Today on RunnersPH Interview, we tell the story of the “girl power” that transcended the marathon finish line. If you think that only men can last long distance runs, then this three-time marathoner proves you are wrong! Having conquered two ultramarathons with decent finish times, she is confident to proclaim that no distance is ever impossible beyond one’s determination.
Eva Marie Soquena, welcome to The Finish Line! Tell us something about yourself that the world doesn’t know.
I work as a Team Lead in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Manila. While people have me pegged as the outdoorsy-type because I’m a runner, I actually prefer spending my off-running free time indoors by reading books, doodling, practicing calligraphy, and watching movies and TV series.
When did you start to run and what motivated you?
I used to be overweight two years ago, so I started going to the gym. Then, I realized that my gym membership was a tad too pricey to maintain, so I switched to running. Back then, running was just something I did to lose weight, but eventually I got hooked. From 5K runs, I moved on to running longer distances with 50K (plus 4K) ultramarathon being my longest running event to date.
At first, what problems did you encounter or what physical complaints did you experience? How did you take care of those?
My legs used to hurt all the time, even though I was only running short distances. A friend told me that I might not be using the right type of shoes for my feet so I heeded his advice and had my gait analyzed.
Do you run individually or in groups? Tell us something about your running community if you have joined one.
While I am a member of a running group, I usually do my long runs alone. I am a member of Team Ayala Triads and we train every Tuesdays at Ayala Triangle Gardens. Our training sessions are open to the public and they’re free.
I also have a set of girl friends who are fellow runners and whenever we can, we do conditioning workouts together.
Please describe your typical training ground. Where do you usually run?
I do my trainings on the road, on mostly flat grounds with some uphills. The location depends on the distance that I’m planning to run. For my Tuesday training with Team Ayala Triads, my training ground is the Ayala Triangle Courtyard in Makati City. For long slow distance (LSD) runs, I have a different training ground. For 10-16K training runs, I take the MOA-CCP-KM0 route. If I’m targeting a distance of more than 16K, I usually take the Ayala-BGC-Heritage-BGC-Ayala route. I rarely train on tracks or anywhere with loops because I get easily bored.
Which running shoes are you using? Please share some personal tips on how to choose the right shoes for optimum performance.
I have several pairs of running shoes, but the one I wear the most on trainings and running events is my Asics Gel-Kayano 20.
To choose the right shoes, one must first have their gait analyzed at any running retail store. Then once you know what type of shoes you should wear, I recommend reading reviews about shoes that fall under your type. That’s what I did. I chose the one with the really good reviews and I didn’t regret it.
What other running-must-haves do you wear or carry with you and which you cannot run without?
I always wear a headgear, be it a sunvisor or a headband. While I don’t mind the sun on my face, I wear headgears to keep my hair away from my face. Also, since I’m always exposed to the sun, my other running must-have is sunblock. I always make it a point to wear sunblock, not because I don’t want to get dark, but because it helps the skin from aging too fast from sun exposure. Also, I always bring my iPod with me especially on solo long distance runs. Music always helps me focus.
How do you prepare for a major running event? Tell us about the details of your training plan.
I don’t follow a certain training plan, but I make it a point to run two to three times a week. The distance of my training runs would depend on the distance category that I’ll be joining. Then, I also do conditioning workouts at gym and cross-training by swimming as part of my training plan. Back when I haven’t yet discovered the benefits of cross-training, I got injured a lot due to being over-trained. Through conditioning workouts and cross-training, I’ve become a stronger and faster runner, even if I lessened my mileage runs.
How often do you participate in organized fun runs? What is your most favorite running event (in the Philippines) and distance, why?
I participate in fun runs every one or two months. It usually depends on my work schedule.
Being in the BPO industry, I don’t always have weekdays off so I always have to plan my races ahead of time. My favorite running event is the Condura Skyway Marathon because there’s nothing quite like running on the skyway. As for the distance, my favorite is still the half-marathon distance (21K). I like how this distance is not too long and not too short.
During the race, how do keep yourself motivated and strong to reach the finish line?
Seeing my friends and teammates along the race route motivates me. It always helps to hear people cheering on me or giving me encouraging words, and me doing the same for them.
Can you think of an embarrassing moment you had while running? Do you mind sharing it with us?
I remember tripping and falling in an ultra event. One of my knees hit a rock upon falling, so my compression pants got torn and my knee got wounded. It was so embarrassing because I cried, not because of my bleeding knee but because of my torn compression pants.
What is the first thing that you do after finishing a race? Give us also some methods that you found effective for your post-race recovery.
After finishing a race, I always make it a point to do cool-down stretches. Also, once I get home, I always do the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). It never fails.
Share with us the benefits you have gained from running ever since you started.
I’m less stressed and I don’t get tired easily. Also, I’ve managed to lose some weight and I can now eat anything that I want without going back to being overweight again.
Inspire us with the greatest accomplishments you had so far achieved in running.
With just two years of running, I’ve already finished three full marathons and two ultramarathons (50K), and all with decent finish times.
Looking back, how has running changed or impacted your life as a whole.
Ever since I started running, I’ve had a happier disposition. Running also helped me get a new and more positive outlook in life.
We’re interested to know your future goals as far as running is concerned. It can be something else that you want to do more.
I’m looking to run longer ultramarathon distances. I’ve done two 50K runs and I want to do more, perhaps 60K or 80K. I’m also looking forward to joining international races. I’ll be running my first one soon, before the end of this year.
Finally, please give a personal message or advice to inspire and encourage those people who are about to start running.
Anyone can run. No distance is ever impossible as long as you have trained well for it, and as long as you have the heart and the determination to finish it.
RunnersPH Interview features inspiring stories of Filipino runners. It is a series of conversations where they share proven tips, personal advice, lessons learned, and gainful experiences that show the delightful ways that running can intersect with life.