They are both elite runners who compete at the top level, but the training methods of Yuki Kawauchi from Japan and Kenneth Mungara from Kenya could not be more different.
Kawauchi is the Citizen Runner
Kawauchi, who is famously known as the Citizen Runner because he holds down a full time job as a civil servant in Japan, trains daily and completes in a marathon almost every week.
Said Kawauchi, “I take every one of my races seriously. I have big target races and other races to prepare for those. Every race is unique to me as I love each one. I also love what I am doing.”
Kawauchi shared his own recent personal running story. From 8 January to 18 June this year, he has had at least three to four races per month and these included a 50km ultra marathon on 18 June, in which he finished in first place in 2 hours 47 minutes 35 seconds… this ultra marathon was less than a month before his Gold Coast Airport Marathon race, and this feat is something that most elite runners would possibly not dare to attempt. That is what makes Kawauchi quite unique.
Said Kawauchi, “a month without any races makes me feel nervous.”
Mungara takes part in a few marathon races per year
On the other hand, Mungara, like most Kenyans, believes only in taking part in a few races per year and completing full training blocks to prepare for his key races.
He said “Yuki is good. He can run so many races and do well at them all. I do about three marathons a year and I train for one marathon before I go to another race. I have a running programme that I follow.”
The Kenyan runner added, “Every runner has their own secrets, and I can’t tell you what is the programme that I am on when I train for marathons: that is secret. But when I do not have a marathon coming up, I am on another programme that helps to keep my body fit and I change to another training programme during my marathon cycle. I do not measure my kilometres though.”
Not your typical Kenyan runner
But Mungara is not your typical Kenyan runner. In fact, he did not start training at a young age. Now aged 43, he used to work as a barber before he became a professional runner. Said Mungara, “I did not train when I was small. I was a barber at my place and my friends whom I cut the hair of, chatted to me about their running and training programmes. I was inspired to go into running. I felt that it was my calling, and I have never looked back.”
He added, “I knew in my mind that I could do well at running even though I was older. I was confident that I could be like my friends.”
Shared their running stories at the Garmin Legends Luncheon
Both Kawauchi and Mungara shared their running stories last weekend at the Garmin Legends Lunch, a pre-race luncheon that traditionally takes place the day before the Gold Coast Airport Marathon to prepare runners for the race.
Kawauchi had recalled the sprint photo finish at last year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon event, and how he had come so close to clinching the win. The race organisers refreshed the minds of runners, by showing a video of the amazing finish during the luncheon.
Said Kawauchi, “It was a hard race but the finish was something I loved. Losing at the end was disappointing and seeing the video brought it back but I had sprained my ankle in 2014 and coming to the Gold Coast and breaking 2:10 hours made me happy. I love the competition.”
Calm before the race
Mungara however, had been the picture of calmness even though he had been speaking to runners on the day before the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. To him, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon was simply another race, though he did share that he has a pre-race routine that involves lots of resting and sleeping.
Said Mungara “I sleep in and wait for the race. After lunch, I would stay put and rest till flag off. I do not run the day before a race. I do plenty of eating and sleeping and get my race uniform ready early.”
He continued, “Then when I wake up on the morning of the race, I will get a shower before my run. We do not take breakfast till we are done. Waking up at 5am for the race is normal for me, as I wake up at 5 every day. My warm up prior to the race lasts about 15 to 20 minutes and I would do strides before I go to the start line. I warm up to make sure that my body feels good.”