This year’s London Marathon is set to be the biggest marathon ever staged anywhere in the world, with an incredible 100,000 runners scheduled to take part on Sunday 3rd October.
The Monex team is made up of eight runners, all of whom have their own reason and drive to take on the 26.2-mile challenge.
To track the team’s incredible journey in the run-up to the big day, we will be releasing a fortnightly interview with each of the runners, sharing with us an insight into the dedication and commitment that goes into the race before reaching the start line. This interview will be the first of eight in the series.
First up, we have Karen Costen, our Management Accountant at Monex Europe.
Firstly Karen – tell us about yourself:
Originally from an all-year-around hot country (Venezuela), I’m a Management Accountant at Monex, and am excited to take up the challenge of running my first ever marathon. As an only child, my parents kept me busy and entertained by making me do as many extracurricular activities as possible – from swimming and tennis, to piano lessons and even flamenco! As a result, I have always been very active and enthusiastic about sports and arts (and numbers). This year is my 10th anniversary of moving to the UK, so the London Marathon will be a great way to celebrate that!
Why have you decided to run the London 2021 Marathon?
I’ve been into sports for my whole life, but I didn’t realise how much I enjoy running until April 2020, when it was almost the only form of outdoor exercise due to the Covid pandemic and being in lockdown. I went from not running at all, to running a half marathon within four weeks (too extreme, I do not recommend!). From there, I just kept running and training, as I realised it was helping me cope with some difficult personal circumstances. Now, I want to push myself even further and enjoy the sense of achievement after running my first full marathon.
How much experience do you have running long distances?
I have run two half marathons, one by myself and another with a small group of friends; both happened last year – 2020.
How are you preparing both mentally and physically for the race?
Unfortunately, I had to let some previous injuries heal properly before I could start with the real training, so it has been a slow start. However, Monex’s Personal Trainer and Life Coach Tarik is guiding me through it all and helping to ensure I avoid injuries. Mentally, I’ve been ready for a long time…or at least that’s how I feel!
What has been the toughest challenge you have faced during your training so far, and how have you overcome it?
Shin splints. I had to be patient and stop running to let them heal fully, buy myself a better pair of trainers (better for long distance running), and do A LOT of stretching. At the moment, I am trying to improve my running technique, and this is something I hope to have mastered by the time the big day comes in October.
When it gets tough, what are your strategies to keep going?
I don’t think I’ve reached that point yet, but perhaps in summer (if it ever gets too hot), it will be a lot tougher! Usually, I have this voice in my head that tells me to keep going as I know how rewarding it is and how I never regret going out for a run – instead I feel quite the opposite!
During your training so far, have you had to correct your running technique at all? Do you have any tips for maintaining a good running form?
Yes, I’m currently trying to change my pronation and cadence and attempt to land with my toes rather than my heels. This is not something that comes naturally to me, and I will have to work on it! I’m also trying to slow down and focus more on distance rather than time.
How have you and the other Monex marathon runners supported and motivated each other?
It’s still early days, but we have a WhatsApp chat and we follow each other on Strava. For now, I sense more competition than support, but I guess that is a way of keeping each other motivated. At the end of the day, we all have the same ultimate goal, and that is to raise money for the wonderful charity “Get Kids Going!”
What is the most rewarding this about running/training for a marathon?
Realising how much my body and mind can cope with has to be one of the most rewarding things about training. I also feel like I’m choosing the best type of medicine and strategy to cope with difficulties in life. It’s great to enjoy the sense of achievement after reaching that finish line, and to remind myself that we grow and experience great things by challenging ourselves.
How will you celebrate once finishing the race?
I’m still clueless about how I’ll feel – physically and emotionally – but I know that I will want to take it all in wherever I am and enjoy what I would have achieved. No doubt I’ll have a BIG smile on my face!
What words of wisdom can you give for anyone thinking of running a marathon in the future?
Simply keep going, but do it in a smart way of course. So much of the hard work happens in our head, but we also need a good technique and know what works best for our own body. Don’t get too distracted trying to compete with others, it’s always about our own PB, although I sometimes have to remind myself of this too!
To donate to “Get Kids Going!”, please visit our JustGiving page here.