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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'Work hard, believe in yourself & listen to your coach' - Advice from the best on how to improve

As we enter August, many runners whose last serious run was on June 11 will slowly begin emerging from hibernation as temperatures in the Southern hemisphere begin to rise. For those who have been inactive for over a month now, the goal to start getting back in shape will be tackling a local 10km race. And because August is also Women's Month in South Africa, the Totalsports Women's Race or SPAR Women's Challenge has been penciled in on many a running calendar as the first race in earnest. So who better than the fastest 10km female athlete that has ever lived to share training tips for getting back into shape.

Yalemzerf Yehualaw came close to breaking the SA-All Comers Record with a masterclass of running on a windy day in Durban. Photo Credit: Anthony Grote.

10km World Record holder Yalemzerf Yehaulaw graced SA shores for this first time this year, when she took part in the Absa RUN YOUR CITY DURBAN 10K on the 9th of July. The Ethiopian had been aiming to set a new Women's Only World Record of 30:01, but windy conditions meant that she had to settle for winning the race in 30:46. Despite missing the record, the NN top runner produced a 2:52 last kilometre to run the fastest time ever run by any woman on SA soil. Asked just how she manages to run quite so fast, the woman who holds a 29:14 (WR) personal best gave a perhaps surprisingly simple and ultimately universal answer.

"Hard work in training. I usually do like 120km per week or more," explained the woman who also won the London Marathon on debut last October. "Secondly, you must believe in yourself. And lastly, listen to your coach," she told an audience of adoring fans at the Absa DURBAN 10K race pack collection.

Yehualaw begins to stride away from the competition at the 2023 Absa RYC DURBAN 10K. Photo Credit: Anthony Grote.

That advice which has led Yehualaw to the pinnacle of the sport is the same approach that is churning out dozens of young Ethiopian female distance running stars. For example Ethiopia boasts five of the ten fastest 5000m times run by women in 2023, where arch rivals Kenya have produced three. Yehualaw says building your speed over the shorter distances will only make you a stronger distance runner.

"The girls start running at a young age with races on the track with races like 3000m. We do hard work there. Then we do hard training that's why we are successful in running on the track and on the road. And that's why we have so many athletes there." The instructions are clear then this Women's Month: run fast; run hard; believe harder and listen to your coach.

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