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In wake of injury that caused her to miss World Champs, Rachel Hannah guides up-and-coming athletes

An injury caused her to miss worlds so now Rachel Hannah has been spending her time guiding younger runners in the community

Rachel Hannah
Rachel Hannah
Photo: Michael Doyle.

About three-and-a-half weeks ago, Canadian marathoner Rachel Hannah delivered some bad news: her World Championship race was not to be. Building for the marathon in London was a big part of her year. After running her first of the Marathon Majors in Boston in spring, she was ready to compete against the world’s best. An injury in the lead-up to the World Championships had her catching a plane home from the training camp in Spain.

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Now, with the athletics races in the past, Hannah reflects on what happened and how this stress fracture to her foot has led to her rejigging her plans for fall. As she explains, she did her last long run in Canada before heading to the Athletics Canada training camp. During that weekend run, in Guelph, Ont. she covered the full marathon distance. “That got me excited and gave me confidence,” she says.

But after getting to Europe, she noticed she had some swelling in her foot. During a training run after that, Hannah says that she was feeling pain. By her Tuesday workout, the pain had gotten worse so she scheduled some time with the team doctor who suspected a stress fracture. When checking her foot, Hannah says, he pinpointed the area immediately.

“Right from that moment, I knew that’s what it was too,” she says. They did an MRI and got the results the following day which confirmed their suspicions. She knew she’d be going home instead of racing. Athletics Canada welcomed her to stick around in London but she opted to hop on the plane. “I don’t want to take resources away from other athletes. It seemed the best decision to make,” she says.

That’s when Hannah made the announcement to her followers on Instagram. Though its a disappointing outcome, injury is something running of all abilities can relate to. “We’re always sharing successes and highs so it’s good to be able to share that,” she says.

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Since then, her plans and training have obviously shifted. Hannah has, for example, become pretty strong in the pool as she has taken to pool running and swimming during the break from running. Receiving news of her injury was a tough pill to swallow but having Team Canada support her during those days is something she says was really helpful. When she arrived back home on Canadian soil, Hannah held onto one piece of advice in particular: “Think about what you can do, not what you can’t do,” she says. “That really stuck with me.”

Runners who follow the Canadian distance runner on social media would have noticed that she has been visiting and mentoring young runners lately. With back to school time comes cross-country season and the athlete was recently spotted with Reid Coolsaet giving advice to young up-and-coming runners at a running camp in Guelph. That group was at the camp because they show promise and will soon be competing in hopes of landing spots at OFSAA– Ontario’s most competitive race for high schoolers.

She also partook in the New Balance Fitness Challenge meeting about 400 runners between the ages of seven and 13. Because she was in town, she was able to help out she says.

For Hannah, speeches and motivational speaking is something that she wants to improve upon and do more of. Furthermore, in times that are personally challenging, it’s nice to be able to get the chance to influence those who look up to elite running careers like hers.

“It helps to give back, especially during these times,” she says. “It’s nice to share advice with younger people.”

Right now, high school students are enjoying their last few days of vacation. When they come back, after school extra curricular activities will start up. For some students, those activities will be as important as the lessons they’re learning in school. For that reason, having elite make appearances and give advice during school hours is something that goes a long way for some of the kids. “It’s something I want to do more of, motivational talks at schools,” says Hannah.

This fall, she’ll continue to train in the pool as her injury heals. Once back and running, she’ll look to partake in shorter road running events and possibly cross-country.