Injury Update

Considering how disastrously the year has started for the world – AU bush fires, COVID-19 pandemic just being 2 of those – I really shouldn’t be complaining about my marathon preparation even if it has been flipped upside down with the ankle injury sustained midway through the Twincity Half.

While I somehow still finished 2 seconds quicker than last year’s timing (1:44-ish but minutes off my PR), I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot once I gritted across the finish line. I limped badly for close to a week even though the MRI scan showed no tears and fractures. The injury took the wind out of my sails just when I was ready to face up to the critical weeks of training and the way the so-called March Platinum Label event is run, from the deferment of the dates resulting in all of us having to scramble for accommodation and paying the penalties for flight tickets, I wasn’t bathing in confidence.

It’s now 4 weeks post-Twincity and the foot and ankle have healed enough for me to begin picking up the pieces. My “treatment” have been largely on taping, elevating the legs, light massages. I’ve lost so much that jumping directly into Week 13 is impossible in every aspect. The longest distance covered the last few days was 12K and I’ve been able to run 5 consecutive days while the foot continues to mend. As long as I monitor the level of discomfort and not take any corners sharply I should be good. With a little over 5 weeks remaining, pushing for a marathon PR is out of question. At this point of my recovery, I’m hesitant of undertaking any speedwork for fear of re-injuring the foot, so the sessions will all be skewed towards getting back my aerobic fitness with 90% of the time spent in the 6:10-6:40/km paces. Getting back to 6 days of running per week is the first step. Running longer is next. I hope to be able to extend the long run this Sunday and depending on how the foot responds, I’ll inject some short pick-ups along the way.

The choice of running shoes have been a little trickier. As much as they’re stable and comfortable to be running the easy and longer miles in, I was only able to rotate the Infinity back into active use. The fun Zoom Fly SP remains a no-go for now as I found out after just 200 meters. After switching around some shoes, the firmer and lower-stacked ones like the Rival Fly and Propel were found to be the most conducive. Next comes the question of race shoes. In my current state, I will not be able to do justice to the Next% and will instead save them for Gold Coast. I’ve shortlisted a couple of candidates for this Sunday’s try-outs. They’re light, cushioned and responsive. More importantly, they’re not as stacked as the Next%, which should hopefully alleviate the soreness felt in the injured area. That said, the 4% Flyknit remains my race-day option should I make full recovery in the coming days/weeks. To find out which shoes I’m testing out as race-day contingencies, follow me on Instagram where I’ll put up the photo on Saturday.

I’m taking one day at a time, one step at a time. Getting to the starting line fully recovered and finishing within the 5-hour cut-off with no further injuries are what matters. It’s a come down from running 4:45 splits just a month ago but that’s Life.

What’s Next After Macao?

I’ve moved on after the recent Macao DNF. I’ve been back to running with greater frequency and consistency is slowly but surely getting re-established. Going through the Garmin and Buckeyeoutdoor logs, I discovered that despite this period of reduced running, I’ve been averaging more miles than the same period last year. Perhaps I’ve been a little harsh on myself.

With things slowly restored to business-as-usual, I’m just letting the consistency takes it shape over the next couple of weeks. Between now and the new year, 40K weeks shouldn’t be that hard to move up to. That will segue nicely into the 50K weeks accorded by the 8-week McMillan Base Plan. The Base Plan will have plenty of easy running, building on consistency and time-on-feet. I’ll be following the plan honestly.

Once the 8 weeks are done, it’ll be time for the actual training to begin and for that, I’ve subscribed to the 16-week Hansons Program. I’ve opted for the Beginner Plan which will peak at 91K with the longest runs at 26K. Due to the unique concept of the Hansons, the plan will only work if the runner follows the prescribed workouts to the tee. The first 2 weeks consist of low mileage work and will double up as cutback weeks following Base Phase.

Hansons Coach Luke Humphrey repeatedly says, “Don’t make it harder than it already is.“ He’s not kidding. The workouts will tax the body and mind to take on the stress of consistent weekly mileage, stressing the legs to simulate cumulative fatigue. Easy days must be kept easy. Long runs must be run at prescribed pace. Midweek SOS workouts must include warm up and downs. And I’ll have to get enough sleep as recovery.

Gear-wise, everything is good to go. Most of my running thus far has been in heavier, bulkier and protective shoes. That’s the Zoom Span, Glide Boost (mothballed 2 years ago in new condition but now recalled to active duty), and the 2 Hokas – the Clayton 2 and Clifton 4. With the exception of the Span and Clayton, the rest are over 10 ounces in heft. The odd one in the collection is the NB Vazee Pace 2 Protect. The weather resistant upper will ensure that rainy days aren’t excuses to skip workouts. They’re all shoes that I don’t typically run in but I’ve to protect my legs and feet. The firmer Ride 10 will have to wait in the wings.

For faster running, the ones you see below are my trusted ones, each capable of covering distances between 5K to the marathon. Even my GCM18 race shoes (not shown here) are good to go.

On the injury front, the PF is finally, FINALLY (!), brought under control. It has taken a lot of effort on my part, from 4 times a day trigger point massages, stretching and mobility exercises. More than anything, I’m hoping that the issue will be fully resolved by end February, and I stay healthy all the way through July.

So as 2017 comes to a close, here’s wishing you the best in next year’s training and racing!

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

2017 Galaxy Entertainment Macao International Marathon Experience

Observant readers will note that I didn’t classify this post as a “Race Report”. That’s because it wasn’t a race. IMHO, an event is only a race if the participant has put training hours, effort, and planning into executing it. Otherwise it’s just a run, an outing or experience. And that was the state of my fitness when I toed the start line of the MGEIM last Sunday.

It all started with my plan to insert a year-end race so that I keep my training going. But it became clear that picking myself up post-GCAM17 was going to be tough. I tried easing into it and when that failed, tried pushing the pace in whatever shorter distances I managed to squeeze out. Neither approach worked. A hectic 2nd half of the year at work and the ever-present PF issue added to the misery. A major work event that was supposed to have wrapped up in November was instead deferred to a December start, and that pretty much doused whatever optimism I’ve left – the hope that I can get in 2 months of decent running for a 3:55 was abandoned.

Languishing in no-man’s-land running wise, I quickly emailed the organizers to downgrade my distance to the Half. Unfortunately all slots for the Half had been filled and they were no longer accepting any requests for that distance. The Mini Marathon turned out to be only a 5K instead of 10K, so that option was immediately dismissed as well. Que sera sera!

The 6:40am flight into Macao was smooth and I even managed to nap some time into the 3 hour 45 minute flight. A short 10-minute cab ride into Taipa (all cab drivers in Macao are hell drivers, there I said it!) cost me RM34 and since it was too early to check in, I dropped my bags at the concierge and went off to get my race bib at the nearby Olympic Sport Centre Stadium where the race would start and finish, looking for late breakfast and do some photo-walking.

Very decent room. I especially like their firm mattress and supportive pillows.

It was my first time in Macao and I enjoyed the laid back old town feel. Crowded but not entirely without the old town charms. By the time I returned to the hotel, I’d got some fantastic shopping done at the Nike Factory Outlet and tens of nice photos. Simple meals cost between RM16-RM25. Drinks, unless they’re alcohol, aren’t that cheap though.

Indoor stadium block of the complex. Same spot for baggage deposit the next morning.
Lengluis at the REPC
At my pace, no amount of doping will get me to the podium hahaha!

It was dark by 6pm, but with the public track just adjacent to the stadium complex, a shakedown run was in order. This track was a godsend to me. The upkeep of the infra was excellent with a well-maintained track, superbly well-lit and there’s even a drinking fountain, lockers and a couple of vending machines. The 300m track goes around 3 tennis courts (all utilized the time I was there) and 2 football fields. All these smack in the middle of high-rise flats. My routine was a mixed one, easy jogs, strides and stretching. There were even several elites from Japan, South Korea, India and Africa working out. With the exception of my departure day, I ran everyday in Macao.

With no goal time, getting kitted out for Sunday morning was so easily done. No point fretting over every piece of gear – just a training run, with the GoPro coming along for the outing. Contrast that to Saturday night prep-up for the Gold Coast Marathon! The only thing I did that took more time was taping up my foot.

Putrajaya Ultra tee, Kalenji trail shorts, Saucony cap, Hoka Tracer
Brought 6 gels, consumed 4.

With Masters marathon extraordinaire, Lim who would finish in a superb 3:30-ish.

The event attracted around 12,000 runners across all categories but everything was pretty well organized in such a small area. The marathoners get the section at the head with the “halvers” corralled off in the rear. I was positioned right in the middle of the pack. Weather was comfortably cool, no shivering at all. The start was stop and go due to the narrow exit out of the stadium but immediately after that, there were plenty of space on the roads. The stabbing pain on the PF surfaced right after the start but the discomfort eased off with each passing mile and I was able to gradually enjoy the run. Temps were at a perfect 17 Celcius and a little foggy. The 2.5K long Gov. Nobre de Carvalho Bridge was our first challenge. The bridge was strangely not lit, so we weren’t treated to a scenic view. No vain shots then! Before hitting the 300m stretch of climb that was steeper than Mayor Hill (see photo), the bridge was completely flat and we were even treated to gentle cool breeze. At my conservative 6:05 pace, the climb didn’t pose much of a problem.

Runners were taken past some landmarks such as the mega casinos, the Guan Yin statue, and the famous Ah Ma Temple (because we’ve to balance the sin of gambling with absolution, don’t we?). All very grand and glitzy but if you’re observant, you’ll see some pretty grungy shop-apartments too.

MGM Casino

The event was sparsely supported by the locals. Other than the crew at the road junctions and drink stations, most of the folks out there were senior citizens – some offered claps while most just went about their morning exercise routines. The roads were well maintained with no potholes and traffic weren’t that much of a problem either, with very few cars out.

An Ah Mah walking past the Ah Mah temple

After a couple of switchbacks, it was another bridge to tackle – the Sai Van Bridge back to Taipa.  This climb was gentler but longer, and the entire bridge was closed to us runners. By the time I got back to the vicinity of Galaxy Casino (20K mark), I had to make a call. To continue at the easy pace I was going would mean I’d outdone my own doubt of finishing within the 5-hour cut off with the PF. I reckoned that even factoring some slowing down in the late stages, finishing around 4:15 wasn’t that far-fetched. Considering my longest run was a 23K a couple of months ago, along with 30km/weeks the last 2 months devoid of running mojo, I was a happy chump.

Heading down the other side of the bridge towards Taipa. Lenglui alert!

At that point, there would be no doubt that I would be able to finish well within the cutoff time. But at what price? Would it make the PF worse, being out there so long? With base training starting January, just 3 weeks away, it was a risk I daren’t take. Another 22K would’ve meant longer time spent on my feet pounding it out. That pretty much decided it for me, to be conservative. Focus on the big goal in July 2018.

Once the decision was made, it was easy to run the 8K to the 28K mark without any pace inhibitions. So I went for it. It was just a lovely feeling to run unburdened by pace restrictions knowing that I could just go with the flow and how I felt. At 4:57 to 5:05 pace, I was still largely in control. At that pace for the marathon, it was thrilling to pass many runners. While I was in a high to entertain the thoughts of continuing right through to the 35K mark, I was also savvy enough to know that the crash will probably hit me hard at the 30K point, potentially aggravating the PF further.

So I stuck to the plan to stop at the starting point of the 2nd loop for the marathon, roughly the 28K mark. I removed my bib before walking 1.3K to the stadium to collect my bag. Along the way I couldn’t help but cast envious looks at the huge medals and towels the HM finishers sported. The faster marathoners were just coming in.

I reminded myself that that morning I made the right choice, ran smart and in the later miles, at a pace that conjures up wild imaginations despite my lack of physical fitness. Most importantly, I managed the injury risk prudently and didn’t end up worse than when I started. It was time for serious rehab work and getting stronger for 2018.

In closing, 2017 was becoming an extreme case of the highs and lows for me, running wise. I ran my best ever marathon on the Gold Coast, yet until Macao, 2 races – SCKLM and GCAM – were all that I’ve done. It would’ve been 3 but I DNFed Twincity Marathon due to stomach issues. Thank goodness I don’t have anything in the pipeline for the remainder of the year. Let’s get this year over and done with already!

Entries: Opens sometime in September, capping off at 12,000 runners, across the Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K Fun Run categories.
Race Fees: 400 MOP (approx RM210) for both the Full and Half Marathon; 70 MOP for the Fun Run.
Race start: 6am for the Full and Half Marathons, 6:15am for the Fun Run.
Cutoff: 5 hours.
Entitlements: Towelette, sling bag for baggage deposit. Post-race: Finisher towel, medal.
Description: AIMS certified. Other than 2 bridges, the course is largely flat. Marathoners go on a 2nd loop within the island of Macao (covering Taipa and Cotai) after the first 28K. Course is not very scenic on the island, with the sights around the peninsula faring better, with the casinos, Guan Yin statue, Ah Ma Temple and 2 bridges. Support is sparse.
Weather: Hard to predict Spring weather. Monitor the weather constantly.
Quirks: Baggage deposit area is inaccessible from the start area even though they’re within the same stadium complex.
Challenges: Hotels are expensive in Macao. A bit of digging around is necessary and I was lucky to have found the Asia Boutique Inn located in Tapia and a short walk to the start/finish.
Good: Comparatively small event. Well-stocked drink stations that included Pocari sports drinks and sponges. Well-managed traffic. I may one day return to run the half marathon and will have my wife along as a tourist.
Bad: None that I can think of, except the late opening of entries and narrow exit out of the stadium.

2018 will be the 40th running of the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM). I’ll be returning for my 8th GCM and training plans have been drawn up. Won’t you join me for some Good Times? Hit the image below to get to the official Gold Coast Marathon website! Do join the Team Malaysia Facebook page to get all the local happenings, updates on training sessions, tips on travel and running the race on the Gold Coast.

Bowen Therapy: A Different (And Gentler) Approach To Healing

When Lorna contacted me a month or so ago, I was neck deep in piles of work, desperately trying to shovel them off before heading off for GCAM. By the time I finally found some time to lock in a session with her, it was already late July. I completed my 3rd session of therapy a couple of weeks ago and I wish I had heard of the Bowen Therapy modality back in January! Before I share my experience, here’s a little information about what Bowen Therapy, taken from My Bowen Therapy (Lorna’s practice) website:

“…the technique involves gentle rolling moves on very precise muscles, tendons and ligaments in a very specific order, relevant to the symptoms you are suffering from. The Bowen Technique is a non-intrusive, natural complementary hands-on therapy, suitable for all from newborn to the elderly.”

“These moves have the ability to relieve pain, restriction and imbalances within the body, utilizing the body’s own healing mechanisms to rectify issues. The body has the ability to heal much more than we have all been conditioned to believe.”

Having tried various methods in alleviating my plantar fasciitis issues to little effect, I’d nothing to lose in going another direction – a gentler approach at that. With the appointment set, Lorna and her team, well, basically Scott her husband, sent me a pre-treatment questionnaire such that they’re able to know my background as well as the nature of my affliction.

When I arrived at the cosy little clinic, I was a little apprehensive as it was my first sports-related treatment but Lorna’s enthusiasm and confidence quickly put me at ease. Her exuberance and passions shone was palpable. After running through my responses to the questionnaire, she assured me that this was something she could fix, or at least set me off on the path to healing.

As that was my first visit, she took some time to explain the principles of Bowen Therapy, how the body’s nerves, ligaments, tendons, fascia interact and influence how we move and feel. For example, a tightness in the shoulders could potentially affect something else downstream, like your lower back or pelvis. I’ve always been fascinated with anatomy and her explanation along with graphical aid made things clearer.

Then we got down with the treatment proper where the fully-clothed “patient” would either be on your front or back. Having read it up a little, I was already changed in my loose-fitting running apparel. As mentioned above, the issues encountered by people usually originate from other areas of the body. After evaluating the positioning and range of motion of my body, Lorna started with my upper before moving down to the lower back. Now, to the uninitiated like myself then, the first experience was a little underwhelming. After explaining what she’d be doing and how I could be feeling (ranging from tingling sensation to warmness, to involuntary twitching), Lorna pluck at certain fascia in a certain order with several intervals in between. She would leave the treatment room to go to the next one to attend to the other “patient” before coming back. These leaving and returning to the treatment room wasn’t because she was multi-tasking (well, she could’ve been) but it was to allow the body time to accept, process and respond to the stimulus – a signature of the Bowen modality to get the body to start healing itself. All the procedure were done in a precise manner and extremely gentle. Lorna explained that it’s counter-productive to further impose on tissues that are already stressed or hurt.

I didn’t feel any tingling or twitching but I did have a mild headache when the shoulders and trapezoids were treated. The astonishing thing was that at the end of the 25-minute session, my toes were no longer pointed outwards but straight up. This was on top of the overall relaxed feeling that overcame me. Unlike a typical massage session, this was achieved in a painless and gentle manner. Before leaving, Lorna gave me a simple stretching routine to be done every morning.

The persistent PF pain appeared to ease up in intensity and frequency following the session but I returned to running only 2 days after, which was a short 4K. I started off at an easy pace, consciously trying to detect any difference in my running. As the run progressed, the expected pain and discomfort didn’t surface and the most apparent difference was the freer movements of the hips – higher knee lifts, stronger push offs, back-kicks. I felt that my form was better and I just felt stronger. By the time I hit the final K, I was already at sub-5 minute pace. Data collected by the footpod also showed an increase in stride length, so it wasn’t only a perceived improvement but data-backed. I felt like a different runner! Sure, my fitness level was short but I was running pain-free throughout and couldn’t wait for the second session which was set 5 days after the first one.

The second treatment covered even more parts of the body. Lorna started with the back, shoulders before moving down to release the tight quads, hams, glutes, psoas, pelvis, thorax areas, and the feet. Again, these were all done with just a little pressure, almost like the plucking of guitar strings. She also rubbed some magnesium oil on the plantar as she worked the area. I was in a state of extreme relaxation and after the session, could only managed a slow 5K at the Kiara Park! There were dull aches here and there, so I didn’t want to push things. Indeed, Lorna said I should just keep things very easy, but it was OK for me to race Men’s Health 5K (which I completed in 2nd place – race report) 2 days after.

By the time I got home, the lower back got progressively tighter and sore (which was expected, as the body readjusted to its natural state. Lorna also said the release phenomenon will occur over the next couple of days. I had absolutely no trouble sleeping that night and the restful state continued to the next morning.  The body will regain its full energy as it progressively corrects itself.

The third and final visit was 7 days after the second one and it was more or less a repeat of the second, at least for me. But it really depends on how the “patient” feels like, which may necessitate a more specific approach. I came out feeling just as relaxed.

This “Running Machine” needed maintenance, hahaha!
So here comes the final analysis. I believe the Bowen approach worked well for me. In fact, I wished I’d heard about it in January. I’m very happy with the outcome just from three sessions. While there are still some discomfort now and then, they’re no longer as persistent nor bad as before. The change in my running form is the most tangible after years of attempted reform. There’s greater range of motion from the pelvis and my stride length has seen an increase as well. When I run, I feel stronger, like a new runner. As a result, I’ve been enjoying my short weekday miles much more. Granted, my fitness is short but with these few weeks set aside for low mileage and there being no training plans, I’m just keeping things on maintenance mode. I’m curious to see how I do when longer runs are re-introduced into the regime when 2017 plans are clearer.

Due to its subtle, gentle and non-invasive nature, Bowen Therapy can be the first consideration for those with chronic pain or injuries. In all my visits, Lorna was always candid enough to share her knowledge and experience. If it was something she couldn’t help, she wouldn’t. The number of treatments per case are usually three, which means you won’t be committing to something too long a term nor too expensive.

Sessions are strictly through appointments so, do contact them first at:

My Bowen Therapy Sdn Bhd (website)
Empire Damansara
Soho 2, Unit 3-1 Jalan PJU 8/8
Damansara Perdana
47820 KL
+6016-3334581 or email

Disclaimer: While I know my tibia from my fibula, I’m not medically trained, thus this post does not constitute medical advice of any kind. Every person is an experiment of one and thus results may vary.