Top 3 Nutrients for Women Runners

Proper nutrition is one of the cornerstones to improving sports performance and maintaining physical health. Most of the essential nutrients can be obtained from our everyday foods. However, with significant physiological differences between males and females, our needs subsequently differ. In this article, we will be exploring and analyzing the top 3 key nutrients for women runners, which are: iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Iron

Iron plays an important role in our body as it is a crucial element required to form haemoglobin, a compound that transports oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body in the blood. This supports our energy levels and enhances muscle strength which affects the breathing and physical motion for running. However, women require more iron than men in order to make up for the amount of iron lost during their menstrual period, and even more so during pregnancy. While men require approximately 8 mg of iron in their daily diet, women need more than twice than that of men (18 mg, or 27 mg if pregnant).

As such, iron deficiency occurs more frequently among women as compared to men. Some symptoms of low-level iron include feelings of fatigue and depression and in the long run, insufficient iron can lead to anaemia. In order to make up for the loss of iron, women are encouraged to increase their intake of these dietary iron sources such as red meat, chicken and fish, leafy green vegetables, legumes and nuts, as well as fortified cereals.

Adequate iron intake can assist with faster post-workout recovery especially during periods of regular intensive workouts. It can also keep feelings of depression and lethargy at bay, making you a happy and motivated runner!

Photo Source: Tumblr
Photo Source: Tumblr

Calcium

Being the most abundant mineral in the body and a mineral necessary for life, about 99% of the calcium in our body is found in our bones and teeth. This mineral is essential in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels by inducing necessary blood clots, sending nerve messages, and muscle contractions. It may come as a surprise to many that calcium can be lost daily through our skin, nails, hair, sweat, feces and urine. Calcium deficiency affects more women than men because the low level of estrogen production in women during early menopausal stages increases bone resorption and decrease calcium absorption, so women should take special care to meet the daily requirements.

Osteoporosis is a disease that results increased risk of sudden and unexpected fractures due to weakening of bones. Our bones are not static structures, but undergo continuous remodeling, through resorption and deposition of calcium into new bones. When bone breakdown exceeds bone formation, the drop in bone mineral density mass increases the risk of developing osteoporosis over time. Weight-bearing sports like running can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but this is only the case when one is not calcium-deficient.

As such, women are advised to maintain a good level of Calcium from young and it can be found in many natural sources in both dairy and non-dairy foods. Calcium-rich dairy products include Milk, yogurt, and cheese, while non-dairy products such as Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli provide this mineral as well. In addition. fruit juices, tofu, and cereals are also alternative food sources fortified with Calcium. Besides reducing the risk of osteoporosis, a research conducted concluded that taking a calcium supplement of up to 1,000 mg per day may help women live longer.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A lot of women shun fats in fear of weight gain, but there is one type of fat to bring back into your diet. A polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for numerous body functions including cell membrane construction in the brain, reduction of cellular inflammation, blood clotting.

Besides provides protection against heart disease and possibly stroke, this fatty acid has been included in many diets that aim to promote healthy weight-loss. Moreover, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may aid to increase calcium levels and improve bone density, hence reducing risks of osteoporosis. The fact that our bodies are unable to product omega-3 fats naturally, the only way to get them is through the food we eat.

Omega-3 fatty acids exists in 2 main types in our diets: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in some vegetable oils made from soybean, canola and flaxseed, some green vegetables such as kale and spinach and walnuts. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, which converts to DHA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are longer chains of omega-3s present in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardine, bluefish and anchovies. Omega-3’s primary interest for runners is the proven reduction of joint inflammation in the joints, and a better alternative to painkillers.

Photo Source: Healthable.org

Try making these modifications to your diet today, and see if you feel the difference!

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Runninghour: Integration Workshop review

I’ve just registered for my 2nd race this year, the inaugural “Running Hour 2015” which will be held on Sunday, 22 March.  This race will be different to anything I’ve done before as it’s a race for people with Special Needs.  I want to take part to help people less fortunate than me to enjoy exercising and participating in a race.

RH Integration Workshops

Last week I attended their second (out of 3) workshop to learn more about the race.  It was held at the nicely new Singapore SportsHub’s Library and was attended by around 50 participants.

The workshop was casual, relaxed and well organized.  We registered at 8.30am, were given our name tag and informed of our group.  A light breakfast was provided while we waited for the workshop to start.

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Welcome!

A little past 9am the we were underway, first there was a Welcome speech and then followed by a session on “Understanding Intellectual Disabilities” delivered by Michelle who is a special needs teacher as well as a volunteer at the Running Hour.  Michelle was very clear and gave us a detailed briefing on how to recognize special needs, what to do and not to do with them etc.  For example she told us we may find that the intellectually challenged can be extremely friendly, but sometimes shy.  We need to be compassionate to them, patient and encouraging.

Then, we gathered in our group to meet some of the intellectually challenged runners, to hear them tell us about themselves and a chance for us to ask their caretakers any questions we had.

 

After that we had Kelvin, a person with visual impairment, discussing his life with us in order to help us understand a little of what it must be like to live with Visual Impairment.  Kelvin was a very confident and entertaining young man.  He told us that the key point to guide a Blind Runner is to be verbal.  We need to always remember that they can’t see anything and have to always let them know the ground condition, any upcoming changes, the surroundings, etc.

Before the QnA which closed the session, we all had a hands on experience by trying out to be a guide to a blindfolded partner and to then be the blindfolded one too.  We walked around, up and down the stairs, eventually building up enough confidence to be able to run at a comfortable speed.  It was pretty scary!!  In the pitch black, I had no feel for the surroundings, just had to rely on my guide who was a stranger, but she was really good and brave.

 

The race is open for the public; 10km competitive, 10km non-competitive (with 1km blind run), 5km non-competitive walk/run and 5km (with 1km blind run).

In my opinion, this event is dedicated for people with Special Needs.  Us, regular race runners, have so many other events any other time throughout the year, and as we are capable of running other races, why don’t we run this one race to guide the people with special needs run their race?? It’s a good thing.  The medal we’ll get at the finish line won’t just be for our usual hard work pushing ourselves throughout the race, but for guiding and encouraging our Special Needs partner to finish his/her race!!  I’m sure that will feel even more satisfying than just running for myself.

So sign up now and if you know any body with special needs who needs to get out and exercise, they are free to join this race. For further information please visit www.runninghour2015.com.

See you on the race day!

(editor’s note) There is another Integration Workshop next week, you can get more information and register here.

 

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Win a free slot to Runninghour2015: Run So Others Can

Be part of Runninghour history.

Runninghour 2015: Run So Others Can is an inaugural national event that aims to use mainstream sports as a platform to promote integration and nurture an inclusive Singapore. Runninghour 2015 will be the first and only race in Singapore where participants run alongside over 200 visually, intellectually and physically-challenged runners.

The Run will be a rallying call for Singaporeans to come together and show their support towards integrating people with special needs.

The contest has ended and winners have been notified. Thank you.

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Navigating the Food Court

Image source: scene.sg

Perhaps the New Year has seen you resolving to get down to, or maintain a current healthy weight. Good for you! With the festive season over, it is time to put the endless party snacks, alcoholic drinks and special occasion meals behind us, and to return to a normal eating routine. But perhaps the last couple of weeks have been a reality check. After, Singapore’s reputation as a gourmet paradise is founded on the reality that everywhere you look there is food – and it is darn good food.

Lunchtime options don’t get more Singaporean than the food court or hawker centre. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s tasty, and you have so many options. Not so fast! If you visit the food court on a daily basis, it comes to at least 5 main meals out of 21 a week, and your choices here can either help you keep, or break your resolution. Here are some simple guidelines on staying on the right track.

Choose the healthier dishes

You may be a runner, but this doesn’t give you license to go nuts on the char kway teow, roti prata, or nasi lemak. Your body needs fuel that’s nourishing, not the lor mee that will put it to sleep.

  1. The best options are soup dishes – think yong tau foo, sliced fish soup, herbal soups or herbal soups with rice.
  2. You don’t always have to go with the best, just choose a healthier alternative. Mee soto, ban mian and thosai with idli make better alternatives to laksa, mee pok and roti prata with curry.
  3. If you must have something sweet to finish your meals, nothing beats fresh fruit. Avoid the cakes and nonya pastries, as well as the dessert soups rich in coconut cream and evaporated milk.

Fill up, not out

Fibre is your secret weapon in feeling full without overdoing the calories. Soluble and insoluble fibre can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, so make these the highlights of your meal.

  1. Ask if there is a wholegrain option for your rice or noodles.
  2. At any of the stalls which let you pick and mix your food, ask for less rice, then order more vegetables. Choose dishes which are stir-fried, steamed or braised, and avoid items that are deep-fried or drowning in rich sauces and gravy.
  3. If you really want to order a meat-based dish like stingray assam, satay, roast duck rice or wonton noodles, half your portion of rice/noodles, then order some extra vegetables .

Less fat, less salt, less sugar

Eating out is so darn tasty because vendors tend to be very liberal with flavourings like salt, sugar and fat. Unfortunately, these are the exact causes of sneaky weight gain and poor health.

  1. Wherever possible, ask for less gravy, sauces and oil. Limit garnishing like fried shallots and ikan bilis.
  2. Even with the healthier options like soups, there is still too much salt in the food. Don’t drink it all!
  3. Order your hot drinks kosong, and if you must sweeten it, at least you can control the amount of added sugar.

With these simple guidelines and a little discipline, you no longer need to worry that your food court meals are sabotaging your healthy weight goals, or your running performance.

Cover image source: scene.sg
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Cross-Training: What, Why, How, When

Mix It Up!

If your exercise routine up till now only includes running, it’s highly recommendable that you start including various other types of activities to your schedule. Cross-training is important for a couple of reasons. Aside from beating boredom, mixing up your exercise can help you prevent developing overuse injuries. Here, we explain a little bit more about cross-training to get you started on it.

What It Is and Why You Should Do It

The two key types of cross-training for runners are aerobic and strength training. They each serve different functions, and should not be used interchangeably, unless it’s a sport which ticks both boxes.

Aerobic exercises are anything that gets your heart pumping. The most common cross-training choices for runners are cycling and swimming. Swimming is ideal as it is a non-weight-bearing aerobic exercise, which means you get to raise your heart rate without stressing your joints and muscles. Cycling is a complementary exercise to running, as it strengthens the quadriceps, a muscle group which often doesn’t get trained as much during running.

Another two good aerobic options at the gym are the elliptical trainer and the Stairmaster, as these mimic the motions of running, but once again, without the high impact that comes with it.

Strength training often tends to get overlooked by runners, much to our detriment. We tend to imagine strength training as pumping iron in the gym, and most runners tend to avoid bulking, as extra mass, especially upper body mass, only serves to create additional weight that slows our running.

Runners should focus on developing a strong core, with exercises for the lower back and abdominals. These muscles help support and maintain a proper posture while running, to prevent unbalances in the body that result in injury. The easiest core exercise is the plank.

Lunges and squats help develop strength in the glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings, while the humble push-ups are enough to help develop some upper body strength. For more ideas on strength training, speak to a fitness instructor, who will be able to guide you properly.

How to Choose

People you speak with will have many opinions on which exercise you should try, but the best cross-training activities to incorporate into your exercise routine are the ones that you actually enjoy doing. For instance, there is no point swimming if you dislike the water.

Our examples above are only a few ideas – there is no reason not to try rowing or rock-climbing if that’s how you prefer to cross-train. Even a game of basketball counts! Just remember to take into account that certain sports or games that include jarring actions may cause micro-tears and stress your muscles, which require more recovery time and may impact on your next running workout.

When to Cross-Train

Most of us are pressed for time, and can only realistically expect to dedicate a certain number of hours per week to sports. Like running itself, introducing a new activity will require a transition to slowly adapt to the sport, through base-building and familiarising.

In the beginning, swap out one of your running sessions for an aerobic cross-training activity. After a month or two, if your schedule permits, reintroduce the run so you now have your usual number of runs, plus one cross-training session.

The strength-training session should not replace any runs. The best way to include it to your routine is to tack on an extra 20 minutes after one of your runs to perform your strength training exercises. Alternatively, fit it into one of your spare pockets of time, such as while you’re watching television, or during your lunch break. If you are really, truly squeezed for time, shorten a run by 10 minutes and do the strength training.

Incorporating cross-training activities will take some time getting used to, but will ultimately improve your performance as a runner.

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Team Costa Top 10 Running Series #1

Following my blog on the Evolution of Team Costa, the team had its first run out of a planned series of ten routes. Born out of a CNN Travel article entitled 10 Best Places to Run in Singapore that covered popular sites like the Green Corridor, MacRitchie Reservoir & Keppel Bay, the team figured it would be a great monthly outing as a group as opposed to our individual training sessions.

First one off the rank was the Kallang-Tanjong Rhu 8km loop.  A terrific morning, we took off at 7.30am from the Bedok Jetty via the East Coast Park and cycled to Cafe Melba where we locked up our bikes.  Geared up with music and good company, Michelle, Chris, Stan, Veronika, John and myself headed west towards Tanjong Rhu on the south side of Geylang River.

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Kallang-Tanjong Rhu Route

 

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Maintaining a steady pace we carried on until we reached beneath the ECP and then scrambled our way up the stairs to get onto the ECP footpath where we were met with a brilliant view of the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay and the CBD itself.  It was hard not to appreciate and a five minute stop for some group selfies was in order.

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Picturesque Singapore.
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You can’t appreciate some of these views from a car in the same way as being on foot.

 

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Fabulous morning.

Chris was the route organiser, so for me a run on the ECP itself was a terrific surprise.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  The morning sun was just right, the traffic was sleepy and I was grateful for dragging myself out of bed on a Saturday morning to experience and absorb it all.

Getting off the ECP was not as straightforward as getting on since the stairs to get off came to a dead end.  It basically went nowhere.  So we had to jump over the rail, climb down a grassy knoll, cross over Republic Avenue and essentially find ourselves beneath the ECP again.

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Down the grassy knoll.

 

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On the east side of Republic Avenue
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Beneath the ECP.

Having reached the halfway mark, we made our way north-east towards Kallang Stadium.  Here a stretch of the run was alongside the Kallang Basin on a nicely paved footpath until we reached Nicoll Highway and climbed some more stairs.  Single file we continued our run towards the Stadium and lo and behold we ran into my brother who, whilst visiting from Melbourne, was off on one of his crazy 25km walks.

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Single file on Nicoll Highway.

 

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My brother on the far right.

From here it was a home run.  We were more than three-quarters of a way through and some of us, namely me, quite sluggish and thirsty and hungry and wishing for it to end but still enjoying the torture session simply because I was outside, with my friends and exploring Singapore in another way.

The final stretch took us from the Stadium on the north side of Geylang River to the Tanjong Rhu Suspension Bridge where we crossed and I stopped for a couple more pics.  The view was fantastic.

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Across Kallang Basin.
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From the suspension bridge.

 

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Tanjong Rhu Suspension Bridge.

 

As the final kilometre stretched before us, I’m fairly certain each of us were thinking of breakfast, coffee and lots and lots of water (a beer might have been on our mind but it was still only around 9ish am).  As we reached the end Stan departed to nut out some work related issues and the rest of us toddled off to Cafe Melba for food and water.  We clocked up 8km in about 52min.

Bringing up the rear.
Bringing up the rear but finally made it.
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Repleneshing our bodies.

It was a great start for the Team Costa Series.  Not too complicated, not too far from home and you could say a mini duathlon in reverse since we had to cycle home.

I think most of us were in auto pilot whilst riding, I certainly remember struggling with my quads and thought at some point they will just lock up.  Funnily enough we had to ride past an actual duathlon that was run by the Metasprint organisers.

This run took place late November.  With the festive season and way too much indulging we agreed to reschedule December’s event.  The January, Singapore River-Marina Bay event took place on Sunday and a blog should be posted in a couple of days.  With 10 participants it turned out into a great event and yes, we had beer this time.  Stay tuned.  Cheers.

 

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Race Review: Run for Light 2015 (by ‘SmallSteph’)

Visitors to Gardens by the Bay and Marina Barrage on the evening of Saturday, 17 Jan, would have found themselves swarmed by people donning neon yellow shirts. Walking or running, with dogs or friends or babies in prams, these were participants of Run for Light 2015, held in support of the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind.

There were 3 parts to the event– Dog walk at 5pm, the main 5km race at 6.30pm, and the race village which officially begins at 8pm. I had registered for the main 5km race.

Even for that, there was a special segment for partners to guide each other while they took turns to be blindfolded, so they could have a feel of what it’s like for the blind. Unfortunately my partner and I didn’t manage to sign up for it in time, else it’ll have been a great bonding experience too!

Registration

Rewinding my review to registration phase, everything was done online like most races today. However, I realised a discrepancy between the race tee size charts provided on the event site and during the registration process, so upon completion of registration I dropped a message to the organisers. Much to my surprise, I received a reply within 5 minutes, and the error was rectified immediately.

Race pack collection was held at City Square Mall one week before the race. I dropped by at dinner time and there were no queues at all, so the process was smooth.

Instead of number bibs, runners received wrist tags instead. These did not have timing chips, so runners had to time themselves. Also included in the drawstring event bag was a Compressport neon yellow tee, a Run Singapore magazine,  and tonnes of vouchers.

Event Day

No baggage deposit was provided at the event, so runners were advised to travel light. Not a problem for my partner and I since we drove, but many runners ran their 5km with small backpacks and some seemed uncomfortable with having a load bouncing with every step they took.

The programme delayed slightly, and the 5km race began around 7pm instead of the stipulated 6.30pm. However, that might have been a blessing because throughout the course of the run, we managed to catch the process of sunset. It was beautiful witnessing the Singapore skyline against hues of orange and purple, then deepening shades of blue as we closed into the finishing point. Strong winds seemed to evaporate my perspiration as they formed, so by the time the 5km was done, I wasn’t as drenched as usual day-time races.

One water point was set up at roughly halfway through the route, and provided only room temperature mineral water. Runners were to dispose of the paper cups in bins rather than the usual canvas platform.

Distance markers were labelled at 1km, 3km and 4km and many volunteers were stationed along the route marked out by cones too. Most of the elderly volunteers were really enthusiastic about their role, giving us wide smiles and waving their light sticks. But I felt it was slightly too quiet, compared to the cacophony which accompanies many races. Not much of an issue once I framed the race as a leisurely, personal evening run. With many other people who just happened to be in the same tee, haha.

At the finish line, runners receive a bottle of water and a finisher’s medal. Post-run entertainment at the race village had a good lineup of local bands, and some sinful grub to reward ourselves for a good and meaningful run. My favourite, though, was the lightsaber display.

Conclusion

Overall, it was a great run and my partner and I managed to complete it together in record time. But it could have been better with baggage deposit, official timekeeping, and a slightly more upbeat running atmosphere.

Cover photo: Bernadette @ Facebook

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Calling All Adrenaline Junkies!

Your First Overseas Race for 2015!

Ready to venture beyond the borders of Singapore for your next challenge? Take your next race to Sabah for the X12 DARK RUN! Held at the Nexus Karambunai Resort and Spa, here’s your chance to squeeze in a spot of luxury as well as the thrill of a race in one single weekend getaway!

 

Race Details

The race starts at midnight on Sunday, 1 March 2015, and goes through the night. Race distances include a 5km fun run, 10km, half-marathon and full marathon distances, with generous cut-off times of 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours and 7 hours respectively.

Registration deadlines are as follows: 18 January 2015 for early-birds and 5 February 2015 for normal registrations. The following are registration fees for each respective category:

Category Early-bird Normal
Marathon 42km RM100 RM120
Half Marathon 21km RM85 RM100
10km RM70 RM90
5km Fun Run RM40 RM60

Come for the experience
Come illuminate the night!

 

Included in the registration are the running chip and bib, an e-certificate, and a participant’s T-shirt. Finishers in all categories get medals, and for those who complete the marathon, a special finisher’s T-shirt as well.

The categories are Men/Women Open, and Men/Women Veterans (over 50). The race is open to the first 2000 registrations, so hurry!

What makes it different?

The X12 DARK RUN is the first of five races in the series Asia Xtreme Adventure. Each event you participate in, you will be given a medal. However, this medal only makes up part of a bigger medal that you can create when you participate in all 5 events. On the completion of the 5th event, the 5 medals will link up to form a unique 5 piece medal. Unique and different from all the other medals you have gotten at other races. The complete 5- medal is the testimony of your race story in the year 2015.

Earn your first of 5 medals from the Asia Xtreme Adventure series
Earn the first of 5 medals from the Asia Xtreme Adventure series.
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Medals of all the five races.
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The badge of honour. Medals of all the five races combined!

Interested? Register now at www.asiaxtreme.com

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9 Ways to Maintain Your Running Motivation

Maintaining your motivation is critical to sustaining your running habit.

JustRunLah! is here to assist our buddies to maintain that habit.

1. Sign Up

Pick one race that you run every year. JustRunLah! has a Race Database to get you started with the most comprehensive listing of races in Asia Pacific countries. You will look forward to training for and running in that race. Try to get some friends or family members to do the race with you so you can all make it an annual social event.

2. Be Prepared

Squeeze the most out of your little pockets of free time during the day. Keep a bag packed with running attire and shoes in your office or car. Be prepared to take advantage of any unexpected opportunity to run. Even if you can only run for 20 minutes, some running is better than no running and it will help you maintain your running habit.

clothes running gear

3. Find a New Runner

It is always exciting to watch someone who’s new to running get interested in and enthused about the sport. If you know someone who wants to run but doesn’t know how to get started, offer your assistance. You can provide him or her with some basic training advice and gear knowledge and, more importantly, much-needed encouragement.

Consider going on some runs with this person. Although running with him or her may not be challenging physically for you, seeing the sport through a new runner’s eyes will definitely help renew your motivation and set new targets.

4. Run in the Morning

What is the best time to run? Although the best time of the day to run is the time that suits your schedule best, there are certain advantages of running in the morning. Finding time to run in the evening always gets tough when work and home responsibilities start popping up.

By getting your mileage in first thing in the morning, you free yourself from having to “fit a run in” later, and start the day mentally refreshed. Runners who run early in the day are also more consistent with their running than those who try to do it later on.

runner woman stretch road

5. Take a Break

Cross training is a good solution to prevent mental and physical burnout. Popular cross-training options for runners include swimming, cycling and the elliptical machine, but there is no reason not to enjoy a session of yoga, or simply give yourself breaks in training.

Giving yourself a break from training is important for staying motivated and preventing injuries. For healthy, consistent training, your body needs regular recovery periods. Build rest days into your weekly running schedule, and plan for “recovery weeks” (when you decrease your overall weekly mileage) every four weeks.

6. Be Creative

You’ll get bored if you keep doing the same workouts days after day. Change your runs by finding some new running routes, or going outdoors if you’ve only been running on treadmills.

Try varying your types of run by adding speed or hill repeats to your workouts. Running isn’t always about going as fast, or as far as you can. Once in a while, leave your GPS watch and home, and run until your legs and your lungs give our, just like a child would!

If you’ve only ever raced in your own country, think about venturing out to nearby countries for a different challenge. Check out JustRunLah!‘s Bucket- List Marathons.

stairs running urban woman

7. Reward yourself!

Rewarding yourself for all that hard work of maintaining a consistent running schedule is the best way to give your motivation a boost. Consider non-food rewards like a new book, a spa treat, or a movie night with the family. Better yet, purchase new running apparel to look and feel good while you run! For more ideas on how to reward your run, hop onto our promotions page.

8. JustRunLah! Running Quotes

Surround yourself with reminders that will motivate you to run.

9. Start a blog

One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is tracking down your progress, challenges and highlights of your runs. Here at JustRunLah! anybody can start their own running  blog easily and for free. Click here to find more information on how to get things started.

Lastly, we were born to run. So, JustRunLah!

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Run With Love: Yoma Yangon International Marathon ’15

I was lucky enough to win a slot to run at Yoma Yangon International Marathon 15′ from a contest held by Pris Chew’s blog. It is definitely once in a lifetime experience to run at the outskirts of the beautiful city of Myanmar – Yangon. The locals were kind and warm towards me as I ran past villages, small towns and the expressways (roads).

Travel

As recommended on the marathon website, I contacted KHIRI TRAVEL on arrangement for transport, accomodation, land tour and meals. My tour guide, Aye, was caring and attentive to make sure the itinerary went according to plan.

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I took a two-way flight with Malaysian Airlines with a short transit at Kuala Lumpur.  There were snacks and in-flight entertainment to keep me occupied throughout the whole 3 hours plus journey.

Shop and Eat

Being a die-hard foodie, I roamed at the streets near chinatown and found these awesome snacks.

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(this looks a lot like ‘satay’ but i think its called ‘lok lok’, like those I ate in Malaysia)

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(chocolate milkshake smoothie)

It was very tough to find a money changer to change my USD or SGD to Kyats. But lucky me, I found a cafe which serves awesome chocolate smoothie and cheese fries! =) And best of all, they accepted US dollars.

However, do note that some money changers will not accept torn notes like these:

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Weather

On the morning of race day (sunday), it was like 18 degrees at 5am where the full marathoners were flagged off at Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium.
The temperature was somewhat similar to my gold coast full marathon back in July. Fortunately, it did not rain. I managed to run at a pace of 6 to 7 mins per km for the first 28km before I felt really exhausted under the hot sun. Throughout the whole 42km route, we had the privilege to ran past some villages, towns and the beautiful Inya lake. I also had the chance to meet and chatted with some fellow Singapore, Malaysian and Burmese runners too.=) The water points were sufficiently staggered along the way and I had several cups of 100 plus. There were occasionally some hilly slopes but lucky me, I had trained myself with tempo runs and hill repeats back in 2014.

The last few kilometres were really a tough challenge as the roads were closed for runners and there was heavy traffic on the roads.
The petrol fumes and smokes from traffic under the hot sun were intolerable. Nevertheless, it was encouraging when a lady driver unwind her car’s window and cheered me to run.

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My finished timing was about 5hrs 31mins and ranked 24th out of the 30 runners in female category. This was certainly a great start to 2015 for me having to complete a slow and meaningful run in Yangon. I would also like to wish all fellow runners a healthy and joyous year of running! =)

Some books which I thought will be good to share with the readers too:

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When all else fails in a marathon, WALK. =p

“Walk and be happy, walk and be healthy” – Charles Dickens 

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Green Corridor 2015 Discount Code

Join one of Singapore’s most beautiful running races at a discounted price!

After the sold-out success of previous years, the Green Corridor Run 2015 will be held in conjunction with Singapore’s World Water Day celebrations and promises be the most exciting Green Corridor Run so far! Held along one of the most interesting and beautiful stretches of natural land in Singapore, the 10.5km course starts at the historic Tanjong Pagar Rail Station and winds its way along the green corridor to finish at the old Bukit Timah Rail Station. The ‘Green Corridor’ is an uninterrupted stretch of greenery and woodlands that runs the entire length of Singapore, from the old Tanjong Pagar Rail Station in the south to the border of Malaysia in the north. Once the beginning of a rail network that was planned to extend all the way to Russia, this incredible stretch of ecological and culturally significant land has been re-surfaced to allow the community access to a ‘Green Corridor’ through the city.

We are happy to bring another exclusive deal to all our readers:

The first 200 people to register using the discount code JUSTRUNLAH will be entitled to the early bird rate of $49.

Register now at www.greencorridorrun.com.sg

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JustRunLah! Best of 2014: Part III

And the winners are…

For our selection process, please refer to our introduction article on the series, Special Edition: JustRunLah! Best of 2014.

In Part III of the Best of 2014, we present to you the winners of the following categories:

  • Most Used Apparel
  • Race with the Most Unhappy Runners
  • Race with the Most Happy Runners

 

2014 Most Used Race Apparel

The most used race apparel is Brooks, which was worn by participants in approximately 15 different races in Singapore all year round. These races include the Vertical Marathon, NTUC Income Run 350, SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon.

Photo Source: Brooks

 

2014 Race with the Most Unhappy Runners

A supposedly family-fun Hello Kitty Run to celebrate the 40th birthday of the world famous feline character, Hello Kitty, turned out to be a disappointment for many and outrage for some on November 1, at Sentosa Island. The main reasons for the unhappiness among runners were of the lack of, or inadequate wet weather planning by the race committee, as well as the medal snatching incident by runners who took more than what they deserved.

Downpours are unpredictable in any race event and being a family-friendly race, safety and proper shelter for the young ones are particularly important. However, the participants found themselves drenched and lost in the process of seeking temporary shelters from the rain. Most runners also responded that the original 5 km run had been “shortened” to 3 km instead, and received no proper explanation from the race committee regarding the modification.

Evidently, there seemed to be some miscommunication between the committee and runners because the modification to the race distance might be executed by the committee in consideration of safety or logistics issues, and their concerns had not been relayed to the participants effectively. Perhaps pre-race logistics and alternative race execution plans could have been done in more detail by the committee prior to the race, as well as providing an effective communication system possibly via SMS text messaging to inform participants with live updates about the race proceedings in case of bad weather conditions.

As one event led to another, the sudden influx of runners seeking shelter from the rain at the medal redemption venue resulted in a chaotic situation where queues were disrupted and congestion occurred. Participants felt that the organizer could have implemented better crowd control and verification procedures to ensure fair distribution of the limited edition Hello Kitty medals, instead of simply using their race bibs as proof which inevitably led to some participants redeeming more than one medal per bib. The chaotic situation worsened when news about shortage of medals were made known to the anxious participants. In addition, there were reported news of people selling their extra medals on online trading sites, leading to the outrage of many.

The Hello Kitty Run organisers have tried their best in salvaging the situation by posting an apology note on Facebook and offering an alternative medal collection date for runners who failed to receive them on the race day.

All in all, there are many lessons to be learnt from this race for both the race organizer and participants. While more could have been done by the event committee regarding better management of wet weather conditions and medal dissemination, the ungracious and self-centered behavior of some participants were unexpected  and definitely not in the control of the organisers.

Photo source: PrisChew @ JustRunLah

 

 

2014 Race with the Most Happy Runners

The race that brought the most smiles to runners of 2014 was the Newton Challenge (32km, 18km) held on October 26th, at the East Coast Park. The flat race course and clear skies provided the perfect platform for runners to perform at their best and the well-organised race made it a run to remember.

The paid shuttle bus services to numerous MRT stations situated in different parts of Singapore from the race venue gave the exhausted runners great convenience to head home. In addition, participants were extremely satisfied with the hydration resources at every water station – Pocari Sweat and water was kept ice cold and sufficient for all the participants. The welfare for runners did not end there as there were a great variety of food and beverages awaiting for the participants at the finishing line.

A race that is so-called ‘happy’ is probably one where runners are satisfied with what they have paid for, what they had experienced and most importantly, the sense of achievement and celebration of fitness with different people as the main takeaways from the race. This race did just that and it needed no fancy runners’ entitlement or race day activities to render it a race worth going back again.

Photo Source: Facebook
Photo Source: Facebook

Click here for Part I: Best 10km Run / Best 21km Run / Best 42km Run

Click here for Part II: Best Cross-Country Run / Best Fun Run / Best Charity Run

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JustRunLah! Best of 2014: Part II

And the winners are…

For our selection process, please refer to our introduction article on the series, Special Edition: JustRunLah! Best of 2014.

In Part II of the Best of 2014, we present to you the winners of the following categories:

  • Best Cross-Country Run
  • Best Fun Run
  • Best Charity Run

 

JustRunLah! Best Cross-Country Run 2014

The Salomon MR25 X-Country Marathon 2014 was organized on 22 June, and featured a 4-loops route of the MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore’s largest water catchment area. Despite being a small scale race event with approximately 500-800 participants, it was a highly-rated race where runners were satisfied with numerous aspects of the event, including hydration, pre-race logistics, runners’ entitlement and race day expo and activities.

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The runners’ entitlement consisted of a finisher medal, finisher Salomon shirt, Pocari Sweat sports drink and HIGH5 energy gel. In addition, participants were provided with sufficient hydration and banana stations located along the race routes in the lush greenery.  Dark clouds, thunder and other signs of an impending storm on the race day did not deter the race from flagging off as it was still safe for running and runners were in for a somewhat unique, tropical-rainforest running experience, thereby setting itself apart from other road races.

Shortlisted by CNN as one of the 10 Best places to run in Singapore, the running route of MacRitchie Reservoir is known for its grueling slopes and intense humidity amongst the greenery. With that in mind and the arduous 42km distance to conquer, the decision made by the race committee to reverse the direction of the route for this marathon, made it physically and mentally possible for runners as some of the supposed uphills turned into downhills, allowing runners to have some ‘let loose’ time and enjoy some temporary relief from exhaustion.

This is a full marathon unlike any and a race that brings runners close to nature – definitely an event to look out for!

 

JustRunLah! Best Fun Run 2014

Energizer Singapore Night Trail came in as a clear winner with an excellent overall rating of 4.4/5 as the Best Fun Run of the year. With numerous race categories ranging from the 1.5km parent and child obstacle race to the 18km night trail race, it was definitely an event catered for everyone. Participants were most satisfied with the event’s hydration, route planning and race day expo and activities given the well-execution and organisation of the event management team.

Firstly, participants realized that there were more actual hydration points for the trail race than was stated in the race map and each hydration point offered both isotonic and water. This certainly provided race participants with sufficient hydration and energy to conquer the slopes and roads in the dark.

Despite holding the trail race events at night with the inevitable reduction in visibility, runners were well-directed by large LED panels that signaled the directions at split points for the loop. Volunteers were strategically positioned at areas requiring manpower to ensure that participants kept their morale and spirits high, as well as providing information about potential road hazards ahead. In addition, road marshals were mobilised via motorcycles at various parts of the race route to maintain order and security.

Being a SAF-protected zone, an area of prohibited access to the general public, Lorong Asrama of Mandai is a place rarely visited by most Singaporeans, excluding army recruits who had experienced military training there. As such, the event organizer had been lauded by many in being able to gain permission to organize the race event successfully and allow more people to discover more places of Singapore.

Furthermore, the race pack included useful items such as headlamps that came in handy for the night trail, as well as race shirts that were had reflective elements sewn on them. Also, the shuttle buses provided on the race day made travelling to and from Mandai much more convenient, providing participants with multiple drop-off points.

All in all, the Energizer Singapore Night Trail proved to be a major success in the Fun Run category given its good performance in multiple aspects of a race event, leaving many participants excited for the next one in the coming year.

 

JustRunLah! Best Charity Run 2014

SIA Charity Run and POSB PAssion Run for Kids 2014 were both ranked first for the Best Charity Run of the year with an outstanding overall rating of 4.1/5. The SIA Charity Run took place on November 2nd at the F1 Pit Stop, while the POSB PAssion Run for Kids was organized on September 14th at the Marina Promontory and both events provided multiple race distances catering to the different running preferences of participants.

The SIA Charity Run was rated highly on its pre-race logistics, route planning and hydration and there were 3 race categories available, namely 10km, 5km and 300m. Participants reflected that the race pack collection held at Kallang Leisure was efficient and the queues were well-managed. The race route spanning from Esplanade to Singapore Sports Hub was mostly flat and comfortable to run on, with most of the path on Nicoll Highway. The event organisers had also made a wise decision to flag off the 10km race in 2 waves in order to prevent congestion during the race, hence giving participants an enjoyable running experience.

In addition, participants were also satisfied with the sufficient hydration points throughout the race route, providing that extra boost for them to complete the race. The race finishers each received an exclusive finishers’ medal, which had an exquisite Kerbaya-inspired lanyard design similar to that of the Kerbayas worn by the flight attendants of SIA.

Race participants were also entitled to take part in a lucky draw at the end of the race where they stood to win attractive prizes including a pair of Singapore Airlines Business Class return tickets to any Singapore Airlines destination, and tickets to different places of attraction in Singapore. The SIA Charity Run was organized to raise funds for the Community Chest of Singapore, along with the Care & Share Movement and a total of $1.22 million was raised from the race alone.

Photo Source: SIA
Photo Source: SIA

The POSB PAssion Run for Kids fared best in its route planning and runners’ entitlement. The race pack included a variety of items including water bottles, many food and beverage items, shoe bag, race tee and pain relief patches. The finisher medals were in the shape of the official squirrel mascot which was unique and appealing to both children and adults.

Both the 1.2km and 800m kids run were held near Marina Bay Financial Centre and city while the 10km adult and 3.5km family walk extended towards the Marina Barrage, with the 10km route looping near Gardens By The Bay. With numerous spectacular and iconic features such as the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands, the race route gave participants a rewarding visual experience taking on a physical challenge for a good cause.

This charity run was organized with the aim to support children in our community so that they can live a happier childhood and enjoy a brighter future without being affected by financial constraints. About $1.1 million had been raised from the run and it was a meaningful charity event that provided opportunities for both the young and adults to do their part for the less privileged.

Photo Source: Facebook
Photo Source: Facebook

Click here for Part I: Best 10km Run / Best 21km Run / Best 42km Run

Click here for Part III: Most Used Apparel: / Race with the Most Unhappy Runners / Race with the Most Happy Runners

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JustRunLah! Best of 2014: Part I

And the winners are…

For our selection process, please refer to our introduction article on the series, Special Edition: JustRunLah! Best of 2014.

In Part I of the Best of 2014, we present to you the winners of the following categories:

  • Best 10km Run
  • Best 21km (Half-Marathon) Run
  • Best 42km (Marathon) Run

 

JustRunLah! Best 10km Run 2014

With an excellent overall race experience rating of 4.2/5, these 3 races are on par as the Best 10Km Run of 2014, namely the Great Eastern Women’s Run, NTUC Income RUN 350 and Yellow Ribbon Prison Run.

Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014 took place on 9 November and was flagged off from the Float @ Marina Bay. Race reviewers were most satisfied with the race day expo and activities. This race event offered complimentary race day photos of every participant which are downloadable online by entering their unique bib number or name on the official site, as well as fun fringe activities such as Tupperware cooking class, body combat and fitness training classes at affordable rates. It is no wonder that Asia’s largest all-women race is such a highly-anticipated event each year, where women get to enjoy special bonding moments with their family and friends while keeping fit, healthy and empowered.

Photo Source: www.todayonline.com
Photo Source: www.todayonline.com

NTUC Income RUN 350 was flagged off from the F1 Pit Building on 27 April and this event fared best in areas of route planning and runners’ entitlement. The entitlements for participants included a Race Entry Pack that had multiple food and beverage items, Brooks Running Singlet and an environmentally-friendly finisher medal, which was made partly from recycled materials. Despite the cancellation of the 21km event due to the unforeseeable wet weather condition and channeling the 21km category participants into the 10km run, there were no signs of congestion or overcrowding along the race routes and the event organisers provided clear and efficient communication via SMS and internet to participants regarding any updates on the actual race day. As such, the success of this race event is credited to the commendable race route planning skills, responsive and efficient event organisers in adapting to challenging situations and not forgetting the helpful and caring race volunteers who sheltered participants with umbrellas from the heavy downpour on the race day.

Yellow Ribbon Prison Run took place on 14 September at Changi Village. This race differentiated itself from the rest with its unique race route featuring several historical sites in the Changi area such as Johore Battery, Changi Chapel Museum and Old Changi Prison Wall.  The race journey reflects an ex-offender’s path of reintegration into society, with the race finishing line strategically planned on the route leading from the conserved old Changi Prison Gatehouse to the new Changi Prison Complex. This meaningful race event managed to raise a total of $130,000 for ex-offenders, allowing them “to pick themselves up and to get back on track”.

 

JustRunLah! Best 21km Run 2014

Topping the charts of the Best Half-Marathon of this year include the 2 of the winners for Best 10km Run – Great Eastern Women’s Run, NTUC Income RUN 350 (see previous category), and the 2XU Compression Run.

The 2XU Compression Run took place on 2 March and was flagged off from Nicoll Highway and has been raved about by many participants for its hydration resources and runners’ entitlement. According to Type A, B or C, runners were able to receive multiple 2XU sports apparel including the original 2XU Dryfit Run Singlet, Limited Edition Running shorts, Compression shorts and Visor, which made the slightly higher-than-average race rates totally value-for-money. Clear distance signposts, picturesque landmarks along the race route and comfortable running areas were also some memorable moments the race participants experienced from this event.

Furthermore, the hydration provided was sufficient and enjoyable as the organisers were seen handing out more than enough chilled water and isotonic drinks for every runner along the hydration stations which were appropriately distanced to ensure that runners are properly hydrated throughout the entire race. The refreshing cold towel, amongst the food and drinks provided upon race completion, came as a pleasant surprise to many and was a thoughtful gesture worth applauding the 2XU event organizers for.

Photo Source: Facebook
Photo Source: Facebook

The Great Eastern Women’s Run had an exciting and fun-filled race day expo and activities that gave female participants and their families and friends great bonding opportunities and shared moments worth reminiscing. Snapshots of all race participants putting their best feet forward during the race are available for download from the official website by entering their unique bib number or name. Runners were also rewarded with plenty of post-run benefits such as delicious food and beverages and mass workouts kept race finishers up on their feet as they wait for their fellow race buddies to complete the half marathon. With each aspect of a race event such as capacity of amenities, pre-race logistics, route planning, hydration and runners’ rewards well-managed and taken care of, this event gives every woman a race she truly deserves.

Photo Source: JustRunLah!
Photo Source: JustRunLah!

The half-marathon event for the NTUC Income RUN 350 had to be cancelled due to heavy downpour and thunderstorm during the flag-off time. That decision did not come easy and organisers were praised for their timely updates on the flag-off time for the 10km event and all 21km runners were entitled to join in the 10km race as a ‘fun-run’ without an official race timing. The wise decision resulted in an enjoyable and comfortable race with no signs of overcrowding along the well-planned race route. Runners’ entitlement included a generous race pack filled with food and beverage items, a finisher’s medal partly made from recycled materials which was in line with their aim to create environmental awareness and massage area for the well-deserved race participants. Kudos to the volunteers who sheltered race participants from the heavy rain and the responsive, efficient race event team for giving the disappointed runners a pleasant race to remember.

 

JustRunLah! Best 42km Run 2014

The 2XU Compression Run on 2 March 2014 was highly-rated by participants as it had outstanding ratings on the hydration facilities and fared well in other aspects of the race including the amenities, runners’ entitlement, route planning and race day expo and activities. The run had 3 events: 10km, half-marathon and full marathon and was flagged off at Nicoll Highway.

Firstly, participants were very satisfied with the generous supply of water and chilled isotonic drinks and the strategic positioning of the hydration points. As such, runners were all well-hydrated and energized for their run under the scorching heat. In addition, the distance markers were clear and visible from far such that runners were able to know the distance they have covered, when to make turns and hence kept them on the correct running course and direction. Restrooms were located at convenient places that were not too far apart. Also, muscle rub stations were seen along the race route as well to provide muscle ache or cramp relief. Another thoughtful inclusion by the organisers.

The well-planned race route resulted in a smooth run for most as there were little or no congestion experienced. The starting point was wide enough to prevent runners from blocking one another and despite having the 21km and 42km runners utilizing the same route at parts of the race, there were no bottlenecks or overcrowding. As such, it was a safe, enjoyable and scenic run for participants along the route that features the majestic Singapore flyer, Marina Bay Sands and other iconic infrastructure of the Singapore skyline.

Furthermore, the finishers enjoyed numerous welfare provided by the organisers including a banana as a post-run fuel, Pocari Sweat Isotonic drink and a refreshing cold towel. The cold towel came as a surprise to many and served as a great cool-down essential. As for the race pack collection day, there were no signs of long queues or waiting time and the event staff were efficient in their services.

Runners were entitled Original 2XU Dryfit Run singlets, exclusive finisher medals, limited edition 2XU running socks, visors and compression shorts, depending on the Type they participated in. An E-Certificate is given to all participants and finishers’ tee were given to half and full marathon runners as well.

Overall, it was an enjoyable and satisfying marathon event for most runners because of the well-planned running route that resulted in a comfortable run, pre and post run welfare and activities that left a wonderful memory for participants to join the race again the next year. If there was one thing to nitpick on, some runners suggested a later flag-off timing for the full and half-marathon because 4am and 4:45am is slightly dark and the limited vision might result in possible injuries as road hazards might not be visible despite additional lighting provided by the organizers.

Photo Source: Facebook
Photo Source: Facebook

Click here for Part II: Best Cross-Country Run / Best Fun Run / Best Charity Run

Click here for Part III: Most Used Apparel: / Race with the Most Unhappy Runners / Race with the Most Happy Runners

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Special Edition: JustRunLah! Best Of 2014

2014: What a year it’s been for running!

As running becomes increasingly popular worldwide, this trend has been reflected in our local racing scene in Singapore. Here at JustRunLah!, we listed 115 races on our database for the calendar year of 2014. Some were good, some were not-so-good, and some did not happen at all.

For each race our readers, had a chance to Rate the race and share with us what you thought of the race experience. We now present to you in this special edition article, the Best of 2014 races, as voted by YOU, the readers of JustRunLah!

Selection Process:

The following race events have been selected based on the ratings and scores submitted by JustRunLah! members who have taken part in the races listed in the Singapore Race Database of 2014. The overall rating of 5 stars is tabulated based on the average of stars given in the following aspects of the race: Pre-race Logistics, Route Planning, Hydration, Amenities, Runners’ Entitlement and Race Day Expo and Activities.

The Best races had the highest scores among their respective race categories while the Most Happy and Unhappy Races were selected based on the feedback and comments submitted by runners on the race forums. We believe that these channels served as useful methods to measure and evaluate the satisfaction level and opinions of race participants and thus formed the judging criteria.

While the numerical ranking of the races were consistent with the type of comments reflected in the forums, there were some limitations identified when analyzing the results;  Some of the races listed in the race database lacked votes casted by runners and hence scores could not be tabulated. Another issue pertains to races that had multiple events of different distances or categories because participants who rated the races only took part in one of them. As such, the scores submitted is specific to that race category rather than the entire race event itself.

With these considerations in mind and after reviewing and comparing the consistency of both quantitative and qualitative results of the races, it is assumed that the ratings provided were uniform across all categories of each race event.

Drumrolls Please…

The results are presented in three separate articles, featuring the following categories:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

click on the list items above for the unveiling of JustRunLah!’s 2014 Winners!

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You Promised It’d Be Easier!

Jurong Lake Park at dawn in Singapore

What am I looking at?!

OK, so after two long months away, I’m finally back in Europe, and boy was I in for a rude shock! Nine weeks of prolonged daylight hours, mini spells of heatwaves (Australia) and continuous oppressive heat and humidity (Singapore) had scrubbed my mind clean of how cold it can be back in Metz at this time of the year.

So while I was treat to images like these while running overseas:

Sturt Gorge at dawn in South Australia
Sturt Gorge at dawn in South Australia
Jurong Lake Park at dawn in Singapore
Jurong Lake Park at dawn in Singapore

Now I have to contend with sights like these:

Maffliers at midday in the Paris region, France
Maffliers at midday in the Paris region, France

Where’s the speed, yo?

Scenery aside, there was something else I’d expected to see, but I’m still waiting for it. In Australia and Singapore, I was labouring under the impression that my splits could be ignored, because well – heat and humidity. My expectations were sky-high, that as soon as I return to France, I’d be like a cheetah with a jetpack, breaking the sound barrier with a BOOM! as I rocket past other runners at my local running route.

Nope. Didn’t happen. I’ve completed 6 runs in the last 8 days now, and my average pace per run, for every single run, has been honteuse (shameful). I can’t even use the heat as an excuse anymore which means, well, I’m out of excuses. I’m just a slow runner who’s gotten even slower after 2 months of holidays.

At any rate, it’s nice to come “home” and settle back into some semblance of a routine, which hopefully means I can snap out of the la-dee-dah attitude towards running, and focus on reaching my performance targets once more.

For a complete reflection of measuring progress as a runner, please visit my blog: http://thetaoofourlartdevivre.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/measuring-progress-as-a-runner/

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