There are just over six weeks to go to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) on Oct.21, an IAAF gold-label race and the 2018 Canadian Marathon Championships. Most athletes are now in the midst of putting in their hardest training and getting as fit as they can.
Krista DuChene is Canada’s second fastest marathoner of all time with a personal best of 2:28:32, a time she ran at STWM in 2013. She won the Canadian Marathon Championships at the same race in 2016 so is very familiar with the event and has experienced success every time she’s toed the line. Krista, now a masters athlete, will be returning to STWM this year and we spoke to her about her training and preparations.
Canadian Running: What do your “biggest” weeks of training generally look like in terms of mileage, key workouts and long runs?
Krista DuChene: I would guess that my highest mileage week will be around 180-200K, about four weeks from race day. I’ve completed six long runs of 34-38K and will likely complete a few around 40K before my taper. As for marathon-paced workouts, I’ve already done 70-80 minutes the last few weeks and I expect this to increase in my remaining peak weeks.
CR: How does your diet/nutrition, sleep, pre/rehab, strength training routines, etc. change/adapt to the biggest weeks of training?
KD: With our kids going back to school, I am now adjusting to a new routine. Currently, I’m running a bit later than my summer days, therefore battling both heat and humidity. To adapt, I’m starting to do more looped routes so that I can properly hydrate. I’d rather do one large route but the monotony of running loops can be mentally strengthening. Upon returning home I am grateful for the air conditioning and the quietness, which allows me to recover better. If out with the kids at swimming or hockey, I sit. Whenever I can at home, I sit or even lie down. I still need to get housework done but I pace myself so that I’m not on my feet for too long or doing too much in one day. When I complete my weekly Registered Dietitian shifts, I am able to stay off my feet the entire duration. Recovery is so key at this point in the build. Proper hydration and fuelling are also important during the longer runs in warm/humid weather.
My diet doesn’t really change. I still include whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of vegetables and fruits as well as enjoy moderate amounts of sweet treats like cookies, brownies and ice cream. I’ll keep treats in my diet until just a few weeks before race day.
I’m likely only completing one instead of the usual two weekly strength sessions. I may return to two but then likely eliminate doing them altogether during the taper. Although I have been completely injury-free I am still routinely going for physiotherapy and massages. I continue to nap daily without an alarm, but usually 20 minutes is all I need. And I often sleep from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Again, no alarm.
CR: How do you approach the training mentally, knowing you have to log the mileage, do the workouts, etc. day in and day out?
KD: On Sunday, after Coach Dave Scott Thomas gives me my training plan, I get out my calendar and plot my mileage according to workouts and the kids’ activities. I quite enjoy this, mapping out the week with various factors to consider. To be honest, I don’t have to do much mental prep. I’ve been doing this for so long (16 years) that is it completely normal. In fact, when one thinks they will look forward to the post-marathon life, they are often disappointed. I am doing what I love to do. I keep in touch with training partners (Mitch Free and Rachel Hannah), which makes it that much more enjoyable. And because of my years of marathoning, I am doing what I want and what I need, staying away from unnecessary busyness. I’m trusting my intuition in so many aspects of marathoning.
CR: How important do you feel it is to run tune-up race(s) as part of marathon training? How do you approach them and what value do you see them having?
KD: I ran the Edmonton Half Marathon a few weeks ago and it did not go the way I wanted. But a humbling race in a marathon build can be a good thing. Get it out of the way, recover and refocus and then get back at it, keeping your eye on the big one!
I don’t feel strongly one way or the other about having to race in a marathon build. In the past I’ve usually done one race per month leading up to a marathon. I certainly wouldn’t do more. For this build I did a half-marathon two months before marathon day and may or may not do another one four-weeks before marathon day. I do approach tune-up races seriously but also know that there is only one race that matters in the marathon build: the marathon. I think the value of racing in a build is to stay sharp and practice race routines such as what you will eat the night before and morning of, how you will consume fluids/gels while racing, race pace strategy, what you will wear, etc.
CR: What is your advice/suggestions to other runners preparing for an upcoming marathon? What should they do now to be successful in 4-8 weeks?
KD: Pay attention to the details including race nutrition/fuelling, sleep/rest, preventative maintenance and consistency with the training plan. Adjust according to conditions. With this heat and humidity, I’m not hitting my paces but my effort is there. Remember you are doing this because you want to and are able to.