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Anything but Different

Mok Ying Ren aims to rewrite a couple more national records. (Photo: Mok Ying Ren) 

Last month, Mok Ying Ren, 22, clocked 14min 51.09sec at the Tokai University time trials in Tokyo to break a 16-year-old 5,000m mark. A week later, he won the Christchurch Marathon fending off a very strong field. His time of 2hr 26min 34sec was about two minutes off Singapore's national record.

 

He has won the local men's category of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in both 2009 and 2010 coupled with wins in various local competitive runs.

 

He achieved all these without a coach.

 

No Vince Lombardi giving locker room inspired speeches. No Alex Ferguson prowling the sidelines with tactical instructions. No Toni Nadal encouragements from the stands.

 

All he has is a computer, which he uses to track data about his heart rate, pace and run distances over the past five years. This information enables him to keep track of his training programme and helps him adjust his training routine to keep himself in peak condition.

 

“I don't need a coach. I have been doing well so far and it helps that I have flexibility of time between training and school,” said the fourth year medical student from the National University of Singapore.

 

Mok is not alone in the lonely sport of running. If his form hits a wall, he looks up to one of his idols. Yuki Kawauchi, a 2:08 amateur marathoner from Japan, who works full time and also trains without a coach.

 

Said Mok: “He is very inspiring. Like me, he loves running. And he basically asked, 'Why should I quit my job and train full-time?'”

 

“I love running. I compete but it is also my form of relaxation. Like Kawauchi once said, 'Remember that you are training because you love to run.'”

 

Not only looking to do well in the upcoming SEA Games in Indonesia, where he has qualified for the 5,000m and defending his title at the Standard Charted Marathon, Mok is also looking at rewriting a couple of more national records - the marathon and the 10,000m records.

 

With varied differences between the track races and marathon, it will not be easy to break all three national records but with Mok Ying Ren, anything is possible.