Body & Soul S7: Preventing Atrial Fibrillation Stroke

24 JUL 2019 – In 2007, during a SEA Games Triathlon Time Trial event, a young and active athlete and friend of Mok Ying Ren passed away due to cardiac arrest. This taught Mok Ying Ren that life is fragile, and how some precautions can be taken, more so as an athlete.

Did you know that there is more than one type of stroke that can affect us ? If you engage in a lot of vigorous sporty activities or if you love running long marathons, do be cautious of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) related stroke.

#LearnWithMok as you watch ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren and former national sprint icon U.K. Shyam share their experiences on how to prevent this health condition with Host Daniel Martin and Dr Carolyn Lam on Mediacorp Channel 5 Body & Soul, Season 7, Episode 6.

In this episode of Body & Soul, they also talked about the signs of an AF related stroke. Catch the episode on toggle catch up TV right here.

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From left to right:
Daniel Martin, Dr Jeremy Chow, UK Shyam, Mok Ying Ren, and Dr Carolyn Lam

You can also catch up on the following related reading:
ST: The relevance of pre-participation screening by Dr Yeo Tee Joo
ST: Minimising risks in running by Dr Malcolm Mahadevan
ST: Taking a (sick) break from running by Dr Wang Mingchang

ST Articles 2018

Wk Title / Description Writer Themes
0 ST: On your Mok, set, go! Mok Ying Ren Launch >> ST Run 2018
1 ST: Importance of a Good Training Plan! Dr Ivan Low Training Plan
2 ST: The relevance of pre-participation screening Dr Yeo Tee Joo Risks & Injuries
3 ST: How do i manage my training sessions? Mok Ying Ren Training Plan
4 ST: Preparations to tackle an overseas run! Ashley Liew Overseas Runs
5 ST: How to maximise your recovery period? Mok Ying Ren Recovery
6 ST: Minimising risks in running Dr Malcolm Mahadevan Risks & Injuries
7 ST: Music to the ears! Mok Ying Ren Music
8 ST: Why runners run … away Ben Moreau Overseas Runs
9 ST: To outlast … run in a community! Jed Senthil Community
10 ST: Outdo yourself with proper hydration! Mok Ying Ren Hydration
11 ST: Running the right way Sharon Lim Running Gait
12 ST: Getting into the right kicks! Mok Ying Ren Footwear
13 ST: Master running as you age Evan Chee Inspiration
14 ST: Not an uphill task! Mok Ying Ren Slope Training
15 ST: Back in the days Dr Low Cheng Hock Inspiration
16 ST: The Final Countdown Mok Ying Ren Pre-race Tips
17 ST: You have done it! Mok Ying Ren Post-race Tips
18 ST: Remember The Poor Jed Senthil Community
19 ST: Sleeping right! Mok Ying Ren Sleeping
20 ST: Shredding my weight to go the distance! Banjamin Quek Inspiration
21 ST: Journeying through pain and injuries Mok Ying Ren Risks & Injuries
22 ST: Taking a (sick) break from running Dr Wang Mingchang Risks & Injuries
23 ST: Every drop counts! Mok Ying Ren Community
24 ST: Reflections of a runner’s wife Mrs Belinda Mok & Mok Ying Ren Inspiration
25 ST: Take a deep breath Mok Ying Ren Breathing
26 ST: Mastering your self during a run! Edgar Tham Sports Psychology
27 ST: 3 Important Factors to Ace Your Race! Mok Ying Ren Pre-race Tips
28 ST: Preparing during the next 24 hours! Volker Herrmann Pre-race Tips
29  ST: The Finish Line Mok Ying Ren  Inspiration

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Mok Ying Ren

ST: The Finish Line

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 16 Dec 2018.

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MOK YING REN A huge congratulations to all who completed last week’s Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, especially those who finished the arduous 42.195km full marathon!

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In the blink of an eye, 2018 has come to an end and so has this year’s #RunWithMok column, which was in partnership with the Straits Times Run and the Singapore Marathon. It feels like only yesterday when we embarked on this journey together to train up for two major races in Singapore.

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Over the span of just a few months, my fellow contributors and I have touched on a myriad of running-related topics. Many of these had also piqued my curiosity when I first started on my running journey. I hope that we have been able to address your doubts and queries adequately, as you #LearnWithMok. (Recap all articles for 2018 HERE!)

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It is also an opportune time for me to thank the ST Sports Desk Team for their support and inputs; fellow columnists who were generous with their experience and expertise; all the readers and race participants who were very forthcoming in writing into #AskMok to ask questions and attending the various talks and run clinics. A big pat on the back for those who diligently followed the RunONE training programme and our Sunday columns for 30 weeks! You have truly made the journey memorable! Thank you!

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Double SEA Games Gold Medalist & 7-time SCMS Local Champion, Mok Ying Ren against a common but scenic backdrop for local races. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

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To conclude this column, I would like to share 3 takeaways that can be applied to your running journey henceforth, so that you can continue running!

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Be consistent

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Mok Ying Ren, Double SEA Games Gold Medalist & 7-times SCMS Local Champion. Photo credits: ONEathlete 

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Consistency is essential to any life pursuit, be it relationships, studies, work and, of course, running. Consistency means maintaining a certain level of frequency over an extended period of time.

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Consistency in your running journey would mean, for example, running at least twice a week, regardless if you are training for a specific event. This will prevent your fitness and muscular adaptations from degenerating and allow you to bounce back to high-quality training within a shorter time. It will also reduce your risk of injury risk when you step up for your next training programme.

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Be conservative

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Mok Ying Ren, Double SEA Games Gold Medalist & 7-times SCMS Local Champion. Photo credits: ONEathlete 

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Always adopt a conservative approach to your training programme. It is very easy, and almost natural, to allow our haste and impatience to hijack our plans. On days when we feel good, we tend to want to do more or push ourselves that bit harder. Sometimes, it is wiser to hold your horses and allow your body to adapt and enjoy the fitness it has achieved at a methodical pace.

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As you progress in your training, you should aim to increase your training volume and intensity incrementally. Take baby steps and avoid sudden ramp-up. Doing too much, too soon, is really a recipe for disaster. As the saying goes, ‘more haste, less speed’.

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Be unique individually

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Mok Ying Ren, Double SEA Games Gold Medalist & 7-times SCMS Local Champion. Photo credits: ONEathlete 

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You would appreciate that we have placed great emphasis on each runner ’s individuality. This applies, not only to training programmes and routines but also to smaller details like hydration and nutrition needs. Truly, one man’s meat is, and can often be another man’s poison.

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I myself am guilty of having committed the cardinal mistake of replicating and religiously following training programmes of top runners in the world, only to be saddled with injuries and disappointment.

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This is not to say that you cannot draw inspiration from the best athletes or should not adopt practices that your well-intentioned friends have recommended – you can, and you should. However, you should first put some thought into what you have read or heard and then make a considered decision on whether to follow through and embrace them as yours. Blindly following the group may do you more harm than good.

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Photo credits: RunONE

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With this, the RunONE Team and I, are signing off! We would like to wish all of you an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Recap all articles for 2018 HERE!

See you again next year on #RunWithMok!

The last lap as you #RunWithMok

1 Dec 2018 – The final pacer run before the 2018 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (#SCSM2018) was on 8th and 9th December 2018 was held in partnership with several partners comprising of Ironman, Under Armour Pacers (from Running Department), and 100PLUS together with their Ambassador, 7-time SCMS Local Champion & ONEathlete, Mok Ying Ren

 

Before the run, Mok Ying Ren took the stage to answer questions raised by the participants. This was an enthusiastic crowd, asking questions ranging from his pre-race warm-up routine to pacing strategies, to his preferred pre-race breakfast. One of the key topics he shared about was hydration.

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

Hydration is of paramount importance to a successful race. However, he noted that a substantial number of runners visit the medical tent due to overhydration. They have drunk excessive amounts of water, resulting in a condition known as hyponatremia – low sodium levels. This results in them feeling giddy and fatigued, symptoms not unlike dehydration.

Mok advised that it is important to drink to the point of thirst and allow our bodies’ natural regulating systems to decide how much we should drink on race day. He also suggested that runners should get used to the isotonic drink (that will be available during the race day) during their training itself. 

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

Thankfully, the early morning rain had cleared out just before the morning event started and participants got to enjoy beautiful, cooling weather for most of the run.

 

In this final pacer run, the participants were divided into pacing groups based on their targeted Half marathon and Full marathon timings. Half marathon runners ran 12km while the Full marathon runners ran 15km around iconic Singapore sites such as Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer. Mok Ying Ren started off with the first pacing group before striking it out on his own for the last part of the run. 

 

Post run, Mok Ying Ren continued to mingle with the participants as they streamed into the finishing area after their runs and had their complimentary breakfast sets. It was also a great opportunity for the runners to #askmok their questions on hydration, pacing, and even their running gait! 

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

The official hydration sponsor of SCMS, 100PLUS Singapore provided the hydration for the morning. There was no lack of hydration both during and after the run. With B Vitamins (B3, B6 & B12), Non-Carbonated 100PLUS ACTIVE is specially designed to facilitate energy production, as well as to aid in after-sports recovery. An apt choice for the pacer run and preps for #SCSM2018.

 

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Participants, Under Armour Pacers (from Running Department), and 100PLUS together with their Ambassador, 7-time SCMS Local Champion & ONEathlete, Mok Ying Ren. Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

ST: 3 IMPORTANT FACTORS TO ACE UR RACE!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 02 Dec 2018.

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#AskMok

  1. Is it advisable to eat a snack while running the race to replenish energy? – Anonymous
  2. I hope to achieve a certain time goal. Is it better to run my own race, or run together with someone? – Anonymous

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MOK YING RENIn just another week, you will be taking on the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon which you have been training so hard for over the past few months. Compared to the Straits Times Run 18.45km race, the marathon is and will be a whole different ball game altogether!

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If you recall, I had shared 3 race tips prior to the Straits Times Run – start slow, prepare well, and have a good race etiquette. To build on these, I will now focus on 3 important factors.

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Mok Ying Ren (seen here answering questions and preparing runners during the ST Run 2017 – Festival Village), hopes the #RunWithMok column has prepared you sufficiently for SCSM 2018. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

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Race Nutrition – Run at your best

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The marathon is an incredibly long race, and no matter how fast a runner you are, you will have to top up your energy regularly.

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One of the best ways to replenish your fuel during the race would be to consume sports gels. These gels resemble baby food and are packed with high glycemic index sugars which are easily digestible. A good rule of thumb to follow would be to consume one packet of gel every 45 to 60 minutes, and accompanied by plain water for hydration.

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There are also many brands of sports gels available in the market. Ideally, you should get used to the specific brand of gel which you intend to use on race day to avoid any unforeseen tummy upset.

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Mental Game – Run with focus

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Standing at the start line and thinking about the 42.195km that lies ahead may leave you feeling extremely daunted. This is a feeling that even experienced marathoners may not be able to avoid.

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One way to overcome this is to break up the race into smaller segments, and aim to achieve “mini-goals” for each segment. This then forces (helps) you to focus on the process, instead of just the end goal which may seem like a bridge too far.

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Your “mini-goals” can be as simple as remembering to  take a small sip of hydration (drink to the point of thirst, of course!) at every water point. As you progress, these goals may be more performance-oriented, such as checking off each 5km within a specific split time.

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Another aspect of the mental game is to be prepared for any potential mishaps that may occur during the race so that you are not thrown off guard. If something unexpected happens, turn your focus to the things that are within your control.

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For example, there have been instances during my races where I had fumbled with my hydration bottles when grabbing them off the table and ended up dropping them. Instead of being disheartened, I focussed on getting hold of my hydration at the next water station.

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ONEathlete Ashley Liew and Evan Chee, and other Singaporean elite athletes at the start lines of SCSM 2017! Photo credits: RunONE

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Camaraderie – Run as one

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You may think of running as a team sport – ultimately, everyone racing on the course shares a common goal of finishing the race safely, and speedily. Just as how teammates in a sports team draw inspiration from one another, you can form impromptu running groups while running the race!

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During the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, where I went on to set the Singapore half-marathon record, I was fortunate to have the company of fellow runners who were also gunning for the same finishing time. I managed to work with them, and we took turns to lead and break the headwind, not unlike a Tour de France race. This allowed us to perform better than if we had all been running our races individually. Our “team” members also changed as the race went on. As some runners got tired and dropped back, we also caught up with runners ahead who still had the legs under them and started running together as one.

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Such team dynamics can help you to achieve your goals, as well as others to meet theirs!

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With this, I wish you all the best as you undertake the biggest race on Singapore’s running calendar – remember to enjoy and savor every moment of it! 

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100PLUS Ambassador & 7-time SCMS Local Champion, Mok Ying Ren shared hydration tips with about 200 runners and joined them in their final preps (on 1 Dec, sat) for the Singapore Marathon. Photo credits: ONETHLETE

ST: Take a deep breath

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 18 Nov 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I understand the need to breathe into the diaphragm but my chest will feel a little compress and breathless meaning I have to take a deep breath into my chest to feel better. Any way to overcome this? – Jason
  2. Breathing – I can be running at zone two but why am I always feeling out of breath? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – How should I breathe when I run? This is a question often posed to me at forums.

Our first breaths were taken in at birth and the act of breathing now comes naturally to us. Sometimes, we do not even realize it when we breathe although it becomes (painfully) obvious when we run and our speed appears to be limited by our breathing as demand for oxygen intake increases.

Breathe Like You Swim


Before embarking on my competitive running journey, I was heavily involved in swimming and triathlon for about 10 years.

For those who swim, you would know how important it is to regulate your breath properly in the water, lest you inhale a huge gulp of chlorinated water. Regardless of your swimming speed or stroke, you have to maintain a controlled and regular breathing pattern. Your breaths should follow the rhythm of your strokes as much as possible.

It is also important to take deep breaths when swimming. If you take short, shallow breaths, you will not be able to keep your face submerged underwater for long. But once you start taking deep, full breaths, swimming becomes a lot more comfortable.

The same regulated and deep breathing technique used in swimming should be employed in running.

What if you do not or are unable to swim? Fret not, there are some other strategies which you may try out to help you to breathe better.

Counting Steps


A strategy to regulate your breath when running is to consciously count your steps while running for each breath that you take. There is no science behind establishing what your breathing/running tempo should be. In all likelihood, you should be able to find your most comfortable tempo through a process of trial and error.

We naturally inhale longer than exhale –  check in with your own breathing right now as you read this article!

For your easy runs, you may start off with a tempo of 4 steps for inhalation, and 2 steps for exhalation. As you speed up, the inhale-exhale step ratio is reduced to 2:1, or even 1:1.

Being aware of your breathing rate also allows you to gauge the intensity that you are running at. If you are unable to catch your breath or hold a conversation during your easy runs, it is likely that you are running too fast! Slow down and regulate your breathing to a comfortable inhale-exhale step ratio.

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Mok Ying Ren recommends that you fill in your lungs adequately and naturally while running. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Breathe Deeply

 

It is easy to misunderstand the phrase “breathing deeply” in the context of running.

To breathe deeply does not mean that you take in a huge amount of air and hold it in as if playing a game of “How long can you hold your breath for?”.

What it actually means that instead of taking small gasps of air, you should fill your lungs in, adequately and naturally. There should be a slight rise in your chest with each inhalation, but your abdomen should not bloat. This may be difficult to understand and execute, but if you follow the recommended inhalation-exhalation step ratio of 4:2 for your easy runs, you should be able to achieve nice, deep breaths.

Mouth or Nose?


The mouth and the nose are mere openings to the same space – your lungs. Regardless of how it enters, air will go through your windpipe and into your lungs. Essentially, there is no difference to your respiratory system, whether you inhale through your mouth or your nose.

You may, however, experience a physical difference depending on the weather climate. In cold and dry climates, it would be advisable to breathe through your nose as it moistens the air which you inhale. In contrast, if you breathe through your mouth, your throat will dry up quickly, and possibly inducing dry coughs.

Despite this, you may find it more natural to utilize your mouth for breathing when running at high intensities. This is because the mouth allows you to inhale much more quickly, due to its larger surface area. Do not fight this tendency to breathe through your mouth and let it occur naturally.

I personally inhale through my nose during easy runs, and through my mouth during faster runs.

The most crucial aspect of breathing is self-awareness. When you are in the “zone”, you will experience a harmony between your running steps and your breath, which will definitely make your runs more enjoyable.


Win a race slot giveaway for #SCSM2018! 

Simply TAG 3 NEW FRIENDS (who are not following us on instagram) on any of our SUNDAY post!

ST: Every drop counts!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 04 Nov 2018.

#AskMok

  1.  Can runners donate blood? Will it affect my performance? – Anonymous
  2.  How long will i take to completely recover and run again, if i had donated blood? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – Every hour, the hospitals in Singapore require 14 units of blood to save lives (one unit is equivalent to about 450ml). As a surgeon-in-training, I have seen how easily blood is lost – patients bleeding from wounds, in their internal organs, and even through long and complicated surgeries. Unfortunately, the national blood supply is not as easily replenished.

Why is blood so important?

Purpose of Blood

Blood delivers oxygen from our lungs to all other parts of our bodies. Our red blood cells contain a key protein – haemoglobin (Hb). Oxygen cells in our lungs bind to Hb in red blood cells, and are transported to body cells for metabolism.

During metabolism, oxygen reacts with glucose and other chemicals obtained from food to produce energy. This also helps cells to grow and reproduce, and stay healthy.

Carbon dioxide produced during metabolism is then carried back to our lungs by blood, where it is exhaled.

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Mok Ying Ren encourages everyone including runners to donate blood, as its not necessarily a barrier to their running performances. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Impact of Blood Donation

Our body holds about 5 litres of blood. For every blood donation, 1 unit (or 450ml) of blood is withdrawn.

According to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Blood Transfusion, the Hb concentration in our bodies is reduced by 7% after making a blood donation. The Hb concentration in our bodies then gradually returns to normal over the next 2 weeks.

This is expected, but how exactly does this impact your performance as a runner?

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Mok Ying Ren trying to smile for the photos amidst the process. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Effect of Blood Donation on Performance

A reduced Hb concentration will result in lower oxygen carrying capacity. There is no doubt that your running prowess will be affected.

In 1995, a study published in the American Heart Journal evaluated 10 male cyclists before and after donating blood to test the effect of blood donations on exercise performance. Results showed a decrease in the maximal performance of all the cyclists for at least a week.

More recently, in 2016, a randomised controlled trial published in the Sports Medicine Journal found that maximal power output, peak oxygen consumption and Hb mass all decreased for up to 4 weeks after making the blood donation.

Interestingly, both studies found that the submaximal performance of their test subjects was not affected. Therefore if you are a recreational athlete exercising at submaximal intensity, you should not have any negative experiences other than a higher than usual heart rate.

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Mok Ying Ren still looking fresh towards the end of the 60min process. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

 


Recovering from a Blood Donation

To recover faster after a blood donation, you may consider taking iron supplements.

A randomised controlled trial was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of iron supplements post-blood donation. The results were published in the highly-regarded Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2015 – it was found that with iron supplementation, Hb recovery time was halved from a mean of 78 days to 31 days.

More drastically, for people who usually have low iron levels, their Hb recovery time dropped from a mean of 158 days to just 32 days!

Making a Blood Donation

As you can see, your running performance is not necessarily a barrier to donating blood.

If you are a competitive runner aspiring to set personal records, I would still encourage you to make a blood donation. You can plan your blood donation based on your running calendar. For example, you can do it right after a major marathon, as you would need down-time to recover from your race anyway! Once you are physically ready to get back into training, your Hb levels should be ready too!

However, if you any reservations about blood donation, an alternative would be to make a plasma donation, which will not affect your Hb levels at all.

You can run and donate blood. Let’s give our precious blood to someone who may need it for survival today.

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You can make a blood donation at any of the 4 blood banks or at a community blood donation drive near you! Click HERE to find out more! (Photo credits: Redcross Website)

ST: Journeying through pain and injuries

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 21 Oct 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I have adjusted my running style and pronation. But recently I suffered pain on my calves and achilles. Is there a better way to run? – Rahul
  2. I have been trying to get back to running like before, but it’s difficult with the muscle loss. Do you have any tips for me? – Ernest
  3. I experience pain in my joints and think I cannot run. What is your advice for me to pick up running? – Malik Mehmood

MOK YING REN – In a time before I was born, the results from the 1984 Bern Grand-Prix study showed that 45.8% of 4358 runners sustained injuries over a 1-year period. Fast forward to 2014, the trend and figure remain the same, if not worse. It was published in the British Journal of Medicine then that up to (shockingly) 79.3% of runners sustained injuries within the year!

Given scientific and technological advances, why are we runners still in so much misery?

Let’s take a look at a few possible culprits.

 

Training Intensity and Volume

 

The abovementioned studies found that high weekly running volume was the biggest risk factor for injuries in running. This seems to suggest that the more you run, the higher the risk of injury. While this sounds rather intuitive, it cannot be the blanket truth – otherwise, Kenyan runners who typically run more than 200km a week would be on crutches by now!

There may be certain factors which are not accounted for, or attributed sufficiently, in scientific studies. Factors such as how one progresses into high training/running volume and the intensity of runs at such high running volume are almost impossible to measure in a consistent and objective manner.

The chase for results is also a strong, but not necessarily good, driving force – we all want to improve (quickly) but often is the case when more haste makes less speed. There may be periods in your training phase in when you will feel strong and seemingly insurmountable. It is easy then to cave in and push yourself a lot harder than planned.

I am also guilty of this, having run 2 marathons in a month in 2011, which resulted in me suffering from plantar fasciitis in both feet.

A coach once told me, “Discipline is not just in doing the training, but also in not training in order to recover.” The solution, though easier said than done, is to follow a reasonable training plan, seek help from a coach and, most of all, listen to your body.

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Weakness and Imbalance in Muscles

 

Weakness and imbalance in muscles have long been identified as a potential source of injuries in running. Studies have shown that runners who suffer from anterior knee pain appear to have weaker gluteus medius muscles.

However, this issue is made further complicated by the difficulty in determining whether the weakness and imbalance in the muscles are the cause or result of an injury. If you are already suffering from an injury, some of your muscles may be inhibited and appear “weak” during physical testing, even if it’s not directly related to or caused by such injury.

In such situations, you should consult an experienced therapist to guide you in your recovery. You may also wish to engage in pre-rehabilitation (as a preventive measure) to identify and work on your areas of weakness before the onset of any injury.

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Running Gait

 

Whether the technique of your running can cause injuries is controversial.

One school of thought is that if a proper running gait is adhered to, injuries can be eliminated or, at least, reduced. The other school of thought is that the gait should be adjusted to suit the runner’s body structure and configuration – in other words, there is no absolutely “correct” gait. Proponents of the latter would argue that no two elite runners run alike.

My personal belief is that there is possibly an “ideal” running form to adhere to, subject to variations within certain limits. If you are injured or keen to improve on your performance, it may be beneficial to have your gait analyzed by an experienced therapist. If there are any glaring abnormalities, such as overstriding, these should be adjusted. Moreover, some gait abnormalities may also be a result of weakness and imbalance in muscles, again demonstrating the interconnectedness of these factors.

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Others

 

Many medical and healthcare professionals have also suggested other risk factors, such as over-pronation, weak core muscles, imbalances in the spine, shoe types, and tight fascia. Due to the complexity of the human body, even with vast medical and technological capabilities available, it is incredibly difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for a particular injury.

Thus, your journey through pain and injury is likely to be one of humility and self-discovery.

 


Watch the video below for some tips from Mok Ying Ren on how you can prepare to prevent injuries/pains. But if you do, you could do with some support from 3M Futuro products!

Also, trackback on Singapore’s first Male Marathon Gold’s journey here:

Despite a tight schedule with residency programme and marathon training, Mok Ying Ren tries to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day so that he can recover sufficiently, stay alert and compliment the training. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

ST: Sleeping right!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 7 Oct 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I have to juggle work and training. I try to sleep as little as possible to put in the training hours. Is this wise? How much should i sleep? – Ryan Dexter
  2. Does pre-sleeping routines really help me get better sleep? – Cindy Kuzima
  3. As the races usually start about 4am, is it okay if i run without sleeping the night before? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – Sleep is a key aspect of recovery, although often overlooked and undervalued. It is never advertised as the “latest”, “coolest” or “best” recovery tool on the market.

But everyone still knows that sleep is essential to recovery. I am sure many of you at least feel it intuitively – when you are fatigued, every task would seem to require more effort than usual to complete.



Importance of Sleep


Sleep energizes us, but how it does so is still much of a mystery. All we know is that a myriad of hormones, such as prolactin, oxytocin, oelatonin, and growth hormones, are produced at perfectly- timed junctures throughout our sleep cycle. This then stimulates a flurry of chemical activity in our cells to repair our cells and restore our energy.

It is this wonder of the human body that allows you to wake up from a good night’s sleep feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.



Chronic Lack of Sleep


It is hardly unexpected then that a chronic lack of sleep will have negative effects on our bodies. Besides experiencing a perpetual sense of fatigue, your usual bodily functions and abilities may also be compromised.

A study was carried out on soldiers who underwent a 5-day combat course, clocking less than 4 hours of sleep each day. At the end of the course, the soldiers recorded a 14% drop in their oxygen consumption rate and an 8% decline in their anaerobic power.

The study also propounded that these adverse effects could be negated by a higher energy intake. However, to adopt this unequivocally would require us to consume more as we sleep less – not at all an ideal or practical solution given the likelihood of us putting on weight (unnecessarily)!

For runners, another pertinent issue would be that of injuries.

In a separate study conducted on adolescent athletes averaging 15 years old, it was found that those who slept for an average of fewer than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to suffer from an injury than those who had at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Although limited as a cross-sectional study, the results of this study clue us in on the profound impact of sleep on the body’s ability to recover from training stresses.

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Despite a tight schedule with residency programme and marathon training, Mok Ying Ren tries to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day so that he can recover sufficiently, stay alert and compliment the training. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE


Improving Your Sleep


Sleep hygiene is instrumental in creating an ideal environment for sleep.

Your room should be dark, cooling and low in ambient noises. If you are a light sleeper, consider using ear plugs and eye masks to help you get into the “zone”. It is also wise to avoid alcohol or caffeine too close to your bedtime, to avoid excessive stimulants which may keep you awake.

I also try to hydrate myself well 2 hours before bedtime, so that I have sufficient time to empty my bladder before sleeping and avoid having my sleep disrupted due to nature’s call.

Back when I was still training professionally, I would even go so far as to incorporate a 30-min pre-sleep routine. This routine included reading a book quietly and having a warm glass of milk to prime my body for sleep. Admittedly, it is a challenge to keep up this routine, especially as a working adult, and I hardly do so now.



Sleep Before a Race


It is common to experience difficulty in sleeping the night before a race – I am not immune to this either.

It may, however, be of some comfort to you that any lack of sleep the night before your race is unlikely to jeopardize your race performance. Experiments have found that swimmers responded well even with a single night of partial sleep deprivation (2.5 hours). For runners, their performances in endurance running remained unaffected even with 3 nights of severely restricted sleep.

Remember, running is your personal journey and race. Optimizing your sleep within your own means will enable you to train and perform better at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon!

RunONE – Straits Times Run 2018 Official Training Partner

22 Sep 2018 – Returning back with RunONE as the official training partner for the Straits Times Run 2018, ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren had tailored a 16-week-long series of a training program and running-related columns to prepare runners for this event. In partnership with Straits Times, Mok also hosted a #RunWithMok column which incorporated, for the first time, an interactive #AskMok segment that invites readers and runners to ask Mok any running-related question. To cap off the series of preparation leading up to the race, Mok also hosted a race clinic on 22 Sep at the Straits Times Run race expo where he took to the stage and shared his running and training experience.

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The Sunday Times 23 Sep 2018 

As many among the audience were racing the Straits Times Run the next day, Mok peppered his talk and Q&A session with behind-the-scenes insights on the preparation he himself had gone through before his races. He also addressed queries on race day execution and provided his personal perspectives and helpful tips on training, hydration, injury prevention. Questions on running shoe selection and foot striding styles seemed to be popular too.

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Mok Ying Ren using his New Balance shoe to explain on foot striding styles.

Through his sharing, Mok hopes to help more individuals overcome their fear and reluctance and encourage them to be a part of the growing running community in Singapore. He has observed, over the past few years, a healthy sign that more Singaporeans are taking to sports as part of an active lifestyle, and wants to do his part to help promote and encourage this movement.

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The talk by Mok Ying Ren was attended by more than 60 ST Run participants.

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Mok Ying Ren with some of the non-camera shy participants who attended his talk.

RunONE would like to take the opportunity, to thank #STRun2018 Chairman & Committee, New Balance, 100PLUS and Infinitus for their support in making the session possible!

 

Read more about the ST Run 2018 race event HERE 

Read more about what you can do-post ST Run, on this week’s #AskMok HERE