Running Talk with Lanni Marchant

London, Ontario’s Lanni Marchant is both Canada’s top female marathoner (PB 2:31:51) and a criminal trial lawyer practicing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The multi-talented Marchant has been on a tear this year with wins at Hamilton’s Around the Bay 30K (in a course record 1:44:39) and Toronto Yonge St. 10K, not to mention a top Canadian finish at this year’s Ottawa 10K. Last weekend, Marchant gutted out an incredibly tough finish in near 30-degree heat as she proudly represented Canada in the marathon event at the IAAF World Championships.

Lanni graciously took some time to chat with us in the week leading up to the World Championships.

Q: How did you get your start at the marathon distance? When did you know it was an event you were going to pursue at the highest level?

Lanni: I got my start at this distance right when I graduated law school. The plan had been to run one, hopefully run it fairly well, and then move on to the new chapter of my life as an attorney. After debuting at Ottawa 2011 (2:49 high), I decided that I didn’t mind training and working and put my sights on trying to run a little faster at Chicago (2:44 low). Still, my focus was on becoming a strong attorney and running was secondary. The day I was sworn in to the Tennessee Bar my former employer told me about his idea that I should go train in Kenya for a portion of the winter. It took some convincing, but eventually I agreed to try it out. I didn’t really plan on it changing much for me, other than running more mileage (60ish miles a week for Chicago to 100ish a week in Kenya). I worked remotely while there and jumped back into full time employment when I got back. I had planned to run Rotterdam, but again, it was more to challenge myself to run faster. I had a huge PB in Rotterdam (2:31:51), but also had to return to the US unemployed. I guess I sort of took the unfolding of events over those few days as a sign from God that it was “ok” to scale back on my law life and focus on running for a while.

Q: This year you’ve run (and won) at distances from 10K to 30K. But it’s the marathon you’re racing at the World Championships. What’s your favourite racing distance and why?

Lanni: It’s hard to pick a distance. 10ks are a lot of fun and help keep me sharp. Half marathons and the 30k are fun in their own way. You get to test your mental strength differently at each distance. I’ve only done 3 marathons and have mostly enjoyed the experience… not necessarily the whole time during the race, but I always finish and am excited to do the next one and see if I can do it better.

Q: When you’re not training as an elite marathoner, you work as a criminal lawyer in Tennessee. How do you find a balance between these two very demanding jobs? Does your running influence your practice?

Lanni: I’m very fortunate to be at my current law firm (Speek & Webb). The partners there understand that running is my priority, but that I want to continue building legal experience. I train before and after work on the days I need to be in court or at the office, and I keep in contact via email otherwise. I focus a lot on writing legal briefs and research memos, which I can usually work on from home between training sessions.

I definitely believe that running influences my work. Much like being a student athlete, I have to manage my time well. Also, I feel as though I prep and attack my research much like I do for a sporting event. Do the groundwork and you’ll be prepared to make your argument/run your race. I find that my runs are usually where I have a new idea about a research term or have a fresh idea on how to deal with a case.

Q: You’re on a tear this year, with several wins and personal bests. Is there anything in particular that has been clicking in your training and/or racing?

Lanni: I think this year has been a lot about consistency in training and staying focused. I had some injuries last summer and fall, but I didn’t let that keep me from cross training and mentally prepping for this spring. I think I have come to know my body (and its limits) a lot better these last two years, which has helped me a lot.

Q: The World Championships are just days away. What are you looking forward to about that experience? How does it fit into your long-term goals?

Lanni: I am very excited to get to race against some of the best in the world and represent Canada. Long term I just want to build on this experience and hope it helps make me into a better runner and pace the way to Rio.

Q: Finally, can you share a favourite memory from your racing in Ottawa? Can we hope to see you back competing in Ottawa?

Lanni: I loved returning to Ottawa. I lived there during my first two years of law school, and had my marathon debut there. It was great to know I had a lot of friends in the crowd and I had a blast racing in such a strong field. It is definitely a race I plan on returning for.

Thank you Lanni! We can’t wait to see what you do next and look forward to cheering you on again in Ottawa.