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!

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A good support goes a long way …

FUTURO SG – The 3M subsidiary rounds up their Futuro Ambassadors and three of our #ONEathlete(s), Mok Ying Ren, Shaheed Alam and Ren-ne Ong; and get them to share on their pathway as a successful competitive athlete! No flower blooms on its own, and they share who/what supported them thru their budding competitive sports endeavors.

 

“Surround yourself with people who support you. Find champions.”

– Sarah Gavron

 

Especially for athletes, you will notice that the common pattern is to share your goals and plans with your family and ask them to help encourage you to achieve the goals/plans. Consequentially, the ones closest to them are probably their biggest fans! They have seen the blood, the sweat, the tears, they have seen it all.

 

Now, with the next 6 videos, Futuro hopes to bring you a tad closer to our ONEathlete(s)!

  • We hope that each of their (Part 1) personal story video will be an inspiration to all aspiring athletes and a tribute to their fervent supporters.
  • We also hope that their (Part 2) quick exercise tips video will be a great information tool on techniques.
  • You also have some hampers for grabs (Part 3)! You can follow Futuro SG’s Facebook HERE.

 

Standby, your napkins, and click on the video links below:

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SHAHEED ALAM

ITF Junior Singles Title Winner

National Tennis Player

Managed by ONEathlete

 

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  

– Shaheed Alam

 

Part 1 : Get inspired with Shaheed Alam

 

Part 2 : Preparation with Shaheed Alam

Look out!

 

Part 3 : Hamper Giveaway

Look out!

 


 

MOK YING REN

Double SEA Games Gold Medalist

National Marathoner & Records Holder

Managed by ONEathlete

 

“Be patient and consistent in what you do”. 

– Mok Ying Ren

 

Part 1 : Get inspired with Mok Ying Ren

 

Part 2 : Preparation with Mok Ying Ren

 

Part 3 : Hamper Giveaway!

 


 

ST: Taking a (sick) break from running

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 28 October 2018

DR WANG MINGCHANG – You’ve meticulously drawn up a weekly training plan in the lead-up to your race, diligently following it and clocking the mileage. The weekend’s long run is coming as you near the end of the work week. But alas, your plans are blighted when you wake up with your throat feeling like sandpaper and your nose leaky as a tap. Undeterred, you carry on with your scheduled run, dismissing your symptoms as minor.

Should one continue exercising when one is ill?

The neck check

A neck check is a quick way to determine if you should continue to train/run when unwell. If your symptoms are above the neck, e.g. teary eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or a mild cough, then it is probably okay to continue. However, if your symptoms occur below the neck, e.g. fever, chills, body aches, malaise, chest congestion, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea, then I would strongly encourage you to give your body a much-needed rest.

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Dr. Wang Mingchang advises that, depending on one’s symptoms, one can continue light running even on sick days. Photo credits: RUNONE

Running with a cold

Exercise may be beneficial when one is suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection, commonly known as the common cold. Symptoms include a runny or congested nose. Adrenaline, a hormone released during exercise, is a natural decongestant and helps in relieving nasal congestion as well as the widening of our airways. Research suggests that heart and lung functions (and hence exercise tolerance) do not appear to be altered by an upper respiratory tract infection. This means that the common cold will not affect your ability to run at your usual intensity. If you’re running in a group, do be mindful that sneezing or coughing in close proximity to others can lead to their not remaining your friends for long.

Running a fever? Do not run

Exercising with a fever is dangerous. Exercise further raises one’s body temperature and heart rate, which are likely already elevated, to begin with when one is having a fever. Our heart rate increases by about 10 beats per minute for every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature. Running whilst febrile can result in excessively fast heart rates. Viruses are a common cause of fever and side effects may include inflammation of heart muscle. This inflammation, coupled with a fast heart rate,  presents much more stress and strain to the heart than the intensity of exercise would suggest. Ultimately, this can precipitate abnormal heart rhythms and, in severe cases, even result in sudden cardiac arrest and/or death.

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Photo credits: RUNONE

Protecting your immune system

It has been well-established that regular exercise can boost one’s immunity. On the other hand, too much exercise can have the opposite effect. Prolonged high-intensity endurance exercise (e.g. running a half or full marathon) can cause one’s immunity to be weakened for up to 72 hours. The cause is not clear but one plausible reason could be the excessive free radicals and stress hormones produced during intense exercise which can suppress one’s immune system.

If you find yourself frequently falling ill on the days after an intense training, it may be helpful to take in more foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as green tea, dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries and beetroot as part of your recovery diet, to give your immune system a boost.

Sufficient rest and sleep are also needed for a healthy immune system. Depending on how fatigued you feel, it is prudent to always listen to your body and schedule a rest day or two after a session of hard running.

Dr Wang Mingchang
Dr Wang Mingchang is a Sports Medicine Associate Consultant with the NUH Sports Centre. He has completed around 10 full marathons and continues to train for distance running. 

The Gentleman Loser kissed Shaheed

26 Oct 2018 – Singapore’s first ITF Junior Singles Title Winner & #ONEathlete Shaheed Alam has an axe to grind with Kiss92 FM’s Jason & Arnold.

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As part of the new series The Gentleman Loser,  Shaheed was invited to spar with Jason on the tennis courts. Jason qualified that he has not been to the tennis court any more than ten times his whole life!

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Little grace was shown, but Shaheed was just adhering his brief by the SPH radio station to be “totally brutal.” No chances given then, as both Shaheed and Jason gamely put on their acting hats to play their respective roles as winner and gentleman loser. This entertaining video is now on Kiss92’s Facebook!

 

Shaheed was on air this morning to promote the video and, as Jason dug deeper, to share his experience with the beautiful female tennis pros who are now in Singapore for the WTA Finals. Shaheed was on the courts for their warm-up sessions.

 

20-for-20 is back!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”

 

For active individuals, or athletes (recreational or professional), the importance of balance takes on a bigger and more significant role. For Ashley keeping this balance despite his hectic professional commitments and intense training schedule is key. Not to mention that he has remained free of training injuries since receiving chiropractic care in 2010, and knows only too well the importance of treading the fine line and keeping the balance as a professional athlete.

 

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Today marks 1 year (and 1 day) since practising as a Doctor of Chiropractic at Family Health Chiropractic Clinic! Extremely humbled to give, love, and serve all walks of patients while witnessing the fulfilment of their nervous system potential. Thank you mentor, colleague, and friend Dr. Kelvin Ng for this amazing journey of growth since your 2010 health talk in a bike shop (first time I heard the word "chiropractic"). Thank you @shermancollege as well for imparting us the philosophy, science, and art. Life is awesome when what you do resonates with your "why" 😊 Celebrated the occasion with @sandrafaustinalee by "shopping" at @asicssg and then having dinner. Now onto picking up Tiger the #RunnerDog from the @freemovementsg office! Photo credit: dad Andrew Liew. #FamilyHealthChiroSG #Chiropractic #ShermanPride #FindYourWhy #TeamASICS #IMoveMe #FreeMovementSG #Flexifitness #SingaporeAthletics

A post shared by Ashley Liew, DC, CACCP (@ashleyliewchiro) on

Professionally, Ashley is a trained Doctor of Chiropractic at Family Health Chiropractic Clinic. He is also a deep believer in taking care of the body dutifully so as to reap the full benefits of training. This includes paying attention to details, such as the effects of spinal alignment on leg length and how this has a knock-on effect on training injuries and running performance? With his credentials on and off the race track, Ashley’s training and medical philosophy is sound advice for runners (professional or otherwise).

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In conjunction with Family Health Chiropractic Clinic, Ashley has introduced a limited-time-only “20-for-20” deal for the first 20 runners who sign up by 31 Dec 2018. The 20-minute evaluation session will cost S$20 (before GST) and as part of this special deal, Ashley will be personally conducting an evaluation session for you. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The evaluation session may take up to 20 minutes and includes a targeted case history, posture exam, leg length evaluation and summary of findings.
  2. All runners (recreational or competitive) are invited to partake in this evaluation
  3. Chiropractic evaluations, imageries (such as X-ray or MRI) and adjustments are not included in this special deal, which will cost S$20 (before GST)
  4. Please note that during the postural exam, the doctor may be required to place his hands on your hip joints and feet. Please inform the doctor if you are not comfortable with this.
  5. As this special deal is a no-obligation session, there is an option to add on a standard chiropractic evaluation (which includes any chiropractic adjustment as necessary). The S$20 fee for the 20-minute special deal session will then be applied to the standard first consultation fee of S$120 (before GST) for the chiropractic evaluation.
  6. Call Family Health Chiropractic Clinic at 6336 7714 to schedule your appointment in advance and ask for the “20-for-20” deal during registration.
  7. Terms and Conditions apply.

 

Family Health Chiropractic Clinic is located at 111 Somerset Rd, #08-03 TripleOne Somerset. Tel: 6336 7714. You may also wish to refer to their Facebook page for more info.

ONEathlete finish strong at the final TPS race!

14 October 2018 – The Performance Series 2018, now in its 3rd year, crossed its finishing line this morning, with its 4th race of the year. It had earlier held its races at Punggol Waterway (Apr), Pasir Ris Park (Jun), and Bedok Reservoir (Aug) before this final installment of the year at East Coast Park.

 

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The race – tagged on social media as #TranscendYourself – went on as planned, despite the heavy downfall and chilly weather on the early mornings of the Sunday. About 2000 odd runners had gathered in anticipation at the beach area after they were notified of the 15mins postponement in view of the weather. The 10km was flagged off at 7.45am with 3 of the #ONEathlete gunning for their best in the drizzle.

 

Ben Moreau led the pack of open-category participants throughout the race. He completed the 10km race with a timing of 32:38. Eventually, he was also awarded the trophy for being the 10km Overall Winner! It was no surprise that the British-citizen was ready to go for more, given his stellar performance in the recent Straits Times Run 2018 too!

 

His fellow ONEathlete(s), Banjamin Quek (35:52) and Ashley Liew (37:48) finished 2nd and 3rd in the Local 10km category, close behind Prashanth Silva. Both talents are in the midst of gearing up their training for the upcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018, in December.

 

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Opting for a slightly shorter race in view of his tight race schedule in October, was Evan Chee. He finished 4th with an unofficial timing of 18:38.

 

The local race that is organized by Just Run Lah, boasts of some key industry and community partnership, in addition to having Garmin as their title sponsor for the 2018 series! The race has also made significant efforts to raise the profile of local athletes by having a separate category for the local competitive runners.

 

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ONEathlete congratulates Just Run Lah on this feat, as well as, to thank them for this opportunity to see all its athletes on the podium this morning!

ST: Shredding my weight to go the distance!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 14 October 2018

BANJAMIN QUEK – When I was a primary school student, life was good – sedentary, and revolving around gaming and 3am suppers. Looking back, I was 68kg, 170cm, and neither very proud nor concerned about how my appearance. I was also encouraged, and offered, to eat more during meal times because that was how a traditional Asian family showed care and concern.

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Banjamin Quek in his younger days. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE / BANJAMIN QUEK

The turning point came when I was 13 years old and had just entered Secondary 1. I was deemed unfit (figuratively and literally) for my CCA (NCC Land) and that was my first real setback as a result of how I looked. I was sidelined during team games because no one wanted a player who couldn’t pull their weight. Needless to say, I did not have much success with relationships because of my ‘chubby’ appearance.

As a result, I became really upset because I felt unfairly judged based on superficial qualities. That got me started to read up more on food and nutrition and I realized how consuming food high in fats presents higher risks to our health and mortality.

Thus started my decision and journey to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle so that I would be able to fit into social circles and feel less inferior about myself.

DEVELOPING GOOD HABITS

I decided to pay more attention to my diet. No more 3AM suppers, less fried food,  and I opted for more vegetables and lean meat instead. The obvious choice was to cut down on sugary drinks which I had loved – each can of Coca-Cola contains 10.6 grams of sugar.I replaced soft drinks with low-calorie soft drinks, or juices, which are healthier alternatives.

My meals began to comprise more carbohydrates (rice) since I was beginning to exercise more and needed the glucose to perform, and more dietary fiber, such as vegetables and fruits. Not only does eating more vegetables and fruits help facilitate bowel movement, but it also gives the immune system a much-needed boost. I would try to have 2 servings of vegetables and 1 serving of fruits at every meal. Instead of deep-frying meat, I would choose to steam or broil it.

Besides all this, I tried not to eat past 10pm. Our body’s digestion process slows down as sleep time approaches. (Not) having supper played a big part in my weight control.

I started to have better quality sleep too because I learned that inadequate sleep upsets the balance of hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Sleep deficiency increases the production of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite.

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For Banjamin Quek, running is synonymous for overcoming the challenges in life. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

CHOOSING TO RUN

I chose to lose weight through running, mainly because it allowed me immense freedom – rain or shine, fast or slow. Ironically, I used to hate running a lot because I never felt suited for it. My auntie would drag me along when she goes for a jog and I would find all sorts of excuses, just not the time.

It certainly took a lot of discipline to get started in running. In my sleeping shorts, white tee and my father’s oversized running shoes, I looked the part of a struggling runner barely able to complete 2.4km. However, as time went by, I was able to progress on to longer distances and with increasing ease. The key to running is consistency and to be willing to put in the hard work every day. The more you run, the better you get and it is really that simple.

Of course, it was (is) never easy to run every single day. In order to cope with the monotonous repetition in this endurance sport, setting the right mentality is important as well. Running is supposed to be enjoyable and I remind myself of this all the time. On days when I was tired, I would run at an easier pace or explore a new route. Setting milestones along the way also helped keep my motivation up. I was proud to check off the little boxes as I progressed from 2.4km to 10km, and beyond.

I would go on to represent Victoria Junior College and the National University of Singapore in competitive Cross-Country.

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Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

TRANSFORMED LIFE

Over the years, at different phases of my life, my purpose in running changed.

When I started, it was about keeping fit and losing weight. Coupled with the change in diet and lifestyle, I lost 10kg within a year and had become visibly more toned. It bolstered my self-esteem now that I was running further and faster than before. My 2.4km timing improved from 13 minutes in Secondary 1 to 8 minutes before I graduated from NUS.

In junior college, running helped to clear my mind when I was preparing for my ‘A’ level examinations. Since Victoria Junior College sits right next to East Coast Park, I would go for a run whenever I felt overwhelmed studying. The running break allowed me to focus better and be more productive when I hit the books again.

During my NS days, I used to stay in a 13-men bunk. It was hard to have time to myself but running around the camp gave me the opportunity for a few cherished, quiet moments.

Later, I joined the varsity team with the National University of Singapore. Running at a higher level of competition forced me to manage my time efficiently amidst a hectic academic schedule. It also taught me to persevere when the going gets tough and to have the discipline to stay the course to reach my goals. It was challenging to train during my undergraduate days. I would feel sore the morning after an evening workout, attend classes, train again in the evening and revise at night. I have had to turn down social gatherings and friends because I was simply too tired. Most of my peers stopped running after a year or two but I am glad that I didn’t, even though the temptation to do so was strong at times.

Besides this, running also taught me to keep going in the face of failure. There were moments when I thought I was on the verge of breaking down because of the overwhelming study load. However, every satisfying workout I have had on the track was a poignant reminder that I am more capable than I think I am. It gave me the courage and strength to deal with my doubts and insecurity.

In 2018, I decided to take a gap year to pursue my dream of running in Kenya and work towards realizing my long-held aspiration of becoming one of Singapore’s top distance runner. I hope that through my running journey, I will be able to inspire and motivate others to dare to dream and dare to chase after their dreams too.

Banjamin Quek is a mid-distance athlete with a 21.1km timing of 1:16:23. The NUS graduate is currently tutoring part-time to train full-time. The Under Armour Athlete will be competing in SCSM 2018. He is managed by ONEathlete.
Banjamin Quek is a mid-distance athlete with a 21.1km personal best timing of 1:16:23. The NUS graduate is currently tutoring part-time to train full-time. The Under Armour Athlete will be competing in SCSM 2018. He is managed by ONEathlete.