Blog

ST: Getting into the right kicks!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 19 Aug 2018.

#AskMok

  1. Why does buying a suitable running shoe seem to be so hard? any tips? – Alice Lee
  2. What’s your favorite running shoes brand and model? – @wayne_wcw

Dear Alice and Wayne, thank you for the question.

Running shoes serve the primary purpose of protecting your feet while you run. Of course, with the myriad of aesthetically-pleasing shoes on the market nowadays, running shoes can also be used to make a fashion statement!

In any case, shoe selection is highly dependent on each individual, but it is not a difficult process. A shoe is comprised of a few key components and each component should play a role in your shoe selection.

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Google image on the anatomy of running shoe.

Upper

The upper of the shoe is the material which completely covers over and around your foot. With its distinct colour and design, it is probably what attracts you to a particular shoe the most.

However, pay attention to the design and mould of the upper. Many current shoe models, such as the New Balance Fuel Cell Impulse model uses a “bootie construction” fit, which caters to your foot’s curvature and gives a more snug fit. These days, uppers are also made using mesh materials which allow greater airflow. This reduces the weight of the shoe and, from a practical perspective, allows the shoe to dry faster after washing!

Midsole

The midsole of the shoe is where you will find the cushion for your foot. Different shoe brands have different cushioning materials and systems for runners to achieve different experiences while running.

For example, New Balance’s latest Fresh Foam Beacon model adopts the brand’s signature Fresh Foam cushioning technology for its midsole, providing its wearers a “soft pillow” type of cushion. In contrast, the New Balance FuelCore 5000 model features the REVlite foam for its midsole, to provide a more responsive and “fast” feel for its wearers.

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New Balance’s new line of running shoes. Photo: RunONE

Which midsole is the best? This depends on your preference.

One key feature of the midsole is the heel-to-toe drop or offset of the shoe. This refers to the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot of the shoe. Most shoes have an offset of 6mm to 1.2cm, although some go as low as 0mm to simulate running on a flat surface. Wearing a shoe with a low offset requires you to activate your calves more while wearing a shoe with a high offset encourages you to land on your heels more. Generally, shoes with a 6 to 8mm offset will suit most.

Another aspect to consider for the midsole is whether a neutral cushioned or a stability shoe would be more suitable. Stability shoes typically have some stiffer material on the inner side of the sole (usually coloured grey), which theoretically prevents overpronation (arches which collapse inwardly). However, the effectiveness of using stability shoes to address overpronation is not strongly supported by scientific evidence. If you find that such shoes help you with your injuries, stick to them. Otherwise, you may base your decision on your comfort level.

Outsole

The outsole of the shoe is the most bottom part of the shoe which makes direct contact with the ground. It is, admittedly, rather difficult to test the outsole in the store. Personally, it is important for my shoes to be able to handle slippery conditions, such as mud and wet drain covers.

You may through experience find that certain shoe brands are more slip-resistant than others. This is particularly important if you are looking for shoes which can handle trails and mud.

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Mok Ying Ren trying out New Balance’s new line of running shoes on an in-store treadmill. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Comfort above all

Notwithstanding the above, recent medical studies have found that when an athlete selects a shoe based on his level of comfort, it appears to naturally reduce the risk of injury. This interesting observation removes a lot of (unnecessary) stress associated with shoe selection.

My recommendation would be to purchase your shoes at a running specialty store with a treadmill for you to test your shoes on. For myself, I head down to the New Balance store at Kallang Wave Mall, where I can run and test the shoe on the treadmill. As weird as it may seem or sound, try going shopping for shoes in your running attire so that you can get on the treadmill for a test run! If it feels comfortable, then this may just be the shoe for you.

With The Straits Times Run approaching, it is my sincere advice that you do not wear any new shoes on race day – I have made this mistake before and paid the price dearly! Start wearing your new kicks now so that you would have had at least 1 month to break into them. If you need to buy a pair of new running shoes, New Balance (the Official Sportswear) offers a one-time 25% discount to purchase NB products, which you can leverage on as a participant of #STrun2018!


Week 12 Giveaway:

Mok Ying Ren goes to the NB store at ________ to try out the shoes on an in-store treadmill before buying.   

Submit your answer to the question on #LearnWithMok and stand to win a race slot for ST Run, happening on 23 Sep 2018!

ST: Running the right way

This article was first published on The Sunday Times on 12 Aug 2018

SHARON LIM – Which is better? Hindfoot or midfoot running? Anthropological and gait studies have long supported the notion of humans as efficient long-distance walkers with a hindfoot strike gait. Over the same distance, walking is more efficient and less taxing than running, calorically speaking. Forefoot running may be faster but it is not as energy-efficient and less sustainable over longer distances.

On the other hand, hindfoot running has been suggested to be injurious as it involves greater ground reaction forces. Chi running or other variations that involve midfoot strike have been associated with being more graceful, efficient and less likely to pose risks of harm or injury. However, midfoot runners are not immune to overuse running injuries like metatarsal stress fractures. Currently, there is no definitive evidence to support any footstrike as better for running.

Regardless of running style, there are a few running gait mistakes that have been commonly observed.

1. Overstriding

Overstriding occurs when your foot lands “too far” in front of your center of mass, which tends to happen when one is trying to increase running speed. Overstriding puts the gluteals and hamstrings muscles in a lengthened state on footstrike. Muscles are at their weakest when stretched to their extreme, and as a result, they become less able to absorb shock when you overstride. Overstriding can also result in heavier landing,  as well as rapid, and/or, overpronation. Heavier landings have been associated with lower limb stress fractures like shin splints and metatarsal stress fractures. Rapid and overpronation are common contributing factors in running injuries such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and iliotibial band friction syndrome.

2. Poor spinal posture

Every one of us has varying degrees of spinal curvature. The ideal posture when running would be to maintain one’s natural spinal curve in a position which that requires the least muscular effort to support. Runners with more pronounced upper back curves, or forward head postures, can result in harder work for back muscles, which can lead to backaches and discomforts.

Poor posture has also been observed in hindfoot strike runners who are trying to adopt a midfoot strike. During the transition of running styles, they often end up making the mistake of leaning too far forwards or slouching at the back or hip.

3. Insufficient/ delayed hip extension

Some runners run like they are ‘sitting’ down on stance phase. Others do not push back their legs to open up their strides enough. For some, it could be due to a flattened lower back or posteriorly rotated pelvis. For others, they might not know how to properly activate and use their gluteal muscles. While this may not directly result in injuries, runners end up wrongly compensating for the lack of gluteal strength by overstriding or excessively usage of the calf muscle.

4. Too much bounce

Some runners bounce when they run. Momentum is wasted when energy is lost through vertical displacements, and not translated into effective motion forward. It is a very inefficient way of running, although one might argue better for weight loss as it consumes more calories. It also places more impact on joints and tendons and can lead to overuse injuries like patellar and achilles tendinopathies.

5. Holding arms and trunk too rigid

Efficient running requires dampening at various joints, including pelvis, trunk, and arms. By allowing pelvic and trunk rotations/ de-rotation, as well as arm swings, vertical displacements (bouncing) can be minimized. Some run without much rotation, resulting in either excessive bouncing or overly forceful landing. Overly stiff arms and trunk can also lead to soreness and aches in these areas due to over-activation of the muscles.

6. Habits from running in other sports

Running is needed in other sports like football, hockey, rugby, and baseball. In these instances, running would be very different and require changes in techniques and postures e.g. running while bending over with a hockey stick, or increased trunkal lean when running bases. These variations are necessary for sports-specific performance and, if practiced over short bouts, do not pose any cause for concern. However, carrying over these sports-specific postures when running for prolonged periods could result in discomfort and, likely, injuries.

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Tips

Here are some tips to tweak your running pattern if you think that the way you run may be causing your injuries:

  • Increase your running cadence rather than striding out. Good runners have cadences in the higher ranges upwards of 180 cycles/min.
  • Do not overstride – Your foot should land within your centre of mass, which will fall somewhere at your hips/ pelvis.
  • Keep a straight spine, but do not overextend. Keep your shoulders relaxed and chin in line. Do not hinge forwards at the waist.
  • Go with the flow – Allow your arms and trunk to rotate and counter-rotate, but not excessively.
  • Run ‘light’ – Lighten the impact on landing.
  • Start slow and focus on the changes – When changing the way you run, give your mind and body time to adapt before picking up your speed.

An experienced runner friend or a running coach can be helpful in providing feedback on running gait. If you are still uncertain and your discomforts and pains persist, it is best to seek medical assistance from your sports physician or sports physiotherapist.

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Sharon Lim is a Sports Physiotherapist at Moving Space. She has been the Team Physiotherapist with Team Singapore for competitions and overseas training trips and specializes in rehabilitation and prevention of sports-related injuries. 

Week 11 Question:

______ is wasted, when runners bounce as they run, through vertical displacements. 

Submit your answer to the question on #LearnWithMok and stand to win a race slot for ST Run, happening on 23 Sep 2018!

Shaheed serves and sweeps ’em all!

04 Aug 2018 – At the recently concluded Singapore National Games – STA Open Pesta Sukan Tennis Championship 2018, ONEathlete and national tennis player, Shaheed Alam, secured a clean sweep across all 3 categories by winning the Men’s Singles (6-0, 6-3), Men’s Doubles (7-5, 6-4) and Mixed Doubles.

This was also covered on The Straits Times on 18 Aug 2018.

Shaheed bettered his results from the last STA Open Tennis C’ship in 2016, when he won the Men’s Singles and Mixed Doubles but lost in the Men’s Doubles finals to narrowly miss out on the hat-trick.

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2018 Singapore National Games Tennis at Kallang Tennis Centre on 2nd Aug 2018 6pm match on Court 3 between Shaheed Alam vs. Arbaquez Israel Jr. Shaheed Alam hits a forehand return. Photo by AndrewJKTan/ SportSG & ONEathlete

Earlier this year, Shaheed had won the Davis Cup Group 4 match with TeamSG Tennis and his victory at the Pesta Sukan C’ship shows again why Shaheed is a note-worthy rising star on our local tennis scene. Driven by the same motivation to do his family proud, Shaheed commits himself to put in his best during every training, rain or shine. That mentality proved to be the difference when he had to play 3 Finals matches back-to-back in a 5-hour ‘marathon’ which included a tie-breaker in the first set of the Men’s Doubles.

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Celebrating a clutch winner to win the tie-breaker set 7-5 in the Men’s Doubles. Photo by Manoj Banavali/ Sport SG & ONEathlete

Shaheed has certainly proved that he has the heart and lungs to go the distance when he took victory over Israel Arbarquez from Philippines in the Men’s Singles quarterfinals match which lasted over 3-and-half hours.

The hat-trick of wins ultimately took a lot of fitness and mental strength, but it also gave Shaheed the confidence knowing that he is able to hang in there and compete among the best even when the going gets tough. The SNG Pesta Sukan Tennis Championships invites experienced players with professional backgrounds and credentials and is pegged differently from the STA tournament which caters more to the junior level players. Tennis was included as part of the Singapore National Games for the first time in 2016.

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2018 Singapore National Games Tennis at Kallang Tennis Centre on 2nd Aug 2018 6pm match on Court 3 between Shaheed Alam vs. Arbaquez Israel Jr. Shaheed Alam’s Service motion. Photo by AndrewJKTan/SportSG & ONEathlete

While pleased with his performance, having seen that the results of his training paid off, Shaheed knows the honor is not his alone to claim. He is extremely grateful for his teammates, Rohan Kamdar (Men’s Doubles) and Evelina Kontareva (Mixed Doubles), whose support and encouragement carried him mentally and physically through the rough patches in this tournament. “Their support is also crucial as I play these back-to-back categories,” he recalls with humility.

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Shaheed sharing a proud moment on stage with his Mixed Doubles partner, Evelina Kontareva. Photo by Manoj Banavali / SportSG & ONEathlete

He will also like to thank his equipment sponsors, Head and Pro’s Pro, as well as Futuro for their invaluable support,  both on, and off, the court. Much credit is also due to the team of officials and medics, as well as Team Nila supporters and, last but not least, his family and friends, who have been his motivation, advice, and support ever since he embarked on his tennis career.

Asked about his plans and intentions, Shaheed has one eye firmly fixed on the 2019 SEA Games where he hopes to qualify and be a medal contender. For now, he will be starting on his polytechnic industrial internship as he continues working towards bigger dreams in his budding tennis career.

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Shaheed’s bedrock of strength and his pillar(s) of support. Photo by Manoj Banavali / SportSG & ONEathlete

Performance Continues at Bedok TPS 3

5 August 2018 – ONE continues its run of performance as the 2018 race season heads into full steam ahead, with 3 athletes amongst the top 4 Men-Closed 10km category at The Performance Series Race 3, Bedok Reservoir. Banjamin Quek came in 2nd (37:23) while  Evan Chee (38:54) finished in 3rd followed by fourth-placed Ashley Liew (39:19).

 

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Banja, Evan and Prashanth sharing the podium moment together 

The 2-lap race format comprised a mix of terrain – pavement and packed gravel surrounding the scenic Bedok reservoir. It provided runners a refreshing change from the usual tarmac-road race featured in earlier TPS races (Pasir Ris Park and Punggol Waterway). While the weather was relatively cool on this Sunday morning in the midst of an unusually hot mid-year, participants had to contend with a big uphill as part of the race route which added to the uniqueness of this morning’s performance challenge.

 

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For the Under Armour Ambassador, Banjamin Quek, finishing 2nd today was the comeback he had desperately sought, and needed, after a disappointing DNF at the Race Against Cancer 2 weeks ago. Heading into this 10km race, he learnt from the earlier episode and adjusted his pre-race preparation by managing his training and work carefully. While his results today represent a promising step forward in the right direction, Banjamin knows that there is still some more work to be done as he looks ahead towards the Army Half Marathon in 3 weeks’ time.

 

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Looking back at the close finish he had at RAC, Evan was also quietly pleased with his performance as he had taken the effort to work on his weaker areas by sharpening his speed-work over the past 2 weeks. Along with fellow training partner, Ashley Liew who finished in 4th today, today’s race is part of their final tune-up as they will both be running at the Army Half Marathon.

 

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ONE will also be participating in the upcoming fourth and finale TPS race which will be held on 14 October at East Coast Park. Runners can look forward to a blistering fast finish at one of Singapore’s iconic running backyard and its flat-as-pancake route, as we sign off on this exciting (Performance) series. Sign up now and enjoy an additional 5% discount with the promo-code “RUNONE5OFF“. Registration closes 31 August 2018, sign up now on https://www.theperformanceseries.sg/register

 

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ONE and friends at the race village post-run

ST: Outdo yourself with proper hydration!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 05 Aug 2018.

#AskMok

  1. How often should I drink during the race? Should this be different from training? – Michelle
  2. Is there such a thing called ‘drinking too much’ during the race? I’m afraid of being bloated and I don’t drink. – Roger Ng
  1. What type of hydration do you intake every day? Do isotonic drinks really make a difference? – Charles Goh
  • Dear Michelle, Roger, and Charles thank you for the question.

    The gist to the questions is, ‘balance.’ We know that drinking too little is hazardous, but drinking too much is also equally dangerous. Thus, reaching the right balance for your body will aid in optimal performance during the race. But how do we know what are these markers? Here are some markers and some hydration tips I believe in:

    Dehydration

    It is widely accepted that dehydration affects our daily lives. It is not uncommon to experience fatigue if you forget to drink water throughout the day. Water is lost not just when we visit the toilet, but also subconsciously through breathing and perspiration.

    Similarly, dehydration has an adverse effect on performance in endurance sport and may reduce an athlete’s performance during training and racing. The effects are further exacerbated by the hot and humid climate in Singapore. There is thus, a strong emphasis on athletes in both schools and clubs to stay well-hydrated.

    Overhydration

    However, as with all things, consuming fluids in excessive amounts can cause overhydration and lead to dangerous medical conditions. One such medical condition is exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), which arises when sodium in the blood is diluted. This, in turn, causes the sodium concentration in the body to drop to dangerously low levels.

    In a medical study involving runners who took part in the 2002 Boston marathon, it was found that 13% of the 488 sampled runners experienced EAH during the race. Runners who experience EAH typically report to the medical tents on-site for symptoms such as giddiness, headache, confusion, and, in severe cases, may even collapse or suffer seizures. Thus, the old adage of “drink as much as possible” does not always apply.

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    Mok Ying Ren during a training run at Sports Hub. 100PLUS is the official hydration partner for The Straits Times Run. (Image by: ONEATHLETE/ 100PLUS)

    1. Optimal Hydration Tips

    At the 2015 International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, a panel of international experts recommended that runners use thirst as a real-time guide to monitoring hydration.

    Drinking according to thirst before, during and immediately following exercise is a safe and effective method to gauge hydration. Consuming sports drinks which contain sodium, such as 100PLUS (the official hydration partner for the Straits Times Run), may attenuate the fall in blood sodium concentrations. However, do not be mistaken as this cannot totally eliminate the risks of EAH – the volume of fluids consumed is more important than the type of fluid. So fret not, if you prefer to drink plain water instead!

    2. Behavioral Tips

    When at work in the hospital, I keep a bottle of water with me at all times to remind myself to stay hydrated. When I am in the operating theatre and am unable to drink water, I make a conscious effort to drink at least 500ml of water in between each operation. Just by doing so, I feel better in my evening runs. A good guide would be to drink a sufficient amount of water such that your urine is clear.

    During a marathon, I consume about 200ml of isotonic sports drink every 20 – 30 min during the 2.5 hours race. Slight dehydration is expected during long races and it is normal for your body weight to be reduced by up to 3%. There is no need to replenish every drop of water lost through sweat!

    3. ‘Bonus- Effect’ Tips

    A little-known bonus effect of consuming sports drinks containing sweet carbohydrates is that your sports performance may be boosted!

    An interesting study evaluated whether rinsing the mouth with a carbohydrate solution alters the performance of competitive cyclists. It was found that by merely rinsing the sweet solution in the mouth, the time-trial performance of the cyclists improved by an average of 1.1%. The hypothesis is that the brain responds to glucose in the mouth and mediates emotional and behavioral responses which are associated with rewarding stimuli. This then stimulates one to perform at a higher capacity.

    So, even if you don’t feel like consuming fluids during a race, it would still be a good idea to sip some sports drinks and swirl it in your mouth.

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    Mok Ying Ren armed with his preferred sports hydration drink during his training run at Sports Hub.  (Image by: ONEATHLETE/ 100PLUS)

    4. Practical Tips

    One should get used to consuming sports drinks before a race. I usually stick to one particular brand of sports drink that I like and use it throughout my entire training cycle and the race. This eliminates any potential surprises on race day. If you already know which drinks will be given out at the hydration booths during the race, be sure to try them out in your training runs to avoid having an upset stomach during the race.

    As a 100PLUS Ambassador myself, my preference is for the non-carbonated 100PLUS ACTIVE when I am training and running. The drink is formulated to help rehydrate and replenish electrolytes and minerals. I especially like to enjoy my drink ice-cold for a surge of refreshment during and after my run.

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    Signed up for ST run?

    You too, will be able to enjoy ice-cold 100PLUS at the various water points during The Straits Times Run. Remember to stay hydrated and drink to the point of thirst!


    Week 10 Giveaway:

    Stand a chance to win a 100 PLUS Premium Kit, consisting of a 100PLUS gym bag, 100PLUS shoe bag, and 1 Carton of 100PLUS cans, worth $60!

    Answer a simple question below and post (one of the above 3 images) on Instagram and tag @onemanagementsg ! 5 lucky winners will be chosen by Mok Ying Ren on Saturday, 11 Aug 2018.

    Encouraging ONE to Keep Fit Through Running!

    Over the weekend of 21 – 22 July, ONE was proud to be part of the inaugural Feel Fab Fest (F3) event organized by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), in conjunction with Sport Singapore. The carnival event targeted at individuals of all ages who share a common goal to be fit and healthy. It also offered health and fitness partners an exciting platform to reach out to this rapidly-growing sports and wellness market.

     

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    Seats were filled at this cosy event as the session got underway.

     

    With an exciting array of events and activities lined up for everyone including the young and young-at-heart, ONE was pleased to be part of F3 and hosting a panel discussion comprising 3 of Singapore’s fastest marathoners, Mok Ying Ren, Ashley Liew and Evan Chee. The 1-hour session offered insights into how fitness and health could be incorporated into one’s (hectic) lifestyle, as well as tips on training which would help active individuals avoid common problems such as injury and over-training.

     

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    Jed (left-most), co-founder of ONE,  moderating the panel discussion with marathoners (from left to right) Evan Chee, Ashley Liew and Mok Ying Ren.

     

    Camaraderie of the fastest

    With a combined experience of over 4 decades of running and training assembled on stage, the engaging discussion, moderated by Jed, was enlivened by light-hearted moments when they reflected on each other’s career highs and lows. Ashley spoke about how Mok had won the 2013 SEA Games Marathon Gold in spite of an incessant cough and inadequate preparation. Mok then touched on how impressed he was by Ashley’s deeply-held values about maximizing one’s gift of potential. Ashley represented Singapore at the 2015 SEA Games Marathon and was the first Singaporean to receive the international fair play accolade “Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy” for his act of sportsmanship.

     

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    Ashley sharing a moment with an avid runner after the session to autograph words of well-wishes.

     

    Overcoming personal challenges to fitness

    When asked about balancing work and training, Evan brought up the challenges he faced in preparing for overseas races such as the Berlin Marathon while having to work around a packed work schedule that involved frequent traveling. He also encouraged runners to join a group of running buddies, or a training club, to keep the motivation going during trying times.

     

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    The audience enjoyed the rare opportunity to ask anything they wanted to know, about running (mostly) and everything else under the sky (after the session)

     

    In relation to sports injury Mok, who’s had to work through his plantar fasciitis and other untimely issues that threatened to derail his race preparation, advocated a patient-and-consistent mentality. From his experience, most runners tend to be overly impatient in regaining pre-injury fitness. In their eagerness and anxiety, the adage ‘more haste, less speed’ is often thrown to the winds. His advice is to take injuries seriously and allow sufficient time for complete recovery before jumping back into action.

     

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    Mok shows that running may be his forte but he can go to ‘great lengths’ for a good we-fie.

     

    Key to fitness 

    Throughout the lively session punctuated with harmless jabs and interesting anecdotes, a consistent theme that emerged was the need for patience and consistency when it comes to building running fitness. Motivation is what gets one started but habit is what keeps one moving. As Mok puts it, anyone could start running, but “the way to start running is to really start slow in an easy-pace, build your fitness and be patient about it… have a target, such as signing up for a race and strive towards it.”

     

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    Keeping fit and healthy through running, as ONE

     

    Join us 

    Readers and runners who are keen to learn more about running tips can follow our weekly feature #RunwithMok column in the Sunday edition of Straits Times! You can also send in any running-related questions and #AskMok!

    ONE will like to acknowledge our heartfelt gratitude to SPH and event sponsors, partners for the invaluable opportunity and experience to be part of Feel Fab Fest 2018! We are also proud to be the official training partner for the Straits Times Run, and hope to see you at the race on 23 September!

    ST: To outlast … run in a community!

    This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 29 July 2018

    JED SENTHIL – As a runner, I was a late bloomer. In my childhood and even during my national service days, I faced a myriad of health conditions which impeded any form of structured training.

    Against Odds

    Thanks to my mentors and friends who dragged me to conquer Mount Kinabalu in 2007, as well as my first 10km at the NB Real Run 2011 and 21km race at the SAFRA AHM 2014, I was slowly and unknowingly inducted into the tightly-knit running community. I learnt what it meant to will the mind over body when I conquered my first 42km at the 2015 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, completing it in under 4 hours despite having suffered a rib fracture just 3 months earlier. The story gets better when an inspiring top national marathoner – a then-acquaintance, now turned buddy – encouraged me to improve as a runner.

    Over the last 8 years, even though I wasn’t fast, I signed up for multiple races to keep myself going. For the beginner runner that I was, the shiny finisher medal and catch up with my runner friends at race events, provided motivation for me. I eventually collected over 50 finisher medals that now serve as a reminder of a time characterized by resilience and perseverance. In recent years, I have discovered the strange phenomenon of like-minded runners and friends who come together as a small group/club and eventually form a community they call their own!

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    Jed running across the Helix (DNA) bridge. The DNA is akin to a strongly bonded running community functioning as a whole to serve its purpose. Photo credits: RUNONE/ CLAIRE YEE

    Running can be a lonely sport when it feels like it’s just you and the pavement. But as I look back on my years of running, the memories were rarely mine alone. I was fortunate to have enjoyed the company of friends/community who brought out different elements and perspectives of running, which made it much more enjoyable and meaningful.

    Here are my four reasons to run in a community:

    1. Establish accountability for growth

    Firstly, a running community urges you to be accountable and focused. During trying moments when you feel you are too busy with work or /school, it provides a platform to check in with one another and keep the discipline. While some might argue that such support is unnecessary, this the same can’t be said of runners who are either new to the sports or who see running as a long-term undertaking to improve and maintain fitness.

    You also have the safe space in which to grow without being impeded by undue fears of inadequacy, receiving feedback and well-intentioned advice to improve your running. It is largely relational and a practical way to spur each other on. Thus, we know that this is a sustainable approach for a runner to continuously improve and maintain fitness i.e. growth.

    2. Create memories with one another

    Secondly, a runners’ community allows each and everyone to journey together through the seasons of, training, injuries, and races. Lessons learnt and shared help members avoid repeating the growing pains unnecessarily. Your friends will also be the ones who constantly help you discover and rediscover your aptitude for running, by being your encouraging pillar of support or challenging motivation. As you build on each other’s experiences through the highs and lows, it creates a tapestry of memories that enrich and elevate the running experience.

    Jed running at The Straits Times Run 2017

    3. Learn to look out for others

    Within the communities, I have been a part of, everyone looks out for one another, and often will go the extra mile to ensure that everyone is taken care of. Sometimes, it could be as simple as buying additional hydration bottles for the other runners or picking each other up during the wee hours of the morning to go for a training run or race. These seemingly small acts of kindness and expression of care for one another form the scaffold upon which the community develops and flourishes.

    4. Serve others beyond running

    Last but not least, being in a group helps to redirect and drive the group’s purpose outwards, towards the community and the people around us. Recently, I got to know a group of runners who come together to run every Saturday. Eventually, they start asking themselves what more they could do with their time and love of being active and outdoors.

    This sparked their volunteering (to assist children with cancer) after their training sessions. They were able to look beyond their group’s needs and serve the needs of another community, through simple acts of planning games that helped these ill children be more active. One of them mentioned that Saturdays were “deeply satisfying” as a result.

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    Communities in Singapore

    In Singapore today, there are more than 430 running groups on record. These running groups might share different commonalities, such as an anchor sports brand sponsor,  proximity to work/home, similar backgrounds and ethnic/national identities, or even have their unity underpinned by common causes or values. While every group is likely to identify with its own sense of purpose and motivation, a unifying theme that binds them all together is their love for running itself.

    Running can do a great deal for oneself. Running in a community can bring that benefit to the next level and be a powerful force that drives social good. Driven by this belief, #RunONE hopes to unify and mobilize the various running groups as a whole community that strives towards fitness and social good.

    Running a race also strikes a parallel with journeying towards attaining our goals in life. The next time you gear up for a run, remember that you are running as one with your community! Both in life as well as your race!

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    Jed Senthil is a former civil servant who serves professionally in community work and social enterprise sectors. The avid runner and youth advocate is also the co-founder of the RunONE running community.

    # LEARN WITH MOK

    Week 9 Question:

    How did the runner who volunteered every Saturday with the children with cancer, describe the experience? 

    Submit your answer to the question on #LearnWithMok and stand to win a race slot for ST Run, happening on 23 Sep 2018!

    Race Against Cancer 2018

    22 July 2018 – Close to 8,000 people joined #ONEathlete and #ONEteamsg and took part in the 10th edition of Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society’s Race Against Cancer 2018, and helped to raise more than $1.1 million for charity. ONE took part in both the competitive 10km and 15km race categories, as well as the 5km fun run.

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    Athletes and Mediacorp celebrities with GOH Minister Chan Chun Sing
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    Guest-of-Honour Minister Chan Chun Sing getting ready for the flag-off for the 15km race

    The event was flagged off promptly by Guest-of-Honour Minister Chan Chun Sing, as runners took to the roads under cooling conditions. While the out-and-back race route was well-marked and easy to navigate, runners had to battle the incessant headwinds after the 5km U-turn. Nonetheless, ONEathlete Evan Chee gave his all to clinch a hard-fought 6th-place finish in the Men’s 15km race, barely 3 weeks after racing the Gold Coast Marathon.

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    ONEathlete Evan Chee receiving the prize on stage

    In the 10km category, triathlete Ben Ooi finished strongly to come in 7th in the Men’s race while Belinda Ooi (Mrs Mok) executed her race plan perfectly to clinch a 4th-place finish in the Ladies’ race, much thanks to the encouraging support from the race pacers which included national marathoners, Jasmine Goh and Rachel See.

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    ONEathlete Ben Ooi receiving his prize on stage from Singapore Cancer Society CEO, Mr. Albert Ching
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    Belinda is all smiles as she clocks a 10km personal best and comes in 4th in the Ladies’ race

    The event also saw an outpour of support from celebrities, such as Rebecca Lim, Aileen Tan, Cancer-survivor Pan Ling Ling, and her husband (former Mediacorp actor) Huang Shinan, who had turned up to lend their support and do their part for a meaningful cause.

     

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    Team Singapore parathlete Peter Kam & Sprinter Calvin Kang sharing a moment at the race site with Singapore Cancer Society CEO, Mr Albert Ching

    In sharing this spirit of community giving and love behind the event, ONE is proud to have brought together Team Singapore Athletes and ONEathlete to rally for Race Against Cancer 2018, through the “ONE Against Cancer” campaign. We are also honored to have been the Official Sports Marketing partner for Singapore Cancer Society (SCS)’s Race Against Cancer 2018.

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    ONE runs against cancer 2018 – Success!

     

    Take part in the auction now!

    ST: Why runners run … away

    This article was first published on the Sunday Times on 22 July 2018

    BEN MOREAU – Racing abroad is both inevitable, and invaluable, for an elite runner – you aspire to compete in international championships and, once there, let your best performance shine through and take center stage.

    For serious recreational runners, these overseas races represent opportunities to seek out races that will (hopefully) have the right conditions, at the right point of a training cycle, and the right company of runners looking to achieve a similar goal.

    Whatever your level of athleticism, you can learn a lot from racing in other countries and the experience gained will come in extremely handy in making you a better athlete by enhancing your race-day experience and confidence.

    While penning this article, I decided to ‘interview’ my fellow ONEathlete(s) and three of Singapore’s fastest marathoners, to understand their perspectives (from a local viewpoint) on overseas races. Throughout my running career, I’ve also been extremely fortunate to have raced in over 20 countries across almost every continent. These experiences and perspectives have helped shape and frame my sharing below.  

    Strengthens mental capabilities

    First and foremost, you will gain huge psychological flexibility and resilience in terms of race preparation when you race abroad. Different countries have different approaches towards race organization, which then affects how athletes prepare themselves leading up to race day.

    Indeed, things will be different to what you are used to in a local race, especially in the final 24-48 hours before the start. Even seemingly innocuous details can throw you off your game – the race start time, how you get to the start, the drinks out on the course. What I came to realize was also how I was overly concerned with every single detail of my pre-race routine and there were just a few things that I had to focus on to get it right.

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    Ashley Liew, who had just completed his 5th Gold Coast Marathon

    National marathoner, Ashley Liew, who had just completed his 5th Gold Coast Marathon, agrees that “overseas runs take you out of your comfort zone and forces you to adapt to different climates and environments. This challenge is essential as part of any runner’s development and is what you should be striving for besides lowering your personal best”. Going through this ‘rites of passage’ also gives you the confidence to get the best out of yourself even when conditions change – hugely valuable in any race when events don’t pan out the way you expect, as they inevitably will.

    Improves race tactics

    After 2 decades of racing overseas, I also learned that my ‘racing brain’ and performance has improved. Learning to deal with the different racing conditions and race tactics can help make you a better, and more versatile, runner. Be it the Japanese races that only have 500 runners  who go out at breakneck pace, Sydney’s City to Surf with the incredible crowd atmosphere, or the physical challenge of the deep mud in an English cross-country race, what these races offer are opportunities for you to discover and learn  about yourself as an athlete – knowledge that will be greatly helpful for you in future races. I find that while runners train regularly and frequently, they often race less than they should, and that is why many often begrudge that they didn’t get the best out of themselves on race day.

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    Evan Chee raised at Bangkok Midnight Marathon and Berlin Marathon in 2017 to reduce his personal best times!

    Having finished 3rd at Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2017, and as top Asian at Bangkok Midnight Marathon 2017, Evan Chee looked back at the races he’s participated in overseas, and felt that the myriad of race experience, along with the opportunity to run with world-class professional athletes, has sharpened his technical ability to race tactically, and broadened his mind as to what his body is capable of.

    “I got carried away and went out too hard” or “I didn’t know how the hills would affect me” are common post-race complaints. Races abroad can throw up ‘curveballs’ situations that can, and will, help you discover yourself and your limits. Eventually, this knowledge will go a long way in guiding you to avoid ‘beginner’ mistakes and make better decisions in future races.

    Offers unique experiences

    As far as possible, you should also ensure the race fits into your training schedule  – it could be the pinnacle of a training program, or perhaps a stepping stone to something bigger. Whichever the case, make sure the distance and race conditions fit into your training needs and experiences you sought for.

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    Mok Ying Ren running on Davidson Mesa, Colorado, USA

    Two-time SEA Games Gold medalist and winner of Christchurch Marathon 2011, Mok Ying Ren, had this to add: ‘it is important to be well informed about race details, such as being familiar with race route, terrain, and conditions, so as to maximize overseas race experience. You wouldn’t want to be forced to drop out of the race due to poor preparation, and waste your efforts, as well as race and travel fees!”

    Depending on your race objectives, Mok recommends a fast and flat course (such as the Gold Coast Marathon) if your aim is to lower your personal best or choose one of the 6 World Marathon Majors if the allure of its exclusivity appeals to you. For young families looking for both fun and run, look for events such as the Walt Disney World Marathon.

    Pick a race in a country that you’ve always wanted to visit, and use the opportunity to immerse in a new culture, experience the countryside, or meet new people.

    Sharpens foresight and planning

    Knowing that you can gain a lot from the experience, the next logical question is how you can prepare for a race abroad if you haven’t done many (or any!).

    For starters, I would suggest you modify your training and preparation to mimic race-day conditions as far as possible. Otherwise, try switching up your usual training routine by adding in new elements – different routes, run at different times of the day, or start faster than normal. This will afford you the confidence to perform even when conditions are out-of-the-norm for you. That said, I will advise runners who are preparing for an overseas race to stick to snacks and drinks that they are used to – the last thing anyone wants is the last minute dietary issue before a much-awaited overseas race!

    While it’s not always possible to personally check out the course before race day, you can search out this information on blogs and forums. Leverage on lessons gleaned from others’ mistakes to avoid having to go through the learning pains yourself. For me, I will always try and recee the hardest parts of the course, the likely race-day weather conditions, how well organized the race is as well as any tips for race kit.

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    Ben Moreau running the Sydney Blackmores Marathon when he was based in Australia. He has run in more than 20 countries. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE / MOREAU

    Presents a memorable opportunity to relax

    As a parting note, I would strongly encourage you to just go out there and enjoy the experience! I have so many fond memories of races abroad that I wouldn’t trade for anything – running through mills in Milan, around golf courses in Algeria, or up and down mountains in Hong Kong. When you run anywhere for the first time, it is normal to feel the nerves – but, try and remember that feeling because when you look back it will be a memorable experience for times’ sake. This isn’t always easy to do when racing overseas but I will strongly encourage you to give it a try!

    Please also ensure you recover well afterward. Often the nerves and stresses of traveling can be more draining than you realize and it’s very common to feel lethargic or even under the weather for up to a week after an overseas “race-cation” – ease back into training slowly. If you can work this recovery for a few days to slowly enjoy your overseas travel by being a tourist  – all the better!

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    Ben Moreau is a Commonwealth Games athlete from England, and has raced in more than 20 countries. His marathon personal best is 2:15:52 (2013 Fukuoka, Japan), and is managed by ONEathlete. He is currently the Innovation Director of an MNC based in Singapore.

    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!


    Signed up for ST run?

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    Join us on the 21st July 2pm @ Suntec City, Room 405, Stage area!
    Click HERE for more info!

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