Time management tips from Olympic marathoner Lanni Marchant

Over the last several months, Lanni Marchant has been re-learning how to run.

The 35-year-old Olympian and former Canadian women’s marathon record holder from London, Ont. had hip surgery in May 2018 to repair a torn labrum. Coming out of the operating room, she wanted to rehab her hip and address the compensation patterns she’d adopted over several years as her injured left hip lost power. Marchant was referred to sport physiotherapist Bruce Craven in Saskatoon and flew out to meet him in August 2018. She has been travelling to the Bridge City regularly since to work with Craven, who is helping the elite runner improve her running technique and build strength.

Marchant spoke with the Brainsport Times to share some of her running wisdom and stories with the city’s running community. This week she talks about her experience juggling heavy running training while in law school and shares tips for how to make time to train.

Marchant says she was able to run throughout law school because of how much she loved the sport. Marchant was a student in a dual Canadian-American law program that involved her spending two years studying at the University of Ottawa and two years at Michigan State University College of Law in East Lansing. While in school, Marchant made a rule for herself: take at least 30 minutes every day (or most days) to set the textbooks aside and take time for herself. Sometimes that meant having a bubble bath, meeting friends for beers or simply shaving her legs. But most of the time it meant getting outside and running.

“It was just a commitment to a passion and my biggest passion is running,” she said. “But baking cookies happened a lot too.”

Marchant was committed to running at a high level, but didn’t have anyone to run with during her time in East Lansing. She recalls being invited to train with a group that ran in the mornings more than an hour away from where she lived. To make time for it, she would get up at 3 a.m., drive to the 5:15 a.m. workout and then drive back to East Lansing in time to sponge herself off with baby wipes and be presentable for her 9 a.m. Constitutional law class. Many people asked her why she didn’t just do the workouts on her own at a more reasonable hour.

“If I want to get better, then I need to have people to push me and there wasn’t really anyone in East Lansing who could push me so to me it made sense to be a bit sleep deprived, but have a better workout or better training partners,” she said.

Marchant says waking up early was key to getting in good workouts once she had graduated and was working as a full-time lawyer. She would often wake up at 4 a.m. and get a run in before cleaning up and stepping into court by 8 a.m. That way, no matter how the day shaped up, she had already completed her run.

Marchant admits to not being a good sleeper, but had a routine in place to ensure she was as well-rested as possible.

“I would at least try to shut my night down earlier. I never really watched TV during those times, but I would try to make sure I wasn’t on my computer or stuff much past 10 p.m. I might read a book or something, but I was at least laying flat and resting,” she said.

Marchant also made time for running by turning her commutes into workouts. This was vital during her fourth year of law school when her financial aid ran out and she was broke. She relied on “two feet and a heartbeat” to get around and get by.

“I would run because I didn’t have enough gas in my car. I would run to go donate plasma to get money put on this prepaid Visa they’d give you so I could get groceries or gas,” she recalls.

These days, Marchant still works as a lawyer with a firm in Tennessee. She used to work full time, but scaled back her hours as she trained for the 2016 Olympics and scaled back even more in the last two years as she’s focussed on recovering from illness and injury and getting back to “old Lanni.”

She said she stepped back from work because she wasn’t able to focus properly while worrying about her recovery, but now she feels she’s “on the comeback trail.”

“My brain and my body can handle me doing both (working and training) again,” she said.

“For a long time I couldn’t. If I’d sat there trying to work on a case I probably would have been accused of malpractice, my brain wouldn’t have been up to the challenge. And now I just feel like everything’s kind of coming back together.”

— Andrea Hill (Editor, Brainsport Blog)