How many pairs of shoes do you each get through in a year?
Ying Ren: We train every day and rotate our running shoes. I think we each get through about 20 to 30 pairs of shoes a year!
Ying Rong: Actually, we train twice a day – we’d just finished a morning run before meeting you.

So training hard is the secret to winning medals?
Ying Rong: We didn’t envision ourselves becoming medallists together, but we’re both equally determined to achieve our own goals.
Ying Ren: My sister discovered the joy of running first, and likes it more than I do.

Has this shared passion helped you become closer?
Ying Ren: It helps. We train together occasionally, and we’re both in healthcare – I’m serving my National Service as a doctor in the Singapore Army and Ying Rong’s training to be a physiotherapist. Other than that, we have no time for anything else! (Laughs)
Ying Rong: We do talk about more than just running. I take running less seriously than my brother, and balance it with other interests.

What kind of interests?
Ying Rong: I enjoy travelling solo. I’ve gone to Taiwan, Korea and Nepal on my own.
Ying Ren: Ying Rong’s more adventurous than me – she does couch-surfing as well. My parents and I were worried, but she knows how to take care of herself.

Is this free-spiritedness a trait you admire in your sister?
Ying Ren: She has very good training-life balance, whereas I’m a bit more obsessive.
Ying Rong: Ying Ren’s a perfectionist, but that goal-orientedness is something I admire about him. For example, he really wants a shot at the 2016 Rio Olympics, so he’s already taken a year-and-a-half of no-pay leave after his National Service to train in Japan and Nepal.

What is one habit you wish the other would change?
Ying Rong: That same persistence (laughs). Ying Ren pushes himself too hard and that’s not always healthy for runners. Right now, he’s getting over a shin injury, and it’s necessary for him to be patient and control the urge to do too much, too soon.
Ying Ren: Ironically, my sister used to be a bit like that – she once had five stress fractures, and was on crutches for three months. Now that she’s doing physiotherapy training, she’s more in tune with her body and has been injury-free for the last four years. She does regular assessments for me, and teaches me how to stretch my tight muscles.

What’s the proudest memory you have of each other?
Ying Rong: Whenever he breaks a record!
Ying Ren: Last year, Ying Rong did her first full marathon (42km) and came in second. But it’s her passion for helping others that I applaud. She set up a Run Free initiative – a kind of running clinic – to help people recognise their injury risks when they run. People sign up for it on a shared Google Drive. So every Saturday, there’ll be people coming by our home for physio-rehab assessments.

BREEZE THROUGH YOUR RACE
The siblings share their marathon must-dos.

1 Replenish your energy stores.
“Load up on carbs that are easily digestible, like a sports gel, half an hour before the race, to sustain your energy levels,” says Ying Ren.

2 Get hydrated before.
“Drink about 750ml to 1 litre of water from the time you wake up, to ensure your hydration levels are topped up. Your final pee before the race should be clear,” Ying Ren advises. 

3 Keep calm to win.
“Some people get excited at the starting line, taking off in a burst of speed and getting tired halfway. For long-distance races, run in a pack to conserve energy until you’re ready to blaze through to the finish line,” recommends Ying Rong. 

This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2015.