How Do You Run?

Banjamin Quek – Running is a simple sport – all you need is a pair of shoes and off you go! Yet, it is not an easy sport to master especially if you are not aware of the different types of training that a runner can use to achieve his/her goals and improve their performance. Besides, learning various skills of running can make you a better all-rounded runner, allowing you to benefit the most from your training while avoiding potential injuries at the same time.

Being a seasoned runner, I’ve come across, and used personally, a number of different training approaches. This include several types of training runs, such as Fartlek, Intervals, Tempo runs, Long runs, Recovery runs, and last but not least, Cross training. Yet, keeping in mind the busy lives of Singaporeans’, my personal take is that greater focus should be placed on the intervals and long runs

Let’s start with intervals. Intervals are essentially speed work done on a track to allow runners to experience and get used to the exertion and effort of running at a certain (fast) pace. During my training with the ActiveSG team, my Monday Interval workouts on Monday would be based on my 10,000m pace, with a dynamic changing interval workout depending on how rested I am and my condition on that day. A typical workout could be 15 sets of 1km repeats at 3:20 min/km pace, with a minute of rest in between.

Moving on to long runs, which were the bread and butter of my training program in Kenya when I was clocking an average weekly mileage of close to 140km. Despite its importance, many runners tend to have the misconception that long runs need to be fast. Yet, I’ve learned that long runs are more beneficial when they are done at a pace that feels relaxed and comfortable, yet challenging enough without pushing the body too hard.

Last but not least, runners should also invest time into strengthening their body through conditioning workouts to prevent injuries. If you are tired of pounding the roads and pavements, try doing alternative exercises such as cross training or hopping onto the elliptical in the gym.

As a parting note, one should always aim to enjoy running in spirit of the sport! As much as it is important to explore a multitude of training methods, it is also equally important to keep the flame and passion for running alive by switching up your running routine every now and then! !

Banjamin Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment.

For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”

I Eat, Therefore I Am

Banjamin Quek – You may have heard your friends grumble: ‘A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.’ What this is really saying is that we are what we put into our mouth, consciously or otherwise.

Nutrition is especially important to one’s mental and physical wellbeing as food is the primary source of energy for us to go about our daily activities. It also provides us with much needed micro and macro nutrients that are essential to build a strong immune system. 

Even though Health Promotion Board has been actively promoting and advocating a healthier diet, there are still many who do not, or find it hard to, follow the guidelines for a healthy diet. In line with global trends, the prevalence of obesity and overweight in Singaporean adults has been increasing steadily over the years. On average, Singapore’s obesity rate increased 0.7% annually since 2004 to reach nearly 11% in 2010, just barely below the global average obesity prevalence of 12%. A recent report in 2017 also shows that the average Singaporean today is heavier, and more likely to overeat than our predecessors. It also warns that by 2024, Singapore’s obesity rate could reach a tipping point and exceed 15%.

To know how to eat well, we must first understand what is inside our food. Basically, all our intake can be broadly broken down into carbohydrates, proteins, fats, dietary fibre and vitamins. 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are our primary source of quick and readily available energy. It supplies our body with glucose that allows for smooth day-to-day functions. Rice, pasta, bread and potatoes fall under the category of carbohydrate-rich food. 

Proteins

One of our main source of proteins comes from meat and dairy products such as cheese and milk. Proteins help to rebuild damaged muscle cells and promote tissue growth. Those who frequent the gym would normally prefer a high protein diet to bulk at a quicker rate and also to feel full for a longer time. 

Fats

Fats are made of glycerol and fatty acids and they are often found in fatty-rich food such as chicken skin and cooking oil. While fats can add to the satisfaction we get from our diet, it is definitely not recommended in excess. 

Dietary Fibre 

Fruits and vegetables contain dietary fibres. For example, the orange pulp is almost impossible to digest and therefore, passes through the digestive system undigested. Dietary fibres help to promote bowel movement. 

Vitamins 

Vitamins are important as it helps our body to defend itself against diseases and render us less susceptible to illnesses. Vitamins can be found in fruits and fish oil. Nowadays, readily-packaged vitamins can be purchased off the shelf. 

As an athlete, it goes without saying that I treat my body with as much care as I possibly can. After all, the purpose of training is to subject the body to optimal loads of stress before allowing it to recover and become stronger through this process. Naturally, consuming the right quantity and quality of food and nutrients is an integral part of this training equation.

To start off, an endurance athlete is definitely more likely to sustain himself on a carbohydrate-rich diet in order to fuel the demands of training and recovery. Bread and rice are my go-to staple and they take up to 60% of my daily diet.

Proteins are also a definite must-have to speed up the recovery proces. However, for a distance athlete who needs to stay lean and light, excessive intake of proteins might do more harm than good. I try to keep my daily protein intake to about 20%, although this might vary and increase slightly during certain periods of my training season, in line with training tempo.

The remaining 30% of my diet comprises fruits and vegetables. I take healthy doses of supplements too to boost my immune system. On rare occasions, I also have to ‘feed my soul’ by allowing myself the occasional guilty pleasures of cakes and fried chicken. 

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All said, I feel that one has to dedicate some thought to planning for the right kind of diet. While it is okay to enjoy the sumptuous spread of local dishes that are only available in Singapore (and especially now that I’m in Kenya), do remember to balance these out with regular exercise and a balanced healthy diet. After all, the key to everything is moderation.

Banjamin Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment.

For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”

What is a running gait?

BANJAMIN QUEK – You might ask, what exactly is running gait? While running seems to be the simplest sport to execute without much technique involved, it is interesting to see how each runners move from Point A to point B a little differently. Running gait, to put it simply, is the manner of moving on foot, and everyone has a unique gait to allow them to move over ground in an efficient pattern.

What types of running gaits are there?

Running gaits are usually broken down into three types of pronation. Pronation refers to how the foot strikes the ground.

  • Neutral pronation

Neutral pronation takes place when the foot comes in complete contact with the ground and rolls inward about 15 percent to absorb shock. Around 20 to 30 percent of runners have neutral pronation.

  • Underpronation

Underpronation is when the outer part of your heel hits the ground first, and your foot rolls inward at less than 15 percent. The foot naturally supinates during the toe-off stage of your stride as the heel first lifts off the ground, providing leverage to help roll off the toes. However, if supination continues through the toe-off, the weight isn’t transferred to the big toe. This results in all of the work being done by the outer edge of the foot and smaller toes, placing extra stress of the foot. Supination is seen more often in people with high, rigid arches that don’t flatten enough during a stride.

Supination may increase your risk of ankle injury, iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

  • Overpronation

Overpronation occurs when your foot rolls inward more than 15 percent, which can cause stability issues with your foot and ankle. In overpronation, the ankle rolls too far downward and inward with each step. It continues to roll when the toes should be starting to push off. As a result, the big toe and second toe do all of the push off and the foot twists more with each step. Overpronation is seen more often in people with flat feet, although not everyone with flat feet overpronates.

Overpronation leads to strain on the big toe and second toe and instability in the foot. The excessive rotation of the foot leads to more rotation of the tibia in the lower leg, with the result being a greater incidence of shin splints (also called medial tibial stress syndrome) and knee pain. An increased risk of injury and heel pain may also be the result of the stress on the ligaments and tendons of the foot due to overpronation.

How to check your running gait?

There are various ways to determine your running gait. You can:

  1. Get a friend to watch/film from behind when you are running. If the knees are turning inwards, it means you are overpronating. If the knees are turning slightly outwards, it means you are underpronating.
  • Keep track of your pains and aches. By identifying the source of pain, you are roughly able to deduce the type of pronation. For instance, if you are experiencing pain on the inside of your shins and knees, you are likely to overpronate, while if you feel aches in the ankles, it is likely that you are underpronating.
  • Make a wet footprint on a paper shopping bag or a piece of heavy paper and bend your knees significantly to exert the weight of the arch on the paper. This method helps to determine the shape of your arch. High arch means a natural gait and a low arch means an overpronated gait.

Why is analyzing your running gait important?

You do not have to change your running gait. However, it is still important to identify your running gait in order to prevent potential injuries derived from the way you pronate.

For neutral pronation, a pair of neutral shoes such as UA HOVR Sonic is recommended.

For under pronation, you should look for more well-cushioned shoes to absorb the shock of each stride. UA charged bandit 4 will be a good choice.

For over pronation, a runner will need motion control/stability shoes to guide the foot into a proper amount of pronation. UA speedform Europa is an example of such shoes.

Get your running gait analyzed today!

Banjamin Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment.

For inspiring stories related to running and sports, as well as discounts to local races, subscribe to ‘RunONE’ by adding +6588347638 to your Whatsapp contacts. Then send us the words, “Run With Me.”

3 Ways to kick start your weight loss campaign!

BANJAMIN QUEK – It is easy to make fitness goals when it’s barely 1 month into the new year, when you’re brimming with enthusiasm (or festive goodies). A simple comparison of the number of gym-goers in January and June will be telling – how many of us will be disciplined enough to go the distance when it comes to health, fitness and weight loss?

The fact is, most of us can’t. According to a survey by Taiwan’s Health Promotion Administration, on average, we consume 39% more calories, and nearly 45% of people gain an average of 1.7kg during Chinese New Year. Multiply that by the number of festive seasons in multi-racial Singapore, and add in As the saying goes, ‘a moment on your lips, forever on your hips’.

Here are 3 simple, yet effective ways which can help you stave off those extra pounds.

  1. Using Calorie Counter

I am blessed with loving relatives and loved ones who never fail to shower me with home-cooked meals and food whenever we meet up. While I know this is their way of caring and showing their love, such generosity may not always be helpful when I’m working towards a target race weight. Taking one or two extra bites may not derail your plan, but it is still important to watch what you eat. Keeping track of your meal and snacks intake goes a long way in keeping you accountable to your weight loss plan.

Alternatively, you might want to download Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app which can help you track your calories intake, and also set diet goals to remind yourself not to overeat during moments of indulgence (or weakness). Some snacks can be notoriously high in sugar and such blood sugar spikes could compromise your immune system and make you more vulnerable to sickness. As always, moderation is key.

2. Consistent exercise is key

If you are someone who ‘lives to eat’ and life would be decidedly un-worthy if devoid of snacks and treats, then consistent and disciplined exercise might be the way to go. #BurnMoreEatMore. Incorporating exercising as part of your daily regime is a simple way to ensure that those extra calories fill your heart, but not your stomach. Here’s a chart about how much exercise you would need to burn off the extra calories.

(c) Chart adopted from Channel Newsasia

Since running is one of the most efficient and calorie-bruning exercise, you might want to take a look at Under Amour’s Hovr Infinite. Their latest running shoe, launched in February 2019, has a new feature which allows you to track your run and calories burnt via the Mapmyrun app. UA Hovr Infinite is also comfortable for running over long distances and can certainly be one of, if not your best buddy for your runs.

A morning workout before the emails and work calls start coming in can also become a de-stressing routine. The cool morning weather also makes for a surprisingly refreshing run, unlike the hot and humid tropical climate in Singapore.

3) Choosing Healthier Options

Instead of chugging down cans of beers and soft drinks, you might be amazed by how much of a difference it makes to opt for water or low-calorie sodas. It’s little surprise that people put on weight during festive seasons, since everyone mostly hands out packets of sweet drinks during visitations. With the rising popularity of sugared beverages like brown sugar milk tea, it can feel like an uphill battle against the sugary goodness. However, the choice ultimately is ours to make, and taking the calories from sugared drinks out of the equation is definitely one of the secrets to not piling on the extra pounds. Sometimes, eating is just our way of dealing with boredom so why not fill in this gap by throwing in fruits as part of your diet instead?

(c) Stock image from Google

In a food-centric society like Singapore where a large part of our culture is built around what is served on our plates, it can be very challenging, and counter-intuitive at times, to lead a life that seems devoid of these tasty ‘parcels of love’. However, with a little mindfulness, we hope you can achieve the balance you need to enjoy a healthy body while fulfilling your heart’s desires.

Banjamin Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment.