Sandra Runs With Ash

03 Aug 2019 – In a Catholic ceremony held at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, National Marathoner and ONEathlete Ashley Dominic Liew married the love of his life, Sandra Faustina Lee. Ashley had dated Sandra for about 2.5 years before sealing his commitment to the dynamic entrepreneur and dancer.

The bride sewed her own bridal gown, which has the base piece of Ashley’s late mum’s wedding gown extended with a 3D floral skirt.

Beyond that, the bride and her company Free Movement Singapore sewed all the bridesmaids’ gowns and groomsmen’s suits. Waala for effort!

In the evening, the couple held a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ themed Chinese banquet for about 400 guests at Mandarin Oriental.

It was an artistic feast, as the entire dinner was centered around the fairy tale story line, and the bride pulled off a very entertaining costume change on the stage.

Leave your well wishes and messages behind, in the comments section, for Mr & Mrs Liew!

Rock The Naked Truth – Inspiring Body Positivity through Fitness

REBEKAH ONG – Rock The Naked Truth is a body image movement initiated by Singaporean fitness personality and triathlete Cheryl Tay.  Cheryl was not always the image of health and fitness as she had suffered from body image issues for over a decade which she has since recovered from.  Cheryl opened up about her challenges and started a body image movement Rock The Naked Truth in 2016 to inspire and help others seek confidence in their bodies through fitness, as well as encourage them to take better care of their health.

Sports nutrition workshop followed by a Pilates session

As an advocate of healthy methods of getting in shape, Rock The Naked Truth believes in an active lifestyle that embraces inner beauty. Most importantly, one of the main objectives of the movement is to foster a support community that can encourage and motivate one other.

Sounds like an interesting group to be part of? That’s a definite yes personally! I have attended some of their events, which includes gym cardio sessions as well as outdoor runs. Here’s what you can expect!

Group fitness classes

#ROCKTHENAKEDTRUTH EVENTS

Events organised by the Rock The Naked Truth can range from group fitness classes like Pound Fit, Zumba, BodyJam to workshops that teaches self-defence, beginner triathlete sessions, and even sports health and nutrition. Information on their events can also be found on their website events page or Facebook, both of which are regularly updated and current!

ROCKrunners

ROCKrunners Session every Tuesday

ROCKrunners is the official running club of Rock the Naked Truth. The group meets every Tuesday at 7.00pm outside Lululemon Marina Bay Sands store (10 Bayfront Avenue, B2-42, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands).

ROCKrunners is suitable for runners of all levels and fitness – whether you are just a beginner runner or someone eager to challenge and push those limits. The only aim is to have a good time, and workout together, which explains their motto to run happy and ensure no one is left behind!

Do follow them on their Instagram page and their ROCKrunners events page as they have special events from time to time, besides their weekly Tuesday session. These special events are usually organised on weekend mornings where they will explore new run routes in Singapore or conduct workshops that may help you in your training.

Photo credits: Rock The Naked Truth

Rebekah Ong is a fitness junkie and F1 fanatic. The elegant foodie is almost at every run event! She presents all things in fours!

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

Tales of a Triathlete #6 – Foodie-athlete/Nutrition

Benjamin Ooi – So, one of the perks of athleticism is that I can eat anything I want, and as much as I want. Right? Well, (technically) yes, but not quite!

A snapshot of a typical meal before my Ironman World Championships race in Kona, Hawaii

When it comes to nutrition, there are various competing schools of thought. Most athletes follow strict and professionally-administered meal plans. Some avoid certain types of foods perceived as unhealthy, while others invest heavily in daily nutritional supplements.

As for me, I’m too much of a foodie to do any of that. I do have two principles that sum up quite aptly my outlook on eating as an athlete. While I hope they don’t sound trite to you, these simple concepts have genuinely taken me through a swimming/water polo childhood, and continue to be relevant as a long-distance triathlete.

  1. Calorie intake
  2. Balanced diet

Calorie in, Calorie out. I’m a firm believer in this – how much food one takes in vs. how much energy one expends forms the basis of every weight-loss/gain scenario, athletes and non-athletes alike. By this logic, I don’t consider avoiding delicious fatty or fried food as critical to keeping in good shape, but I would indulge in lesser quantities to compensate for the relatively denser caloric content in these ‘sinful’ food. This is also probably how I manage to shock many fellow athletes by continuing to eat my favorite foods right up to race-day. A close parallel would loosely be the late Mr Lee’s philosophy of ‘eat(ing) till you’re 70% full’. Also, try not to eat too close to bed time.

Balanced Diet. Having said the above, a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the body to cope with a heavy training workload. Many hawker dishes here contain very little protein or greens, and this needs to be actively managed. It is also important to take in some food soon after a workout. Personally, I would have 4 (or more) eggs at the food-court nearby and a healthy amount of soy milk if I am not able to have a meal immediately after my workouts.

Coffee is surely part of any (sane) athlete’s diet!

Finally, a learned self-awareness and discipline is an overarching factor when speaking about how diet impacts athlete (and athletic) performance. Google may provide simple easy answers to questions of what to eat, how much to eat, but what really matters is when you internalise these habits. While not the easiest thing to do, truth to be told, this self-control comes quite naturally with self-awareness and understanding of what is necessary for your goals.

Ben Ooi is an Ironman Triathlete and younger sibling to two national water polo sisters. He qualified to compete in the World Ironman – World Championships 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. The SMU alumnus is currently working in the private sector and would love a South American holiday, anytime.

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

I Eat, Therefore I Am

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

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

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

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

Carbohydrates

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

Proteins

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

Fats

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

Dietary Fibre 

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

Vitamins 

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

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

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

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

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

image1

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

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

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

Tales of a Triathlete #5 – Injuries, Recovery and Prevention

Often, injuries aren’t quite as straightforward to deal with…

Benjamin Ooi – Injuries. The bane of all athletes. One moment we could be riding a high after clocking a new PB, and before we know it, we are down, out of the game, and forced to re-evaluate all our sporting aspirations going forward. 

Injuries arise from a multitude of causes with the strain of overtraining being most common. It can also be due to an accumulation and manifestation of bad form, or simply from freak accidents completely unrelated to training. I’m definitely not an exception to this misfortune having had my share of them over the years in various sports, and I shan’t bore you with the endless details. But these setbacks have left me with 3 takeaways that I feel are broadly beneficial to most athletes, serious or recreational

Pay (a lot of) Attention To Form

Yes, quite often our motivation in sports is to go faster, get further, be fitter. There is a natural tendency to overlook fundamentals in our pursuit to achieve this. However, this would not be sustainable except for the most fortunate of athletes. Our human body is formed with natural imperfections and sometimes the simple preference of one arm/leg over the other contributes to an asymmetry which, when exacerbated, becomes an injury.

Good form in itself is also an essential component of performance. As a long-time swimmer, I feel a significant drop in form and efficiency whenever I’ve been away from the pool for a few weeks even though I’ve been keeping fit on land. And when it comes to running, simple as it may seem, the best runners don’t simply get that good by just running more and running faster. What goes on behind the scenes are the endless behind-the-scenes strengthening exercises, activation exercise, stretching, gait analysis etc. All this is done in the awareness that poor form is not only a limiter to performance but also a serious injury risk

Focus On The Rehab

So what happens then, when one suffers that inevitable injury? It will be a setback, certainly, but it definitely doesn’t quite entail a few weeks of couch-potato lifestyle. Take professional advice and then stay committed to your assigned treatment/rehab exercises. While this is easier said than done, recognise that injuries ranging from a strain to a ligament tear don’t generally just go away without help. Even when they do, one tends to be left in a weaker state and further prone to similar injuries.

In addition to rehab exercises, one should engage in other exercises that target other muscle groups. Being able to cross train in other sports is not a perk that applies to multi-sport athletes only! To varying extents, fitness is transferable across sports/training. Make full use of your time off to focus on other aspects of your performance. During the periods I had to stay off running, I was heading instead to the gym every other day for my rehab exercises. And while I was there, I managed additional strength and flexibility trainings without the burden of running.

Know Your Body

One of the senses we can develop as an athlete is knowledge over our body comprehensively. This awareness of form provides an acute intuition of our current fitness, abilities, and most importantly bodily limits. With experience, one learns how the body should feel after a hard workout, and also, what constitutes a strain that demands attention.

Stave off injuries with adequate complementary preventive measures such as foam-rolling, stretching, strengthening, progressive training etc. Even on race-day, having put in the months of sweat and tears (and necessary preparation). Even as you grit your teeth and push your boundaries, recognise promptly when your body signals its limits. Know that no race is worth potentially serious (and permanent) injury. 

Well if you do suffer an injury, then, look on the bright side— you’ve now joined a club that consists almost all your favourite elite athletes and heroes. So afford your body some time, patience and serious rehab. Get ready to fight another day 🙂

Ben Ooi is an Ironman Triathlete and younger sibling to two national water polo sisters. He qualified to compete in the World Ironman – World Championships 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. The SMU alumnus is currently working in the private sector and would love a South American holiday, anytime.

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

What is a running gait?

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

What types of running gaits are there?

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

  • Neutral pronation

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

  • Underpronation

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

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

  • Overpronation

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

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

How to check your running gait?

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

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

Why is analyzing your running gait important?

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

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

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

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

Get your running gait analyzed today!

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

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

Feature – RunSG x Under Armour

In April’s RunSG Magazine, ONEathlete Banjamin Quek got on the cover of the online edition. While it was pretty a warm day on the day of the shoot, Banja was really cool about it.

Maybe it’s because he was decked out in the latest UnderArmour qualifier kit which comprised of a running tee with unique hex-shaped pattern that helps to regulate temperatures while exercising. Gone are the days when gyms are too cold for your warm-spirited treadmill runs and the outdoors too hot for your burning pace.

Besides being one of UA’s latest models to be introduced onto the market, the Hovr Infinite shoes also allows users to track distance covered and calories burnt via the UnderArmour mapmyrun app.

Looking back at the opportunities and engagements he’s had with UA thus far, Banja is grateful to have met many new runners and reach out though his personal stories and challenges in running.

Banja’s running journey is not unique (but it’s definitely his favourite!). In his interactions with runners of all levels, he has noticed a commonality across them that speak to a shared desire and commitment to better themselves.

That sense of belonging to a larger community of purpose amidst challenging struggles has motivated Banja to become a better runner, and he hopes his personal stories of overcoming challenges have similarly helped others in their running journey as well.

When asked about what is his motivation in running, Banja said

“I do not see myself as extraordinary or talented. Instead, I am just an ordinary runner but I am always eager to test and push beyond my limits. I hope in doing so, I am able to inspire younger athletes to keep striving for their dreams. As a runner and as a member of ONEAthlete, I feel that we are also role models while seeking to be the best we can be doing what we love most – to be both a faster runner, and a better runner.”

For more of what Banja has to say about his running experience and journey, check out the April edition of RunSG magazine below. All rights reserved by RunSG magazine.

BANJAMIN Quek is a ONEathlete and Under Armour Ambassador. The mid-distance runner majored in business, and is passionate about the environment. He is currently away in Iten, Kenya for training.

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

5 unique things about BB Blaze 2019!

13 Apr 2019 – Participants from ages 13 to 17 started streaming into the start location – the scenic Floating Platform – at 4.30am. They were sleepy, maybe, but undaunted, as they geared up for the annual (and may we add, grueling) BB Blaze 2019, an outdoor adventure and sport based trail race, organised by The Boys’ Brigade in Singapore.

1) Early Preparations

Preparations began as early as November 2018, kicking off with a preparation clinic by ONEathlete and former BB-boy himself, Ashley Liew. More about race prep clinic here!

Ashley Liew during his preparation clinic

2) Geared up by Mok ying ren

RunONE was also also on board as the Official Training Partner, allowing these young boys to train effectively in their lead-up to the competition, through a RunONE training programme created by Double SEA Games Gold Medalist, Mok Ying Ren.

Mok Ying Ren leading the youths in their warm up

It was thus apt for Mok Ying Ren to lead the 500+ boys in a set of dynamic warm-ups, also sharing medical/safety tips to keep in mind! He emphasized hydration tips – “Boys, remember to drink to the point of thirst” – as the organizing committee anticipated a very hot day.

Mok Ying Ren also mingled with the participants and heard them share about their planning phase and race strategies, before heading off for his hospital duties.

3) innovative race clocking 20+km in total

The organisers partnered with District Race – an innovative mobile app – to make the race more interactive and fun for the boys! If you had been in the city or Marina Bay area, you would have seen at least one of the 120+ teams in action.

4) camaraderie

We can learn a lesson about true sportsmanship just by observing as competitors mingled with one another, had fun together, and helped their ‘bros’! This characteristic of the boys from The Boys’ Brigade is quite the norm, but for any outsiders, it was a little more evident today.

5) Challenge Trophy & Social Media Challenge

What’s a competition without prizes? 5th Singapore Company, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School (Team A106) and 14th Singapore Company, Anglican High School (Team A126) won the 3rd and 2nd prize respectively. Team A177 from 60th Singapore Company, Raffles Institution, emerged as the overall champion of BB Blaze 2019! They also received the coveted Winston Choo Challenge Trophy (named after the former BB Boy and former/first Chief of Defence Force (CDF), who flagged off the race in the morning). This was presented by Guest-of-Honour Dr Lily Neo.

Winners of the Top 3 positions

The Social Media Challenge was won by the 26th Singapore Company , Tanglin Secondary School, who took part actively with their creative posts to win $500 worth of sports gear, sponsored by RunONE.

While looking back on a challenging but rewarding BB Blaze 2019, we certainly hope that the months of training leading up to the race paid off!

Catch the video below for event highlights by the race organizers!

Tales of a Triathlete #3 – Kona in Photos (IM World Championship ’17)

Benjamin Ooi – The road to Kona was a (relatively) lengthy journey stretching across my qualifying race in Hefei the year before, and subsequent intensive preparations for the World Championship. Actually arriving on the Big Island for the race was another huge adventure in itself.

This trip involved a little more complexity than your typical overseas race. With the WC being the triathlon event of the year, the sleepy beach town of Kailua-Kona — if it can be considered a town — welcomes thousands of top pros and age-groupers, media, vendors, fans and supporters. Rooms in the surrounding areas are usually booked out months in advance. The streets bustle with incredibly fit-looking people, while traffic slows to a crawl.

Then, there’s a need to acclimatise to the infamous race conditions on the island. Most amateur athletes arrive in Kona at least a week before the event to settle in. They’d take a dip (literally) in the waters, experience battling the crosswinds, and familiarise themselves with the route that they’d be suffering on, in a few days. The weight of expectations to perform demands that no detail be spared in this final lead-up.

In my case, I was very fortunate to have the support of Mok and Bel who accompanied me and were a great help with my travel and race arrangements! This allowed me additional capacity to prepare without distractions and to (simply) enjoy and immerse myself in the process. Here are a few photos for the curious 🙂

Checking in… Lots to set up!
Post flights shake out swim
Mandatory coffee at sea
Ready to roll — Scouting ride to Hawi
Replenishing with Poke!
Rookie with Kona veteran Ling Er!
Face to face with ironman legends
Underwear run
Pros’ transition corner
Warm up is done!
How to ‘aero’ in crosswinds
One foot after the other. 9hrs in, 30km through the marathon — I think?
A painful jump shot…
Final call at the boarding gate
Anything is possible! I’ll see you at Kona soon!

Ben Ooi is an Ironman Triathlete and younger sibling to two national water polo sisters. He qualified to compete in the World Ironman – World Championships 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. The SMU alumnus is currently working in the private sector and would love a South American holiday, anytime.

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

Tales of a Triathlete #2 – How to not have “Grown Old”

Any day, Anywhere.

Benjamin Ooi – Often when the subject of sports comes up in formal conversation, much of it revolves around the values it is said to imbue — you know, ‘mental resilience, competitive spirit or achievement’. While I agree wholeheartedly, of late I have come to advocate exercise quite simply for its role in supporting a healthy and wholesome life. Most people recognise good health and its accompanying benefits as something we truly deem priceless, that is clear. Yet, whether arising from of a lack of awareness and knowledge or a simple lapse in focus, many of us are surprised subsequently to discover that our bodies have undeniably deteriorated or ‘grown old’.

I myself have a fear of losing any silver of my independence and mobility as time passes. I dread to have to second guess myself: can I get from A to B, will the stairs be too strenuous/painful; will I be able to continue to adventure with just one overloaded haversack? Or with bulky 20kg bike box in addition?; am I able to swim/bike/run whenever I wish?

‘Bike-Packing’ Trip to Oxford

I’ve learnt, keeping a conscious awareness of your physical condition and current state of capabilities is essential. I once met at gym, a family friend in her early 50s who was adamant about her fitness because she had been very active when she was younger. She wanted to experiment with weights again, but that day, she was astounded to she realise that she could no longer perform certain simple body weight exercises! This friend of mine had shifted her priorities heavily into her work and her kids, forgoing her physical fitness, eventually losing all track of herself in this respect. While aging takes a toll on our bodies, and that’s normal, we can take control if we are aware and actively put in the requisite effort to maintain ourselves.

Here’s where sports comes in handy. When athletes engage in a challenging physical activity, we inevitably have an encounter the limits of our current abilities. However, as we internalise that these are merely soft-limits we start to understand how to push our capabilities. Over this process, we get stronger, faster and better at the chosen discipline, but not merely that. As we worked on building strength, endurance and technique, we developed a better understanding of our bodies and an awareness of it that transfers into everyday life.

Take for example, when I go up a particularly long flight of stairs (say at Batu Caves), I consider the following: 

How does my aerobic system feel performing this task? Is it unusually strained?; 

Am I engaging my glutes or quadriceps appropriately; 

What about the form of my weaker leg?; 

How does my chronic knee feel? Am I moving too fast?

These instinctive considerations form a basis of benchmarking and continuous improvement for me, much like a routine time-trial is a measure of running performance. Attaining an aware mindset provides input that helps us to keep track of our physical capabilities in areas that matter to ourselves, and take the highlighted steps towards our goals. Then still, there are little intuitive skills that one picks up in sports, such as learning to fall safely and understanding good form/core engagement when lifting heavy objects. While these aren’t achievements we might share about at an interview, their benefits are inherent and far-reaching

You might think that as a triathlete I would have more than enough disciplines on my plate to perfect. It is true, but over the years I have also dabbled in other sports completely distant to the realms of water, running or endurance races. I feel I have emerged better for it. Attending yoga had me truly realise that my inflexibility was ultimately a result of insufficient attention paid to stretching, and that it had caused me unnecessary strain to attain efficient techniques in swimming and cycling. Starting dance lessons finally activated my calves to function more fully and symmetrically in a way no amount of calf raises seemed able to achieve.

On-going Battle with Flexibility

My point is this, we all know (or at least acknowledge during CNY) that health is something we treasure deeply. Many of us also probably spend long hours standing or seated at work, and hardly on activities that bode well for our bodies. Athletes or not, if we neglect physical activities long enough we are sure to lose a sensing of our own health and fitness which then perpetuates a misguided cycle. So, rather than be caught surprised by how we have ‘grown old’, get out there, try something new and challenging this month, keep active and keep aware!

Ben Ooi is an Ironman Triathlete and younger sibling to two national water polo sisters. He qualified to compete in the World Ironman – World Championships 2017 in Kona, Hawaii. The SMU alumnus is currently working in the private sector and would love a South American holiday, anytime.

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