Dayna sets sights on an Olympic qualifying time

Dayna Pidhoresky has had an incredible year in racing – and she is nowhere near finished yet.

She started off her Canadian races for 2019 with an impressive second place finish at Around the Bay in March. After a few more impressive top five finishes throughout the spring, she grabbed a first place win at the BMO Vancouver Half in May. After coming in second in Winnipeg at the Half Marathon Championships she kept up her race momentum all summer long placing at the top of the pack and making her mark. She is now getting ready to head to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon this month with her eye on an Olympic qualifying finish time. The competition is going to be tough, but if this year’s race results say anything about Dayna it’s that her grit and determination have set her up for success.

The Half Marathon Championships fell only three weeks after you finished first Canadian female in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. Overall, how ready did your body feel on race morning?

I felt alright! The recovery protocol we used seemed to be very effective in getting my body prepped to race again. My legs lacked some of their usual peppiness but all in all I think I was in the best place I could have been.

 How did you feel coming into Winnipeg knowing how competitive the field was for the Championship? Does it enter your head on race day, or is that all just chatter leading up to the event?

I knew Malindi was going to be a force and there were several other runners that I knew could run big races.  That said, I was very focused on just running the best race I could. I think being in the situation where I knew I was asking a lot of my body to come back so fast after a marathon really dissipated all possible nerves going into the race.  It was a Canadian Championship race but I knew it was just me against myself and hoping that put me in a podium position.

 You are known to run a good mix of distances in your training season. Do you have a favorite race distance? If so, why?

Hmmm, I think the half marathon is my favourite and the 10K would have to be a close second.  I like the training of a half and the ability to race several of them a year.  I’ve been going after my PB from 2011 and hope I can eventually come home with a shiny new one!  For me the marathon has me feeling like I am bashing my head against the wall – it’s hard to get it right on that one day.

Do you think that training in your home province of British Columbia gives you an advantage on flatter courses?  I’m not sure about that.  I grew up in Windsor, Ontario so I think I still compare everything to the flatness found there – the Manitoba Half Marathon course felt a bit roll-y to me.

How big of a part of your training is focused on your nutrition? Can you talk a bit about what kind of a difference this makes in your results?

I think nutrition is vital in marathon training, which is how I spent most of the spring.  Refueling properly is the key to being able to come back recovered and ready for another hard session and it’s also important in preventing injuries in the long run.  So, I pay a lot of attention to my intake shortly after workouts and runs, to eating a wide variety of foods throughout the week, and aim to consume healthy fats at each meal.  I know this outlook has been a huge contributing factor to my consistency and lack of injuries over the past several years.  On top of that my energy levels during my past training cycles allowed me to maintain and even increase quality whilst running the highest mileage I’ve ever run.

You have mentioned before that the Canadian women’s field has become more intense over the last few years. How does the competitive nature of what you do balance with the camaraderie? Can you tell us a bit about the environment of being a professional female runner in Canada?

Well I think we all approach the start line wanting to win because if you don’t, you won’t.  I’ve seen the competition increase drastically from when I first started seriously competing in 2010-2011.  I think at first glance it can be a bit disheartening if I’m completely honest.  It’s harder to win races, it’s harder to win money, and nothing is easy!  But when you keep your focus set on getting the most out of yourself, when your goal is to be the best runner you can be, those competitors only help.  You might not always be able to break the tape at the end of the race but I think we are all helping each other dig deeper to achieve our full potential.

What was the most personally challenging race you have ever run and why?

My marathon at the World Championships in London, UK in August of 2017.  I had trouble recovering from my qualifying marathon at the end of May and got to the start line in London feeling not quite as fit as I had hoped.  On top of that I just felt really off from the start and my legs were lead.  It was the slowest marathon I have ever run and I hated every step of it.  I felt embarrassed — like I had let my country down.  Still, I try to draw from that experience and hope that in a similar championship race in the future I will be more familiar with that alien environment.  So much can be gleaned from the “failure” races.

If you could travel back in time to the start of your running career, what would you tell yourself?

I’d tell myself to enjoy the process. Early on it was so easy to see huge jumps in fitness and to constantly run personal bests – I should have savoured those moments more.  I’m much better at seeing the big picture now and feeling gratitude in so many different aspects of my running.

United Way Winnipeg