Mind and Body What I’ve Learned Running Marathons

What I’ve Learned Running Marathons

2016 Toronto Marathon Toronto, Canada October 16, 2016 Photo: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun Victah1111@aol.com 631-291-3409 www.photorun.NET

As one of the country’s top marathoners ponders what might be her last “fast” race, she reflects on the lessons learned in her shoes. 

By: Krista DuChene

It was announced recently that I would be running my fifth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, on Oct. 22, 2017. It would likely be my last attempt at running a fast marathon, and also my 15th marathon in 15 years. I started using the hashtag, #15in15 with my social media posts to celebrate this incredible journey. I’ve come a long way since my 2002 debut marathon of 3:28:08 in Niagara Falls, Ont. Just how far has it been? Take a look at my progression from recreational to elite:

  1. Niagara 2002 3:28:08
  2. Ottawa 2003 3:09:02
  3. Boston 2005 3:00:46
  4. Mississauga 2009 2:51:38
  5. STWM 2009 2:50:36
  6. Hamilton 2009 2:46:27
  7. Ottawa 2010 2:39:07
  8. Rotterdam 2012 2:32:06
  9. STWM 2012 2:32:14

(Worlds Moscow 2013 DNF)

  1. STWM 2013 2:28:32
  2. Rotterdam 2015 2:29:38
  3. Rio Olympics 2016 2:35:29
  4. STWM 2016 2:33:59
  5. London 2017 2:43:31
  6. STWM 2017 TBD

So what have I learned from marathon racing and how can I reflect upon the accompanying blessings and trials along the way?

  1. Each marathon hurts. Each broken bone hurts. But nothing compares to the pain of childbirth.
  2. I have grown deeper as a person—far more during my injuries and disappointments than during gruelling marathon training blocks resulting in successful performances.
  3. Running has never been the number one priority in my life. My faith, husband and children take top notch over anything else; this where I have complete joy.
  4. Juggling responsibilities as a parent, dietitian, community member and volunteer has given me tremendous career satisfaction alongside becoming an elite marathoner.
  5. My husband speaks wisdom and gives objective advice, which I often eventually apply to my life. He inspires me to embrace change, think beyond the box and reach higher.
  6. I’ve influenced my children in ways I could only dream. They’ve seen me cry with disappointment when injured; collapse with fatigue on the couch after an exhausting run; sweat through tough cross-training workouts on a bike in a stuffy cabin; enjoy kale and beets to optimize my diet; complete my preventative maintenance routine when I’d rather be doing anything else; share my story of blessings and trials to encourage and inspire others; pool run at length when running wasn’t possible; and embrace them with incredible elation moments after they witnessed me, their mom, becoming an Olympian.
  7. Consuming carbohydrates in the form of multiple eLoad gels during marathons has been a consistent key to each and every marathon; there are some things you do not change.
  8. Daytime naps and early bedtimes allow for productive training and successful races, even after sleepless nights with sick kids.
  9. One of the best things I was ever told was from former record Canadian holder Silvia Ruegger when I became the second fastest marathoner, 32 seconds behind Lanni Marchant: “It takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well.”   
  10. I’ve never been more motivated than during a return to running after an injury or pregnancy.
  11. Consistently and steadily increasing the quality and quantity of kilometres, along with solid off-seasons, was key to my gradual progression over several years. Nothing happened overnight.
  12. The pool has endless benefits. To name a few, I’ve enjoyed it to recover from intense races or workouts, for X-training during or to avoid injury, as a quick way to decrease my heart rate after a warm run and as a place to complete preventative maintenance exercises.
  13. Each and every day I look forward to physically moving my body and increasing my heart rate to earn that hot shower and delicious green smoothie, bowl of oatmeal and multiple coffees upon my return. I can see myself doing this for many, many years.
  14. I hope I can continue to inspire other parents, athletes and women across this wonderful country in which we live. I enjoy sharing my story of blessings and trials, adding new chapters along the way.
  15. I look forward to spending more time and energy with my family. I want my kids to feel like they won’t harm me if they accidentally bump into or step on me. I want to ski and skate with my family without fear of injury. I want to have a pecan square, butter tart, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookie or warm brownie with vanilla ice cream a bit more often. I want that extra energy to keep being active, able to jump into any activity at any time with my kids.