Mara Hafezi from London 

Age:  30

Boston Qualifying time:  Sub 3.30

Job: works in the city

Current Marathon PB: 3hr46 at Verona Marathon, Italy

Have you attempted a BQ before?

Nope! Previously, I’ve been more interested in taking part in events due to the location (running abroad is a perfect excuse for going on holiday) or if there were fewer women participating at the race rather than running with a time goal.

Are you coached or self-coached?

I’m working with a coach who is also coaching me for the Comrades Marathon (fingers crossed for this year).

What is your approach to training this time round?

My training combines a mixture of running, cross-training in the form of cycling and CrossFit. In the past few months, I’ve been recovering from an injury and swapped out CrossFit for pilates, which I really enjoyed. I love including CrossFit in my training – besides the physical strength gains, I see it as giving me mental strength gains; a CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) is usually a short but very intense workout.

When you are tired and feeling sore but have 2 more rounds to go, you need to build the resilience and mental power to get to the end – a similarity i see with the marathon and ultra marathon distances; you’re on the last quarter of the race to go, you’re feeling tired and sore but you need to have the right mindset to help you get to the end and push through to achieve your goal, especially if you are running to achieve a particular time.

I’m also a strong believer in listening to your body. For example, due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the first few days of my period can be extremely painful; personally I feel better when I don’t train on the first two days. Listening to my body may mean having unscheduled rest days – when I first got into exercise, this was an idea I felt uncomfortable with.

Have you got a goal race on the calendar (Covid dependent)?

Manchester Marathon in October is on the cards – my 2020 place has been rolled over to 2021. I’m still thinking about whether that will be my goal race. I’d love to hear people’s suggestions for an autumn goal race.

What is your biggest challenge for The Boston Project?

It’s been several years since I trained specifically for a marathon, so getting into that mindset is going to be difficult. Like most people, during the pandemic, work-life balance has been hard as working hours have been longer – despite working from home, fitting in training feels like it’s going to be harder than previously. Winter training is always a huge challenge for me; Raynaud’s phenomenon is frustratingly painful and creates a real lack of motivation to train in the cold weather. Gotta remember winter miles means summer smiles!

Morning or evening runner?

Afternoon or evening running – I have so much more energy then. However, time constraints means morning runs have to be done sometimes – not a fan of those times!

You can follow. Mara at @mara.thefitlondoner

george fitcetra Boston Project