National marathoner and ONEathlete Mok Ying Ren is an enigma. The 2-time SEA Games Gold medalist who holds a marathon personal best of 2:26:07 is a familiar friendly figure within the Singapore running community.
Yet there is an undeniable veil of mystique to national athletes who, like Mok, are capable of feats of physical incredulity that draws our breath in (editor’s note: In achieving his marathon PB, Mok was running an 8min 18sec 2.4km split, 17.5 times over).
Beyond that, Mok is also a triathlete, a doctor, husband and Singapore record holder and self-professed ice cream fanatic. The affable marathoner, who recently got married to the love of his life and started his ‘lifetime marathon’, gave a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the personal life of a national athlete. He candidly shares how he met his wife, and his number 1 idol!
There is a fairly high chance that your alarm is set for 5:00am tomorrow – 10km run before work you tell yourself. No I do not have superhuman insights and ‘Big Brother’ is not watching you; we are just part of the 7 in 10 who stick to new year resolutions 9 days into 2018; but it is likely you won’t last and neither will I if the University of Pennsylvania study is right.
So how about #ONEathlete national marathoners, Ashley Liew and Mok Ying Ren?
When asked about his goals for 2018, Ashley says:
“I differentiate between targets (what you want to achieve) and goals (who you want to be)”. His targets are to “run a sub-2hr 30min marathon personal best and to qualify for a major Games event” and his goal is “to remember that life is not all about running and thus I should better appreciate the people around me like my father and girlfriend”.
Ashley, who was the first Singaporean to be awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in 2016, has both feet firmly grounded (pun intended) when he sees running as fulfilling a promise to himself while life is about fulfilment through his loved and cherished ones.
Similarly for Mok, who has spent more than half his life chasing down that finish tape and recently started his lifetime marathon of matrimonial bliss, goals are as much an end in itself, as a means to a (larger) end. He too echoed that special occasions are meant to be spent with special people in his life! He was relating to why he only did an easy run and opted to spend the festive days with his wife, family, and best friend instead.
Writing as a man who seeks clarity in life, and in true Mok-style brevity:
“A generation without a vision will perish. Likewise a man without goals.”
Mok, who has a major exam coming up this year in his residency Programme, hopes to balance that and enjoy his running in 2018!
From runONE and ONEathlete, we wish all readers and runners alike a blessed and meaningful 2018!
For more about setting new year resolutions and goals, (or if you’re deciding what time to set the alarm for) read on below or click here for article link.
Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. But once you’ve tried it you’re always craving for it, and the more the better. If you’re one of those who wakes up at 5am to get in a heart-pumping workout before heading to work, then you must know how satisfying and addictive that endorphin rush after a sweaty session can really kickstart your day.
Now the buzz junkies must be wondering: Is there any other way to get that same athlete’s high without working for it?
Nuyou (女友）magazine’s anchor feature of “Men We Love” (MWL) is back for its 2017 edition. Conceptualised in 2002 and in its 15th year running, the annual MWL feature introduces 25 men with desirable qualities, such as successful careers, well-balanced family lives, athleticism, good looks and personality. It is also a fantastic opportunity to introduce and showcase talented men from various walks of life who have stood out in their respective fields, and bring out a different (less known) side to their public persona.
(Top-left): Mok Ying Ren getting some tender care from the make-up artists; (Top-right): Jonathan Chong having fun in his own time; (Bottom): Tan Yiru trying out his personal favourite pose (Photo Credits: #ONEathlete)
Coach Jason Lawrence (@jacehaspace) shared on Race Preps & Injury Prevention during a lunch time talk at a civil service unit today!
He also demonstrated some simple exercises for you to work on one of the most powerful body part – your butt! Train it up, cos it helps quite abit in runners related injury preventions!
What’s more, recently he wrote a #runwithmok piece about running in #japan too!
This article was first published on The Straits Times column on 12 Aug 2017.
Singapore running legend Murugiah Rameshon was decades ahead of his time, though not many recognised it then. He raced against himself, lowering the national record 5 times in as many years, shaving 4 minutes off his 2:28 mark in his final record-breaking race. Then 31 years old, his final national marathon record of 2:24:22 set at the 1995 SEA Games has withstood the test of time, unwavering and dignified even after 22 years.
Setting The Bar High
It all started in 1987. Only 23 then, Rameshon had his first break and established himself as one of Singapore’s top marathoner by winning the Mobil Marathon. But in order to have a shot at then national record of 2:34 held by Tan Choon Ghee, he had planned to increase his weekly mileage from 70km to 120km. Grass was the only way to go: it was a more forgiving surface than tarmac with a lower risk of injury. In grass Rameshon had found an unlikely partner – one who, like him, bends but never yields to pressure.
In an era without compression tights and altitude chambers, an athlete with Rameshon’s ethos would never be found wanting. Hand-written training notes, meticulously recorded with timings to the second, are among his prized possessions today. He epitomised the complete athlete who owned his training, mind, body and results – a point he continues to emphasize now as head coach of a fitness and training outfit. To him, professional running is a full-time commitment requiring absolute focus and discipline. He upholds that, “If you have time to be distracted, then you are not training like you should.”
His minimalistic approach also embodied another timeless lesson – that performance in endurance running is simply and undeniably consistent hard work. But just as eggs are the hardest dish to master, the simplest is not always the easiest.
Against All Odds
Like national swimmer Joscelin Yeo, Rameshon had decided early in his running career that the best way to improve was to train overseas. But without any result to secure a scholarship, he had no choice but to go the distance on faith. Taking matters into his own hands, Rameshon balanced training and undergraduate studies at Loughborough University, England. Eventually running up a bill of $60,000 when his personal income then was a hard-earned $1,000. It was draining physically, mentally and financially.
It was only after he first broke the national record at the Hong Kong marathon in 1991, did then Singapore Sports Council offer a $1,500 per year grant and he started being outfitted by Nike. It was help late in arriving, but gratifying nonetheless.
I Don’t Think In Terms Of Limits
Could he have reached greater heights with more support? “Maybe. But it doesn’t matter anymore.” Rameshon hints of a quiet confidence that can only come from someone who has dreamed big, worked hard and treads softly.When asked about not being selected for the Olympics despite qualifying for it, he said, “Let me be my own judge. There is no need to prove oneself if one has achieved.”
Fame was never the name of the game for Rameshon. He was clear about being beholden to but not enslaved by his ambitions. “Once you see running as a conquest of numbers, then this sport, any sport, will be reduced to a race for glory.” Till today, he lives by this principle.
Then as now, he believes the porousness of records cannot take anything away from the greatness sports has to offer. The irony of records is that once it’s set, its destiny is to be broken. In fact, Rameshon has been instrumental in igniting many prolific younger marathoners, spurring them to reach their fullest potential by surpassing him. Like the proverbial lamb at the altar, what matters is the kindling process. Records are but means to an end, although lesser athletes may, and often, confuse the two.
Setting The Stage For Others
It’s not just his longstanding record, that makes Rameshon one of Singapore’s greatest runner to date. More importantly is the way he does it. The honesty with which he trains, and his humility in finishing. Rameshon always raced as if to celebrate the greatness of endurance running – honouring it by raising it.
As the 29th SEA Games approaches, Rameshon’s record still resonates, leading us to wonder if our capable athletes will raise the standards even further. In surpassing the competition and himself, Rameshon eventually rose above the arena where his fame was birthed, writing a legacy beyond the numbers once ascribed to his name. In achieving so much with so little, Rameshon has kept the flame alive for others to seek what may seem to be, but many hope not, impossible.
The article was first published on The Straits Times #runwithmok column on 05 Aug 2017.
Many of us are aware of the physical benefits of exercise. Endurance sports, like running, can trim our waistlines, improve our cardiovascular health and lower our risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. But that is not all that we stand to gain by putting on those running shoes! Through its effects on our brain, running can also sharpen our mind and nurse our heart.
1. Stress coping function
Stress is part and parcel of living in Singapore.. If poorly managed, it can eventually lead to disabling mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Many studies have shown that aerobic exercise promotes the release of norepinephrine and serotonin, brain chemicals that can moderate our response to stress. It also allows the secretion of endorphins, a hormone which generates feelings of happiness that is also responsible for our uplifting mood after a long run .
Regular running can also alleviate anxiety. When we run, we learn to focus on our bodies and become more mindful of our surroundings. Subconsciously we also improve our breathing pattern and teach our bodies to relax. The end result? Less tension and worries rummaging through our heads, and a more regulated sleep cycle so our body can enjoy a better rest at night
2. Sharpening cognitive function
Animal studies have shown that aerobic exercise can boost brain cells and improve nerve connections in the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. High intensity running is found to increase the levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor), a protein which is associated with our brain’s capacity to function well. Running has also been found to reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly. A recent study of elderly participants found that those who engage in regular exercise performed better in memory, IQ and mathematics tests compared to those who did not.
3. Confidence and character building function
When we look good, we naturally feel even better. Running is a great way to lose weight, which is also linked to positive self-esteem and give us that extra bounce in our step. By changing up your routine, setting training goals and taking part in running events and races, we also learn to overcome physical and psychological challenges along the way. When faced with life setbacks, running can be the healthier alternative to escapism or depression.
On that same vein, the organisers of The Light of Hope Run 2017, Touch Community Services, aim to raise the awareness of depression. How apt this is, as running itself provides pertinent benefits against depression. So the next time you feel down, consider going for a run – that extra mile might be what it takes to bring back that smile!
Dr Aaron Meng is a medical doctor who is in advanced training in Psychiatry. He is also an avid runner and has accomplished a 2hr 48min personal best in the marathon event.
First published on The Straits Times on 29 July 2017.
Most people run to keep up with their own fitness, and be physically and mentally engaged. It is probably the most effective way to live a healthier life, as my fellow columnists – who are reputable athletes and medical professionals – have pointed out over the past weeks.
Beyond personal good, what if I told you that you can run for other kinds of good too?
In a previous article, National Marathoner Mok Ying Ren shared that one should run at a comfortable conversational pace. This is a good case in point – exercising with your running kaki at a comfortable pace allows you to catch up and spend the time meaningfully.
Being part of a running community gives strength in numbers to a sport which can feel ‘lonesome’ at times. For one, it allows you to share running tips with one another, join a network of like-minded individuals, inspire or be inspired, strengthen basic disciplines and habits, reach out to any resources that you might not have on your own, create self-development opportunities for others, and support both individual and collective endeavors. Most importantly, peer influence becomes a powerful tool to spur one another on to persevere.
That is why several running groups have sprung up in recent years, each with a unique value proposition that appeals to their followers.
#RunONE, the training partner for the recently concluded Straits Times Run in the City 2017 (ST Run), is one example of an online running and training community that aims to reframe running as one with personal, social and altruistic benefits.
Other running groups, like Running Department – the official pacers for ST Run – organize weekly group runs regularly, rain or shine. They have come a long way since its humble beginnings four years ago. As iron sharpens iron, today, these running groups form the core of an increasingly active collective of passionate runners.
Other than running with others, you can also run for others. Some run for advocacy causes, others for charitable causes. In both cases, you can be part of a bigger vision and make a difference to the lives of those around us. Sometimes the output comes in the form of increased donations towards these causes, and other times, an additional convert to the cause. In either case, it reminds us to remember the poor and marginalized, and uphold benevolence. Essentially, these runs represent, on a broader level, the challenges these groups face and are working to overcome i.e. their own ‘marathon’ in life. Some of these runs include:
● The Straits Times Run in the City, supports The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund (SPMF). SPMF started in 2000 and has helped 150,000 students and youths with collections amounting up to S$55million. The funds disbursed through social service agencies supports our students from low income families and multiple-stressor backgrounds to enable them to make it to school and have something to eat. To all the 13,000 runners on 16 July: you have contributed to making their lives better!
● Run & Raisin Charity Run, organized by Touch Community Services, aims to raise about S$250,000 for their Touch Young Arrows (TYA) activities and programmes. TYA provides weekly academic coaching through their dedicated volunteers, and aims to help children realize their potential.
● Yellow Ribbon Prison Run & Unlabelled Run, both combat the stigma against and the challenges of former offenders. These runs allow participants to pledge their support towards creating second chances in our society. They also encourage us to be more empathetic towards the circumstances faced by ex-offenders and to learn from their resilience.
In more ways than one, our seemingly minute efforts can go the extra mile in improving the lives of others. Running can be an absolutely meaningful activity! The next time you sign up for a run, do also consider the social and altruistic impacts that you bring to yourself and the people around you.
SINGAPORE – The partnership, will see Singapore Athletics Association (SAA) continue to sanction the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon (SCSM), the region’s only International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label race.
Team Singapore athletes who have already confirmed participation include Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy winner Ashley Liew, Jasmine Goh, Neo Jie Shi, Fang Jian Yong, and 3rd place finisher at SCMS 2015, Evan Chee, who is managed by ONEathlete. Other ONEathlete marathoners, Soh Hua Qun and Ben Moreau are also expected to race at this signature event.
As part of the organiser’s tie-up with The Straits Times Run, the weekly #RunWithMok column and #RunONE training plan by Mok Ying Ren, will both be published on Saturdays.
7-time SCMS Singapore Men’s Champion & Team Singapore athlete Mok Ying Ren (who is managed by ONEathlete) also welcomed the partnership saying “We’ve had the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon for many years now, and many of us have run this race growing up. The event has grown tremendously both in scale and quality, so hosting the National Championship here makes sense, and will certainly strike a chord with competitive runners in Singapore. I am confident that it would be an opportunity for a finer display of local sportsmanship and emergence of more young local running talents.”
For further reports on this development, please refer to the following:
When national tennis player Shaheed Alam clinched the 2017 Southeast Asia Men’s Invitational Tournament Tennis singles gold after overcoming a 4-2 deficit in both sets, he knew he had his family and tennis coaches to thank, as well as his running shoes.
‘Because tennis is usually seen as a technical sports some people forget that on some levels, especially the professionals, there’s a lot of physical and aerobic endurance involved’ said Shaheed who is working towards the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and is managed by ONEathlete.
Rising above a rough year in 2016, Shaheed feels that running has elevated his game and given him greater confidence to focus and perform when the pressure is on, or when the match stretches for 2-3 hours.
Fit to Play
While most of us are more interested in playing sports like football or basketball as a social activity or part of a healthy lifestyle, running can feel like the distant relative we know but never wish to meet (even though we should).
Running is taxing for many of us precisely because it uses a lot of large muscle groups, more than swimming or cycling. This also makes running one of the most efficient way to train your lungs and legs to work longer and harder, for that much-needed boost (you wished you had) when chasing down that scoring opportunity.
Running is also great for building muscular endurance for sports like hockey or football which involves a lot of time on the legs and non-stop moving that alternates between a jog and all-out sprints for games lasting as long as 90mins.
It is also a common misconception that running does not benefit upper-body sports like canoeing or kayaking.
ONEathlete and national canoeist Jonathan Chong clarifies that ‘a powerful paddle stroke actually starts with an effective leg drive, and that is why running is an integral part of canoeing training.’
In other words, our brain usually gives up before our body.
So if you are aiming to play your weekend games more competitively, or even become your team’s star player, then learning to handle mental discomfort is par for the course. And we all know what makes us very uncomfortable very quickly.
This is why ONEathlete and national hockey player Tan Yi Ru runs after hockey training because ‘running trains my mind for that extra edge to push my body further even, and especially, when I’m already tired from training.’
‘I would highly recommend running because all you need for is a pair of shoe. And the benefits you gain, like strength and stamina, maps over easily to other sports and games. – ONEathlete and national hockey player, Tan Yi Ru
Making Running Work For You
For time-strapped weekend sports warriors, running can be scheduled on weekdays for as little as 20-30 minutes to stay fit while saving the weekends for team games when it’s easier to schedule a game together.
Jonathan also shares his staple workout when he’s in a heavy training (paddling) season – hill running or car pushing for a quick yet (very) effective workout.
Next time someone asks you about the secret in having the upper hand in any sports, tell them its actually the ‘upper legs’. Or you can join runONE, the training partner for Straits Times Run, for the upcoming race clinic!
This article was also published in The Straits Times.
Lester is an avid runner and passionate triathlete who raced at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Champs in Cebu. He thinks sports is the greatest metaphor for life and is now an in-house writer for runONE.