By: Anna Lee Boschetto
Ana Laura Fray has been running since 2012. She has run 17 marathons. She was on pace to run the Rotterdam Marathon, and was aiming for a PB. Then COVID-19 hit and plans for everyone, including Fray, changed dramatically. But rather than dialing back, Fray made the decision to continue her marathon training and made a plan. “At the time I had four weeks left and I was feeling great, I didn’t want to stop, and I felt like finishing the training cycle and though, maybe I’d race a marathon anyway,” she says.
Rerouting Your Race
Initially Fray was going to map out a 42-Kilometer near her home in York Region, but as quarantine and social distancing became part of our lives she felt more comfortable with the idea of running a one-kilometer loop, 42.2 times. “For me, there’s magic in the marathon, you feel so accomplished” says Fray, “You’re hurting in those last 10K, but because you trained for it your body is ready and you are so proud of your training, how you all came together to run this race.”
Not So Easy
Staying close to home, rather than traveling to a destination race might seem easier in some ways, but here’s why Fray didn’t find it so. “I’ll tell you the mental toughness of running a one-kilometre loop 42 times was really put to the test to the max,” says Fray. While she felt physically strong Fray says her mind was not always in the best place. “You don’t have the adrenaline of the race, no spectators, I would say that it was mentally my toughest race so far.” Fray also suggests using a mantra in your training so that you have something to call on mentally when your mind starts to waver. “Whether you’re in a race where you can sometimes go through kilometers where there are not a lot of people or running solo, having a mantra as simple as ‘You’re strong’ can actually make you feel that way.”
“There was a moment where I even thought, ‘Why am I doing this?’, I had a really great training season, I ran amazing 30K but then I thought, ‘No, I’ve committed to this.’ With her husband’s encouragement Fray kept pushing forward. “My husband Luke was right there, counting down when I went into those last ten loops,” she says. Having been to all of her races Luc knew exactly when his wife needed that extra support. “He could sense as I passed by that I having a hard time around 30 kilometers,” she says, When she said she know if she would finish, Luke’s kept reaffirming exactly why she started in the first place. “He even walked 11K just by following me around and he was more sore than me the next day,” she jokes. Needless to say Fray credits her husband’s incredible support for her PB that day.
On Running Solo Again
Having seen many people step back from running, Fray encourages others to give a solo race a try. “Even if your fall race is canceled, keep up with your training,” she says. Keeping motivated for a marathon is key and Fray suggests having a good playlist, and now that small groups are permitted, inviting family and friends to cheer you along the way. According to Fray, these times we are in are teaching us all to be a little more patient with ourselves, our training and racing and it’s one of the reasons she feels runners should try to stick with racing even if they go at it alone.