February 2018: Worst workout month in 2 years

February 2018 has got to be the worst workout month since I started keeping track of my workouts sometime end-2015. Only 2 proper workouts and one “cheating” workout. Lately, I realised that I have been down with minor cough and cold quite often. This month alone I was sick twice and over several days each time. It’s not really the out-of-commission type of illness, but minor colds. I used to think that I don’t get sick often and if I do, I would recover quickly. I’m not so sure anymore…

February 2018 Fitness Tracker
*7 Feb 9:50pm 29:00 FB stretching, pilates, yoga workout blend — First workout for February, and a “cheating” one at that. Too much work and fell sick during the weekend and have not recovered from too much work yet…so sad…

*11 Feb 4:54pm 46:00 *320cal Ave123 Max151 FB FB Burn2 Day 17 Total body strength – general lethargy, just want to sit and around and do nothing

*28 Feb 9:31pm 34:00 *238cal Ave123 Max145 FB strong lean toned arms chest and shoulders workout – even doing warm-up jumping jacks was tiring

January 2018 Fitness Tracker

*1 Jan 5:33pm 1:34:00 *773cal Ave134 Max162 — FB 1000 Calorie workout — Great start to a new year!
*6 Jan 9:05pm 1:09:00 *527cal Ave129 Max159 — FB Strong & Lean Challenge Day 1 lower body
*8 Jan 9:30pm 43:00 *302cal Ave123 Max153 — FB Burn2 Day2 Upper body + Core
*9 Jan 9:35pm 46:00 *271cal Ave113 Max150 — FB Burn2 Day3 Lower body strength + Pilates — didn’t push myself to increase dumbbell weights to my limit
*10 Jan 9:16pm 46:00 *226cal Ave103 Max124 — FB Burn2 Day4 Dynamic upper body strength — Not many calories burned but arms are super tired
*14 Jan 8:13pm 31:00 FB Burn2 Day7 Fluid full body stretches — Still don’t feel so good, since last Thursday. Or it might be the cold lazy weather.
*15 Jan 9:28pm 49:43 *389cal Ave131 Max163 — FB Burn2 Day8 HIIT + Lower body strength — This one is difficult: with dumbbells, squat, L lunge, squat, R lunge (10x), so that’s like 20 squats, 20 lunges, and then a 2nd round 🙁
*17 Jan 9:17pm 37:30 *218cal Ave112 Max141 FB Burn2 Day9 Dynamic upper body strength

What happened to 18-27 Jan??!

*28 Jan 6:48pm 43:00 *206cal Ave103 Max131 FB Burn2 Day11 Upper body supersets — I think for chest press I can try 7.5kg per hand next time.
*30 Jan 9:44pm 40:00 *335cal Ave136 Max160 FB Burn2 Day12 Lower body strength + HIIT — Got my heart pumping pumping!

Ten workouts in a month with an 11-day break in the middle of the month. I guess this is a below average workout achievement. I wanted to add one last workout today but the super blue blood moon zapped all my energy today.

December 2017 Fitness Tracker

* 2 Dec 6:29pm 49:00 *374cal Ave129 Max163 — FB HIIT cardio & upper body workout
* 3 Dec 4:18pm 49:00 *360cal Ave126 Max155 — FB Brutal butt & thigh workout — I did it!
* 11 Dec 6:47pm 49:00 *237cal Ave103 Max125 — FB Upper body workout for people who get bored easily — Slowly getting back into routine.
* 16 Dec 5:40pm 41:00 *326cal Ave132 Max161 — FB Best butt workout — Felt so out of shape after several days of cough and congestion 🙁
* 17 Dec 3:26pm 54:00 *385cal Ave124 Max159 — FB Abs workout for people who get bored easily + Fast paced total body cardio & strength workout
* 19 Dec 7:22pm 35:01 *256cal Ave126 Max157 — Day 2: FB Upper body workout challenge for busy people — surprisingly I could do the tricep dips

I’m tired of posting my monthly fitness trackers on Facebook. Noone’s really that interested in seeing how many workouts I had or how many calories that I burned. But I still like to keep track of that, so I’m moving the fitness trackers here.

December 2017 wasn’t a productive fitness month. Two trips to Malaysia truncated my month, and lots of excuses and laziness.

I’m going to start off 2018 magnificently with a 1000-calorie workout on new year’s day!

Fitness Quest

I changed the category of “Running Quest” to “Fitness Quest” since I don’t run anymore.

Last November, I discovered FitnessBlender.com and I have been consistently doing their workouts at home. Working out at home is great because I don’t have to spend 2-3 hours traveling time to get to the gym and back.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated some workout gears. Some of which were actually shipped to Singapore from the US over four years ago. I like the FitnessBlender videos. The structure is easy to follow, but the workouts can be quite tough. But I can feel that I’m getting better at it.



I am still going to the gym for group classes, particularly for Body Pump and RPM during the weekends. Eventhough I burn about the same amount of calories both with FitnessBlender and the gym classes, I think my muscles are more sore from gym classes. I slack off more at home.

I definitely enjoy the strength training workouts much more than an hour on the treadmill. I still like the idea of running, but I just haven’t been able to consistently run so that I won’t feel like my heart will jump out of my chest even when I’m doing my slow shuffle. I think my knees also can’t handle the pounding much now.

NYC Marathon 2009

I just found out that I’ve been accepted to the ING New York City Marathon 2009. Since there’s always a very large pool of applicants, there is a lottery system for the entry to this marathon. I submitted my application sometime in May, right after watching the four Biggest Loser semi-finalist complete their first marathon.

If they can do it, maybe I can do it too…

It’s only after I submitted my application that it sort of dawned on me that I’ve entered into a contract that if I am chosen, I’ll be paying $171 for the marathon fee. If I back out, I would have paid $171 for nothing.

Just before the lottery results were announced, I started to doubt this spur of the moment decision. A marathon…6 hours of pain on marathon day, not to mention the discomfort of over 16 weeks of training to run 26.2 miles. I think I was hoping that I would not be chosen.

But I was chosen, so it’s a bittersweet thing. Sort of like “Yayyy!!! Oh no….”

I’m kind of excited that I have the opportunity to participate in the NYC Marathon. If I can endure through 6 years of graduate school in the US (so far) and the chronic stress of dissertation research for the past year and probably another 8 more months to go, I can endure 6 hours of running/walking. It’ll be great that when I finally reach the finish line because then I would have completed something from start to finish this year.

Dissertation research can get very disappointing, especially when it drags on and on and each day only results in one data point. So many more uncertain days to go. It’s also sad when I see friends finishing their research and graduating and I’m still here, struggling through another day for another data point.

I guess I’m trying to run off the frustration!

Anyway, here is my brand new marathon training blog: Run Ailsa Run

Running again

I thought I’ve given up on running since my right knee hurts when I ran. But after talking to another runner friend, I realized that my running shoes may be expiring thus causing all the problems. So I got a new pair of running shoes and tried to run again and so far so good. Surprisingly, after 2 months of spinning classes, my heart and lungs are coping slightly better when I run.

Nowadays, when I go out for a walk/run, besides my nike+ipod, I’ll also put on my Timex heart rate monitor (HRM). So many gadgets for such slow running 🙂 but I really do like the numbers and stats. Here is a summary from both gadgets for today’s run:

Time: 1:17′ 46″
Distance: 8.33 km
Average pace: 9’19″/km
Calories: 557

Timex HRM
Time: 1:20′ 54″
Average heart rate: 151
Peak HR: 184 (too high: a clear indicator that running is still not easy for me)
Minimum HR: 86
Calories: 1088

The calorie count on the Timex HRM is definitely off. The nike+ipod calorie counter is more accurate. I wish the HRM calorie count was accurate though. 1088 calories is about equal to the BK Whopper plus medium French fries that I had for lunch 2 days ago 🙁

I found another feather today. To make my runs less boring, I scan the grounds for feathers and golf balls. Five feathers and four golf balls so far.

Spinning again

Spinning (Indoor cycling): I absolutely love it. I’m not sure why I like it so much. During spinning, I have to physically work really hard, but at the same time, the rhythm of the cycling movements is very relaxing.

It is also a relatively “easy” form of exercise. Since I am controlling the resistance of the spinner (stationary bike), if it gets too tough, I can turn down the resistance or cycle slower. And there’s no choreography or movements to memorize (such as those in dance or aerobic classes).

Spinning is definitely less strenuous than running. Running is hard. I think I have given up on running. I started running just to push myself to do something that I never thought I would do. Even though I ran consistently for many months, I don’t think I really enjoyed running. I was slow and it was really tough mentally and physically to keep going and going.

Yeah, I love spinning 🙂

Oh, did I mention that I was in extreme pain after my first spinning class? And the extreme pain lasted 4 days!

My legs (especially my thighs) hurt so bad. It was painful to stand up. It was painful to sit down. It was painful to walk. It was painful to go down the stairs. It was painful to get into my car. I could hardly sleep because of the pain. I never imagined cycling could cause such intense chronic pain.

Thankfully, the pain went away after 1 week. Now spinning is pure enjoyment. However, it’s hard to sell spinning to my friends. I tell them it will hurt like crazy for 1 week but they will really like it after that. But my descriptions of my extremely painful week must be scaring them off.

Or maybe it is this Danish instructor that is scaring everyone away from spinning? 🙂


I’ve stopped running for quite a while now. My right knee hurts when I run, and even after a prolonged period of no running, it still kind of hurts when I try and run. So I’ve sort of given up on running. Nowadays, if I do go out to the trail, I’ll do intervals of fast and slow walks (e.g., 3 minutes of brisk walk followed by 2 minutes of relaxed walk).

And for the summer, I signed up for a spinning class. What is spinning?

Spinning is an aerobic exercise that takes place on a specially designed stationary bicycle called (obviously enough) a spinning bike. As you pedal, motivating music plays and the instructor talks you through a visualization of an outdoor cycling workout: “You’re going up a long hill now, you can’t see the top yet.” During the class you vary your pace — sometimes pedaling as fast as you can, other times cranking up the tension and pedaling slowly from a standing position. This helps you to focus inwardly and work on your mind as well as your body. (Neporent & Chiocchi)

That’s just a picture I got off the web, and it’s not the gym at Lehigh.

Today, I went for my very first spinning class. Totally clueless about how to set up the bike. After a short lesson from the instructor, I was ready.

And she started:
Turn up the resistance, stand up and “run”
Let’s do 30 seconds.
Reduce the resistance, and “sprint”
Turn up the resistance, run and place your hands at the top of the handlebar.
Repeat 3 times.

And me:
Ouch! My thigh hurts 🙁
OK, I got to sit and pedal, the “run” is too tiring.

And she went on:
One more round, and we’re done with the warm-up.

And me:
What??!! That’s only the warm-up??!! Oh, no, what have I done? This spinning class might turn out to be not such a great idea after all…

And she:
OK, now we’re going to some jumping.

And me:
How on earth do you jump of a stationary bike?!

Surprisingly, I slowly adapted and managed to last till the end of the 1 hour class. When I got off the bike, my thighs felt numb. And when I walked, I felt like my legs would give way and I would crumple to the ground. But I managed to walk to the car. I wasn’t even sure if I could step on the accelerator and brakes properly. And I drove, up the mountain, down the mountain, all the way home.

Since the campus is located in a hilly area, I would often see cyclists slowly riding up the steep hill. Whenever I see one cyclist making his or her way up the hill, I would think, “These people are crazy. I would never ever attempt to ride up this hill, in the name of fitness or challenge or whatever. That’s just too much of a torture.”

Today, I spent an hour cycling on a stationary bike, going nowhere, making my way up imaginary steep hills. And at the end of it, I drove up over a small mountain to get home. How ironic! I guess I’m the really crazy one here…

Spinning terms:
Run = cycling while standing up on the pedals
Sprint = cycle as fast as you can
Jump = intervals of standing and sitting while pedaling

Will write for free stuff!

Last week I got an email from the Shoewallet.com company. I bought a shoewallet from them that’s probably how I ended up being in the mailing list. The first part of their email was about a special 10% discount, which I thought isn’t such a big deal. Besides, the shoewallet that I have is well-made and from the looks of it, it will probably last the whole of my running “career”. But the email continued on and I read this:


Free Shoewallet Offer

Did you know your word of mouth is what continues to help active people learn that our Shoewallets are available to solve their headaches of where to carry cash, keys, ID, credit cards while on the go? Help us build the momentum by talking about us at Amazon.com, Facebook, Myspace, Squidoo, Blogs, Newsletters, Health & Wellness programs at work, etc.

*When you do, just send us the link(s) where you talked about us. Be sure to include your Shipping address and we’ll immediately send you a Free Shoewallet at $0.00 charge.


I’ll definitely write something for a free shoewallet. I quickly took a picture of the shoewallet attached to my shoe, uploaded the photo, and then wrote this and posted on this blog. I sent the link of my blog to the shoewallet company and they replied almost immediately that they’ll send the free shoewallet the next day!

I still can’t get over this free shoewallet offer. It’s like it’s too good to be true. But here it is – the free shoewallet. It arrived today and it’s on its way to my Tai-Lo in Malaysia: a non-surprise Christmas gift.