ST Run At The Hub 2015

Tips from a champion

Former SEA Games triathlon and marathon champion Mok Ying Ren at the 27th SEA Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Dec 16, 2013.
Former SEA Games triathlon and marathon champion Mok Ying Ren at the 27th SEA Games in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Dec 16, 2013. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Relax before race, don't think about goals, pace your run and enjoy yourself, he says

After months of preparation, it is inevitable that you start getting nervous about tomorrow's The Straits Times Run at the Hub. But fret not - here are some last-minute tips which I hope will help.

First, you will probably have trouble sleeping tonight but that is normal. At the 2007 SEA Games (Mok won the triathlon on his Games debut), I got into bed at 8pm, hoping to get eight hours of sleep before my pre-race breakfast at 4am. I ended up not sleeping much at all.

But what I have learnt is that a lack of sleep will not affect your race performance. The adrenaline and cortisol produced at the start line will increase your heart rate, and keep you sharp for the race.

So do not panic if you cannot fall asleep. Just tell yourself it will be okay, and before long, you will be waking up to your alarm.

Second, pace yourself well. This is an important point but one that even experienced runners get wrong occasionally.

Some runners think that starting fast will help make up for the time lost when they slow down towards the end. Others get carried away by the starting horn and blindly follow the crowd.

But studies have shown that the best way to run a race is to run it at an even pace - that is, tackling the entire race at the same pace.

This is how world records in distance events are set.

I find that running at an even pace before bursting towards the end line will help you set that personal best.

Finally, and as simple as it sounds, remember to enjoy the race. I find myself performing best when I remove all expectations, and instead focus on simply doing my best.

At the 2013 SEA Games, I arrived at the Games Village less than 16 hours before the marathon started, because of my commitments in national service.

So, even though I was a pre-race favourite, I chose not to put pressure on myself.

Instead, I focused on getting the little things right, like consuming enough carbohydrates and water to be in my best physical condition.

I went into the race thankful that I could represent Singapore with the flag on my chest, and drew confidence from the months of training I had put in.

I won the gold.

Similarly, you may have time goals but stressing yourself will do no good. Instead, trust that running is a simple sport. If you have put in the work, results will follow.

Furthermore, with my favourite race emcees Ross Sarpani and Kelly Latimer there to liven up the spirits, I am sure it will be a blast. I wish every runner all the best tomorrow, and may the haze be kind to all.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Tips from a champion'. Print Edition | Subscribe