Tšepo Mathibelle

Short bio
I am from Berea, the Kingdom of Lesotho, married with one child and we live with our two nieces.

How long have you been running for?
I started running in 2005, so 15 years.

Where do you prefer to run (track, road, cross-country, trail, treadmill)?
I prefer running on the road, but I started running cross-country and have done well in it. The road and the marathon came later.

Average weekly mileage?
My average weekly mileage is around 150km-160km.

What is your favourite distance to run?
My favourite distance to run is the marathon i.e. 42.2km (42.195 actually) and 
my favourite workout is doing speed work. I start with 1km X 3, then down to 800m X 2, 500m X 3, 400m X 5. The 1km pace is about 2:50/km and it then increases in speed from there.

Type of runner (s) you like to run with?
I prefer running with good cross-country runners and middle-distance track runners. I like working hard and the competition.

Immediate running goal?
The next time I race a marathon I would like to achieve a PB.

Long term running goal?
My long term running goal is to make enough money to build my family a house, secure my child’s future and to build a training camp for runners.

What goal did you have in mind for the Seoul Marathon?

I wanted to run sub 2:10 in Seoul. However, I couldn’t manage as it was too cold. I still would like to run sub 2:10.

What race PB are you most proud of?
My race PB is 2:13:50 at the Gold Label race in Beijing. I had actually been told to just jog, take it easy and to just finish the race and get the Gold Label appearance fee. Initially, I was also going to decline the invite, as I was preparing for that year’s Soweto Marathon. However, I started running when I saw the first female on my heels! I also went on to win the Soweto Marathon that year!

What was your worst race and why?
My worst race was the London Olympics (marathon) in 2012, which I went to as the reserve for Jobo Khatoane. I pulled a lower back muscle while doing speed work one morning right there in London. That was one week out from the race! In the end, I managed 30km running well, then the pain came back and I had to complete the race jogging.

How did you pick your self up again mentally?
I analysed what went wrong in my race and tried to see if I could have done anything better or different. If the race was bad because of things beyond my control, then there’s nothing to be done. However, if there’s something I could have done better, then I try to make changes. It takes mental fortitude not to get demoralised, though. After the London race, I managed to perform well in subsequent races, many cross-country runs, and I even won at Umtata (10km race on the Eastern Cape of South Africa).

Have you ever ‘failed’ or not achieved your goal and what did you learn?
I always learn from failing; for example, in 2016, I came second in the Soweto Marathon, as I didn’t know the course. The next year, however, I won it!

Effort you are most proud of?
My proudest effort is the 2017 Soweto marathon, South Africa, which I completely owned! I even thought the course had changed, as I didn’t even feel that last long hill!

Favourite place to run?
My favourite place to run is the Soweto Marathon, South Africa.

What did you learn from your time training in Kenya?
In Kenya, I learnt a lot about training techniques, correct nutrition and tapering techniques in the lead up to a race. I learnt that I wasn’t training for long enough periods when I got to Kenya. I also learnt about the timing of when to eat and run. In addition, I learnt that I would rest too long after a long run such as a 35km run. In Kenya, we would do more than 30km in a day, and still train speed the following day. After training in Kenya, and sticking to those techniques here in Lesotho where the terrain is tougher, I started getting many PBs.

What can people learn from Lesotho?

I think people can learn and develop as a runner when in Lesotho, because we have routes that are hilly. In Kenya, their courses are flat, even their high altitude training, which they said was 3000m above sea-level. As a result, I didn’t feel a thing because I was used to the hills. So, if people come here, and applied those tough training techniques, they would gain a lot.

Top running tip?
My top running tip is to run at cross-country pace even in the marathon. When you get used to it, very few people can keep up with you. A second tip is to pump with your hands throughout the whole race, as it gives you good posture and allows your strides to be long throughout.

What do people not understand about being a marathon runner?
People underestimate just how long a marathon programme is. For example, someone may think that they can run faster than me while training for shorter distances and because of that they can beat me at the marathon distance. However, that’s not how it works. Each of the distances have their own specificities of how to train!

Thank you!