An Exhilarating Finale

With a week to race day (AHM), we wrapped up the Kingfisher Program with a final session to the track for what would turn out to be a delightful evening of track menu of 800m sets cooked with reduced minutes and floats, thoroughly enjoyed by all who came.

Since we had only 90min to complete our act, we got down to serious business with the FatBird Mile Trial done in their respective groups.  It was evident that the Kingfishers had improved from when they first started with the program, what with them doing the mile at a pace that left room for the execution of the main course (making sure they had reserves plenty for tackling that ;D).

The first segment of the main course was consumed with gusto, moderating  to a more managed target pace by the second set.  With the reduced rest time interval, it seemed that we had barely recovered from 'gasping for air' before being called upon for the next set again.  However, with the base and foundation built up over the past few weeks of intensive training, the Kingfishers were able to sustain without dropping off the pace nor feeling too much lactate buildup in the legs.

The final segment had us going for sets without any rest intervals, but instead 'float' allowances were provided for partial recovery - this to test our endurance for a sustained hard pace over multiple sets.  This provided the ultimate stimulus and challenge for the night, and as we counted down to the sets and floats, we were pleasantly surprised to see ourselves able to maintain the pace and not 'dying' even after we had completed that finale segment.

So, it was all of 10 sets, 8 of which were at SpeedyBird pace, definitely no mean feat for a flock who started with barely being able to do only 4 sets at sustained effort.  As we cooled down and chatted about the night's workout, many Kingfishers found themselves to have recovered very quickly from the just concluded speed workout.

As we shared some moments reflecting the 6-week Kingfisher journey, many were happy that they had improved so much on their strength, speed and endurance since joining the program.  The Kingfishers are now raring to 'fly' the bay this Sep 9, and we wish them all the best and godspeed.  Running The Bay? FatBirds & Kingfishers Will Lead The Way!

Photo Credits: Tommy Tan, CK Chin

Week #5: Setting The Pace

Picasa Photo Slideshow (c) CK Chin

After spending the past 5 weeks building up a good foundation with hills, trails and trackwork in the east, west, north-east, the Kingfishers were all ready to have a crack at running the full 21.1km at target HM pace on parts of the actual race route.  

It was some sort of a full-dress rehearsal where the trainees all don their bright yellow race day tops, along with the running shoes and equipment of choice which would be used on the race morning of Sep 9.  Because of a number of races (Tri-Factor series, CSC Reservoir Run, Vertical Marathon) this morning, we could not have more of the Kingfishers to do the time-trials; but still we had a reasonable turnout with a few dropping by after their respective races for the post-run debrief and race-day meet-up instructions.

Each Kingfisher trainee were given 2 packs of Shotz gels and electrolytes, courtesy of the sponsor, for this trial and use on race morning.  As with a full 'race simulation',  we would want to try out all the equipment, nutrition and hydration to ensure smooth operations before using them for the race.  The 21km route was made more challenging this morning with the modifications of having it run the course in 3 loops, partly to avoid the crowd after Cable Ski area, and partly to provide a good intermediate hydration support.

We started off together as a team and soon settled into our respective pace groupings for 1:45h, 2:00h, 2:15h, 2:30h, 2:45h.  With the uniformed blue (training crew) and yellow (trainees) tops running together, it was rather easy to identify and pace along for most part of the course.   The first lap of 7.5km was covered in good time, after we had settled down into a sustainable average pace.  

With each passing of the start/hydration point, it became more 'mental' as there was a tendency to want to stop and have a longer rest that usual.  Still, many of the Kingfishers had sufficient resolve to complete lap 2 within target pace, and even had reserves to finish off the final and most challenging lap.  

A good portion of the Kingfishers finished 21-22km with the remaining doing at least 18km, all at target race pace; some slightly faster, others a tad below the line.  Many were happy to complete what was their longest, sustained pace run, with another week to tweak and make adjustments to their final race plan.

The gels were used to good effect for many, and as an encouragement, the Kingfishers were given another pack for use in their final test-run and race day.  The paces were kept sustainable with the help of the trainers and running guides,bringing the respective groups to completion of a successful time-trial.

We are happy to note that with 2 weeks to race day, 90% of the Kingfishers are ready to rock the Bay!  With the remaining week of training, we will hone in on their sustainable race speed, and those who have not had a good morning at the office are tasked to do a second trial run in 'full-dress' mode.  Running The Bay? Kingfishers Will Pave & Pace Their Way!

Picasa Photo Gallery @ CK Chin 
Facebook Photos @ Kim Lai

The Kingfishers' High (On Hills)

Kingfishers in 'Mobot' mood after the thrills on hills, Photo Credit: Tejinda

And the western hills region lived up to its reputation for being one challenging training ground full of undulating terrain, yet offering the space and uninterrupted peace for enjoyable workouts.  The Kingfishers assembled pretty early at SAFRA MF, all eager to put in a good evening's worth of work with the training crew all ready to guide them through their paces.

The 4km tempo run served as an appetizing warm-up into the serene Labrador Park, which worked up a healthy appetite for the trainees to enjoy the main course.  The respective timing groups discussed how they were going to enjoy the hills menu while waiting for a later groups to arrive.

Part of the 'Torture' Crew, Photo Credit: Johnny

The 'hills' were dished out at 8:00pm sharp to the enthusiastic runners.  They were contained and each had a plan to 'eat' the hills in a fashion that there would not be any indigestion nor puking.  While they grumbled through the long up slopes, it was always a pleasure recovering at the top and then easing into the the time they were back at the start of the slope, it felt as though we were recharged again for the next lap.

The 4 weeks of strength and speed building have brought the Kingfishers to levels where tackling the 4-6 1.4km slopes at race pace within a given time frame would be something achievable and sustainable.  Where before we could hear loud grunts and heavy footsteps with not-too-pretty running forms, now we are observing smooth and efficient pacing in motion.

Joyous Kingfishers counting their spoils, Photo Credit: Johnny

Although there are still ample room for improvement, the progress of the Kingfishers have been nothing short of commendable and praiseworthy, especially for the many who have been committing to the regular weekday and weekend training of speed, strength, tempo and pace.

The main course was consumed well within regulation, with a couple of runners going for extras.  A new guest runner was happy that he got his money's worth with the ample servings, and was just glad to take a breather while waiting for the other groups to complete their courses.  Once all had their fill, there was a mini sharing of how they enjoyed the servings and the sense of satisfaction of having completed the main course without too much duress or feelings of being stuffed.

The cool-down dessert tempo back to ClubHouse along more slopes, albeit of lesser gradient, completed a most enjoyable night of training at the western slopes.  There were talks of going up Mt. Faber slopes to top the evening, but it was agreed that the endorphins generated was more than ample to keep everyone satisfied and happy...and so, we decided to leave it for another time :D

With a good base, the Kingfishers are now looking to test themselves this coming weekend with a full-dress rehearsal and trial of 21km to gauge their standings.  With enhanced conditioning, there would be many who would need to upgrade their timing targets after this run at HM race pace.  Kingfishers, R.I.C.E. well and come in your Full Battle Order this weekend.  Running The Bay? FatBirds Will Show You The Way!

Week #4: ON TRACK....for AHM

The track intervals is one of the special element in the PowerFLIGHT segment of Ops Kingfisher, the other being hills of course.  Most of the trainees await such track sessions in anticipation yet with a certain amount of positive anxiety...much like preparing for a track meet or race, something that brings back fond memories of their school and college sports meets.

As such, the track program is always well attended by the Kingfishers, and poses a little challenge in terms of coordinating the big group of runners on that track which is shared with other runners and exercise pundits - still, we had a very productive, effective and fun-filled evening of mile trials, 800m intervals, floats with room for stretches pre and post workout.

After claiming their appetizer mile time trial and getting the proper 800m coordinates from the Interval Pace Chart, the Kingfishers along with their respective pacers and trainers were dished the main menu of 800m sets (with reduced rest time from the first session), with a 'float' served in between to spice things up a little.

As we watched and kept time by the sidelines, we were impressed by the good training attitudes and passion that these Kingfishers have for track....something challenging and hard, yet the feeling and sense of accomplishment after each hard set of 800m produced many satisfying smiles as the runners cross the set finish and getting their timings shouted out.

With a good sense of what pace they should be training at (SpeedyBird effort), the majority kept good paces with the ringing reminder of 'sustainability is key' in their heads.  To their pleasant surprise, they did better timings without rushing in the early sets, and achieving their targets over the prescribed number of 800m sets served.

The trainees by now are using lap-timers from their running watches to keep personal timings, which when uploaded to the computer/log, serve as good information for improvements as training progresses.  After the delicious main menu of 800m sets and float, there was no special dessert (much to the relief of some) as they cool off with a good round of static stretches to round off a great night at the track.

With 2 weeks to the Army Half Marathon, the Kingfishers have secured a reasonably strong base of strength and speed as they progress to put them into pace training, requiring them to run at sustained HM race pace over progressive distances.  Train Smart, Race Easy - that will be the mantra for all the Kingfishers as we 'fly' towards race day on 9 Sep 2012.

Kingfisher Photo Slideshow by CK Chin

The Soleus GPS 3.0 - Trial Tests

The Kingfisher training crew recently received the Soleus GPS 3.0 watch, courtesy of Soleus Running SG's generosity to trial.  These experienced Kingfisher trainers have used a number of other training computers and heart-rate monitors, and were eager to take this new kid on the block for some test drives.  We brought it for a number of runs on both road and trails, in the city as well as park connectors, from distances of 8km-25km over a period of one month.  What follow are findings based on initial trials and feedback from our trainers, with some areas required for further testing and feedback for improvements by the manufacturer.

The Soleus GPS 3.0 watch comes with all the functionality of Heart-Rate Monitor (HRM) and a GPS function (without the need for an additional arm-pouch like in some other GPS watches) at an affordable price.


The Soleus GPS score well in the looks department with a simple black/yellow strip that gives the sporty look, yet able to wear it out as a causal timepiece for non-running activities too.  The Soleus watch is pretty light and of compact size compared with other GPS watches, although it could be even slimmer and best to come with a wider range of colours.  The watch strap fits rather snugly and wraps around the wrist very well.

Configuring the watch was rather straightforward, with just a few user settings (gender, weight, age, etc) to deal with.  However, the familiar data view settings found in some of the other popular brands were absent here.  Then this is a no-frills watch with important readings such as time, distance, pace and speed sufficiently covered, including simple calorie calculations.

Detection of the GPS signal was rather spiffy (within a minute) and the function worked well both in the city as well as trails.  This is comparable if not faster than the higher-end GPS watches that we have previously used.  Tracking of the entire run, up to 25km was correct with the signals maintained throughout.  

The Lap interval marks are quite easy to use and there is an auto lap feature which can be set.  The lap display shows the distance covered and current time for that lap.  These were certainly put to good use during our track and interval training sessions.

Use as a regular watch

Because of the lightweight and small size of the watch, it is a good proposition to be used as a normal watch, which will display basic functions like time zones, day of week, date and time.  The watch supports up to five audible alarms, which can then be configured against the different time zones you’ve set (you can set up to two time zones).


The Indiglo-style backlight that displays for 12seconds upon activation is bright enough, and the contrast can be adjusted to give a darker tone to the text for clarity.

Battery Life

The Soleus GPS uses a USB charging cable that you’ll plug into an existing USB port of a computer or wall adaptor.  The charging is pretty fast even with the computer USB connection, just that the initial ‘bite’ of the cable to the watch needs some getting used to.

With a 8hr battery life with the GPS on, the watch does have good ‘stamina’ to last at least a marathon.  The battery in idle state is able to last for many days without charging, much better than some of the high-end GPS watches we have used.  

Download & Analysis

The watch comes with a USB charge cable which will double up as a data download function. 
The software to capture downloads with run data and mapped locations can be downloaded free from the Soleuswebsite.  However, the transfer of data to the computer takes a while to get activated occasionally.  But once the downloading get underway, the data is downloaded quickly and presented in minute detail for analysis on the computer.

The software display gives summary information of my runs, activities including pace graphs and heart rate zones information shown in graphical form.  Data points of 1-second recording interval are shown, very fine information presented in a chart.  There are tabs with many other information shown, including manually or automatically recorded lap information.

There is a mapping to both Google Map and MapMyRun showing the routes and distances that I have covered during the workouts.  Once it is in MapMyRun format, elevation data can be analysed as well.

Settings for the watch can also be done via the software interface and then updated to the watch when it syncs.

Initial Conclusions

Overall, the Soleus 3.0 GPS functions well as a reasonably-priced GPS watch with HRM function.  Although there are a few nice-to-have features that are missing, we can see more enhancements to be added on as we get increased user feedback.  

The watch is aesthetically nice for both sports-related activities and casual wear, lessening the requirement for a separate timepiece.  The GPS unit being integrated into the watch without a separate piece reduces any additional baggage to the runner, to run freely.  

The ease of use and reduced functionality offers smooth transition for first-time and new users to such training computer watches.  

At a price of $369 retail, this is a good value running watch with full functionality of HRM and GPS, a worthy contender in the growing range of running watches in the market.

Back To The Trails For Tempos

The third weekend of Kingfisher training had us visiting the MacRitchie Reservoir (MR) trails again, this time for a 16km tempo run through undulating trails and road sections of the reservoir fringes.  With a sound base after 2 weeks of foundation training, the Kingfishers were more prepared as they tackled the challenging terrain with the target training pace prescribed for the morning.

Photo Slideshow (c) CK Chin

A very useful feedback session followed the 17km tempo run over challenging terrain, with Kingfishers able to sustain the specified target paces, due in part to the foundation built up over the past few weeks, helped along by guidance and tips provided by the training crew.  The Kingfishers training crew and trainees also put to effective use their newly acquired Soleus GPS watches to keep pace and track the distances  

There were a few important lessons learnt, chiefly not starting out too hard and maintaining a sustainable target pace as much as possible.  The other key takeaway for many of the trainees was the importance of having a reliable hydration plan and having proper replacements of water and electrolytes to provide the engines with smooth strokes for optimal performance.


Happy Kingfishers who had achieved the required attendance criteria collected their bright yellow Brooks Kingfisher running singlet along with sampling of electrolyte drinks so kindly sponsored by Shotz, our nutrition sponsor.

With the first half of base building and strength conditioning completed, Kingfishers will embark on the second half of the program with anticipation as we will be doing pace training on more gradual terrain, using the new found strength and speed attained thus far.

Running The Bay?  FatBirds will Show The Way!

The Western Park Intervals

Into the second weekend of the training program, the Kingfishers were given yet another surprise....this time for a bout of speed interval workouts at the Labrador Park, a scenic enclave in the western part of our training zone more known for its undulating terrain.  While a few trainees were away for races, we welcomed a number of new and drop-in participants who were joining us for the first time.

When we gathered at Mt. Faber, the participants were half expecting us going for hills training, but they were in for a pleasant surprise.  After a pre-run briefing and review of the past few sessions of training, we had starters of a 4km TempoBird paced run to the start point of interval training, where the advanced party of logistics and drinks support had already secured a nice shelter.


First up was the mile run to determine the paces for the individual Kingfishers, especially useful as a reference and to set the tone for our interval training.  The participants came back with strong mile timings, putting in solid effort but yet not going all out in a bid to have sufficient reserves to sustain the interval sets that was in the main menu.


For many, it was a refreshing way of doing 800m speedwork in the park, in the midst of lush greenery overlooking the majestic seafront.  Although the distances were similar to what they had done in the track, the layout and surface of the course made it a whole new experience for the participants, who thoroughly enjoyed the hard runs of each set, with rests for that quick recovery in between sets.


In fact, the Kingfishers did so well that they were given an additional set as a bonus treat, although they could have even gone further with even more sets at sustainable target paces - but we decided to leave that for future sessions as the training objectives have already been well met.  After a quick post training debrief, we finished off dessert with a 3km run in undulating terrain, drawing on the final reserves in the tanks of the runners.

Back at the Club House, there were some good post-run sharing among the various groups as well as demos of stretching techniques and foam-rollers to help the trainees ease off their 'tightening' muscles and mainly strained calves.

The training crew did a good job of organizing and providing support to ensure that the Kingfishers enjoyed and get the most out of their training sessions, something which we will strife to continue for the remaining 4 weeks of training.  With the kind weather and enthusiastic participation by all participants, the morning's session was highly enjoyable and productive for all.
Well done, Kingfishers!

Kingfisher Picasa Slideshow