Masters Fierce Flyer - Catherine Watkins
Catherine burst onto our radar when she won the Eugene marathon in a smoking 2:42 at age 43….in stride shorts and a Tracktion bra. Hello, #fasterasamaster!!! But we really got to know and love her at Leavenworth Birdcamp in 2015. This woman is not only speedy, but a chill and funny person, who is wise about everything from mom-ing to PT. We checked in with Catherine as she gets back on the workout train after a fall injury.
LESKO: WALK US THROUGH SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND WISDOM ON BEING A MASTERS RUNNER
CATHERINE: When someone asks me my age I often have to stop and think about it. I am 45 but most of the time I feel like I am a lot younger. That said my body tells me I am not in my 20s.
One of the challenges is how long it takes me to get out the door for my run. Gone are the days where I used to put on my running shoes and just head out. Now before every run I do a full foam rolling routine plus a set of activation exercises to ensure my hamstrings and glutes are firing.
Another challenge is getting adequate recovery. I am still able do to the workouts I did 10 years ago, but I don’t recover as quickly. I used to do workouts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday plus a long run on Sunday; now I typically do 2 workouts a week in addition to my long run. And I focus on proper recovery. When injury strikes it takes me much longer to recover. The past two falls I have had soft tissues injuries and both have taken almost 12 weeks to heal. I’m also working on ensuring I replenish my fuel within 20-30 minutes of a workout (easiest for me is a smoothie).
I try to be proactive and get a massage at least once every two weeks. Sleep is also something I find I need more of as a masters runner. As I age, I don’t always sleep through the night and sometimes I find myself awake for a couple of hours (maybe related to peri-menopause?). Also my teenage daughter often wants to stay up much later than me or requires picking up later on weekends from friends.
But the greatest challenge for me as a masters runner has been balancing the emotional stress of aging parents and tween/teen daughters. The past 2 years have enlightened me to how much emotional stress takes a toll on me. Recovering from that isn’t as easy as a couple of days off. If I don’t take care of me, I am incapable of helping those around me. I am trying to take some time each day for quiet reflection or mediation to take care of my mental health.
But, the challenges are just challenges. I face them and in the end I am able to do what I truly love, which is run. Running may not be as simple as it once was, but it still gives me the joy and the ability to push myself to my limits.
L: HOW DO YOU SET A GOAL AS A MASTER? WALK ME THROUGH YOUR PROCESS. WHAT WOULD BE YOUR APPROACH TO RUNNING IF YOU KNEW YOU WOULD NEVER PR AGAIN?
C: Right now my goals are still achievement/number based. I have some times in the back of my mind that I would really love to achieve across the distances. Going into races I generally have 3 goals, the A goal (time/place) if everything goes well, the B goal to run the race well, even if the time isn’t reflective of that, and the C goal purely to enjoy the experience. I always want the C goal to happen and the A & B goals are the icing on the cake. I have been looking at the Canadian Masters Records both on the track and on the road. I definitely want to take a shot at them. Overall, I am trying to be grateful for just being out there.
Even if I was never to PR again, I believe I would approach goals the same way. I like to set big goals for my A goals as even if those goals are scary, just by putting them out there they become within the realm of possibility. When I made the Pan Am Games marathon team for Canada, it was by putting that big scary goal out there. I would rather put that huge goal out there for all to see than to hide away and never go for it. It is important to grasp at those opportunities and dreams. As Lauren Fleshman says (this is paraphrased) failing doesn’t make you a failure.
L: WHAT IS THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE HABIT YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WORKING TO UNDO?
C: Definitely my attachment to training plans. I recognize the need for flexibility but when something is written on my plan I find it extremely hard to deviate from it. I am getting better at recognizing the need to delay or even forgo workouts when I am not feeling up for them, but there is still that little voice in my head that beats me up for it. I do hope that I can learn not to be so rigid and to prioritize my health. That Type A perfectionist in me really needs to be squashed!
L: DO YOU TRAIN BY YOURSELF OR WITH PARTNERS? WHO IS YOUR IDEAL TRAINING PARTNER?
C: I am a part of an amazing training group called BCEP (British Columbia Endurance Project), which is coached by the incredible Richard Lee. I am definitely the “oldest” member of the group. I recognize that I can’t keep up with most of my teammates in their workouts but I do love being around their energy and find their speed inspiring. Generally in my marathon builds I have been doing the majority of my workouts solo. Although lonely at times I think the long solo workouts build a mental toughness that is needed for the marathon, and I can ensure I run the workout at the prescribed pace rather than pushing too hard. I definitely run with my teammates on most of my easy run days and I love those easy runs filled with conversations about life.
L: IF YOU COULD GO ON A RUN WITH ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
C: Great question! Terry Fox without a doubt. His courage and dedication are beyond inspiring. Just thinking about his run gives me goosebumps.
L: IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 22-YEAR-OLD SELF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
C: There is so much time, don’t push so hard now. I think I felt that after my 20s there would be no time to pursue my goals, that I would be too busy with work, family etc. I realize now that having all those other gifts in my life makes me appreciate my running even more. It really is never too late to go after it!
L: DO YOU OWN THE CAT LADY BRA?
C: I don’t as I really didn’t think I would need that level of warmth in the PNW, however, after this crazy winter we have had I am definitely regretting that decision.
L: Well, lucky for you, you’ve got some connections. I’ll make sure to set one aside for you! Can’t wait to see you out there racing, Catherine, you keep my masters inspiration alive!