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October 23, 2023

The Melbourne woman who won the first marathon she’d ever run

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 5:10 am

Running a marathon is a huge achievement. Winning a marathon is incredibly impressive.

And winning the first ever marathon you’ve run? That’s gotta be one for the history books.

Well, that’s exactly what one Melbourne woman has done, a year after giving birth.

After taking home gold in the race, Gemma Maini said: “It’s crazy to think this time last year I probably couldn’t even run 1km at the pace I ran the marathon at!”

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Gemma Maini crosses the finish line at the Melbourne marathon

The athlete and ASICS ambassador has previously represented Australia at the World Cross Country Championships, in both the 5000m and 10,000m distances.

Two years ago, Maini watched the Melbourne marathon while pregnant from the side lines, and last year watched it with her newborn son, Ollie. She then made a promise to run the event this year.

Before taking her place at the starting line, Maini hadn’t ever run the full 42 kilometres of a marathon in one go.

“It was definitely daunting lining up to race a distance I’d never even run before,” she told 9Honey, revealing that the longest run she’d done previously was 37 kilometres.

She says that she did a lot of training to get her body ready – but the most important thing is starting out slow.

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Gemma Maini uses her son as inspiration while running.

“Three weeks after giving birth I began some light pilates to re-engage my core and strengthen my pelvic floor muscles to prepare my body for exercise,” she said. “Over the next 3 weeks I gradually increased the amount of walking I was completing and starting some light elliptical sessions.”

Only after she had built up a strong base fitness level, and gotten a sign-off from a women’s health physio could she start actually running.

She then began running longer distances, at slower speeds. “For two to three months prior to the marathon I was running about 145km a week,” she said, adding that she competed in other fun runs to help her understand what pace she needed to set.

“One key event for me to gauge my pace over the marathon distance was racing at the Gold Coast Half Marathon. Events like this break up the monotony of training and allow you to put to practice the training you’ve been doing.”

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Gemma Maini training with an evening run

As an ASICS athlete, Maini says that she places a lot of importance on her mental wellbeing as well as how her body performs.

“The brand ethos is about maintaining a sound mind and sound body, which is really important to me and crucial to my training as a runner,” she said.

“I had a number of mental strategies in place to overcome the rough patches that can be inevitable in racing – picturing my 16 month old son Ollie at the top of the hill near the Shrine being one, and ensuring I stayed in the present moment, not thinking about the outcome but on the kilometre I was running.”

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Though your goal might not be running a marathon, Maini says everyone has the ability to become a runner.

“Start slowly and gradually increase the time spent running each week, it will get easier,” she said. Finding a group to run with or using your run to explore new streets and trails can makes the initial stages easier to get through, mentally.

Another absolutely critical thing for any runner is finding the right shoes – if you can, get them fitted by a professional. “I used a gait analysis at an ASICS store to help me find the correct shoes for me,” she said, adding that her current go-to shoes are the GEL-NIMBUS 25’s for easy recovery runs, the SUPERBLASTS for long runs and the METAPSEED SKY+ for fast interval sessions and for racing.

Maini says that switching out your shoes on different runs help you to engage different stabilising muscles and build better overall strength.

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