Tag Archives: Training

Camp and the rest of it all

Went into camp with a positive frame of mind, both physically and mentally. The bulk of the work has been done and what I needed more was familiarity, with all the elements of the track, equipment especially. I probably should have psyched myself a little better because by the third day in, I was beating myself up pretty badly for the lack lustre times. Somehow I’ve always managed to screw things up between the ears. Maybe I’m not as mentally tough as I think I am. Okay, obviously I’m not.
As our host starts to prepare itself for the Bangkok edition of the Track Asia Cup, I can’t help but sense that the feeling of elitism is very much still present. I miss having that team element. Hell the last time I ever felt like I was in one was back in 2010, 2011 with Mercs.
It was great to touch base with my mentor and to hear of some awesome news. Words of encouragement from people you trust goes a long way.

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Is it a level playing field

In sports, often or not, it’s unlikely a level playing field. At an elite or high competitive level, where top honours is at stake, the intrinsic or sometimes even tangible advantage is usually the make or break. Perseverance and determination is the building block for a tough athlete. But let’s face it, in this day and age, there is no middle ground. You either make or break. Your pat on the back is forgotten as quickly as the pat itself.

If you’re deemed to have natural talent, you’ll be served up on a silver platter. That’s talent ID. You’ll have all the resources at your disposal to develop that talent. That’s as good as a 30m head start in a 100m race. I was going to say 50m, but let’s be as objective as possible. How you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point. The talent to suck up to people is also a talent by the way.

Getting into recreational sports and fitness, like competitive sport is all about how deep your pocket is. Gym memberships, exercise classes, proper coaching, injury prevention, equipment, use of facilities, going to races.The budget competitive athlete and/or recreational go-getter is tied to whatever budget he/she has. So if you’re born to a silver platter, but is a late bloomer, you still have a head start. Again, how you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point.

The rest who are not and don’t display signs of natural talent are basically left with the message: Spend your life earning the big bucks and you’ll be able to afford whatever toys you want in the future and your kids might have a chance to be an elite athlete.

Even when we look at it on a global scale, depth of pocket is one of the major factors in elite performance. The more money you pump in, the higher the chances of bringing back silverware. Again, how you choose to run the rest of the race is besides the point.

The against-all-odds stories gives people a sense of hope. But it should not be used as a primary source of motivation because these cases are far from being the majority. Not only that, its effect varies across different sporting cultures and environment. Hard work pays off. Its how you choose to run the rest of the race. If you start the race 30m behind, is hard work going to be enough? What are the chances that everyone else you’re racing against isn’t working their butt off? Because at the end of the race, your hard work will be forgotten as quickly as the hand shake you get.

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Just ride your bike

After a slight mishap with a vehicle on the road three weeks ago, everything is back in full swing. The scabs have all fallen off, the bruises have faded away. I’m glad I walked away from that. No matter how light the accident may be, never take it for granted that you’re able to get back on the saddle.
The new 11-speed components are pretty swanky. Though just minor improvements, the gains are pretty significant, in my not-so-professional opinion.
With sponsor’s commitments, riding hours are limited to before 12pm. You can do heaps before 12pm, if you’re up at 5am. Four hours on the road and still have time to make eggs and a second cuppa. Or a lung bursting, leg screaming sess on the wind trainer plus two hours on the road before heading into work. Or some big squats and deadlifts. Less of the bench presses nowadays.
Not getting too caught up with marginal gains. I’m keeping it simple: HR monitor, cadence sensor, get it right between the ears. Counting down to the Wintet GP.

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4 weeks on

It’s been one heck of a roller coaster the past 4 weeks. I have had time to reflect on my time back at the CCC Shuzenji training camp but recently I find myself trying to keep my mind free of anything training related when I have any bit of downtime. Maybe it’s because there hasn’t been any exciting developments to talk about, just plenty of what-ifs.

I definitely kicked some goals at the end of my two weeks at Shuzenji. We were fortunate enough to be allowed by the JBCF to do a flying 200 and kilo time trial in an actual race setting. Having to go through the proper race proceedings was good practice for me. The result however left me quite deflated. I was all over the place in the kilo and couldn’t hold my line. My flying 200 was just as disappointing. I made used of that second week to nail those key aspects of my riding that really needed to be addressed: posture, leg speed, handling. I stuck at it, and my training times consistently went down as well. At the end of it, I definitely came out a better rider and I have the coaches at CCC Shuzenji to thank for that.

Coming back to Perth was a good test to see how far I have come. I started out at the Speed Dome, and the locals will be able to see if there is any improvement, or not. The first thing that hit me was that the pace has definitely stepped up a lot from the last time I was here. I had a quick catch up with Travis the first few nights at the track and he mentioned it as well. It took me about a week to find my race legs as well as get used to bunch riding on the track again, which meant I didn’t do too well in the Keirin at the State Championships. Disappointed yes, but I knew I had focus on the coming couple of weeks. I started the week really well, kicked plenty of goals at track sessions and was looking forward to the weekend to finish up state champs with something to cheer about. But my luck ran out and I had to wake up in the middle of a Thursday night scrambling for lacteol fort and panadol. Friday was a complete wipe off as I slept the entire day, waking up at 3 hour intervals just to eat and take meds. Fortunately, all was not lost. I still rode the sprint and the kilo. Though I was still a little woozy on Saturday.

I’ve got another week of track sessions and a Wattbike test with Andrew on Wednesday which I’m really looking forward to. Apologies for the lack of photos. When you travel to train and race solo, it’s not quite as convenient to go around snapping pictures with my phone. But I’ll try to get some cool visuals up.

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Konichiwa

I’m glad I’ve made it back to Izu Velodrome for CCC Shuzenji’s second training camp for the year. The past few weeks have been a little crazy. There was certainly no resting after a less than satisfying display at the Track Asia Cup. I’m still looking for that breakthrough on the bike I need to mix it up with the big boys. I remember my time at Mercantile with Sandy, when I finally started to feel some blade work and actually move the boat properly. Not quite the same equipment, but I’m determined to find that same element which will get me the speed I need on the bike

The sessions with Louis on the road definitely helped upped my game. Working on acceleration on the road with a racing track bike isn’t exactly the easiest thing to put together, in particular the logistics, considering I do not own a 4-door vehicle. With the recent videos of cyclists circulating around the Facebook hemisphere, location was our main concern. Huge thanks to Louis for taking time out to put it together. I owe him heaps.

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The CCC Shuzenji training camp was initially a no-go for me. I just haven’t been working enough to save up moolah for it. I decided to move on and I’m looking elsewhere for a more supportive work environment. Fortunately I managed to pull together enough in the nick of time and so here I am.

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One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a cold two weeks.

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Kicking goals

This week has been all about sticking to the plan, with a clear idea what the objective of each session on the bike and in the weights room is for. The toughest part is execution. Discipline is always a matter of choice. For me, the challenges of not having a coach dishing out the workouts is the toughest obstacle to tackle. “Am I doing the appropriate session? What is the session for? Should I be doing something else instead? Is this going to benefit me?” These may sound like easy questions. If they were, there would be a lot more self-coached World/Olympic champions.

I find it really helps by zooming in on what is the most important thing I need to work on. What is limiting me in getting my maximum speed up: leg speed. With that in mind, certain aspects have to take a back seat for the moment. For the uninitiated, cycling is simple. Competitive cycling on the other hand can be a little more complicated.

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Avoid collecting empty miles. Have an objective the next time you hop on the bike, if you haven’t been setting yourself one. It also helps keep your mind in check, if in case there isn’t a scenery like this one.

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rollers, needles, wake-up call

The ever-present challenges in competitive sport always seem to hit me the hardest when I’m down. Things looked like it was going to pick up coming back from the Southeast Asia GP in KL, which now seems like eons ago. I continue to adapt to my training environment at home by making the most out of what I have and focusing on what needs to be worked on. Roller sessions have now become a regular thing for me. Not good news for my rusty, not-so-trusty ol’ e-motion rollers as the elastic band decided to snap. I wasn’t about to let her retire as I didn’t even have enough moolah on hand to buy myself another set of rollers. If cable ties can hold MRT tracks in place, I’m sure it can secure a roller frame. So the no-motion is back in business.

Just as I’ve solved one problem, a back injury decided to haunt me again. I won’t bore you with the how it happened this time, but I didn’t get it fixed the last time. Time will heal all wounds obviously didn’t come true. You must be thinking why I didn’t get it fixed the last time? Reminder, even though I have ridden with national colors, I’m recognized by the federation, but literally non-existent to big brother. Private consults don’t come cheap and I needed every penny I had to make it to the Continental Cycling Center Shuzenji. In times like these, prioritizing was crucial. I made the calculated decision to rest it off, which I do NOT regret. As a part-time joe worker, I got enough hours in to afford to get it properly sorted out. After some needles by Dr.Cormac at The Belle Clinic and a physio session by Kelvin, I can now bend my back properly again.

The physio session with Kelvin was timely. I needed that slap to the head about how I approached my trainings. I had lost focus on the little thing that mattered, control. Like when I was in the boat, going about solo has taken its toll on me. In my opinion, it is quite impossible for someone to compete at an elite level without systematic, structured, professional support. Athletes who have been fully supported before will grow when the support is taken away. With new found discipline and appreciation, there lies the opportunity to improve by leaps and bound when they are able to have that support team around them again. The same for athletes who have had to work their own way into the system. The question is, what level should the athlete be at in order to deserve national support? Going private is always an alternative, if you can afford it. You can even buy some medals if you have spare change.

I have always been a believer that we got to get out there and make it happen. I’m sad and disappointed to admit that for the past couple weeks the drive had slipped and I drifted a little to the dark side. There are many factors to blame, the only one worth mentioning is myself. It’s time to get back out there again, knock on plenty of doors and get back on track. (punt intended)

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Heading in the right direction. Wait, is my compass working properly

It’s a wrap at the Continental Cycling Center Shuzenji. I did say that my time there passed slower than I expected, but that was only during the first week. As we moved into the second week, the days seemed to be on autopilot. We moved on to our aero bars and before I know it, we were told to prepare for our time trials. We did have a day off in the middle to take in the sights at Hakone, which us and the Hong Kong riders and Hiro (Female Pro Keirin rider!!) had badly needed at that time. The Kazhaks only arrived at the end of the first week. The training was systematic, the coaching was brilliant, and we were well fed. I might have to start learning Japanese if I plan to go back. The hotel, named Cytel (think cyclist hotel), had a few other guests attending a road race over the weekend, one of whom happened to be the famous pedal-strike.com (twitter). There was also a group of Pro Keirin riders and the Japan National futsal team came the second week we were there.

Photos courtesy of Izu Velodrome

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I came out of CCC Shuzenji with familiarity on the track. That might sound like a no-brainer but I can assure you it is not. I was an absolutely wrecked on the bike on my first days. The structured program, everything from warmup to working sets to cool down between sets, to cool down at the end was a routine which I really missed having and needed as there isn’t a track at home. Routine breeds familiarity which will help gain confidence and I needed that. I have to be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with my time trial results, especially the flying 200. I was mentally and most certainly physically prepared, but excitement got the better of me as I didn’t keep enough of my weight on the rear wheel and the wheel skipped on me, twice, when I came out of turn 2 going into the back straight. Process just went straight out the backdoor. Great.

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The 2-week training camp would be put to the test as we decided to head up to Kuala Lumpar for the 2nd Southeast Asian Grand Prix at the Cheras Velodrome. A little last minute, but we managed to get in on it. So it was a 3am arrival in Singapore for me, and off again at 6:30am as we drove our way up. As we had already missed the first day of the race (racing started on the 8th, we only flew into Singapore on the 9th), I wasn’t able to get in on the sprint qualification, another go at the flying 200. In the Keirin, it was a learning experience. With that familiarity on the track and on the bike, I was able to be in the mix, but I missed out on making the second round due to a lack of experience

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Photo courtesy of Josiah Ng

Things are certainly moving forward. Our coaches at CCC Shuzenji constantly remind us to take back what we have learn and continue to practice when we head back. There are limitations here at home in terms of the things which I need to work on, but there are also aspects which I can make sure I put in the 10,000-hour rule. Their school of thought is tried, tested and proven and I will take it with me where ever I go. Thank you Yajima-San, Kato-San, Hagihara-San, Nado-San, Koba-San and Fujii-San (I really hope I haven’t missed out anyone!!) for believing that age is not a determining factor. Though they don’t say much, I can sense their belief, attentiveness, eye-for-detail and eagerness to help us improve. I hope that they in turn have been able to take something back as well.

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Big shoutout to Maxinutrition, The Sufferfest (their kit was rockin it big time at the Izu Velodrome), Rudy Project Singapore, Compressport Singapore, G8 Performance, Athlete Lab and Wilier Triestina. Their unwavering support is what helps me to focus on putting in the hard yards. Thank you!

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back in the grind

So I was informed at the 11th hour, literally, that due to unforeseen circumstances, the Malaysian NSC track series was postponed. No racing opportunities there unfortunately. However, good news came in the form of acceptance to a 2-week training camp at the Continental Cycling Center Shuzenji in Japan. That was definitely more exciting as I am really looking forward to getting my track skills up to speed with, in my opinion, the people who are technically the best in the business. No one rides track more beautifully than the Japanese (Apart from the British of course). The itinerary and training schedule certainly looks like something I will benefit a lot from. Which is why these couple months i’m focusing a lot on getting really fit and strong in all aspects for the camp. Anaerobic intervals, sprint intervals, aerobic intervals, weights, road ks, everything in at the moment.
I’m in the process of getting some great new stuff from The Runner’s Gait (here if you don’t have fb) and The Sufferfest, to sort out the logistics for the trip.

You get the hang of managing work around training hours with practice. Time managment and prioritizing are key. Plenty of coffee certainly helps.

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Just another day in the office with The Sufferfest.

When work is done, it’s my turn.

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Soldier on!

Nothing exciting to report about my time at the Asian championships in New Delhi. Didn’t manage to make semis. Though it was a short campaign, experience gained was invaluable. What I focused most on were all the processes involved. From pre-race warmups, making the start line and what I wanted to do in the race. Other than getting faster, there are certainly still plenty of things to work on as I was without a doubt hit by nerves at the start line during my heat.

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I could not have prepared any better considering the circumstances. Moving forward,the challenges remain the same: lack of funds to travel overseas for races. There are a few exciting prospects lined up with an opportunity to spend two weeks at the Continental Cycling Centre in Shuzenji being on top of the list. With the chance to get supervised, structured coaching in the fundamentals of track riding, this is something that would give me a clear and accurate perspective on what I should be focusing on.
The Malaysian NSC Track Series 2013, organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation is just around the corner in April. With series 1 and 2 just a day apart, it is an excellent opportunity to attend two races in a span of a week. We are waiting for details to be finalized and race expenses will determine if I will attend both series, or load up on events in just one series.

Huge thank you to all my sponsors, Rudy Project, Maximuscle and Maixfuel, Compressport, G8 Performance, Athlete Lab, The Sufferfest and Wilier Triestina for all the amazing support, and to those who contributed to my first fund raising project, Thank You! I would not have made the start line in New Delhi if it wasn’t for every single one of you. ‘Dare to Dream’ tees are still available if you would like to show our support. Each are going at $30 SGD and it will go a long way towards my race expenses. You can get them from The Runner’s Gait as well.

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Some might have read about the major new initiative to Singapore sports that has been recently launched. You can read about it here.
http://app.mccy.gov.sg/Portals/1/Summary/Pressroom/Factsheet%20-%20High%20Performance%20System%20(15%20Mar).pdf

It’s a sliver lining and it would be a major boost in support when it starts to takes shape. I’m not jumping out of my seat as yet because it hasn’t filtered down to the athletes yet, or at least at my level. I’m all about the details. I’ve matured, grown and developed as an athlete not because of the system, but because I fight for what I believe in.

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