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 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?

Your Nashata traveling essentials

It’s almost the end of the year, and that means holiday season is here for most people. Regardless of where you are heading to, don’t forget to pack a piece of Nashata into your suitcase!

Nashata was designed with the athlete in mind, but that also means the pieces are versatile. You can wear it in almost any casual situation – while exploring cities, boarding a flight, lounging at the beach, or my favourite, “runcations”.

Here’s how to pack your Nashata traveling essentials, based on your type of vacation:

URBAN EXPLORER

Your vacation will most likely revolve around discovering modern cities, or walking to museums, or cafe-hopping. It’s going to get hot and humid with all that walking and navigating around the city, so opt for some sun protection like a sunglasses and hat. A quick-dry top will keep the sweaty smell at bay. Keep it casual and presentable in with a pair of jeans.

FREQUENT FLIER

Crossing different timezones is a normal thing for you. That long haul flight is going to get chilly, so layer up a hoodie to keep your warm and give you privacy so you can sleep. Don’t forget some entertainment to keep you occupied on that 10 hour flight – it’s the perfect time to catch up on a tv show or finish a book.

ISLAND ESCAPE

Sun, sand, and sea – it’s about to get wet! But that does not mean you have to compromise your modesty. Swim to your heart’s content in the Sibaha. Who says you can’t have fun under the sun while covering up?

THE RUNCATION

Another weekend, another run, another city. Don’t forget your race gear, you don’t want to be stuck in an unfamiliar city looking for a top, pants, or worst, shoes! Also, soothe that tanned skin after hours in the sun with some natural remedy.

So where will you be travelling to? Don’t forget to post your OOTD and tag us!

City Spin & Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2017

Diversity is beautiful – everyone is unique, yet we should celebrate the difference. Due to it’s immense popularity, history, and significance, SCKLM 2017 is one of the highlights for most runners. Never have I ever seen a running event which brings thousands of people from various background, fitness level, and goals! The beauty of diversity among runners was highlighted and deeply appreciated both before and during the event.

Before The Big Day

My running group, Kyserun Krew, organized a friendly, fun run called City Spin 2017. It was a short 4.5K run around KLCC and Jalan Ampang, giving runners a quick tour of KL and what to anticipate for tomorrow’s event. Everyone had a good time, taking photos of the iconic buildings and landmarks in the city. Thankfully, the morning rain was starting to subside so the weather was good too!

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Besides shaking out the butterflies in your stomach before the big day and to stretch out those legs, the main aim of this event was to gather various running crews through out Malaysia, as well as welcome those who came from abroad such as Indonesia, Korea, and other countries. After all, what better way to break the ice among runners other than to run? Every running crew might have different principles and culture, yet united by the same, common love for running.

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All photo credit belongs to Syahiran of Kyserun Krew. Thank you!

On the Big Day

At 4 in the morning, I found myself catching the train among a sea of blue sleeveless tops. I was glad that I will be able to arrive early and not worry about parking at the event venue. On the train, I can hear different conversations; some were really serious yet confident, discussing about their strategies and training for the past few months, while others were nervous, excited, or sleepy. Yet, everyone had a single goal in mind: To complete SCKLM, in whatever distance that they chose.

Never have I ever seen so many runners congregate in a single location, except at SCKLM events! Besides runners, the crowd was overwhelming; the streets were packed with not only runners, but supporters, curious on-lookers, and security enforcers too. SCKLM has turned into an event that should be celebrated and inclusive to everyone. To overcome the massive crowd, take advantage of the facilities that the organizer have provided for this event, such as the free train service (my favorite part of the event), bag drop (pack everything that you need, it’s going to be a loooong day), and freebies from the sponsors. Most importantly, come early and prepared, at least 45 mins before your starting to time so you are not rushed to go to the bag drop counter, do your pre-race rituals, and get into the correct starting pen.

Year after year, SCKLM has been a good and memorable experience for me. What I love most about it was not the route or the medal, but the high spirit and energy through out the event. Every runner will feel like a winner! Without a doubt, I will definitely be back again for more next year.

A familiar face that requires no introduction

A familiar face that requires no introduction

One with my Krew!

One with my Krew!

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Thanks to Nashata’s Iman Hijab range, you can now match your hijab with your bib number too!

Read about last year’s SCKLM 2016 experience here

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

DNF? Know your limits!

Base on official result of recent Malaysia Women Marathon 2017, 8% of the Full Marathon participants and 1.5% of the Half Marathon participants did not finish (DNF) the race.

DNF or do not finish is something that every runner would try to avoid during races. Even those who are injured or suffering from cramps would try to walk towards the finish line. Some may say they are heroes, some would say that they are hurting themselves. But, as for me,..I wouldn’t want to arrive the finish line by an ambulance.

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Reach finishing line within cut off time is every runner’s aim 😉

I have participated in 9 Half Marathons (21km), 12 Full Marathons (42km) and 4 Ultra and alhamdulillah, I finished them all strong.

DNF may occur for a few reasons, and I would like to share with you the common four  and how to avoid them.

1. Lack of training and experience

If you have never trained for a long run; 15km, 20km, don’t even register for a Half Marathon, or even a Full Marathon. Know your limits. As for me, before I join a 10km run, I would run 10km 3-4 times a week. Once satisfied with the timing, I would join a competitive running event. Same goes with the Half Marathon. After I have trained for 21km distances, only then I’d join an event. As for 42km (Full Marathon), I started to join after running 8 Half Marathons. I joined Ultra after I have completed 9 Full Marathons. The point here is you need to have a lot of training and experiences from every single run that you join before you upgrade yourself to another longer distance.

nahsuhah

I try to run 10km at least , 3-4 times a week to maintain my stamina. 🙂

2. You don’t fuel yourself enough 

Some may DNF due to electrolyte imbalance; they may experience cramps or vomiting after half way, and this leads to dehydration. Some may have stomachache, due to spicy food they eat the night or day before. To avoid these problems, do take a lot of fluid ; drink a lot of water, isotonic drink a week before the event to ensure you hydrate well. Eat extra amount of carbohydrate and protein too. On the day of the event or a day before, avoid spicy food. As for me, if the event starts at 4am, my last meal the night before would be at 8pm and if after 8pm, I would take bananas and water. If you eat enough prior to the race, you don’t even need any energy bar/energy gel during the race. Your body is already prepared to use up all the glycogen to transform into glucose once you are in state of starving.

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Fuel yourself enough before and after race.

3. You don’t plan your run

Strategy is very important in every race. As for me, for a 21 km race, I would try to finish the first 10km within my usual time – 1 hour. And then, the next 11 km dragged to 1 hour 10 minutes. If it rains or if the route is tough or if I experience a cramp, I would still finish within 2 hours 30 minutes, InsyaAllah. If you continue slow jog or power walk for the last 5-8 km, you could finish under 3 hours, as long as you run your best the first 10-15 km. As for Full Marathon, my personal best is 4 hours and 57 minutes. My strategy is, I would aim my first 10km within 1 hour  to 1 hour 10 minutes and next 10km within 1 hour 20-30 minutes. So, my first 21km would be at least 2 hours 30 minutes, the slowest. If you maintain 1 hour 30 minutes (pace- 9min/km) for another 2 sets of 10km, InsyaAllah you can finish under 5 hours and 30 minutes. If you can push yourself enough, you would make it within 5 hours and 15 minutes. Last year, I finished my full marathon SCKLM in 5 hours 16 minutes, read my experience → https://blog.nashata.com/?p=6391

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2017

Full Marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon 2016

4. Not enough rest

Lack of rest and sleep will affect your performance at the race. This issue is not strange if you go for runcation (run + vacation). The tips here is go to the place earlier (1-2 days earlier) so that you can rest well before the race. You will not be in a rush and have more time to calm down and focus during the race.

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Having enough rest is the key for you to recover well after the race.

DNF is better than DNS (Do Not Start). So, whatever challenges there may be, let’s plan ahead and pray for injury-free and pleasant races. After all, what’s is the most important is TRAINING. Train hard, believe in yourself and with that, InsyaAllah, you will finish strong and happy.

Till then, keep running and be inspired!

The Local Runcation

Everyone loves a vacation, especially when there is some running involved. To officially start the 2017 running season, I took part in AIA Vitality’s Men’s Health Women’s Health (MHWH) Night Run in Johor, running in the 21km category.

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MHWH Night Run is no stranger to those who are already familiar with the Malaysian race calender. In fact, I have ran in the same event but in a different location and edition . However, for 2016’s edition, the MHWH Night Run Penang-Putrajaya-Johor series is special because it is sponsored by AIA Vitality. In line with their aspirations to encourage a healthy lifestyle, AIA Vitality have kicked off a series of night runs since 2016 starting from Penang and later to Putrajaya. Unfortunately, due to my travelling schedule I was unable to attend both previous events at Penang and Putrajaya so I was glad that I was able to make it this time.

Under AIA Vitality, the scale of the event has increased tremendously. With the large number of participants, we were glad that we were allowed to post our race kits straight to our doorstep. Another significant improvement was the distance. If my memory serves me right, the longest distance for the previous edition was only 12km, but this year it has expanded to include 21km as well. The best part of this event was that there were also pacers to help you hit your PB or your target!

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AIAVitalityNightRun2017JB-DDY_2009-PhotobyAllIsAmazingPacers in any event for half marathon distance is always a good idea

Despite participating in a few night runs for the past few years, this is my first time running a half marathon at night time. In fact, most of my night training are usually less than 10km. However, with adequate rest and proper food (very challenging since you are on a runcation – you’re too excited to rest and eat properly) I don’t think it will affect your performance.

So to prepare myself for the night run, I took about 1 hour nap before heading out to the race village. We arrived quite early so there were plenty of opportunity to mingle around with other running crews and meet new faces. Some of them also happen to be pacers for the event, so there was a good mix of various age, gender, and experience range for the pacers.

I tried to follow the 2:20 hour pacer and kept up for as long as I could. Eventually, my pace dropped and I felt a slight disappointment when I could not even catch up with the 2:30 hour pacers. In the end, I completed my half marathon in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Looks like there is no PB renewal this time L

Despite not being able to achieve my sub 2:30 target, running in Johor has been a wonderful experience. The crowd was supportive, the atmosphere was positive, and the event was smooth. This event has certainly set the bar high for the next MHWH Night Run edition, and I hope in the future the event will be bigger and better.

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Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.

The best runcation so far!

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I remembered reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” where she travelled to Italy, India, and Indonesia, but her memoirs about Bali struck me the most. I have been to Bali several times before, but just like the author, I can never get enough of it. Perhaps I should move there too? There is a lot of things that is yet to be discovered on this mystical “Island of Gods”, and luckily enough, a few years later, I was given the opportunity to participate in Bali Marathon 2016.

Set in Gianyar, Bali Marathon took us away from the stereotypical tourist spots such as the beach and town. There is certainly more to Bali besides surfing and partying. The route for all categories (full marathon, half marathon, 10K) showed a softer side of Bali that is often forgotten and under-appreciated: it’s green, terraced paddy fields, the calm, picturesque villages against the dramatic background of the volcano, and the friendly, warm smiles of local children cheering for you.

As the runners are weaving in and out of the village streets, the adult villagers, on the other hand, go about their daily affairs as usual – women balancing market purchases on their heads, everyone going to the temple to perform their morning prayer, putting a little pallet of offering by their doorstep, or busy weaving flowers and leaves for the next ritual of the day. It’s as if nothing is happening, allowing foreigners like me to observe this daily routine that is uniquely Balinese. The world and its inhabitants is such a beautiful place, we should learn more to appreciate this diversity so we can respect our differences. Maybe, this calls for a future trip to Bali again for a crash course on their culture?

The event started after Fajr prayers at 5.30 am so runners can enjoy the sunrise

The event started pretty late (after Fajr prayers at 5.30 am) so runners can enjoy the sunrise

A typical house or temple in the village (both of them look almost the same to me)

A typical house or temple in the village (both of them look almost the same to me)

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Local kids giving a high 5 and cheering for you along the way

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Gamelan and dancers at several every water stations along the way, giving the perfect opportunity for a photo op

Apart from observing the local villagers, Bali Marathon also gathered a lot of running crews from all over the world. They are very proud about their origins and the club that they are representing, often carrying the flag towards the finishing line or the supporters accompanying them towards the final kilometers. After checking their social media accounts, prior to this event, they have showed immense team spirit and fostered strong teamwork through training together, going on trips regularly, or attended non-running events together. However, that does not mean that they are not open to new friendships. These running crews are definitely a fun and friendly bunch of people, and thanks to them, we had a good time before and after the marathon, plus, they also assisted us on making the necessary ground arrangements so our stay in Bali will be as smooth as possible.

Hello from your neighbours across the ocean!

Hello from your neighbours across the ocean! (image courtesy of Kyserun Krew)

Different countries, crews, and culture, united for the love of running

Different countries, crews, and culture, united for the love of running (image courtesy of Naked Spirit Runners)

Bali Marathon might be the first running event overseas for me, yet it won’t be the last. If God wills it, there will be more runcation (running + vacation) events for me in the future!

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner

What I think about when I think about running [at 2am]

Disclaimer: This post has no relation to Haruki Murakami’s book. However a very popular question that I get from spectators who were cheering for us by the roadside at 2 am was “Why is everyone doing this? Why is everyone up at 2 am?” has left me pondering. On the flip side, I have no idea why these villagers are not asleep too at 2 in the morning.

Our happy faces at 2am. It is never too early to get excited!

Our happy faces at 2am. It is never too early to get excited!

The #KLWolfpack taking over Kuching

The #KLWolfpack taking over Kuching

Passing by villages and its friendly population is the norm for Kuching Marathon. I enjoyed the supportive atmosphere from last year so much, that I decided to upgrade myself to the full marathon category for this year. Coupled by good reviews from runners who participated in previous years, I was convinced that I made the right choice to come to Kuching again. I was so wrong.

The race started very early in the morning at exactly 2 am. The gun time was perfect, as the sun is not out yet and we enjoyed the cool morning air. Just like last year, the race started with a quick prayer, asking for Allah’s blessings so this event will run smoothly, and to protect the runners from any harm or injury. The first 10km was a breeze, and everything was going well. It was only the “warm-up phase” anyways.

A few kilometers later I spotted a water station, but there was hardly a line since no one was stopping there. It turns out that they have ran out of water. “It’s ok, I still have some water from my own bottle”, I said to myself. It did not take very long my own supply to deplete quickly. Empty plastic bottles were strewn around the next few water stations, but still there was no water in sight. There was hardly any petrol station at this part of the route, and I had to resort to asking a runner if he could spare a few sips of his 100 Plus. Bless this gentleman’s soul for sharing!

By the 25km, perhaps my running form was really bad, or I looked like I was about to collapse, but I noticed that the medic van was slowly trailing behind me and the driver was looking very concerned. I was losing my momentum from the thirst. I tried to shake it off – DNF is not an option! The only way for me to end up on that van is when I really passed out, not when I almost feel like passing out. I decided to take it easy until I find water. I think it was best for me to take things down a notch so I don’t pass out from dehydration. My focus has shifted from achieving another PB for 42km to just completing the race within the cut off time.

Finally, a water station that actually has water! Why use only one hand to drink when you can use both sides?

Finally, a water station that actually has water! Why use only one hand to drink when you can use both?

Speaking of PBs, I did some self-reflection: I noticed that I have been improving for 10km and 21km, but I have yet to break the barrier at 30km, as it have been hovering around the 4:20-4:30 hour without much improvement. Any thoughts on why is this happening and how can I fix this?

I finished the race just barely within the extended cut off time (the organizers extended the cut off time from 6.5 hours to 7 hours), feeling exhausted like I have just finished the hardest race of my life. I don’t think that I will be back again for Kuching Marathon next year, but I’ll hunt for another full marathon event to renew my PB.

Oh hey cat with bib and vest, did you get dehydrated from running too?

Oh hey cat with bib and vest, did you get dehydrated from running too?

Until next week,

The Weekend Runner.