How to take on the marathon distance with GB Marathon Runner Mara Yamauchi

How to take on the marathon distance

If you want to learn from the very best, GB Marathon Runner and two-time Olympian, Mara Yamauchi, has got it all written down for everyone to benefit from. Her first book Marathon Wisdom will be published by Meyer & Meyer Sport very soon.

Here’s a taster of advice from Mara's book, which will undoubtedly be a page-turner for anyone who is about to tackle their first marathon distance or wanting to improve.

Mara Yamauchi marathon runner

"My book is a collection of 42.195 – the number of kilometres in a marathon - insights on running and life. These insights are a distillation of everything I learned as a marathon runner, including at elite level. I would be thrilled if you bought my book, but by way of an introduction to it, here are my tips on how to take on the marathon.

The first key task is to figure out a training routine that is suitable for your ability, age and history of running, which you can complete consistently over weeks and months. It is better to perform a routine consistently than to take on too much and find yourself unable to do it. If you are a beginner, then 2-3 runs per week is a good place to start. From there you can increase your training by intensity, volume and frequency – but in manageable amounts which allow time between runs for recovery.

The marathon is a long event, and based on that, I prioritise three key types of running: long runs, long intervals and ‘fast jog’ runs, which build up aerobic capacity. A ‘fast jog’ is a speed at which you just cannot have a conversation. Of course, other types of runs such as easy runs, hills and short intervals have their value, but it is a question of prioritising. 

When you train, your body suffers small amounts of damage, which stimulates it to adapt and become stronger and faster. When you train again, this process is repeated and over time, you will improve. The goal of your routine should be improvement over time. If you achieve this, then keep doing more of the same. If you are not improving or getting slower, then your routine needs to change. 

Activities away from training which support your running are also very important. Top of this list is sleep, and food. Looking after yourself, reducing stress, and mental preparation are also key.

I am a stickler for detail, so making sure all logistical and practical things for race day are in order in good time is also vital. How you will get to the start and home afterwards, wearing in your kit and shoes, practicing what you will drink during the race, estimating your race pace etc – if you are on top of all these things, you can free up mental energy for a good performance.

And finally, perhaps my most important tip is to take time after a marathon to rest, reflect on your performance and celebrate. A marathon and all the training for it is a major undertaking, and you must give yourself a pat on the back afterwards!"

To find out more about Mara's book release, visit marayamauchi.com.

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