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Natasha Wodak is moving up to the marathon

A look at Wodak's decision to re-enter the marathon arena

Natasha Wodak, the Canadian 10,000m record holder and 2016 Olympian in the event, is moving up to the marathon. While she’s technically raced one marathon before (back in 2013), she’s taking the plunge again in December at The Marathon Project. Wodak’s current personal best in the event is a 2:35:16 from STWM. Based on her half-marathon PB, she can be expected to shatter this in eight weeks’ time. 

RELATED: Rachel Cliff, Cam Levins among Canadians in strong Marathon Project field

The Marathon Project is an elite-only event being organized by NAZ Elite, the distance-based training group out of Flagstaff, Ariz. (Canadian Rory Linkletter is a member). The race will host a very exciting list of eight Canadians, which includes Rachel Cliff, WodakKinsey Middleton, and Emily Setlack on the women’s side and Cam LevinsRory LinkletterBenjamin Preisnerand Justin Kent for the men. 

Now is the right time

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Wodak says that running another marathon has been on her radar for a long time, but it didn’t feel right until recently. “Over the past seven years, the desire hasn’t been there for me to do the marathon, but during COVID, with such limited opportunities, I decided that now is the time. My reservations before were mainly that the marathon is so risky due to the high-volume training. I’d never wanted to take that risk before.”

But now, with the increasing uncertainty surrounding racing, Wodak has decided to take advantage of this opportunity. “I asked my coach if I could even be ready for a marathon in 12 weeks. She says yes, so I decided to start the build.”

Training has changed a lot

Wodak has always been a big proponent of low-mileage training, running extremely fast (1:09) half-marathons on 100K per week. But now, that’s all changing. “I’m very fortunate that over the last four and a half years, I’ve had no serious injuries or illness – I’ve had lots of consistency. I’m not starting from zero with this build, but as a lot of people know, I’m a low-mileage runner, so we’re trying to increase my volume in a way that works for me. I usually run 100K a week, but I need to get up to 150K. I’m doing a lot of elliptical training to supplement second runs.”

Wodak says that she’s a very different athlete than she was seven years ago: “The longest run I’d do before was 1:40, but now I’m running over two hours once a week. The long tempo runs have been the hardest change for me. They used to be 30 to 45 minutes long, but now they’re up to 75. But I’m a very different person than I was when training for my last marathon. I’m enjoying this process much more.”

What’s the goal?

Wodak is running this marathon as her plan B for Olympic qualification. “Right now, to get the third spot on the Olympic marathon team, I’d need to run 2:26:57. Ideally, I’ll run faster than that in December, but I’ll see where my body is at when the day comes. With that said, I’d still like to compete at the Olympics in the 10,000m. My concern is that I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to run a fast 10K this spring, so I’m running a marathon as a backup plan. Now, I’ve just got to stay healthy.”

RELATED: Wodak and Kent win Canadian 10K virtual championships