Few runners in the history of our sport have had the track record of Natasha Wodak, Canada’s former 10,000metre record-holder and a 2016 Canadian Olympian. This summer, Wodak is returning to the Olympics to compete in the marathon and her running style, and esteemed Canadian coach Lynn Kanuka, have added years to the 39-year-old’s extraordinary career. Here’s seven ways you can run like—but never quite as quickly as—Natasha Wodak.
1. Keep your head up.
“Sometimes I tilt left or right or look straight down, but that’s generally not want you want. The key is that you’re not tense—if you’re clenching your jaw, something’s not right.”
2. Avoid the grimace.
“I tend to grimace when I’m hurting. Keep everything relaxed—always be tall and leaning slightly forward (but don’t hurt yourself, lol).”
3. Deep breaths.
“That’s a big thing and helps you reorganize when you start to struggle. Breathe in right from your stomach and your pelvis. Take a few breathes and reset—remind yourself that you’ll be alright.”
4. Positive affirmations.
“We can do this. We got this. Time to work.” I repeat those things. Believe them.
5. 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2.
“That’s what I’m thinking, quick feet, arms tucked into your body. Think of the Kenyans. Their arms are so close to their body, so efficient. And it’s funny, when you think of these things, you’re distracted from the pain. Concentrate on one foot in front of the other and breathing in and settling down: 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2. It’s a rhythm.”
6. “Engage your core.”
“My pelvis is what goes first for me, things start to hurt in my glutes. When you engage your core, it’s locking in lots of moving parts and that’s where Lynn and I have really been working. Your core helps add stability in the pelvis. Working my core has made me feel more efficient—and faster.”
7. “Don’t panic.”
“Plenty of workouts and even races go sideways, where it gets tough, where it hurts. But Lynn would say, ‘Giddy, up! It’s tough. It’s supposed to be tough!’ When you realize that it hurts and that doesn’t mean something’s wrong it helps you relax. Sometimes, it’s the truth.”