Last week saw my return back to the track after signing up for an exclusive training session with former Olympic athlete, Mara Yamauchi organised by the West London running club, Ealing Eagles. The track session pushed me beyond my comfort zone as I ran with others who were faster than me for the longer runs but I came out of feeling absolutely exhilarated. I had a chance to chat to Mara after about her top training tips after, read on for advice and tips for your own training.
Oxford-born, Mara Yamauchi is a former Olympic athlete who, second to Paula Radcliffe, holds one of the fastest marathon times by a British woman (2:25:13) which was recorded at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. To put this into perspective, most runners aim for a -2 hour HALF marathon! Mara had previously trained with Ealing Eagles running club in Summer 2016 and had agreed to come back to do more training sessions in 2017, the first of this series being in mid-February on a non-distinct Tuesday evening. As I normally tend to get with new things that are different, I spent a few hours in the afternoon wondering whether I should go, then I remembered how far ahead I had signed up and how much it will help me with my Duathlon training. At that point, I hurriedly changed into lycra and set off for the track.
The athletics track inspires me with memories of success, pains of failures and hopes for new and exciting sporting challenges. As much as I love to get out and explore new turf on weekend adventures, there is nothing quite like setting foot back onto the maroon-coloured astroturf and running in lane heading for the finish line.
Mara Yamauchi’s endurance training session
I wasn’t quite sure why everyone laughed when Mara confirmed she was going to give us another intervals session similar to one she did last Summer, and then she began to explain it.
The training session was:
- 3 x 400m, 90 seconds rest at the end
- 4 x 200m, 30 seconds rest in between each 200m
- 2 mins rest
- Repeat again x 3 times
Mara’s training session aimed to improve endurance over a longer period of time which is great for those competing in events which last longer than 30 minutes, so often it’s quite easy to play around with shorter distances when it comes to intervals. Despite being organised into three separate groups, inevitably everyone began to start and stop their intervals at different times, I ended up running alongside Elizabeth and Jess who were strangers at the start of the session and friends by the end.
Three is better than one
The benefits of group training are amazing because different people’s strengths help to improve your own weaknesses. I was more than happy to run at the back while Elizabeth and Jess lead on the 400m repeats, mainly because I didn’t have a choice but during the 200m runs the order was reversed. Running past the ever encouraging Mara was a great boost, not to mention the support from the Ealing Eagles team who were positioned around the track.
There soon developed a huge sense of camaraderie between the three of us as we stuck together throughout the whole session, by the end of it we were encouraging each other to keep going. There is no way I would have maintained that pace without them which lead me to feel a huge sense of achievement at the end, that being said, I politely bowed out of the second warm down lap at the end.
If you are starting to run or returning back to running, I urge you to look up the nearest running club near you and see if you can try a track session. You normally have to pay a small fee to use the track (£2-3) as well as any joining fees for the running club but it really is worth it. The track can help you measure out distances for interval sessions and you will be surrounded by people who are performing at the level you want to.
Mara’s training tips
At the end of the session, I was talking to Mara about training and nutrition. Mara explained to me that, amongst other things, consistency was the key to her success as an elite athlete; design a training schedule and stick to it! This makes so much sense to me as I have slowly returned back to running over the course of 3+ months, it was originally just doing 5k ParkRuns every weekend that got me enjoying running again.
We also talked about getting your nutrition right when training, ensure you have some carbohydrates and protein on hand straight after every demanding workout so you can repay the energy you’ve just burnt. This is when Chocolate Nesquik comes into the picture! The sugars from Nesquik and electrolytes and protein from milk makes chocolate milk a really great recovery drink.
Going back to the track was a reminder that I can push myself to achieve far greater things when surrounded by other people which is even more amplified when training under the supervision of a former elite athlete. This was a huge boost for me as I’m training for my first duathlon in March. I wanted to say thank you to Ealing Eagles for organising this as well as Mara herself for organising a great track session!
Live in West London and looking for a new running club? Join up to Ealing Eagles running club via the website.