a Karate Master said

There was a book I read, by this Karate master, Gichin Funakoshi, he wrote in his book and one subject delved a little about drinking and that mantra stayed with me till today.

“When you drink with 20 friends, you will be drinking with 20 enemies, when they are drunk.”

Something to that effect.

It is not the enemies I am afraid of, it is me, becoming my own enemy, that keeps me sober. Given that I am trained in a specific martial arts discipline, it is important that I remain sober and aware of my senses and surroundings, so that I can remain effective. Being drunk clouds your senses, you can’t think straight, say stupid things, do stupid things and get into trouble you can easily avoid, just by staying sober.

There is also no excuse for me, since there are plenty of excuses for people, getting drunk and doing stupid things.

I want to be lucid, and in full control of my existence.

When I was high.

Being high, is another thing altogether. I know my alcohol limit, and when I reach a sensation of tipsy, I stop. Being high has a nice, light sensation, where you feel very relaxed, slightly happy and kind of like…fluid. Such a state is a wonderful tool for sleeping. I always have a good sense to know when to stop, and not cross that imaginary line. The brain just say stop, and that’s that.

So there has never been any period of my life where I am not ‘me’. Since I have never been drunk, I never knew what it feels like, or feels curious to try.

Solitary drinker

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Perhaps it is how I take my alcohol. I don’t have drinking buddies, and going to bars and pubs to drink is, such an exorbitant waste of money, and time. Besides, it is my stereotype that incidents of fights are highest in those places. Well, you don’t call a ‘bar fight’ in a school right?

Trouble brews in such places, and the best way to get out of a bar fight is not to be there in the first place.

So I usually take my beer at home, probably once a month, a can or so, at dinner with you and mum. That is what ‘drinking’ is to me, a relaxed place, alone. And just a can for flavour.

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There is also a short period of time I was exploring lazing in a hammock, a beer by the beach. It was a nice, chillax idea, but the problem is, you are still consuming liquid, and not long after that you will need to leave your cozy spot to look for a loo!

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As much as I like my Cabernet Sauvignon, I always struggle to finish a full bottle, and it is quite pricey to get just a small one, so I end up stick with a can of beer or two.

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You dad is boring as hell

So while you boys become older and perhaps taking my lifestyle as staid, just remember, alcohol like everything else, is best taken in moderation. Getting drunk and then doing stupid things after that is not the best way to live your life.

There are other ways to get a high, like going for an intense workout, mountain biking,and other activities. Sitting in a dark noisy place, with a bunch of drinking people, waiting for trouble to start, isn’t the best way to live a life.

While I am sure, there will be people who disagree with me, just remember one thing, I am entitled to my opinion, and you, when you are older. Most regrets happens when a person sobers up after a bout of drunkenness, so to take away having regrets, don’t get drunk in the first place.

Closing windows

Closing windows

‘It’s hard being the elder brother’, you cried.

I had to punish the both of you since both of you cannot close all the house Windows before we leave, for Sentosa, for fun. Yes, I did tell Wayne to do it, yes, he skived, he went to the toilet to poop. You didn’t want to do it because it was ‘his job’. You both ended up quarreling. I gave the both of you a 45min delay, that means we will leave the house later, that means we will have ‘less fun’.

You didn’t see it as fair so you sulked. I told the both of you, use this 45 mins to sort your shit out, change your attitude, and make peace. You didn’t like the idea.
Wayne ended up on the Lofty watching TV. You sulked in the room, sobbing, about how unfair things has been.
You told me you’re always helping and clearing things for Wayne and he is always accusing you of this and that.
I told you, as the elder brother you will be clearing a lot of his shit. That is the job of an elder brother. Clear younger sibling shit.
You’re 13, secondary one, who is below you?
Your little brother, who is nine.
Another kid who is eleven.
Your cousins who are four and two. All these younger kids will all look up to you to clear shit.
More importantly, you get a 45 minute sentence, that is a lot of time to get a lot of shit done, instead you choose to cry and sulk, instead of being positive and constructive, you could have gotten one homework done, you could have helped us closed all the windows, then we can leave house before the 45 minutes is up.
But you took the sentence with spite and angst.
There are people out there wrongfully incarcerated, and they spent their time in jail doing the most positive things, Nelson Mandela is one fine example. They didn’t let ‘jail time’ stop them from doing the most positive things in their lives.
And now you took it to crying and your brother took it to watching TV. Obviously this affected you more than him, and he probably didn’t even know what is happening, or how unhappy he made you.
All he learned from his elder brother is ‘tit for tat’. You could have shown him that despite of what he did, you still clear his shit, and you do it because you both are brothers, and brothers are supposed to look out for each other, he will get that eventually, and he will clear your shit the next time you needed help. That’s what brothers do, cover for each other.
And you are 13, he is 9. You obviously knows more than he does, and can I talk to him the way I talked to you? Will he understand all this things?
No.
Which is why you need to step up, your the older one, you have to do this, and do more. Because you can and you must.
You have to focus on the outcome again
The outcome is to get the house ready, so that we can all go out, if the windows’ not closed, and the rain comes, who is going to clean up the mess, when the rain splashes in?
We have to clean up.
It is our house.
And those windows don’t have a name on it, like Wayne’s window, Ian’s window, papa’s window. Someone has to close these windows, if not everyone will suffer.
So focus on the outcome, lets quickly get things done, irrespective of who does it, so that we can all leave the house and have fun.
And you guys are going to be brothers long after your parents are dead, lean on each other, count on each other, continue to clear each other’s shit. And you as the elder brother, don’t end up like my elder brother.