On the final day of the 15th IAAF World Championships held in Beijing, Mai Ito from the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Track & Field Team ran for Japan in the Women's Marathon. Although the final day was cloudy compared to the blazing weather throughout the games, Ms. Ito ran confidently in hot conditions and finished first among all Japanese runners, earning her the right to run in the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ms. Ito focused on training and overcame harsh conditions in preparation for her second time competing in the World Championships. For this marathon, she concentrated on strengthening her muscles, with particular focus on training her lower body by performing squats with weights - a workout that she endured even after suffering a stress fracture in her foot.
Paying close attention to everyday diet and hydration prior to the competition was another factor contributing to her strong performance. She consumed more protein and carbohydrates, chose jellied food if she felt that this was a better choice for her digestion, and took amino acid supplements in addition to her meals to counter fatigue.
Careful hydration before and during running is just as important as daily diet. Ms. Ito chose ion supply drinks with optimum amounts of sugars to prevent dehydration throughout and to support her spurt in the latter part of her run.She was careful about hydration during training and at competitions, and the results of her daily adjustments were obvious from her performance at the marathon beyond the 30 kilometers point. While many runners down-paced by trying to catch up with the fastest spurting group, Ms. Ito's determined run earned her a ticket to the upcoming Olympics after she finished 7th, the highest among Japanese runners.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Track & Field Team's athletes receive physical training and instructions on diet & hydration from instructors, coaches and a dietitian, all with a scientific approach tailored to each athlete's physical features and conditions.
"It is crucial that each of our athletes recognize the science behind the various support they receive during their training and apply it towards international competitions," commented Mr. Tadasu Kawano, Team Coach. "Ms. Ito is an ideal role model for other team members. She understands the data very well. Her physical abilities may be compared unfavorably with Western and African competitors, but her perseverance will surely lead her through the competition for medals."
Ms. Ito joined Otsuka's Track & Field Team, envisioning becoming a world-class athlete after she started running during her high school years. During the daytime away from track & field, Ms. Ito plays an important role in quality assurance at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory, Inc., and she finds pleasure in contributing to the wellbeing of people and patients around the world. "You can find many world-class athletes on the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Track & Field Team. We have an environment here that supports international competition," says Ms. Ito. "I anticipated the Beijing World Championships race would be held in hot and harsh conditions, so I concentrated on not dragging fatigue after my rehearsals. I communicated actively with the staff members supporting me, to make sure my condition was monitored from all angles. What I have experienced during training for this marathon is an asset, and it will most certainly help me in conditioning towards the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to bring out the best performance of my career and to run in the top tier."
On August 30, the same day that Mai Ito confirmed her place at the Olympics, a younger athlete from Otsuka's team made a bright debut in Japan. Yui Okada, who joined Otsuka 4 years ago, championed in her very first full marathon in Hokkaido.
This was her second victory following a winning run in a half marathon, also her first time competing at that distance. "If there is anything I am uncertain of, I ask. I ask my teammates and dietitian what I should be doing to take care of myself. At Otsuka, I get the support I need to improve myself," says the young debutante.
Otsuka's younger generation athletes are striving for world-class results, and Otsuka Track & Field Team is proud of supporting promising young athletes through its vast knowledge and experience of wellbeing.
Read previous story about Otsuka Pharmaceutical Track & Field Team here.