Friday, June 14, 2013

Training For Malaysia Women Marathon

This was a draft post which I had prepared long ago.

I know how difficult it can be to achieve that dream (of completing a marathon or any run in one good piece, or ANY dream for that matter) and instead of shoving training tips and ideas down your throat, beginners and aspiring runners should understand that the runners whom you envy for being sooooo fast and think they have it easy, never be too certain that their achievements too, come with blood, sweat and tears.

After the Malaysia Women Marathon, there was a surge of blog posts by awesome women who wrote about their marathon training and race. The sweat, tears and laughter were happily shared (and I enjoyed reading them), which I firmly believe suggests that anyone can do it, PROVIDED that you dedicate the time and commitment train for it.

(I am referring to Femes Bunny's friends who completed their 1st marathon ever. :))

There is NO shortcut to a less painful marathon:
1) Run more - 3 to 4 times a week is a must. If it's your first one, better run 5 times!)
2) For 12 to 18 weeks, equals 3 to 4 months of dedication.

And once you're in the midst of it, you WILL whine, moan, groan and gripe about it, but with a secret sense of achievement.

"Please! OMG! Marathon training sucks!"
"Sheeeeeeeeet! I don't think I can do this!"
"WHY did I sign up for the full marathon lah!!"
"I should have signed up for a half instead!"
"No, wait, I should have just signed up for the 10KM!"
"I hate running..."

Or something like that.

I beg you, I beseech you, do not ever sign up for a marathon just because everyone seems to be doing it. It is not a fad (even if you think so). Everyone has different capabilities and targets. And if you really do not have the bloody time to train (3 months at the least), then please, please, please don't!

I know some of you may think that I'm obsessed when I set a target or goal time for my races. But let me assure that it really depends on my objective for signing up for the race in the first place.

You can have a performance objective - to run faster, beat that fast runner you don't like, or improve your past performance (which basically is the same as 'run faster').

Or you may have the fun objective of losing weight, keeping friends company, cheaper than buying a branded dri-fit t-shirt, keeping up the momentum of improving your fitness.

I often select the performance objective to motivate myself to continue running / working out. Without that goal, I tend to slack and take it easy, and my fitness level would gradually slide.

Besides, I am still trying to lose weight and trust me, running this much and eating chocolates surely isn't helping!

Even if you don't have a blog to log down your training runs and race reports, keep some of those thoughts in mind and somewhere as they may serve useful to gauge your strategy for the next race.

These are some excerpts from my marathon training a few months ago.

Note: My weeks are calculated backwards like a countdown.

[Week 10] Friday, 1st February - Long Slow Run 22KM
was supposed to finish it in 2:25 but I stopped at 21KM. was lazy. tsk tsk.

first time in the calf compressions!

[Week 10]
Saturday, 9th February - 10KM Time Trial
Chinese New Year in Ipoh. training schedule had an option of doing 8KM or up to HM time trial so i opted for a 10KM time trial. With the hubby running with me, i did 53:28! my first ever sub-55! (my conscience mocked me to say that i should have been able to nail it at 52:02. hmmfh.)

Doing loops around the neighbourhood.

The last 2KM was tricky to make sure i kept to my intended race pace. at the last 500m, i was ready to call it quits but grrr, as he sped up, i had no choice but burst into speed and prayed that my watch would beep before i ran out of breath.

[Week 8] Sunday, 24th February - 21KM Time Trial
It was so very very very very very very hard to stick to a consistent pace at 5:33 - 5:40. I was OK up to KM15 as the watch showed 1:25:26 but thereafter I slowed down a little. Up to KM18 I wanted to stop (cos I'm a quitter!) but as I hit 1:54 at KM20, I sped up to 5:03 pace for the last km. OMG!

I do wonder when will I be able to make it official. *wipes away a happy tear*

[Week 6] Sunday, 3rd March - Brooks Half Marathon 21.2KM
had so much fun, not sure why. i think cos i had Nick accompanying me half the distance and chatting to him kept my pace OK. but timing wise, 2:18 was not impressive at all, but i felt great! [My race report is here. Nick's one is here.]

Walked and ran an additional 7KM at the nearby park immediately after Brooks Half Marathon to clock extra mileage. I felt like a fool.

[Week 5] Wednesday, 6th March, Crazy Night Long Run 30KM
the drive from work to DPC was long that it was mega frustrating. parking space was hard to get as well so more time was wasted. the first 20KM was not too bad, but i knew i was going a bit fast. it was getting late and counting loops was getting a bit boring. i had 3 bottles with me, water, isotonic + water and ribena. ribena was saved for the final 10KM.

the final 10KM was chilly as the breeze teased my perspired skin. i contemplated changing my top and shoes but it didn't make sense to do so because in a real race, would i be doing that? no. i was so glad i made it within targeted time of 3:15.

sat on the ground for a while, too tired to stretch. hobbled to 7-11 for more isotonic drinks. tall cyclist dude smiled at me on my way out of 7-11. hmmm. that wasn't too bad. :D

15 rounds of DPC lake done! was proud with myself. patted self on the back. arrived home at midnight and crashed at 1am.

[Week 4] Sunday, 17th March - Long Torturous Hilly Run 32KM
couldn't get out of bed early enough so by the time i started running, it was 5:45am. argh. 15mins late for my own run! the 1st 10KM was spent running up and down my little street (200m one way, 400m two ways) a million times until I reached 10KM in 1:05. Took a 5 minute break to hydrate and stretch. Continued running with water bottle in hand, up the first gentle slope and back down to another short steep slope. With both about 4KM apart, i did 3 rounds. by KM27 i was staggering up the the last hill, desperate to lie flat on the pavement and sing songs to myself. Rocky's theme song was ringing my ears for a while and sure, i felt energised and smiled, recalling my first event (SCKLM'09). the song was provided by one of my guy BFF's. The guys were really sweet, supportive of our (hubby and i's) first run ever.

500m later, Katy Perry's "Self-Inflicted" played and i listened to its lyrics carefully. i laughed. the chorus was apt and reflected perfectly how i was feeling about marathons then.

"i can't stop, don't care if i lose
baby, you're the weapon i choose
these wounds are self inflicted"

played the song twice and ran downhill for 2KM, energised. come KM30 i wanted to quit and cry. it was supposed to be a time trial of 32KM in 3:30 but it was already 3:30. how? i was torn between quitting and walking home or sucking it up and continue for another 2KM.  

what is another 2KM? i asked myself. go go go!

KM31, it sucked.
KM31.31, OMG hurry up already!
KM31.5, hurry hurry, just a beeeeeeeeet more! *fake sob*
KM32, done! 3:45 (wow, what shit timing, but i don't bloody care already.)
Done, done, done!

personally, i knew that GCAM run clinic session #5 the day before tired my legs out.

was mortified to find blood blisters after my run. my first ever, ever!


[Week 3] Wednesday, 20th March - Slow 8KM Run. 17 days to go ...
omg, 3 more weeks to go. i'm so tired already. can i not run for a while?
hobbled/limped home for almost 1KM as my left knee went funny.
it has been funny for a while now but i'm being a coward by not getting it checked at the moment. what if the doctor says to quit running? my 3 months of training would be wasted!

of course, i am secretly worried that if i don't check it ASAP it would have a long term effect on my posture and walking. hmmm.

[Still Week 3] Thursday, 21st March morning - 11KM
Was horrid. legs were still exhausted from last night's run so i cut it short by 3KM. if not for my dinner appointment that night, i would have ran in the evening instead. gawd, surprisingly my pace was OK.

at least i bumped into Kenny who was doing his morning run, too!

[Still Week 3] Saturday, 23rd March morning - 27.23KM
went too fast during the 1st 12KM. didn't bring gel with me, but only jellybeans. don't think they helped me much. the rest was a blur. 21-25KM was peppered with swearing as i was not amused with my weak state. calmed down during the last KM. no gel = felt shitty? perhaps. worried for MWM.

[Week 2] Wednesday, 27th March evening - 8.61KM
was supposed to do a slow one but was dragged into joining Adam and Vijay around Tanglin, Planetarium and Lake Gardens. Slowed down during the last 3KM to chitchat with Adam. 

[Week 1 and counting down] Tuesday, 2nd April evening - Speed Intervals
6 x 400m. The last 3 reps were done half heartedly as I was already tired.

[Week 1 and counting down] Wednesday, 3rd April evening - 9.1KM
It was meant to be an easy run but with Adam pacing me, he disagreed about slowing down too much during tapering week. He said I needed one last push, and so we did.  52minutes. He's an awesome motivator to run with, I have to give him that. :)

Saturday, 6th April morning - Easy 3KM
I was wincing in pain, worried that my knees were going to give way but since the Captain of Dutamas Runners was insistent on keeping me company, I had to do it. It was great to catch up with him again.
Race Day Reports:
Nestle Fitnesse Malaysia Women Marathon - Race Report
MWM Race Report - Part 2

With the Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM) around the corner, I wish all of you who are training hard for your event to keep on moving. Don't give up now!

P.s. But the above advice does not apply to me. :D


  1. I'm in total agreement that marathon running is not a fad, don't sign up just because everyone seems to be doing it. A lot of sacrifices are involved. Missed family time, waking up at crazy hours or even late night running. NO social life whatsoever!

    That said and done, I hate marathon training, gimme a trail run anytime ... hahaha!

    1. that said and done, WHY do you do it again?? :P

      ooh yeah. and no one understands why you have to forgo your social life for TRAINING! :P

  2. You know, one of the bunny fren gad gone on to do her second full marathon n improved her timing *feeling proud*

    1. oh my! that's dedication, man ...
      we are also expecting you to do great at your next marathon, too, Bunny!!!

  3. Though I'm saved from blisters, I was having *almost* continuous sakit here & there. But another Femes Bunny friend once said it's better to be hurt during training than during the race. I was so relieved I did not have any cramps or pulls during my first marathon at MWM.
    But yes I didn't have much social life, working from home didn't help much either haha. Most of the time when I step out of the house is to go for a run!

    1. er bukan to be hurt... but OK to suffer and feel pain during training then enjoy the race. eh, bukan ke? keskeskes

    2. Haa ye kot. Oh My English. Hehehe

  4. yeah, sacrificing social and family time can be very very difficult and still nobody understands why we do it!!

    i think i end up hiding away from non-running friends because they don't understand WHY we must sleep early that night to wake up early the next morning ... just for a run! :P

  5. Oh this brings back memories. LOL!! Thanks for being there while I was suffering though! <3 <3

    1. aaahhhhh we had a big group waiting for you then!!!!!! :))))

  6. Goshhh I gasped reading your strict training routine... Your targetted time was superb... Definitely u r in your own league, Speedy Demon Queen... Truly inspiring newbies like me to train harder for PB... Kudos!

    1. don't need to gasp la. i forgot to include some more pictures of pain, actually. keke.

      you're no longer a newbie after 3 marathons! keep up the energy level. spread out your races before you burn out - once a month, maybe?