“I set myself the goal of running a marathon before I turned 50!”
Pablo Martellotta, CORE (Community Relations) Corporate Manager, ran in the Buenos Aires International Marathon in September earlier this year. However, his preparation–both physical and mental–began many years before that. How he did it and what lessons he learned from running.
Pablo Martellota hails from Neuquén, Argentina, a confident climber who at one time spent much of his free time mountaineering. In fact, he twice summited the Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas. However, his work and personal journey drew him away from the mountains, presenting him with different challenges—such as long-distance running.
“I spent my first years at Tecpetrol in the oilfields in Neuquén, my home province, where I’d studied to be a chemical engineer. I trained a lot for mountaineering, I was already used to running, but when I was posted to work at the oilfields in the northwestern province of Salta, I started to do more of it,” explains Pablo.
When he was transferred to Buenos Aires in 2010, he found it hard to get used to running on tarmac, but he persevered, keeping up his routine of going out for a run a few times a week. Nothing too demanding—until a friend suggested he run a half-marathon (21K) in Bogota, Colombia. “I signed up, went, and thought, 'wow, this is something else.' It meant quite a different sort of training,” he admits.
During the next five years, he took part in every half-marathon that came his way, including the Ternium and Tenaris family races. But something inside was itching to go for more.
“I set myself a goal: before I turn 50, I’m going to run the full 42 km,” he recalls. He began training with a rigorous 16-week plan, involving going for a run four days a week. The first day was about taking things at a normal pace. On the second, he would step it up, adding speed or slopes. The third day was back to a more relaxed pace, and on the fourth, he had to cover a long distance to test his endurance. “You start out doing 13 kilometers the first week and progressively increase the distance until you get to 32. You never run a marathon to train for a marathon. About 20 days before the race, you can start to cut back on the distance, and then you do 15 kilometers the weekend before the date of the marathon itself,” explains Pablo.
“The last part of the race you do in your head”
When you get to km 30 of a race, Pablo explains that your body “starts to ask you to go home.” This is one of the most daunting enemies that marathoners have to face, and it’s known as "the wall". “Everything hurts, your wrists, your fingernails, your hair… and you have to be tough and say 'let's keep going.' The last part of the race you do in your head,” he rounds off. Developing the right psychological mindset and building stamina is an essential part of marathon training, as much as diet and wearing the right apparel.
In 2017, just a year and a few months before his 50th birthday, Pablo achieved his goal of completing running a marathon. “I made it to the finishing line, honorably,” he recalls. Immediately, he was tempted by a new objective—to improve on his race time. “You just need to set a goal. Anyone can do this with minimum stress, it’s all about having the will to do it and proper planning. The satisfaction of making it to the finishing line is indescribable,” he says encouragingly.
Running has left Pablo with several learnings that he has found apply to all kinds of aspects in life, including the workplace. “If you have a plan, are willing to make the effort, make sacrifices, dedicate yourself and be consistent, you can achieve any goal you set for yourself. This goes for work, personal or family issues. Training also offers another advantage as it organizes you and obliges you to be very methodical. If I’m training tomorrow, there are things I can't eat, drink or do today. These guidelines are also useful for work and life in general.”
Pablo also underscores the benefits of spending time listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks while training: it’s about disconnecting so you can later reconnect with your responsibilities, and be able to perform better.
To those who feel unprepared or unsure about trying running, Pablo offers us a little pearl of wisdom: “Everybody has been new to something once."
His goal for this year's Buenos Aires Marathon was to be able to document his run and motivate more people to join in. And, once again, he pulled it off.