Knowledge of Terrain – An Alternative to Grass

Knowledge of Terrain – An Alternative to Grass


If you keen and have queries, please contact Coach Rameshon at 9100 4369 or you can email him at or Please refer to website (for more information on him and his programmes)

Written By Rameshon

Bsc (Hons) Degree in Physical Education, Loughborough University (1992-1994)

Masters in Education (University of Western Australia, 2005-2008)


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When you run on a terrain, it is important to note the word called ‘impact’. It is simply the amount of force applied by the whole body to the ground, where the landing is on one of the foot on the ground while running. 

Recently, someone had asked me, “What is the difference between grass and pavement?.” My answer is, “Why don’t you punch the grass and pavement and see which causes more pain.” 

So, it is obvious that grass provides more cushion and it will be difficult to get oneself injured if one trains properly at the same time. The only problem with grass is about muscular contraction and eccentric loading. Grass makes the muscles to work slower.

From my Holland friend, who had been a marathoner, 2hr 16min personal best time, I found out that the return on the pavement is higher than running on the grass surface. Simply said, the muscles are made to work quicker on the pavement rather than on grass surface. So, if you do a time trial, it is easier to get a good time on the pavement or road rather than running on grass.

However, is there anything special about grass to improve running? The answer to this is, if you want to stay out of injury, it is good to run on grass, especially if one goes up high on mileage. The higher you go, it is advisable to run on grass. In this way, one will be more consistent in training and progression throughout the year. Grass allows recovery for the next day’s workout.

As grass and golf courses are not easily accessible to runners in Singapore, is there a way to counter this problem, so that one is consistent. To this, I would like to share with our readers by informing on the research studies that I did at Loughborough University. It was on 1500m. I shall not go into the details of it. I had to do a VO2 max Test, Maximum Oxygen Uptake test, and 1500m time trial on track and replicate the same track performance on a laboratory condition using the treadmill. For this topic, I shall not elaborate on the protocol of the test as the gist of this essay is on terrain, not my research. 

As, the runner needs to be tested on the track, and then on the treadmill, I had to learn about the difference between terrain and its impact. I am hoping to write on the detail of the different terrain in another essay, as it goes beyond the scope of the topic, here. 

During my research, I found out that running on the treadmill is a good alternative to pavement. Better still, it is good to run in woods or forested areas, which is safe for running and it spares the lower limb from the vulnerability of getting injured. Although for easy runs, grass would one of the most ideal, running on dirt or earth ground will be next to an ideal terrain to run. Even Kenyans do not train on synthetic rubber, usually seen in Singapore stadiums. Kenyan coaches find the terrain hard. One Kenyan Coach told in his book not to run on the synthetic track at all, except during races, or when nearing races. The track in Kenya found in Eldoret is predominantly made of dirt ground so that one does not get oneself injured. 

Once, I have asked a Kenyan Coach, who did 2hr 15min in Chiangmai Marathon 1995, several months before the actual 1995 SEA Games, on what I read in Athletics magazine in England, in the year 1994, that the Kenyans were reported to do workouts every day. I asked, ” Is it true that they do workout everyday?.”   He said,” Once a week or twice a week workout is enough, but in Kenya, it is possible to do an everyday workout as the muscles can recover for the next day’s workout because we do our workout on the soil. ” 

So, my answer to people who run a lot is to run in terrains like Bedok Reservoir, Mac Ritchie Reservoir, and other terrains which is made up of the earth. Only if one’s mileage is about 10-30km per week, pavement running may be okay. Some kind of guidance in this is important only when one ramps up on mileage.

In short, it all depends on the mileage that you are running.



By Narayanan
Rameshon has taught in Hwa Chong Institution, plus several schools, and Republic Polytechnic as well. He has won many accolades and he was awarded Merit Award for 1991 marathon performance in breaking the national record of Singapore, at that time. He has made 22 male athletes do the marathon in sub-3hrs. He has made 7 female runners do sub-4 hours for the marathon, as well. He was inducted to the ‘Roll of Honour’  by the then College of Physical Education, organised by Singapore Olympic Academy, in 1998, for breaking the National record repeatedly 4 times, till he did 2hr 24min 22sec).

He also has a Coaching group and he trains them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7pm at Botanic Gardens. Those interested can call him at 91004369 for coaching assistance, to improve performance. There is also personal training that he does for many in a week. You can e-mail him at

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