Monday, August 22, 2011

Night Run at Lake Gardens

What do most of us do on a Saturday night? Well here are some of the usual favourites of most Malaysians:
  • Go for dinner
  • Catch a movie
  • Watch a DVD at home
  • Go teh tarik with friends
  • Grab some drinks at your favourite pub.
Well i have done all of the above and this Saturday all i had was plans for dinner and nothing else after that. So i was intrigued when a friend of mine asked if i wanted to go jogging with him at Lake Gardens at 10pm. Now as you know i am not a huge fan of running and do it just to burn some extra calories and of course maintain a good cardiovascular endurance. So after some thought (and with persuasion from wifey who is a bigger fan of running than me) i decided why the heck not. So i told my friend and he was excited that i would be joining him.

The reason we chose 10pm is because we were waiting for another friend who also wanted to join and could only join us after his Terawih prayers. So i said sure... i got nothing else planned for the rest of the night.

So i went for dinner at about 8pm in Old Town and decided since i was going to go jogging, i decided to keep my dinner light and save it for after when i am done jogging. I don't fancy eating heavy and then doing something physical after that. But i did treat myself to some pre-jogging calries... ie. ice cream at old town about 10 minutes before we left.

Anyway we arrived at Lake Gardens and waited for our friend who would join us after his Terawih prayers. Once he came, we did some quick warm ups and stretching and we were off. Just for the record, i usually only jog for about 3 to 4 km when i do my routine runs, and these guys were planning on 15km. Yikes. I did not do the full 15km unfortunately, but i did complete 6km. The furthest i have done so far and it felt good. So yeah... new milestone in running for me.

Anyway the route we chose was pretty good and had its fair share of uphills and downhills. It was pretty quiet and it was kinda nice to run at night.... yet another thing i have never done before. The temperature was far cooler than my usual evening jogs, so i believe that made a difference in how much i could run. Also, the company. Usually when i jog around my housing area, its either me by myself or just me and my wife. But this time, there were 4 of us and we were just chit chatting non stop, so that made a huge difference.

So after 2 rounds, one of my friends said his leg was hurting and wanted to stop. So i decided i would stop to as i don't want to over push my limits. I was feeling fine, but i thought this is my first run in the past 3 weeks (yes, i have been skipping my jogging sessions lately), so lets not push it. My wife and one more friend continued running for one more lap. So they completed 9km while me and another friend completed 6km.

My friend also introduced me to this Android App called Run Keeper, which tracks your timing and distance via GPS and gives you a full report after that. So you can see the full course you ran. I have downloaded it to my phone, and can't wait to try it out. Will update you on this once i try it out.

After the run, we had to go to a mamak and have teh tarik... after all, we had earned it right. While running, i told myself i would have one Maggi Goreng, but alas, i was destined not to eat that as they were all out. So i just shared a Mee Goreng with a friend.

All in all, it was a fun night and it was very different. I liked it. Not sure if i wanna do this every single weekend, but it sure is a fun thing to do with friends. Sorry, no pictures to share, but i will definitely take my camera for the next one. When? i am not sure yet. So what do you think of night runs? Any of you done anything crazy like this before? As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fitness Tips for Ramadhan: Working Out Part 2

Wow... time really flies. We have come to our final edition of fitness tips for the Month of Ramadhan. Last week we discussed which would be the best times to workout. This week, we will cover some general tips on working out during the month of Ramadhan. So hopefully these tips will help you to stay as active as possible during the month of Ramadhan.

Tip 1: Go Slow and expect a drop in performance
Because you are fasting, you may find it difficult to push yourself as you normally would during normal days. Hence i highly recommend that you consider turning your workout routine down one notch.

However, if you can still muster the same amount of effort during this fasting month, then by all means go ahead. This advice will be more helpful for people who may get demotivated when they see a drop in performance. Don't worry. Remember that you are fasting, and hence its OK to drop things down a notch for this month. You can then build yourself up again after that. So don't worry about it.

Tip 2: Fuel up after your workout
Regardless of whether your goal is gaining muscle or losing weight, it is very important that you fuel up after your workout. Hence, refer back to last weeks post and find a routine that works best for you. Preferably one that allows you to fuel up immediately after your workout. If you can't fuel up, your body will remain in a catabolic state and you will end up losing more muscle.

Tip 3: Hydration helps with performance
Its no doubt that staying hydrated during your workout makes a huge difference in your performance. Hence, once again, choose a time that will allow you to consume water so you can stay hydrated and get more from your workout. If you really can't fit it in, then try to workout just before Buka Puasa and make sure you fuel up on fluids as soon as you can after that

Tip 4: Gaining Muscle Mass
During the month of Ramadhan, its almost impossible for you to gain muscle mass. I tell many of my clients that if you can maintain what you have through out this month, its already more than good. So understand this and don't get demotivated. Just do your best to maintain what you have for this month and then you can go crazy after Raya. You may also notice a loss is strength, so you want to can consider reducing the weights and going for more reps during this month. Again, it may not be great for building muscle, but it will do great in helping you maintain as much as possible.

Tip 5: Weight Loss
The month of Ramadhan provides you with an excellent opportunity to lose a lot more weight than other months. Why? Because your caloric intake is less than usual. So use that to your advantage. If you follow my tips for Sahur & buka Puasa, i guarantee that you will lose weight especially once you throw is some exercise into the whole mix. So use it to your advantage.

Tip 6: Recovery may be slower
Because your body is deprived of nutrients, it may take longer for your body to recover than it would normally. So bear this in mind if you feel like your muscles are taking longer to recover, and hence you may not be able to train a specific body part as often or do the same exercise as often. So you may need to
a) space things out a little to allow more recovery time
b) move things around so you can add in some additional healing time
c) go slower so your muscles aren't taxed as much and hence you are able to hit it more often.

The important rule is listen to your body. Don't ignore the warning signs.

So there you have it. Some general rules / tips when it comes to working out during the month of Ramadhan. Always remember, that since you are fasting, your body will go through some physical changes as well, but if you know what to expect, you can work around it. At the end of the day, you can still work out during this month, but you must make some tweaks to your workout to ensure you get the most of it. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fitness Tips for Ramadhan: Working Out - Part 1

Working out during the month of Ramadhan is always a hot topic. I get many questions on this topic and the most frequent one is, when is the best time to workout. But before i go into that, another frequently asked question is, whether or not you should workout during the month of Ramadhan. My answer is, YES. It will be more challending to workout during the fasting month, but that does not mean you should give your body a month break. When it comes to working out during the fasting month, do bare in mind that the timing of when you are going to workout is going to be extremely important.

So below, i would like to share what some of my Muslim Fitness buddies do, and let you decide which is best for you, as well as sharing my opinion on each.

Working out before Sahur
One of my fitness buddies, likes to go for a run early in the morning, comes home, showers, has his Sahur and then begins his fast. This is an excellent idea but there are some challenges to this.
1) You have to wake up extremely early. He gets up at 4am. So this also means going to bead earlier or you will be zzzz for the rest of the day.
2) If you are lifting weights, i don't think any gym will be open at that time. But it is a great chance to do cardio, if that is your fitness goal.
3) I would not recommend this for muscle gaining workouts as after your post workout meal (which will be high is protein and calories), you will feel hungry again real soon within the next 3 to 4 hours. Depending on how heavy you are lifting, your body will need that much nutrition to help it fix itself. So if you can't supply it what it needs at that time, choose a better time.
4) This timing is fine if your goal is weight loss. This way you kick start your day in the right way, fuel up on some good food and then let your fasting do the rest.

Working out during Lunch Hour
I had another friend who would use his lunch hour to go workout and come back. His logic, since you can't eat anything, might as well put that lunch hour to productive use. My biggest concern with training at this hour is dehydration. And remember, you can't refuel your water till much much later. He told me its all in the mind, i don't know. I can guzzle down quite a bit of water when i workout. My other concern is nutrition after the workout. He was doing weights and i told him that the workout gets wasted if you can't fuel your body immediately after that. After a heavy lifting session, your body is highly catabolic and it needs loads of nutrition to shift it into an anabolic phase. Without food, your body will continue to be in a catabolic phase. But he said it makes no difference as all he was doing was maintenance workouts. I would not recommend this to anyone due to the 2 points i made above. But if you have tried this or will try it, do share your feedback with us. How it feels, how difficult it was and of course the results. Again, i would personally not recommend this to anyone.

Just before Buka Puasa
Here is one of my favourite times to workout. Just about an hour before you buka puasa. This way, you can give everything you got and guess what, you will get to load on up loads of food right after that. Also, doing your workout just before buka puasa also allows you really indulge in your buka puasa meal and not worry about gaining weight. Only concern i have is, that you will be very weak and tired by this time, so you will see significant drop in performance. But like i said, this would be my 2nd favourite choice to workout during the month of Ramadhan for the fact that you can fuel up almost immediately after that and that it helps to ward off fat storing when you do indulge.

Small Buka Puasa > Workout > Big feast
If you ask me, this is the best technique or time to workout. Many body builders i know practice this and they swear by it. When it comes time to buka puasa, they break fast with lots of water and have a small high protein meal. Eg. Tuna & Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread. Then after about 30 minutes, they hit the weight room and train like normal (or as normal as possible). Once they are done, then they go out for their big feast or the "real" buka puasa deal. This technique is the best becuase:
1) it allows you a chance to fuel your body before you workout, hence giving you a chance to perform at almost your normal level
2) You can drink water during your workout
3) You can push yourself as much as you want, because you can have a big feast after that.

This would be the best time to workout, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain. So open small, lots of fluids and some protein and carbs. Then workout as normal and then feed yourself accordingly after that. This is one of the preferred techniques for body builders as it allows them to train at almost the same intensity as they would during non fasting days. Also, it allows you to really fuel up after your workout.

So which timing / technique are you going to use during this fasting month. It will indeed be more challenging to workout during the month of Ramadhan, but as the saying goes, "if there is a will, there is a way." Does anyone have any other tips of working out during Ramadhan? Would love to hear about them. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.

PS: Next week, i will share some useful tips on working out during the month of Ramadhan, and hopefully that will further help you with your working out. So look out for it.