Secrets of Singapore’s Well-Known Marathon Runners

Mok Ying Ren. Ashley Liew. Anne Qi Hui. The Singapore Blade Runner.

These champion Singaporean runners have represented Singapore and done our island nation proud for distance running.

What are the secrets to their success? Read on, for these runners’ own insights into why they are so successful – gleaned from interviews I have done with them.

Mok Ying Ren

Mok Ying Ren.

Mok Ying Ren.

He is currently South East Asia’s fastest marathoner and has won many titles. These include the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2013 and the South East Asian (SEA) Games marathon gold medal.

Mok has also set history by becoming the first marathoner in Singapore to be chosen for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in July this year.

In addition to the 42km marathon, he also excels in shorter races and clinched first prize at the recent 8km MediaCorp Hong Bao Run 2014.

Mok, on why he is so successful at running:

It is all about consistency. Being consistent is key to having a good race or performance. In addition, I focus on the now, be it in training or in races. I don’t let past results affect me and I don’t think over the future.

Mok, on his most famous win: The marathon gold medal at the 2013 SEA Games:

The feeling is pretty surreal. Sometimes, I still find it hard to come to terms with it. I was with the chasing pack with 2km to go and at the point, coming in third was my aim. Somehow everything fell into place and I started picking up the leaders one at a time. Really blessed to be able to cross the finish line first and do Singapore proud.

Ashley Liew

Ashley Liew.

Ashley Liew.

Ashley is another of Singapore’s marathon champions, having struck gold at the 2012 edition of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. He also represented Singapore at the 2013 SEA Games marathon – and is now based in the USA.

Ashley, on his secrets to marathon success:

Be consistent with your running routine. Endurance running involves a commitment of time, which you must be prepared to incorporate.

Of course you have to be flexible sometimes if other matters crop up, but without consistency in terms of training, you would be taking one step back for every two steps forward.

There are many examples of runners who start training late in life, but because of their discipline in maintaining a daily routine they can still become world-class.  

However, do not expect results to come overnight. Why you see Kenyans winning races is neither because they are genetically born fast, nor are they naturally talented. It is because they have spent the previous 10 years building that endurance base.

Anne Qi Hui

Anne Qi Hui (left).

Anne Qi Hui (left).

She is easily Singapore’s fastest female marathoner and has represented the country in prestigious track events, such as the IAAF World Half Marathon 2012 – which she completed in a personal best and national record timing of 1 hour 23 minutes and 16 seconds. Anne was also actually selected for the 2013 SEA Games marathon in Myanmar, but because of personal commitments, she didn’t take part.

But this feisty lady’s accolades speak for themselves – she has chalked up notable wins in leading marathon events in Singapore, such as the Standard Chartered Full Marathon 2013 and the Sundown Half Marathon 2013 (Women’s Category).

Anne, on her strategy to running a good race:

You need to get the most out of yourself in order to run a good race. You must execute well what you have – and maximize your fitness by executing a smart, patient race.

You must be progressive and finish the race strongly. You can usually clock a better time at the finishing line by being patient and in control of yourself. Don’t go all out. And don’t worry about people running past you at the start. 

As you run more and train more, you’ll progressively get faster and gradually improve your own timing.

The Singapore Blade Runner

The Singapore Blade Runner.

The Singapore Blade Runner.

Also known as Mohammad Shariff, this marathoner has taken part in and flown the Singapore flag – at many of the leading races around the world, most notably the Boston Marathon 2013. He also has plans to run in the 2014 edition of the same race, as well as in the 2015 Everest Marathon.

He was born without a left foot, but this marathoner didn’t let his disability affect his quality of life. Now, the Blade Runner is one of Singapore’s most famous runners, and a regular face at sporting events in Singapore.

The Singapore Blade Runner, on how to be a serious marathon runner:

It is easy to run – just wear your shoes or even go barefoot if you want. But to be a serious runner, you must get involved in programmes that train you up and maybe help you to win some prize money. These programmes can be done online or with a coach. 

Also, mix around with other runners and talk to them. Do not be shy.

Once you get the experience of running, upgrade yourself. Start with a 5km run, then 10km and 15km ones and progress to 21km runs. In your first year, take note of every run. It must have a post-mortem report. You need to read your reports and think about how to improve – learning from mistakes made. In the next year you improve your timing on the first year (which is just spent getting used to running and nothing else).

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