© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

On Sunday, January 13th, 31-year-old Natasha Fraser of Port Moody, BC turned a few heads when she crossed the finish line sixth overall (and first woman) at the Prairie Inn Harrier’s Pioneer 8k road race. She smashed the old course record, finishing in 25 minutes and 28 seconds, the record was previously held by Olympian Debbie Scott (Bowker), which was 26:08, set in 1986. Fraser’s time represents a 40 second improvement over the previous 27-year old record. Natasha Fraser

Fraser has been winning her share of races over the past three years, but what got everyone’s attention wasn’t just the finish time, but also the margin of victory. She finished nearly three minutes ahead of the second place female runner, Sabrina Wilkie who crossed the line in 28:15. The race for second was a little more competitive as Wilkie was followed in by Catrin Jones in 28:26, Anne-Marie Madden 28:38, Lucy Smith 28:45 and Erin Burrett 28:46.

Sixth overall is an unusually high placement for a woman in a competitive road race, for example since 2007, the top women have finished 18th, 29th, 34th, 37th, 14th and 31st overall in the Pioneer 8km. Also, an oft-used difference between the top men and women by percentage in most distance events is somewhere between 11 and 12%. Fraser finished 6.5% behind men’s race winner Geoff Martinson, who ran the ninth fastest time in the event’s history, 23:49. Martinson competed in the 2011 IAAF World Track and Field Championships; he is no slouch. The men’s record is 22:58, owned by Carey Nelson. Nelson’s time is 11% faster than Fraser’s, but was run on a faster course than the one Fraser competed on.

The IAAF appears to not list the 8km world record however, the Association of Road Racing Staticians (ARRS) recognizes Paula Radcliffe’s 8km road time of 24:38 as the world record, set in 1999. Radcliffe has also run as fast as 30:21 for 10km and 2:15 for the marathon.

Fraser competed for Simon Fraser University, graduating in 2006. She suffered burnout and took three years off, jogging casually a few days a week.

Personal bests

1500m    4:24.09 – 2012
5000m    16:12.09 – 2010
8 km Road    25:28 – 2013
10 km Road    34:01 – 2011
10,000m  33:44 – 2012
Half Marathon    1:14:06 – 2012

Christopher Kelsall: Your Pioneer 8km road race, finishing in 25:28 was outstanding. What do you feel was a key factor in your improvement?

Natasha Fraser: Hard work and consistency are the two main factors. I have been able to train consistently, without injury or sickness for the last year. I am also taking better care of myself, with regular massage and chiro.

CK: Brit, did you see this sudden improvement coming?

Brit Townsend (Coach): For us it was not sudden. Natasha has been improving steadily this past couple of years and is able to handle a high level of quality training. Her workouts have been great all year and I know she was ready for an amazing race. She is recovering well from hard sessions and races and taking very good care of herself. Natasha is motivated and extremely happy, which I think lends itself to successful performances. She has the added benefit of running with a great group of men and women that challenge her in all areas of her training.

CK: How easy are the recovery days?

BT: The recovery days vary depending on whether she has raced or not in the days preceding. She really goes by how she feels making sure she recovers for the next session.

NF: I am careful to really take the easy days easy. I will cross train if I need to as well – I really like the elliptical. I don’t worry about pace on rest days and very rarely wear a Garmin as I just go by how I feel.

CK: What does the 120 kms-per-week of running look like?

BT: Generally Natasha does 105 -110 weekly and only a very few weeks does she hit the 120 mark. She does three hard session per week, (trail intervals, hills and track), strength training two to three times per week and recovery runs.

CK: During your three years away from competitive running, what sort of volume of running where you doing then? Were you otherwise active?

NF: I was still running about three to four times a week and going to the gym regularly. Every once and a while I would run a random road race for fun.

CK: Those “races for fun” resulted in what sort of finish times?

NF: Oh geez – nothing fast at all! I think I ran a 38-39 min 10km at the Sun Run one year.  And I remember it being brutally painful!!!

CK: Natasha’s cross-country performances at provincials and nationals and her 33:44 10000m in the summer were good improvements, where these races key indicators that the training was going in the right direction?

BT: They, of course were indicators, but to be honest her training sessions are the best indicators. She is running with our men and giving some of them a very good challenge. Even her workouts on the track have been excellent and she really has been running better than ever over the last two years. We have also focused on making sure she is recovered after hard sessions and races so that she does not get injured and can resume a high level of training as soon as she is able. She has also been very healthy which has helped her put together a long stint of hard training with virtually no setbacks (touch wood). Natasha is very efficient when she runs and has some good track background from her earlier years. I think both of these things have allowed her to train with intensity and recover well.

CK: Those three weekly workouts, do you touch on a range of intensities for example lactate threshold, V02 Max and the anaerobic threshold all in one week?

BT: Depending on the week and if she is racing or not we will.

CK: Can you describe a typical week? And do you prescribe to periodisation?

BT: As mentioned before her week consists of recovery runs on Monday and Wednesday and a long run on Sunday. She is in the gym Mondays and Wednesdays and sometimes one more time per week. She has hard sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday depending on her race schedule.

Results from recent years

Pioneer 8k 25:28 Course record

Canadian Cross Country Championships – 3rd
Oasis Zoo Run 10k: 34:29.8 – 4th
GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon: 1:14:06 – 1st
BC Cross Country Championships – 1st
BC 10,000m Champs 33:44.1 – 1st
Ottawa Race Weekend 10k: 35:34.1 – 3rd
Times Colonist 10k 34:32 -1st
Vancouver Sun Run: 34:12 – 1st

GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon: 1:15:27 – 1st
Vancouver Sun Run: 34:01 – 3rd
Times Colonist 10k: 34:18  – 2nd
Pioneer 8k – 27:57 – 1st

GoodLife Fitness Victoria 8k: 27:55 – 2nd
Times Colonist 10k: 34:18 – 2nd
Vancouver Sun Run: 34:49 – 6th
Pioneer 8k: 27:51 – 1st
2008 Vancouver Sun Run: 39:32 – 9th
2012 BC 10,000m and 10k road race champion
2011 BC 5k, 8k and 10k road race champion



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