Thomas Dansereau: Athlete of the Month

          Tom in sunglasses in center at Colonie Mile Summer Track Meet

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

Name: Thomas Dansereau
Age: 36
Family: My wife and I started dating in high school and have been married for ten years. We have two lovely babies. Joanna is eight years old and Isaac is five.
Occupation: School psychologist
Hobbies: running, weightlifting, playing guitar, gardening, and any physical activity I can get involved in. 

When and why did you start running? 

I started running in high school. I was not very serious about running at that time, but my older brother and sister were on the cross country and track teams, so it was an extracurricular activity that was easy for my introverted self to get involved in. After high school, I got away from running and it blew my mind how I ever ran three to six miles at a time. In 2013 I started getting back into running by participating in the summer track series at the South Colonie High School track. I joined the HMRRC because I was getting competitive with myself with my running and the free year-round races were perfect.

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

It is tough to say what race is my favorite. The 2023 Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon gets strong consideration because from the start of the race all the way to the finish I knew I was going to achieve my goal and I had a lot of fun as I did so (new PR of 1:25). I would also consider the half marathon at the 2023 Thacher Park Trail Running Series. In the previous races I ran this year I was disappointed with my performances. I made some adjustments to my training at the start of the summer and I signed up for this race so I had something to make me train hard. I wanted to run my hardest and enjoy every moment of the race through the beautiful woods, not worrying about the clock. It was everything I hoped for and more. I knew trail runs tend to be slower so I could not compare my time with past PRs, but the amount of mud on the course made sure the only measure of success was my perceived effort and my mental toughness. That race was pure fun and I felt like such an amazing human being as I crossed the finish line. 

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

My training approach is to wake up in the early morning and get my workout in before work or the busyness of a given day. Usually I am outside by 5 a.m., pick a target distance, and see how my body feels.

Tom – 3rd, Danielle Eckler – 2nd, Vincent Aceto, 1st – 19th Annual Squirrelly Six Miler 2023

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

My mileage varies depending on what I am training for. The last marathon I ran was in 2021. I peaked out around 65 miles per week and I ended up having a very disappointing race. Over the course of that training period, I lost some significant upper body strength and developed tendonitis in my right ankle. My goal with running is to promote longevity and I admire the older people who are still healthy enough to enjoy fitness. To me, marathons are a fun challenge along the way to that larger goal, and after that last one, I cut my mileage down to 25 miles per week with the goal of getting healthy while maintaining a reasonable fitness routine. This past spring and through the summer I increased my miles to 50 miles per week and I’ve felt good doing it. Over the winter I plan to cut down to between 35-40 miles per week so that if all goes well, I can get into the 50s next spring/summer and pick up where I left off.

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

I run outside almost no matter what the weather is. On days there is a cold rain or messy snow/sleet I might train on the stationary bike, but other than that I like to be outside running. Sometimes it can be difficult to get out the door, but I usually find that once I get going, I am okay with whatever Mother Nature offers.

List your PRs: Race, time, year:

I used to have a google doc with all my race times, but at some point it disappeared and I’ve been meaning to go back into the race archives to save that information again. But here are my pretty accurate, but approximate PRs:
1 mile: 5:15 (I’d love to get this down to 4:59)
5K: 18: 45
10k: 39:30
15k: 59:50
Half marathon: 1:25 (2023 Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon)
Marathon 3:07 (2019 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon)

What is your favorite distance?

I don’t have a favorite distance. I think variety is nice. 

Your favorite shoe for training and racing

My last several pairs of running shoes have been Brooks. They have a good level of support and work for my wide feet. 

Ever run in a costume?

Yes! I ran the 2023 Squirelly Six dressed as a ninja turtle. That was such a fun race, I’m definitely planning on doing it again. 

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

I get really nervous before races, even the low key ones. I don’t know why, but no matter what I tell myself, my body thinks something horrible is going to happen. My stomach doesn’t tolerate much so I just try to eat a little bit of something. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich two hours before the race usually works. 

I don’t have a favorite post race meal, but this seems like a good section to say that I follow a vegan diet. I started eating a mostly plant based diet five years ago after reading Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell and How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger. I went vegan four years ago after considering that if it is not necessary to eat animals, I could not justify continuing to do it considering how much suffering they endure for the sake of a few minutes of people’s enjoyment. I hope by including this other people will give it some thought. In the past four years I have continued to get faster, stronger, and I rarely deal with aches, pains, or injuries. And I certainly get plenty of protein.

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

I plan to do several local half marathons starting with the Helderberg to Hudson in April. There are some local races, like the Prospect Mountain Road Race, that I have not done yet that I’m excited to experience. At some point I’m going to get back into marathons and hopefully qualify for Boston.

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

Exercise is a reward. I heard that from numerous sources including Coach Greg Doucette, who is an IFBB pro bodybuilder and YouTuber. When I first got into running, I really enjoyed races, but only tolerated training. Over time this advice stuck with me and now I feel gratitude for the health and life stability that allows me to spend time exercising. And it is its own reward with the plethora of mental and physical health benefits. It can be hard to get out of bed so early in the morning and go outside into the cold, dark, and sometimes wet world, but when I get started, I enjoy the journey and I’m not just trying to get through it. Now it seems ridiculous to think I would need to reward myself for doing it.

    Tom accompanying son running Labor Day Kids’ Race 2023

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