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Canadian road and trail champ Anne-Marie Madden shares her wisdom

The multi-talented Madden won the masters category at the 2023 California International Marathon and is set to race Black Canyon 100K on Feb.10

anne-marie madden Photo by: courtesy of Anne-Marie Madden

Canadian distance runner Anne-Marie Madden has been shining on both road and trails for years, most recently winning the masters division at the 2023 California International Marathon (CIM). Madden was third at Arizona’s Black Canyon 100K in 2022, earning her entry into the 2022 edition of the legendary Western States 100, where she took 11th place.

Madden, who works as a doctor in Vancouver, shared with Canadian Running the secrets to her success in seamlessly transitioning between road and trail running.

Early-morning trail training

Balancing a thriving medical career with elite training demands a strategic training schedule. Madden’s weekdays are often dictated by long work hours, so she utilizes non-technical trails for pre-dawn runs with her dog, Tucker. Her days off become an opportunity for long, trail-focused runs.

“During this most recent marathon build, I made a concerted effort to do some long runs on the road,” says Madden. “My coach gave me a few workouts within a long run. This was useful on weeks when I had limited time off to do other workouts, and it also built up my confidence running faster road paces again.”

Canada’s Anne-Marie Madden takes third at Black Canyon Ultra

Fuelling for both styles

Madden’s fuelling strategy adapts to the demands of each terrain. For shorter, more intense road workouts, she opts for liquid nutrition and gels, finding bars challenging to consume when running at a higher intensity. She uses different methods of staying hydrated during training: on trails, she uses a filter flask to refill water from natural sources, contrasting the convenience of refilling at water fountains on urban road runs.

Anne-Marie Madden1
Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Madden

Tips for runners hoping to shift between terrain

“One of the biggest mental shifts for road runners moving into the trail space is to let go of pace goals,” says Madden. “The terrain often dictates the pace. Running on trails is a great opportunity to hone in on perceived effort and to tune into our body’s cues.” Madden says this skill carries over to road racing.

“For readers with a road-running background looking to do more trail racing, I recommend they introduce trail runs into their program on their easy days or for a portion of their long run,” says Madden. “They can eventually work in trail workouts such as hill repeats or speedwork on gravel paths.”

Vert and alpine views

Madden’s social media posts highlight the beautiful B.C. trails where she runs with her exuberant dog. “The alpine views here are spectacular and the high numbers of park visitors means the trails are well maintained and great for running,” she says. She does the bulk of her long runs on the mountain bike trails in Pemberton and Squamish.

Madden says that while there are lots of great runs in B.C. with tons of vert, the snow pack can make it hard to find long, sustained climbs to train on in early spring, “something to keep in mind if you’re signing up for a big race with lots of vertical early in the race season,” she says.

With that in mind, Madden will next be lining up at Black Canyon 100K on Feb. 10th, “a relatively low-vert trail race, which is easier to train for during the Canadian winter, when a lot of the higher elevation trails are snow covered,” she says.

Fans can follow Madden at Black Canyon 100K, the second race in the new World Major Trail Series lineup, on the Aravaipa running livestream (Feb.10th and 11th), here.

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