In the last two years New Zealand women’s marathoning has been dominated by the record-breaking accomplishments of Kim Smith, and the contrastingly shameful record of drug-cheat Liza Hunter-Galvin. However, quietly ticking away under the radar has been Fiona Docherty; former elite triathlete turned full-time runner who has been making impressive strides in her marathon and road-racing career. After competing at the World Champ’s in Berlin over the Marathon, Docherty came ever so close to a Commonwealth Games berth at the London Marathon- falling short by less than a minute after a tumultuous preparation that was compounded by the volcano that caused havoc over Europe.
So far Docherty has had a very impressive road-season with a string of personal bests including a second place finish at the Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon in 1:14.49, second place (behind former world cross-country champ Benita Willis) at the CTC Elite 5k in 16:29, and a comfortable win at the Colorado Springs Classic 10km (held at 7000ft) in 33:32 – a new course record. As the fall approaches, The Runnerstribe caught up with Docherty to discuss all things running before she attempts another shot at the marathon in Chicago.
Fiona, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Your background is in triathlon. Many former swimmers, cyclists, and runners have made the transition to the more financially lucrative multisport, yet your transition was obviously back from being an elite level triathlete – how did you come about the decision to stick solely with running?
Running has been my strongest discipline and I have always wondered how good I could get with sticking strictly with running. I had got to a point in triathlon where I was getting injured all the time and financially it was a struggle. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore because of it. With running at least you have more time to work a part time job.
Despite all the drama caused by the volcano in Europe this year, you managed to get to London and ran 2:37.55 at the Virgin London Marathon.
Did you walk away pleased with the result despite being off the Commonwealth Games qualifier?
Yes the final 5 weeks leading up too the London marathon were a bit stressful with a stress fracture scare, followed by the volcano, then as I am heading to the airport my lawyer is calling me telling me that I couldn’t leave the country due to my green card being unfinished, so yes I was happy with my 2:37:55 result as that is a PR of over 2mins for my 3rd ever marathon. I was however a little disappointed by missing out on the Qualifier for the Commonwealth Games by 56 seconds. But such as life – we move on and I am excited to do Chicago marathon and do a fast time.
You are coached by Steve Jones, a renowned figure in running circles and former world record holder in the marathon – how is it training under Steve? Does he follow any specific philosophy or is training unique to each athlete?
Yes I am coached by the legend Steve Jones, I love training with Steve, not only is he a great Coach but he is a dear friend and always there when you need him. His knowledge, experience and his ability to communicate and listen with his athletes is one of his strongest characteristics.His programs are not cookie cutter programs – he bases his programs on each individual needs and uses his knowledge but always has an open ear to questions about the program.
Currently just about all of New Zealand’s elite distance runners are based overseas with yourself in particular in Boulder, Colorado. What influenced the decision to remain in the US and what do you feel are some of the advantages of being based in Boulder?
I started off here in Boulder as a triathlete – and have loved living here ever since. When I decided to change to running – I met my coach Steve Jones here and the BX team. I love training near and under the watchful eye of Steve and with the team, which is one of the advantages for being based in Boulder, while I also seem to work well off altitude training, one of the many reasons why a lot of the elite athletes come here to train while I have also met a lot of wonderful friends here.
What is the breakdown of a typical training week like for you?
A typical weeks training for me is:
Monday – easy 10mile run and gym
Tuesday – Session in the am, Second run
Wednesday – longish run up to 1hr45 and gym
Thursday – easy run am easy run pm
Friday – Session, Second run
Saturday – 10 mile run, Second run
Sunday – Long run with tempo in the middle of it.
You are now running many of the major road-races in the states, what do you make of your experience so far?
I love the experience I am getting by going to these races. I learn a lot through the other athletes and I am learning to push myself more and get that fire in my belly 🙂
Fee, thanks so much for your time and best of luck in Chicago.