Learning from the best: Insights from a top Canadian runner

June 1st, 2013 by | Posted in Blogs, Research for the Run |

Sometimes the best way to ‘know’ what we should be doing as runners (how to train, what to eat, how to recover, etc.) is to look at what the best in the world are doing for insight and inspiration.

Krista DuChene is among the top Canadian marathoners of all time and ran a personal best of 2:32:06 at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon. She will represent our country at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow this August and continues to threaten the long-time Canadian record set in 1984 by Silvia Ruegger which stands at 2:28:36.

I recently caught up with Krista and asked her about her training and her running.

Dan Way: What is your preferred or ‘expert’ race distance? Why?

Krista DuChene: The marathon is definitely my preferred or ‘expert’ race distance. I love it for the mental and physical demand on the mind and body. I’ve struggled to physically hang on during some shorter races (8 and 10K’s) but welcomed the absence of the mental struggle – there just isn’t time for it! Because I have a bit more experience at the marathon, the mental struggle has become easier. So as long as I can continue to physically advance, so should my marathoning!

DW: How much mileage do you do while training for your goal race? Can you outline some of the key aspects of your training program (tempo, intervals, overdistance, etc.)?

KD: I believe when I ran my first marathon in 2002, I ran 60 K/week. In 2009, I was up to 80 K/week ( my coach at the time Nicole Stevenson thought I gave her my weekly distance in miles, not km when we first met!). In 2010, I averaged 90-100 K/week. In 2012, when training for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I was up to 160 K/week. Currently in my training for IAAF world championship, my coach and I have my mileage around 150 -170 K/week. If we feel my body can handle a bit more, we will adjust accordingly but because of my recent injury, we wanted to be cautious and focus on quality vs quantity running.

As for key aspects, I do one track interval workout, one treadmill tempo, one Chariot stroller run, and one long run each week. In my build for STWM I did one 43K run and we may do this again for Worlds.

DW: What advice or tips can you give on the importance of recovery? What does proper recovery ‘look’ like to you?

KD: Recovery is extremely important. If aren’t ready to tackle the job again the next day, you aren’t recovering. The minute I finish training, my mindset is to properly care for myself to be able to do it again the next day. Immediately after key workouts, I drink about 5 cups of chocolate Emend (protein and carbohydrates), stretch, have an ice bath/shower, eat a meal, and nap. Many times I eat my lunch while in the ice bath because my 2-year-old needs to eat before her nap (she sits on a stool beside the tub with her lunch in a bowl), and the food is a good distraction from the cold, cold water!

DW: How important is your diet to your running success? What nutritional rules and regulations do you adhere to?

KD: Diet is one of many parts that contribute to my running success. As a registered dietitian it has been very easy to eat well, following the guidelines and principles I teach others. I avoid a lot of packaged and processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, trans and saturated fats because I know they won’t help me get any better, and because my body has no desire to consume them when training. I focus on vegetables that are dark green and bright, fruits like berries, lean protein like fish, poultry, beef and pork, nuts like walnuts, almonds and peanuts, whole grains like oats, quinoa and rice, and low fat milk and Greek yogurt.

Here’s a few things I recommend and apply to my own diet:

1) Make your plate 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 whole grain, and 1/4 lean protein with 1 cup skim skim at lunch AND dinner.

2) Space balanced meals and snacks evenly throughout the day, never skipping meals, and eating breakfast within one hour of waking.