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.

0314_001 - Copy 2
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.

IMG_2485
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.

IMG_2449
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.
Despite a tight schedule with residency programme and marathon training, Mok Ying Ren tries to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day so that he can recover sufficiently, stay alert and compliment the training. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

ST: Sleeping right!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 7 Oct 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I have to juggle work and training. I try to sleep as little as possible to put in the training hours. Is this wise? How much should i sleep? – Ryan Dexter
  2. Does pre-sleeping routines really help me get better sleep? – Cindy Kuzima
  3. As the races usually start about 4am, is it okay if i run without sleeping the night before? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – Sleep is a key aspect of recovery, although often overlooked and undervalued. It is never advertised as the “latest”, “coolest” or “best” recovery tool on the market.

But everyone still knows that sleep is essential to recovery. I am sure many of you at least feel it intuitively – when you are fatigued, every task would seem to require more effort than usual to complete.



Importance of Sleep


Sleep energizes us, but how it does so is still much of a mystery. All we know is that a myriad of hormones, such as prolactin, oxytocin, oelatonin, and growth hormones, are produced at perfectly- timed junctures throughout our sleep cycle. This then stimulates a flurry of chemical activity in our cells to repair our cells and restore our energy.

It is this wonder of the human body that allows you to wake up from a good night’s sleep feeling satisfied and rejuvenated.



Chronic Lack of Sleep


It is hardly unexpected then that a chronic lack of sleep will have negative effects on our bodies. Besides experiencing a perpetual sense of fatigue, your usual bodily functions and abilities may also be compromised.

A study was carried out on soldiers who underwent a 5-day combat course, clocking less than 4 hours of sleep each day. At the end of the course, the soldiers recorded a 14% drop in their oxygen consumption rate and an 8% decline in their anaerobic power.

The study also propounded that these adverse effects could be negated by a higher energy intake. However, to adopt this unequivocally would require us to consume more as we sleep less – not at all an ideal or practical solution given the likelihood of us putting on weight (unnecessarily)!

For runners, another pertinent issue would be that of injuries.

In a separate study conducted on adolescent athletes averaging 15 years old, it was found that those who slept for an average of fewer than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to suffer from an injury than those who had at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Although limited as a cross-sectional study, the results of this study clue us in on the profound impact of sleep on the body’s ability to recover from training stresses.

IMG_7067
Despite a tight schedule with residency programme and marathon training, Mok Ying Ren tries to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day so that he can recover sufficiently, stay alert and compliment the training. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE


Improving Your Sleep


Sleep hygiene is instrumental in creating an ideal environment for sleep.

Your room should be dark, cooling and low in ambient noises. If you are a light sleeper, consider using ear plugs and eye masks to help you get into the “zone”. It is also wise to avoid alcohol or caffeine too close to your bedtime, to avoid excessive stimulants which may keep you awake.

I also try to hydrate myself well 2 hours before bedtime, so that I have sufficient time to empty my bladder before sleeping and avoid having my sleep disrupted due to nature’s call.

Back when I was still training professionally, I would even go so far as to incorporate a 30-min pre-sleep routine. This routine included reading a book quietly and having a warm glass of milk to prime my body for sleep. Admittedly, it is a challenge to keep up this routine, especially as a working adult, and I hardly do so now.



Sleep Before a Race


It is common to experience difficulty in sleeping the night before a race – I am not immune to this either.

It may, however, be of some comfort to you that any lack of sleep the night before your race is unlikely to jeopardize your race performance. Experiments have found that swimmers responded well even with a single night of partial sleep deprivation (2.5 hours). For runners, their performances in endurance running remained unaffected even with 3 nights of severely restricted sleep.

Remember, running is your personal journey and race. Optimizing your sleep within your own means will enable you to train and perform better at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon!

The Road Less Taken

NEW BALANCE SG – What truly makes running iconic is the road runners take to get there. The journey is never easy, physically and mentally, but every moment shapes the runner to who they are today. Discover the stories of athletes who broke through and found their own greatness. Scroll down for Mok Ying Ren’s road less taken! 

Scroll down to end of the page on details of social media giveaway. 


 

DSCF0560
Image by @newbalancesg

MOK YING REN
Double SEA Games Gold Medalist 
National Marathoner & Records Holder 
Managed by ONEathlete 

 

At one point in his running career, Mok Ying Ren suffered a plantar fasciitis injury. He was pushing too hard during his training, and as a result, he had to withdraw from the 2011 SEA Games. Some thought it’ll be “too difficult” for him to return to the sporting scene.

 

But the 30-year-old orthopedic surgical resident did not let that end his career.

 

 

JVLN1370
Image by @newbalancesg

He not only got back in the game but also clinched the gold medal for the marathon at the 2013 SEA Games. This hard-earned victory came with struggles too – he had entered the event with a muscle strain and a bad cough while on national service.

 

The two-time SEA Games gold medalist has since learned that there is more to winning than just getting the training in. Mok is currently balancing married life, training, family, and an orthopedics surgery programme that requires 80 hours of training a week, but this is not stopping the New Balance Ambassador & ONEathlete from aiming to qualify for the 2019 SEA Games.

 

“I realized that running a race presents similarities to our life journey and it’s always about running my own race, to the best that I can. Endurance running, in more ways than one, has inadvertently molded my character.”

 

JVLN1598
Click HERE to check out Mok’s NB 1500T2 Boa®. Image by @newbalancesg

 

 

Check out Mok Ying Ren’s #TheRoadLessTaken journey HERE.

 

Social Media Giveaway (12 Oct onwards):

  1. Share with us your favourite/significant running moments on facebook/instagram
  2. Tag 3 of your running mates on it 
  3. Hashtag us so we know! #RunWithMok #FearlesslyIndependent #NewBalanceSG #TheRoadLessTaken #RunONE #ONEathlete
  4. Get your running mates to share their stories too! (Refer to @newbalancesg Instagram highlights for giveaway details) 

 

trlt.PNG
(c) New Balance SG http://www.newbalance.com.sg/theroadlesstaken.html 

ST: Remember The Poor

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 30 September 2018

JED SENTHIL – Over the years, and especially in recent times, our society has evolved to become more sensitive towards the needs of the less privileged and more supportive of philanthropic causes. While MNCs and big corporates enthusiastically engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, social enterprises have also sprung up, promoting sustainable charitable causes. Riding on this momentum, there has also been a significant effort within the local sporting community to mobilize active individuals and runners to commit to a larger good while keeping fit at the same time.

So before you put on your shoes and go for your next run, there are ways that you can help contribute too:

Support a worthy cause

To send our future generation to school and ensure that they are in the best physical, mental and emotional state to learn while at it. This is exactly what The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund (SPMF) endeavors to do – to give every child the gift of knowledge, and an opportunity for a promising future. SPMF works with various mainstream schools, VWOs, and NGOs to identify school-going children in need and provide them with the resources to do well in school, primarily by helping them meet basic physiological needs.

Since its inception 18 years ago, SPMF has disbursed more than $60 million and supported over 160,000 underprivileged children and youth by providing them with monthly school pocket money. As someone who came from a low-income family background, I can vividly recall filling up application forms for funding when SPMF had just been rolled out. I would use the funds to pay for my meals during recess, transport, and uniforms and books.

If you were one of the 13,000 runners who participated in The Straits Times Run 2018 last weekend, then you have also made an important contribution in supporting this worthy cause.

DSC00318
Jed participated with his nephew and niece in The Straits Times Run last weekend, with an aim to inculcate the habit of giving back to social causes. Photo credits: RUNONE / MOK YING REN


Impact ‘one starfish at a time’

While serving in the social services sector, I met a  primary school boy who stayed in a one-room rental flat with his single mother and four siblings. His mum was working multiple odd jobs and was unable to commit to full-time regular employment as she had to take care of her children who were frequently ill. As a result, the boy was undernourished, slept poorly, and clearly lacked the energy a young boy should have. Later, we discovered that he had been bullied and mocked at school due to his family circumstances. He refused to attend school henceforth.  

While this boy’s situation may not necessarily be representative of all underprivileged children, he is certainly not the only one. Perhaps one might be tempted to think that youths are at a stage in life where multiple stress factors are part and parcel of their maturing and that we as adults are not able to make much difference to their situation. But nothing can be further from the truth. In the case of the schoolboy mentioned earlier, with a little support, he was able to overcome his odds courageously!

As the saying goes, you might not be able to save every starfish on the beach, but to each starfish saved, you make all the difference. You too can help contribute indirectly by participating in a community run like the Straits Times Run, or directly by rallying your running group to befriend/mentor the children and youths through the VWOs (as mentioned in the 29 July article). You will be pleasantly surprised by the resilience and courage these children embody, in pursuing a life of dignity and independence.

IMG_5694
As the saying goes, Jed believes that you can make a difference to one starfish at a time. Photo credits: RUNONE / MOK YING REN


Give (what you can) eagerly

While more than 10,000 children and youth benefit from the SPMF every year, I also learned from my interaction with social workers that current funding support is insufficient. Furthermore, in recent years, the SPMF has revised the criteria and expanded application touch points, to support more needy households and ensure that help is readily available, especially for those who might fall through the cracks. As a result, the need for support and funding is expected to increase.

While a majority of charity and social causes depend on the donations from big corporates and philanthropists, we as individuals can also give what we can. It could be a widow’s penny, but it’s truly the thought that counts. Do consider championing a cause you feel the tug for in your running club, or your company.

If you too have the opportunity to do good and are eager to remember the children and youth from low-income families, you can also donate through SPMF’s website (www.spmf.org.sg/how-to-donate). Don’t forget to encourage your running kakis to give too!

IMG_6825
Jed takes part in runs that champions social causes regularly. He believes that every runner can play a part in giving back to altruistic causes through running. Photo credits: RUNONE / MOK YING REN
IMG_7611
Jed Senthil is a former civil servant who serves professionally in the social and social enterprise sectors. The avid runner and youth advocate is also the co-founder of the RunONE running community.

RunONE – Straits Times Run 2018 Official Training Partner

22 Sep 2018 – Returning back with RunONE as the official training partner for the Straits Times Run 2018, ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren had tailored a 16-week-long series of a training program and running-related columns to prepare runners for this event. In partnership with Straits Times, Mok also hosted a #RunWithMok column which incorporated, for the first time, an interactive #AskMok segment that invites readers and runners to ask Mok any running-related question. To cap off the series of preparation leading up to the race, Mok also hosted a race clinic on 22 Sep at the Straits Times Run race expo where he took to the stage and shared his running and training experience.

img_9353.jpg
The Sunday Times 23 Sep 2018 

As many among the audience were racing the Straits Times Run the next day, Mok peppered his talk and Q&A session with behind-the-scenes insights on the preparation he himself had gone through before his races. He also addressed queries on race day execution and provided his personal perspectives and helpful tips on training, hydration, injury prevention. Questions on running shoe selection and foot striding styles seemed to be popular too.

IMG_1380
Mok Ying Ren using his New Balance shoe to explain on foot striding styles.

Through his sharing, Mok hopes to help more individuals overcome their fear and reluctance and encourage them to be a part of the growing running community in Singapore. He has observed, over the past few years, a healthy sign that more Singaporeans are taking to sports as part of an active lifestyle, and wants to do his part to help promote and encourage this movement.

IMG_1301
The talk by Mok Ying Ren was attended by more than 60 ST Run participants.
IMG_1385
Mok Ying Ren with some of the non-camera shy participants who attended his talk.

RunONE would like to take the opportunity, to thank #STRun2018 Chairman & Committee, New Balance, 100PLUS and Infinitus for their support in making the session possible!

 

Read more about the ST Run 2018 race event HERE 

Read more about what you can do-post ST Run, on this week’s #AskMok HERE 

 

ST: You have done it!

This article was first published in The Straits Times on 25 Sep 2018, post-race of Straits Times Run 2018. 

MOK YING REN – Congratulations on completing your race! 

I hope you have all managed to achieve your goals! Now, it is time to treat your bodies to some well-deserved rest. 

Back in 2013, right after my SEA Games marathon race, I remember having to catch the first flight back to Singapore to return to my Medical Officer Cadet Course. Within a matter of days, I was back to carrying field packs and simulating casualty evacuation casualties with an incredibly sore body. It was definitely not an ideal recovery plan, but inevitable as I was still serving my national service then. 

Unlike what I had gone through, you need not, and should not, undertake physical stress so soon after a long and intense race.

3
Mok Ying Ren running past the Sports Hub, where the Straits Times Run 2018 finishing point and festival village was held. He recommends that the participants take a break to recover and catch up on other commitments. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Recovery 

It is key to recover well from any bout of strenuous activity. 

I know that some of you may be feeling great now and you may even be tempted to think: what is there to recover from? Well, the bad news is that any soreness which you may experience will only come to bear, much later! (my guess is probably Tuesday)! 

If you recall the supercompensation theory which we had introduced earlier, you would be aware that your body is currently undergoing a major overhaul to bring you to the next fitness level. However, this can only happen with sufficient rest and recovery. 

Sleep plays a huge role in this process of supercompensation. It should not be a problem for you to sleep a little more now since you no longer have to wake up for early morning runs (for a while at least)! 

Once the soreness wears off, you may feel a natural urge to get back to running. Instead of falling into that temptation, do some other non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming or cycling for another week (or two).  This will help to enhance your recovery and reduce the risk of injury. 

Even when returning to running, always err on the side of caution, and keep your initial runs to 20 to 30 minutes long at a conversational pace.

DSC00319.JPG
Remember to stretch all the aches on your body! 

Work out niggles 

During the training season, you may also have suffered from various aches and pains which were simply ignored. Now is the best time for you to sort out all these issues and allow your body to heal. 

If necessary, you may also wish to visit a physical therapist and have a biomechanical assessment to identify specific areas of weakness. You may then work on these specific areas to prevent recurrence of pain or injury. From my experience, small deposits of therapy and pre-rehabilitation work on a regular basis can bring you huge gains, in terms of the number of your “running years”.

2

Show appreciation

I am sure that you have spent countless hours training in preparation for your race. But I am also sure that it would not have been possible without the support of your loved ones – it is time to reciprocate their support for you. 

Too often, we take many things, like having a warm meal waiting for us at home after a long day of work and training, for granted. Show your appreciation to those who have cared for and supported you.

View this post on Instagram

Happy to take overall 7th (local 3rd) at my maiden @straits_times Run 10km yesterday. It was a great outing with fellow #ONEathlete @evanchee also placing well in the 10km and @ben_moreau on fire with his overall win in the 18.45km! 🔥 Thanks to the @onemanagementsg family including manager @jedsent (also ran the 10km) for the race opportunity and Dr @mokyingren for the support, as well as @runningtan for the write-up (see https://runone.co/2018/09/23/runone-wins-one-at-straits-times-run-2018/). Massive shoutouts to fiancée @sandrafaustinalee for now being able to keep up with me on my final 100m sprint, fellow #KampongRunners who just conquered respective marathons, sponsor @asicssg, and Dr Kelvin Ng of Family Health Chiropractic Clinic for actively checking and adjusting my spine to keep me performing optimally! Last but not least, it was an honour reconnecting with Minister @gracefu.hy, the last time being after the 2015 Southeast Asian Games Marathon when I was still a chiropractic intern at @shermancollege. Next up, starting the season towards the @sgmarathon! #STrun2018 #STrun #TheStraitsTimes #RunONE #TeamASICS #ASICSSG #IMoveMe #FamilyHealthChiroSG #SingaporeAthletics #OneTeamSG #MCCYSG #SGsportsHub #ShermanPride #SCSM2018 #OakleySG

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

Length of recovery

How long should you be engaged in the above recovery process? That really depends on each individual.

I would generally recommend a recovery period of between 1 to 2 weeks for a half marathon and between 2 to 4 weeks for a marathon. However, what is most essential is for you to listen to your body – do not be afraid to adjust your recovery plan according to how your body feels and responds.

As my then-deputy headmaster in Raffles Institution, Mr. S Magendrian had always emphasized, “there is a season for everything”. Now is the season for recovery.

Mok Byline
@mokyingren

Read more about the ST Run 2018 race event HERE 

Read more about the STRun Festival & Mok Ying Ren’s Race Clinic HERE 

Mok Ying Ren at the launch of Start Your Impossible, Toyota's initiative launch. Photo credits: ONEathlete

Start Your Impossible

13 September 2018 – In typical Japanese innovative fashion, the unveiling of Toyota’s first global corporate initiative #StartYourImpossible (SYI) towards its transformation from a car company to a mobility company, was simply jaw-locking! The initiative celebrates the Olympic and Paralympic spirit.

 

IMG_1160
Mok Ying Ren (extreme left) and other Team Toyota key opinion leaders, made up of national athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Photo credits: ONEathlete

Toyota also announced its region-wide partnership with 12 Olympic and Paralympic aspirants from Asia, including Singapore swimmers and golden water boys, Joseph Schooling and Toh Wei Soong.  Both will support the initiative by championing their hero projects. Various other national athletes (from the likes of, Double SEA Games Gold Medalist & #ONEathlete, Mok Ying Ren, and Olympian-Sprinter, 叶劲维 Timothee Yap) and fitness enthusiasts (from the likes of Race Driver Claire Jedrek, Ironman Triathlete Cheryl Tay, Rhythm cycling instructor Jia En, actress Ase Wang, etc) were also part of the larger ensemble.

 

IMG_1140
Mr Susumu Matsuda announcing the 12 Team Toyota Hero Athletes. Photo credits: ONEathlete

Other Olympic and Paralympic Heroes from the region, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon (Badminton, Indonesia), Ni Nengah Widiasih (Para Powerlifting, Indonesia), Anchaya Ketkeaw (Para Swimming, Thailand), Panipak Wongpattanakit (Taekwondo, Thailand) were also in attendance.

 

Inspired by Toyota’s worldwide partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), it also marks Toyota’s support of the creation of a more sustainable, inclusive and mobile society. Three different mobility devices were launched:

  • The Toyota Human Support Robot created to support the long-term for elderly care and health care, served the President of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific, Mr. Susumu Matuda, a bottle of water amidst his opening speech!
  • They displayed the Toyota Welcab (assistive vehicle) that has an electrically-powered ‘side lift-up tilt seat’ which rotates, tilts and comes down out of the vehicle.
  • Mok Ying Ren’s personal favorite was the Toyota i-Road. It is an exciting ultra-compact three-wheeled electric vehicle that combines the ease of motorcycle + the comfort/stability of a car. He also test-drove and commented on its excellent maneuverability.

 

The pompous launch event held in Infinite Studio Singapore was hosted by Toyota Motor Asia Pacific and its distributor Borneo Motors (Singapore). The event was emcee-ed by a very familiar and beautiful fair lady in the sporting scene, Kelly Latimer.

 


 

Catch up on Mok Ying Ren’s involvement in the #StartYourImpossible Campaign right here! Don’t forget to visit www.startyourimpossible.asia!

img_1250-e1537076927941.jpg
Mok Ying Ren at the entrance of Start Your Impossible, Toyota’s initiative launch. Photo credits: ONEathlete

 

View this post on Instagram

I booked out of my medical officers’ course in army, and flew into Myanmar one day before the race. I was still trying to get over a dry cough and strain on my hip muscles. As a underdog, and given my conditions, it was near impossible for me to win the race. Even at the final stretch, i trailed behind in the 4th position. I ran into the stadium, as my family and Singaporeans roared to spur me on, closing the gaps to finish in 2:28:36. Later, It was my honor to hear the Singapore national anthem on the podium, for Singapore’s first SEA Games Marathon Male Gold Medal in 2013 #StartYourImpossible Read more via link in bio https://runone.co/startyourimpossible #RunWithMok #RunONE #ONEathlete www.startyourimpossible.asia 📸: SSC / ONE

A post shared by Mok Ying Ren (@mokyingren) on

ST: The Final Countdown

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 16 Sep 2018.

#AskMok

  1. What’s your secret to training for a sub 3hour marathon? – Jason Tan
  2. I’m a 47-year-old runner, running about 30-40km a week, for 10 years. I run a marathon in 4.5hrs. What changes to my diet, training programme or pace should I make to become sub-4hrs? – David Pong

MOK YING REN – Wow, time flies! Race day is just a week away! If you are feeling nervous, don’t worry – I can assure you it’s normal. I still get the nerves even though I have completed about 100 road races in my lifetime. Here is some of my key advice to having a positive race experience.

Start Slow

Most runners make the mistake of starting the race at a pace that is too fast.

As you take your position behind the starting line, you can expect there to be loud music booming in the background, and the atmosphere during the countdown before the start of the race will definitely be hyped up and emotionally-charged. Once the race horn goes off, you will suddenly find yourself surrounded by a throng of other excited runners.

The unfamiliarity of the whole situation may elevate your adrenaline levels, and you may even feel rejuvenated, akin to having a fresh breath of life. Suddenly, the impossible no longer seems impossible.

Experienced runners will, however, tell you to hold your horses, and to take it easy for the first half of your race. This is sound advice, but by no means easy to heed.

To ensure that you start the race at the correct pace, seek out the pacers who will be running at your goal pace. Follow these pacers right from the start of the race, and try not to get ahead of them, especially in the first three-quarters of the race!

Unfortunately, if there are no suitable pacers, you will need to be your own pacer. To do so, calculate your race pace, and note down the split times that you will need to achieve at each kilometer marker. You will need to be extremely disciplined and stick as closely as possible to your planned splits.

This method, of course, depends on the accuracy of the race markers. To help with pacing accuracy and precision, you may want to use a watch with GPS capabilities, which can help keep you on target every step of the way.

If ever in doubt, go slower – there is always time to catch up later in the race!

DSC700-2008
Mok Ying Ren during the ST Run race clinic in July 2017. This year, he will be available to fire some last minute tips at the festival village! Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Prepare Well

Assemble your race equipment well in advance and check that they are all in order.

It is unwise to try out new equipment (such as shoes or socks) on race day. It is also a misconception that wearing a brand new pair of shoes with a fresh grip and fully intact cushion will help you earn that personal best time. Instead, you are taking a risk for blisters to form, and for blood (literally), sweat and tears to flow.

Wear only shoes and socks that have been properly broken into (i.e. you have done a few runs in them). So if you have just bought a pair of shoes with the intention of wearing them for the first time on race day, please think twice!

IMG_9911
Mok Ying Ren answering questions and preparing runners for a recent race at a similar race clinic. He will be available to fire some last minute tips at the festival village! Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Race Etiquette

Your consideration for other runners will make the race experience a positive one for all. Small thoughtful acts, such as keeping to the left to allow for others to overtake on the right, will go a long way towards helping everyone achieve their personal bests.

While listening to music is a great way to stay motivated during the race, it may be best to turn the volume down a notch so that you remain aware of the situation around you at all times.

During long races, gestures of encouragement are always welcome and, sometimes, a godsend. Giving a thumbs-up or cheers of encouragement to a fellow runner while you are overtaking or making a U-turn can vastly uplift his or her spirit.

Remember, everyone is in the same boat and share the same goal – to complete the race in as short a time as possible and in the most enjoyable manner.

#AskMok Live! 

DSC700-2066

If you might have any last minute questions, do come down to The Straits Times Run – Race Clinic on 22 September at 3.30pm! If you will be there to collect your race packs at the festive village, please be seated at the stage area by 3.15pm! Sign up HERE!
I’m looking forward to meeting all of you who have been following the #RunONE Training Plan for 16 weeks!

Otherwise, do race smart, stay safe and be considerate! See you on race day!

Was it an Asian American dream? or just a Goliath’s David? – Osaka vs Williams

SHAHEED ALAM – I feel that Osaka’s win is huge for everyone in Japan (and even Asia in general.) The win serves as a massive inspiration to many girls in Japan to see that it is possible to make it big! Beyond that, it inspires tennis players in Asia (including myself) to realize that it is possible to challenge the top ranking European and American players.
Source: Instagram Naomi Osaka Tennis
Source: Instagram Naomi Osaka Tennis
One can comment much about Williams but we can’t deny that she is one of the best players ever to hold a racquet. I opine that she should’ve controlled her emotions better. After all, she is a top-class professional and she should be vast experienced enough to do that. However, I thoroughly understand where she’s coming from and the frustrations she must’ve felt.
The penalties controversy is a grey area. From the umpire’s point of view, he was just doing his job and saw that the coach is coaching her (now, the coach had also admitted to that, didn’t he?) However, the umpire should’ve have given Williams a verbal warning instead of a penalty. That would have served its purpose to stop the coach. No doubt it was a match on technicalities and not coaching, rules cannot be foregone.
On the other hand, ‘that escalated fast’ and I felt that Williams said things she should never say to an umpire, and in such a disrespectful way. She was also heard saying “I get this every year (that) I play here.” Indeed, she was ‘heavily involved’ and it was entirely her fault even in 2009 and 2011. She was also heard saying ‘Men do way worse and get away with it’. What a weak comparison, as I can assure you that many men have gotten a straight disqualification.
40080587_2061731057454815_7860985582812397568_n
Source: Instagram Serena Williams
The audience can’t really be blamed as they would not be able to hear the conversation between the umpire and Williams, and furthermore, the crowd was gathered to witness a historical moment. They wanted Serena Williams to win her 24th Grand Slam and tie Margaret Court as the All-time most number of singles titles.
In conclusion, I feel that Williams deserve all that she was severed (no puns intended) because it is a valuable lesson for the young ones around the world who are following the sport. If she had got away with such abusive comments to an umpire, that would have set some precedence to many other tennis players too. Also, in perspective, the $17,000 fine, however, is nothing compared to the $1.85million prize money she received.
40819703_277804559709751_8763653101344162815_n.jpg
Source: Instagram Naomi Osaka Tennis

 

After much chaos, even with Williams arguing and all the controversies, nothing was taken away from Naomi Osaka – the newly minted champion who fully deserved the win. The champ outplayed Williams in all the categories. Realistically, Williams simply had no chance!
Even though it was a tad too late and the damage had been done; it was a moment to remember when Williams calmed the crowd down during the prize presentation to allow Osaka to enjoy her moment.

 

40379273_324437668323078_7942741794138237992_n
Source: Instagram Naomi Osaka Tennis

SG_Race_4_FB_RunOne.png
[#TranscendYourself with Garmin The Performance Series 2018 Finale Race 4 @ East Coast]
Promo code is valid till 15 September 2018 and registration are while stock lasts!
Register at https://www.theperformanceseries.sg/register/ with promo code RUNONE5OFF to get 5% off normal rate.
Date: 14 October 2018
Time: Morning
Categories: 10km, 5km
See you at @The Performance Series – Singapore Finale Race 4!

ST: Back in the days

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 09 Sep 2018

PROF LOW CHENG HOCK – My friends from primary and secondary school still meet up frequently to catch up and stay active by going for walks together. While we talk about anything and everything under the sun, a large part of our conversations revolves around nostalgic memories of our younger days spent outdoors.

In fact, when we look back, the only vivid memories for me are often of my experience doing sports, or just being out there in the great outdoors, in general. Looking back at my younger self, I could describe myself as a ‘jack of all trades’ because I would readily take on the challenge in any sports, even though I was never quite proficient in any. It is still a fond part of my memory that I’m glad to share with readers of our #RunWithMok column.

Memories of enjoying life

Running or just merely being outdoors has always been a big part of my life. During my time in primary school, our teacher would bring us running at 5.30am. Unfortunately (or fortunately), children nowadays are so busy studying around the clock that they no longer can afford the luxury of time for such simple ‘pleasures’ of life.) At that time, running was totally voluntary and, judging from the turnout, we all simply enjoyed it! In fact, our teacher and his wife were inspirational figures who led by example They coached us to run, motivated us to train, and rallied us to do our part for society and raise funds for charity (through running, of course).

I was an avid sports fan, just not the spectator-kind. I had an eye for the graceful footwork of badminton and also enjoyed the rigors of a heart-thumping soccer match. I have also cycled to Malaysia with my cycling ‘kakis’. In fact, the bicycle was my go-to choice to commute during medical school. I started exercising and playing sports to keep fit, but the leisure and pleasure of good company kept me going. Being the non-athlete I am, the social undertones of sports took some (not all) pressure off me and allowed me to immerse myself in whatever sports I had chosen as my poison.

Memories of adventures

In my younger days, I liked sailing and would sail in the waters off West Coast Park with my medical school classmates. I remember  Dr. Ben Tan, who introduced the sport to me and taught me the basics. On one such voyage, our rowing boat (with a makeup sail) had capsized somewhere near Pulau Bukom, at a particularly high-traffic part in the middle of (apparently) nowhere! But being young, we were fearless in that situation and just calmly floated in the choppy waters, until rescue came to some 30 mins later.

Some years ago, I went to visit an old friend who was a surgeon-turned-missionary and ran a rural hospital at a dizzying altitude of 5000 feet up in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. During this ‘holiday’, I helped out at the hospital and treated a Masai (local native) patient with several wounds, some of which even needed surgery. I later found out that he had wrestled with a lion that had attacked his cattle. Fortunately, he recovered well enough to return to his hometown up in the mountains. It was a blessing in disguise because I got to accompany this gentleman on an unforgettable long and scenic hike through some of the most breathtaking views and wilderness Mother Earth can offer. I’m glad I had scaled Mount Kinabalu with a group of young doctors, as the experience came in handy too.

Being able to even conquer such challenging terrain at my age, was a blessing, that allowed me to meet fellow explorers who, more often than not, would have adventurous stories to share. I used to tackle the trails at Bukit Timah, starting from the dairy farm side and leading up to the summit. On a good day, this would give me about an hour or so to catch up with my friends. Till today, I still swim, walk and hike whenever possible.

Mok Ying Ren (seen in picture) was inspired by his medical teacher and mentor, Prof Low’s life philosophy, shaped by the latter’s experience with the outdoors and active lifestyle. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE
Mok Ying Ren (seen in picture) was inspired by his medical teacher and mentor, Prof Low’s life philosophy, shaped by the latter’s experience with the outdoors and active lifestyle. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Memories of being time efficient

The time we have is for us to decide, but definitely within us to manage As a doctor, I would always try to finish rounds and necessities so that I can have time for exercise. I didn’t want to be too desk-bound and would try, schedule permitting, to slot in a visit to the beach, arrange a picnic or a camping trip over the weekends.

Looking back, it was really about setting priorities. If something was important, then it would only be logical to make time for it. Being physically active is one of these things. But you think you have time and can wait for important things, it will one day become urgent. When you are lying on the hospital bed clutching your chest, suffering from a heart attack, your health becomes an urgent condition that needs to be treated. Taking care of the important things regularly prevents them from becoming urgent.

Memories of running my race

In my years as a doctor, I remember vividly there was once a runner and conquered a marathon 3 months after completing his chemotherapy therapy for leukemia. This despite finishing last, and in visible pain as he crossed that finish line. He did his level best and won HIS race! He taught me that winning the race is not always about coming in first, and we can’t be first all the time.  Finishing the race is also winning the race. It’s just as important!

The story of Rick (who suffers from cerebral palsy) and his ‘triathlon’ dad, Dick Hoyt, is equally inspiring. To fulfill his son’s wishes, Dick had completed a triathlon, his first, while towing Rick along with him. A race completed to the best of his own abilities, no less and the pair were later inducted to the Ironman Hall of Fame in 2008.

In both cases, neither age nor physical ability was a limiting factor in running their race. My experience and belief have shown me that there is no ‘right’ age, but a correct mentality for anything and everything we seek to accomplish and achieve. Every age is the right age, in its own way. Whether one chooses to run, jog or walk, as long as you enjoy ‘running my race’ leisurely and complete or compete, to the best of your abilities, that’s what matters the most.

Conclusion

So you can see how running, sports and the great outdoors can be physically beneficial, as well as memorable in more ways than one. Don’t worry about getting old; worry about thinking old. Regardless of age, the outdoors hold much in its promise, as it is for you, and me.

Professor Low Cheng Hock is an Emeritus Consultant for General Surgery. The 73 year old educator leads an independent and active lifestyle, and is renowned for inspiring many young medical students/professionals, like Mok Ying Ren.
Professor Low Cheng Hock is an Emeritus Consultant for General Surgery. The 73 year old educator leads an independent and active lifestyle, and is renowned for inspiring many young medical students/professionals, like Mok Ying Ren.
The article was scribed by Mok Ying Ren and Jed Senthil for Professor Low Cheng Hock.
The article was scribed by Mok Ying Ren and Jed Senthil for Professor Low Cheng Hock.