RaceTwitch.com High 5 Athlete of the week: Dave Stretanski

Posted on 23 December 2010

Each week we highlight a specific endurance sports athlete and profile their background, specific race performances and offer insight on training and sport discipline expertise. This week’s high 5 athlete is:  Dave Stretanski

RT: Tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and train?Dave Stretanski

DS: My name is David Stretanski and I am 44 years old. I live in Little Silver NJ and I train in the local area and at many of the local parks.

RT: What do you do for a living? What are your average training hours per week?

DS: I have my own business helping people with their health and fitness goals. My business focuses mainly on teaching running and walking/hiking technique. The approaches are called ChiRunning® (“chee running”) and ChiWalking® which apply some very simple principles of biomechanics, physics and nature. The focus is on increasing efficiency while reducing discomfort, aches/pains and injury. I was introduced to ChiRunning about five years ago and it completely transformed my running. The ChiRunning approach helped me so much I decided to dedicate my time to sharing it with others.

My average training hours per week is 8-15 hours which includes running, supplemental exercises, yoga, and I am just getting back to some light weight training. I try to stay balanced but this is difficult because I often just want to go for a run.

RT: Give us an example of one of your favorite workouts?

DS: My favorite workout is a hilly technical trail that tests my focus, technique and fitness level. Give me a single track trail and I am a very happy person. Where I live in Monmouth County the park system is an excellent playground. I also explore other areas/parks a bit as my coaching business takes me across the NJ+ metro area.

RT: What do you enjoy the most with racing and training in endurance sports?

DS: I enjoy the daily tests on how well I am running, both physically and mentally. Each day provides an opportunity to learn something new. I think endurance sports allow me to experience life in a unique way. They certainly test resolve and how to handle adversity. In a sneaky way, those same daily tests teach me much about life.

RT: Do you have written race goals and keep a training diary and if so, please describe?

DS: My goals are more focused on the big picture and on a consistent fitness program. The events along the way are considered exams or sometimes pop quizzes. I do keep a training diary. I have a 3 ring binder that has a one page per week log of every run I have done since May 21, 2006. The log focuses on what I am working on, how each run felt, challenges and any breakthroughs that occurred. There are numbers also, but in my view they only measure the short term. The experience and lessons serve the long term.

RT: How long have you been racing in endurance sports?

DS: I am relatively new to endurance running. My first ultra was in August 2007. My first marathon was in November 2007 so I did things a little backward. Since then I have done a few 50Ks, four 50Ms and another marathon.

RT: What is your specific discipline focus?

DS: I focus on endurance running for fitness.

RT: What is your favorite race, location?

DS: My favorite race has to be the JFK50 in Maryland. It was my first 50M (2008) and I have done it twice since then (2009, 2010). You know a race is a favorite when you say to yourself at mile 43 I am never. ever. doing. this. again.; and then four hours later at dinner you start to plan for next year.

RT: How many races do you participate in during the year?

DS: My event schedule is somewhat limited with a busy coaching schedule. In 2010 I somehow only did one formal event, the JFK50 in November. In 2009, I did four ultras. In both 2008 and 2007 I did a marathon and an ultra.

RT: How many races do you “peak” for during the year?

DS: I would not say I really try to “peak”. I try to keep a consistent program all year round and adjust slightly for event specific training for about 2-3 weeks prior to taper.

RT: What was your all time best race performance?

DS: I think in terms of the experience, so my most important race experience was my first ultra in August 2007 called the Turkey Swamp 50K in Freehold NJ. It was also my first event after focusing completely on technique for over a year. It confirmed I could run/train smarter with low risk and perform better than trying to run/train harder.

RT: What are your thoughts regarding mental performance training?

DS: We have all heard it is 90% mental. I think that is an understatement. To me it is all mental; preparing, putting your toe up to the line, executing your plan, dealing with adversity and so on. I have learned the hard way that my body (language) is a mirror to my thoughts, so I am very careful about what I think about and say to myself.

RT: What races are on your dream list?

DS: Western States 100. Leadville 100.

RT: Any personal Mantra or famous quote?

DS: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Meaning I don’t want to just make it through the workout or the day, I want to get something from it. This is similar to the concept of the journey vs. the destination.

RT: What is your most recent or favorite book that you have read, any subject and related to endurance sports?

DS: I mostly seek resources related to technique, mind/body training and nutrition. The most recent book I have (re)read was Body, Mind, and Sport by John Douillard. My favorite book is of course ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. I can still remember the exact moment when someone suggested it to me.

RT: What magazines/publications related to your sport discipline that you subscribe?

DS: I don’t really read magazines/publications regularly. I do enjoy Trail Runner and UltraRunning from time to time; mostly to be inspired by the success stories, scenic pictures and event schedules.

RT: What is your greatest strength during a race?

DS: My greatest strength during a race is being prepared for adversity by practice, practice, practice. I focus most on terrain and course specific training. When you prepare well, you can enjoy race day and take in the whole experiences.

RT: What topics are of greatest interest for you that we might include in a future RaceTwitch Club Meetup, ex: race nutrition, functional training, specific race reviews, etc

DS: I am a big fan of running technique so I think a panel discussion of form options vs. objective vs. terrain would be a great way to cover the subject. And certainly inspirational stories move us to find our own unique life experiences.

RT: What training and race nutrition products do you use regularly?

DS: My nutrition is fairly clean after years of experimentation on what works and what does not work for me. I don’t like to eat anything that comes in a package, so gels and other products are hard for me to use. I have had race day fuel problems so bending on this point lead me to eGels from Cranksports. They seem to work well with limited sugar and some added electrolytes. I also use ASEA which is a unique new supplement that helps replenish your body’s ability to function efficiently at the cellular level.

RT: What do you do to maintain your fitness post race season?

DS: My weekly and yearly plan focuses on consistency. I try to run 35-50 miles per week year round depending on my coaching and event schedule.

RT: Have you planned your race calendar for next year? If so, what are some of the races and your goals?

DS: I am planning on a spring 100M, my first. To prepare, I have a 50K (Jan) and a 50M (Feb) planned. I am still working out the exact details with a busy spring coaching schedule.

RT: Any words of wisdom or advice you would offer to improve quality of training and race performance?

DS: You are the “expert” on you. Take advice as input, apply it slowly if it makes sense, and let your experience guide you.Dave Stretanski

RT: How can people get connect with you further?

DS: My website/blog is: http://www.eChiFitness.com. There are references to email, phone and social networking resources.

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