By Paul Gains
Dayna Pidhoresky returns to Toronto’s High Park April 9th for the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k confident and feeling stronger than the start of any previous season.
This is a race she won in 2011, the same year she was crowned the overall Canada Running Series champion, and one in which she placed third in both 2012 and 2013. Those races seem a long time ago.
The 29 year old native of Tecumseh, Ontario is now living in Vancouver and like many athletes has her sights set on achieving the Olympic marathon qualifying standard this spring in Ottawa.
Earlier this year, after a superb buildup, she started the Houston Marathon with confidence only to succumb to stomach problems during the race. Several times she had to stop and finally abandoned at 25km. Despite the stops she had been on Olympic standard pace.
Confident that the buildup to Houston left her in her best aerobic condition ever, she looks ahead to the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k as a suitable test of her training which she confirms is continuing to go well.
"This will be my fourth time running this 8k race, presuming it’s the same course," she declares. "I just remember it being hilly and that last hill..... I feel now I am living in Vancouver, which is much hillier than Windsor, maybe I am going to feel more prepared for this race. In the past I have just not been the best hill runner."
In November 2013 she and her boyfriend/coach Josh Seifarth left their home in Windsor, Ontario and moved to Vancouver in search of more fitting training climate. Upon arrival she joined Richard Lee’s BC Endurance Project and earned the bronze medal at the Canadian Cross Country Championships. But after six months she decided the change in training programs wasn’t suitable.
"I just found it wasn’t working for me," Pidhoresky reveals. "I am working with Josh who is now my husband. That had worked for me in the past. The workouts that he gave me, I thought, were a better fit for me. So I went back with him. Obviously, I knew he would take me back."
She laughs at her last statement. But working with a spouse can test a relationship no matter the chosen field. There have been occasions, she admits, where they have had a conflict over training.
"It happens if I am very frustrated," she says. "He is very easy going which is necessary I think, and I am not. Sometimes I will panic if something is not going well, and maybe sort of go on and on about it. Sometimes he can sort of put me in my place (laughs). There have definitely been moments of tension during workouts but it’s not something that carries over into our life outside of running."
After her move out west she encountered several injuries including a fracture of her sacrum. And she developed an ongoing problem with her shins.
"I have only had two fractures in my life but I have been really prone to shin inflammation which hurts, I think, just as much as a stress fracture," she explains. "It is a little more frustrating because it can sort of linger longer than if it was an actual stress fracture.
"So that is something I really have to stay on top of. It’s sort of a muscle - tendon issue I have been getting a lot of physio and massage. I have two guys that I work with on that, which seems to be helping and keeping me running."
Josh works full time at Forerunners, the Vancouver running store owned and operated by former Canadian international Peter Butler. She works the occasional shift but, since their recent move to a new apartment, she has been busy painting and decorating between her two a day training sessions. She is also an avid reader of books based on true stories. Adrift the biographical story of Steven Callahan’s 76 days lost at sea is her current read.
And, when her husband comes home in the evening he is treated to a fine meal, cooking being another of her passions.
"I am (an enthusiastic chef). But sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough energy. I really do like to cook I try out new things," she admits. "We experiment."
"My ‘go to’ dinner, if we had company, would be Vietnamese rice paper rolls with veggies, shrimp, tofu, avocado, and nori paired with a peanut or Sriracha dipping sauce."
Pidhoresky was delighted to hear about the Race Roster Spring Run Off 8k’s ‘Kill the Hill Challenge’ where runners can compare the time it takes them to crest the final hill with those achieved by the elite runners.
"We actually live on top of a hill so every run I do down on the beaches and Spanish Banks I am always running up hill," she explains. "So I feel I am naturally incorporating more hills. I probably won’t do anything specific as far as workouts for hills just rely on the strength I have gained by running them.
"In the past I have done a lot of hill workouts so (I’d advise others) to include hill sprints in your workouts or even tacking them on at the end of an easy run. I found that was helpful for me just to help with turnover, sort of working on your form running up hills. So I would usually find a steep hill and maybe do 6-8 hill repeats, a 100m hill repeat at a decent grade.
"Also I do a longer hill, maybe 300-500 metres, sort of a sprint up, then an easy jog down, and repeat. That definitely helps with strength. That I have done in the past, usually at the beginning of the buildup, when I haven't started doing any timed intervals yet."
Pidhoresky is unclear as to who will be her major competition since many athletes are holding their cards close to their chests. But she will want to ensure her Olympic dream is on schedule. And that augurs well for a good race.
For more information and to register: CanadaRunningSeries.com.