Melanie Myrand is a World Championship marathoner and nurse practitioner who lives in St. Genevieve, just outside of Montreal. She’s currently working shifts at three different locations across the city to do her part to help Canada get through COVID-19. The runner had a breakout year in 2017 at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where she ran a 25-minute personal best to go from 3:04 to a blazing 2:39. She has since lowered her personal best to 2:33, the time that qualified her for the 2019 World Championships.
While running remains a passion of Myrand’s, she’s using her daily exercise to clear her head, as opposed to focusing on marathon fitness. She chatted with Canadian Running on a rare day off to fill us in on what an average day looks like for her, right now.
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When adapting to new working conditions I think back to this day. Running a marathon in Doha in 42 degree heat at midnight was untouched territory for me and there was a huge possibility I wouldn’t succeed at finishing. Now I find myself facing the unknown again with other challenges including providing some of my working hours back at the bedside. I haven’t been a bedside nurse in over 5 years which is challenging enough but this time we have a new virus changing the way we manage patients, this time we are working in a hotel not a hospital to keep COVID patients separated from the others. I guess that can be analogous to running a marathon with the added challenge of heat and a midnight start 🧐 I’m grateful for the tools running has given me to overcome these new challenges ahead, also this time I’ll try to keep my eyes open 😝 #çavabienaller🌈🌈🌈🌈
6 a.m. – Wakeup and breakfast
For Myrand, the day starts at 6 a.m. with breakfast with her husband. She’s out the door by 7 a.m., heading to work at one of three possible locations: her usual clinic, a senior living residence or a screening centre.
7 a.m. – Drive to work location for the day
Myrand explains that she usually works outside Montreal, at a family medicine clinic, but it’s fairly quiet there right now. “We’re trying to help lots of our patients via telemedicine. That’s why I started giving hours at the screening clinics for COVID. At those clinics, the shifts are four hours long because of the protective equipment that we have to wear. There are limited quantities of the suits, so we keep them on at all times. Because of this, you don’t really drink or eat while wearing them.”
Myrand says while things are busy, she really feels like she’s part of a healthcare team right now. “For example, we have a hotel set up as a hospital. In just one week people made that happen. Within my own clinic, I rotate with the other nurse practitioner so we can go out and help where needed. She’ll cover patients while I give time at a testing centre or old age home, then we swap. This is like a marathon–it’s going to last a while. I’m really proud of everyone in the healthcare system. We’re helping where we can and we’re sharing the load. You really feel supported.”
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How do you train without an imminent race in your future? I guess there are a lot of things I don’t know right now but what I do know is a start line is NEVER guaranteed. Runners, I think, are used to dealing with uncertainty so I hope this helps us during these times. I know for sure, exercising (while practicing social distancing 😉) increases endorphins which helps us manage anxiety and stress. Running (and/or at home workouts) can provide structure to the day which is so important for our mental health right now. So, for now what I do know is I’m still training as if I’m running 5-10k races this summer and a marathon this fall 🤞🏻 Keep grinding 💪🏻 📸 @refinedmoment #fitbitch
Myrand explains that in Quebec they’re working with hot zones, warm zones and cold zones. “The warm zones are those who have been tested and are waiting for results, or are waiting to be screened. We screen based on the availability of tests. We have a lot of seniors without help, so we’re trying to move those patients into hot and cold zones, depending on if they’re sick. So we need two different sets of staff for that–those taking care of the hot zones and those in the cold zones. That’s why we need so many more workers.”
Myrand’s day will end around 4 p.m., then she’s back in the car heading home.
5 p.m. – Get home and shower
Myrand jokes that her shower used to be in the morning, but now it happens after work, before her run. “This is so I don’t infect my husband. I put my clothes from work in a bag in another room and they stay there until I wash them. Then I hop in the shower, prep dinner, and go for my run.”
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“Let us be patient with one another, And even patient with ourselves. We have a long, long way to go. So let us hasten along the road, The road of human tenderness and generosity. Groping, we may find one another's hands in the dark." Emily Greene Balch The road ahead will be long much like the marathon. There will be moments we feel good and moments we don’t think we can take one step further. Be patient with yourselves, PACE yourselves, don’t compare yourselves to how others are doing/coping. Break this time up into parts, one day at a time, one hour at a time, one foot in front of the other ❤️❤️
6 p.m. – Run time
Myrand had been holding out a small hope that she’d still get to run the Berlin Marathon this fall, but unfortunately, that’s looking unlikely. The runner says that Berlin was the original plan. “I was kind of burying my head in the sand. But now that I know the race won’t happen as planned, I’m running once a day, just to clear my head. If I want a day off, I take a day off. Running is just stress relief. Once we can start racing again, we can plan an actual build.”
Her daily runs are around 75 minutes, with a couple of workouts a week just to turn her legs over–when she feels like it. Last week, those workouts were 5 x 9 minutes hard in the middle of a long run, and 3 x 6 minutes for some speed work.
7:30 p.m. – Back from run
Myrand is back from her run and putting the finishing touches on dinner. Her and her husband eat together around 8 p.m. and then it’s time for calls with friends before bed. And then she does it all again the next day.