Season 10 of the Milo R2 APEX Running School has ended and the Manila leg of the 39th Milo Marathon is only a few days away. Even though I started late with the running clinic, I am confident that the training I received has prepared me – both mentally and physically – for one of the most anticipated marathons in the country. I may not be able to make it to the qualifying time** for my age group (actually, I am sure of that), but I am still confident that I will cross the finish line with so much time to spare before the cutoff of 6 hours. I am confident that I will be receiving the much coveted medal at the finish line. I am confident that my finish time will surpass my personal best which I also recorded during the 36th edition of the same race – my very first Milo marathon. And I am also confident that I will have a ‘strong finish’ and with no major injuries. There will only be happiness and satisfaction at the finish line come July 26.
This confidence is because of the fact that MARS has provided me, and a few hundred runners, the necessary ‘tools’ for what is to come during the race day. I have been under the supervision of knowledgeable and very capable trainers and coaches who made sure that I maximize the benefits of each exercise that they make us do. The ‘extra push’ from the coaches served as inspiration to try harder and do better. One thing I learned from this whole experience is that it is only when you push yourself hard enough that you can identify which aspects (both of yourself and your ‘game’) need improvements.
Joining the Program
When I started preparing for the Milo Marathon this year, my original plan was to train on my own. I figured that if I was able to do it in the past, I should also be able to do it this time. However, when my boss Inez offered and then later actually enrolled me to the Milo APEX Running School, my plan took a 180-degree turn. When initially I only planned to join running clinics when time permits, I suddenly found myself really making time for the MARS workouts.
So for the first time, I found myself toughing it out with MARS (Season 10) every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. And for two months, I have not missed any of their sessions since I started on May 19 (well, except for the two Dragonboat weekends which I skipped in favor of LSD (long, slow distance) runs.
God knows how thankful I am that I have finally joined one of the most sought after running clinics in the city. Thanks (a million) to Milo R2 for providing an opportunity like this for runners. For me personally it was the best opportunity to learn things that I otherwise would not have learned had I stuck with my initial plans of training solo.
Thank you also to Coaches Jim and Toni for cleverly organizing and planning the running clinic itself. Kudos to them for unselfishly sharing their knowledge and skills to make sure that everyone participating in the trainings come out of it a little better, physically and mentally. The ‘science’ that they put into the workout plans is a tremendous help on terms of maximizing the benefits from each exercise.
Of course, I would also like to thank my very supportive boss Inez for getting me into the program in the first place. Thanks also to the rest of NoBox Philippines for the support. You, guys, are just amazing. All of these would not have been possible without your support and understanding.
A big thanks also to the coaches (especially those from the BGC camp) for diligently executing the plans and patiently supervising the participants. Their hard work is commendable, especially because they had to deal with different personalities on a regular basis while making sure that each runner is doing the exercises properly. Special shoutout to the 42-km category coaches because what I’ve seen from them is sheer dedication to the sport that everybody now loves. It’s not only inspiring to see them work hard for the whole group but it’s more inspiring to note that they also work more closely with each runner as they try to address the runners’ individual concerns. I am, myself, a recipient of that generosity because I happen to have more than just a few problems that I thought have been plaguing my running since I started. Their availability and willingness to share what they know is just incomparable.
I am also thankful for the support and camaraderie from the other runners, especially those in the 42-km category whom I ‘suffered’ and had the most fun with three times a week. Your insights and friendship are inspiring. Thank you all for providing the right amount of ‘push’ and an overflowing support.
Something I realized after all this is the fact that running is not really an individual sport. I just look at the number of people I have to thank to realize that running involves not only the runner but, more importantly, the people who make the runner better.
Toughing it out and getting better
Being a first timer in this program, I only had a vague idea of what to expect. I have trained with other coaches in other running clinics a few years back and I know that running coaches can be very tough but honestly, nothing has prepared me for the workouts with the MARS coaches. As I found out on my very first day, the exercises were so intense that my first few sessions left my body totally ‘shocked’. The intensity of the workouts on May 19, actually left me dizzy and I was about to throw up.
The second session wasn’t any better:
It was during these times that I actually felt inadequate but I knew that things can only get better. And true enough after a month, I am able to add more to the usual workouts. At this point, I was becoming more confident with how I perform during the workouts. I no longer felt like I had to ‘conserve’ my energy just so I can complete the exercises during the actual workouts. It was also at this point that I started to really notice the fun we have during the drills. For me, this was already a sign that my body has adjusted and was somewhat ready for tougher things – and the coaches did not disappoint in making us work harder, mind you.
Yes, I struggled so hard during my first time but I am confident to claim that at the end of the season, I have improved a lot as a runner. The fact that I learned a lot and that I performed way better than when I started should be a sign of such improvement.
MARS: Improving the runners among us
Indeed the Milo R2 APEX Running School has been a great opportunity for self-improvement – physically, and socially.
It provided the workouts that make a runner stronger and probably faster. In a sport that requires both endurance and speed, this is very important. Even if one claims to be a ‘purely recreational’ runner (or one who only does it for fun, as many of us claim), a running clinic like MARS is still very important because it helps us condition our bodies in order to avoid injuries. It should be noted that whether we are competitive runners or we run just for fun, we all at some point suffer from the same injuries if we are not properly conditioned or if we do not have the proper training. MARS is there to provide the opportunity for conditioning and strengthening.
MARS sessions also gave the runners (who were strangers to each other at first) the perfect opportunity to learn together and share experiences with one another. It was indeed a perfect time for bonding (and forming friendships) among runners. Why is this important? Because as I mentioned earlier, running is not really an individual sport. It is, more importantly, a social activity that brings together individuals from all walks of life.
Of course, MARS was also a good morale booster for most runners. Personally, after joining Season 10, I can say that I am more prepared, mentally, to tackle the next 42 kilometers. This is probably because I am confident in how the coaches taught me. And this is why unlike before, I can now really rest during the week before the actual race. (In my marathons, I would always find myself ‘cramming’ during the last week before the race and except for the first two, I almost always ended not really achieving my target.)
It is for these important lessons that I have now learned to appreciate running clinics more. I appreciate MARS, in particular, because it is a well organized process. While I do not claim to be an expert now or that I know a lot, I know for a fact that MARS is based on a well-thought of process that ensures maximum benefit for all runners, regardless of their background or experience. It really embodies the Milo Marathon tagline #BuildingChampions because whatever happens during the actual race on July 26, we are already champions in our own right.
See you at the starting line. And let’s all celebrate at the finish line.
“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” – Frank Shorter
[**For those not familiar, the Milo Marathon has qualifying times for different age groups and anyone who makes it to their respective times during the elimination rounds will have a chance to join the full marathon during the finals to be held in December. The full marathon during the finals is exclusive only to the qualifiers during the elimination rounds.]
Thanks a lot to Rickpets Lens and Ms. Sheryll Quimosing for the photos I used here. You, guys, are the best.