Marathon Mom Krista DuChene on Modified Workouts and Training for Boston in the Fall

Krista DuChene on Modified Workouts and Training for Boston in the Fall


Some say it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit. After a quick Google search I learned that it takes more than two months, 66 days on average, before a new behaviour becomes automatic.

We are into our third week of this pause on life due to this terrible COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us at home, we are getting used to new routines. Many of us are certainly not experiencing the same life as our highly valued and precious health care professionals, battling it out for 12+ hours at a time. When I see the videos and social media messages, my heart aches for what they are enduring. Like many, I wonder what I can do to help. The message seems loud and clear, “Stay at home.”

Other than my daily runs and short walks, I have only ventured out a few times — to get milk, dog food, and groceries. I must say that each time it feels bleak, grim, eerie. I regularly keep up to date with the news, which seems to always be changing due to our state of emergency, and yet staying the same with the continual rise in the number of new cases. We keep doing as we should — washing our hands, covering our sneezes and coughs, not touching our face with unclean hands, avoiding close contact with people who are unwell, keeping a physical distance of 2 m from others, and staying home. And we wait.   

Training. Can I call it that?

Many athletes have appropriately adjusted their training, given there are no competitions in the near future. For some, it’s a welcome opportunity to enjoy the downtime, allow niggles or injuries to heal, seek out new ways to stay fit, or focus on strengthening areas of weakness. For others, the timing could not have been worse. 

So what does it look like for me? 

At this point in the year I’d be in my peak weeks, logging 180+ km with long, hard-effort workouts just prior to tapering for a mid-April marathon. Instead I went as low as 130 km this past week with reduced workouts. After realizing the athletics world would essentially be shut down, I didn’t want to stop abruptly yet had to adjust. With the training plan from Reid [Coolsaet, her coach] that I was well-adapting to and enjoying, I wanted to keep my newly established habits in place. The more consistent strides were stimulating my legs at the end of long runs (where I sometimes shuffle), the strength and core work made me feel like I had more drive and power, and I was finally not dreading and actually able to do tuck jumps as part of my after workout drills. In order to keep this freshness alive while realizing the necessity to take everything back a bit, I decided I’d reduce these activities at least once a week, only more if I felt like it. I’m happy with this modified routine, which continues following a 9-day plan, giving me two recovery days between hard or long sessions.

The mileage and workouts are built more like a 10K training plan, which may prove beneficial to change up my marathon after marathon pattern. The training gives me something to look forward to, is often the highlight of my day, makes me feel purpose, and allows me to maintain some fitness, while not being overly taxing, physically or mentally. I’ll even include another 10 km time trial/virtual race to keep that racing feel alive. If fall marathons roll as planned, I will take a very easy week before starting my 12-week build for the September 14th Boston Marathon. And I will gradually return to double run days, periodizing my diet, and the best part—running with friends. Something new I have been doing is a 10 minute circuit with my 9-year-old daughter when I return from my morning run. It often gets her off the couch and out of her pyjamas and is something we enjoy doing together. Each session ends with one more push up than the day before.  

In the Kitchen and at the (home) Theatre

We’ve been using up odd items in the pantry and freezer in order to minimize trips to the grocery store and because we can take more time to bake and cook. I found a container of apple slices in our deep freezer so we made some applesauce and apple crisp, which didn’t last long. 

I’m not a big movie-watcher but do enjoy a good documentary. On the weekend when it was a bit rainy we enjoyed “Unstoppable,” the story of surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm when attacked by a shark as a teen. And, “The Biggest Little Farm,” about a couple who move from the city and raise money to start a biodiverse farm. 

I continue to post a picture of my daily coffee cup (so far, a new one each time) followed by a story on Instagram about the day before. Feel free to follow along if interested. I keep it positive and have received some very kind messages about how it has helped some people during these tough times. 

Stay well, friends. And stay at home!