Community The Road to Tokyo, by Dayna Pidhoresky

    The Road to Tokyo, by Dayna Pidhoresky


    As we have moved into 2020 I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on 2019 and, in particular, on the best race of my life thus far.  Toronto Waterfront Marathon was where I finally felt like my potential shone through, but that race didn’t come out of nowhere. After seven marathon builds, I was finally able to show-off the hard work we have been putting in (and yes, I hope to run faster). We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, so it’s fairly representative of other builds although we are always aiming to grow stronger and faster.

    Josh Seifarth is both my husband and coach. We’ve been working together since 2010 when I graduated from the University of Windsor.  He structures my training cycles into 2-week chunks to allow for flexibility, which is often needed during marathon training. That way, if I need an extra day to recover before a big session, I can switch things around more freely without affecting the total volume of the week.  During this specific build we kept most of the 2-week blocks at 300-320 km. Below is the last five weeks of training leading into that glorious day in October. Summer training had not gone particularly well and I eventually discovered my iron was lower than usual. Once that was addressed things finally began to “not suck” — and eventually, just in the nick of time, things actually started to fall into place and running felt good again.

    5 weeks out
    key workoutsWednesday workout:
    22 km fartlek on treadmill with 10 x
    (4min tempo + 2min easy) 
    Tempo @ 3:27/km
    Easy @ 4:40/km

    I had just raced the Eastside 10K on the Saturday before this week started. I finished fifth overall in 34:37. I felt strong during the race but didn’t have the gear necessary to run fast. It’s not an uncommon feeling in the midst of marathon training, but to finish so far behind a lot of the women who were also going to be toeing the line in Toronto was a little disheartening. My only workout this week was on the treadmill and it was a steam-room!

    I like treadmill fartlek workouts because I can set it to a certain pace and then work on running that pace as comfortably as possible.

    4 weeks out
    key workoutsSunday Workout
    38 km on treadmill
    [4 x (5 km tempo w/ 1km recovery jog] 
    5 km @ 3:39-3:41/km
    1 km jog @ 4:40/km

    Tuesday Workout
    5 km warm up + 5 km cool down
    15 x 1 km w/ 90s rest (all between 3:19 – 3:21)

    Saturday Workout
    35 km on hilly road loop with 2 x10km
    w/ 2km recovery jog
    35:33, 35:29 (3:33/3:32 pace)

    It was raining on Sunday and I was frustrated with the conditions outside so after warming up outdoors I moved to the treadmill for the rest of it.  I was in a sour mood, but knew that if I was going to line up in Toronto I had to get it done. The rest of the week unfolded more smoothly with some chilled 1 km repeats and a 35 km long run workout.  Marathon-paced effort was translating well during Saturday’s workout and my confidence was slowly returning. 

    3 weeks out
    Tuesday Workout
    5 km warm up + 5 km cool down
    8 x 2 km w/ 2:30 rest 
    6:53, 6:49, 6:48, 6:47, 6:49, 6:48, 6:48, 6:46

    Saturday Workout
    38 km on hilly road loop with 5 x
    (5km tempo w/ 1 km recovery jog)
    17:26, 17:34, 17:31, 17:25, 17:17

    Another solid week of training in the bank.  Feeling strong on the 38 km long run and keeping things mentally engaged during those big sessions gives me confidence.  I know that if I can maintain focus during the monster workouts, I can do the same during the marathon.

    2 weeks out
    key workouts Tuesday Workout
    5 km warm up + 5 km cool down
    12 x 1km w/ 90s rest (all between 3:18 – 3:20)

    Friday Workout
    25 km on hilly road loop with
    15 km @ marathon pace effort
    52:43 (5km splits: 17:29, 17:38, 17:36)

    With race day approaching the sessions are getting smaller.  More chilled 1 km repeats were on the agenda, and more importantly I had an enjoyable 25 km long run session.  My 15km at marathon-pace effort felt easy, I was talking to Josh most of the time and I definitely could have gone faster but I stuck with the plan — let’s save it for race day!  Also, I was happy that Toronto’s course is much flatter than our hilly 5km road loop we were using for all our big sessions of the build.  

    1 week out
    Monday Workout
    5km warm up; 4 x 2km w/ 3min jog (7:10, 7:07, 7:05, 7:01)cool down until 18km

    Thursday Workout
    13 km with 3km @ marathon pace effort (10:33)

    This week we did just enough to keep the legs engaged and prepared to run marathon pace.  Monday’s workout was accompanied by lots of wind, which was frustrating but commonplace for Ontario in the fall.  My taper legs felt much better during Thursday’s session. We were almost ready to go! The result: 2:29:03 (3:31/k).

    Finishing first Canadian and running under the Olympic Standard of 2:29:30 ensures my place on the Canadian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020.  Goal accomplished!

    For a more detailed race report you can head over to my blog at where I discuss the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5k by 5k, all the way to breaking the tape. If you also want to be coached by Josh Seifarth you can sign up with him as your personal coach at