ST Articles 2018

Wk Title / Description Writer Themes
0 ST: On your Mok, set, go! Mok Ying Ren Launch >> ST Run 2018
1 ST: Importance of a Good Training Plan! Dr Ivan Low Training Plan
2 ST: The relevance of pre-participation screening Dr Yeo Tee Joo Risks & Injuries
3 ST: How do i manage my training sessions? Mok Ying Ren Training Plan
4 ST: Preparations to tackle an overseas run! Ashley Liew Overseas Runs
5 ST: How to maximise your recovery period? Mok Ying Ren Recovery
6 ST: Minimising risks in running Dr Malcolm Mahadevan Risks & Injuries
7 ST: Music to the ears! Mok Ying Ren Music
8 ST: Why runners run … away Ben Moreau Overseas Runs
9 ST: To outlast … run in a community! Jed Senthil Community
10 ST: Outdo yourself with proper hydration! Mok Ying Ren Hydration
11 ST: Running the right way Sharon Lim Running Gait
12 ST: Getting into the right kicks! Mok Ying Ren Footwear
13 ST: Master running as you age Evan Chee Inspiration
14 ST: Not an uphill task! Mok Ying Ren Slope Training
15 ST: Back in the days Dr Low Cheng Hock Inspiration
16 ST: The Final Countdown Mok Ying Ren Pre-race Tips
17 ST: You have done it! Mok Ying Ren Post-race Tips
18 ST: Remember The Poor Jed Senthil Community
19 ST: Sleeping right! Mok Ying Ren Sleeping
20 ST: Shredding my weight to go the distance! Banjamin Quek Inspiration
21 ST: Journeying through pain and injuries Mok Ying Ren Risks & Injuries
22 ST: Taking a (sick) break from running Dr Wang Mingchang Risks & Injuries
23 ST: Every drop counts! Mok Ying Ren Community
24 ST: Reflections of a runner’s wife Mrs Belinda Mok & Mok Ying Ren Inspiration
25 ST: Take a deep breath Mok Ying Ren Breathing
26 ST: Mastering your self during a run! Edgar Tham Sports Psychology
27 ST: 3 Important Factors to Ace Your Race! Mok Ying Ren Pre-race Tips
28 ST: Preparing during the next 24 hours! Volker Herrmann Pre-race Tips
29  ST: The Finish Line Mok Ying Ren  Inspiration

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More local stars emerge at SCSM 2018!

9 Dec 2018 – The weatherman told us it would be one of the coolest Decembers Singapore has seen recently. Expect showers, they said. Just not in the morning, we hoped. There is a fine line between comfortably cool, perhaps with a slight drizzle, and uncomfortably cats-and-dogs wet. Like the line that serious athletes who push their limits must (eventually) learn to run – too much and you risk blowing up; too gentle and you do not leave your mark. It is a calculated risk that athletes hone over their months and years of preparation.

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Photo credits: RunONE

On a particular December morning for the past 17 years, it  is a drill well rehearsed that see throngs of runners take to the streets of Singapore for the marquee running event on Singapore’s race calendar. Among the close to 50,000 who turned up in this year’s Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), a few seek to race the clock and the shadows of yesterdays. But against the backdrop of gearing up for the World Marathon Majors, what made this year’s SCSM extra special, is the number of new faces and rising stars on the circuit.

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SCSM Day 1 – 10km Men’s and Women’s Race

In the 10km race category, Vanja Cnops, a Belgian-based researcher in Singapore, won the female race with a time of 40:07. She is no stranger to the podium, having most recently won the King of the Trails 4 female’s race! Goh Chui Ling was the top-ranked Singaporean female runner who came in 3rd with a time of 41:56, marking an improvement of over a minute from her results at the Great Eastern Women’s 10km race, where she also came in 3rd with a timing of 43:00. The rising track star (who trained for the race under former SA Technical Director, Volker Herrmann) shared with RunONE, that this would likely be her last 10km race as she turns her focus back towards the track season, which will get underway soon. Due to a lack of varied terrain for running in Singapore, it is not uncommon for track runners to diversify and switch up their training by either going into road, or trail, races, during the track offseason.

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Men’s and Women’s 10km Winners at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018. (3rd from left) Kim Mangrobang from the Philippines, and (3rd from right) Ka Ho Chan from Hong Kong, with the Singaporean Winners. Photo credits: RunONE

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Separately, in the 10km Men’s category, ActiveSG athlete Shobib Marican was the top-ranked Singaporean, winning the silver with a time of 35:58. Shobib trains under coach Steven Quek, whose training ethos is based on a firm belief in consistency. In a short post-race interview with RunONE, Shobib felt that the familiarity earned through hard training gives him a certain level of confidence heading into the race – that the hard work is in the bag. One change that he liked about this year’s SCSM, was the reduction in bottle-neck as the race turned into a 2-day event with the half and full marathon event separated from the 10km. This allowed the 10km racers to better focus on executing their race.

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From Left to Right: Vanja (Winner Female’s 10km), Shobib (2nd Men’s 10km), Chui Ling (3rd Female’s 10km) Photo credits: RunONE

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SCSM Day 2 – Half and Full Marathon Men’s and Women’s Race

With the majority of race participants signing up for the half and full marathon, excitement was almost always certain to build up towards day 2, as the finale of this SCSM weekend.

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Photo credits: RunONE

ONEathlete & Under Armour Ambassador Banjamin Quek finished 3rd in the Local Men’s Half Marathon category with a time of 1:22 under trying circumstances.

Speaking to The Straits Times & RunONE at the end of the whole ordeal, Banja felt that the route was ‘good but tough’. He thought that the organisers could have done better by having more water points along the highways and better management of the human traffic who were  leaving the race village, as evident from the long queues and crowd bottleneck observed.

Banja also wants to acknowledge and thank the prompt medical attention he received when he nearly collapsed after crossing the finish, a sign that the organizers have paid strong emphasis and close heed to safety issues following earlier race-related fatalities.

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Men’s and Women’s 42km Local Champions of SCSM 2018. (From left) Rachel See, Mohd Iskandar, Soh Rui Yong, Lim Baoying, Giebert Foo and He Xiuying. 5 of them made it to the Top 20 Marathon Overall (Men’s and Women’s) leaderboard that was dominated by the Kenyans. Photo credits: RunONE

In the Full Marathon category, last year’s Men’s Champion Soh Rui Yong defended his title by winning with a time of 2:41:49. Trackstar Athletics’s Mohd Iskandar (2:49:46) who finished 5th Local in 2017, and Giebert Foo (2:54:14) etched into the Men’s top 3 to end the year with a well-deserved blast.

Newer faces on the podium, and more local runners in the sub-3 hour timings displayed the rising competitiveness of the local marathon circuit. Several others include Ho Ghim Khoon (2:56:02, 5th), and Tan Wei Jie (2:59:01, 8th) were also hopeful nominees who started off from the Elite Pen. Another notable young star is Daniel Leow who trains with the Singapore Shufflers and made a remarkable 38 minutes improvement over his 2017 results!

Giebert Foo’s SCSM2017 Ekiden Team, Victorious Secret Angels, retained their 2nd position in 2018, with the 5th and last runner, Soh Hua Qun speeding through to finish with a time of 2:44:46.

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ONEathlete Evan Chee finished in 4th place with a time of 2:55:00, narrowly missing out on the podium by just under 1 minute while Ashley Liew suffered in the latter half of the race to finish in 3:09. Having won the SCMS in 2012 and coming in 2nd last year, it was clearly not his best performance by a large margin.

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Photo credits: RunONE

While this year’s preparation was largely similar to previous years, Ashley had tried incorporating minor tweaks in this year’s SCSM lead-up by racing more short distance events. Nonetheless, with his 2:41 finish at the Tokyo Marathon earlier in Feb 2018, Ashley remains the second fastest Singaporean over the Marathon distance this year. The upcoming offseason will provide an ideal window for Ashley to rethink his training and race strategies, and regroup before the 2019 season.

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Photo credits: RunONE

Before the race, Evan had set his focus on a singular goal and that is to improve upon his 2017 results by snagging a season-best finish quicker than his Gold Coast Marathon result of 2:51. Training was definitely different this year as Evan had to lay off running while recovering from injury for good part of the year since Jan. Mileage remained low throughout most of 2018 until the 2 months leading up to SCSM, when he finally managed to put in consistent weekly mileage above 100km.

As a result, Evan has had to adjust his race execution by focusing more on execution and good pacing strategy for this year. In the end, he managed to secure a 4th place finish in a highly competitive event like SCSM, which also doubled up as the National Championship for the 2nd year running.

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Making the podium for the Women’s Marathon was, Dr Lim Baoying who was not an elite runner (starting from Pen A) emerged as the surprise winner with a time of 3:16:36; 2017 defending women’s champion, Rachel See, was strong through the first 30km of the race with an average pace of 4:25min/km and had to dig deep in the closing kilometres of the race to finish 2nd at 3:18:36. He Xiuying rounded up the podium with a very respectable finish of 3:18:57.x

Evan’s sister, Yvonne Elizabeth Chee, also competing in the elite female category for the first time, finished in 4th place with a time of 3:25. She had skipped the 2017 Marathon post-pregnancy, and geared her way into ‘her special spot’. The civil servant and mother of two also thanked her husband, who ‘made it possible’ by taking care of their children to afford her precious time away for her training runs. Singapore’s marathon Olympian, Neo Jie Shi came in 5th at 3:27:31.

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From Left to Right: The Chee Siblings and Dr Ansgar Cheng (2nd Local Men’s Masters). Photo credits: RunONE

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With the conclusion of SCSM 2018, the hectic running season in Singapore comes to a pause as we, runners and spectators alike, usher in the festive season and a time to share with our loved ones! As we gather to celebrate love, friendship and hope during this holiday, the future for Singapore’s running looks bright given the performance and number of rising local stars at SCSM 2018. A starry, starry future beholds.

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Members of the ONE team joined by friends of the running circuit. Photo credits: RunONE

ST: Preparing during the next 24 hours!

This article was first published in The Straits Times on 8 December 2018

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VOLKER HERRMANN – Race days are often the highlight of an athlete’s career. You have invested weeks and months, and made substantial sacrifices in every area of your life, for these precious moments of racing. When so much is on the line, naturally you would want to make every moment count, and every step you take prior to your race day is crucial.
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D-1: Take it as just another day

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One of the biggest secret to succeed is to, ironically, approach race day as an average training day. While it is important to prepare well, you should not try to make the day an unusual one, especially if you are thinking of experimenting or trying something new.

If you are sharing your experience with your friends and supporters, remember to give them instructions beforehand, especially to be stationed at the parts of the race you would need their support and morale boosters the most!

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IAAF lecturer, Volker Herrmann sharing his race tips with National Marathoner & ONEathlete Ashley Liew, who will be running the SCSM 2018 tomorrow. Photo credits: RunONE

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H-18: Prepare early

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Prepare your equipment the night before, like your shoes, socks, shorts and singlet (pin your number bib). It is important not to wear anything you have not worn at least three or four times before, preferably for your training sessions. You would not want to experience any unusual (unexpected)  discomfort during your race. Tapes and lubricating gels should be used to cover sensitive body parts which are prone to abrasions.

If you are listening to music, prepare the playlist beforehand.

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H-12: Get some sleep

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It is normal to be anxious before your race –  all your hard work culminates in this one day. It is usual to not have the deepest sleep the night before your race. Even top athletes are not spared the sleeplessness and anxiety  before race day. It is actually the sleep several days out that plays a bigger role in your performance on race day. So, try not to think about your race on that night! If you are racing at a time that is not during your usual training hours, it is best to slowly adjust your sleep and training patterns accordingly, at least eight to ten days before the marathon. This will also greatly help in your sleep for the night before the race.
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H-3: Have a simple meal

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Try to have breakfast at least three hours before the start of the marathon, preferably food with a low glycemic index, so that  your blood glucose level will rise slower and more steadily. Avoid acidic fruits and fruit juices, and go for bananas. It will be best to stay away from dairy products too.

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H-1: Make your way to the start line

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Always be early for your race, and plan your way to the starting line taking into account road closures, long queues, and huge crowds!

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Get in your dynamic warm-ups.

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H: Stick to your race plan

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Facing competition often raises adrenaline levels, and naturally, you would  have a tendency to run too fastin the first few kilometers. It would be prudent to hold off in the first ten minutes and start slightly slower than  your planned race pace. If you are using fixed splits for different intervals (e.g. the 5k, 10km, or half marathon mark), write them down on your forearm. Having a quick look makes it easy to check whether you are following the race plan.
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Have a blast at 2018 Singapore Marathon!

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Volker Herrmann is an international high performance sport consultant and an IAAF lecturer. He was the former Technical Director for SAA, and works with athletes and coaches on a global scale.
Volker Herrmann is an international high performance sport consultant and an IAAF lecturer. He was the former Technical Director for SAA, and works with athletes and coaches on a global scale.

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The last lap as you #RunWithMok

1 Dec 2018 – The final pacer run before the 2018 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (#SCSM2018) was on 8th and 9th December 2018 was held in partnership with several partners comprising of Ironman, Under Armour Pacers (from Running Department), and 100PLUS together with their Ambassador, 7-time SCMS Local Champion & ONEathlete, Mok Ying Ren

 

Before the run, Mok Ying Ren took the stage to answer questions raised by the participants. This was an enthusiastic crowd, asking questions ranging from his pre-race warm-up routine to pacing strategies, to his preferred pre-race breakfast. One of the key topics he shared about was hydration.

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

Hydration is of paramount importance to a successful race. However, he noted that a substantial number of runners visit the medical tent due to overhydration. They have drunk excessive amounts of water, resulting in a condition known as hyponatremia – low sodium levels. This results in them feeling giddy and fatigued, symptoms not unlike dehydration.

Mok advised that it is important to drink to the point of thirst and allow our bodies’ natural regulating systems to decide how much we should drink on race day. He also suggested that runners should get used to the isotonic drink (that will be available during the race day) during their training itself. 

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

Thankfully, the early morning rain had cleared out just before the morning event started and participants got to enjoy beautiful, cooling weather for most of the run.

 

In this final pacer run, the participants were divided into pacing groups based on their targeted Half marathon and Full marathon timings. Half marathon runners ran 12km while the Full marathon runners ran 15km around iconic Singapore sites such as Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer. Mok Ying Ren started off with the first pacing group before striking it out on his own for the last part of the run. 

 

Post run, Mok Ying Ren continued to mingle with the participants as they streamed into the finishing area after their runs and had their complimentary breakfast sets. It was also a great opportunity for the runners to #askmok their questions on hydration, pacing, and even their running gait! 

 

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Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

The official hydration sponsor of SCMS, 100PLUS Singapore provided the hydration for the morning. There was no lack of hydration both during and after the run. With B Vitamins (B3, B6 & B12), Non-Carbonated 100PLUS ACTIVE is specially designed to facilitate energy production, as well as to aid in after-sports recovery. An apt choice for the pacer run and preps for #SCSM2018.

 

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Participants, Under Armour Pacers (from Running Department), and 100PLUS together with their Ambassador, 7-time SCMS Local Champion & ONEathlete, Mok Ying Ren. Photo credits: ONEathlete / RunONE

ST: Mastering your self during a run!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 25 November 2018

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EDGAR THAM – Fatigue, boredom in training, mistakes, and the lack of progress are common challenges highlighted by runners of varying, and all, levels. These issues do not just pop up on race day, but they can also manifest in the training leading up to it. Research points to a few tricks that athletes can use to overcome these mental barriers.

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Be one with nature

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A recent study concluded that runners who ran with sunshine, trees and flower beds felt happier. Running with nature can help improve your mood, leaving you more excited and refreshed than before. To enjoy your next race to the fullest, take in the greenery of our garden city. For example, if you are running at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, look out for pretty or unique flowers, plants, and trees as you make your way to The Float @ Marina Bay.

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Training indoors, battling the rainy season or is the weather not working in your favor? Watching a video tour of a garden or public park while getting your workout in the gym can also give you a similar positivity boost!

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Sport & Performance Psychologist Edgar Tham, sharing with ONEathlete Banjamin Quek, on how he can hone his mental muscle/toughness ahead of the latter’s half-marathon at SCSM 2018. Photo credits: RunONE

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Psych up with music (and even video!)

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Not just about the latest trend, running with earbuds or headphones on can help you do better too. Researchers found that athletes who ran with their choice of entertainment, i.e., favorite music, had more positive attitudes and performance overall. Having considered the benefits, some may ask “what type of music should I listen to?” The answer lies in the tempo. Fast-paced music gets one pumped up and running faster, while slow-paced music relaxes. However, if, listening to music is not allowed during your race, grooving to your personal hits during your warm-up could also help get you in the right emotional state, and therefore help you get ready for your race. For some, the music might still be lingering in your head — use it to help you in your actual run!

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Running on a treadmill but not a big music junkie? Research has shown that streaming a show or movie can bring similar benefits too. The next time you are looking to achieve a new personal best and cover a longer distance while training, try setting up your playlist or your favorite show before you start! Caution: Be careful and remain fully alert when training on the treadmill. Safety first!

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Hone your mental muscle

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Training your mind helps train your body too! Research with world-class athletes points to mental toughness as pivotal to peak performance. Athletes who are calm, focused and confident are better prepared, and more likely, to overcome race challenges and mistakes.

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To train like a champion marathoner, have your own race plan and rehearse it both physically (through training) and mentally (by going through the race over and over again in your mind). It can help you approach the actual event with more poise and confidence. To design your own race plan, study the race route and consider how you will run and motivate yourself during the race. How should I start? When would I pick up my pace? What are some potential challenges I may face (e.g., uphill, fatigue) and how can I cope with them? Anticipate the times you may “hit the wall” and prepare yourself with possible workarounds (e.g., keep your mind on your running form, adjust your breathing). Explore and identify what works for you, and be prepared to charge ahead the next time the burn kicks in!

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IMG_3737 “It was a good reminder to reignite my passion for running. Edgar reminded me to enjoy the process rather than to just focus on results. I walked away with very useful tips, e.g. on how i can do a visualization exercise, and split the workouts into parts; prior to a tough workout.” Banjamin Quek, who will be running his half-marathon at SCSM 2018.  

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Find your running tribe

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Athletes with stronger support networks tackle stress and challenge better. Research also shows that the stress-support relationship works in two ways. One, we seek out others when stressed. Gather your own tribe – trusted people you can turn to for love and support. Share with them about the difficulties you face, and celebrate small wins too! Struggling during training or the actual race? Turn to your running buddy for some encouragement and support. Two, supporting others helps lower their stress levels and yours in return too! Keep your stress levels healthy by lending a helping hand to support your running buddy, particularly when the going gets tough. The next time you hit a plateau during training or need an extra boost during the race, lean on your family and friends or consult with a mental toughness coach for more support.

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Whether you are a professional athlete or weekend warrior, try out some of these tips to bring your running performance to another level! I hope these would come in handy as you run the SCSM 2018 on 9 December!

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Edgar K. Tham is Singapore’s pioneer Sport & Performance Psychologist, amongst many other diverse accolades. Edgar was the founding Head of the Sports Psychology Unit of the Singapore Sports Council in 1996. He was team consultant and traveling psychologist to numerous national teams preparing for major world games/championships, including the Olympics and World Championships. Edgar is the founder and chief sport & performance psychologist at http://www.sportpsychconsulting.com.  He is an associate lecturer in sport psychology at the Singapore University of Social Science, Edinburgh Napier University (UK), and University of Wollongong (AUS). He is the co-author of Mental Toughness Strategies of the World’s Greatest Athletes and In the Zone: The Mindset for Peak Performance in Sport.

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Marathoner Evan Chee’s Tour de Europe

21 Nov 2018 – While most of us have always imagined an ideal Europe road trip to be driving a caravan through the winding Alps and French countryside, or a shop(eat)-till-you-drop magical experience on the streets of London and Madrid, Evan is not like most of us.

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The 38-year old marathoner had always dreamed of racing a half marathon in Europe and the IAAF gold label, AIMS-certified Valencia Half-Marathon checked all the boxes. It was known to be a fast and flat course (world records were set here before), and the cooling conditions in late October meant the race’s schedule fitted perfectly into Evan’s overall preparation for Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 6 weeks later.

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Valencia Half-Marathon 2018

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Evan arrived in Valencia, also known as the city of running, after 24 hours of non-stop traveling and made it to one of the biggest race expos he has seen. The actual race kicked off at 9am on a cool Sunday morning. With temperatures hovering between 10 to 15 degrees, conditions couldn’t have been better along with the electrifying crowd support lined up along both sides of the race route and excellent race organization.

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In the end, Kenya’s Abraham Kiptum broke the Men’s Half-Marathon world record clocking 58:18 to take five seconds off the mark set by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese in 2010. Evan would go on to clock 1:19 for a personal best and finishing in 94th place and 2nd Asian runner. While Evan had gone into the race with higher expectations, it was still a timely confidence booster after spending most of 2018 nursing a niggling leg injury which had hampered his training.

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‘THE’ Marathon

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2 weeks later, Evan would go on to run another epic European race, the Athens Classic Marathon, the birthplace of all modern-day Marathons. While it is an IAAF gold label race today, the race’s heritage and history stretch all the way back to 490BC. The Athens Marathon traces the same route that the legendary Greek messenger, Pheidippides, ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek’s victory over the Persians!

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Runners from around the world gather at Adidas Runbase in Athens

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As part of the pre-race lead-up, Evan had a rare opportunity to visit Adidas Runbase in Athens and meet like-minded Adidas Runners (AR) from all around the world (including Paris, London, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, and Milan). Runbase is a 6-story facility catered for AR with running and all sorts of fitness sessions taking place almost daily!

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Group shot with Adidas Runners in front of the Acropolis

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Together, they would all participate in a shake-out sightseeing run organized by AR Athens to showcase the best of Athens sights and sounds, ending with a group shot taken in front of the Acropolis and a pasta party right after!

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Athens Classic Marathon 2018

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The Athens Classic Marathon counts as one of the most difficult major marathon race with a nearly 20km-long uphill climb, which dwarves the SCSM Sheares Bridge climb at the 37km mark. The course begins in the town of Marathon before passing by the tomb of Athenian soldiers, turning towards the city of Athens before finishing up at the Panathinaiko Stadium. The stadium is a landmark site for athletics competition in ancient times, and also where the 1896 and 2004 Olympics Marathon chose as its finishing point.

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xIn a fitting tribute to the race and area’s history, it has become a standard practice before every year’s race to carry the Marathon Flame, which is lit at the Tomb of the Battle of Marathon, to the finish point at the Stadium.

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Right from the start, Evan planned to maintain a comfortable long run pace as he tackled the seemingly endless uphills and slopes. After crossing the halfway mark in 1:30:30 as planned, Evan knew the race had only just begun with another 10km of slopes to go in what was proving to be a much more challenging route than SCSM. The Greek messenger, Pheidippides, couldn’t have been happier than Evan when he caught sight of the Stadium finish point, crossing the line in 3:00:50 with an average pace of 4:15′.

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Wrapping up his Europe ‘road trip’, Evan will like to thank everyone from AR Athens, particularly captain Deniz Dimaki, whose efforts helped make all this possible. It was a whirlwind 3 weeks in Europe but it turned out to be an out-of-this-world experience running ‘literally’ from Valencia to Madrid, Barcelona to Santorini before calling it a day in Athens.

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While his legs may feel like they’re running on empty (for the next couple days), but his heart is definitely full. Be sure to check in with Evan as he lines up for the biggest race on Singapore’s running calendar – the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon!

Hitting on WTA!

SHAHEED ALAM – A bittersweet farewell to WTA in Singapore. 2014 – 2018. These 5 years will always be remembered by not only tennis enthusiasts but also sports fans in Singapore as the time when the top 8 Women’s Singles and Doubles Teams competed on our ‘little red dot’. As the Singapore Indoor Stadium dismantles the center court for the last time, we should cherish the experience we’ve had over these amazing 5 years.

 

I had the incredible opportunity to be  the hitting partner for these players in the last 3 years (I was too young and not good enough in the first 2 years haha) Being their hitting partner was definitely an eye-opening experience because I got to see up-close the way they practice, warm up, prepare for matches. I got to see all of it. From the extremely focused Garbine Muguruza to the relaxed Caroline Garcia, I was privileged to witness the different personalities of each player which would otherwise have been very difficult to spot on TV. Over the past 3 years, I have had many awesome experiences but 2, in particular, stood out.

 

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Martina Hingis and I after a practice session in 2016

 

In 2016, Ali and I got called to practice with the dream team of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis! Before even stepping on the court, it was already pretty cool to even (just) think about practicing with them. The schedule was to practice for an hour on the practice courts at OCBC Arena followed by another hour on Centre Court at Singapore Indoor Stadium.

 

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Pliskova and I in 2017, the first time that we practiced together

 

Understandably nervous, we both started practicing making several mistakes as we were (a little) overwhelmed by the situation. As the session went on, they realized that we were pretty nervous but nonetheless they were still super friendly and made us feel more at home.

 

After we ended our practice at OCBC Arena, Ali and I were going to walk across to the Indoor Stadium (10minute walk) while Mirza and Hingis were going to take the car that was waiting for them. Ali and I could not enter into the pick-up area as our accreditation did not allow us and only players/coaches could enter. Looking back, I felt that Hingis and Mirza thought we were going to take the car as well so they walked out first while we were still packing our bags.

 

About 5 minutes later, Martina Hingis came running out and told the volunteers to call us back. When we got to the facilities desk, we remember Hingis waiting for us and saying “Come on guys, the car is waiting for you guys”. Looking super shocked, we laughed and followed her to the pickup point where they were 2 Porsches waiting for us. She then continued saying ‘1 follows me and the other follows Sania’. I followed Hingis and for those precious 10 minutes, we chatted about everything and anything before our second practice session on Centre Court. That was an experience like none other, which only goes to show that they were both incredibly humble and down to Earth while being absolute legends in the sport!

 

 

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Pliskova and I during her warm up before her semi-finals this year

 

The next memorable event was when I  I practiced with Karolina Pliskova this year. She has to be the most relaxed player on tour. Incredibly effortless in her play, she’s definitely a joy to watch. I had the pleasure of getting to know her team as well, comprising her Coach, Rennae Stubbs, and Fitness Trainer/Agent/Husband, Michal Hrdlicka. We practiced every day from Saturday (before Day 1) up till the following Saturday (where she played her semifinals) and it was an amazing experience. They really made me feel like I was part of their team for that week as they were super friendly and humble. Overwater breaks, they would ask me about my tennis career and gave me plenty of valuable advice and encouragement.

 

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Karolina Pliskova and teammates (Rennae Stubbs and Michal Hrdlicka) and I at the player lounge to say our goodbyes this year

 

On the day of the finals, when they were at the stadium to collect their belongings before returning home, they asked if I was in the stadium as they would like to say a few words of thanks and goodbyes in person. Fortunately (for me),  I was, and so we met at the player lounge and had a chat before they left. We promised to keep in touch and Pliskova even said that she’ll give me a call when she’s in Asia if she needs a hitting partner(not sure how true that will be though 😂) All in all, it was a superb experience and I couldn’t have wished for a better end  to the last year of the WTA Finals.

 

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Dream team – Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza with Ali and I at the practice courts

 

At this point, I would also like to thank Sports Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board, WTA and all the sponsors for hosting this prestigious tournament over the past 5 years. As they say, when one door closes, another opens so we should hope and look forward to more world-class tennis tournaments being hosted in Singapore. Perhaps even the ATP Finals.

 

ST: Reflections of a runner’s wife

Featured image (above): Mok Ying Ren and Belinda during their marathon-themed wedding gatecrash. Photo credits: RUNONE

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 11 November 2018

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Part 1: Reflections of a runner’s wife

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She says …

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BELINDA MOK – Over the past 5 years that we have been together, friends have often asked me what it’s like being in a relationship with a competitive marathon runner, especially when I initially didn’t even enjoy running. The truth is that I didn’t think much about what I was getting myself into! That may be why it felt, occasionally,  that the relationship required quite some effort to work (which we did!). But looking back, it has also been such a fulfilling and enjoyable journey as we grow and learn to support one another.

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When we first got together, Mok was training to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He was so committed and focused that we would have to plan our dates around his training and work needs. Because he was training after work every day, it also meant we didn’t get to meet up much. This was also a rocky period for our relationship as we had to navigate our different interests and expectations in this relationship. For example, we hardly shopped together as he wanted to save his legs for training. Saturday night dates were also often an early affair as he would have to do a long run the next morning.

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Thankfully, with the experience from previous disagreement and advice from our friends and mentors, we now have something which works for us.

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Things would appear to be comparably worse now. Mok is doing his Orthopaedic Surgery residency, which is stressful enough as it comes with exams and overnight shifts. Add in daily training and other running commitments and there is even less “couple time” as his schedule perpetually packed!

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As my way of showing him support, I would watch his training sessions, which led to me deciding to join him on his runs. I also started cycling and rollerblading during his long runs at East Coast Park. As I got better, I started to enjoy running more and now we actually go for runs together! Also, the more I run the more I am impressed by what  Mok puts himself through every day. As a physiotherapist in a restructured hospital, I know how hard it is to drag yourself out of bed to run before/after a busy hospital shift, but Mok still does it anyway. He has the uncanny ability to be very focused and determined on the task at hand, be it running or at the hospital. While this was initially a point of contention for me, it is now something that I really admire about him, and that makes our relationship even stronger!

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He says …

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MOK YING REN – The biggest lesson I have learned after being married is how selfish our pursuit for excellence can be. For many years, I was so focused on challenging limits and breaking barriers on the track (and road) that I  left everything on the sidelines. It was like a game that can never end. But I have come to realize that excellence in any field, when achieved at the expense of loved ones, will invariably by a sense of emptiness in our hearts.

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Success in any form will never be able to fill this void. As I learned and recognized the sacrifices Belinda had to make, I found myself trying to prioritize her needs in my decision making. While some might think that this may cause my performance to suffer, on the contrary,  this has allowed me to do better, both at work and running. It’s interesting how things actually work contrary to what we have been conditioned by society to expect and it’s worthwhile for all to spend some time to ponder on what the purpose of life and marriage is.

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Part 2: Her tips to make a running marriage work!

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1. Be open to new experiences

I used to be someone who disliked running – I found it too hot and dirty. However, as I accompanied Mok to his training sessions and running clinics, I met so many passionate runners that I decided to join in too! As I got better, I also started to enjoy it and finally understand Mok’s passion for running!

Taking part in run events also gives you a chance to make new friends. Unlike other more specialized sports, anyone can walk/ jog/ run and runners come from all walks of life so you will easily meet people outside your social circle.

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2. Be flexible

We have had to change our plans countless times because of Mok’s schedule. Sometimes he might be asked to go into work early at the last minute and not have time to run in the morning – we will then have to cancel our dinner plans so that he can run in the evening. As a supporter, I try to be flexible to support him in meeting his training needs.

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3. Be running together (couple time)

Our running standards are vastly different, but we still try to go for a run together fortnightly. We plan it such that he does his easy runs when I’m doing my hard runs. It works for us both as I have Mok who can push me while he also has me to avoid overdoing his easy runs too quickly.

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4. Be encouraging

Being an athlete is tough;  sometimes they may have a bad training session or an injury to deal with. They may try to not talk about it but they will definitely be feeling down, so try to empathize and encourage them to continue with their rehab.

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5. Be positive

Instead of grumbling about losing your precious morning sleep because of a run, see it as a healthy lifestyle change that you’re making. For me, I like that we can get so much done before noon. In fact, Mok usually starts and finishes his long runs so early (because it would be too hot otherwise) that we usually end up beating the weekend brunch crowds!

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Mrs. Belinda Mok is the wife of high-achiever, National Marathoner and Surgeon, Mok Ying Ren. She wears different hats, as his biggest supporter, meticulous events organizer and physiotherapist at a restructured hospital. She has grown into an avid runner herself. 

Gears get oiled for BB Blaze 2019!

03 Nov 2018 – “During the training, there were times when I questioned why I had joined Blaze in the first place, when I could have been like my peers who were having less strenuous physical training and who did not need to face the pressure of keeping physically fit.” This is how the then-14 year old Samuel Song from Zhonghua Sec felt during the preparations for BB Blaze 2017!

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Photo credits: The Boys’ Brigade HQ Website

Preparations are key in an adventure race, or for that matter, any race. What more for teenage boys preparing for the adventure-based and mentally and physically challenging #BBblaze2019!

 

RunONE will be joining The Boys’ Brigade Singapore as their Official Training Partner, supporting the preparations for the 400 participants and their trainers during this pivotal stage. You can also expect for the 2019 edition to involve more pre-race and race digitalization, with an extended partnership with ONE.

 

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To kick off the preparations, the organizers arranged for a Train-the-Trainers session that was attended by officers and boys from various senior programme companies (CCA units in various secondary schools).

 

The Pierre de Coubertin IFPC Trophy Winner and National Marathoner Ashley Liew shared his experiences with the boys and officers. He started by stating his hope to inspire and went on to share how he has transcended different challenges in life, such as when transforming from fat to fit.

 

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Ashley had rushed down from his chiropractic clinic, amidst two weeks of reservist commitments. It is not surprising that the ONEathlete was very enthusiastic about speaking to the boys, as a former BB Boy of the 12I Singapore Company (ACS Independent). He has certainly not forgotten his roots, acknowledging the role of The Boys’ Brigade in shaping who he is today during his self-introduction.

 

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After throwing in some awareness of chiropractic and the nervous system, Ashley went on to share tips on running forms, injury prevention, and the importance of a training programme. He also shared how the youths could build up their endurance, strength and conditioning to be at their optimal capacity to blaze the trail, come April 2019!

 

Street Superior 2018

31 Oct 2018 – Let’s go back in time to last Friday and enter the supposedly abandoned Pasar Panjang ‘A’ Power Station. You’ll find it pulsing with hip-hop beats, and will be greeted by a giant merlion float, cartoonized and rainbow-hued.

 

Turn the corner to find a live tattooing station, vintage shirts, parkour demonstrations, fusion street food like bacon chai tow kway and laksa udon… and row upon row of designer sneakers, not just for sale but on exhibition. This is Street Superior, the 6th edition of Singapore’s premier sneaker and streetwear convention.

 

 

Street Superior is a haven for the lover of kicks, featuring sneaker vendors like Boost and Sneakship, shoe care providers such as Sneakers Spa, and custom shoelace brand No Agenda. You could also ascend the Sneakers Cleaning Throne by Jason Markk and Go Native App for a free buff and shine.

Must-sees also included the unique statement T-shirts by LoBorn and gorgeous vintage jackets by PlayHood, featuring one-of-a-kind paintings by resident designer Sarah Lai. There’s also the quirky Misadventure Time (responsible for the aforementioned merlion float), which creates merchandise inspired by the popular cartoon Adventure Time, with a darkly humorous Singaporean twist.

 

 

Our resident ONEathlete Banjamin was on site to support our partner, Under Armour (UA), which will be releasing more running and training shoes next year. The display at Street Superior featured new designs such as the UA Forge 96 and the Curry 5 – the latter is endorsed by American basketball star Stephen Curry.

 

 

Speaking of which, Banja is not only a runner but also a basketball lover, which could be seen when he went all out to shoot hoops in the nifty basketball arcade game on site! He also hung out with other UA athletes, in the likes of Team Singapore swimmer Amanda Lim, Bowler Shayna Ng, and fitness junkie cum personal trainer Darren Lim!

 

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Street Superior was jointly produced by @solesuperiorsg and @one11studio. Check out the hashtags #streetsuperior and #solesuperiorsg2018 to see what else went down!