Who dat...Wodak - Interview with Natasha Wodak
Photo credit: Mark Bates / 321photos.ca
It is the rare runner who does not attempt different events over the course of the year. Marathoners will race the Half Marathon as a test run, the 10ker will race a 5k to spin out the legs, a race walker may actually run a race etcetera.
However, Natasha Wodak’s race calendar this year has been as full and varied as a heptathlete. Complete with international championships, a multitude of road races, a sampling of steeplechasing and even the completion of her first full marathon, Ms. Wodak capped off her busy year with a National Cross Country Championship victory in the mud and rain of Vancouver this past weekend.
The Britsh Columbia based athlete executed a tried and true race plan of marking her rivals, throwing in some well timed surges and relying on the strength she earned from her Marathon training. The championship itself came down to awell-timed kick that allowed Ms. Wodak to carry the day just ahead of her friend and rival, Rachel Cliff.
Trackie.ca was able to catch up with Ms. Wodak to talk about her win in Vancouver and her successful year in general.
1) Could you describe how the Cross Country Nationals played out?
It went out pretty slow and I just stuck in the front pack near the back. Around 2km Rachel Cliff and Jessica O’Connell picked up the pace and I just stuck in behind them. At 4km Rachel and I put a surge in and were able to drop Jessica a bit. The last 2km loop I just stayed as close to Rachel as I could then in the final 200m I kicked it in and surprisingly had enough left to take the win. My plan from the start was to not lead, and just stick in behind the leaders. It worked well. :)
2) Are you a cross country racer who enjoys rainy and muddy conditions? If you weren't one before, are you one now?
I love cross country. It's not about time- you aren't looking at the clock to make sure your splits are good. You just get out there and run as hard as you can in whatever conditions mother nature throws at you- that's the fun of it! Muddy conditions don't bother me and I would even say I prefer them, as I seem to have success in these types of conditions. But snow is really not fun- I'm not a fan of running in the snow! But luckily I live in Vancouver and we don't have to deal with that very often:)
3) You recently completed your first marathon in Toronto. How did the training for the marathon help lead to the result this weekend?
I was worried that I did not get to do enough "speed" workouts leading to this race. I was relying a lot on my marathon training for a cross country race- seemed kinda crazy- but it worked! I just felt so strong- guess all that mileage worked!
4) You’ve had a very busy year with many races? Can you share with us some of the peaks and valleys of your racing and training this year?
I have been all over the place this year! I started the year off with an 8km in Victoria where I ran 25:28, which was an unoffcial Canadian record. This was very surprising to me, I had no idea I could run that fast! This really got me excited for the year, and I wanted to race all the time. So I did....3000m indoors, 3000m steeplchase, 8km Cross Country, 5000m, 100000m, half marathon, 10km and a full marathon!....it was pretty crazy. Looking back I definitely did too much and lacked focus. I struggled a bit in the late spring because I was over-raced. Something I will try not to do anymore. But it was fun travelling all around from race to race:)
5) How do you think you have improved over the past few years as a runner in terms of your training and racing?
My training is much more consistent. I don't skip any runs or strength sessions. I try to make sure I'm doing all the extras- physio, massage, stretching, flexibility, eating right, sleeping right, ect. All these little things have really helped me improve. So since my training was going so well- so was my racing.
6) According to your blog, earlier this year you had expressed interest in racing the Steeple but it appears you have chosen to pursue the marathon instead. Can you share with us why you opted for the marathon over the steeple?
Oh the steeplechase....the was short-lived! I realized after about 4 weeks of training, that it just wasn't for me. I wanted to be good at it right away, but it just wasn't happening. You need months (years actually) of training to be a successful steeplechaser. So in the spring I focused more on 5 and 10kms. It wasn't until the summer when I switched coaches that I decided I wanted to run a marathon.
7) Are you still interested in doing some steeple chases in the future?
um- no! It's freakin hard!
8) You were damn close to achieving Commonwealth standard for marathon in Toronto. Will you be targeting another marathon before the Commonwealth games to qualify? If so, which one?
Right now the plan is to try and run standard in the 10000m. Perhaps a fall marathon though....
9) What are your short term and long term goals?
My short term goals include going to the commenwealth games for the 10000m! run some fast 10ks and half marathons this winter/spring. My long term goal- is racing the marathon in the 2016 Olympics.
10) How do you foresee the BC Endurance Project (BCEP) will aid you to achieve these goals?
BCEP is an amazing group. I am very fortunate to be a part of this team. We have a lot of fun at training and really support each other. Our coach Richard Lee is fantastic and is going to take us to the next level! Its exciting to be part of such an elite group of runners all trying to do the same thing (be awesome super fast runners) and working together to achieve our goals.
11) What do you do in your life to balance out the stress and rigours of training?
Pretty simple really- just spend time with my friends and family. Have a nice glass of wine with good friends, or just chill on the couch and watch movies.
12) Can you share with us one of your favourite workouts?
I like 1000s on the track. 6 X 1k with 2-3 min rest. If I can nail that workout, I always feel great after.
13) Do you have anything else you would like to add?
All the success of this past year would not be possible without the support of my amazing friends, family, teammates, coach and my fantastic sponsors- Innovative Fitness, Asics Canada, and AQR Sport. Thank-you!