3 reasons why Bangkok should be your runcation and vacation destination

This episode of runcation: Amazing Thailand Marathon Bangkok 2019!

What is a runcation? Runcation is a combination of the word “vacation” and “running”. It is a term coined by runners who travel to attend a marathon or running event, and have vacation at the same time. Usually, the running event is the highlight for a runcation so your itinerary needs to revolve around the timing and venue of the event. For this runcation, I travelled to Bangkok to attend the Amazing Thailand Marathon 2019 and it was amazing. Here are 3 main reasons why – before, after, and during the run:

  • Before running: Food heaven!

Over the years, I have seen Bangkok developing to be more Muslim-friendly to cater to an increasing number of tourists from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Middle East. This means more halal food outlets and increasing conscious to state the ingredients used. This also means more variety of food for carbo-loading!

Personal recommendations:

  1. MBK Mall (Nearest BTS Station: National Stadium)
    • Clean, comfortable with air-condition facilities.
    • Food selection at restaurants in level 5 and 6 includes:
      • Thai staples like Tom Yum and Green Curry.
      • The foodcourt at level 5 has a wide selection of International flavours too like Chinese, Indonesian, and Arabic food.
      • There is an affordable steak house at level 6
      • Enjoy some dessert and coffee at a halal-friendly (but not halal-certified) café called After You at level 3

Don’t be scared to try the spicy local flavours

  1.  Saman Islam at Chatuchak Market (Nearest BTS Station: Mo Chit)
    • Street food with local ambience.
    • Food selection is mostly Thai staples. There are also some Southern Thai dishes too.
    • Enjoy Thai sweets and desserts that are mostly halal-friendly (but not halal-certified) such as Mango with Sticky Rice, Coconut Ice Cream, and Thai Ice Tea.

I think this dish has some Southern Thai influence, the rice tastes like a briyani rice and hainanese chicken rice at the same time

The nearest landmark to this stall is the Clock Tower

  • After running: Recovery at the spa

time to relax and reward those hardworking legs

Legs are feeling sore after a run? Head to a spa for a massage, aromatherapy, or an herbal compression.  Thailand has a long history of alternative treatments using herbs and natural ingredients, making the treatments more effective.

Herbs, spices, and plants with medicinal properties to cure that aching muscle

Note: Spa and massage houses have a bad reputation for illegal ‘services’ in Bangkok. How to ensure the spa conducts legal business with no hanky-panky ‘services’? Ask for recommendations from the locals, make it firm that you are strictly looking for a medicinal or aesthetic spa. The proper spas are usually more upscale and expensive too, but they are still cheaper than Malaysia’s rate. Proper spas also clearly display their zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment.

Personal recommendations:

  1. Health Land (Nearest BTS Station: Asok)

Try their body scrub therapy, leaving you smelling heavenly and squeaky clean. Service here is top-notch too, with comfy bathrobes, unlimited ice told mineral water or tea. Protip: do call them in advanced to set for an appointment, as they are always full

  1. Crystal Spa (Nearest BTS Station: Phra Khanong)

Try their foot and head massage, relieving aching muscles and leaving you in total relaxation. Protip: Do not forget to tip the masseuse after your treatment. They do not expect much, 20 to 50 Thai Bhat goes a long way for these local women.

  • During the run: Cross-cultural observations

Do you know that Thailand is also known as “The Land of Smiles”?

Despite having similar roots to Malaysia, there are some notable differences in Thais culture. This might affect how an event is organized. Although it is a well-known international event with participants from various countries, it is still very Thai-centric.

Personal observations:

Thais are very proud of their language and culture. Most signage are still written in Thai, so collecting the race kit and getting to the race site was not very well-organized. Mitigate that by collecting the race kit early, and heading to the race site early too. But don’t worry, Thai are very friendly too. They will be happy to help if you ask nicely.

Get to the race site early

Cheering is not a culture in Thai. There were not many supporters or spectators along the way, and most people weaved between the running event venue like nothing happened. I can’t help but to notice that poverty is also very apparent in Bangkok, as there were beggars eating leftovers from the runners. I feel sad for them.

Are small bottles more practical than disposable cups? At least bottles are reusable and handy

Thais are such hospitable people. They want to make you feel welcomed and comfortable, and nothing is more comfortable than a clean toilet. Their portable toilets were equipped with a bidet, flushing toilet, and even air-condition. It puts Malaysia’s porta-loo to shame.

Check out that 5 star toilet!

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:

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!

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.

How Janda Baik Ultra has helped to overcome my fear of trail running again

I used to be able to do long distance run and I used to be an avid trail runner. However, for the past few months I only managed to run a few 10km-15km on the road. After running TMBT and not being able to complete it, I was scared about going off-road again. I could not face running in the dark, the muddy routes, the self-doubts…in short, I was traumatized.

Soon enough I realized that I could not allow my fears to overcome me. It could not suppress my need to be off-grid once in a while, spending hours totally to myself, and seeking new routes and adventures. I had to face my fears about trail running again. It’s time to show who is the boss here. I decided to go ahead with Janda Baik Ultra and use it as a ‘therapy’ to gain my confidence about long distance running and trail running. I went for the shortest distance available: 30km, with elevation of over 1,200m

Here are 5 points on how I used Janda Baik Ultra to overcome my fear of trail running again:

  1. Acknowledge that I have to face my fears

30km? I prefer to look at it as 5km runs, done over 6 rounds. Now, that distance sounds a lot more manageable compared to 30km

  • Denying your fears will not help to resolve it
  • It is ok to admit that you are nervous. Vent, tell to someone who is willing to listen, then let go.
  • Realize that if you can overcome this, you can overcome bigger challenges in life
  • If your fear is too big, break it up into smaller milestones. I set smaller goals by ensuring that I reach the aid stations first, so there were 5 milestones for me to reach my end goal of 30km. Now, 30km seems a whole lot bearable.
  1. Set a realistic expectation

  • The easiest goal would be aiming to finish within the cut off time. But where’s the fun, if there is nothing challenging about it? So strike a balance between being challenging and being realistic.
  • For example: Don’t try to aim for a sub 6 hour for a 30km trail run when your best timing for 30km road race is 4 hours 30 mins
  1. Be over-prepared, physically

Most of the things that I packed in that hydration bag were not mandatory items, but it bought great comfort and helped me to complete the run, such as my hat

  • Train for it! There is no short cut to building your endurance, except to condition your body to get used to it. Strengthen your glutes and quads for the elevation with weight training.
  • Double check your mandatory items. You don’t want to be denied getting into the race pen just because you forgot a whistle or water bottle. In addition to the mandatory items, think about anything you might need based on the weather condition and route. I bought poles, waterproof jacket, and a hat even though it was not mandatory.
  • Study the route. Be aware of the distances between water stations and the elevation profile to make sure you pack enough water. Check the weather forecast too.
  1. Be over-prepared, mentally

Keep calm and run tomorrow

  • Get enough sleep for a peace of mind
  • Talk yourself through it – Plant and visualize in your mind that you MUST FINISH IT. You’ve trained hard for this!
  • Find ways to keep yourself positive and uplifted. I have a few phrases that I say to myself when it gets tough, and a playlist of songs on my phone.
  1. Focus on the bright side of the challenge

The most rewarding part of a trail run is the view. No medals can replace that feeling

 

  • Enjoy the view. You can never get to see the vast open greenery if you are running on the road
  • Take in the fresh air. No traffic, no cars, and almost no pollution.
  • Have fun during the “runcation”. After all, you are on a holiday!

    More runcations, please!

    I hope my tips will help you to overcome your fears to be able to live life to the fullest. Fear should not get in the way to enjoy the things you love, and it will slowly become easy if you try.

    Share with us a scary experience, and how did you overcome it?

Nashata at the The Dubai Women’s Run 2017

The Dubai Women’s Run held on 17.11.17 was a very special run for me in more ways than one.   

Firstly, It marked the launch of Nashata in the UAE, a project which I had envisioned   with the founder, Eliza, exactly one year ago.

Alhamdulillah, it came to fruition with a lot of support and encouragement from family and friends, despite the many bumps and hurdles along the way.

Secondly, the event proved to be a huge learning experience for me.  Running is truly a metaphor for life – so many life lessons reinforced through my period of training and of course race day.

 

The importance of setting goals –big or small. 

I am not a runner.  Far from it in fact. I had been telling myself that I will run a 5K “some day” for quite some time – until I decided that I needed to set myself a target date.  So I signed up for the run,and followed an 8 week training program on a running app.

As a mother venturing into a new business, keeping up with the app’s schedule was not always easy – but I tried to maintain some form of discipline and prioritized my time for training as my time for calm and focus.  Race day was challenging but I managed to shave a good minute from my previous time.

The best part –  the adrenaline rush lasts for a good 48 hours 😊

Compete with yourself, not others, and that will always bring out a better version of you 

At the end of the day, running is all about effort.  You will get uncomfortable.  You will want to stop.  You will ask yourself many times, “How am I going to make it to the finish line?”  You just have to keep moving!

Finishing the race becomes so much more about your mindset than your physical ability.  I slowed down at several points during the race, but as the time raced towards the 40 minute mark (my previous time), I sprinted to the finish line to finish at 39.06 mins.  Yes,  every second counts.  

 

There will always be records to beat – aim for your personal best!

Celebrating our own identities

The run was a beautiful confluence of so many women from different backgrounds, fitness levels with different goals.  There were mothers running with their daughters, women dressed in Indian saris, hijabs and abayas, all participating at the same event.  It challenged me to see beyond my own presumptions.  We can carry and celebrate our identities anywhere and everywhere.

So here’s to being proactive, setting goals, making no more gccexcuses and constantly striving to bring out the better version of ourselves each day, in sha Allah!

So…who’s up for a 10K?

Shop at gcc,nashata.com.  

Follow us on instagram @nashata.me

We can help you to be a smart consumer

Facing a tight budget, but you need to replace a pair of pants? Unsure about what is modest activewear all about?  Should you compromise between quality and price? Worry not, Nashata is here to help you make sound choices based on your budget and needs.

Here I have listed 4 situations or problems, and how we can assist to solve them. However, we understand that there are different price point for every individual, hence we suggest an alternative product that will work too.

Some people call the alternative as ‘entry-level’ price point. However, I would like to call the alternatives as ‘aspiration pieces’. Thanks to the affordable price points for the alternative, you will now get a preview on what Nashata is all about, and be a smart consumer to decide on the best product to suit your budget

 

In the long run, you might still need to ‘invest’ in products that can last for a few years and possibly, a lifetime such as the Heather range. They might be expensive initially but thanks to the good quality one top can last for a long time, hence you get ‘returns’ by saving since you don’t have to replace a top over and over again. The cost per wear will reduce over time, since you wear the top repeatedly.

The heather range. This top has served me well over the past few years

Ladies, the power is in your hands. Make the right decision that will benefit you in the future, and make your money worth every single cent!

An event that protected and cared my underarms

I was delighted when I was invited to participate in Nivea Care Run 2017 as one of the media and bloggers. Nivea was one of the brands that is close to my heart – I have been using Nivea for years, I am sure at one point in our life we had used a bottle of Nivea deodorant.

Proof that taking care of your underams can be fun too!

However, this newly launched Protect & Care deodorant is definitely different and special. Not only must we be concerned about the cleanliness of our underarms, we must protect and care about the skin too. Just because our underarms are covered most of the time, it does not mean that we should pay less attention to it or neglect it. Thanks to the special Nivea Creme ingredient in this deodorant, my skin felt smoother and appeared lighter too.

I’m sure I was the only one who wished these giant deodorants weren’t just replicas!

In conclusion, it was a fun and informative run. I get to learn a lot of tips on taking care of my underarms, along with the generous goodie bag. Many thanks to Janet and Nivea for the slot!

Read up on the official press release below:

NIVEA PROTECT & CARE BRINGS MALAYSIANS TOGETHER TO CARE FOR THEMSELVES AND THOSE IN NEED

Putrajaya, 29 October 2017 – Almost 2,500 Malaysians gathered at Putrajaya for the NIVEA Care Run, hosted by NIVEA Protect & Care, a gentle yet long-lasting deodorant designed to care for the underarm skin. Expanding on its theme, ‘Protects What You Care’ to include care to the community, a contribution of RM20,000 from the run was also donated to Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia (Penyayang), an established charity organisation that supports Malaysians in need.

 

Pic 1: NIVEA Care Run flag-off (from far left): Celebrity guest Siti Saleha; Ms Shirley Toh, Sales Director of Beiersdorf Malaysia; Mr Ng Hock Guan, Country Manager of Beiersdorf Malaysia & Singapore and Mr Cheong Wai Lun, Head of Marketing of Beiersdorf Malaysia.

Pic 2: About 2,500 NIVEA Care Run participants start their run after the flag-off by the NIVEA management team and celebrity guest Siti Saleha

NIVEA Protect & Care deodorant uses an alcohol-free formula that is tough on sweat, offering up to 48 hours of protection, while its skin-friendly ingredients leave underarms skin softer and smoother.  Enriched with the essence of NIVEA Crème, it nourishes and cares for the underarms with its distinctive ingredients and delicate scent.

 

“NIVEA Protect & Care is privileged to collaborate with PENYAYANG in their efforts to support Malaysians in need,” said Ng Hock Guan, Country Manager for Beiersdorf Malaysia & Singapore. “Today’s run is closely aligned with our brand proposition for NIVEA Protect & Care deodorant, where protection and care come hand in hand. Hence, we are also very grateful to all our partners and sponsors for working together with us to support this cause. We are also very proud that so many Malaysians have come forth to support the NIVEA Care Run. Each participant has played a role in today’s success.”

 

To raise further awareness about underarm care, participants of the NIVEA Care Run were presented with plenty of skin facts such as the extent of skin damage caused by shaving and tweezing and how debris removed during shaving may contain up to 36% of skin*, shown via a skin test demonstration.

Pic 3: A contribution of RM20,000 from NIVEA Care Run was presented to Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia (PENYAYANG) to support Malaysians in need.
[From L-R] Mr Ng Hock Guan, Country Manager for Beiersdorf Malaysia & Singapore, Mr Cheong Wai Lun, Head of Marketing of Beiersdorf Malaysia, Dato’ Leela Mohd Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Yayasan Budi Penyayang and En. Ariff Farhan, General Manager of Yayasan Budi Penyayang.

Other activities at the run included a “Protect & Care” pledge wall where participants could leave messages to express their care for loved ones, a PENYAYANG booth, lucky draws and photo booths, with the presence of local celebrities Siti Saleha, Nadia Heng and Fiqrie.

Pic 4: Participants pledge messages of “protect & care” for their loved ones at NIVEA Care Run.

With great support from runners, sponsors and partners, the NIVEA Care Run was a resounding success, achieving its objective to raise awareness about underarm care while raising funds to help protect and care for others.

Pic 5: Siti Saleha shares her underarm care tips with NIVEA Care Run participants

NIVEA Protect & Care deodorant is available in 50ml roll-on bottles at RM11.30 and 150ml sprays at RM17.50 (West & East Malaysia) at all leading stores and pharmacies nationwide.

 

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/mynivea to find out more about NIVEA products.