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Our March cover athlete: Joanna Brown


Originally from Carp, Ont., Joanna Brown is a member of Canada’s national triathlon team. She is a multiple OFSAA medalist and All-Canadian with the University of Guelph. This powerhouse puts in 20 to 26 hours of training every week. We caught up with Joanna to talk training, motivation and why she loves running. Here’s what she had to say:

What kind of morning would make for the perfect run? 

A perfect workout day for me is probably a little sleep in then waking up for a coffee and heading out the door for a long run.

Tell us why you started running to begin with. 

Running is a sort of freedom. Its very liberating to throw on a pair of shoes and get outside. You decide the pace and the effort and the places you go. I quickly discovered my passion for running at a young age and as a kid, the big bonus was the days off school for track or cross country meets. It sort of just grew from there.

So how do you manage training to be a triathlete as well as a fast runner? 

I train a fair bit as a triathlete. I think one of the reasons that I was so drawn to triathlon is because of the three disciplines. No day is the same and it’s a balancing act to figure out what needs work and what needs maintenance. There are also so many areas to improve on and so many things to focus on at once. I’ve always been a stronger runner and I think the general fitness gains from triathlon training has helped that strength. Living and training with the RTC in Guelph, I also am very fortunate to be able to join in with Speed River T&F and the University of Guelph running groups for workouts. I enjoy the challenge and the butt kicking, and the girls are always a huge contributor to getting me in shape and enjoying every workout.

Walk me through your training on a typical week.

I swim Monday to Friday mornings and then at least once on the weekends. I usually have a second swim on Tuesdays and Fridays in the afternoon. Monday and Thursday are key run workout days, which means a hard run in the afternoon. Tuesdays and Fridays are typically bike focus days with longer rides and hard intervals. The weekends are more focused on volume, with a long ride and a long run. It all adds up to be about a 20-26 hour week.

Wow! Are there times when it gets overwhelming? 

Training can definitely be overwhelming at times. It is so easy to get super fatigued and our training programs have to be closely monitored. Striving to find balance is always a goal. Albeit, as a full time triathlete, there is no such thing as true “balance” because every day is always going to be heavily weighted towards training and recovery!

When it’s all said and done, do you have a favourite recovery drink or meal?

I try to choose real food as much as possible for recovery. It’s always important to try to be as prepared as possible for the next big day of training. One of my favourite meals has to be fueling up at dinner at the end of a big day with a huge chunk of salmon. I slather it in pesto and then top it with bananas. Its a recipe I stole from my Brazilian hosts one year at a training camp. I always have a big salad and I love cheese.

OK, when you’re not training, what do you like to do?

In my off time I love to go explore new places and markets. I enjoy reading and watching movies with my boyfriend, who is also a triathlete. We are usually tired enough that a laid back day is always appealing! I try to get home to Ottawa during my extended off time and just kind of give my mind a break from triathlon.

Tell me about favourite moments in your running career and why they stand out.

Honestly the best moments in running come when the speed is effortless. It feels like self-propelled flight and your legs just keep turning. With most of the races that I remember fondly, the run has just felt rhythmic with a lot of focus on technique and staying relaxed. Being in front of a race is always fun but it’s so easy to get excited and also so essential to stay concentrated on the process and stay present. I have a lot of fond memories from varsity running with the University of  Guelph. Running with a team goal in mind is very motivational because you’re not just running for yourself out there.

What would a perfect run look like for you?

A perfect run for me would be during a sunny warm day. I love running with friends and getting to chat along the way.

Give us some workout motivation. 

There is nothing that compares to running a hard workout and giving it your all. You finish absolutely spent but so proud of what you were able to accomplish and the effort you put into it.