#WomenOnTheRun: Top words of wisdom from Canada’s female running leaders

Last night, Canada Running Series and FLEETSTREET Magazine hosted Women On The Run, a panel discussion and 5K run led by some of Canada’s fastest females. The panel talk was a great way for runners from across the city to come out and hear advice and words of wisdom from a diverse group of female runners at varying stages in their careers. The four panelists — Lyndsay Tessier, a teacher and accomplished sub-elite marathon runner; Branna MacDougall, a star on the Queen’s University cross-country team; Nina Sieh, a registered kinesiologist and accomplished age group triathlete, and Krista Duchene, Canada’s “marathon mom” and Olympian — are all accomplished athletes and advocates for women in running. 

Here are some of the best quotes they gave from the evening:

Lyndsay Tessier, on what led to her success recently (Tessier was the second fastest Canadian female at the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon):

”Coaching, calories, and passion… those are the three factors. I started running when I was 33. I started with half-marathons and joined Running Free and then the Black Lungs, and kept getting injured so eventually I got a coach, Steve Boyd. The first thing he told me was, ‘you’re not running a marathon until you’ve had a full year of healthy running.’ With that came consistency, and so after that year of healthy running I was able to run consistent workouts. After that I started to look at calories. I had to learn a lot about fuelling for mileage and fuelling for all that running. But even after lots of stress fractures and uphill battles the passion for running has never left.”

Branna MacDougall, on the misconception that women who run need to look a certain way and be a certain size:

“I am going into third year university so I’m not too far removed from the high school scene. In high school girls’ running there are a lot of issues with eating disorders and a lot of girls struggle with that, thinking you have to be a certain weight and very thin to run fast. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been watching and paying more attention to the elites and who actually makes it in the sport and you realize that it’s not those who are stick thin — it’s those who are strong. I think that’s the misconception; you need to be your strongest self to do well in this sport. I try not to compare myself to anyone else.”

Krista DuChene (Registered Dietician) on the epidemic of under-fuelled runners:

“Today with technology and apps, we rely on them so much. There are so many apps like MyFitnessPal that allow us to track our calories and our running… Do we really need an app to tell us when to eat if we’re hungry? We should be listening to our bodies, we should eat if we’re hungry. I’ve never counted calories, I’ve never laid out precise meal plans for people… I teach them how their plate should look, but at the end of the day if you’re tired, would you wait for an app to tell you to go to bed? Trust your body, be mindful when you eat, so every bite you’re enjoying. Be sensible.. you can eat a cookie a day, but it’s not sensible to eat a whole bag of cookies in one day. I am trying to teach people to learn what it means to be hungry and full.”

Nina Sieh’s advice to runners looking to become more competitive, based on her own failures and successes: 

“We all have a competitive side… it’s fun to toe the line, it’s fun to find competitors to push you, but it’s important to remember to enjoy it and not take it too seriously.  I’ve definitely learned a lot from my own failures… fail lots to succeed and keep trying new things. If something doesn’t work, move on and try something else. There’s not one thing that’s going to work for everyone.”