Marathon Lecturedraws a crowd

Mara Yamauchi’s philosophy on running

‘Marathon Lecture’ draws a crowd

The what: A lecture on marathon running sponsored by Virgin Atlantic and held with the support of Time Out Tokyo.

The who: Professional marathon runner, Mara Yamauchi, winner of the 2008 Osaka International Women’s Marathon and sixth place getter in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The where: Time Out Café & Diner in Ebisu.

With the marathon and ekiden season err, running at full speed, Time Out Tokyo hosted a public lecture with elite athlete Mara Yamauchi. Attended by sporting professionals, amateurs and the curious alike, Mara revealed her dream of Olympic stardom ever since age 11, when she first watched the English athletic team take five gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Having since run in Beijing, and now undergoing strict daily training in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics, it was only at age 29 that Mara began to train seriously. Until then, she kept running while working at the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The adage ‘better late than never’ holding true, Mara also disclosed how she maintains her motivation, stressing that the most important thing is ‘…continuing to dream. Even if you think your dream is impossible, keep holding on, and set smaller goals that are connected to it. For example, if your dream is winning a gold medal at the London Olympics, make a daily training plan to become stronger physically and mentally. Then: live your life incorporating your plan right up to race day.’

Yet training is not enough to win gold medals; according to Mara, you can also become faster by conditioning your body. ‘It’s important to have proper days off and make time to get enough sleep.’ She cited her own example as proof: nine hours of sleep a night and an hour nap.

The lecture culminating in a Q&A session, Mara also answered the question on everyone’s lips: ‘What do you think about when you are running?’ Her responses were varied and surprising. In short training sessions she may contemplate what to eat for breakfast. During the Osaka International Women’s Marathon however, her mind ran a repeat loop of its own, broadcasting the headline, ‘Yamauchi overtakes Race Queen Fukushi.’ In any case, the power of positive thinking is a must. Mara also took time to answer a few questions from Time Out Tokyo:

Where do you usually run when you are training?
MY: Tamagawa River. It’s convenient because my house is nearby and there are a variety of courses to choose from. It’s really important to eat and rest immediately after running, so it’s better for me to remain nearby rather than travelling long distances. But: it does get boring running near home everyday, so I sometimes run at Gaien or Yoyogi Park, or Todoroki Athletics Stadium for track training.

So it’s okay to eat straight after running?
MY: When you run, you damage your muscles, so it’s good to eat as soon as possible after training. Not convinced? Your body absorbs the most carbohydrates in the first fifteen minutes post-training. Rehydration is also important; I recommend having a recovery drink as soon as you can after running. If your body gets the proper nutrition, it will recover more quickly.

Finally, what are the advantages to training in Japan?
MY: One benefit is that are many blue sky days in autumn, winter and spring. Also, Japanese food is really good for runners. When I race in Japan, the competition is at a high level which really helps spur me on. With regard to women’s marathons, Japan has the highest number of elite runners in the world. At the Sydney and Athens Olympic Games, Japanese runners took the gold two years straight. I have run races with Mizuki Noguchi on several occasions – I am very fortunate to be able to run alongside Olympic athletes. I also get to see the Japanese teams train. I am aiming to be a world-class runner. Here in Japan I get a close hand view of what I need to do in order to do that. It makes me realise how hard I need to work.

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By Akiko Toya
Translated by E. Kavanagh
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



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