The Champion Who Almost Never Was

"I would prefer to run the 10,000; it is less work, and the marathon takes a lot of preparation," she laughs, and goes on to explain that to get into track shape for her is much easier than to get ready for a marathon. Plus, her only championship medal to date comes from the 2006 European Championships where she was the 10,000m bronze medal winner.

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Although Grigoryeva competed at the Sydney Olympics, she did not really "get serious" with her athletics career until 2002. "After the birth of my daughter, then I started to train hard," she explains. "I thought about the responsibility of motherhood, and was afraid of pushing my body hard before I had given birth to a child."

Then, upon the urging of her sister, Irina Timofeyeva, who was four years her senior, she picked up the pace. "Earlier at school, she had also encouraged me and introduced me to a coach, but I did not like the coach." A nice twist: Lidiya won the 2005 Paris Marathon and, following in her footsteps, Irina won the event in 2006.

Grigoryeva's training for Boston 2008 began on January 10, jumping up to 110 to 125 miles per week. The plan, which is based on a progressive long run, a medium long (75 percent of that long run), and two speed sessions per week involves training in three different countries, Turkey, the USA, and Russia.

Because of inclement weather, and an offer from the state, she joined 20 other athletes to train in Turkey during January; "perfect weather, it was very nice to be running in 15 degrees celsius!" (59 degrees Fahrenheit). The next phase was a visit to America to get checked out by the Madison avenue-based physio, Gary P. Guerriero. "My back is very tight, not an injury, but after running maybe in Boston last year and the preparations of hard downhill running I feel very sore there, so we have been working with massage," she explains. And then, to get some warm weather training down in Gainesville, Florida, a U.S. hotbed for Russian athletes.

Most of Grigoryeva's running is done alone, in forests or on the open road. "I like this time, and I love to do the training. I have a good sense of pace, I know my body well. If I am out training, I don't need to know splits, I can feel if I am on pace or not," she observes. "When I am out running, I often try to think about form, if I can run with better form."

I ask Lidiya if she ever thinks about her earlier life, and if the hardships she endured push her on to harder training? "The days were hard. When I was four, my father left and I would be a herder for the neighbor's geese to earn money. Yes, maybe this is why I am able to squeeze everything out of myself when I am racing. It was difficult times."

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Related links:

Free Training Log: Track your Progress

Running Tips from Olympic Gold Medalist Deena Kastor

Boston Course Tips

Healthiest Chocolate for Runners So what are the talents that took her to first place in Boston, what does she think her running strengths are? "I can run for a long time and keep a low pulse of 130 beats when running at 4:00 per kilometer. Maintaining a high speed, for instance, in an interval session like 3x5,000m, is what I find hard. High mileage for me is easy."

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