Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week #3: The HEAT was ON

The NightHawks transitioned from Night to Day conditioning in Week 3, and what a HOT day it turned out to be.  Once again, due to Sunday morning races, quite a number of NightHawks were unable to show up for training...but still, we had a reasonably good turnout from the committed flock who are determined to show that they can achieve their targeted marathon goals should they put their hearts and minds to it.

It was good that the participants were arriving earlier to training, giving all some time to prepare for the rigours of the long weekend run, with even some spare time leftover for us to practice some group chants and gestures for the customary pre-run 'attendance-taking' photos.

The skies were blue and clear as we headed down Fort Road and back for that initial 3km of getting the various pace groups into the groove and striding together along the pavements of the East Coast.  The BaseBuild zones & paces were kept to a tee, plus/minus a couple of seconds to cater for the occasional water stops and  breaks.

The NightHawks were already performing much better than when they started 3 weeks ago, with many able to contain their urges to surge, and going along with the prescribed training pace and effort.  

With improved running discipline, many of the runners were finding it easier to sustain the distances, although the morning's heat did throw in additional challenges to the runners, especially those who were not adequately hydrated and fueled up.

The first 70% of the run was generally well executed by most participants, save for the first-timers who have just joined and were probably not as well prepared as the more experienced trainees.  Given a few more sessions, the beginners will settle in nicely and be as conditioned as the rest of the flock.

After 2-3 hours of the endurance workout and heat conditioning, the NightHawks returned to the Nest, visibly tired and drained from the heat and humidity.  However, the spirits were high as they have conquered a tough run, and removed some of the 'weak thoughts' which could have stopped them short in their tracks.  The blessing in disguise is that such tough runs will serve to strengthen not only the physical condition of these marathoners, but also the mental abilities to complete the difficult tasks at hand.

The group training with like-minded and like-ability trainees within a group setting, led by experienced trainers and pacers who are always encouraging and motivating, have made such tough training sessions a lot more enjoyable with lots of fun and excitement.  This is evident in the good conversion rates of first-timers drop-ins who have gone on to sign up for the full structured program after just one trial run.

With a quarter of the program completed, the NightHawks are bracing themselves for the exciting long night run into the City in week #4.  Till then, all are advised to have a good recovery workout in the early part of the week, followed by the mix of tempo and hills runs to be done according to individual's own time and location.

The NightHawks Have Defeated The Heat!
Facebook photos from NightHawks Meng Kiat, Berno

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week #2: The Enchanting Night Run

It was moderately hazy in the later part of the week till the afternoon of the first night Long Run session, where light showers across the island cleared the skies and made for a crisp low-PSI night, just the kind that makes the more than 100 NightHawks turn up at Macritchie Reservoir (MR) Amenities Centre by 7:45pm.

For many, it was their maiden training session specifically for a night marathon, while others have not experienced running long distances in the green lung of Singapore in the night.  It was an adventure of sorts that many had been anticipating for the whole week, all eager to get in their first night long training run.

There was a buzz of activity at MR Amenities Centre, which normally see lower human traffic by 8:00pm.  The enthusiastic chatter of the of the NightHawks more than drowned the mic system we were using for briefings, not to mention the breaking of the quiet of the night - but then, it was a good thing as the adrenalin rush soon got all of us through our very first night run of 15km-23km.  It was not quite as easy as it seemed, as running in the night is really quite a different kettle of fish than daytime running.

After the usual training brief and group photos, the respective pace groups of trainers, pacers and trainees, many armed with lights and blinkers got off to a smooth start through the dark and onto the brightly lit Thomson Road, before turning into the quieter Lower Peirce Reservoir (LPR) Road, skirting Casuarina Road and then onto the Old Upper Thomson Road (OUTR).  

As we ran along OUTR, we could almost imagine how it was like in the old days where this place was a Grand Prix track and how the fast cars were zooming past to loud cheering fans.

As we enjoyed the serenity and peace of the night, we found enjoyment and unison running as groups with a purpose, in steps and paces at times, with the occasional commands of the NightHawk Pacers giving guidance on direction and safety.  

We found time to share our experiences as well as tips on night running, and for many of us, it was an interesting experience of learning about our own capacities and abilities to sustain good paces at night.

 While the Half Marathoners almost reached the end of OUTR before U-turning and heading back to base, the Full Marathoners moved towards Mandai Road and then onto Seletar Reservoir Park.  It was quite and beautiful at night as we ran past the brightly-lit driving range with the row of cars parked along the roadside, accompanied by the moonlit sky smiling upon us as we ran in groups to the toilet point at the top.

After a good break and filling up of water bottles, we made our way back via the slip-road by the Observation Tower.  The paces were still well maintained at BaseBuild effort when we entered back onto OUTR, which were sustained all the way back to MR.  

Because of the poor lighting at certain spots, coupled with the effects of tiring legs, there were a few tumbles and thankfully, there weren't any serious injuries other than a few cuts and bruises.  All these incidents do make night running more interesting, but at the same time serve as reminders that running at night do require extra doses of concentration, coupled with good proprioception abilities.

All the NightHawks returned by 11:15pm, which allowed the training to end sufficiently early for all to have a good wash-up before taking public transport back for home by the 'witching hour'.  As we looked back at this first session of night training, we were all smiles that we were able to complete with strength, although it turned out to be quite a challenge for some of us towards the end.  

The terrain and effects of the night did present obstacles, and we were glad that the NightHawks completed the Challenge in good form and high spirits.  The adrenalin rush post-run kept many wide-awake as they went their separate ways for supper or just a nice soak with R.I.C.E. treatment at home.

Dusk Came And The NightHawks Have Emerged!

Facebook photos by NightHawks CK ChinMeng Kiat

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ops NightHawk 2014: A Roaring Kick Off

Operation NightHawk got off on very firm footing on 9 March with an excellent turnout of new and returning runners for Team FatBird's 12-week night marathon training program to prepare for Asia's most exciting night marathon, the Sundown Marathon Singapore.

The skies were clear and the weather just nice for a morning Long Slow Distance (LSD).  As this was the kickoff session, we spent a bit of time briefing the trainees about Team FatBird's FlightZONES system, training schedules, training locations, pace groupings and various housekeeping procedures.

While there was a good crowd of new trainees, we were heartened to see many returning FatBirds, a number fresh from their recent Falcon 2XU Compression and overseas marathon exploits.  Their good performances from those earlier training operations have spurred them to come back for more of the group training and pacing that have kept them so motivated and able to deliver at marathon races.

This being the first session, we started off with a light menu of BaseBuild long run, with the intention to bring various participants of differing abilities and experiences to a more level playing field within each respective pace groups.  Occasional advice and tips were dispensed by the trainers and pacers, but generally we were focused on identifying what was needed to help the NightHawk trainees meet their respective Sundown Marathon goals.  

If there was a need to change groupings, or just to be better equipped for distance running, or just some minor corrections of running form and sometimes paces, our experienced team of trainers and pacers were on hand to give guidance and motivation.

The sun did come on pretty strong midway, but it provided a good 'jolt' to the NightHawks that weather changes mid run could affect ability to keep sustained paces, and that adopting proper hydration habits can help to provide the additional edge during training, resulting in efficient hydration and fuel management that is so important for race success.

The first training session ended within 2.5hours, which is the maximum time we set for completion of this first weekend LSD in order that all are not overly taxed, and yet providing sufficient 'time-on-feet' exposure to all.  Moving forward, we will be progressively increasing distances and paces, including quite a number of night training sessions for better conditioning of running a Night Marathon.

The NightHawks Got Off To A Roaring Start!

There are still a number of Operation NightHawk training packages with come with training and finisher tops, special equipping discounts, in addition to the comprehensive 12-week night training program of weekly training schedules and tips - Check It Out HERE for details and Registration!

Facebook Photos @ FatBirds CK Chin & Meng Kiat