Coach Jason Lawrence (@jacehaspace) shared on Race Preps & Injury Prevention during a lunch time talk at a civil service unit today!
He also demonstrated some simple exercises for you to work on one of the most powerful body part – your butt! Train it up, cos it helps quite abit in runners related injury preventions!
What’s more, recently he wrote a #runwithmok piece about running in #japan too!
The article was first published on The Straits Times #runwithmok column on 05 Aug 2017.
Many of us are aware of the physical benefits of exercise. Endurance sports, like running, can trim our waistlines, improve our cardiovascular health and lower our risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. But that is not all that we stand to gain by putting on those running shoes! Through its effects on our brain, running can also sharpen our mind and nurse our heart.
1. Stress coping function
Stress is part and parcel of living in Singapore.. If poorly managed, it can eventually lead to disabling mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Many studies have shown that aerobic exercise promotes the release of norepinephrine and serotonin, brain chemicals that can moderate our response to stress. It also allows the secretion of endorphins, a hormone which generates feelings of happiness that is also responsible for our uplifting mood after a long run .
Regular running can also alleviate anxiety. When we run, we learn to focus on our bodies and become more mindful of our surroundings. Subconsciously we also improve our breathing pattern and teach our bodies to relax. The end result? Less tension and worries rummaging through our heads, and a more regulated sleep cycle so our body can enjoy a better rest at night
2. Sharpening cognitive function
Animal studies have shown that aerobic exercise can boost brain cells and improve nerve connections in the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. High intensity running is found to increase the levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor), a protein which is associated with our brain’s capacity to function well. Running has also been found to reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly. A recent study of elderly participants found that those who engage in regular exercise performed better in memory, IQ and mathematics tests compared to those who did not.
3. Confidence and character building function
When we look good, we naturally feel even better. Running is a great way to lose weight, which is also linked to positive self-esteem and give us that extra bounce in our step. By changing up your routine, setting training goals and taking part in running events and races, we also learn to overcome physical and psychological challenges along the way. When faced with life setbacks, running can be the healthier alternative to escapism or depression.
On that same vein, the organisers of The Light of Hope Run 2017, Touch Community Services, aim to raise the awareness of depression. How apt this is, as running itself provides pertinent benefits against depression. So the next time you feel down, consider going for a run – that extra mile might be what it takes to bring back that smile!
Dr Aaron Meng is a medical doctor who is in advanced training in Psychiatry. He is also an avid runner and has accomplished a 2hr 48min personal best in the marathon event.
First published on The Straits Times on 29 July 2017.
Most people run to keep up with their own fitness, and be physically and mentally engaged. It is probably the most effective way to live a healthier life, as my fellow columnists – who are reputable athletes and medical professionals – have pointed out over the past weeks.
Beyond personal good, what if I told you that you can run for other kinds of good too?
In a previous article, National Marathoner Mok Ying Ren shared that one should run at a comfortable conversational pace. This is a good case in point – exercising with your running kaki at a comfortable pace allows you to catch up and spend the time meaningfully.
Being part of a running community gives strength in numbers to a sport which can feel ‘lonesome’ at times. For one, it allows you to share running tips with one another, join a network of like-minded individuals, inspire or be inspired, strengthen basic disciplines and habits, reach out to any resources that you might not have on your own, create self-development opportunities for others, and support both individual and collective endeavors. Most importantly, peer influence becomes a powerful tool to spur one another on to persevere.
That is why several running groups have sprung up in recent years, each with a unique value proposition that appeals to their followers.
#RunONE, the training partner for the recently concluded Straits Times Run in the City 2017 (ST Run), is one example of an online running and training community that aims to reframe running as one with personal, social and altruistic benefits.
Other running groups, like Running Department – the official pacers for ST Run – organize weekly group runs regularly, rain or shine. They have come a long way since its humble beginnings four years ago. As iron sharpens iron, today, these running groups form the core of an increasingly active collective of passionate runners.
Other than running with others, you can also run for others. Some run for advocacy causes, others for charitable causes. In both cases, you can be part of a bigger vision and make a difference to the lives of those around us. Sometimes the output comes in the form of increased donations towards these causes, and other times, an additional convert to the cause. In either case, it reminds us to remember the poor and marginalized, and uphold benevolence. Essentially, these runs represent, on a broader level, the challenges these groups face and are working to overcome i.e. their own ‘marathon’ in life. Some of these runs include:
● The Straits Times Run in the City, supports The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund (SPMF). SPMF started in 2000 and has helped 150,000 students and youths with collections amounting up to S$55million. The funds disbursed through social service agencies supports our students from low income families and multiple-stressor backgrounds to enable them to make it to school and have something to eat. To all the 13,000 runners on 16 July: you have contributed to making their lives better!
● Run & Raisin Charity Run, organized by Touch Community Services, aims to raise about S$250,000 for their Touch Young Arrows (TYA) activities and programmes. TYA provides weekly academic coaching through their dedicated volunteers, and aims to help children realize their potential.
● Yellow Ribbon Prison Run & Unlabelled Run, both combat the stigma against and the challenges of former offenders. These runs allow participants to pledge their support towards creating second chances in our society. They also encourage us to be more empathetic towards the circumstances faced by ex-offenders and to learn from their resilience.
In more ways than one, our seemingly minute efforts can go the extra mile in improving the lives of others. Running can be an absolutely meaningful activity! The next time you sign up for a run, do also consider the social and altruistic impacts that you bring to yourself and the people around you.
Have you ever wondered what is the underlying physiology that dictates performance during endurance events? What are the physiological factors that makes a runner into an F1 car and why do they matter in recreational athletes?
In distance running, there are three main physiological attributes which contribute to performance, namely (i) maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), (ii) running economy (RE) and (iii) lactate threshold (LT).
VO 2 max
A runner’s VO2max is amongst the most widely used parameter to evaluate his/her cardiorespiratory fitness. It measures the maximum rate by which oxygen can be supplied and utilized by the body for energy production during exhaustive exercise. Thus, it provides a good indication on the maximum work capacity that a runner’s muscle can achieve using oxygen for energy production. Essentially, VO2max is analogous to the fuel tank capacity of a car – the larger the tank capacity, the further the distance a car can travel.
While a car’s fuel tank capacity may be indicative of the potential distance by which the car can travel, whether the car could fulfil its potential still greatly hinge upon the car’s engine efficiency (fuel consumption rate). Likewise, runners possessing high VO2max can only perform well if they are able to run efficiently, a concept known as Running Economy.
An individual’s RE depicts the oxygen cost (or energy demand) for a given running speed and it represents a complex interplay of various physiological (cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular and metabolic) and biomechanical factors. While improvement in RE can be attained via conscious correction of running gait (such as less vertical bounce or unnecessary arm swing amongst many others), it can also be improved gradually via training adaptations. That is to say, the more time spent running on the road, the more efficient one becomes.
The third physiological attribute dictating successful distance running performance is the concept of LT. At low running intensity/speed, a runner relies predominantly on aerobic respiration (producing energy using oxygen) for locomotion. As running intensity increases, the body eventually reaches a point where energy demand exceeds the capacity of aerobic respiration and the body starts to rely on less sustainable sources of energy without using oxygen (anaerobic respiration). The point where lactate starts to rise above resting level marks the LT of a runner. Although the science attributing fatigue to lactate accumulation is far from convincing, there is nonetheless a strong relationship between LT and endurance performance.
The LT is akin to the horsepower of a car engine. Regardless of the fuel tank capacity, a car requires a high horsepower engine before it can be sustainably driven at high speed without going into overdrive. Similarly, a higher LT allows runners to sustain at a greater running speed without relying on anaerobic energy production. Endurance training can improve LT, but there are currently no consensus on the best training method for the improvement in LT.
Why do these matter?
The concepts of VO2max, RE and LT have been the cornerstones for training prescriptions and the monitoring of training progression in elite endurance athletes, and they can be easily applied to the everyday runners too. Unfortunately, accessibility to exercise lab testing is limited in Singapore and they can come with high costs.
Marathoner Evan Chee, an everyday runner, who was the fastest Asian in the inaugural Bangkok Midnight Marathon in May 2017, shared his grouses: “I personally have not done a lab test as my coach (Rameshon, National Record Holder for Marathon) and I had found success to gauge my fitness using my performance in time trials and races. Moreover, it can sometimes be costly to do a lab test.”
Evan was not alone on this. Banjamin Quek, an NUS undergrad who is managed by ONEathlete, also quipped that treadmill tests feel different than running outdoors. He said, “I sometimes just can’t push myself as hard on the treadmill as compared to running outdoors because of the lack of visual cues of speed. Besides, the tests are not readily available too.”
Photo Credits: ONEathlete
However, there is no need to fret. Key indicators such as VO2max can be easily and reliably estimated via GPS-sports watches or even simple running tests. For instance, VO2max can be scientifically predicted using the time taken to run 2.4km or the maximum distance covered in 6 minutes. This will suffice to serve as guidance for the prescription of exercise intensity to achieve optimal training stimulation with minimal risks of injury. To learn how to utilize these data in your daily training, check in next week!
Dr Ivan Low is a Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology, NUS. The exercise physiologist ran the Boston Marathon in 2015. He also extends his expertise to runONE’s Training Programme for ST Run 2017.
When national tennis player Shaheed Alam clinched the 2017 Southeast Asia Men’s Invitational Tournament Tennis singles gold after overcoming a 4-2 deficit in both sets, he knew he had his family and tennis coaches to thank, as well as his running shoes.
‘Because tennis is usually seen as a technical sports some people forget that on some levels, especially the professionals, there’s a lot of physical and aerobic endurance involved’ said Shaheed who is working towards the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and is managed by ONEathlete.
Rising above a rough year in 2016, Shaheed feels that running has elevated his game and given him greater confidence to focus and perform when the pressure is on, or when the match stretches for 2-3 hours.
Fit to Play
While most of us are more interested in playing sports like football or basketball as a social activity or part of a healthy lifestyle, running can feel like the distant relative we know but never wish to meet (even though we should).
Running is taxing for many of us precisely because it uses a lot of large muscle groups, more than swimming or cycling. This also makes running one of the most efficient way to train your lungs and legs to work longer and harder, for that much-needed boost (you wished you had) when chasing down that scoring opportunity.
Running is also great for building muscular endurance for sports like hockey or football which involves a lot of time on the legs and non-stop moving that alternates between a jog and all-out sprints for games lasting as long as 90mins.
It is also a common misconception that running does not benefit upper-body sports like canoeing or kayaking.
ONEathlete and national canoeist Jonathan Chong clarifies that ‘a powerful paddle stroke actually starts with an effective leg drive, and that is why running is an integral part of canoeing training.’
In other words, our brain usually gives up before our body.
So if you are aiming to play your weekend games more competitively, or even become your team’s star player, then learning to handle mental discomfort is par for the course. And we all know what makes us very uncomfortable very quickly.
This is why ONEathlete and national hockey player Tan Yi Ru runs after hockey training because ‘running trains my mind for that extra edge to push my body further even, and especially, when I’m already tired from training.’
‘I would highly recommend running because all you need for is a pair of shoe. And the benefits you gain, like strength and stamina, maps over easily to other sports and games. – ONEathlete and national hockey player, Tan Yi Ru
Making Running Work For You
For time-strapped weekend sports warriors, running can be scheduled on weekdays for as little as 20-30 minutes to stay fit while saving the weekends for team games when it’s easier to schedule a game together.
Jonathan also shares his staple workout when he’s in a heavy training (paddling) season – hill running or car pushing for a quick yet (very) effective workout.
Next time someone asks you about the secret in having the upper hand in any sports, tell them its actually the ‘upper legs’. Or you can join runONE, the training partner for Straits Times Run, for the upcoming race clinic!
This article was also published in The Straits Times.
Lester is an avid runner and passionate triathlete who raced at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Champs in Cebu. He thinks sports is the greatest metaphor for life and is now an in-house writer for runONE.
Mok Ying Ren finishes as Top Asian in Half-marathon held in Christchurch, New Zealand. Given a cold Sunday morning at about 7 degrees and some slight drizzle, Mok finished with a timing of 1:11:34. He also finished 10th overall. The feat was a good hard stroke, despite the demands of his medical profession, towards the lead up to SEA Games that will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in August 2017.
The ASB Christchurch Marathon is held in conjunction with the annual Queen’s Birthday Weekend event . The event moved back to the central city in 2015, after rebuilding from its 2011 earthquake. The event was held at 8am local time (4am Singapore Time). Official results are available HERE.
Mok Ying Ren is accompanied by Team Manager for Singapore Athletics Association (SAA), Jason Lawrence.
“It always feel good to run in Chirstchurch, where I won my first international marathon in 2011.
Competition is always good with the top kiwi runners in the mix. For me, my objective was to put in a hard effort in the build up towards the SEA Games in 2 months time and it turned out well. I had wanted it to be faster but it was still an overall a good run for me.
The first 10km went well while I ran with a group of 5 kiwi runners but I could feel the fatigue from my marathon training creeping in after the half way mark. I managed to finish strong over the second half while running most of it alone. The conditions were challenging as it was cold and rainy making footing at some areas difficult.
I’m looking forward to putting in another 2 months of hard training to prepare for the SEA Games. The support from sponsors, colleagues, and supporters have been very helpful to focus on the training itself”
Mok is a Double SEA Games Gold Medallist and is managed by ONEathlete. He will be participating in his third SEA Games, later this year.
Mok currently holds the half-marathon national record of 1:07:08 ran in January 2016 in Arizona, USA.
Edit: 4pm – Official results have been amended from 8th to 10th overall position.