A recent one-year training stint in Boulder, Colorado, in the United States, has changed national marathoner Mok Ying Ren’s perspective on running.
Said Mok, 28, an Orthopaedic Surgery Resident at the National University Hospital Sports Centre, “I went to the States because I had met Coach Lee Troop, a three-time Olympian. I trained with his club there so I really got a first hand experience of how he conducts his sessions.”
Mok had put his medical career on hold to train full-time in the States last year, in order to realise his dream of running in the Olympics. But injuries stood in his way to make the cut for this year’s Rio Olympics. Mok has no regrets though, about going to the States and said that he has instead picked up a lot of useful tips about the running scene there.
Find out your ideal training load
Said the runner, “For example, I found out from my time in the States, that a lot of the time, when we train here in Singapore, we push ourselves too hard. I learnt from the States to find out what is your ideal training load that the body can adapt to. This helped me to be able to handle training on a consistent and regular basis without your body breaking down. And I think that this is a great way to approach not only running, but also life in general.”
Mok added that he also realised that this has been one of the key reasons why American runners tend to perform better than Singaporeans in the long term. He said, “Take me for example, I have been injured several times because I pushed myself too hard.”
Suffered from injury bouts that kept him out for months
Mok pointed out that before he went to the United States, he would wind up injured after setting a national record or a personal best. Said the runner, “That is what happened after my 5,000m record and again after I set my half marathon national record. Those are major delays that any runner would not want.”
In fact, prior to his stint in the United States, Mok had been battling a range of injuries, including shin splints, tendonitis and glute problems and had been frustrated by all of these.
He added, “Just imagine yourself reaching a new fitness level and then you get injured. It is really a waste of time. So if I were to do something different to my running regime now, then it would be to focus on being consistent and not to push too hard during every single training workout, but to only push hard during certain target workouts.”
Mix up hard and easy training sessions
So this basically means that runners should mix up easy and hard training workouts.
Said Mok, “Do not have each session being high in intensity but instead spread the high intensity sessions out over a couple of days or a week. And the high intensity sessions should also be lower in volume, so as not to over-stress the body.”
Be consistent with your training
Mok also stressed that consistency is very important for runners, especially working athletes who hold down full time jobs at the same time. Said Mok, “For example if you have time for four running sessions a week, then make sure you get in four, and do not procrastinate because of rain or laziness.”
In fact, Mok himself will become a working athlete soon – that is because he is going to start a full time job at the National University Hospital and plans to integrate his running together into his working life.
Said Mok, “I am focusing on my work and my medical career for now, but will integrate running into my lifestyle too, for example, by running home from work every day.”