Mara Yamauchi, Marathon women


The Ordnance survey running group (see link for more info  ) had arranged for Mara to come and give a talk about marathon running


Those who don’t recognise the name Mara Yamauchi is an elite GB Marathon runner.  In April 2006 she became the second fastest British woman ever behind world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, finishing sixth in the London marathon (2:25:13). She also came 6th in the Beijing Olympics. More details can be found here.


The talk was offered to local run leaders in the area and I was offered a place to attend so jumped at the chance.


It was held in the OS plush offices  in their lunch hour.

Here’s a quick run down of the brilliant knowledge Mara had to share.

A marathon is aerobic, it’s a fat burning form of exercise.

Key things that are just important as training,

Hydration, not just being hydrated on race day but hydrated all the time, it is important for recovery too.

Having something to eat or drink 20 minutes after a run aids a good recovery. Chocolate milk has a good balance or carbs and protein.

A good varied diet, supplements shouldn’t be needed if you eat well and are healthy

Sleep is paramount! You really need good sleep to recover.

Rest and recovery, training breaks down the muscles and it’s the rest that makes the muscles rebuild stronger.

She then spoke about training because without the above you cannot train.

There are different types of runs, long run, intervals, tempo, threshold hills and a fast jog.

She spoke about the fast jog as its something that in the UK, a lot of marathon plans miss out. A fast jog is a pace, 85% of your race pace. She spoke of the benefits of doing runs at this pace as it teaches your body to work aerobically which is what is required in the race.

With regards to the long run, this can be slow or mixed up. Its about time on your feet.  Stick a few hills in, do a section at fast jog and slow again, add a few surges. She suggests keeping it varied with interesting routes so you don’t lose motivation.  If you can do a long run for the time you think it will take you to complete a marathon that will be useful mentally as you then know you can run for that time (pace will obviously be a lot slower than race day so you wont run the full 26 miles)

Hill sprints are useful, short sharp hill. Sprint up it for 10 to 15 seconds. This doesn’t have to be reps but can be a part of a long run etc.

Injuries and injury prevention.

She recommends strength training and in particular to look after your gluts! Single leg bridge or explosive step ups are the exercises she does.

She prefers to run off road as much as she can, it strengthens the legs more as you need all your muscles for stability.

If you are injured keep up the cross training. She preferred the indoor bike and used a heart rate monitor to check how she hard she is working. Swimming is good along with the cross trainer machine. She has also done aqua swimming, using it as intervals, you have to work slightly harder as the water supports your body but its great training if you can not run.

She briefly spoke about physiotherapists and if you are injured and are seeing one, its ok to get a second opinion if you are not healing.

It was an inspiring talk by an amazing athlete and the tips are relevant to not only marathon distance but to all distances.

Mara hasn’t got a next race planned, she has retired as an elite but reinvented herself as a vet runner. She is thinking of an ultra!

Hope you find this useful!