An interview with Singapore’s Top Marathoner, Mok Ying Ren
He is one of Singapore’s most well known distance runners, but Mok Ying Ren wasn’t always a runner. The 25-year-old doctor actually started out as a swimmer during his primary school days – but he only took up distance running in medical school and clocked a personal best of two hours 26 minutes 30 seconds at the Gold Coast Marathon last month.
Despite the late start, Mok has indeed come a long way. Today, he has become so good at distance running that he is aiming to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon and he is pleased with his training progress so far. But can Mok take it one step further though, and bring home an Olympic medal for Singapore? Time will tell.
I interviewed Mok recently and found out more about his interest in running and his Olympic dream.
What made you take up distance running originally?
I was a swimmer in primary school and then took up triathlons in Junior college. I started to focus on distance running when I was in medical school due to its time efficiency – training sessions start and end at my house!
What is your favourite distance to run and why?
I personally like the half marathon as it doesn’t require a long recovery period. At the same time, it is not so short that it kills the joys of running through the streets.
Why do you enjoy running?
Running gives me a sense of freedom and I love the fact that you can run anytime anywhere!
Besides running, you also swim and cycle. Which of these three do you consider your favourite sport and why?
I mainly run now and only do swimming or cycling as cross training. Swimming can be boring as you do not get to see things happening around you. Cycling may be dangerous at times on Singapore roads but when one gets down to it, it can be really quite fun. But I still think running allows you to “switch off” more during the activity.
Do you take part in any other sports besides these?
No. Holding a full time job as a doctor does not give me much time to pursue other sports. At the same time, to be a competitive runner, I also need to focus much of my time on training.
As a runner, what is your diet like?
I just remember to eat healthy as much as possible. It’s just common sense. Go for non-fried foods and so on.
As someone with a medical background, how has this affected your training?
I think it allows me to have a better understanding on what goes on inside my body during training. And in terms of injuries, I am in a better position to decide when I should stop and when I can continue.
What is your running schedule currently like?
I try to run twice a day, everyday. I do about 120km a week
How do you manage to juggle your training time around your job as a doctor?
I think the good thing about running is that it does not need much equipment – and so I usually try to run home after work. I currently work at the Ang Mo Kio polyclinic and I try to run home to Tampines after work – saving time!
With work and exercise taking up so much of your life, what is your social life like?
Well, its rather non-existent but I do have a very supportive girlfriend for the past five years. She is a competitive cyclist as well and we are both very focussed on our tasks at hand. It’s great to have a partner who knows what it takes to be competing at a high level.
I understand that you are training for the Rio 2016 Olympics marathon. How is it currently going?
It is going well! My next stepping-stone would be the South East Asia (SEA) Games in Myannmar at the end of this year.
Do you feel like you are currently on track with your training, to achieving your dream of running in Rio 2016?
I feel that it is on track. I will need much patience and not rush into seeking results too quickly as the key to this project would be not to get injured!
How long have you actually had your Rio 2016 Olympic dream for? What inspired you to try for the Olympics?
I started to have this idea late last year when I looked at my own medical career. I have noticed that once you get into a specialization programme to be a specialist, there is not much time for any other “extra curricular activities” like competitive running. So I have decided to take a few years to focus on my running career to see how far I can go before I get back to my medical career.
What advice do you have for those who would like to take up running?
Consistency is key. So take your time to enjoy the sport!
Read more: Get some running tips from Mok here!