It can be intimidating – watching elite athletes fly by you at 3:00/km or faster while looking strong and relaxed. It can be intimidating to talk to them, gain their insights, or to ask a “stupid” question to their face. After all, they are there to do a job, they are training to win, training to put food on the table, and in some cases training for Olympic glory.
I have met many elite athletes over the past couple of years, but have also been intimidated to go up to them and simply say ‘hi,’ ask for advice, or ask to take a picture. Even recently, I saw Genevieve Lalonde (Canadian Olympian and 3000 Steeplechase Record Holder) at a local triathlon and instead of asking for a quick photo and picking her brain; I froze, deciding that it would be safer to let her go about her business.
The point that I am trying to make is that for so long there has been this divide between elite athletes and the rest of us; neither group quite sure how to engage with the other – neither group understanding how to leverage the other to be better athletes or increase the popularity of distance running in Canada. The same goes for coaching – very seldom do top Canadian coaches ply their trade with us mortals and bring their wealth of experience to us, at least at a reasonable price.
The Mile2Marathon model is a brilliant one because it works to change this dynamic. It partners current or retired elite Canadian athletes with runners like you or me – front of the packers, middle of the packers and back of the packers. It creates an environment of information sharing, goal setting, and most importantly, achievement sharing. At the same time, it is a different environment than your typical track club: for starters, its cheaper, but Mile2Marathon also fosters community in a more organic, athlete oriented sense.
I joined Mile2Marathon when Dylan Wykes (co-founder and Olympian) returned to Ottawa in 2019. I immediately found the environment one I could thrive in. I met new people. Actually did workouts in my training, instead of just bailing. And I found, for the first time since my return to running in 2016, a coach. Since May, I have pb’d over the 5k and 10k distances with an eye on doing the same over 21.1 and 42.2 this fall.
I can imagine for some people that the price can be a bit of a detractor – for many it will be money that can be put to other uses. Nevertheless, if you truly want to improve, if you truly enjoy running fast, and if you want to take your ability to the next level, Mile2Marathon will provide you with platform to succeed. For runners in the Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver areas, Mile2Marathon is a no brain-er. Nowhere else will you find the ability to train with such a diverse group of athletes, all training with the same purpose: running fast and enjoying it. And the best part: your first two group workouts are free.
Here is the coaching line up: Dylan Wykes, Rob Watson, Kate Gustafson, Kim Doerksen, Tony Tomsich, Chantelle Groenewoud, Kevin Coffey, Luc Bruchet, Evan Esselink, Sheila Reid, Catherine Watkins, Garret De Jong, Lauren Prufer, and Mike ‘Rusty’ Woods (co founder, Olympian, and on the sidelines while he lights the cycling world on fire).