Set realistic goals and stay disciplined

Marathoner Mok Ying Ren competing at last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. He was the fastest Singaporean, finishing in 2:41:03.
Marathoner Mok Ying Ren competing at last year's Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. He was the fastest Singaporean, finishing in 2:41:03.PHOTO COURTESY OF MOK YING REN

It has been about a month since The Straits Times Run In The City. I believe some of you must be itching to get started on training for the Singapore Marathon.

A marathon, 42.195km long, is just 8km short of the distance from the east to the west of Singapore. Given the sheer distance, training for one is never easy.

To help you prepare for it, we have created a 15-week #RunWithMok programme, designed for beginners who are unable to train more than three times a week.

It is easy to have a programme in mind. But to execute it well to achieve the desired effects is not as simple. For complete information, do visit

There are various challenges you should prepare yourself for before embarking on #RunWithMok:


It is physically demanding to go on long training runs and to run almost every other day. The physical exertion over an extended period will take a toll on the body for both beginners and elite runners.

During my marathon training periods, even climbing a few flights of stairs can tire me. Coffee may also become your new best friend, as you struggle to stay awake during a three-hour lecture in school or a boring office meeting following your pre-dawn workout.

Be prepared. You will be tired. And, at times, even exhausted.


Training for a marathon requires a substantial amount of discipline and determination.

There will be key runs each week that cannot be missed. You will need to plan your life around your training and rest schedule, and stick strictly to your plan. Otherwise, you may lack adequate rest for your long run the next day.

I have friends who sneak in their weekend runs at unearthly hours, so that they can devote the rest of their waking hours to be with their loved ones. Sacrifices must be made in order for you to ensure a good race come Dec 3.


What - or rather, who - may help pull you through these 15 weeks of training is your running buddy.

Because I run home after work as part of my daily commute, I tend to complete most of my training sessions in solitude. However, I still make a conscious effort to execute key training sessions, such as those encompassing long runs and workouts, in the company of my friends.

There will be good days when you will feel strong, and will be the one motivating and setting the pace for your friends. There will also be bad days when you will have to rely on the pace and spirit of your friends to carry you through to the end.


No doubt, the idiom "you reap what you sow" applies to your training.

It is understandable if you are unable to commit as much time to train for the Singapore Marathon as your neighbour - but be wise, and set realistic expectations.

Aiming for lofty goals without putting in the requisite effort will only lead to over-reaching and injuries. So, remember to pay attention to yourself and be mindful of your physical capabilities, as you embark on your #RunWithMok journey towards a successful Singapore Marathon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Set realistic goals and stay disciplined'. Print Edition | Subscribe