Hitting the books

5 minute read

It was Day 2 of my trip (Dec 23 Sun). My plan was to go in the DHL balloon so that I can get a good view of Singapore. When I reached the MRT station, I suddenly got interested in randomly walking around. I really wanted to see the place.

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After more than an hour of walking around in the hot sun, I came across a really huge building. I got curious and tried to figure out the name - it was the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. It's a library?! I just had to get in there, for the AC as well as to explore the books collection. I thought it was a good idea since it would be relaxing. After all, the point of a vacation is to do things you wouldn't do in daily life, as well as to have a relaxing or invigorating fun time. At least, that's my definition of a vacation.

I went in, saw many rows of shelves. I clearly avoided the row which had some books with some strange titles like "Java & XML", I wonder what that's all about. I picked up a few books from the other rows and went and sat down at the benches. Lots of people were studying, with music on, writing down notes in their laptops and utilizing the free wifi.

I started reading a book titled something like "The Practice of Philosophy - A Handbook for Beginners". Unfortunately, within ten minutes, I was sleepy. Either it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep the previous night, or it was the subject. I went and sat on the couches and started to doze off. I was encouraged by the fact that there was some other Indian dude also sleeping.

After a while, I realized I was snoring, and there were other new people around trying to read, so I went and washed my face. Then, I went down to Level 1 to give a phone call to Abishek Nair (my gracious host for the trip). He was laughing that I came all the way to Singapore to sit in a library and read some books! He told me to come over to his company VHQ Post (an advertising post-production i.e. visual effects company) in an hour so that he can show me around.

After that, I stood near the wide glass and I look left and see the DHL balloon right there! It was funny since I wasn't actively looking for it.

Singapore Day 02 016 Singapore Day 02 017 Singapore Day 02 018 Singapore Day 02 019 I went back inside the library, the books were still there. This time I started reading a book more closer to my tastes - "The Runner's Handbook" by Bob Glover, and I went prepared with my iPod. Music always gets me going. I started playing "Sutrum Vizhi" and started reading. I started with the nutrition/fuel section because that's where most of my problems are. Then started taking down some notes:
  • Hitting "the wall" refers to that point when you run short of glycogen. This is an experience that every runner should try
    • once. After you're survived it, you will respect the need to prepare better for your next marathon.
  • Learn the values of long training runs, tapering, eating plenty of carbos, and not starting too fast. Ignoring these factors all contribute to hitting "the wall."
  • Most often associated with marathons. After an hour and a half or so of running, you begin to run low on glycogen. For most runners that will be 10-13 miles into a run. The average well-trained runner may store enough glycogen to last 15-20 miles, depending upon such as factors as pace, body weight, fitness level, and how well they loaded up on carbs going into the race.
  • When you run low on glycogen, your body attempts to conserve what remains by burning more fat for energy. But since fat is 15% less efficient than carbs as an energy source, you are unable to hold your pace and have to slow dramatically (even though fat releases 9 cal/gm compared to 4 cal/gm for carbs and protein)
  • Long training runs develop mechanisms for your body to utilize fat more efficiently throughout your race, thus "sparing" some glycogen for use later. Workouts at marathon pace and faster will also train your muscles to utilize carbs more efficiently at these paces. In addition, starting your race at a conservative pace will help conserve glycogen for later in the run. Tapering for a marathon combined with carb-loading is the key to surviving "the wall."
  • Back-of-the-pack runners benefit most from carb-loading.
    • Dr. Costill notes: The difference between elite and average marathoners is that even if both started out with the same amount of glycogen, the elite marathoner would spare it by burning a higher ratio of fat. Although more oxygen is required to burn fat, the highly developed oxygen transport system of the elite runner allows this. Furthermore, he moves more economically, which means that he uses less oxygen to accomplish the same task. The average runner, on the other hand, depletes his glycogen supply sooner and doesn't have as efficient an oxygen transport system to burn fat. That's why hitting the wall is so devastating and why carbohydrate loading is more important for the average runner than for the elite runner.
  • For shorter runs (< 90 min), glycogen stores don't get depleted much and hence carb intake isn't as critical.
The best part is that I realized that this problem is not unique to me! It's a documented scientific problem experienced by enough runners to have a section dedicated to it in a runners' book. Now I know what the problem is! Next, I need to actually figure out how to train to tackle this which the book didn't explain satisfactorily.

I had lost track of time because of the awesome reader-friendly environment and suddenly realized I was late. I then headed out to meet Abishek. I got to see all the whizbang gizmos they use to create all the special effects that you may or may not notice in the advertisements you see. These guys have amazing talent and patience to do the things they do. But that's a story for another day.


rambhai says:

wow thats some awesome pics man~~~the mazda rx8 rocks~~~the best car in the whole world~~the city looks rocking from the top

Anush Shetty says:

Yenjoying your singapore posts.

Wishing you a happy new year '08


Swaroop says:

@Anush: :) Happy New Year to you too!