Mara Yamauchi is the second quickest female marathoner in history and when it comes to running, she certainly knows her stuff. 

The 2008 Olympics sixth-placer recently wrote a training feature for Running Monthly magazine about keeping things simple and here are some of her top tips. You can check out the full feature here 

“Runners waste so much time, energy and effort pursuing what they believe is the edge that will bring them success, while neglecting to carry out basic tasks properly,” writes Yamauchi.  

“In the elite sporting world of today, you probably have to do both – get the basics right and do all the additional extras – to succeed. But be sure you are not obsessing too much on the latter, at the expense of the former. Make sure you bake a delicious, nutritious cake to a good recipe, before you think about the icing!” 


“Training is not actually what makes you fitter – what makes you fitter is the adaptation your body undergoes after it has experienced the stimulus of training,” writes the 2:23:12 marathoner. “And naturally, resting is a good state from which your body should undergo this adaptation. Yes, we all know rest and recovery are important, but are we getting enough of them?” 

Top tips 

SLEEP: “Sleep, like food, is a fundamental part of our lives and we know that poor or insufficient sleep has negative effects. Sleep also provides top-quality rest and recovery time, which is critical for your body’s adaptation after training. So if you haven’t already, try doing a ‘sleep audit’ of your bedroom and bedtime routine, and make sure you are doing all you can to enable a good night’s sleep.” 

HYDRATION: “It’s stating the obvious to say that rehydration is important after training or racing, but it’s extraordinary how many runners don’t drink enough water or other suitable rehydrating drinks such as sports drinks, or head straight for the beers after training or racing! A good way of checking your hydration is to weigh yourself before and after training, and then aim to drink one and a half times the amount you have lost in sweat.” 

RAPID REFUELLING: “A good rule of thumb is to eat or drink something (for example, a recovery drink, a milk drink, a banana) within 20 minutes of finishing a hard training session or race. This can be followed up later with a proper meal. If you’re not sure you’re doing this, try setting a stopwatch the next time you finish hard training, and see how much time goes by before you drink or eat something.” 


“I know of world-beating athletes, who will remain nameless, who have missed the bus to the start of an Olympic race and found themselves at the start of an Olympic final without their racing shoes,” Yamauchi writes. “Turning up at an important race on time and with the correct shoes are surely the most basic of things that need to be done properly. I confess I have missed the start of two races in my career so I hold my hands up on this one! Simply running through in your head in advance everything you will do at a competition from the moment you wake up on race day to getting home that evening, will help to get all the basics right.” 

Top tips 

DON’T OVER-THINK: “Obsessing about and over-thinking races are common traps to fall into. At the end of the day, you’re getting from A to B as fast as you can, and beating everyone else! Of course, a certain level of strategy, tactics, and planning needs to go into every race. But spending too much time and energy on this does have a cost in wasted mental energy.” 

KNOW YOUR RACE: “Doing a recce of something is a very basic form of preparation and is used in all walks of life. So why not in running? If you have a race coming up, try running the course in advance – believe me, it will make a huge difference on race day. If it is really impossible to do this, then have a good look on Google Earth or look at the course map and course profile.” 

  • Mara Yamauchi clocked 2:23:12 for second in the 2009 London Marathon to rank behind only Paula Radcliffe among Britons for the distance. She was sixth at the 2008 Olympics, equalling the best by a British female over 26 miles at the Games. She retired in 2013 and now coaches all levels of distance runners 
  • This article was first published in Running Monthly. For more of the latest running and athletics news, plus performance features and much more, grab a copy of the magazine or check out