translated by Brett Larner
There is less than one month to go to the first medals are handed out at the Daegu World Championships in the women's marathon. Preparing for her national team debut, Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) has been in focused training both domestically and abroad since mid-June, with everything going smoothly as she makes the final adjustments to her preparations. "I want to show up in the best possible condition, and I'm doing everything I can to build up the base for a first-class body," she says, showing the determination which underlies her training.
Beginning June 15, Ito trained at altitude for 20 days in Boulder, Colorado on a federation-sponsored training camp along with members of teams such as Wacoal and Tenmaya, which include Olympians and World Championships-level athletes among their ranks. In severe conditions of over 35 degrees she ran a 30 km training run on a steeply hilly course to help increase the function of her lungs with an eye toward the World Championships marathon.
With a training plan including interval sessions at marathon pace she has worked actively toward improving her overall speed, but the training camp has also included plenty of 40 km runs. "It was no problem at all. I got through everything feeling great," she says, showing a hint of the depth of her self-confidence.
On July 10th Ito relocated her training to Hokkaido. Even with her priority being on recovery from the fatigue of her difficult training in Boulder, Ito continued on with her Daegu preparations. Racing as a training run, she finished 7th in the July 24 Shibetsu Half Marathon in 1:16:15. In the first half she ran in the lead pack which averaged 17:20 per 5 km, but in the second half of the race she fell back quickly and finished 3:09 behind the winner. "I hate losing," she says, "but I just want to take the positive from this and sharpen things up from here."
In August Ito will change her training base again to Nagano as she enters the final stage of her preparations. With no break in her pledge to "carry on with training" after being named to the national team in the spring, Ito looks ready and fully prepared to take on the world in Daegu.