Functional Fitness

Why running is the best sport in the world

“The real purpose of running is not to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” This is how American track and field and co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman, described why we run. 

What an outstanding description of a sport that sees over 16 million Americans doing at least three times a week! Running is the fastest growing sport over the last decade with an increase of 300% in participation noted since 1990 in the US alone. Within this statistic we see the greatest increase in female runners where 25% of all runners were females in 1990, compared to 57% being recorded as female runners in 2013.

But what is behind this phenomenon? Why are people, and females in particular, falling in love with a sport that historically has been hated.

Why? Because running is an addiction, often a love/hate addiction, but a highly empowering and freeing addiction. We often hear people describe how they “caught the running bug” and that’s exactly what they are talking about. Once you find running, it becomes your stress reliever, your fitness regime, your “me time”, your obsession and your passion. This is why runners call themselves “runners.” They see themselves defined by their sport, unlike most other sportspeople who play a sport, we (runners) are our sport.

Having said this though, most runners fall into running, they don’t necessarily choose running as their main sport. I don’t think young athletes look at professional middle distance runners with dreams of aspiration, when compared to premiership footballers, swimmers or tennis players. So it is often by chance that most middle distance runners find themselves addicted to running, myself included.

I was always an active child running around, and growing up with 5 older brothers made sure I was able to run (away) fast. I started playing Irish sports in school, as most Irish children do, but not loving any particular one. This saw me embark on high school with no involvement in any organised sport which a teenage girl is probably the worst position to be in. So many changes are going on inside a teenage girl in terms of emotional and physical changes that I needed an active outlet. So at the age of 15 I simply fell into running because two girlfriends were keen to run for fitness. We then campaigned to our school to allow to employ an athletics coach and the rest is history. My love for running just grew and grew the more I ran, it wasn’t planned nor was it an aspiration of mine, but now I could not imagine my life without running.

As my love for the sport grew, as did my running success. Racing and competing became my drug. Even to this day, the adrenaline rush and natural serotonin high that I get from racing is like nothing else. It is this high that is addictive and makes me want to run again and again, even sometimes foolishly through pain. This is why running is such a rapidly growing sport, this natural high and sense of empowerment, freedom and adventure is hard to find elsewhere. You are in control of it, you can run as fast, as slow, as hard or as long as you want. It is just you, your thoughts and the road.

As they say, success begets success, and this is very applicable to running. Once you race or compete for the first time you then strive to beat your personal best time/placing and this is never ending. That’s what I believe Bill Bowerman meant when he described the purpose of running as testing the limits of the human heart. Testing yourself time and time again, and seeing how far you can push your body’s limits. Pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself, the best runner within yourself.  

To those non-runners that I chat to I always say don’t knock it until you try it. That natural high I get from running, just me, the wind and the road, is a sensation that words don’t do justice to describe, you have to feel it. Experience it first hand and see if you can resist doing again and again, because I know that for this reason I will keep running for as long as my legs can carry me!

Happy running everyone!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Máire Nic Amhlaoibh

Máire began her career as an athletic therapist and trainer. Whilst in university she completed courses in trigger point release, kinesio® taping, massage, muscle energy technique and myofascial release to name but a few. 

If you're suffering from sporting injuries our superstar runner Maire is also an outstanding physio at the UFIT Clinic.

Find out more here

Six reasons to include the Turkish Get Up in your training plan

If you’ve been hiding under a rock or training alone and in secret for the past decade, you may not have heard of The Turkish Get up (TGU). Simply put, it involves holding a kettle bell in one hand and going from lying flat on your back to standing up-right in one fluid movement whilst holding the kettlebell above your head at all times. Sounds simple? Try it and you won’t think it’s a Turkish Delight – that I promise you!

TGU is a benefit rich exercise – but amazingly under-used and poorly executed in many training facilities, possibly due to a lack of real understanding on behalf of the PTs – although certainly not lacking in UFIT gyms! So here are my top 6 benefits for including this amazing exercise in your training program:

1.     Promotes stability in the upper and lower body – stability – including your core stability - is a key component of fitness and without it, an athlete’s ability to produce maximum force would be compromised

2.     Promotes thoracic mobility and extension - in a world of desk-bound people, T-Spine extension and “opening up” should be a daily goal for anybody looking to improve or maintain good posture

3.     Stimulates proprioception - the ability of “knowing where your body is" and how it moves through space. This adds a balance element to the training program

4.     Multiplaniar in nature - a well-balanced program should consist of exercises that are in all 3 planes of movement (Sagittal, Frontal and Transverse), the TGU hits all 3 at one time

5.     Has a cardiovascular effect on the body - with slow, controlled movement and correct weight selection the TGU can become extremely challenging quite quickly

6.     Develops trunk and core strength in more than one movement – it effectively trains the “core” and not just the abdominals, which will transfer better to sports and activities that require standing and rotation/anti-rotation (ie most sports).

If you want to know more about this ancient but effective training method, visit Nathan Williams at UFIT Orchard to get the best training and expertise. 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Outdoor Bootcamps in Singapore’, courtesy of the SHAPE Sports Awards 2017.

We're SO proud to announce that our SHEFIT classes have been awarded the 'Best Outdoor Bootcamps in Singapore’, courtesy of the SHAPE Sports Awards 2017. 

We’re delighted they’ve recognised the amazing community spirit that exists amongst us, along with our high standards of coaching and our trainers' unique ability to motivate and encourage you all. It's been an amazing journey since we began with our awesome Founder Lisa Clayton who built UFIT Bootcamps to what it is today. Her energy and passion is contagious amongst our community with our coaches and UFITers. We can't wait to continue 2017 and deliver only the best for you!

 

Wendy Riddell commented “It’s important to us that every single UFIT class you do is rewarding and fun. When we as coaches see you all smiling and glowing and getting fitter and stronger along the way we know we’ve done our job.

We’ve seen huge growth in our class numbers over the past year, and as we continue to grow, we’ll keep adding to our timetable to ensure you continue to have a fantastic experience and get great results. And what is even more important to us is the personalised, community feel that makes UFIT so special, we will ensure that never changes.”

We are proud of you all and love seeing the friendships you have all developed with each other along the way. All of us at UFIT want to thank you all for your incredible support and we’re excited to continue to work with you to make your bootcamp classes the highlight of your day”.

A big thank you for the recognition to be nominated as Shape Magazine Best Outdoor Bootcamps in Singapore’, courtesy of the SHAPE Sports Awards 2017. 


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Ramp up your warm up

When it comes to warming up, what are we trying to accomplish? The name itself is a bit of a hint, but increasing body temperature is just one element. It might be easier if we rename the warm-up to training preparation. Now if we ask what we’re trying to accomplish, it should be obvious - we’re preparing our bodies for the training to follow.

But is it necessary? Or how necessary is it?

There's ongoing discussion about this, as with so many other topics in physiology. I'm not going to discuss it further here, but I know from experience that the more prepared I am for a session the better I feel during and after the session! If you’re not sure, try it out and see for yourself.

Why is training preparation important?

We've seen an increased focus on mobility and proper warm-up protocols amongst trainers and athletes in the last ten years.

But the search for a "quick fix" is still ongoing, and in today’s society everyone seems to strive to succeed both economically and personally. On the personal side, a strong, lean and healthy body range is high up on the list.

But that requires a lot of time, or so it seems. And time is money. Lots of training concepts and adverts promise you an amazing body if only you spend money on it!

Time - no problem... ummm, too good to be true? Yes.

There simply are no short-cuts when it comes to achieving a strong, lean - and may I add, supple body. It takes some thinking, assessments and planning to progress towards this goal.

So skipping the "warm up" to save time is not a good idea. You end up losing in the long run. To rush the warm-up so you´d actually need to warm up before your warm up is not very wise either. You get the point - skipping the warm up is taking short cuts, and short cuts will not give you optimal results.

So let’s look at some ways to prepare the body for the training session ahead.

I reckon if you read this, you're training with us at UFIT already, and one of the reasons you train with us is to achieve the above-mentioned healthy and awesome body.

For us coaches we have two main priorities - to help you make the most out of your time spent on training - in the safest way possible. The fun part comes as a bonus!

When I speak about safety I'm talking mainly about injury prevention through training preparation and good form.

But there is so much more to training preparation. It´s also vital for a good overall experience. Like a good movie, it should have a beginning - a main part and an end. Without one or the other, the movie experience wouldn’t be the same, right? The popcorn only goes so far...

How to ramp up in an adequate way

There are tons of mobility drills and training preparation exercises, and there´s not a single answer to what good preparation is.

An ideal warm up protocol depends on the goal with the training session. There are different preparation methods depending on what kind of session you are ramping up for.

However, the first part of the session should involve drills that gets your blood circulation going and that fires up your Central Nervous System (CNS). The second part should prepare your body to work in a full range of motion. The third part should activate your main muscles to make sure they´re fired up properly before going into specific movements. The fourth part depends on the activity and the main goal of the session.

Is the session ahead a pure strength session? A running session? A HIIT session? Or a mix of all these; a so called Metcon session? Is it a performance/skill session?

To put it very simply, if your main goal with a session is to hit personal records on deadlifts, you don’t have to spend 10 minutes on running drills. Not that it will hurt in any way to do it, rather the opposite, but there are better ways to prep your body for a 1RM lift.

This general protocol is a-so called RAMP protocol. Now you get why we say 'RAMP UP' before your session!

R for Raising body temperature and heart rate to increase core temperature and local tissue blood flow

A for Activating key muscle groups and neuro-muscular coordination and stabilisation

M for Mobilising joints and stimulate joint lubrication

P for Prime the body for maximal intensities that the following session will require.

Some popular warm up protocols

Prior to HIIT and strength sessions, the following mobility protocols are great:

- Wrists (wrist circles, stretch)

- Elbows (elbow circles, elbow punch)

- Shoulders/upper back (dislocations, arm circles, over and backs (swing the arms up over your shoulders and chop your upper back, then swing the arms back down behind you) and bear hug swings (swing your arms out to the sides, then back across your body like you’re hugging yourself) are quick and easy.

A stretch we call the pat down is also great: get near a wall and put your hands against it overhead like you’re getting searched by an arresting officer. Keeping the abs tight to prevent hyperextension of the back, push your chest down and back from the wall to open the shoulders. Instead of just pushing, thinking of pulling down away from the hands as well. No equipment needed.

- Spine/trunk (standing trunk rotations, scorpion)

- Hip flexors/quads (leg swings, lunge variation with rotations, running drills)

- Hip extensors/adductors (bow and bend, Spiderman lunge, groiners which are like mountain climbers that reach the feet up to the hands and put you in the Spiderman lunge position. Walking leg cradles (knee to chest), side leg swings, walkouts (inchworm), the Kossack, the Russian baby maker,

- Knees (knee rotations, squats)

- Ankles/calves (heel-toe walking, ankle circles).

Key factors that will give awesome training preparation

  • Keep it dynamic
  • Movement through all three planes, sagital, frontal, transverse
  • Compound movements (the perfect stretch)
  • Primal movements (crab walks, frog jumps, duck walks, bear crawls, inchworms)
  • Unilateral movements
  • Full body dynamic ROM (range of motion) on all joints
  • Shoulder mobility
  • Mobilisation of thoracic spine and hips
  • Activations of glutes (the body´s powerhouse)
  • Core stabilisation and organization (spinal mechanics)
  • Prime the central nervous system
  • Co-ordination (concentration and good form)

By no means do you have to follow these exact protocols, but this gives a good indication that a proper warm-up is more than a few jumping jacks, knee tucks and push-ups.

And again - there are no short cuts that will help you reach your goal.

Only hard, smart work will. So next time, think your sessions through. You'll get so much more out of them.

Or even better - keep coming to our sessions, we've thought them through for you!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meet Mona Brisbane She’s had 15 years experience in the fitness industry as a Personal Trainer and has done individual training and corporate group training. Since moving to Singapore 3 years ago, she fulfils her passion of training by challenging herself with kettle bells, plyometrics, cycling, running, in fact you name it and she’ll do it! She believes variation is the key to improving your health and keep the body guessing.  Mona has a contagious energy which we know will get passed onto you all!


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BEST OUTDOOR BOOTCAMPS IN SINGAPORE,' COURTESY OF THE SHAPE SPORTS AWARDS 2017

We're SO proud to announce that our SHEFIT classes have been awarded the 'Best Outdoor Bootcamps in Singapore’, courtesy of the SHAPE Sports Awards 2017. 

We’re delighted they’ve recognised the amazing community spirit that exists amongst us, along with our high standards of coaching and our trainers' unique ability to motivate and encourage you all. It's been an amazing journey since we began with our awesome Founder Lisa Clayton who built UFIT Bootcamps to what it is today. Her energy and passion is contagious amongst our community with our coaches and UFITers. We can't wait to continue 2017 and deliver only the best for you!