Since taking up running about five years ago, 21-year-old physiotherapy student Mok Ying Rong has been setting the running scene alight in Singapore.
And yesterday, she added more to her stellar running resume – when she clinched victory in the Singaporean Elite Closed Category at the Great Eastern Women’s Run 2014. She had completed the 21km race in a timing of 1 hour 28 minutes and 48 seconds. For her efforts, she had picked up SGD3,000 in prize money.
I caught up with Ying Rong, who is also the sister of 2013 SEA Games Marathon champion Mok Ying Ren, after the race. We talked about her win and her running. Here is what Ying Rong said, in a short interview I had with her.
Ying Rong, can you share with us, your winning race strategy at the Great Eastern Women’s Run yesterday?
My race strategy was very simple. It was to stick to my race pace for the half marathon, which was 4:10 to 4:15 minute per kilometre. I checked my watch regularly and ran my own pace.
Later on, I actually met Rachel See along the way. We ran together for about five to six kilometres before splitting up for the last two. I was pacing myself, because I felt that I wanted to try out pacing myself, instead of getting stressed out with trying to catch other people.
How do you feel about your race win?
Even though I emerged as the top amongst the local elite participants, I feel that there is still a lot of improvement needed for me. I feel very humbled to be the top, out of all the local runners at the moment. But I feel like I should keep pushing myself and challenging greater limits. I don’t think my training stops here. I feel there is still plenty of improvement for me.
How do you plan to improve yourself?
At the moment, I feel that my aerobic endurance is still lacking, so I plan to develop my aerobic system. Along the way, I will touch up on my speed work to ensure that my speed is not sacrificed over my aerobic development. I feel there is still some room for improvement regarding this area.
What is your next race?
The full marathon at Standard Chartered Marathon will be my next race. I’ll be aiming to lower my personal best so I think that is a greater priority than winning the race. Definitely, I hope for the best but winning would be a bonus.
My first full marathon was at StanChart last year. This year in terms of my training, it should be about the same as last year – but I am doing more long distance running. As a result, I feel my aerobic is definitely better than last year. So, I am looking for my timing to improve this year. I think a sub 3:10 hours timing would be good. I am definitely looking at a top-two podium finish. I came second last year.
So does your brother, Ying Ren, give you much running tips?
We share a lot of light-hearted topics. We don’t really talk much about running, actually. But when it comes to running, we motivate each other along the way and so we don’t really share tips on running. It’s really more of a light-hearted encouragement and we talk about a lot of other non-running related topics.
We both learnt on our own for running. My brother has his own school of thought and I have my own, but along the way, we try to motivate each other. So I think it is a vey healthy sibling relationship.
How did you start running anyway?
In my case, I started out as a recreational runner. I decided to just take part in a few races for fun and slowly continued with my own runs and I moved on from there. It came naturally to me, because I was doing more and more mileage due to my love for running.
I had started running about five years ago. I took part in my first race five years ago too. That was when I was in Secondary Two. I had started out with fun runs and liking it, so I thought, why not go for more serious races instead of fun runs.
Any tips that you would like to share with runners?
Simply enjoy your run along the way. When I first started out running, I was simply enjoying my runs and was not looking at running competitively. Along the way, I picked up racing and it just started from there.