So they say, “life is a marathon.” But in reality, only 0.01% of the world population has actually completed one. 

WeKenRunners at Berlin Marathon EXPO

For Karichi Santos of running group We Ken Run (WKR), what started as a cheeky jab turned out to be one of her most life-changing pursuits. The corporate counsel for an international health and beauty retailer always had a penchant for doing such challenging things and running a full marathon was one of them. 

However, Santos realized that her running experience–which consists of a 10-kilometer fun run that happened four years ago—and a DIY training would not suffice in preparing for something big as a World Marathon Major. That is when she tapped Coach Ken Mendola of WKR to help her out. 

“Who would have thought that something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other as fast as possible can be so highly technical and filled with run jargons [such as] aerobic base, race pace, slow-twitch muscle fibers, hill repeats, among many other things,” Santos said. 

Her training buddy Kat Mancao had the same goal as hers when she started. Mancao, who is an associate general counsel for a well-known local brewery, shared that what motivated them to pursue a marathon was the idea of completing it and its positive impact to a person’s body. They also looked forward to travelling after the marathon. 

“I have to admit that I was misled into thinking that running was a ‘simple’ activity as I only needed to lace up and go out for a run,” she said. “When I got myself into marathon training, I soon discovered that the sport is not simple at all.”

Similar to Santos and Mancao, their fellow We Ken Runner Mae Simonette Corona wanted to battle her self-doubt anxiety, and self-imposed limitations. 

As a country legal director to a multinational confectionery company in the Philippines and a hands-on mom to her 8-year-old daughter, Corona felt like balancing a full-time job and family commitments on top of a rigorous training plan was a challenge she would take head on. 

“But all these made my finish all the more sweeter,” she said. 

Trust the process

So, what exactly does it take to run a marathon? Coach Ken breaks it down to the following essential attributes: patience, consistency, desire, and confidence. 

Patience, he said is for the results. But results come in, one should have consistency in putting in the work and the desire to be a better version of one’s self. 

“The first three attributes come from the individual. As their marathon coach, my job is to develop in the athlete the belief in his ability which is confidence. Confidence happens when you have put in the work and embraced a growth mindset,” he said. 

Mendola said the easiest part of running a marathon is signing up for a race. However, while people get caught up by the hype and fads of running, they should also understand that it’s more of self-discovery and trusting the process. 

“It goes beyond the promise of success. It’s constantly delayed gratification over instant success and individuals who are invested in their journey are the ones who go far and can give themselves a short to see how good they can be when the right moment comes,” he added.

Training duration is unique to every individual. Focused marathon-specific training ideally takes around 16 weeks but Mendola said that what works well for one doesn’t necessarily work for all. The key however to a good build-up and preparation, he said, is gradual and progressive. 

“The more time you build your way up the marathon distance, the better you will develop a sold aerobic foundation necessary to finish a marathon,” he said. 

Internal monologues

When it comes to every training, Santos would always have her internal monologue for every dreaded workout with Coach Ken: “See, that wasn’t so bad. You didn’t die. You won yourself again.”

This mindset had prepared her to overcome one of the challenges she had set to herself and on September 25, Santos, together with Mancao, Corona and nine other WKR participants, was able to conquer the BMW Berlin Marathon in Germany. Sheemphasized the importance of having the right training before getting into completing a marathon. 

“With a right dose of self-efficacy, an expert guide who believes in you, and the power of a supportive community that looks after one another, impossible is indeed nothing,” she said.

Echoing Santos, Corona said that it takes a village to produce a world marathon finisher. This composes of coaches, family, friends, teammates, physical therapists, and nutritionists. 

“All your glory goes back to them,” she said. 

Mancao, on the other hand, said her primary goal was to finish the marathon injury-free. While she had foreseen a lot of problems that could have happened on race day such as chafing, electrolyte imbalance, and cramping, she took measures to prevent or avoid the. While things did not go as planned for her and she did not meet her coach’s goal finish time, she realized that one has to learn to adapt and keep going despite the discomfort and pain. 

“You will catch yourself thinking of stopping and just letting go of the goal of finishing the race. ‘You have nothing to prove to anyone. Stop this, you are hurting.’ You will have to decide whether you have to listen to that voice or if you can continue and push through despite the pain and discomfort,” she said. “I am proud that I was able to bounce back towards the end and cross the finish line smiling while waving the Philippine flag!”

Looking back to their first ever marathon, Santos said that finishing a marathon overhaul’s one’s life outlook for the better.

“So now, when people quip that ‘life is a marathon,’ I can gladly say after having completed one that marathon is life,” she said. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (