Friday, October 31, 2014

The Saucony Kinvara 5 From The Feet of Soon Chung

The Saucony Kinvara 5 before it's arrival here in our local shores in Malaysia has been put to great test (and torture) by among our bloggers and friends. And a week before the 5th generation of fast is release here, here's one of our Saucony friends take on the Kinvara 5 as he took it out for a test at the Brisbane Marathon.

By Lim Soon Chung

My first encounter with the Kinvara series of Saucony is the 2nd generation that had gone through some 500kms without much issue except tearing on the upper which however wasn’t really bothersome. While the development from K2 to K5 is quite substantial, much of its good bits has been retained through the generation such as its lightweight, flexibility, stack height and heel-toe drop to name a few. 

Close up view of the new mesh.

In respond to the tearing issue on the upper, K5 is now wearing a new stretchy and flexible mesh which is very breathable as well. Upon sliding into shoe, I was instantly reminded of how good a snug midfoot feels like thanks to the PRO-LOCK system which goes around and wrap the midfoot with a piece of material. It’s so snug that I could leave the lace a little loose and yet still feeling secure.

Material of the Pro-Lock system.

Although that the K5 appear to be having the roomiest toebox across the generation, it’s a little constricted than I’d like. Perhaps I’m just too used to the roomy toebox of Merrell Bare Access 2 after having it as a day-to-day and training shoe for several month. Surprisingly, the toebox becomes more spacious on the second run and the credit should goes to the new upper mesh. Without a second thought, I’ve had decided to use it for my one and only FM which ultimately lead me to a PB.

The coupling of PowerGrid with an enhanced EVA+ midsole/outsole bring about a soft and cushy ride at walking pace but responses well on a faster run. Saucony claimed that the additional rubber iBR+ along the mid lateral side of the outsole would provide better durability and cushioning. While I can’t feel the difference in terms of cushioning but the acoustic is somewhat louder during impact. Nevertheless, it doesn’t adversely affect the performance in anyway. 

Wear and tear of the left and right pair,

The K5 has since clocked up around 80km including a marathon with no hotspot or abrasion found anywhere on the foot. The whole package provided by the K5 would totally be an easy choice for me as a long distance and marathon shoe. 

Disclaimer: The Saucony Kinvara 5 is a complimentary sample pair provided by Saucony Malaysia and will be available at Running Lab, RSH, Stadium and Studio R outlets in beginning November 2014. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Frank Reviews the Saucony Virrata 2

The original Saucony Virrata which was released in Spring 2013 became an instant hit for those wanting to run naturally "barefooted" but seeking protection from the harsh pebbles on the roads. Extremely flexible and superior breathability, The Virrata 2 continues the tradition where it left off and here is Frank's take on it.

By Frank

The Saucony Virrata 2 (V2), the only zero drop shoes from Saucony after the discontinuation of the Saucony Hattori continues to do what it does best, to perform and to help strengthen the feet. My longest run in the first generation was a good 77KM while it also help me achieve some pretty good timings at certain runs. As the second generation did not change much from the first, it's better to go back in time to have a read on the first generation first over HERE.

My first Virrata lasted me 488KM worth of running while the second pair at about 400KM (some uneven wear and tear on my right pair). Pretty good when comparing value versus cost. With the same outsole on the V2, the durability should be the same. 24 EVA+ pods build on a 18mm GRID midsole foam, the V2 retains the same build and ride over its predecessor, something which I am glad Saucony did. And yes, it maintained at the same weight of 184 grams too . A "barefoot" ride with just enough cushioning and protection is how I describe it. Deep flex grooves allows super flexibility and giving freedom of movement to the feet. The only downside probably from all these goodness is that the grooves tent to pick up small pebbles along the run, probably also caused by our dirty roads!

Nothing's change for the outsole of the Virrata (top) compared to the new Virrata 2 (bottom).

The upper is where the V2 sees most the changes from the the first. But luckily, only minor tweaks which "almost" did not affect anything at all. The upper is now replaced with a new mono mesh. I did not experience any problems at all with original Virrata, no tearing what so ever, but Saucony chose to replace it with an entirely new one which they claim is stronger and more breathable. Frankly speaking, I do not feel any difference and I do personally feel that the original does look nicer and "neater" as the newer mesh looks a bit rough in appearance. The internal bootie remains which give a sock like feel to the feet and besides it, hold the tongue together.

One major aspect I noticed is that there is additional seams not seen on the original. Don't be mistaken though as the internal is still seamless. It just makes me wonder the purpose of it on both lateral and middle side at the mid span of the shoe. Not that I can feel any purpose of it as there was no structural feel added to it. Perhaps FlexFilm can help in this department and save weight at the same time?

Seams on the mesh.

The next minor change will be the eyelets. The eyelets of the original Virrata is built as individual knots which on top of it, acts as a reflective too. Saucony chose to revert back to normal eyelets design found on general shoes like the Kinvara which sacrifices the reflective. Perhaps not as important as reflective on the back of the shoe, but it does help in a way to have reflective at the front to have incoming vehicles see the runner under low light conditions and hence this will be sorely miss. 

The mesh on the original (left) and new (right). Notice the eyelets too.

And finally, the biggest change or shall I just say an additional feature will be the inclusion of a plastic heel counter to support the Achilles region. The original heel counter on the Virrata was soft which I kind of like it. However, there were feedback saying that it causes Achilles discomfort. Therefore, the new TPU heel counter is a nice touch for those affected by the original and I welcome it for it may help in going the distance.

The TPU plastic heel counter.

And  as usual, the V2 comes available in a wide array of colours, most of them absolutely stunning to look at which gives the shoe its fast looks. And  foresee that I will continue to enjoy this shoe very much like its predecessor especially in fast runs whether during trainings or races.

The Saucony Virrata 2 is now available at Running Lab, Stadium and selected RSH and Studio R stores nationwide retailing at a recommending selling price of RM299.00.

Disclaimer. The Saucony Virrata 2 reviewed here is given as part of my sponsorship program with Saucony Malaysia.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frank Reviews the Saucony Kinvara 5

We had a sample pair of the all new Saucony Kinvara 5 that fits well with Frank. With his big race of the year coming back then, we without any hesitation gave him the pair for him to try on and was delighted that he chose it as his race shoe for the Comrades Marathon. Here's his review on the next chapter of "Fast", the Kinvara 5.

By Frank

My "love" affair with the Saucony Kinvara series became stronger over the two years and now the relationship continues with the fifth generation, and it became stronger than ever when it helped me to my third and best Comrades finish ever! And 2 weeks later, helped me to complete yet another 90KM at the Back 2 Endurance 2014 earning a third placing! All in the same shoe, the Saucony Kinvara 5 (K5)! And with close to 300KM of running distance in it, it’s finally time for my take on it.

The Kinvara series has retain much of its DNA since the first generation. Still at 4mm heel to toe drop with stack height of 22mm versus 18mm while retaining the same weight of 216 grams for size US8.5, minor tweaks has been made to make turn the good shoe into a great shoe. While many agreed that the K3 was the best among all with the K4 suffered some durability problem on the mesh, I must say that it isn't what you think until you try the K5!

Kinvara 5, Kinvara 4 and Kinvara 3.

I personally enjoyed the K3 very much with the first pair enjoying approximately 700KM running distance before I retired it. The second pair which was my race shoe for Comrades Marathon 2013 went through about 300KM before I decided to immortalise it due to the contribution it made towards my big race. No tearing issue and wear and tear of the outsole was reasonably good. The K4 however, though as enjoyable and performed pretty similarly to the K3, yes suffered from some tearing issues on the toe box's mesh. Mine started to show after hitting 400KM.

Saucony was quick to respond to the problem with the K4 and that gave birth to the K5. The mono mesh used in previous generations is now replaced by a new stronger but yet light and flexible mesh. And yes, it is very breathable too and one does not need to touch it to know its new. It looks different too and in a good way as it gave the shoe a very clean look. Some minor repositioning of the FlexFilm material is made to strengthen certain high wear and tear areas without making any sacrifices in weight and flexibility too.

Up close on the new mesh.

Hidden under the new mesh at the mid foot region is a new system call the Pro-Lock which is made by some plasticity spandex material, first introduced in Saucony's track and field footwear. As the name suggest, it's a system that runs at the sides of the internal bootie of the tongue to lock the foot down in the shoe while we run. And instead of going across the foot, it goes under it and it felt good as it dynamically move with the foot's movement secured by the laces.

The Pro Lock system for the arch.

Next, the minimal collar is now plush with memory foam paddings call RunDry all around it. Gone are the days when I had to take precaution in wearing mini crew socks to minimise the chances of chaffing at the Achilles region, The plushness of the new material is soft to the touch and grabs my ankle gently without any irritating issues. And I must say, this is probably the best upgrade in the "Feel" department!

New RunDry material for the collar.

Now with the upper and cosmetic department heading towards a positive change, next will be the outsole. The top of the range PowerGrid foam continues to cushion off the impact. And while I had no durability issues on the K3 and K4's outsole, Saucony decided to add additional rubbers on the lateral side of the mid foot area. Not that I can feel any difference but perhaps the outsole can last longer. One thing that I do feel or rather say hear the difference will be the suction sound from K3 and K4 whenever I walk on mosaic tiles. Gone is the sound from K5 and I suspect is due from the tread design of the rubbers which literary gives more traction especially on tile pavements.

Outsole of the fourth (above) compared to the fifth (below).

Many including Peter Larson aka RunBlogger has said that the K5 is the best Kinvara ever made. While I've not worn the K1 and K2 before as I find them too soft, I do believe Saucony is heading at the right direction with the K5 and it is much a superior shoe over the K3 and K4 and I am starting to see that some changes are made based on the racing heritage especially the Type A series. Hey.. After all it's the shoe that smashed by Comrades time!

The Saucony Kinvara 5 should be available nationwide at authorised Saucony dealers suchs as Running Lab, Stadium, Studio R and Royal Sporting House beginning September 2014 and will retail at a recommended selling price off RM399.00. And there may be even a special water resistant version call the RunShield series coming to our shores too which was reviewed by Jamie recently.

Colours galore for the Spring Summer collection of the Kinvara 5.

Disclaimer - The pair of Saucony Kinvara 5 reviewed here is a complimentary media sample pair given as part of my sponsorship program with Saucony Malaysia.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Little Engine That Does, A Sneak Peek at the Ride 7

The Ride 6 has been a strong shoe for so many runners, so we took a very thoughtful/deliberate approach to updating the 7th edition. Very early on in the process we established clear goals for how the Ride 7 should fit, feel and perform compared to other options in the neutral training category. There tend to be two options for runners seeking this type of shoe. Some neutral trainers are extremely light, but for many runners, they can feel too firm and/or fail to provide enough support under the foot. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many options that do offer great cushioning, but most are well over 10 oz. and have a clunkier feel than what we intended for the Ride. Our goal was to create a supremely cushioned shoe that transitioned exceptionally well, but was still super light.

The updates to the Ride 7 outsole illustrate our approach to achieving our goal. The plastic shank is gone from the midfoot, replaced by an additional pod of cushioned rubber (on the outside edge of the foot) and a carbon rubber pod (on the inside edge). The new construction provides a more supportive feel and reduces weight (the shank is heavier than the materials that replaced it). The forefoot platform has been made slightly broader, and the outsole configuration is flatter and provides more points of contact with the ground than previously (a similar design update was made from Guide 6 to Guide 7). Overall, the Ride 7 outsole provides roughly 20% more ground contact than Ride 6, which will make the shoe more durable, cushioned and supportive for the runner. Check out the images below for more key updates to the Ride 7!

Men’s weight: 9.4oz | 266g
Women’s weight: 8.5oz | 241g
Heel-to-toe offset: 8mm

Release date: Mid Q3 2014

* source - Saucony blog @

Monday, June 23, 2014

Frank On His Comrades Marathon 2014

In aid of the Be Frank campaign to raise funds for cancer research and awareness, Frank ran his third 89KM Comrades Marathon at South Africa on 1 June 2014. Back home, Saucony played our part in supporting our ambassador by taking part in the inaugural Frankathon event. And here's a look on Frank's race report from his own words.

By Frank

My fourth visit to South Africa, my second year as the Malaysia Comrades Marathon ambassador, my third Comrades Marathon and also second "Down" run saw 9 Malaysian standing in the chilly temperatures of 10c at the start at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on 1 June 2014. 

Race gears with the Saucony Kinvara 5.

Sleep was critical and just like last year, I woke up feeling good with about 5 hours sleep despite suffering cramps on my right calf. Just my bad habit of stretching after waking up. Must remember not to do it anymore.  I started to prepare myself breakfast which consist of coffee, muesli bars and some meat jerky. I also tried to clear my airway of phlegm as much as I could while cleaning and freshening myself up. By  3.15am, I met with the others at the lobby. Group picture and off to Pietermaritzburg with Chee Kong driving.

Group photo with fellow Malaysians.

We arrived an hour later at Pietermaritzburg and there was a slight hiccup upon disembarking from our vehicle. Everyone was trying to hard to put in last minutes gear check. Mine was literary all ready hence I helped out to tear open the hand warmers as the temperature was chilly about 10c and also took in a GU Roctane gel to give myself a jump start. Myself and Susanah lost touch with the others as we approach the starting coral but were soon reunited for a group photo together. And once all wishes were made, we headed to our respective starting pent. I was with Susanah at the G coral.

I remained calm and with the clock ticking away till the start at 5.30am, the atmosphere became alive. And then, it finally started with the South Africa national anthem Nkosi Sikelel Afrika being played followed by Shosholoza and Chariots of Fire. I sang along and then, it was silence for a moment before the cock's crow from Max Trimborn. This is where I started my chrono  and soon, the cannon went off to signal the start at 5.30am sharp! The crowd went crazy as we started to move.

As the start at Pietermaritzburg is narrower than Durban, it took me 7 minutes to cross the start gantry. That was about a minute faster compared to year 2012 when I was seeded H. I removed my t-shirt which kept me warm earlier. My gloves remained on with the warmers in them. A Kilometer in,  I had the urged to pee and off I went to the side where many runners were as well. It must have been the cold start that caused the urge. Once done, I tried to look for Susanah as we agreed to meet back somewhere in the middle of the crowd. I spotted her easily and we continued on. However shortly later after the first junction, she asked me to go ahead. I knew at that time her foot was starting to hurt already. I would have continue with her but knowing her that when she asked me to go ahead, I had to go ahead. And at that time, a decision had to be made and hence I surged forward after wishing her a safe and good run.

Surging ahead through the crowd along the narrow path, I caught up with Susan and exchanged a couple of words before I surged ahead again. The locals were already out cheering and supporting the runners while some poor villagers were asking for our unwanted tops. The urge to pee once again came at about 6KM and this time it happened near Polly Shortts, the place where I stepped on "human land mine" back in year 2012. I chose my spot wisely this time as I did not want to soil my spanking new Kinvara 5 and relieve myself. There weren't a lot of pee actually, just that the cold weather kept weakening my bladder.

The descend at Polly Shortts and Little Polly didn't bother me much as day began to break. And before it got too bright, I went again to relieve myself at 14KM. And it was here that I finally finished my tiny 300ML bottle of GU Roctane Brew I had from the start. I been sipping small amounts in at every 20 minutes interval to keep the nutrients flowing in my system and also to avoid the human traffic at the earlier water stations. Soon I've arrived at Lion Park, where the first timing mat was. I knew there was a video cam somewhere hence I continued running. Hahaha... Here, I've managed to passed a pretty huge number of runners already and hence has broken free from the main crowd. I've also passed all the 11 hours bus (pacer) and hence will be building buffer to ensure that all of them or at least one of them will stay behind me.

Next was the approach towards Camperdown and when the smell of chicken which was pretty nasty came, I knew I was near. I spotted Johan Grassman and took the opportunity to have a short break while catching up with him before resuming my run. Then I spotted the lady in pink wig and tutu, Caroline. Johan too caught up and we had some photos and chat together before I went ahead. As I arrived at Camperdown, I tried spotting to Mei-Ee but like year 2012, I failed to do so. I wanted the sun block lotion to apply on my shoulders. I even missed my first salty potato here as I went ahead too fast. No point turning back, I took my first pack of GU Roctane gel here.

So far so good on the legs and energy level, next to tackle was Cato Ridge, a pretty mild area before arriving at Harrison Flats. And if I remember correctly, this is where I cross path with Kai Yuan. Both areas are filled with supporters and this kept runners going. However not entirely to be confused with the word "flat", this part has actually pretty small nasty climbs, bumps I will say. The weather was slowly getting warmer as I hope that it will not be a repeat of last year. Took in in my first pack of "bak kwa” here and although I made sure I chewed properly before swallowing, it resulted in stomach cramps. Trust me it did not happen when I tried it back home. And with the constant coughing since the start, it made matters more uncomfortable. Sigh... But Ethembeni School came into view shortly after completing Harrison Flats as I began to high five the underprivileged kids. I believe that not only they felt good, I personally felt great and honoured too for it gave a little energy to withstand the pain as I rain. And at the end of this stretch, a major nightmare awaits, Inchanga, the descend into Drummond.

For the "Up" run, Inchanga is a long winding climb and hence I knew it will be painful and demoralising to run down. I took walk breaks in between my runs and had my second GU Energy Gel here hoping to recuperate. And while my legs and body does the job of making a single step at a time to get closer to Kingsmead, my mind was fix elsewhere.

And like last year, I once again bump into David from Singapore here. It seems like we just like to meet at Inchanga and snap a selfie of ourselves. We ran together for a while though sometimes we are just not able to keep up with another. I finally arrived at the halfway point at Drummond in 5:11:42 hours. I arrived on time as I've told Manette that I shall be there between 10.30am to 11.00am. And yes, she was there at the same spot as last year and she offered me a can of Coke and bottle of water. Am really thankful for her kind gestures as we chatted a little and had a photo together before I continue on after spotting David. DANKIE Manette!

Next was Arthur's Seat and I was surprised that no flowers was given out this year as back then, each runner will get a flower to wish Arthur Newton a "Good Morning Sir" by throwing flowers into the seat as the saying says that we will enjoy a stronger second half of the race. I however, gave the plaque a tap and said the message. Whether a stronger half, that depends for as long I did the tradition, that was the important part.

Drummond is located in a valley and hence climbing out will be a real challenge. And the route to take us was via Alverstone. A 11 hours bus came and both myself and David was following it. However, the driver was going to fast and at one point even climb 2 hills consecutively. David managed to stay with him but I played safe and held back as I felt he was certainly going too fast. Even a fellow runner was cursing him and told other to hold back and not to be suck in. I am pretty sure I am still well below the 11 hours finishing time and hence played on my own strategy.

I spotted Willie on a climb and caught up with this friend of mine. He was having difficulty with one of his foot and hence was walking. Although it was nice to have chatted, I couldn't stick with him for too long and hence carried on with my journey passed Kearnsey College with the students coming to cheer for us before I entered Botha's Hill. At this point, I would have conquered 50KM or so and my legs were starting to give way. Though I managed both my calves well as these are the 2 muscles that normally cramp first, both my adductors and right piriformis was in a sorry state. They were not only sore but painful with every steps.

I took my third GU Energy Gel while trying to shake off the pain at Botha's Hill hoping the nutrients will do some good to the tired muscles. This area is once again filled with supporters and the climbs were all right. I've managed to grab some ice cubes from the locals supporting from the side which I am really grateful as I massaged them into my adductors and piriformis. It helped sooth the pain for a while to allow me to run, but not for long and hence I kept looking for ice cubes.

Exiting Botha's Hill and into Hillcrest, yet another area filled with huge number of supporters, I spotted a familiar back. It was Selva and I ran beside him. We paced each other for a while before eventually one of us drop back. It was not easy for us to follow each other at this point when the legs were thrashed so badly already. We both however had a funny moment when we crossed the Winston Park timing mat. I spotted it from afar and told Selva that there will be a video cam there, hence we needed to run. And run we did and made funny gestures and eventually we were caught on camera. That's one for the album! Hahaha...

Next was the long stretch beside the N3 Highway as we ran towards Kloof. It was pretty hot here as there were minimal coverage of trees as I took my fourth energy gel to ensure replenishment of electrolytes I've lost. But as we entered Kloof, things changed when the Nedbank Green Mile came into view. Everything was green here with plenty of tress. Even the Energade served here was green in colour, apple I assume. Cheerleaders welcomed the runners while some were dressed in Scottish bagpipe blowers kept us entertained. Some puppeteers were there too. This is one place where I find it hard to walk as the supporters just kept asking us to keep running! 

Running into the Green Mile.

At the end of the Nedbank Green Mile, I was once again back on the open highway. And this will probably be the toughest descend into Durban for the winding Fields Hill awaits. The descend was so steep that I had difficulty running straight and hence went zig zagging. I stopped numerous times and I recalled cramping at a certain spot back in year 2012. And if that is the spot, yes I did stop once again to stretch by the wall as others bombarded down Fields!

After conquering Fields Hill safely, I arrived in Pinetown at about 66KM into the race. Like Botha's Hill and Hillcrest, this town is filled with supporters. And with my adductors and piriformis still acting up, I've asked for ice cubes numerous times from the supporters and they were kind enough to provide me. It was pretty obscene when I started rubbing my right glutes and both my upper adductors with the ice cubes. But at this point of time, it didn't really matter already. And as I approached the fourth cut-off point at St John's Avenue, a group of people called out tome. It was the folks from Saucony South Africa! WOOHOOoo... Thanks guys for the support!

Next up,the final tough climb at Cowies Hill. To protect my legs, I used the run walk strategy and successfully conquered it. And at the top of Cowies, to my surprise, I spotted CP and ran to him. He was struggling with cramps and I notice he was only wearing a pair of socks. We ran together for a moment passing ice cubes to each other to ease our discomfort. I slowly pushed forward as we approached Westville, yet another open area on the highway. It was hot and dry, and I took in small sips of water as I did not want to cause my stomach to bloat. The remaining water, I used it to wet myself. The roller coaster terrain here was still madness but the supporters kept cheering on us which kept us going.

Finally, I arrived at the final cut-off point 45th Cutting at Mayville. I had 49 minutes till the bronze cut-off time with 7KM to go. With the legs thrashed, it's going to be a very tight battle for it. But as the saying goes, "It ain't over after it's over", and hence I battle forward after taking in my final fifth energy gel. It was smooth sailing till the final 4KM where my right calf locked up and cramped! Not sure if it was the after effects from the cramp I suffered in the morning but as I had 4 water sachets with me, I quickly punctured each of them and watered my calf hoping the coldness will help ease the pain. My world came into daze when it all happened as I hop to the side to support myself on the highway barrier. I looked at my watch and it was 27 minutes till the bronze cut-off. The bronze is slipping away as I quickly try to shake the cramp off. I did a quick massage and immediately started walking away, limping more like it. A local runner came along side me telling me that I needed to run a 6 minutes pace should I really want the bronze. At that moment, I told myself that I WANT IT and I will try.

With the near cut-off experience back in year 2012, I used it once again this year to run my fastest final 4KM on the N3 Highway at Berea before entering Durban city. It was all done below a 6 minutes pace. I took one final sachet of Energade followed by water sachets to wash myself up as I finally entered the city. It was a flat final 2KM stretch into Sahara Stadium Kingsmead. Then the final turn into the Toyota Mile and that certainly felt the longest stretch before entering the stadium.

And as I entered the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, I had 4 more minutes and I knew I will make it should no drama of cramping or crawling happens. Out came the Jalur Gemilang as usual and like many would say, the pain and tiredness will disappear once stepping on the grass of Kingsmead. This time, I agree as I approach the finish line. I spotted Manette by the spectator stands and pointed out to her as a gesture of appreciation! And finally, the finish gantry as I raised my Jalur Gemilang and successfully completed my third Comrades Marathon with a time of 10:57:34 hours shattering my year 2012 "Down" run's time by an hour and last year's 2013 "Up" run's time by 27 minutes and earning finally the bronze medal!

Completing the gruelling world's largest and oldest road ultra marathon.

The bronze medal.

Team Saucony back home at the Frankathon event.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beginner 101: Your First Run

Beginner 101: Your First Run
by Jason T.

The night before, you drive yourself to the nearest sports store. Looked through the vast array of cool looking shoes on sale and picked up one for yourself. Next day, you lace yourself up. Beaming with confidence you went out for a run. The freedom of running, the wind blowing at your face … you’re unstoppable and you’re gonna blaze through this road. You ran as fast as you could, who is going to stop you now?

5 minutes in, things don’t look that beautiful anymore. Your breathing labored, legs aching and sore, head throbbing and you ask yourself what went wrong? You have to stop to catch your breath. No, I had to continue running, you tell yourself. Try as you may, things don’t seem to get better. You question yourself, is running meant for me? Why such a simple exercise is so difficult? Look around and that seasoned runner is running so effortlessly. Oh how I wish I can be like them someday.

If the scenario above describes your first experience with running, then welcome to your first real lesson in your running career. Every runner goes through these trials, we don’t become good runners right on the get go but in a slow life changing process. Sadly few will quit after a few runs. But surely there is something at the end for all these runners right? After all, 500,000 marathoners in the United States alone can’t go wrong year after year. Those who are patient enough to stick around will find out by themselves why these people are obsessed with running, completing those long distance runs and keep coming back for more.

So if you’re here in search for information to be a better runner, then I would say you’ve landed in the right place.

Some Running Tips Before You Go Out For Your First Run

1. Focus on going longer rather than faster
If you’re going out for a run the very first time (and indeed through the early few months), my simple advice is to forget about how fast you need to go, but rather concentrate on building the strength on your legs. This meant going slower but longer in your regular runs. For a newbie, if you can continue running for an additional minute is a great milestone. Adding all these additional minutes and sooner or later you’ll be running 5km and 10km races without stopping or walking.

2. Keeping it in 'conversational pace'
Your running should be at a comfortable pace. Try to talk to someone (or very often to yourself) during the run. You should be able to complete a full sentence (with some degree of difficulty) without gasping for air. This technique is known among runners as the ‘conversational pace’ and is often a good idea to find out if you’re running too fast. If you’re gasping for air, you should slow down to the point where you can resume your conversation with your partner.

3. Take walk breaks
There is also no shame in taking walk breaks in your runs. Each step you take during a run is putting pressure of your entire body’s weight on your joints and muscles especially on your legs and feet. Walking reduces the total pounding of feet vs road, which your muscles are not accustomed to. Different sets of muscles are also engaged if you alternate between running and walking hence your 'running muscles' are less fatigued during the run. One great run and walk training plan that you can adopt is the Couch-to-5k plan ( This plan trains you to run and walk with the ultimate goal of completing a 5k run at the end of it. 

4. Breathe right
A lot of runners, even the seasoned ones, think that running is all about building leg muscles and neglect their breathing techniques. Our muscles go into an overdrive for oxygen during an exercise. To put it simply the more oxygen intake, the less fatigued your muscles are during a run. You need to train yourself to take deep breaths rather than rapid short breaths. One technique used by runners is to breathe from the diaphragm (the part between your ribs and belly which expands as you breathe). Try it at home: if you take a very deep breath, you will feel your diaphragm expanding while if you take short breaths it barely moves. The diaphragm like any muscle, needs to be strengthened to be sustained for the whole duration of a run. Another technique is to breathe using both your mouth and nose. Your mouth provides a larger volume of oxygen intake than your nose and if you utilize both inlets, you'll have more oxygen intake into your lungs in 1 breath.

5. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate somemore
It goes without saying that proper hydration is important in any form exercise. Our body sweat to cool our core temperature which gets heated up during an exercise. That process of sweating at a prolonged period will cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body. Whenever you feel thirsty, that's your body telling you to drink up to replace those lost fluids. If you ignore these warning signs from your own body, it will lead to serious health issues. You should stay well hydrated before a run by drinking about 500ml of water 1-2 hours prior. During a run, try to get small regular sips of water every 15-20 mins (100-200ml of water is recommended). You can supplement your drinking water with sports drinks or with electrolyte tablets (can be found in all sports store and nutrition outlets) to replace any electrolyte losses from sweating during your run. 

6. Keeping yourself motivated 
Sometimes you will feel reluctant to go out for a run. It could be a combination of tiredness from your daily routine or just simply lack of motivation to go for a run anymore. Keeping yourself motivated for a run is a struggle every runner go through on a daily basis. One way to keep the enthusiasm going is to join a running group. Running groups are people who meet up on a regular basis for runs, provide companionship for those lonely long runs and motivate each other to achieve their running goals. If any of you have trouble finding a running group to join, do email us or send us a message and we will help you to locate one. Signing up for a race is also a great way to keep that 'running fire' burning. You'll start to run and train more with the hopes that you're prepared to race when the day comes. In Malaysia, we're blessed with plenty of running events (almost on a weekly basis). Those races range from 3k to ultra marathons (more than 42km) to suit the needs of different level of runners.

7. Take it easy
At the end of the day, running is a sport that is supposed to let you break away from the monotony of the daily grind of life. Don't fret it too much and get overly stressed about running. In essence, running is the simplest form of exercise with zero barrier to entry. Everyone knows how to run (except for babies) and shouldn't get into too much trouble to start running. Take it easy and enjoy the process, don't rush it. I promise you'll come to love running and look back at the day you started running with fondness.

Good Luck!
I hope that these advise will help you towards your first step into running - something every one of us at Saucony Malaysia have come to enjoy and love over the years. This will be the first of many more articles from us to share our experience with you. Do come back and check this blog often. Let us know which topic you want us to cover in our next blog post.

Should you have any questions regarding the article, about running or Saucony products, please do not hesitate to comment on this post. Let us know which topics on running do you  You can also follow our updates on our Facebook page (

Until then, keep on running!

** all photos are taken from the Internet and credited to their original owners.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Introducing Saucony Malaysia's Ambassadors

At Saucony, we existed because of runners and it's runners that inspire and drive us to go further. And together with elite athletes and ambassadors around the world, new ideas and inspiration are born to further improve ourselves. Over at Saucony Malaysia, we drive the same manifesto and have our very own ambassadors to drive us. The 3 of them has been a driving force behind the brand, representing Saucony out on the field and filling us with ideas at the back end. We are proud to have them on board and here's just for you to get to know them better. Do say "HI" should you meet them running or training somewhere near you.

Growing up, I was never into athletics and had no interest in any kind of sports. I was the classic example of an overweight child who stood at the corner at every annual Sports Day. Everything changed 2 years ago on one hot sunny evening when out of the blue I just felt like running. I did just that and never looked back. Not long after that, I joined a running bootcamp to learn more about running and to meet other runners. It gave me just enough confidence to attempt my first 10K at Siemens Run 2011 and the subsequently a big step towards my first PJ Half Marathon 2011. I attempted my first Full Marathon at the Penang Bridge International Marathon a year later and surprised myself with an 11th placing in the Malaysian Women Category.

Running has always been my private time which I safeguard dearly but as time passed, I realized a large part of what kept me going was my running mates. Taking up this sport has also brought me closer to my family. I try to bring my mom to most of my races so she could see and participate in the excitement and camaraderie that comes with each event. My dad is always the first to ask me how I did in my race and it means a lot to me to have their support.

While running has a huge part in my life, the other love I have is music. I am constantly on the lookout for new music as well as discovering and reliving music from the past. Music, like running knows no boundaries. It’s the language of the universe.

I count my blessings every time I head out the door for a run as there are many who are not able to be in my shoes. Therefore, every race that I join means a lot to me as it gives me another chance to go out there and give my best, no matter the distance or reputation of the race.

Favourite running distance – 42.195KM (official marathon distance)
Favourite running shoe – Saucony Kinvara 4

Jason is a born and bred Penangite. He led an active lifestyle during his childhood days. As one of the leaders of his school’s scouting movement, he spent countless hours in outdoor adventures. He also had a short stint of representing his school in short distance running races.

Upon completing his secondary education, Jason went to Nilai to pursue his undergraduate degree. He led a sedentary lifestyle during this period which saw his weight ballooned by 40kg. By the time he left his university, his weighing scale tipped at 92kg.

Life went on for him until 2012 when he suddenly felt a series of shortness of breath and chronic fatigue. Realizing his unfit state, he began to look for a sport which would return him to a better shape. He took up running and signed up for his first 10km race in June 2012 (Standard Chartered KL Marathon). Running was difficult for him at the beginning but he soon became a running enthusiast and completed 14 races in 6 months (including finishing a full marathon).

Today, Jason weighs about 69kg and can be seen training regularly at Desa Park City. Jason is also deeply passionate in using running as a platform to raise awareness for charitable causes.

Jason works as an IT lecturer at SEGi University College. He is also an avid reader and when he’s not running, he prefers to spend his time with a book and a cup of coffee.

Favourite running distance – Anything ultra marathon (beyond 42.195KM)
Favourite running shoe – Saucony Mirage 3

Frank was born the only child in the family back at the town of Johor Bahru. Raised and completed his primary and secondary education back there, he soon moved up to the Klang Valley to pursue his tertiary education before joining the workforce in the corporate IT sector for 6 years before moving on the sports, health and fitness sector and finally currently in the sports retail management sector.

Frank started running since young following his dad to the park for evening jogs. While in his teens, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer call Rhabdomyosarcoma that affects the connective tissues and muscles on his left wrist.

Upon successful treatment and declared cancer free in 1994, Frank ventured into mountain biking and after a successful spell in the sport, Frank decided to call it a day.

While pursuing courses in fitness certification and sports medicine, Frank ventured into serious running participating in running events in year 2007 and has never look back since. He also has successfully completed the Comrades Marathon twice, the world’s oldest and also regarded as the world’s toughest road race at South Africa. With the knowledge and certification acquired, Frank has successfully trained 43 normal individuals in tackling their first marathon distance in a short span of just 2 years. Today, Frank no longer provides personal training but instead still do give advice and guidance to runners and also assistance to running event organizers.

Outside the world of running, Frank manages the day to day operations of a speciality running retail outlet and also supporting his charity cause for cancer research together with CARIF (Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation) under the Be Frank initiatives which was inspired by him. Frank is also the Malaysia official ambassador to the Comrades Marathon Association.

Favourite running distance - 89.28KM (official Comrades Marathon distance)
Favourite running shoe - Saucony Kinvara 3 and 4