ST: Music to the ears!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 15 July 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I am used to jogging while listening to music. Is this advisable? – Eunice Lai
  2. Is it safe to listen to music while running? – Ernest 
  3. What’s your favorite playlist when you’re running? – Sheryl

Hi Eunice, Ernest and Sheryl, thank you for your question. The short answer to Eunice’s question is: yes, music has a profound effect on many aspects of our lives – including running!

But, of course, your selection of the type of music matters, depending on what you wish to achieve for your workout.

Technique Correction

Music can be used to correct your running technique – when listening to music during activity, our bodies naturally undergo an “auditory-motor synchronization”. This means that the tempo of our movements (in running terms, our cadence) is adjusted to match the tempo of the music.

Cadence is a key technical component in running and refers to the number of steps one takes per minute. Runners who run with an extremely low cadence may be over-striding (taking too large steps), which puts them at an increased risk of injury. Most coaches recommend a running cadence of 170 – 180 steps per minute.

Without audio cues, it may be challenging to increase one’s cadence and maintain such a high step rate, especially if one is running alone. The acoustic stimuli act as an audio cue for our bodies to synchronize our movements with the music tempo. This enables one to consistently correct one’s running cadence in an almost natural manner. Try running off beat and see how frustrated you will get!

Once you have corrected your running cadence, you can then move on to using the music of different tempi to achieve low-, medium-, and high-intensity training.

Performance Enhancement

Music is often said to be a performance enhancer in endurance sports. It improves physical performance by either delaying fatigue or increasing work capacity.  

Numerous research has been done to study the effect of music on runners’ and triathletes’ performances. The result? Listening to motivational music during activity can delay the onset of exhaustion by almost 20%! The positive effect of music on running had already been recognized in the 1990s by the great Haile Gebreselassie. He credited the “Scatman” song for his world records in the 10,000m (track), and even revealed in an interview with The Guardian, “If you watch back some of my world records you can hear Scatman in the background. The rhythm was perfect for running.”

To enhance your physical performance, listen to music with strong, energizing rhythms and uplifting melodies and harmonies. Of course, the rhythm of the music should match your movement patterns, depending on the intensity of your desired activity.

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For Mok Ying Ren who run-commutes along noisy high-traffic routes, listening to music and audiobooks on his noise-canceling headphones helps him to focus and enjoy the run. (Image by ONEATHLETE)

Racing

For safety reasons, race organizers generally discourage participants from listening to music during a race. There is great concern that participants who are listening to music may not be able to hear instructions from the race officials and other runners on the race course.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) considers the use of audio devices as external assistance. Elite runners who are competing for top prizes are therefore prohibited from using any form of the audio device during their race. However, it is common for race organizers to exercise their discretion to exempt non-elite runners from this rule.

Relaxation

If you are looking to relax during your run after a long day at work, listening to your favorite tunes while running will help you to achieve that.

Personally, in addition to my favorite songs playlist, I also listen to audiobooks of different genres while running. I was inspired to do this by my gastroenterologist colleague from the National University Hospital, Dr. Low How Cheng, who listens to book after book on his regular runs. After all, what better way than to kill two birds with one stone?

Moreover, my current wireless earbuds, (runONE editor’s note: the SONY WF-SP700N), carry secure fit and noise-canceling capabilities which I have found to enhance my listening experience while I listen to audiobooks during my commute (running along roads with heavy traffic) en route home. It can also boost ambient noise, helping with situational awareness when required, such as when crossing roads and manoeuvering through areas of high human traffic. In that sense, you can utilize the latest audio technologies, to focus, to relax and enhance your running experience.  

All in all, music is a great tool for training. Select your music (and your earpieces) wisely and it can help you to achieve your running objectives. Being on the right ‘track’ has a different meaning now!


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ST: Minimising risks in running

This article was first published on Sunday Times on 7 July 2018.

Dr Malcolm Mahadevan – When a runner is forced out of action, more often than not, it usually involves minor issues such as muscle injuries, sprains, skin lesions such as blisters and abrasions. Acute injuries are rare. More than 8 in 10 running injuries are caused by overuse, often a mismatch between the strength and resilience of the connective and supporting tissue and the demands of running. How can we avoid them?

Follow a training plan

In my area of practice, I have seen many poorly prepared athletes suffer from swollen joints and muscle injury. I remembered a patient who was sedentary most of the time and had decided to participate in a mass run. She overstrained herself to the extent that her leg muscles swelled and broke down. The pressure resulting from the swelling of the tissues was so great that it impeded blood flow to both legs. She needed emergency surgery to relieve the swelling and save her legs. The damaged muscle had also released proteins and other by-products from the breakdown that clogged and failed her kidneys, thus necessitating dialysis treatment. While she recovered eventually, it was a traumatic experience that could have been avoided with proper training.

Thus far, research has turned up contradictory conclusions on the risk that running imposes on developing joint and muscle injuries per se. However, it has been recognized that running is one of the fastest ways to fitness and associated benefits such as health and longevity. A good gradual training plan (like #runwithmok) leading up to a race can help participants minimize their risks of running injuries. When I wanted to return to running, I too, approached my colleague, Dr. Mok Ying Ren for a training plan, so that I can ease in progressively.

Mok and Malcolm
Dr Malcolm follows the RunONE training plan himself and came back to running through a #runwithmok session. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Condition to dissipate heat

Heat stroke is a severe form of heat-related illness that happens under extreme and rare circumstances, usually a result of several contributing factors. The majority of us do not overheat as our bodies are able to balance and regulate heat generation through bodily dissipation, such as through skin. However, if either side of the equation is tipped over then that’s when we have a problem.

Under hot humid conditions like in Singapore, race planners generally plan races early or late in the day to mitigate the effect of heat and weather on runners.

What runners can do to help themselves, is to condition for the race through structured race preparation and training. This is just as in a car where the engine cooling system depends on coolant fluid for heat transfer and dissipation, our body depends on water to play the similar role. As we run, most of the water is lost through perspiration and respiration. Keeping ourselves well hydrated before, during and after a race is, therefore, the key to ensuring that our bodies are able to cope with the heat stress of exercising on top of the hot humid conditions we face.

Hydrate during the run

While training for my half marathon in Gold Coast, I have had the first-hand experience of the likelihood and risks amateur runners like myself face in dealing with heat-related illness.

While I was away in the Netherlands,  the chilly weather meant my long runs were comfortable affairs and I was afforded the illusion of luxury of not hydrating myself  Upon return to Singapore, the difference was apparent when my heart rate was significantly ramped up during a similar effort long run. I also quickly felt thirsty and had to stop often to rehydrate myself to prevent heat-related illness. The stark difference was a somber reminder of how easily the humidity and heat can dehydrate us while exercising under our hot tropical conditions

As most of our races in Singapore are well planned with hydration points spaced out at regular intervals, let’s make the best use of them to replenish our dehydrated and depleted bodies.

Participate in pre-race screening

While mass events such as run races are well organized with good first aid posts, emergency ambulance services and evacuation plans for contingencies, there have been unfortunate incidents where runners collapsed due to undiagnosed pre-existing cardiac conditions.

Recently a runner in his 40’s collapsed while running  While the security guards reacted quickly to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the paramedics arrived soon after to deliver the life-sustaining electrical shock to treat an otherwise potentially-fatal arrhythmia. He arrived in the emergency department where my colleagues and I worked to resuscitate him before sending him to the cardiac catheterization lab where our interventional cardiologist opened up his blocked coronary artery. Fortunately, he survived the whole episode. An older runner should get a proper check with their regular doctors who may refer them to a cardiologist for further evaluation.

Malcom at GCM 18
Dr Malcom’s flatlay before participating in the Half marathon at Gold Coast Marathon 2018 last sunday. Photo Credits: Dr Malcolm

Acclimatise to the race location

Proper training building up a solid base prior to a race, as well as proper acclimatization, are all essential elements for a runner’s safety. I recall having read about a young athlete who had just flown in from a temperate region and did not had enough race preparation and sleep before his race in Singapore. In the end, he overstretched himself only to collapse near the finish line. Unfortunately, he did not survive.

As runners, we need to respect the race we participate in, be mindful of our own bodies and know our limits whether we are young or not.

Practice good race discipline

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Dr Malcolm looking spiffy during his half marathon at Gold Coast last sunday! Photo credits: Dr Malcom

Unlike competitive cycling where cyclists are bunched up together and a tumble can easily set off a chain reaction collision, It is rare to see runners collide and sustain injuries in this manner.

However, in some of the mass runs/races that I have participated in, I did notice that slower runners tend to congregate and walk abreast, blocking up a large part of the route. As a result,  faster runners had to swerve to overtake which can lead to collisions and injuries. Sprains and strains, or even more serious injuries like a fractured bone, are also possibilities arising from such accidents. This is where participants should exercise good race discipline by moving to the side and allowing others the opportunity of clear passage.

Conclusion

Generally, mass runs/races are safe. It is encouraging to see that more Singaporeans are participating and it is in line with all our efforts to stay healthy. A healthy dose of common-sense, graduated training, and preparation, as well as adherence to race guidelines, will go a long way in ensuring safe and enjoyable races for all of us.

 

Dr Malcolm
Associate Professor Malcolm Mahadevan is a Senior Consultant and Head of Emergency Medicine Department at National University Hospital. He undertook the RunONE training plan to get back into running.

 

ST: How to maximise your recovery period?

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 1 July 2018.

#AskMok

  1. Your fav recovery regime? One that you would do if you have time to spare and one when the time is not on your side. – Kendrick
  2. How do I find out what nutrition/food & meals I need for training and rest day? –  Chad Lim
  3. Where can I get the roller which you used to roll/massage your leg? How much is it? – Terence 

Hi Kendrick, Terence and Chad, thank you for your questions.

The topic of routines for optimized recovery is a popular one among runners. The purpose of a recovery period is to allow the body some time to repair and strengthen itself after a training session. Contrary to popular belief, your body gets stronger duringthe recovery period, rather than during the training session. The recovery period gives your body an opportunity to replenish energy stores lost during exercise, and to build and repair muscles. If you deny your body sufficient time to recover, you will only become increasingly fatigued!

Get a good sleep

The best recovery tool, but also the least talked about, is sleep. Sleep plays a key role in the regulation of many types of hormones in our bodies, such as cortisol, growth hormones and thyroid hormones. These hormones are crucial in the recovery process post- workout.

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation results in an increased insulin resistance and decreased glucose tolerance. This then translates to low energy levels and a decrease in the time to exhaustion (i.e. you experience exhaustion during exercise much quicker).

During sleep, our bodies release growth hormones to repair and strengthen our muscles and bones. Without sufficient sleep, you may be limiting your body’s ability to recover from an intense workout or make your muscles and bones stronger. Getting regular, sufficient sleep is therefore paramount to achieving an optimal recovery.

Go for a massage

Sports massages theoretically increase local blood circulation and reduce muscle tightness. The increased circulation to muscles also aids to eliminate waste products such as lactic acid build up in muscles after exercise. Despite little scientific evidence in the literature of sports medicine to conclusively determine the efficacy of sports massage in enhancing recovery, there are individuals who feel that they reap tremendous benefits from sports massages and many elite runners go for regular sports massages to enhance their recovery following intense workouts.

A downside of sports massages is that they are often quite pricey. An alternative would be to self-massage by employing various tools which may be easily procured. Such tools include foam rollers, massage sticks and trigger balls (which you can easily purchase from any sports retailer or online stores). In order to utilize these tools effectively, it is best to learn the techniques for using such tools from a trained physiotherapist or trainer.

Eat a nutritious diet

It is a no-brainer that you will need to complement your workouts with adequate nutrition. One aspect of nutrition is nutrition timing – the time window in which you consume your nutrition. Most sports scientists recommend that the “window of opportunity” is 30 minutes after your workout, meaning that you should consume your recovery food within 30 minutes post-workout.

Another aspect of nutrition is the content of the nutrition. Generally, you should choose foods which contain protein, carbohydrates, and (good) fat. Choosing easily-digestible foods will also promote faster nutrient absorption. In a recent meta-analysis of 12 studies in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that the consumption of chocolate milk post-workout lowered blood lactate and offered an improved time to exhaustion (i.e. lasts longer) at the next training session.

Thus, an easy way to improve your nutrition is to bring along a packet of chocolate milk to your workouts and to consume it immediately after the session. This replenishes the electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during your workout and provides a dose of protein to kick-start your recovery process.

Spend quality time on work and family

Your mental and emotional well-being are also an important aspect of recovery. Personally, I used to find that many of my other personal commitments, such as study, work, and family, were a hindrance to my recovery – perhaps that time could have been better used for precious sleep. However, I have come to realize that even work and studying could be a form of recovery.

To me, spending time with my loved ones (especially my wife), seeing patients and operating in the surgical theatre gives me a break from running. These activities pose a different challenge to the mind and heart, which I absolutely relish. Investing your time and effort in other aspects of life (other than running) can be a great form of “recovery”, in the physical, mental and emotional sense. After all, we all need some balance in life.

Now, as you #RunWithMok, do remember to prioritize your recovery days to maximize your training!

ST: Preparations to tackle an overseas run!

First published in The Sunday Times on 24 June 2018

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ASHLEY LIEW – The 2018 Gold Coast Marathon (GCM) on 1st July 2018 will be my 5th time racing there, as well as my 30th full marathon. I have learned things the hard way, but I have also been blessed to have received sound advice through others’ sharing. I hope to pass this on,  especially to those running this upcoming IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Packing list

One of the most important things, when I am packing for an overseas race, is to find a previous race photograph (the 2012 Gold Coast Marathon finish line shot where I clocked 2h35m40s is one of my favorite – purely coincidental). The race photo acts as my race packing checklist and makes sure I do not miss out items such as shoes, socks, running attire, and watch.

Another important consideration is the destination weather forecast which I always check in advance so that I can bring along appropriate attire (which may vary according to one’s personal and varied needs). While I am used to running in a singlet, shorts, and maybe gloves in cold weather, everyone is different. Having said that, overdressing is a common problem at overseas races, which brings with it risks of overheating once the race starts and the sun comes out.

The trick, then, is to stay warm till just before the gun goes off. Often, on the pre-race morning, I see runners shivering due to inadequate warm clothing and that wastes energy unnecessarily. My advice is to layer up with old or cheap pieces of clothing that you are willing to part with, wear them to the start line to stay warm, then discard them appropriately just before the race. Many races have also started to collect and donate these discarded clothing for charitable causes.

Settle-in early

If given a choice, I would also want to arrive at least two full days before the Sunday race for two important reasons. First, I need my Friday night’s sleep to be sound and uninterrupted such that my circadian rhythm synchronizes with the overseas time zone.  It is also likely that Saturday night’s sleep would not be restful, due to pre-race nerves and excitement, so the rest two nights out is crucial. Second, I need my body acclimatized to the “wintery” weather that goes as low as 10 degrees Celsius early dawn.

Choosing an accommodation with good location and accessibility is an equally important consideration. Ideally, it should be close to the start line, to minimize uncontrollable factors such as traffic delays. If this is not possible, seek out accommodation that is well-connected to the transportation network. For example, my accommodation at GCM 2018 will be less than 300m away from the nearest G:link tram station. I also always plan to reach the race site at least an hour pre-race, so factor in the traveling time and work backward to decide the time you need to leave your accommodation. I cannot overemphasize the importance of orienting yourself by visualizing beforehand the flow of race morning, to avoid any unnecessary panic setting in.

2011 - credit GCM organizers
National Marathoner Ashley Liew roaring to the finish line during the Gold Coast Marathon (GCM) for a personal best in the cool weather in 2011. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE / GCM

Pre-race rituals

Usually, after touching down at the airport and checking-in at the accommodation, I might opt for a short nap if needed, after which my priority will be the collection of the race pack. Once you have collected your running bib and timing chip, I will encourage you to immediately affix them (onto your race attire), then lay out all your race gear and nutrition for race morning. I will never forget the friend who had everything ready on the morning of the 2011 GCM but left her bib in the hotel room. You want to have peace of mind on race morning.

As a rule of thumb in planning your race-cation itinerary, always prioritize and settle the important things first. Plan accordingly so you do not zap energy from your legs before the race, which you have spent a long time preparing for. I will always remember my mistake of committing to a jumping photo shoot days before my 2011 Singapore Marathon which caused fatigue even before the race started. Save your legs for the race by minimizing time on your feet. Unfortunately, this means you will likely have to save your shopping and sightseeing for post-race. Personally, I find it beneficial to “hibernate” in your room in the two days leading up to race morning, where you can visualize race success, read a book (I like “The Champion’s Mind”), and even unwind to non-running thoughts (I watched Mr. Bean on television the night before the 2011 GCM).

Never try anything new close to race day. This applies to new shoes, attire,  and even your pre-race routine meals. I make it a point to recce my pre-race dinner location to find a menu I am comfortable with, so as to avoid unnecessary gastrointestinal issues.

Hang out with others

Running is a community event so you may want to link up with other Singaporeans before the race to tap on each other’s experience and encourage each other with positive vibes. However, if you are serious about your race, I would suggest keeping this group you hang out with small. It is easier to coordinate a smaller group which is less draining mentally too. However, after the race, give yourself the latitude to hang out and rejoice with as many people as you want! You’ve earned it!

Enjoy the process

The Serenity Prayer goes like this: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” While we cannot change several elements about overseas races, we can control other factors to make it the best experience possible.
Wake up early on race day, get yourself healthy and on time to the start line, then go out with courage and grit to run the race of your life. For the 450 Singaporeans going to the Gold Coast, see you there at the start line!

Ashley Liew ONE
Ashley Liew is a national marathoner and Doctor of Chiropractic. He has a personal best of 2:32:12 and is managed by ONEathlete.

ST: How do i manage my training sessions?

First published on The Sunday Times on 17 June 2018

 

#AskMok

  1. What is/are examples of a bad training plan? How do you / should we space out “hard” workouts in a week? – Andy Kek
  2. How can I integrate double training sessions into my training program (i.e. running twice a day)? Do you have any recommendations for double sessions? – Leow Wen Jun

 

Hi Andy and Wenjun, thank you for your questions (see top).

Last week, we learnt from Dr Ivan Low that the key components of a good training plan are; (1) individuality (customised to one’s self), (2) specificity (specific to the race one is preparing for), (3) progressive overload (graduated increase in intensity and volume), (4) variation (not monotonous), and lastly, (5) recovery (allowing the body to regenerate and restore). However, it would be over-simplistic to deem every training plan which lacks any of the above components as “bad”.

Adopt a suitable plan


The definition of “bad”, in this context, is subjective. Whether a training plan is considered “bad” is highly dependent on the individual – there is no “one size fits all”.

For example, there are some people who are able to load their bodies with high-intensity and high-volume workouts within a short span of time, and yet manage to avoid injuries. There are also some who repeat the exact same workout every day for a whole year, and yet manage to improve their physical performance.

A “bad” training plan is simply a training plan that just does not work for you. Give yourself some flexibility to adjust your training plans as and when required to suit your body’s needs, and pay attention to how your body responds.

Allow Supercompensation


To address the question on spacing out hard workouts, let me first explain the principle of supercompensation.

When training, your fitness levels can be broken down into 4 phases in the following order:
1. The baseline level of fitness – where you start off;
2. Fatigue – you get tired;
3. Recovery – your body regenerates and repairs damaged tissues; and
4. Supercompensation – brings your fitness to a higher level than before.

Supercompensation occurs when the human body automatically adjusts itself to a higher level of fitness in anticipation of the next training session. It is why after a couple of consistent runs, you no longer experience the same body soreness which came with your first run. However, if you do not capitalize on your newfound fitness due to supercompensation, you will return to a baseline level of fitness (phase 1). So, if you only run once a month, you should expect to feel sore every time you run!


The graph above illustrates how your fitness level changes when training. Note that there are 2 variables which affect the optimal amount of supercompensation – time and training load.

The first variable is time – “X”. The time between each hard session is crucial. Ideally, the next hard session should take place at the end of time “X”. “X” is highly variable, depending on each individual. You will need to experiment to find your “X”, but when you do find it, keep to this sweet spot. For me, “X” is equivalent to 3 days. Therefore, I run my hard sessions on Mondays and Thursdays!

The next variable is the training load. The larger the training load, the larger the drop in fitness level (“Y”) after the training session. Think about how fatigued you are after a hard workout! The larger “Y” is, the more fatigued you will be, but also the higher the potential amount of supercompensation.

Training load is in turn affected by two factors: volume and intensity. A load of an easy 2-hour long run may even be equivalent to the load of eight 1-min high-intensity interval runs.

Prioritize active recovery

Clocking double training sessions a day increases the training load for the day in a cumulative manner. Personally, if and when I incorporate double sessions into my training schedule, it is solely for active recovery. My main session for that day would be a 70-min easy long run or workout, and the second session would be a 30-min jog. Most runners do well without having to do double sessions a day, so avoid this unless you really need to.

To add to the complexity, “X” and “Y” are largely co-dependent – a change in “Y” is likely to affect “X” (The more fatigued you are, the more time you need to recover and compensate!).

Mok Ying Ren squeezing out an easy run amidst an overseas trip, to retain the fitness baseline. (Image by: ONEATHLETE)

As complex as this scientific approach seems, this is really foundational to a good run! Running is simple but can be as difficult as it is made to be. But you will do fine if you follow RunONE on the #runwithmok programme!

ST: The relevance of pre-participation screening

First published on The Sunday Times on 10 June 2018

Dr Yeo Tee Joo – Last year, I explained the importance of pre-participation screening (PPS), where a combination of blood tests, physical examination, electrocardiogram (ECG) and questions on medical history can help active individuals calculate their cardiovascular risk as well as identify potentially life-threatening heart conditions.

For the masses

While PPS can be performed for anyone, it is particularly beneficial for sedentary individuals who wish to start training, as well as those with pre-existing heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors. Based on results of the PPS, a healthcare provider (ideally a sports medicine physician or cardiologist) can then advise on the suitability of the race event you have in mind, and the appropriate duration and intensity of training.

For athletic individuals

Puzzling as it may sound, fitter active individuals, Asians in particular, also face challenges, but of a different nature, with their ECGs during PPS. This is because prolonged periods of training have conditioned their body and led to changes in the electrical system and structure of their heart. As a result, their ECG may look very different from the general population and others who are generally more sedentary.

To identify normal or training-related ECG features, healthcare providers refer to international recommendations, which have taken more than a decade of research to establish and refine. Unfortunately, these recommendations are currently based on predominantly Caucasian and African-Caribbean athletes, with minimal representation from Asia.

Recent local developments

The National University Hospital and Singapore Sports Institute are working together to bridge this knowledge gap by creating a Sports Cardiology Registry of national athletes’ ECGs in Singapore. This collection of localized data will be helpful in determining  “normal” baseline indicators for our local population and improve the robustness of PPS. In the long run, these findings can potentially be applied to, and benefit a wider population of recreational athletes.

In spite of the above challenges, PPS remains an important tool for anyone participating in sports. With a greater nationwide emphasis on, and enthusiasm in, fitness and active lifestyle, as well as increased participation in endurance events, there is no better time to get yourself screened.

Dr Yeo Tee Joo

Dr Yeo Tee Joo is a consultant with the National University Heart Centre, Singapore and part of the multidisciplinary team at the NUH Sports Centre. He is also the lead investigator for the Sports Cardiology Registry project.

Mok goes Queensland!

First published on mokyingren.com in June 2018

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The University of Queensland (UQ) alumnus shared on his rare and privileged opportunity in Queensland, on his university visits, exchange with influential leaders, efforts on inspiring the youth generation, sightseeing in the beautiful autumn, and finally watching the Commonwealth Games 2018 up close! Read more about it right HERE!

 

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“When I completed my Masters in Sports Medicine with the University of Queensland in 2016, it never crossed my mind that I would one day return to this town to visit some of the best universities and medical schools!”

Mok Ying Ren
Double SEA Games Gold Medallist
National Marathoner & Records Holder
Managed by ONEathlete

Special shout-out of thanks to The Government of Australia (TIQ) & our lovely ambassador host, Marion and her colleagues! 🙂

ST: Importance of a Good Training Plan!

First published on The Sunday Times on 3 June 2018

Dr Ivan Low – Have you ever signed up for an endurance running event, got overly excited and immediately headed straight into a series of hard trainings, only to eventually succumb to injuries before even toeing the starting line? Or are you one of those who tend to wait until the very last minute to begin your training and end up struggling just to complete the race, or worse still, putting yourself at risk of serious injuries and harm through over-exertion during the race?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you are probably not alone. Many people tend to underestimate the importance of adhering to a systematic training program, and this is a particularly common mistake amongst recreational runners. A well-designed training plan is important for the safety and success of all endurance runners, and not just requirement for elite athletes only.

So, how do we know if a training plan is well-designed? Often, good training programs abide by a few key principles which can then help us gauge the suitability of one’s training plan.

1. Principle of Individuality

Individuals differ in their capacity to adapt to exercise training as a result of differences in their hereditary and physiological build. This explains why some runners may experience significant improvement after adopting a given training program while others exhibit little or no progress despite going through to the same program. A good training plan has to be specific and tailored not only to the individual’s fitness, but also to his/her’s training capacity and needs.

2. Principle of Specificity

Exercise adaptations are specific to the volume, intensity and type of training. In other words, if you wish to race fast, you have to train fast;t if you wish to race far, you have to train long!

3. Principle of Progressive Overload

A systematic increase in training demand is also necessary for the continuous improvement of one’s fitness . Good training regimes gradually condition your body towards the specific physical and mental demands of your upcoming race. It also ensures that as you edge closer towards your fitness goal, the risk of unintended injuries is minimised.

4. Principle of Variation or Periodization

A good endurance training program should not be repetitive, dull and one-dimensional. The prescribed volume, intensity and mode of training should vary systematically , so that the training stimulus remains challenging and effective over the entire training cycle, or even across multiple cycles within a training season.

5. Principle of Recovery and Reversibility

During rest, and not training, our body repairs itself and gets stronger. Therefore recovery periods or days should be periodically incorporated into training programs to afford the body sufficient recovery before the next bout of training. Training too hard or too soon is one of the most common and leading cause of overtraining or overuse injuries.

ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren sharing with participants on how their training plan may be crafted, during the ST Run’s Race Clinic in 2017 (Photo credits: Steven Teo / ONEathlete)

On the other hand, if trainings are spaced too far apart, the body may lose the stimuli and benefits gained from the previous session. Fitness gained can, and will, be lost (detraining) when one stops exercising for a prolonged period. Therefore, in order to ensure optimal training gain, an ideal training program should allow just enough time for recovery before introducing the next training stimulus. Remember, consistency is key!

So, is there a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to training prescription? Unfortunately not. One man’s meat may be another man’s poison. Athletes should never blindly adhere to a training regime just because it has worked well for others. Finding an optimal training program may also sometimes involve a certain degree of trial and error.

Nonetheless, it is always good to begin with a training program that has been tried and tested, and gradually tweak it to suit your specific needs and abilities. If you are not sure where to start, try the #RunWithMok Training Plan, by runONE above this article!

Dr. Ivan Low Cherh Chiet is an Instructor and Exercise Physiologist in the Department of Physiology, NUS. He ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 and also extends his expertise to runONE’s training program for ST Run 2017 and 2018.

ST: On your Mok, set, go!

First published on The Sunday Times, 24 May 2018

Mok Ying Ren – Singaporeans are known to be a rather busy lot, with very limited time for exercise, myself included.

So this year’s #RunWithMok programme – which runONE (the official training partner) and I will helm for the second straight edition – is designed to help you build and maintain your cardiovascular health in a time-efficient manner.

Its structure will be in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines for physical activity (30 minutes on most days of the week) and the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines (150 minutes each week).

#RunWithMok

Similar to last year, runONE will be releasing weekly training programmes in the Sunday Times over the course of the next 16 weeks to guide you as you prepare for the Sept 23 ST Run.

You can also find the programme on the ST Run’s website https://runone.co/strun2018

On social media, use the #runONE and #STRun hashtags for your runs to let us be a part of your running journey.

#AskMok

Following feedback from last year’s readers, runONE will be tweaking its approach in determining the topics addressed in this column.

Instead of us choosing the content to be covered in this column, we would like to invite readers to come forward with any burning questions which you may have in relation to running and physical fitness.

We will then select a question and address your concerns to the best of our abilities.

So fire away, submit your questions to https://runone.co/askmok/ and the question featured here might just be yours!

#LearnWithMok

Learning is a lifelong journey. Together with runONE’s partners and experts from various fields, we will be revealing unique training ideas periodically to enable you to spice up your personal running journey.

I, together with fellow ONEathlete(s) and national marathoners Ashley Liew and Evan Chee, will be hosting two running clinics in the lead-up to the ST Run.

We will share with you the theories behind the different approaches to running efficiently, and take you through the practical aspects of running to help boost your speed and performance.

So what are you waiting for?

Sign up for the 2018 ST Run now and take your running to the next level as you #RunwithMok

 

Mok Ying Ren is a Double SEA Games Gold Medallist. He is also National Marathoner & Record Holder. He is currently Managed by ONEathlete, and is the ambassador for New Balance, 100PLUS and Futuro.

Run For Good

First published on NS MAN Magazine – May/June 2018 Issue

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A line-up of notable national athletes kicked off the year’s first charity run at a launch event at SAFRA Toa Payoh’s EnergyOne gym.

Led by #ONEathlete and National Marathoner, Mok Ying Ren, these athletes marked the commencement of the 3M Team Futuro Challenge, encouraging participants to run at least a 2,000km from 20 Jan to 4 Feb. Achieving this target would help raise $30,000 worth of Futuro-brand products for under-reached individuals and community groups.

At the launch held on 19 Jan, Mok was joined by fellow ONEathlete(s), National Tennis Player, Shaheed Alam and National Badminton Player, Ren-ne Ong.

Read more via image below.

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