About Weekend Runner

Ainaa Samsudin // Athlete Wannabe // Ultramarathon Finisher // Occasional Traveler // FurMommy to a Kitty // Corporate Ladder Climber

Do’s and Don’ts when travelling in Xi’an, China

If your New Year Resolution is to travel more and explore the great outdoors, then Nashata’s blog is the right page to follow. For 2019, I am delighted to share my experiences. Traveling and the great outdoors not only enriches our lives – it is also encouraged by our religion to explore: “It is He who made the earth tame for you – so walk among its slopes and eat of His provision – and to Him is the resurrection.” – Surah Al-Mulk, 15.

So exploring did we go. For this episode of traveling, we went to Xi’an to experience winter in China. As one of the few Muslim-friendly places in China, I highly recommend for anyone to come here. To make your traveling experiences easier if you want to come here, I have summarized a list of Do’s and Don’ts:

DO’S

  1. Go to the historical sites
  • As one of the ancient capitals of China, Xi’an has witnessed various dynasties, with emperors trying to outdo each other with their palaces, defense structures, and tombs. A historical place that you must not miss is the Terracotta Army.

  • Xi’an is also said to be the starting point of the Silk Road. So immerse yourself in the unique local culture that is a product of thousands of years of intermingling with India, Mongolia, Persian, Arabs, and Greeks. A cultural place that you must not miss is the Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque of Xi’an.

2. Thorough research

  • Read on historical sites to gain appreciation of their significance
  • Find a reputable hotel with a strategic location, preferably near landmarks in the city centre like the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, or Muslim Quarter.
  • As China is moving towards a cashless society, credit cards and debit cards are phasing out. Ironically, travelers will need extra cash because we could not use the cashless system as we do not have a local bank account. So make sure you budget accordingly.

3. Try the local food

  • The Muslim population in Xi’an is sizable, thus, there are many halal options. Most of the items listed are easily found in the Muslim Quarter, but there are many halal restaurants out of the city too. Top 5 food you must not miss are:

    Dumpling soup

    Lamb Kebabs

    Yangrou Paomao

    Biangbiang noodles

    Roujiamao

DON’T….

  1. Go shopping
  • Most of the products is not that unique and mass produced. In fact, I saw the same handicraft that was available in Bangkok, Phuket, Indonesia, etc, It looks like everything produced in this world really are “Made in China”!

2. Never forget to bring tissues

  • Always pack wet tissues and dry tissues
  • Soap is not widely available at most toilets

3. Don’t expect everyone to understand English

  • Unfortunately, I don’t speak and read a word of Mandarin. And English is not widely spoken in Xi’an. There will be moments of frustration when people don’t understand. To overcome the language barrier, download a Mandarin-English translation app.

 

How to be an eco-friendly runner

I was inspired by my recent event called National Geographic Earth Day Run to become a more environment-conscious runner. True to its theme, the run has taken efforts to minimize waste, keeping the environment clean, and ensuring the event is as environmentally-friendly as possible.

As a runner, sustainable living is very easy to start. You don’t have to buy expensive organic food, or turn into a vegetarian (although this is highly encouraged!), or give up your current lifestyle that is accustomed to modern amenities.

These 3 simple tips can help you make the Earth a better place while still enjoying your passion for running:

 

  • Bring Your Own Bottle

This is commonly implemented at trail runs, however it is not yet common for road races. This is a great idea because water stations will be clean without cups littering the road. The only trash collected at the water stations will be mostly bananas or energy gel, and this will minimize the volunteers needed to clean up the roads after an event.

During your long run LSD, bringing your own bottle ensures that you remain focused. You can save time by not needing to stop at convenient stores along your training route. You are also free to plan your own routes without worrying if you have enough water to sustain the long run training.

Water station at this event was one of the cleanest that I have ever seen.  There is almost no trash!

Any water bottle will do, however it is advisable to invest in a bottle that has a handle or belt attached. Keeping your hands free will make your runs significantly more comfortable.

  • Buy your supply in bulk

Instead of buying single servings for your energy gels, energy drink, and recovery drink, buy a tub or a bin that will last for several servings. This is a great idea because it will eliminate single-use packaging, such as plastic wrappings. It might be a big amount to spend initially, but the cost per serving will be significantly cheaper.

It is a bit of a hassle since you have to take time to mix your own energy drink/gel. However you will save money in the long run.

Not affiliated with Hammer Gel, but this is an example of how your cost per serving will be cheaper when purchasing in bulk:

  • Carpool to events or training venues

This is a great idea because it cuts down the number of vehicles on the road. Lesser vehicles means decreased harmful gasses emission such as carbon dioxide, which is a significant contributor to global warming. Parking at event venues will be easier too as there were reduced number of cars. Or better yet, take the public transport and you don’t have to worry about parking at all.

Not only is carpooling beneficial to the environment, it is also good for your too. You will save money because you can share the cost of gas and toll. Not to mention, they will have company to ensure that you get to the race venue in time

  • Plus point: Organizers set up recycling bins

Based on my observation, one of the biggest trash sources from an event are the freebies and the refreshment. To tackle that problem, they did not give any bags at the finishing line – just a medal and a fruit. Should participants be interested to collect freebies from the sponsor tents, they can throw the packaging or plastic away inside these recycling bins.

On top of that, this event has carefully selected banana to give away at the finishing line, so they have set up a compost bin (not in this photo) for organic waste.

Running shoes: Minimalist VS Normal

Do you feel overwhelmed by choices when choosing running shoes? Should you go for cushioned shoes? Or light-weight shoes? How do you choose what type of shoes are right for you? Do you have various types of shoes in your closet, yet unsure about which shoes should you wear for this weekend’s big race?

Based on my general observation, there are 2 types of running shoes in the market: Minimalist shoes or regular, cushioned shoes. Regular shoes are equipped with the padding and support required to cushion the impact of running. Their soles are thick. While minimalist running shoes are the exact opposite – they are very light, thin, and flexible. Minimalist shoes mimic the feeling of running barefoot with almost no cushioning.

Traditionally, people have been running barefoot for years. From that ideology, running professionals and designers came up with the idea for minimalist shoes. For every research and data that supports minimalist shoes, there are equal papers and numbers that shows otherwise. Some say that cushioned shoes prevent injury, allows you to run longer, and it is ‘safer’. However, I have also observed fellow runners that still complain from ITB, knee pains, and twisted ankles from wearing highly cushioned shoes. Therefore, I conclude that there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on various factors, such as the condition of your feet, experiences in running, running condition, distance, etc.

I have both types of shoes in my collection. So, how do I decide which shoes should I wear for this weekend’s big race? Personally, this how I decide what type of shoes should I wear for Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2018 (SCKLM), or any other run. Please feel free to follow this guideline when purchasing new shoes too:

5 reasons why Ultra top is a must have (specially for SCKLM!)

Ladies, Standard Chartered KL Marathon (SCKLM 2018) is fast approaching. It’s time to get your gear ready! Personally, I only run long distances in Ultra tops, and it has never failed me. If you have not tried my favorite top from Nashata, here are 4 awesome reasons why you should get one for yourself just in time for SCKLM 2018:

Remember: You don’t want to be wearing something brand new on race day. Test your outfit and shoes during your training sessions to avoid wardrobe mishaps that will affect your focus and performance such as chaffing.

So ladies, what’s your favorite top to wear while running?

10 gym bag essentials for all hijabis

Let’s face it ladies, active hijabis have special requirements when it comes to packing to go to the gym. Because we sweat more after working out, just changing into a fresh set of clothes and giving yourself a wipe down with some wet wipes will not be enough. We usually need to take time to shower properly, or at least wash our hair. Hence, we usually bring more stuff to the gym. But how much is enough?

Below are 10 items that I must have inside my gym bag and I have to admit, I can’t live without any of them!

  1. Hairdryer – Never wear hijab with a damp hair. Damp hair breeds bacteria and fungus, will lead to unpleasant odor, dandruff, and weak hair in the long run
  2. Shampoo – The very least is to wash your scalps to get rid of the sweat
  3. Small towel – I always bring at least 2 towels. Big towel is to dry my body, and a small towel to dry my hair. I find that my hair will dry faster this way.
  4. Hijab essentials (hijab, undercap, pins, accessories, hair ties, etc) – Use a small container for loose items such as pins and accessories
  5. Treatment oil – my personal favorite is as argan oil or coconut oil
  6. A set of clean clothes – this includes underwear, tops, bottoms, hijab, etc
  7. Water bottle
  8. Breakfast – if you’re heading out immediately after working out, prepare your snack before you leave
  9. Ladies stuff – sanitary pad, panty liner, etc
  10. Treat your self! – include in a nice bath gel or a luxurious lotion to reward yourself after working out. My personal favorite is a sugar scrub.

Hijabis, I hope this list will be helpful for you to pack before hitting the gym. Remember to pack the night before heading to the gym to make sure you have everything you need. Less stress, more sweat!

My first dry-needling experience

Ladies, it is important to take care of yourself.

Without realising, our bad posture, prolonged sitting, and even wearing heels can lead to pains and aches in our bodies.

I have been experiencing discomfort in my shoulders, neck, and hips for a few months.

I have been ignoring it as I thought it might be due to bad sleeping habits. I also thought that it might be due to work-related stress. So I took a few days off, thinking the pain might go away after taking some days of resting. However, the condition did not improve.

Twincity Half Marathon was the most painful 21km that I have ever experienced. The continuous impact was really uncomfortable, and I had to stop a few times to stretch my legs and back. I went to see a physiotherapist, and it turns out that I had piriformis syndrome and trapezius myalgia. To combat those condition, I was prescribed a few sessions of dry needling.

The piriformis muscle was inflammed hence it was pressing on my sciatic nerve. This is the source of the pain.

The tight shoulder and neck muscles which is the cause to my discomfort

  • What is dry-needling?

Dry needling, also known as myofascial trigger point dry needling, is the use of either solid filiform needles or hollow-core hypodermic needles for therapy of muscle pain, including pain related to myofascial pain syndrome. Dry needling is sometimes also known as intramuscular stimulation (IMS).

Source: Wikipedia

In other words, very fine needles were inserted into my muscle to release tight points. These tight muscles were the cause to my discomfort.

  • Does it hurt?

You will not feel the pain of the needle being inserted, however you will feel muscle spasms from the needle.

Overall pain level: 3.5/5. It hurts, but it’s bearable.

After the dry needling was complete, the therapist:

  1. put on a patch that will send electric pulses for 15 minutes. It felt good, like a million tiny fingers massaging the spot where it hurts the most
  2. taught me a few stretches to do everyday and help with releasing the tight muscles. I was also advised to take 5 minutes of walking for every 1 hour of sitting down.

At the end of the session, I felt instant relief from the tight muscles. However, more sessions are required in order for me to be completely ‘cured’ from these syndrome.

  • Post treatment

The next morning, there were some bruises on the places that I was poked, so ice compression helped soothe that area. I also experienced sore muscles, but it felt like DOMs from lifting weights. It was perfectly normal and I just allow it to subside naturally.

  • Conclusion

In conclusion, these discomforts were not caused from “too much” working out. In fact, it was caused by our sedentary lifestyle. These discomforts are pretty common if you work in an office environment. So consult a certified, medical personnel and don’t leave it to your ‘tukang urut’ or masseuse, as it might lead to bigger ergonomic issues in the future.

3 types of shoes for all active ladies

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world” – Marilyn Monroe

I am sure that she is not saying that in the context of sports, but shoes are an important part of every active ladies lifestyle.

Why are there different purposes for each type of shoes?

  • The right support for the right sports
    • Sports will put strain on your joints, especially your knees, ankle, shoulders, and back.
    • Getting the right support will prevent injury.

 

  • Comfortable and safety
    • Some shoes are designed with safety purposes such as increasing friction, padding, etc.

Personally, I think there should be at least 3 types of shoes in every active girl’s wardrobe:

 

Xtend Barre – The Women-Friendly Work Out

It’s been a while that I explore new classes or new studios/gyms in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just for fun. I am glad that Malaysia is slowly catching up with worldwide fitness trends, there’s loads of new work outs for you to try!  Last weekend, I attended an Xtend Barre class at Urban Spring, Bangsar, KL.

I wish that’s me, but this is just another google image taken from Urban Spring’s website

  • What is Xtend Barre?

According to the website of the studio that I went, the definition given was:

The premier ballet barre workout. Xtend Barre brings in elements of dance, ballet and Pilates to create an adrenaline-fueled workout that strengthens, lengthens and chisels the body.
“If Pilates sculpts your body, Xtend Barre™ chisels it.” Meet you at the Barre®

Taken from: http://www.urban-spring.com/xtend-barre.html

In short, imagine ballet combined with pilates and body-weight exercises. Ladies will love it, because there are elements of choreography as well.

  • Why is it women-friendly?

Body-weight work out

For beginners, you don’t need heavy weights to tone up. The movement in this class relies on your own lunges, leg raises, or body elongation, very much like pilates.

So, what do I do with this baby weights?

Graceful and elegant choreography

If you are familiar with ballet, you will learn to appreciate the athleticism that is involved in the movement. From the first position to plie and every basic ballet movement in between, there is never a dull moment in this class. You will feel like you’re dancing, while doing pilates at the same time.

Getting ready to work out.
Notice the ballet barre on the studio walls

Small movements, big results

Most of the movement were about high repetition of small pulses. No complicated movements involved. To increase the burn level, the instructor used resistance bands.

  • Overall Review

Difficulty: 2/5

This depends on your fitness level. If you are used to body-weight work outs or have basic yoga/ pilates knowledge, then it’s an easy work out for you. If your body is used to high-repetitive work outs, you will need more sets to see results. Alternatively, join the intermediate or advanced classes.

Sweat level: 3/5

Don’t underestimate the small movements or the easy work out. It will still give you a good sweat and leave your arms shaking, but not sore. It elevated my heart rate slightly, but I was not panting and gasping like mad.

Instructor: 4/5

The instructor has background in ballet and choreography, so she has many years of experience within the industry. We love the studio too. It has a relaxing, spa-like vibe to it. It is also well-equipped with accessories required for an Xtend Barre class, so you don’t have to bring anything besides non-slip socks.

In the studio’s changing room

Conclusion

Ladies, if you are looking for a stress-free, low-impact work out, Xtend Barre is for you.

 

 

5 tips on how to wake up early to work out

I admit I am not a morning person. On my off days I could stay in bed all morning and my only motivation to wake up is a good breakfast. However, through out the years, I have learnt that I need to manage my time better and appreciate that we get only 24 hours in a day. There is so much to do in so little time.

I have also learnt that there is no “right time” to work out. I prefer to work out first thing in the morning before I go to work. One of the benefits of working out early is that you get it out of the way as soon as possible, freeing up time for you to proceed with your daily routine, such as going to work, run errands, or spending time with family and friends. I have also noticed that I will feel more energized after working out. My mind is more alert and I will be in a happier mood.

However, you do need to sacrifice other aspects. I had to give up watching TV at night and I am not hooked on to any TV series, so I do feel a little bit left out when people talk about Game of Thrones or the latest Korean dramas. I have also sacrificed my late night ‘lepak’ time because I am just too sleepy to socialize and eat at 10pm.

In the end, it is all worth it. Fitness is a lifestyle, not a trend or a seasonal thing. In the long run, I trust that I will be able to reap the health benefits and work towards my fitness goals. So how do you wake up early and still feel like a champ?

4 lessons learnt from 2017

As we approach the 3rd day of a brand new year, it is still not too late to reflect on 2017.

This post is not a race review or a performance recap, but an avenue for me to share what do I need to improve on to make me into a better person for 2018. Also, let’s not forget that we also need to know what went right in 2017, so we look forward to achieve even more in the future.

Lesson 1: Experiences are more valuable than medals

Lesson 2: I have realized that the location of an event matters to me, and I am willing to travel just to run

Lesson 3: Growing up does not mean growing apart, because we still share a common goal

Lesson 4: Do whatever that makes you happy

I have definitely grown and learnt a lot in such a short period of one year. I look forward to the challenges and what 2018 has in store for me, and may it make me into a better person in the future.