Seniors: It’s Never Too Late to Start

Adding life to your years, and years to your life.

Think running is only for the young and fit? Think again! Even if you’re officially qualified for a senior citizen’s discount, you’re never too old to start running. Case in point? Our own home-grown heroine, Gloria Lau, first Singaporean woman to complete a marathon in each continent, only started running at the age of 57. Contrary to popular misconception, running does not cause osteoarthritis, carrying excess weight does. In fact, running may even protect you from developing osteoarthritis in the first place.

Benefits of physical activity

Exercise is the closest thing to an anti-ageing pill that exists in this world. No, it won’t erase your wrinkles, but it just might do everything else, including shrinking that spare tyre around the middle. Yet, it is the invisible benefits of exercise that truly makes it a veritable fountain of youth.

Here’s how regular exercise can improve the quality of your life in your golden years:

  • Loss of muscle mass slows the metabolism; exercise helps build, or at least, maintain muscle mass.
  • Regular exercise burns calories, helping you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Furthermore, it keeps your metabolic functions healthy, such as improving insulin sensitivity, lowering your blood lipid levels, thus reducing the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Suffering from insomnia? Exercise helps you sleep better.
  • Keep your brain sharp with exercise; the latest research shows regular activity is key to preventing memory loss, and reducing the risks of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The case for running:

  • For post-menopausal women, osteoporosis becomes a real concern. Running is a weight-bearing activity which strengthens the muscles and the bones.
  • Running improves your coordination and mobility, which help prevent the likelihood of accidental falls.
  • A 15-year research conducted on 55,000 adults demonstrated that running can significantly increase your life expectancy.

Top 3 Running Advice for Seniors

Focus on Your Form

To run happily, you must run safely; thus, the main priority is injury prevention. You might be familiar with the advice to buy good shoes, warm-up, cool down and stretch properly, but more important than all these is maintaining proper form while running.

Run with a slight forward lean. Keeping an overly erect back can lead to lower back and hip injuries.

If you have weak knees, aim to land with a forefoot or a mid-foot strike, instead of a heel strike. This shifts the shock absorption to your ankles.

Take many small steps instead of big, long ones. Overstriding leads to landing with excessive force, which unnecessarily stresses your knees and joints.

Adding life to your years, and years to your life.

 

Quality and Consistency

The beauty of running is that no matter what age you begin running, you will see improvements in your performance over the first seven years. Realistically, you may never beat your best 2.4km time from secondary school, but if you take up running at 55, there is a chance that you’ll be running faster at 60 if you train consistently.

This is the importance of injury prevention, for nothing hurts progress more than being out of action for a few months at a time. Better to gradually build a strong running base by getting your body comfortable with the sport, than shocking the system with an unaccustomed sprint or long distance run.

With age, you also require more rest and recovery after a workout. It is better to finish three runs a week feeling strong and happy, than five a week feeling weak and lousy. Those extra miles bring no additional benefit, and you are better off performing an alternative exercise.

Enjoying the Experience

Above all, enjoy the experience! You may find that your interest wanes after a few runs, in which case, it probably isn’t for you. By this stage, life is too short to do what you dislike. However, if the atmosphere of races, the conviviality of group running, and the thought of continuously challenging yourself excites you, then running is definitely going to be an enriching addition.

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Team Costa Top 10 Running Series #2

The second run in the Team Costa Series took place on another brilliant sunny day, except this time it was an afternoon affair with an attendance of ten team members.  Taking the lead were the 5+ pacers Chris, Jeff & Stan, with David and Michelle close behind, whilst bringing up the rear were John, Veronika, Avni and myself.  Our rollerblading member, Zuzana, meandered amongst us all.

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We met at 4.30pm on Saturday, 17 January at Boomarang Bistro, Robertson Quay and mapped out the route. Heading south along the Singapore River, the route took us past Clarke Quay, around the bend at the Asian Civilisation Museum and onto the Helix Bridge via the Float @ Marina, where we stopped for a breather, water top up and a group photo.

Mapping the route.

 

 

The Helix Bridge is an architectural feat.  Opened to the public in 2010, it was designed by an Australian and Singaporean consortium.  At 280m in length the bridge is a representation of the left-handed DNA strand.  When you walk on the bridge look out for the  paired letters c and g, as well as a and t which stand for cytosine, guanine, adenine and thymine, the four bases of DNA.

Heading down the stairs towards the waterfront promenade, we were greeted by another architectural feat (and there are many in Singapore), the ArtScience Museum.  Designed in the shape of an open lotus with ten “fingers” as extensions, the museum is anchored by a round base in the middle which acts as a funnel for channeling and harvesting rainwater used for recycling.  Each one of the fingers are gallery spaces in which I have whiled away many wonderful hours with exhibitions the likes of: Genghis Khan, Dinosaurs: Dawn to Extinction, Leonardo Da Vinci, Titanic, Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb and Lego: Art of the Brick.

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Helix Bridge (L), Marina Bay Sands (C), ArtScience Museum (R)

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As we were about to tackle the promenade our delightful Veronika figured that running inside The Shoppes mall in air-conditioning was a much better idea and an opportunity to cool off for a couple of minutes.  You didn’t have to ask me twice; I followed suit.

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The 3.5km waterfront promenade is a visual feast of glass encased skyscrapers such as the Marina Bay Financial Centre cluster and The Sail residences, the 87 years old neo-classical Fullerton Hotel, the 70 tonnes / 8.6m tall Singaporean mascot the Merlion and the durian inspired Esplanade Theatres.

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Esplanade Theatre and Bridge.

We had another welcomed pitstop near the Fullerton Bay before we completed the final leg of the run.  At this point, I declared to John (my hubby) that teetotalling for January was off and I’m having a Corona at the end.  On that note we rounded the corner under the Esplanade Bridge and pressed on across Anderson Bridge, then Cavenagh Bridge through Boat Quay and the final trek back to Boomarang.

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Buckets of Corona and Asahi were immediately ordered, followed by some much needed protein.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had kangaroo steak.  A little fickle to cook due to its low fat content, a mere 2%, the steak was a perfect medium-rare with low-glycemic sweet potato mash.  Another round of beer buckets to really quench the thirst, some more banter and finally the way home.

steak

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We satisfactorily completed 8km in about an hour.  With competing schedules and different fitness levels we often train either on our own or in very small groups.  This session wasn’t about timing but an opportunity to run together, inspire one another and have some fun.

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As February is nearly upon us, several Team Costa members are registered for various races such as: Terry Fox, Safari Zoo, Brooks Marina and Marina Party Dash runs and the Metasprint Duathlon.  Somewhere along the way we’ll also tackle the Southern Ridges as our third fun run in the series. Here’s hoping to having enough time to write about all of these.

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Stay motivated and safe with a SleekTag

Sports wristbands: The new trend!

Judging from the recent goodie bags that have been distributed during the Under Armour’s Burpees Challenge, Oakley’s “Test With the Best” event and also, this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon, it is clear that wristband is one of the trendiest sports accessory now. In fact, it has already been one of the top sports accessories for several years due to not only its convenience, but also, the myriad of vibrant colours that it can be offered in.

On top of that, to enhance the uniqueness for everyone’s wristbands, customization and personalization services are available for them too! You can either have your name, your favourite quote or even, your race timings carved onto your wristband. Yet, despite its attractiveness, if one still finds that your wristband is either not unique enough or, it is not fitting enough, do not worry, Sleektag is here for you! As suggested by its name, Sleektag, unlike a normal simple wristband, has a metal tag clipped onto it. Besides having encapsulated all the functions and attractiveness of a normal simple wristband, it has more functions and sizes. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a Sleektag Lite S to test out its functionalbility, comfort and so on for my trainings for this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon.

SleekTag Prime with personal engraving.

Good for all sizes!

Having a small wrist, wearing a wristband can be a hassle for me. Most of the time, the wristband would either be sliding off my hands or, would be stuck around my elbows. Yet, not wanting to be left out as one of the trendy sports people, I still do wear them for fun and sporty events. Fortunately, Sleektag offers me a wide range of sizes. I managed to get one- Sleektag Lite S, for myself and I have to say, it is one of the most comfortable hand accessory I have ever worn whilst exercising. For those with larger wrists, do not fret! Sleektag offers Sleektag Prime, which has an adjustable silicon band. It mimics how watches are worn.

You might say that you do not care about style when you are exercising so there is not a need for you to get a Sleektag. Yet, what if it aids your health too? Sleektag offers Sleektag Power which helps in blood circulation, alleviating pain and also, fatigue. Not to forget, it contains negative ion, tourmaline, far infrared ray and so on.

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SleekTag Power.

Stay motivated.

Besides, from my experiences, I feel that Sleektag can also add as a convenient source of motivation for your marathons. How so? Sleektag offers you the service of carving your own quotes or even, nicknames, onto the metal tag that is clipped onto it. In my case, I have carved- Sore today, Strong tomorrow. During this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon, it acted as a great source of motivation for me as whenever I felt like giving up, all I had to do was to catch a glimpse of the quote that was carved onto my Sleektag to recharge myself for another few kilometres ahead. With Sleektag, you do not need any motivators to encourage you to push on for the marathon, you do not need any music to distract yourself from the pain you have gotten from the marathon, you do not need any nice scenery to make your marathon easier. All you need, is Sleektag.

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Stay safe.

Not to forget, Sleektag can be really handy for emergency purposes. If you want to prevent your kids or pets from going missing in a crowded area, all you need to do is to carve your address, your contact number and so on onto his/her/its Sleektag. This will allow passers- by to bring your kid or your pet back to you safely and quickly. If you are worried about losing your item, you can grab yourself a Sleektag Grip. Carve your address and contact number onto it and attach it to your valuables so that they can be returned to you if anyone finds them.

Anyone would have thought that such an item that is focused on personalization and customization would be expensive. Yet, Sleektag proves you wrong. Ranging from 15. 90 SGD to 35 SGD, Sleektag proves itself to be more than affordable.

With its wide range of sizes, its variety of colours and its varied functions, Sleektag is a fashion item that proves itself to be more than one. I will definitely get one for my family and friends and would confidently say that this is one of my best buddies for my trainings and marathons. So, stop hesitating and grab one for yourself or friends and family too at sleektag.com!

This post is sponsored by SleekTag.

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Race Review: Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014 [21km] (by ‘kikurazz’)

Hi peeps,

Sorry for the late post – but as promised earlier, here’s a brief race review of 2014’s PBIM 21km. I know we’ve heard many complains and even many bloggers and readers here have experienced it first hand themselves – but to be honest I felt the 21km was not THAT badly organised. I had a really great race overall. Anyway – here’s the snapshot of the highs & lows of the event:-

The Bad:

1. Parking – awful. We parked pretty far from the starting point. We knew with 60K participants traffic and parking are going to be bad – but we didn’t expect to be parking that far. As this was the first time the race was held in the 2nd bridge – thus logistically it was really bad. Hopefully they would improve it in 2015.

2. Participants – I dunno how many ran the 21km – but it was enough to be sandwiched shortly after the starting point when we were turning up to the bridge – instead of running; we were WALKING. From a safety perspective this is bad and this is also a turn-off for people who are gunning for PBs.

3. Different starting time for male and female – again this might be due to the sheer number of people running but i felt bad for those elite female runners trying to zig-zag their way through the number of slower male runners. Ouch!

The Good:

1. Race route – flat enough for those gunning for PBs! Although a little bit boring at times (what do you expect as we are running on a bridge!) – it was compensated by the cool night sea breeze. And not to mention that I managed a PB myself on the flat route. Were it not for the little hike towards the end – my timing could have been slightly better!

2. Volunteers/water station – although some complained that there was not enough of water stations, I felt the number was OK. And as per all the other races – kudos to the volunteers who had to gave up sleeping time to hand out water/gel/ice pack and encouragements to the runners, in the middle of the night! I saw some poor kid dozing off around the 10km mark 🙂 but no complains from me!

I think overall the 21km was OK – i didn’t take the bus and obviously we did not have problem with the bottle neck ending that the 42km and 10km runners experienced. Now that the HM has been shifted to June 2015 – hopefully this year will be a better race and I’m thinking to give it another shot!

So there you have it – my short race review of the PBIM 2014 HM – next up is Terry Fox 1okm run in February for charity, and will post a brief race review after the run.

Keep running.

Regards,

kikurazz

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This Month’s Training: Hills

Hilly routes are probably the least favourite choice among runners because of the extra amount of pressure and energy needed to propel your legs and body against the unrelenting gravitational force in conquering the upward slopes.

Benefits of Hills Running

While the idea of racing up and down slopes might sound like a daunting idea, the benefits and effects it brings are plenty:

Burn, Baby, Burn

It seems obvious enough that running uphill burns more calories than running the same distance on a flat surface, and the steeper the incline, the higher the burn rate. Interestingly however, research has also proven that run down steep enough a hill (specifically, from a decline of 17% or more) also increases the per mile energy expenditure.

Mental Toughness

With practise comes improvement, and slopes that seem impossible at first and prove to be attainable after several attempts are a great boost to the morale to go faster, further and higher. Hills training also show runners that speed is not always everything because there are multiple aspects to complete a hilly training run and sometimes it takes that extra willpower to push your body to achieving something you never thought you would be capable of.

Boost Strength, Build Muscles

Strength gained indirectly acts as an injury buffer. With more developed calf and quad muscles, you are less prone to overexerting your legs, a cause of muscle microtears or strain. Researchers have found that muscle soreness after a downhill run was reduced, suggesting that a different usage of the same muscle group can actually produce a protective effect.

Specifically, your calf muscles employ more muscle fibres to contract more quickly, at a higher rate. Over time, this springing action develops the quadriceps, to produce the high knee lifts while going uphill. So the next time you find yourself running on flat ground, your running efficiency has improved, translating to a greater speed for the same amount of effort.

How to Safely Run Hills

Running yourself into an injury is the fastest way to ensure you’ve found an excuse to never tackle the hills during training. Maintaining proper form is therefore paramount. Run any old how and you’ll risk aggravating the Archilles tendon going uphill, and sciatica or black toenails while coming back down.

Learn to pay particular attention to your body. Shorten your stride length and increase the number of steps you take. Always lean forward; into the hill when you’re running uphill, and yes, forward too when you go downhill. Counter-intuitive though it may be, leaning back actually emphasizes the braking motion, and the impact from each step creates eccentric stress that increases the likelihood of injuries in your muscles, knees and joints. Always remember: keep your nose before your toes.

Always commence any form of training with a proper transition phase to introduce the type of training to your routine. Hills running is a stressful workout, and a lack of gradual increments of training intensity and frequency will definitely result in unwanted injuries and setbacks.

3 Hills Training Runs

The following are three different ways to add some hills into your run this week. Remember to perform a thorough warm-up before you commence your session.

1) Steep Hill Sprints: Find a steep incline of about 50m, and sprint at maximal effort. Recover for 2 to 3 minutes with either complete rest, or walking. Start with 2 to 4 repetitions on your first session, adding one repetition a week until you reach 8 repetitions. While this exercise is great for conditioning the heart, lungs and muscles, it is also incredibly stressful, and we do not encourage anyone with a heart condition from attempting this without medical clearance and supervision.

2) Endurance Hill Intervals: Find a hill of about 100~200m in length, and run uphill. Your goal is to maintain a constant speed, especially as you begin to fatigue towards the end. Recover by walking or slowly jogging downhill. Start with 4 repetitions on your first session, adding one per week until you reach 8. This exercise increases muscle strength and Vo2 Max (your ability to sustain an aerobic effort over time).

3) Long Run with Hills: There is no need to set aside a specific workout purely for running on inclines – simply build some hills into a pre-existing workout, preferably your longest run of the week. Whether or not you have an upcoming race that features some hills, adding hills onto your long run teaches you how to properly pace yourself by switching gears, so you don’t make the race-day mistake of running uphill too hard and crossing over to the anaerobic zone.

Are you prepared to start your race with a steep incline like these guys at the Champenoise de la Marne? Photo credit: Guillaume Perignon
Are you prepared to start your race with a steep incline like these guys at the Champenoise de la Marne? Photo credit: Guillaume Perignon

So what are you waiting for? Time to conquer the hills near your area and maximise your running potential!

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An interview with the founders and members of Runninghour

Runninghour runners at KL Marathon.

Meet Runninghour Co-op.

You might know the name from Runninghour2015: Run So Others Can event on March 22nd, or have spotted the Runninghour runners in their distinctive apparel in one of the races you’ve ran, but how much do you know about the background of the club?

We had the pleasure to chat with the founders and a few members of Runninghour, a club that promotes integration of people with special needs through running in Singapore.

Enjoy the interview!

RH runners at Green Corridor Run.
RH runners at Green Corridor Run.

1. First of all, could you please give us a short introduction of yourselves for our readers?
John and Jan, Husband and wife, teachers from mainstream who have special interest in special needs education. Both are regular runners and take part in running races.

2. What motivated or inspired you guys to start this running club?
The youth with special needs have limited platform to integrate into the society. We see sports-running as a sustainable way of integrating people with special needs. We like to share the joy of running with this special population and improve their quality of life.

3. What were the challenges you guys have faced in starting this running club and how did you guys overcome them?
We started off with a very small group. It wasn’t easy to cope with our weekly schedule for the past 5.5 years. There are also many preparation work which are quite time-consuming. We only depend on volunteers to run the club at the moment.

Chris-Hortin Tan (Events), Mohammad Ivni Bin Yaakuv (Vice-Chairman), Siew Yiu Wah (Membership), Frankie Teo (Events), Agnes Lee (Training), Wan Wai Yee (Membership), Dennis Sim (Membership), John See Toh (Chairman), Chan Jan Siang (Secretary) & Soh Kheng Hong (Treasurer).          (Left to Right)
Chris-Hortin Tan, Mohammad Ivni Bin Yaakuv, Siew Yiu Wah, Frankie Teo, Agnes Lee, Wan Wai Yee, Dennis Sim, John See Toh, Chan Jan Siang & Soh Kheng Hong (Left to Right).

4. How is your weekly runs like? ( From warm up to post- run)
We have between 60 to 80 participants at our weekly run.
The run are carried out at different location every week.
Participants can choose from the intensity they like to do each week as we offer 3 programmes of different intensity.
Pre-pairing of guides and special runners are done early so that everyone knows his/her role and buddy when they come for the run.
The buddy/guide is responsible in guiding the special runners through the workout.

5. How do you think running has helped the special members? (mentally, physically and so on)
– Build self-esteem.
– Participate in mainstream activities and feel included
– Widen the circle of friends and support group.

6. Have these special members inspired you guys and if so, how?
They give us a good reason to continue running. Their tenacity often make our own problems seem so trivial.

7. What inspired you organized such an event (Runninghour 2015: Run So Others Can) and what are the challenges you have faced?
The club’s phenomenal growth is clearly an indication of the club meeting a need of the special population. We like Runninghour to be an household name and the best way is through a national race event. We hope any person with special needs will know that they can approach us if they need help to participate in sports. This race is also to attract more people with special needs to come up to be active as we offer complimentary entries to all persons with special needs.

RH at Sundown Marathon.
RH at Sundown Marathon.

8. The event is meant to further integrate the people with special needs into the society and tell the others that they do deserve respect. How do you think Singapore has progressed so far in integrating them into the society?
We are encouraged by the support of the many organisations who are so willing to support us in whatever way they can. The running community is very supportive as well. We also want to take this opportunity to nurture a gracious and caring running community. Through our outreach programme we also discovered that the general public still lack awareness towards people with special needs (out of sight out of mind) but once they understand them, they are usually supportive. On the whole, the journey has just began.

9. How do you think this event will further integrate them into the society?
It will raise awareness through various mass media. Allow more people with special needs to run/participate alongside with the general public.
Demonstrate the ability of people with special needs and not their disability. Raise the comfort level of people interacting with people with special needs. Our integration workshop are quite well received and we happy to have people willing to spend time to understand people with special needs more.

10. Have you guys been training harder for this event? If so, how? If not, what do you wish for all participants to take away from this event?
A small group of our special runners and members will be training to be pacers for the first time. This group is training a lot harder. For others, the race distances are manageable but their special roles for this event will be race ambassadors-encouraging and helping other runners especially the special runners.

 

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11. Finally, can you leave us with a shout out about Running Hour event?

It’s a breakthrough event in our nation’s sporting history.
1st race where more than 800 runners will be running “blind”
1st race to have so many special runners
1st race to have Blind Runners as pacers
1st race to have so many ordinary runners running alongside with special runners
1st race to have a medal in braillie

Kee Hock, Daniel, Don and Nadia of RH.
Kee Hock, Daniel, Don and Nadia of RH.

Q&A with with a few Runninghour members:

Q. What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt from joining Running Hour club?

Dennis Sim: I have learnt that as long as I refuse to allow my disability to define what I can or cannot do, I can continue to achieve greater potential in myself. And because of this , I am thankful for RunningHour for create an environment that focus on what we can do and not what we cannot do.

Q. What have you learnt from your experience with Runninghour Club and what motivated you to join this club?

RH at Race Against Racism.
RH at Race Against Racism.

Taichi Kimura: Before joining Runninghour, I saw them in the Gardens By the Bay while I was jogging by myself. I did not realize for a moment that they are special runners running with guides. I was impressed by the fact that they are running despite their disabilities. Then I was interested to join the club to give support as a volunteer. That was my motivation to join the club. My experience with Runninghour Club made me realize that I have been taking for it granted that I have eyesight. It is inspiring to see that special runners keep trying to achieve their goals and I am glad that I can be a part of that.

Q. What do you hope you and the others will gain from this event?

Siew Ling: For this run on 22 Mar 15, this is a run like no other. A pair can sign up for the blind run where one of them would be blindfolded and running for a distance of 500m. Later, both will reverse their roles. Besides having a feel of running blind, you can also have the experience of acting as a guide for someone who is blind. All the runners would be running with other fellow runners, with or without a disability. Some of the special members from Runninghour would be taking on various roles during the race? Through the run, we hope to let the community be aware of us, that we, the visually, intellectually and physically challenged runners are just like you and I out there, we do activities like anyone, though we do it differently. Besides running, the special members would be taking on different roles throughout the race. We also want to let other persons with disabilities know of our existence, that there’s this inclusive running club they can be a part of.

Runninghour 2015: Run So Others Can will be a race like no other where you will run alongside over 200 visually, intellectually and physically-challenged runners. Click here to register today. In addition, you can join Runninghour in their third and final Integration Workshop on 28th February (more information here).

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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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