National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Chooi Fern Loh (Marathoner)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

I believe everyone has this same situation during this period of time. At home, we can train more than we expected. I believe that it is a good time for us to focus on the inner muscles and strength training for running stability.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

Yes. It is definitely a new challenge for everyone in order to adapt to this new lifestyle.  Workout at home or working from home allows us to have more time with our family. While I believe the period will end soon if every one of us cooperate well and this will resolve very soon.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

During this period of time, a simple meal is important. We should eat clean with small portion but avoid heavy meal to prevent any weight gain. Meanwhile, we can do at least 10min or 20min HIIT or flexibility workout to maintain our fitness level.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

Yes. There are plenty of sources that we can refer to. I like the videos from@joannasohofficial@suesueteoh@aimiwasaki_@leong_munyee; and the app I am using is NikeClub 🙂



ABOUT CHOOI FERN LOH

Photo source: Chooi Fern’s IG


Chooi Fern Loh is the 2nd fastest Malaysian in the Women’s Full Marathon category.

Chooi Fern has been a regular winner in the Malaysian races such as Penang Bridge Marathon (2017 & 2018), Standard Chartered KL Marathon (2018 & 2019) and Perlis Marathon (2018 & 2019).

Her other achievement includes personal best timing of 2h58min at the Gold Coast Marathon 2019.

Chooi Fern currently holds a full-time job as Tax Consultant at Crowe Malaysia.

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7 Ways to Tackle Sleep Problems

You just had a very long day at work, and you looked forward to is to lie on your bed and enjoy your beauty sleep. However, there are times when you just cannot sleep, or you have trouble sleeping.

If you are experiencing some sleeping difficulties, you may want to try these strategies on how to tackle it and hoping you will enjoy a good night’s sleep tonight!

Trouble falling asleep

If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid tea and coffee seven hours before going to bed. Caffeine is found naturally in coffee beans and tea leaves, and it is a stimulant which increases overall work efficiency and brain activity. Caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increase adrenaline production. 

Sleep interruptions

Not getting enough sleep may lead to significant health problems, and it might impair cognitive function for the day. 

Here are some of the reasons for frequently waking up. Stress, emotional disorder, chronic diseases and ageing might cause you to have sleep interruptions. Make sure your room temperature at an optimum temperature of around 20-22 Deg Celcius for you to be comfortable. Also, it is better to avoid drinking alcohol before bed.

Trouble Waking up

If you have trouble waking up every morning, there are chances that you’re not getting sufficient sleep, and you need to change your schedule. Go to bed and wake up every day at the same time, even on weekends. Your body must get used to waking up at the same time to adjust your biological clock, and you will eventually begin waking up naturally.

Cramps and muscle spasms

Muscle spasms most often occur in legs at night, and they happen when one or more muscles in the leg tighten involuntarily, and most of the time, the muscle relaxes in less than 10 minutes.

To get rid of cramps and spasms, try massaging, warming up, and stretching of the muscles before bedtime. Yoga can also help improve stretching and strengthen your muscles. Apply a hot towel or water bottle to soothe the tight muscles. 

Back Pain

Back pain is usually due to stress or strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions or other lifestyle habits. Try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. The pillow in between your knees will keep your hips, pelvis and spine in a better alignment. If you prefer to sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under your abdomen. It will relieve some pressure off your back. No matter what position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is most important. Close the gaps between your body and the bed as it might cause strain on your muscles and spine. 

Shoulder pain

It is often difficult to fall asleep due to shoulder pain. If your shoulder hurts, go to sleep on your back, hugging your pillow. Avoid sleeping on your stomach because your shoulders protrude forward and rest in the wrong position. 

Neck pain

The most common reason for neck pain is an awkward sleeping position. Two sleeping positions are most comfortable on your neck: on your side or on your back. Avoid using a high or stiffed pillow as it might flex the neck muscle overnight and can result in morning pain and stiffness. Also, if your neck often hurts, change pillows at least once every two years. To prevent neck pain, do morning exercises or a light massage for your neck before sleep.

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Expert Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Betsy Chen (Pilates Instructor)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the experts to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

I work out at least once every two days, at home! As a Pilates and fitness instructor, I would plan my own workouts for live streaming online for my clients and IG followers. I alternate my workouts between weight training for strength, core-based mat exercises for full-body control, and HIIT sequences for cardio and endurance. On top of that, I try to run outside 3 times a week.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

I actually feel quite busy during this circuit breaker period. My work used to occupy a lot of me physically and mentally. I planned to spend more time during this period on self-development – read more, do courses that I had always planned to do, and looking at opportunities that I have previously put aside. Doing the things I enjoy really helps me to find myself in the midst of all these chaos and actually helps me to stay calm. I enjoy being in control of my own schedule and that gives me a sense of calmness.

However, when things get overwhelming for you, remember all you need to do is to put everything aside, have a nice drink and do something that allows you to release the stress. Nothing is more important than our mental health, and this is the perfect time to look within and slow things down if it need be.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

My home meals mainly consist of wraps or soups. They are easy to prepare and taste super good! My marketing list is pretty standard – spinach, bell peppers, eggs, mushrooms, tofu, prawns, fish, chicken etc. As I prefer warm meals, these two meal choices are pretty much my staples. As we stay at home during this time, we may succumb to lots of unhealthy snacks, but do try to cut down on the intake of processed food and sugary stuff.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

I am someone with no flair for cooking, so on days when I am not having my wraps or soups, I will do take-outs. But when I am up for a challenge to whip up something new, I would go to BBC Good Food for simple and easy to prepare recipes.



ABOUT BETSY CHEN

Photo source: Betsy’s Facebook


Betsy Chen is a full-time Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer. She is also the Co-Founder of Off Duty Pilates.

As a Sports Singapore Ambassador, she advocates a fitness lifestyle and hopes to inspire more people to get moving and exercise. Other than Pilates, Betsy is an avid runner doing both short and long-distance run training. She is also a passionate indoor climber, spending long hours in the climbing gym, if not working on strength training in the gym.

At Off Duty Pilates, they believe that working out shouldn’t actually feel like work. On should step away from the bustle of life into a space where he/she dedicates oneself to the right kind of work.

They’ve changed things up and turned classical Reformer Pilates away from just an exercise for rehabilitative purposes. Their fitness-oriented programs will get the heart pumping and the muscles burning with upbeat and energetic classes.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Jieshi Neo (Marathoner)

Photo source: Jieshi's Facebook

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

With stricter measures in place, it’s certainly challenging to keep up with an active lifestyle. This is especially true after I started work from home arrangement and sometimes find it hard to “switch off” from work. I find that structuring your day and having a to-do list helps. Avoid sitting down for a prolonged period by taking walk breaks and doing some light stretches in between work tasks.

We can stay active and physically healthy at home by incorporating some home-based exercises into our daily routine. This period is the perfect opportunity for all runners to spend more time on strengthening and conditioning, something we all probably neglect when we were training hard for races during pre-COVID-19 days. Some simple exercises you can do at home are push-ups, planks, jumping jacks, squats, lunges etc. If you do not have dumbbells at home, you can be creative and make use of household items eg. water bottle, a bag of rice as weights to add some intensity.

There are also many online videos that you can follow to work out a good sweat. On days that you feel lazy to move, just tell yourself ten minutes and change to your full workout gear. You will usually end up committing more than ten minutes.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

COVID-19 has disrupted the economy and caused many changes in our daily routines. We cannot control this virus but we can control how we feel and react to it. Being grateful and appreciative of what I have right now allows me to stay calm. I am thankful that during this period, my loved ones and I are healthy, my husband and I still have a job and a roof over our heads. My husband and I do not have much meals time together before the circuit breaker measures were implemented as our working hours are quite different. Now that we are seeing each other 24/7, I am enjoying and treasuring the time spent together during this period. Let’s count our blessings, be socially responsible and believe that this too shall pass.

I also enjoy reading novels, particularly fiction books. Immersing myself in the story takes me away from reality for a while and reading calms me. Find something that you enjoy eg listening to music, drawing, cooking, yoga etc and let the process relieve your stress and tension. Even better, learn a new skill. Think of what are the things that you wanted to learn but have no time to do so in the past. This is the time to enrich yourself and discover your hidden talents!

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

I have started cooking more frequently at home during this period and this allows me to limit the amount of oil, salt and sugar used in the dishes. I also try to use more fresh food and less processed food. I make it a point to have regular meals times and balanced diet which include protein, grains, fruits and vegetables of different variety and colours. To ensure I stay hydrated throughout the day, I will fill a bottle of water, like what I usually do in the office and keep it at my desk while I work. To avoid succumbing to the temptation of snacks, keep your junk food out of sight. Opt for healthier snack options like fruits or nuts.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

Nike Training Club App. This app is free and there are a variety of workouts i.e from bodyweight only to full equipment workouts for everyone at all fitness level. You can also select the workout based on the muscle group i.e Abs & Core, Arms & Shoulders or Glutes & Legs that you would like to work on.

Recently, I stumbled across Pamela Reif youtube channel. Her fitness workout does not require any equipment and are suitable for all fitness levels too.

I also follow Fitness First SG Instagram account. FF has launched a 30-day Stay Home Stay Fit challenge. Each day they will introduce an exercise which we can do at home using ordinary household items. Information is bite-sized and easy to follow.   



ABOUT JIESHI NEO

Photo source: Jieshi’s Facebook


Jieshi Neo is a Team Singapore Marathoner who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2015.

Jieshi won the local female category at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2015 and 10th position in the open female category which earned her qualification for Rio Olympics 2016.

Jieshi is also the first female Singapore marathoner to qualify for the Olympics (2016 Rio), which she completed in 3h15min.

Her other achievements include 1st position for the women’s open category at the Seoul 10k Challenge 2016 with a personal best time of 39min50s; 2nd position for the general division, women’s category at the Gifu Half Marathon 2016 with a personal best time of 1h27min; 3rd position for the women’s open category at the Taipei Standard Chartered Charity Marathon 2017 with a personal best time of 3h6min; 2nd place for the local female category at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in 2012 and 2014.

Jieshi currently holds a full-time job as HR & Admin Manager at GP Batteries and is married to Jackie Ho, an avid runner.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Mary Joy (Marathoner)

Photo source: Mary Joy's Facebook

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

It has been a month that I have stayed home and have been doing indoor exercises. Sometimes that is all you can ask your body for. It might not be the longest or the hardest workout I can make every day, but it helps my mental health and that’s all that matters to me. Being safe and healthy is way better than being sorry.

I focused on calorie counting on my diet for now as I can’t just stay at home with lesser exercises and eating so much. I have to cut my usual calorie intake per day and have to compensate it with the activities I can do at home. Since the community quarantine here in our city, I have decided to stay at home and do core, ab workout, leg strengthening and stair drills. It’s important to exercise and sweat every day to fight anxiety and help boost our mental and physical health.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

We all have to focus only on the things we can control and think or do more of what makes us happy. I know it’s a rough situation right now, but for me as an athlete, I’ve got a lot of time to reflect, to recover, to sleep 😊and focus on self-improvement, on the good and think of the things that you might be of help. For myself, I still find ways to interact with my friends through using FB Live and sharing with them activities they can do at home to keep them active. We can still be positive. We can still work towards our goals, just in a different way, and be always flexible with your methods.

Everything is going to be okay. Important is to stay calm and be a good community member.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

My diet now focuses on fruits to help boost my immune system. I cut out a bit of my carbs intake as my workouts now are not that long and hard.

While taking your diet strictly, be committed to doing even a 30min abs or core workout and strengthening inside your home every day. You can find many ab/core exercises on youtube. Or look for any available resources you can find at home, be creative and be flexible with your methods.

During this uncertain and uncomfortable time, choose wisely what you put your energy into because whatever you feed, will grow.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

I share some of my indoor activities on my social media accounts:
– FB Account: Mary Joy Tabal Oly;
– FB Page: Mary Joy Tabal Official FB Page;
– IG: @maryjoytabalofficial; and
– YouTube Channel: Mary Joy Tabal



ABOUT MARY JOY

Photo source: Mary Joy’s Facebook

Mary Joy is a Team Philippines Marathoner who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.

Mary Joy bagged the Silver Medal at the 2019 SEA Games Marathon with a time of 2h58min. She also clinched the Silver medal at the 2015 SEA Games and Gold medal at the 2017 SEA Games with the times of 3h4min and 2h48min respectively.

Mary Joy is also the first female Filipino marathoner to qualify for the Olympics (2016 Rio), which she has done by running a time of 2h43min at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon 2016.

She is also the Philippines female record holder for the half marathon (1h16min).

Mary Joy is an Assistant Coach at JPD and a Professional Athlete at Motor Ace Philippines, Inc.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Wille Loo (Triathlete)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

I stopped training outdoors completely about a week before the Circuit Breaker was officially introduced, so I have had a while to get into a home-based routine. I have two young kids (3 & 5 years old) at home so I did not want to take any unnecessary risks by going outside, especially since all upcoming races are on hold.

30-45mins of exercise can go a long way to breaking up the monotony of being at home. All you need is a couple of resistance bands (or old bicycle inner tubes if you want to go really old school), swiss ball, some hand weights (or water bottles) and you are set. There are a ton of videos online you can follow.

While I may not be able to simulate a full training load at home, this downtime is an opportunity to work on aspects of my fitness I often neglect like core strength and flexibility. I have discovered that aside from swimming, biking and running, my fitness does not appear to extend to anything else. I started to add in HIIT workouts a few times a week to my training and I enjoy the variety.

Photo source: Wille

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

Accepting that we might be in this situation for a while has helped me keep the stress away. When I look for solutions to training and keeping active, I have tried to come up with ideas that would be long term fixes. Rushing to squeeze in one last swim before all the swimming pools closed would have done me no good if the next time I manage to swim is months away.

The other thing I have found to be very important during this period is to manage my expectations. It is a real adjustment being at home 24/7. In the past, I would be very particular about the conditions surrounding my training. I like having things a certain way. Now, I try to be grateful that my family is healthy and I can actually continue to be active instead. I use resistance bands to do dryland swimming drills to maintain some muscle memory. While I have not been running, I have been doing more indoor cycling. Hopefully, this extra focus on cycling will benefit me when we get back to racing again while allowing me to hold on to some base fitness for running.

Technology has made it so easy to stay in touch. Pick up the phone and (video) call someone! More than ever, we need to know that even if we are on our own, we are not alone.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

I have been vegan for over two years and my diet is plant-based. If anyone is considering reducing or cutting animal products out of your diet, my own experience is that it is a real boost to athletic performance and recovery.

During this circuit breaker, nutrition is going to take on even more importance given that most of us are not going to be able to be as active. The age-old advice still applies – eat in moderation, less processed food, less sugar and fried foods. It is not groundbreaking but it works.

I always fuel up before training. I struggle if I train on an empty stomach, although that might work for some. When it comes to training and nutrition, a one size fits all approach really does not exist. If it works for you, it is the right approach.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

There is a website (and a film) called Forks Over Knives (https://www.forksoverknives.com/) that is a great resource. Challenge 22 (https://challenge22.com/) is also very informative. Many of my non-vegetarian/vegan friends have watched the Game Changers film and have been inspired to try a plant-based diet.



ABOUT WILLE LOO

Photo source: Wille’s Facebook


Wille Loo is a Team Singapore Triathlete who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.

His other achievements included being a 3-time SEA Games triathlete and the bronze medallist from the 2015 SEA Games.

Wille is also the captain and longest-serving member of the National Triathlon team.

Wille is a father of 2 and when he is not looking after his two kids and three dogs, he is a triathlon coach at http://trgracing.com.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Muhaizar Mohamad (Marathoner)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

Bagi seseorang untuk mengekalkan aktif dan menjaga kesihatan dan juga stamina sepanjang perintah kawalan pergerakan, sangat mencabar kepada setiap individu kerana bersenam hanya di dalam kawasan yang agak terbatas dengan jarak, jadi seseorang perlu membuat insetif dengan bijak, menggunakan pelbagai teknik senam dan drill atlite dalam kawasan setempat, contoh seperti menggunakan skipping, pergerakan jack knsee, high knsee, burpees , jumping jack , plank , mountain climber dan pelbagai lagi yang kita juga boleh tengok tip ini di you tube, untuk lebih memudahkan kita.

[Translated by JRL]
For someone to stay active and care for one’s health and stamina throughout this MCO is extremely challenging for every individual. It’s because we could only exercise within a limited space. So one will have to craft smart incentives, carry out several exercise techniques and athlete drills within the limited space. For example, skipping, jack knee movements, high knee, burpees, jumping jacks, plank, mountain climber and many other variations you could view from youtube, so as to make things easier for us.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

Bagi saya keadaan kita sekarang perlukan disiplin yang tinggi dalam diri untuk kekal tenang dan bersabar dengan apa yang berlaku pada negara kita juga seluruh dunia, kita harus kuat untuk melawan covid19 supaya ia cepat lenyap dari negara kita, jika ia cepat lenyap itu menunjukan yang rakyat malaysia mempunyai disiplin yang tinggi mengikut arahan yang terbaik dikeluarkan oleh pihak kerajaan, dan akan memberi kesan dan membuktikan pada seluruh dunia bahawa rakyat malaysia mempunyai disiplin yang tinggi.

[Translated by JRL]
For me, in this situation that we are in, we need high self-discipline to stay calm and have patience with what is happening within the country and around the world. We have to be strong in fighting COVID-19 so that it will disappear fast from our country. If it goes away fast, it will show that Malaysians have strong discipline in adhering to the best instructions issued by the government and it will produce results and prove to the whole world that Malaysians are highly disciplined people.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

Petua saya harap dapat kita bersabar dalam cara pemakanan dengan betul tidak terlalu lebih makan cuba dan hadkan makanan tidak seperti kehidupan yang kita sebelum ini, kerana mungkin semasa tu kita sentiasa aktif dan bergerak jauh, kurangkan makanan yang berminyak dan minuman yang berais batu.

[Translated by JRL]
My tip, I hope we’ll be able to be patient in our dietary lifestyle – to not eat too much, and limit food intake unlike how things were previously. This is because we probably were more active and always on the move. So we should eat less oily food and drink less iced water.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

Ya bagi masa ini kita perlu banyak rujuk kepada saluran video youtube, halaman media sosial dan sebagai nya yang boleh jadikan rujukan untuk kita dapat belajar bagaimana untuk bersenam dalam setempat dengan betul.

[Translated by JRL]
Yes, for now, we have to refer alot more to youtube video channels, social media etc so that we could learn how to exercise proper in a limited space.



ABOUT MUHAIZAR MOHAMAD

Photo source: Muhaizar’s Facebook


Muhaizar Mohamad is a Team Malaysia Marathoner who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.

Muhaizar clinched the Marathon Bronze medal at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games with a time of 2h31min and 2h33min respectively.

His other achievements included a personal best of 2h26min at the Berlin Marathon in 2018 and winner of the KL Standard Chartered Marathon for 5 consecutive years from 2015-2019.

Muhaizar is a father of 3 and a Commando at the Elite Special Forces regiment of the Malaysian Army.

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Expert Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Kelyn Lau (Personal Trainer)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the experts to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

We can do home workouts by ourselves or even better, video call friends and do it together!

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

I think gardening is a good way to calm the mind and uplift the mood. Also will be good to keep ourselves busy with things to do or pick up a new skill!

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

I think the most important thing about nutrition is understanding what kind of food to stay away from and what kind of food is good to eat. Understand your body calorie and macronutrient needs to look good physically. Then watch your micronutrients for better health! I go with IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)!

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

Erm.. haha I don’t usually watch any of those. But I do post some workout tips here and there. You can check out my Instagram at @kelynlau



ABOUT KELYN LAU

Kelyn Lau is a full-time freelance personal trainer at Naked Strength.

Kelyn had begun her fitness adventure in 2012. Being underweight for many years, a healthy diet and exercise have helped her gain the necessary weight. Her ambition now is to aid people who are facing problem in achieving their fitness goals and also inspired people to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Hence, she founded Naked Strength in 2015.

At Naked Strength, they believe that fitness can bring so much positivity to one and most core values learnt from training can be applied to life.

Their goal is to help people become fitter and healthier through proper exercise, good eating habits and finding out the body weaknesses.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Asma Bara (Marathoner)

Photo source: Asma's IG

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

Untuk pegiat lari seperti saya juga yang sedang belajar. Selama masa pandemi virus covid-19, Kita mesti harus menjaga pola hidup sehat yang talah dianjurkan oleh WHO. Selain itu, kita harus lebih kreatif untuk membuat gerakan-gerakan seperti workout training dengan menggunakan barang atau alat yang ada di rumah.

[Translated by JRL]
For running enthusiasts like myself who are still learning too, during this COVID-19 virus pandemic, we must have a healthy lifestyle as recommended by WHO. Also, we have to be more creative in our exercise regime. For example, using things or items already found at home during our exercise training workout.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

Selama pandemi covid 19, kita tidak tahu sampai bila virus ini akan berakhir. Namun saya selalu berdoa kepada Allah SWT. Sentiasa berwaspada dan tetap tenang. Bermain permainan, baca buku solat serta melakukan latihan2 ringan di rumah.

[Translated by JRL]
With this COVID-19 pandemic, we are not certain how long it will end. Nonetheless, I always pray to Allah SWT. To be careful and stay calm. I’ll play games, read religious books and engage in light activities at home.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

Untuk makanan, saya hanya makan yang sudah disediakan di rumah. Makan dan minum cukup serat asupan nutrisi buah serta suplemen.

[Translated by JRL]
For my meals, I would only eat food prepared at home. Nutritious food and drinks with high fibre fruits and supplements.



ABOUT ASMA BARA

Photo source: Asma’s IG


Asma Bara is a Team Indonesia Marathoner who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2017.

Asma’s other achievements included a win in the Indonesian Men’s Category of the Borobudur Marathon 2019 with a time of 2h39min and 3rd placing in the Indonesian Men’s Category of the Jakarta Marathon 2019 with a time of 2h38min.

Asma is currently on an internship with the Ministry of Youth and Sports at Garut Regency, West Java, Indonesia.

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Expert Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Dr Carl James (Senior Physiologist)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the experts to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

This varies for each individual, as COVID-19 has changed all of our daily routines. Some people may now find themselves with additional cooking/cleaning/childminding responsibilities! Furthermore, people’s living arrangements differ considerably, so giving guidelines that remain relevant for those in apartment blocks, compared with those who have garden space, is difficult.

Nevertheless, try to identify your windows for physical training and protect these as much as possible, so that the regularity of your training remains. Research indicates that training intensity should be prioritized over volume or frequency to maintain physiological adaptations, but we must adapt to new training methods progressively, otherwise, we will just find ourselves with aches and pains. For example, if we are used to running 3-4 min, 1 km intervals at ~95% of our maximum heart rate, trying to replicate this heart rate response the next day through running on the spot and burpees is probably not going to end well. So let your body adjust to the new forms of training (whatever you can do in your individual circumstances e.g. indoor cycling, circuits) for 1 or 2 weeks, but have in the back of your mind that intensity should be prioritized over training for hours trying to achieve lots of volume.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

Be realistic in the goals of your training. This is not a period where we can target huge improvements. First and foremost it’s important to training regularly to remain healthy and happy. Secondly, we are trying to maintain our previous training level, rather than chase improvements.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

One ‘benefit’ of the Movement Control Order is having more time at home. This allows better meal planning and gives us the time to learn more about the content of certain foods, which we may often overlook in our busy ‘normal’ lives. So I would encourage people to see this as an opportunity to learn more about nutrition because an engine is only as good as the fuel that goes into it. It is also worth keeping an eye on the Institut Sukan Negara (ISN) social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for healthy eating infographics from the team of experts who fuel the national athletes.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

If you find the solitude or confinement of the MCO affects your desire to self-motivate for training, then follow some circuits on YouTube. Your first priority should be to stay active so you can feel good during this period. There are a plethora of free, join-along classes on a range of online streaming sites, so have a search online and find something that helps motivate you to stay active.



ABOUT DR CARL JAMES

Dr Carl James is an applied physiologist at the National Sports Institute of Malaysia. He has provided scientific support to Malaysian Squash and Hockey teams for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, where these teams delivered historic medals.

Dr Carl’s PhD investigated acute and chronic interventions to aid endurance performance in hot and humid conditions. He is also a BASES accredited physiologist and Chartered Scientist, having completed a variety of scientific support work.

Dr Carl received his PhD in 2016 from the University of Brighton. He also holds an MSc from Sheffield Hallam University and a BSc from Bangor University.

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Cheryl Chan (Steeplechaser)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

Aussie’s been on lockdown for about a month before Singapore started so it’s definitely been quite a while! I haven’t had a track sesh in ages but have been doing home workouts with friends via zoom and it’s been loads of fun and laughter! 😆

I’m currently taking the chance to take a mental break from racing having had a very long season last year from the start of Summer track in 2018 to Dec’19 for the SEA Games.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

I feel like I’ve never been a worrier and I like trying to make the best out of any given situation. 🙂

️It’s good to appreciate that we cannot change the cards we are dealt with, just how to play the hand, a snippet from “The Last Lecture”, a book I’ve read. It’s a perfect time to dive into a good read or invest our time wisely to better ourselves in our profession.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

Follow me on my IG for more bakes and cakes! I love baking so I’ve been whipping up quite a bit! 😛 I enjoy being creative and just having fun baking the situation better. 🙈

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

I’ve been listening to quite a lot of podcast, mostly vet related 😅🐻💉 but definitely recommend searching for things that we’ve never had the chance or time to do, or even learning a new skill. I’ve started sketching animals and Disney characters!

Regarding my fitness workouts, they are a predominant mix of a HIIT track, followed by a core and glute-focused workout track, done together with my friends via zoom.

I am happy to conduct sessions for everyone to do them together if there is a demand for that too! 😉



ABOUT CHERYL CHAN

Photo source: Cheryl’s Facebook

Cheryl Chan is a Team Singapore Steeplechaser who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.

At merely 25 years of age, Cheryl has bettered the national record 10-times since her maiden foray in the 3000-metre steeplechase event back in 2015.

Her recent achievement included a Singapore National Record 11:14.70 minutes at the New South Wales Championship 2020 in Australia.

Cheryl is currently a Final Year Student in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Post-Graduate) at University of Sydney.

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Trying to Lose Weight? Try These Simple Tricks!

Have you been trying to lose weight, but it requires a lot of your time and effort? Fret not, here are 10 simple tips for you to lose those weights without putting in too much time and effort!

Eat vegetables for breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it provides 25% of your daily energy needs. Also, having breakfast will increase your intellectual and physical performance.

Eat more greens for breakfast as it will aid you to feel full, thus reducing your calorie intakes in your other daily meals.

Sit up straight

Sitting up straight when you’re working or watching a movie is an excellent way to lose weight quickly as it requires you to engage more muscles. This simple habit reduces the cortisol (fat-storing hormones) level in your body and requires more energy than you think. 

You can also lose weight while you sit by adopting healthy habits that stimulate your metabolism, boost calorie burn and stave off overeating. Light stretches throughout the day can relax muscles while burning a few extra calories.

Take the stairs

Climbing the stairs does not require any extra time, and it can easily be integrated into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at your workplace. Stair climbing is considered a “vigorous” form of exercise that improves your cardiovascular fitness. This is how you can achieve great results with minimum effort. 

Do stretches

Flexibility allows you to do any physical activity. The more flexible you are, the fewer injuries you get while exercising. Yoga is an excellent option, and you can practice it even when you’re at home and before any other physical exercise. It is beneficial for your health, and it also burns lots of calories

Walk more

Walking is the perfect exercise for weight loss. You can burn up to 255 per hour if you go for a slow walk. 391 calories per hour if you brisk walk. Light physical exercise after a meal helps your muscles to absorbs the glucose you have consumed and prevents insulin spikes. 

Eat spicy food

Spicy food contains capsaicin (found in chilli peppers and cayenne), a component which speeds up the fat burning process in your body. Also, it lowers body fat since it naturally stimulates the destruction of fat cells. Moreover, the consumption of spicy food increases your metabolism by 20% for at least 30 mins, and during this period, your body will burn fat. It is also found to curb hunger and reduce cravings for sweet, high-fat foods.

Take up strength training

Experts say strength workouts are more effective than any other fat burning workouts. Start with light weights and gradually increase the intensity. However, don’t put too much strain on your muscles and joints to avoid injuries. You will burn a lot more calories during strength workout.

Drink water before each meal

Drinking 2 large glasses of water before each meal helps you avoid overeating. This habit makes you feel fuller, and it will send signals to your brain to stop eating. It also helps prevent binge eating and speeds up your metabolism. As a result, your body burns more calories. A person might think they are hungry when they are thirsty. Thus, drinking a glass of water before eating can help curb unnecessary snacking.

Use a small plate when you eat

A small plate full of food is an infallible trick to fool your brain. Using smaller plates can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are. Play this trick until your mind gets used to it. 

Chew Slowly

When you chew slowly, it will give your body time to recognize that you’re full and it will also avoid you from overeating, thus reducing your calorie intake. It also includes better digestion, better hydration and greater satisfaction with your meals. Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most powerful things you can do to improve your overall health. 

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National Athlete Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Aimi Iwasaki (Triathlete)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the National Athletes to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

Loneliness and social isolation can have negative effects on your immune system, so it is important to do everything you can to keep your mood up during lockdown.

1) Get quality sleep: It’s important to stay rested and refreshed to help keep your immune system working effectively to fight off bad bacteria, try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night if possible, even if it means going to bed a little earlier!

2) Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated is crucial in regulating our body temperature and maintaining many bodily functions.

How do I stay active? You might feel guilty at first to not accomplish the usual training/exercising routine that you’re used to, but I find it more important to reserve for my mental health during this period and it’s also an opportunity to look into myself a little more.

I improvised my activities (make it more fun but effective) which I thought would be applicable for anyone, meanwhile attaching some of the usual routines in between. You can put your tins of baked beans, bags of rice, bottled water or flour to good use. They make great dumbbell substitutes or, if you tie them up in a carrier bag, you have an improvised kettlebell. Households are definitely relatable to any house chores and that’s when you include some movements while doing it. Squats or sit-to-stands from a sturdy chair, push-ups against a wall or the kitchen counter, and lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs are all great for those new to these kinds of exercises.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

I have been avoiding to create any spaces for negativity attacks. Meaning I will plan out my every day with the list of “things to do” just to fill up my day and small goals with strong purposes to accomplish (daily routine & work) or even trying out/learn new things which I couldn’t all this while. I do hold back a little on some days to work on my mindfulness exercises just to refresh my mind and souls to stay motivated consistently.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

I’m definitely a very specific person when it comes to that considering what I put into my body matters for the sake of my performance & wellbeing. There are too many testimonies or even the most recommended recipes on the internet nowadays and my only advice is to balance up all the nutrition (protein, minerals, fibres, vitamins, carbs, fats etc) as the meal plan is forever just a guideline and it’s very individual as we all have different body types.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

I do have my own cooking page on Instagram & Facebook @aimi.fitkitchen in case you wanna try out some of my recipes specially designed for athletes.



ABOUT AIMI IWASAKI

Photo source: Aimi’s Facebook

Aimi Iwasaki, 24 years old Japanese and Malaysian mix, is a Team Malaysia Triathlete who represented the country at the Southeast Asian Games 2019.

Aimi started swimming at the age of 10, ventured into cycling under the Malacca state team and progressed to the national cycling team and the Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) concurrently before she became a National Triathlete today.

She came in 5th Women’s Individual at the 2019 SEA Games and her other achievement included 2nd place in her category at the Singapore International Triathlon Championships 2019.

Aimi is also a Triathlon Coach, part-time Chef and Translator and is currently based in Kuala Lumpur.

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Expert Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Georgina Callaghan (Senior Podiatrist)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the experts to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

There are many home-based exercises to do within the confines of the home especially if you don’t have an outdoor space. More and more people have come up with workouts to perform at home. While many of these workouts are great for toning your body, as a podiatrist, I just want to remind you to be careful for your knees and feet as most of the surfaces in our homes are hard, so it’s really easy to injure or put extra stress on them.

By all means, exercise, just be careful, use a yoga mat or a more cushioned surface for floor work. Consider wearing your sports shoes indoors for completing exercise activities. Yoga and pilates are great forms of exercise with many online videos for guidance, just make sure you do not strain yourself and work within your own bodies limits.

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

There are two big aspects to maintaining our health in this time period. We have to be very mindful of our physical and mental health. Earlier I shared about the importance of physical activity, so I want to talk about mental health now.

Relaxing hobbies such as drawing, doing arts and crafts with family members or reading can be extremely helpful to keep the mind occupied while providing opportunities to learn new skills.

Keeping your windows and curtains open lets in air and brightens the house while bringing in the fresh air, making it more conducive for relaxation.

Take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning, clearing out unnecessary things can make your room and home feel more spacious, something which can be immensely useful when we spend so much time at home now. During the clearing out you may find the old board games along the way that are sitting at the back of the cupboard, spend some time as a family bonding over games.

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

As many of us are likely to put in lower levels of physical activity, lowering our caloric intake may be prudent to avoid putting on excessive weight during this time. While snacking can be convenient and enjoyable, be aware and monitor your own consumption to avoid unhealthy binging.

For a refreshing light drink in the heat of things, sparkling water with 1x fresh lemon juice/ 1x fresh lime juice and mint leaves over ice is an excellent home cooler to keep you cool calm and refreshed.

Eating vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers can help fill your stomach and prevent you from overeating unhealthy snacks that won’t fill you up for as long as the healthy green vegetables.

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

As a mummy myself, my indoor focus will be mostly on post-pregnancy conditioning. I personally find online support from Orchard Clinic to be excellent for core and pelvic floor training.

For keeping up to date on medical developments regarding COVID-19, the Singapore Medical Specialists Centre have been making great efforts to keep the public updated with their regular podcasts. You can find them at https://www.facebook.com/MWH.Medical.SGMSC/



ABOUT GEORGINA CALLAGHAN

Georgina is a Podiatrist from the U.K. who began her initial years of practicing in Singapore by first serving in SGH. This was followed by a stint at NHG polyclinics before going into private practice to co-found East Coast Podiatry.

As a young mother, Georgina’s interest in paediatric cases has only amplified, and her passion for paediatric cases and children with special needs has only grown.

Georgina contributes to the profession through workshops, community events and publishing articles for public education in magazines and news platforms. Having won multiple awards during her service period in the public sector, Georgina has continued her community work in private practice, leading her team to participate in pro-bono screenings for students in schools and the less fortunate.

She is also trained and certified in medical shockwave applications from the International Society of Medical Shockwave Treatments.

Photo source: Georgina’s Facebook
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Expert Series: How do you stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period? – Sharlynn Ooi (Personal Trainer)

In view of the current COVID-19 situation and measures implemented by the governments, we have asked some of the experts to share some tips with our running and sports community on how to stay physically, mentally and/or nutritionally healthy during this period.

1. How do we stay active or physically healthy during this period, considering that we are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible?

Besides taking care of your physical health, I think it’s also important to take care of your mental health during this period because for some people, it may get particularly more stressful to be cooped up at home 24/7 with limited opportunities to get outdoors to exercise and destress.

For anyone who works out frequently before the circuit breaker was implemented, it’s only natural to feel disappointed that all the gyms and fitness centres were forced to shut down. However, there is an endless amount of resources available online for us to use such as YouTube and Instagram!

Something I’ve been trying to work on is to produce more consistent and higher quality workout videos and tutorials on both my Instagram and YouTube channel. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need any or much equipment to be able to get a decent workout in 😊 There’s a lot of workout videos online requiring little to no equipment and the best part is that it’s all free 😊

2. How do we stay calm during this stressful period?

It’s important to understand the various implementations given by the government and the reasons why they are shutting down almost everything in Singapore except for the essential services. Unfortunate news may be inevitable and the numbers may keep rising over this period, but if we all do our part and stay home and just focus on our own actions for the time being, we will eventually get through this tough period together as a nation. Then soon enough, we can all go back to our daily lives, sip some coffee at a café, hug our close friends and families, and hang out with friends again 😊 For now, let’s try our best to stay at home and take it as a short break for us to work on ourselves before hustling again when the time comes!

3. Are there any simple nutrition plans, tips or recipes that we can follow?

One of the pros of this Circuit Breaker period is that we have so much time on our hands to work on things we’ve always wanted to do, but always don’t seem to have the time for it. This is actually the perfect time if you have always thought of eating better- there’s a lot of simple, healthy recipes on the internet! As a start, I’ve also found myself watching a whole lot more YouTube healthy cooking videos (like BuzzFeed)- who knows, I might even start doing healthy meal prep videos soon too!

But a simple, fuss-free nutrition guideline you can follow is to have a balanced diet of lean proteins, healthy fats and fibrous carbs. An example of this could be the following:

  • Breakfast- Yoghurt with nuts and fruits
  • Lunch- Grilled Chicken Breast with Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes
  • Dinner- Grilled Salmon with Vegetables and Brown Rice
  • Snack ideas- Wholemeal bread with cheese, Cottage cheese mixed with fruits/nuts, Rice cakes with Peanut Butter

4. Are there any recommendations on resources (youtube channel/video, social media pages, blogs, books, podcasts etc) to refer to?

Check out some of my home workout videos and healthy meal prep ideas on my Instagram and YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/thebarbelldressing/videos

Additionally, I also love watching BuzzFeed’s Tasty series- I know a lot of the video ideas aren’t super “clean” options but it does give me some inspiration for a modified healthier version of “junk food” haha!



ABOUT SHARLYNN OOI

Photo source: Sharlynn’s IG

Sharlynn Ooi is a freelance Personal Trainer. She also creates fitness videos on YouTube during her free time.

Sharlynn is also the owner of LXIX Athletica, a sportswear brand that she founded in 2019 which aims to provide women with affordable, pretty yet comfortable activewear. Ladies can wear them for workouts, or even at lounges and anywhere else.

Sharlynn likes to encourage women to “redefine their strong”- Everyone has their own idea of what being strong means, and through the brand, she likes to use that term to motivate all the supergurls to continually challenge themselves past their comfort zones, and never be limited by what they think they can do.

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The New Normal of Running During Circuit Breaker

HAVING worked from home since late last year, I decided to schedule my running sessions to the early morning instead of noon or evening some months back.

I wasn’t a fan of dragging the body along in a groggy state. But once I settled into the routine, it becomes a priority at the start of the day to quickly fulfil that one hour-plus of cardio exertion. With the heart energised post-run, I feel ready to engage the tasks at hand, being unbothered the rest of the day by the demands of committing to my daily 10K.

That was how things were before April this year. Even now, little has changed in terms of my routine. The goal of completing 60km-per-week is maintained and most sessions can be easily conducted with several loops around my neighbourhood.

Then, the COVID-19 outbreak struck the world hard at the start of the year and just about anything is now affected. Travelling out of the country is heavily restricted; people need to move one meter apart from each other to prevent close-contact infections; and several public venues, including gyms and stadiums, have closed temporarily.

For runners, forget about participating in races at least in the first half of 2020 as these events are either postponed or cancelled.

Currently, unless you are leaving home to do something essential — i.e. buying groceries and food takeaways; exercising at a public park or seeing a doctor for a suspected COVID-19 infection — you are strongly encouraged by the authorities to stay at home. Schools have moved to home-based learning for students and employees of many workplaces are operating remotely from home.

What do all these mean for us regular runners who prefer to sweat it out in the morning?

Well, due to a shift to a more flexible work arrangement, anyone who also thinks he/she could sneak in a sesh before 9 am is now running along the PCN – that fairly quiet stretch of tarmac beginning to receive a gradual rise of foot traffic.

As Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong warned about people seeking to drive and “make a special trip” to “a special place outside” your neighbourhood “just to exercise”, expect to go the furthest to the nearby park or park connector located a stone’s throw away.

Making adjustments

Until the past weeks or so, keeping a one-meter separation from another person as I ran past at the PCN wasn’t a big problem. There weren’t many people in the mornings of the earlier weeks and most were folks I have seen almost daily, whether it is the lady walking her two Shih Tzus or the old man taking a stroll with his portable radio playing.

When the Circuit Breaker measures kicked in early April, the number of visitors to the PCNs and parks noticeably increased and so are the sight of unfamiliar faces. In addition to the multiple runners I have to avoid moving too close to, I also contend with people moving in pairs or a bigger group, which sometimes takes up about half of the path.

As Minister Wong warned about people making “a special trip” to “a special place… just to exercise,” expect to go the furthest to the park or park connector located a stone’s throw away.

Under still-normal circumstances during the initial phase of local COVID-19 transmissions, keeping a wider width between you and the other individual at the PCN is simple – all you need to do is to run more to the side of the pathway.

However, we are now coping with a new normal, and as such, many people are not used to being very cautious in these extraordinary times. Anecdotally speaking, I have lost count the moments I veered to the grass patch on the side because somebody was moving a little too close.

Regular runners like ourselves will have to put in the effort to ensure personal safety so that we can go home with peace of mind, confident that we are not potentially bringing in an invisible threat to our house.

The first thing is to accept the current reality as it is that has already changed the way we go about with our business.

So, to start with:

1. Run solo but stay connected

With the latest COVID-19 Bill in place, social gatherings of any size are not allowed at both private and public spaces.

It’s goodbye to those weekends of getting out with your running buddies for now. But running alone does not mean the experience cannot be shared, especially when it can be done digitally or online.

Start a runner’s leaderboard of sorts in a Facebook or Whatsapp group with like-minded friends. Set a goal and reward; say, whoever accumulates the most mileage for the month gets a food treat cash-pooled by the group and sent via delivery services like GrabFood or Deliveroo.

Join Strava if you have not already registered. Sign on and complete the various community sport and fitness challenges. Push yourself to be the fastest on a nearby route that has a leaderboard of resident runners.

Despite the restrictive circumstances of social distancing, keeping in touch with each other is the biggest advantage of an online community of any kind.

running alone does not mean the experience cannot be shared, especially when it can be done digitally or online.

2. Outrun anyone who is not a friend – or someone you do not intend to meet

At some point, you are going to cross paths several times with a new person along your usual route. Or bump into a friend who is now exploring that part of your neighbourhood.

Nobody is meeting anyone who’s not part of his/her household (it is prohibited right now if you are not aware).

But with enough familiarity of their latest routine — where and when they would run — and some innocent and brief exchange of pleasantries at a safe distance, why not try to keep in pace with each other with increasing speed?

You can also try overtaking them if you are just starting from the back. And remember your polite “hellos” after sprinting past.

Again, be aware of your one-meter separation and watch out for other park/PCN users.

3. Run to the side of the pathway

From whichever direction you are running from, either stay to the extreme left or extreme right to allow more social distancing from other runners.

Shift sideways from time to time if a slow pedestrian is directly in front of you or when you are trying to avoid an oncoming cyclist. Run onto the grass patch if you encounter a person who couldn’t manage a simple act of social distancing.

Be alert of your situation. There are going to be some folks who will walk in pairs or threes and take up about half of the pathway. Do your best to overtake at a safe distance or divert your route.

Do not run in the middle of the path due to the already restricted width. You are not going to get drafting advantages from that.

4. Unless very necessary, avoid public parks at all costs.

Let’s face it: with a nice mini-lake, pleasant greenery, amenities and the occasional appearance of otters, a public park is a magnet for folks from all walks of life, whether they are exercising or not.

Multiple paths will get clogged with enough foot traffic to render social distancing pointless in the peak hours. Unless you are prepared to brave the hot sun in the afternoon or risk encountering perverts in the late evening, you are better off staying away from parks until COVID-19 transmissions cease.

Punggol Park on the evening of April 11, Saturday. Image by Terry Tan.

5. Don’t go to trails – simulate it.

The truth is not many of us live near enough to Bukit Timah Hill to make a one-minute trip to. And the authorities are quite clear about long-distance commute: only go out for essential purposes and stay home as much as possible (refer to Minister Wong’s earlier statement).

Furthermore, drones are already patrolling over BTH while some sections of nature reserves have been closed.

You can run on the uneven grass patch at the pavement’s side to get your trail fix, but that would be like telling an aspiring pro-driver to operate a Daytona arcade machine because he cannot afford a Toyota Supra GT4.

Thankfully, the toughness of BTH hill climbing can be simulated, even if not to perfection.

Simply, pick the highest HDB block in your estate and hike it up with a slew of repeats. Modify the difficulty by going slow at the first half, then speed it up for the last several floors. Skip two steps going up to intensify the climb. Carry a load of sorts — e.g. a hydration vest packed all your essentials at race-day weight — to enhance the workout. If this is likely to bore you fast, have your earphones tuned to your favourite podcasts and get educated as you toil.

Beware: You may want to avoid HDB blocks which you do not stay at due to the authorities’ actions against loitering. Additionally, you will not be the only one using the staircase and may need to be light-footed on the steps lest becoming a nuisance to your neighbours.

6. Enjoy the process. Really.

The Circuit Breaker period is expected to end on May 4 but that’s depending on what the COVID-19 situation in Singapore will be by then.

For now, it will be a few weeks of staying strictly at home. Most of the time.

With running, you can only go so far to tackling your cabin fever. It’s time to consider the various indoor activities and pastimes you have neglected since you entered the workforce.

Read that book you bought 10 years ago. Watch Youtube to receive free lessons on Python coding. Marie Kondo the heck out of your living spaces. Take up cooking and anticipate the horrified looks of family members sampling your meal.

Or you can just plot your training schedule and goals, scheming a plan to dominate leaderboards across the Strava platform.

Just remember that the period we are in now is temporary. Someday, things will return to normal; road races will happen once more and ultramarathoners will fly off to their next exotic destination in the mountains.

We will slap high-fives again, hugging at finish lines with sweaty arms wrapped around each other and celebrating achievements with such abandon of physical distancing – it’s as if the coronavirus no longer lurks in our midst.

Meanwhile, please stay safe.

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