Gunung Yong Yap

The beginning of a new chapter

TMBT 2011

My first ultra trail 50km

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Run Faster, Triathletes Should Stop Swimming and Cycling - New York Times

For Peak Performance, 3 Is Not Better Than 1
Published: May 8, 2008

WHEN Jenny Higgins started doing triathlons, she discovered something peculiar. She had been on her high school cross country and swim teams and her college swim team. But in 2003 she started running, swimming and cycling, and tried to excel in all three at once.

“I noticed that in the pool, my legs felt very heavy,” she said. “I was dragging my legs more than I used to and it hurt my swimming.”

Other times, she would swim fluidly but feel lifeless when she ran or cycled.

After five years as a multisport athlete, Ms. Higgins, now a 32-year-old postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University, said the push-me-pull-you feeling has not gone away.

It made Ms. Higgins wonder something that may be on the minds of the nation’s more than 100,000 triathletes, too: Is it even possible to peak in more than one sport at once?

Anne Gordon, 51-year-old triathlete and a partner at Dubilier & Company, a private investment group, has never gotten a personal record in each leg of a triathlon on the same day. “I find it is possible to peak in two out of the three sports, but no matter how hard I try the third eludes me,” she said.

Neither, though, is about to give up triathlons. They love the training, the discipline and competitions that allow a little leeway. For instance, if you are a weak cyclist, you may still do well with a fast run and an adequate swim. Multisport athletes can play on their strengths.

“The simple act of working hard at three things requires a diversity and balance in my life that is rewarding in and of itself,” Ms. Gordon said. “It is good for my spirit to know that I have to work hard and be patient to achieve mastery.”

But the question remains: Can you train optimally for three sports at the same time?

“Even the pros struggle with this, that’s just the nature of the human body,” said Joe Friel, a coach and author of 10 books, including “The Triathlete’s Training Bible” (VeloPress, 2004). “It is hard to get the human body to peak at several activities at the same time.”

Professional triathletes tackle the challenge by training 30 hours a week. With that kind of robust, targeted training, said Mr. Friel, who has a master’s in exercise science, “it’s much easier to improve but it’s still not easy.”

It’s a problem Mr. Friel sees all the time in the athletes he coaches who complain about their times, saying, for example, that they aren’t running as fast as they think they should be.

“I have conversations with them,” he said. “Do you really want to be a triathlete? If you want to run faster you have to give up swimming and cycling.”

That, in fact, is what one professional triathlete did. DesirĂ©e Ficker, who is 31 and lives in Austin, Tex., said she decided to concentrate on running when she ran the Austin Marathon in 2007 and came in second with a time of 2:40:28. Not only was that her best marathon time ever but it qualified her for the women’s Olympic Trials in Boston last month. The top three women in that race are on the United States Olympic team.

So Ms. Ficker gave up cycling and swimming and just ran, hoping to make the Olympic team.

“Biking hurts your running performance,” she said. “It tires your legs out, and you are using opposing muscle groups. I actually believe you are tearing up your quads to the point where it hurts when you run.”

When she eased up on bicycling, she said, her legs felt fresher and she ran faster.

At the Olympic trials, Ms. Ficker knew that if she did not make the team she would be racing again as a triathlete. That’s how she makes her living, she said. When it became clear that she was not going to be one of the top three women, she lost her will to run her hardest. “My thought was I’m not going to trash my legs because I have a race in six weeks,” she said.

There’s a reason it’s hard to excel in three sports at once, physiologists say. The training necessary to do your best in one sport is likely to counteract what is needed to be good at another.

When you are training, said Gary S. Krahenbuhl, an exercise physiologist and emeritus professor at Arizona State University, improvement depends on physical and biochemical changes in muscle cells and in nerve-firing patterns. And those changes are very sport-specific, he added. The result, Dr. Krahenbuhl said, is that “changes that facilitate performance for one event may actually undermine performance in another event.”

“To think that you could train in such a way as to have your greatest performance in all the sports is impossible,” he added.

Even body musculature can trip up triathletes. Swimmers need large muscles in their backs and shoulders. Runners and cyclists want small, light upper bodies. Cyclists need large quadriceps muscles. Runners don’t, and in fact they don’t want any extra muscle weight on their legs.

Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, an exercise researcher at McMaster University in Canada, a physician and a triathlete, is also convinced that training for one sport interferes with training for another.

“There are molecular signals that allow certain types of training,” he said. “They get diluted when you start blending sports together.”

As an extreme example of how specific training can be, Dr. Tarnopolsky tells the story of a man he has raced with in triathlons. The man previously had been a professional cyclist for a European team and told Dr. Tarnopolsky that when he was training for cycling, he could barely run two kilometers.

But these physiologists hasten to add that there are benefits to doing more than one sport. They advocate cross training for all recreational athletes and especially middle-age athletes who are more easily injured and slower to recover than younger people.

Cross training — cycling one day and swimming the next, for example — lets you maintain your energy and enthusiasm and avoid injuries that come from doing the same activity day after day. That’s also part of the appeal of being a triathlete, Mr. Friel said.

“It’s fun to train,” said Kelly Couch, a 30-year-old triathlete from San Mateo, Calif. “Just being a runner, just being a cyclist, can get a little stagnant.”

But training seriously for more than one sport can be hard to coordinate — training for endurance in each, training for speed in each, getting sufficient rest, eating properly for optimal performance. Then, of course, the athlete has to avoid injury, even a minor twinge, that could impede performance in any of the three sports.

“Everything has to come together,” Dr. Tarnopolsky said. “It’s difficult — like getting all the stars to align.”

But even if the stars never align, there can be other perks.

When Ms. Higgins only swam or ran, she would have weeks when every workout discouraged her. That doesn’t happen anymore. “I can always expect to be feeling good in something I’m doing,” she said. “I can feel like a manatee in the pool, really slow. But then my running feels sharp.” As a result, she said, “I can count on several good workouts each week.”

Ms. Gordon works with a coach who is helping her reach the peak of her performance for the start of the triathlon season this month. “May and June are packed with races,” she said. The big one for her is the Philadelphia Triathlon on June 22. “The workouts’ intensity increases dramatically this time of year,” Ms. Gordon said. “As a result, some days I hit all my numbers or swim like a mad woman and even manage a steady if not fantastic run, but then tomorrow comes and I start all over again and I may not be as good at the same things that day.”

But, she said, that is part of what draws her to triathlons.
“What I love best about this sport is the training, the sense that the goal of hitting a perfect 10 for all three sports will take a lifetime.” And that, she added, “is O.K. by me.”

Taken from :

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Maiden Mt Bike Ride and New Balance 15k run

Photo Courtesy of Chim on my maiden mt bike ride
I guess i'm out of ideas on what title to put for my blog updates. The weekend began with a plan to cycle mountain bike with Alvin Chan. It is actually a plan to try out mt biking after my ironman and was a plan , a week after I had a bike accident. Alvin thinks mt biking is safer than road biking.. Errhh.. to me is the same but I bet I definitely improved on my bike handling skill.
We met up at 730 at malay tea house , frim. Alvin together with his friend Choy, help me to set up the bike. Chim my ex colleague tag along . He picked up mt biking not long ago.
FRIM mt biking trail is consider a beginners trail. I would said mt biking is quite different from road bike. It is more about strength and not so much on cadence to cycle faster. Few times I have to push the bike as a result of losing my momentum because I did not pedal hard enough to cycle over rocks and tree roots. Downhill was pretty scary at first but I soon got the hang of it and wouldn't mind doing mt biking again. The last part was a single track trail which I push the bike more than I cycle. It is a different experience and would love to do it again. Thanks to Alvin , Chim and Choy for your company on my maiden mt bike ride.  BTW just to let you guys know , i'm not so afraid of falling in mt biking than road bike. Maybe there isn't any traffic around. If i fall, is just between me and the jungle.
Chris, San, Julie,Bee, Leslie and ME
On sunday is new balance 15km run. This is my first 15km run which I skip last year because i'm dying to go hiking at mt yong belar after all the triathlon training for A Famosa., and also the first time I got a yellow color running vest collected by Siok Bee. Thanks Siok Bee.

Gane, Johnson, Siok Bee and me ran 5km in the morning as warm up and went to tapak A for the race . The guys start 15 minutes earlier than the gals. Since I get dehydrated easily, I will make sure I drink a cup of water before the race begin. Luckily the organizer provide drink station near the starting line. I was chit chatting with Jennifer, Lisar, Julie, Carmen, Leslie , Chris and other gals at the starting line before they start counting down, 8, 7 , 6 , 5, 4, 3, 2,1.... poOooon.... I take it easy for the first 4 km without realizing , I was actually running too fast and couldn't really maintain my pace . I was quite tired at the 12 km mark after going thru a hilly route for the run. Reaching the finishing line was the most boring road for this race as we need to run 2km around the lake garden . Err... I really can't wait to finish as i'm getting really tired.

After the race, my training buddies gather around jln imbi to eat breakfast and chit chat. By now I can feel the muscle ache on my calf, glute and my back. I took a nap and woke up at 3 p.m. and had thai food again for dinner at taman cheras.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Looking for Second Hand Indoor Bicycle Trainer

Why ? Safety ReaSon lah... Call me if you want to sell yours. 

Athletes and Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is a common problem for women athletes. Studies have routinely found that athletes, especially female athletes, are often iron-deficient or anemic. Iron is essential for athletic performance. One of its major functions is to carry oxygen to and carbon dioxide away from all the cells in your body. The brain also relies on oxygen transport and without enough iron you will find it hard to concentrate and feel tired and irritable. Iron is also needed to maintain a healthy immune system. If you don't have enough iron you may be prone to more frequent infections.
Athletes and Iron Deficiency
A combination of the following factors place athletes at risk of iron deficiency:
  1. Inadequate supply of dietary iron. Athletes who avoid red meat have difficulty meeting the body's iron needs.
  2. Increased demands for iron. Hard training stimulates an increase in red blood cell and blood vessel production, and increases the demand for iron. (Iron turnover is highest for endurance athletes training at high intensity).
  3. High iron loss. Blood loss through injury, or menstruation. In endurance athletes, ‘foot strike’ damage to red blood cells in the feet due to running on hard surfaces with poor quality shoes leads to iron loss. Finally, because iron is lost in sweat, heavy sweating leads to increased risk of deficiency.
The symptoms of iron deficiency include loss of endurance, chronic fatigue, high exercise heart rate, low power, frequent injury, recurring illness, and loss of interest in exercise and irritability. Other symptoms include poor appetite, and increased incidence and duration of colds and infections. Many of these symptoms are also common to over-training, so misdiagnosis is common. The only sure way to diagnose a deficiency is a blood test to determine iron status. If you experience any of the symptoms above, and you are in one of the higher risk categories, you should visit your physician for lab work.
If your physician confirms iron deficiency, she will recommend an increase in your dietary iron intake. If your deficiency is severe, you may need supplements. Never use iron supplements unless under the supervision of your doctor, as too much iron can cause irreversible damage and a higher risk of cancer and heart disease.
Good Sources of Iron
The RDA for women and teenagers is 15 milligrams per day. Men should consume 10 mg. Endurance athletes may need slightly more. You can get iron in both animal and plant foods, but the iron in animal sources has an absorption rate of about 15 percent, compared to about 5 percent for plants. So the more effective way to increase iron status is by eating animal products such as lean red meat, poultry or fish or liver. You can also increase the amount of iron in foods you eat by cooking with a cast iron skillet (especially if cooking acidic foods).
Iron absorption from any foods, whether plant or animal, is decreased if they are accompanied at meals by caffeine. Calcium and zinc also reduce the ability of the body to absorb iron. However adding fruit (citrus fruit in particular), to meals enhances iron absorption. The best sources of iron in the diet include: Lean red meat, iron-fortified breakfast cereal, nuts and legumes, (combined these with foods high in vitamin C).

Unexpected Bomba Run

I do not know why I don't feel like running 10k for the bomba run in the morning and keep asking myself why did I sign up. In the morning I did a 5km warm up with Tony, Siok Bee and Chantelle using part of the reverse double hill. We went back to the car park at 7 and met up with San and Shih Ming . They need to collect the bib from tony. The race starts at 730 am sharp. Took an opportunity to do some speed work and try to pace myself. As usual towards the finishing line is always the painful part. I'm out of breath but my legs still want to run. At the same time I cannot give up. Reached the finishing line, the marshal on duty ask me my name and the club i'm from. They told me I got number 10. The first thing in my mind , “Aiyah... my ic “ .Some of my training buddy ask me why I did not bring my ic. I told them I did not expect to win anything.