Feel Good Giving!

26 Nov 2018 – The folks at lululemon brought together a bunch of highly flexible and creative individuals for a very thoughtfully planned weekend retreat at Sofitel Singapore. Not being one of the flexible ones, our Co-founder Jed was gratified to have been invited to join in! For all who attended, it seemed like a much-needed getaway from the buzz of really busy lives, on Sentosa Island.

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Photo credits (all the photos on this post): @stefanusian

All the lululemon Ambassadors and invited guests from Singapore and Malaysia were encouraged to put away their mobiles and anything that could potentially distract them from being fully present. Now, while you might feel that this would be like losing an arm or leg, our Co-founder – who stopped replying any messages or emails till the end of the day – said that it really gave him the time to reflect, process and be intentional about life in general. Ultimately, the virtue of MINDFULNESS was introduced.

Each of the sessions was centered around the core identity of the brand. For example, the participants encountered CHOICE when they explored possibilities during the first session, when they had a ‘unicorn brainstorm’ to list all the possibilities in their lives and overcome self-limiting beliefs to craft a reality-redefining ‘Possibility Statement’! After all, the biggest obstruction to our goals is our own limiting beliefs.

What are the values you stand for? What are the core values that define you? The facilitators got the peeps to identify these from a laundry list of values, before zooming in on the main themes and values. This effectively created a greater sense of self-awareness and MINDFULNESS of what is really important to and is driving us!

Every morning also began with silence (where participants did not engage in any conversation) and PRACTICE modern yoga and meditation. “The last time I did yoga was about more than 20 years ago,” Jed quipped. But we guess it did him much good, as he said he was more flexible and woke up with no back pains the next day. (Editor’s note: Can we send Jed to you guys again?)

No man is an island (pun intended, despite being on Sentosa!) and indeed, the COLLECTIVE of facilitators, organizers, 30 participants and support crew all played a pivotal role in each participant’s journey and experience. Intimate and transparent sharing knit their trust with one another and strengthened the friendships. New relationships were forged, and needless to say, the goodbyes were a little harder on the last day.

Despite this, a more meaningful finale would be to now go out as empowered individuals, and impact other lives positively! Lululemon S.E.A. wants these 30 Ambassadors and invited guests to experience the joy of giving and gave them 3 affirming cards and gift cards each, to bless others with.

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Photo credits: RunONE

It is indeed more of a blessing to give than to receive. Not just with gifts and cards, but also to give of ourselves to this world, through deliberate PRACTICE, intentional MINDFULNESS, and unlimited CHOICES, with this lululemon COLLECTIVE! May you #feelgoodgiving too!

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Photo credits (all the photos on this post): @stefanusian

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: 3 IMPORTANT FACTORS TO ACE UR RACE!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 02 Dec 2018.

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#AskMok

  1. Is it advisable to eat a snack while running the race to replenish energy? – Anonymous
  2. I hope to achieve a certain time goal. Is it better to run my own race, or run together with someone? – Anonymous

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MOK YING RENIn just another week, you will be taking on the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon which you have been training so hard for over the past few months. Compared to the Straits Times Run 18.45km race, the marathon is and will be a whole different ball game altogether!

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If you recall, I had shared 3 race tips prior to the Straits Times Run – start slow, prepare well, and have a good race etiquette. To build on these, I will now focus on 3 important factors.

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Mok Ying Ren (seen here answering questions and preparing runners during the ST Run 2017 – Festival Village), hopes the #RunWithMok column has prepared you sufficiently for SCSM 2018. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

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Race Nutrition – Run at your best

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The marathon is an incredibly long race, and no matter how fast a runner you are, you will have to top up your energy regularly.

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One of the best ways to replenish your fuel during the race would be to consume sports gels. These gels resemble baby food and are packed with high glycemic index sugars which are easily digestible. A good rule of thumb to follow would be to consume one packet of gel every 45 to 60 minutes, and accompanied by plain water for hydration.

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There are also many brands of sports gels available in the market. Ideally, you should get used to the specific brand of gel which you intend to use on race day to avoid any unforeseen tummy upset.

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Mental Game – Run with focus

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Standing at the start line and thinking about the 42.195km that lies ahead may leave you feeling extremely daunted. This is a feeling that even experienced marathoners may not be able to avoid.

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One way to overcome this is to break up the race into smaller segments, and aim to achieve “mini-goals” for each segment. This then forces (helps) you to focus on the process, instead of just the end goal which may seem like a bridge too far.

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Your “mini-goals” can be as simple as remembering to  take a small sip of hydration (drink to the point of thirst, of course!) at every water point. As you progress, these goals may be more performance-oriented, such as checking off each 5km within a specific split time.

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Another aspect of the mental game is to be prepared for any potential mishaps that may occur during the race so that you are not thrown off guard. If something unexpected happens, turn your focus to the things that are within your control.

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For example, there have been instances during my races where I had fumbled with my hydration bottles when grabbing them off the table and ended up dropping them. Instead of being disheartened, I focussed on getting hold of my hydration at the next water station.

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ONEathlete Ashley Liew and Evan Chee, and other Singaporean elite athletes at the start lines of SCSM 2017! Photo credits: RunONE

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Camaraderie – Run as one

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You may think of running as a team sport – ultimately, everyone racing on the course shares a common goal of finishing the race safely, and speedily. Just as how teammates in a sports team draw inspiration from one another, you can form impromptu running groups while running the race!

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During the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, where I went on to set the Singapore half-marathon record, I was fortunate to have the company of fellow runners who were also gunning for the same finishing time. I managed to work with them, and we took turns to lead and break the headwind, not unlike a Tour de France race. This allowed us to perform better than if we had all been running our races individually. Our “team” members also changed as the race went on. As some runners got tired and dropped back, we also caught up with runners ahead who still had the legs under them and started running together as one.

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Such team dynamics can help you to achieve your goals, as well as others to meet theirs!

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With this, I wish you all the best as you undertake the biggest race on Singapore’s running calendar – remember to enjoy and savor every moment of it! 

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100PLUS Ambassador & 7-time SCMS Local Champion, Mok Ying Ren shared hydration tips with about 200 runners and joined them in their final preps (on 1 Dec, sat) for the Singapore Marathon. Photo credits: ONETHLETE

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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ST: Take a deep breath

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 18 Nov 2018.

#AskMok

  1. I understand the need to breathe into the diaphragm but my chest will feel a little compress and breathless meaning I have to take a deep breath into my chest to feel better. Any way to overcome this? – Jason
  2. Breathing – I can be running at zone two but why am I always feeling out of breath? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – How should I breathe when I run? This is a question often posed to me at forums.

Our first breaths were taken in at birth and the act of breathing now comes naturally to us. Sometimes, we do not even realize it when we breathe although it becomes (painfully) obvious when we run and our speed appears to be limited by our breathing as demand for oxygen intake increases.

Breathe Like You Swim


Before embarking on my competitive running journey, I was heavily involved in swimming and triathlon for about 10 years.

For those who swim, you would know how important it is to regulate your breath properly in the water, lest you inhale a huge gulp of chlorinated water. Regardless of your swimming speed or stroke, you have to maintain a controlled and regular breathing pattern. Your breaths should follow the rhythm of your strokes as much as possible.

It is also important to take deep breaths when swimming. If you take short, shallow breaths, you will not be able to keep your face submerged underwater for long. But once you start taking deep, full breaths, swimming becomes a lot more comfortable.

The same regulated and deep breathing technique used in swimming should be employed in running.

What if you do not or are unable to swim? Fret not, there are some other strategies which you may try out to help you to breathe better.

Counting Steps


A strategy to regulate your breath when running is to consciously count your steps while running for each breath that you take. There is no science behind establishing what your breathing/running tempo should be. In all likelihood, you should be able to find your most comfortable tempo through a process of trial and error.

We naturally inhale longer than exhale –  check in with your own breathing right now as you read this article!

For your easy runs, you may start off with a tempo of 4 steps for inhalation, and 2 steps for exhalation. As you speed up, the inhale-exhale step ratio is reduced to 2:1, or even 1:1.

Being aware of your breathing rate also allows you to gauge the intensity that you are running at. If you are unable to catch your breath or hold a conversation during your easy runs, it is likely that you are running too fast! Slow down and regulate your breathing to a comfortable inhale-exhale step ratio.

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Mok Ying Ren recommends that you fill in your lungs adequately and naturally while running. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Breathe Deeply

 

It is easy to misunderstand the phrase “breathing deeply” in the context of running.

To breathe deeply does not mean that you take in a huge amount of air and hold it in as if playing a game of “How long can you hold your breath for?”.

What it actually means that instead of taking small gasps of air, you should fill your lungs in, adequately and naturally. There should be a slight rise in your chest with each inhalation, but your abdomen should not bloat. This may be difficult to understand and execute, but if you follow the recommended inhalation-exhalation step ratio of 4:2 for your easy runs, you should be able to achieve nice, deep breaths.

Mouth or Nose?


The mouth and the nose are mere openings to the same space – your lungs. Regardless of how it enters, air will go through your windpipe and into your lungs. Essentially, there is no difference to your respiratory system, whether you inhale through your mouth or your nose.

You may, however, experience a physical difference depending on the weather climate. In cold and dry climates, it would be advisable to breathe through your nose as it moistens the air which you inhale. In contrast, if you breathe through your mouth, your throat will dry up quickly, and possibly inducing dry coughs.

Despite this, you may find it more natural to utilize your mouth for breathing when running at high intensities. This is because the mouth allows you to inhale much more quickly, due to its larger surface area. Do not fight this tendency to breathe through your mouth and let it occur naturally.

I personally inhale through my nose during easy runs, and through my mouth during faster runs.

The most crucial aspect of breathing is self-awareness. When you are in the “zone”, you will experience a harmony between your running steps and your breath, which will definitely make your runs more enjoyable.


Win a race slot giveaway for #SCSM2018! 

Simply TAG 3 NEW FRIENDS (who are not following us on instagram) on any of our SUNDAY post!

Run one with the doggos!

11 Nov 2018 – The scattered showers and mud did not dampen the spirits of either human or pup at the latest edition of the Singapore Specials Run, held last Sunday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

 

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The Singapore Specials Run was first held by non-profit organization Action for Singapore Dogs in 2010, aiming to raise awareness of the plight of stray and abandoned dogs. All proceeds from activities surrounding this run go towards helping rescued dogs awaiting their forever homes.

Mr. Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, kicked off the event with a welcome speech, while Real Yoga organized the warm-up for the human runners.

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Participants could browse a variety of products on sale, such as uniquely flavored cakes by Gulalicious and premium dog food from Furry’s Kitchen.

The run provided opportunities for all dog lovers – both dog owners and non-dog owners alike – to participate, with a 5km Paw Lover’s Run and 2km Paw & Buddy Run. A few dogs with physical disabilities (missing/injured limbs) cheerfully making their way to the finish line was also an encouraging sight.

 

With various groups jostling at the front line and sprinting past puddles with both children and animals in tow, it became increasingly evident that running with a pet is an excellent way to come together with and bond with loved ones.  You become more consistently motivated to run when seeking exercise as well as quality time with both humans and canines dear to you.

 

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It’s clear that our furry friends – both the lean and long-legged as well as the lapdogs – inspire the old and young to get out and get moving, even in the worst of weather! So look out for the next edition of the Singapore Specials Run… or simply grab your running shoes to #runONE with your doggo!

 

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!

 

ST: Every drop counts!

This article was first published in The Sunday Times on 04 Nov 2018.

#AskMok

  1.  Can runners donate blood? Will it affect my performance? – Anonymous
  2.  How long will i take to completely recover and run again, if i had donated blood? – Anonymous

MOK YING REN – Every hour, the hospitals in Singapore require 14 units of blood to save lives (one unit is equivalent to about 450ml). As a surgeon-in-training, I have seen how easily blood is lost – patients bleeding from wounds, in their internal organs, and even through long and complicated surgeries. Unfortunately, the national blood supply is not as easily replenished.

Why is blood so important?

Purpose of Blood

Blood delivers oxygen from our lungs to all other parts of our bodies. Our red blood cells contain a key protein – haemoglobin (Hb). Oxygen cells in our lungs bind to Hb in red blood cells, and are transported to body cells for metabolism.

During metabolism, oxygen reacts with glucose and other chemicals obtained from food to produce energy. This also helps cells to grow and reproduce, and stay healthy.

Carbon dioxide produced during metabolism is then carried back to our lungs by blood, where it is exhaled.

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Mok Ying Ren encourages everyone including runners to donate blood, as its not necessarily a barrier to their running performances. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Impact of Blood Donation

Our body holds about 5 litres of blood. For every blood donation, 1 unit (or 450ml) of blood is withdrawn.

According to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Blood Transfusion, the Hb concentration in our bodies is reduced by 7% after making a blood donation. The Hb concentration in our bodies then gradually returns to normal over the next 2 weeks.

This is expected, but how exactly does this impact your performance as a runner?

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Mok Ying Ren trying to smile for the photos amidst the process. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

Effect of Blood Donation on Performance

A reduced Hb concentration will result in lower oxygen carrying capacity. There is no doubt that your running prowess will be affected.

In 1995, a study published in the American Heart Journal evaluated 10 male cyclists before and after donating blood to test the effect of blood donations on exercise performance. Results showed a decrease in the maximal performance of all the cyclists for at least a week.

More recently, in 2016, a randomised controlled trial published in the Sports Medicine Journal found that maximal power output, peak oxygen consumption and Hb mass all decreased for up to 4 weeks after making the blood donation.

Interestingly, both studies found that the submaximal performance of their test subjects was not affected. Therefore if you are a recreational athlete exercising at submaximal intensity, you should not have any negative experiences other than a higher than usual heart rate.

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Mok Ying Ren still looking fresh towards the end of the 60min process. Photo credits: ONEATHLETE

 


Recovering from a Blood Donation

To recover faster after a blood donation, you may consider taking iron supplements.

A randomised controlled trial was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of iron supplements post-blood donation. The results were published in the highly-regarded Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2015 – it was found that with iron supplementation, Hb recovery time was halved from a mean of 78 days to 31 days.

More drastically, for people who usually have low iron levels, their Hb recovery time dropped from a mean of 158 days to just 32 days!

Making a Blood Donation

As you can see, your running performance is not necessarily a barrier to donating blood.

If you are a competitive runner aspiring to set personal records, I would still encourage you to make a blood donation. You can plan your blood donation based on your running calendar. For example, you can do it right after a major marathon, as you would need down-time to recover from your race anyway! Once you are physically ready to get back into training, your Hb levels should be ready too!

However, if you any reservations about blood donation, an alternative would be to make a plasma donation, which will not affect your Hb levels at all.

You can run and donate blood. Let’s give our precious blood to someone who may need it for survival today.

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You can make a blood donation at any of the 4 blood banks or at a community blood donation drive near you! Click HERE to find out more! (Photo credits: Redcross Website)