Danielle Eckler: Athlete of the Month

Danielle came in 2nd overall and was first Woman in Squirrelly 6 Mile 2023 Race

What is your age, occupation, background, hobbies, and other sports?

I turned 30 this summer, my first year in the new age group! I work as a Physician Assistant in an urgent care. I work 12 hour shifts, so it makes it difficult to fit in a run some days. The days I work are not the same every week so that also makes following a set training plan very difficult. My hobbies are basically focused around anything I can do with my dog Luna, including going for runs with her! I try to take her before work so she’s tired out for rest of the day. They say a tired dog is a well behaved dog!

When and why did you start running?

I started running in 2017. As part of a counseling class I took in PA school, we were instructed to make a lifestyle change. I decided to start running. Many of my friends were runners, and I wanted to join them. Plus, I knew the physical and mental health benefits.

What’s your favorite race to date, and why?

I think it has to be the Squirrelly Six Mile trail race at Thacher Park! I love the fun nature of it but also it is a great challenge and I have had the chance to win it a few times! You also never know what you are going to get with the weather or the trail conditions. It always ends up being a wild time!

What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan, or do you work with a coach and if so, who?

I try to be flexible when it comes to my running based on my work schedule and how I feel, and the weather, of course! I generally try to do one long run a week (double digits), one speedwork session, and keep the rest to easy runs.

What is your weekly mileage in peak racing/marathon training season? What is your approach to the off season?

I am not always training for a race and I don’t really have an “off” season. I tend to have a consistent base all year round of 30-40 miles per week. There are many months of the year that I’m not “training” for a particular race and am just running to run! I always feel a little strange when people ask me what I’m training for and it happens to be nothing at that particular moment. I do think it is important to realize that you don’t always have to be training for something!

During our cold winter days, do you brave poor weather conditions or stick indoors on the treadmill?

I’m an outdoor runner all the way. I can’t even remember the last time I ran on a treadmill. I’ve had runs where I ran more miles than degrees of the temperature at the time. It also helps that I get very hot when I run!

List your PRs: Race, time, year:

My 5k PR is 20:28 from the 2023 Walkway Over the Hudson race. Nearly the whole race was an out and back on one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world. My 10k PR is 43:22 at the 2022 Troy Turkey Trot. I’ve only done 2 half marathons. My fastest was at Helderberg to Hudson (when it was the hillier course in Altamont during early COVID) with 1:38:41. I’ve only done one marathon. It was the now-extinct Miles on the Mohawk Marathon, and I ran a 3:39.

What is your favorite distance?

I get this question a lot and I honestly don’t know!

Your favorite shoe for training and racing

I haven’t really explored shoes much. I don’t have anything special for racing. I use the same shoes I train in. Currently, I have been using Brooks Launch for my past few pairs. Right now, they are pretty cheap on Amazon too - as a heads-up to anyone!

Ever run in a costume?

Yes! I’ve done a unicorn a few times for Squirrelly Six. I also will randomly throw on a tutu for other races just for the heck of it.

What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?

I’m in the nervous stomach runner crowd so I admittedly don’t eat a great meal before a race. It’s usually toast. Boring old toast. After a run, I always crave lemonade!!

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I’m planning on doing the Philadelphia Half Marathon next! Two of my friends (hi Kira and Larissa!!) and I are traveling together to make a weekend out of it. Unfortunately, I just tested positive for COVID so it definitely changes my last 2 weeks of training. I also did my first triathlon this year and would like to do more! I had absolutely no real swimming background, so that was definitely a challenge for me.

What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?

The only person you are racing is yourself!

Larissa DiPace, Danielle, Kira Isenberg at Philadelphia Half Marathon 2023

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