I am just 30 days from running the New York City marathon, the largest marathon in the world. Like all marathons the course is 26.2 miles, but I will be running with more than 40,000 other runners. This will be my 7th marathon and first significant time in New York City. I am looking forward to a long weekend of sightseeing, visiting with family and friends, eating out, and running.
My training for the New York City Marathon began about 12 weeks ago when I started a 16 week training cycle. I ran the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in mid-may so I had a good baseline of fitness when I started.
I had a 2 week false start because I miscounted the weeks until the marathon. Thus I had the pleasure of repeating weeks 1 and 2 on the schedule. For this marathon I am using the Run Less Run Faster training method. I have used this method for two previous methods and like, especially in the summer, because it is based on 3 days of running and 2 days of cross training each week. Some marathon programs are 5 or 6 days of running per week, but that doesn’t leave any time for other summer activities I enjoy, like road cycling.
The three run days are categorized as speed work, tempo runs, or long runs. The speed work is running intervals that range from 400m to 3200m at a certain pace goal with rest intervals. For example, this week the interval training was 3x1600m with 400m light jog between each interval. My goal was to run the 1600m at about 6:40 pace. This is pretty close to my all-out speed.
Tempo runs range from 4 to 10 miles. Shorter tempo runs are at 10k race pace. Longer tempo runs are close to my marathon goal pace which is 7:38 miles.
Long runs range from 13 to 20 miles and are meant to build endurance and running efficiency. They train my body for the sustained effort of running, as well rehydrating and eating while running. The Run Less Run Faster program features 5 20 mile runs. In the early weeks the long runs are 20 to 30 seconds slower pace than marathon goal pace and as the weeks go by I run them closer to my marathon pace. Last weekend my 20 mile run was at 8:00 per mile pace.
My cross training is generally road biking or mountain biking on a crushed limestone trail. My rides are usually 1 to 2 hours and I either ride at an even long ride pace or incorporate some sort of interval training such as 1:30 high effort followed by 1:30 easy effort. Repeat 10 or more times.
I have tried to mix in some core strengthening and flexibility exercises, but this is my biggest shortcoming as an athlete. I just don’t easily find the time to stretch and do core exercises. Someday I want to have a coach so I am both accountable to the coach and the money I am paying the coach to get better in this area.
Racing and Training Support from Friends and Family
I spend 8 to 10 hours per week running and biking. This would not be possible without amazing support from my wife, kids, and extended family. It is not easy to leave the family to go running in a sideways rain on a cold evening to run for 18 miles.
Food and Fluids
The best part of running 20 miles is the opportunity for large scale calorie replacement. On a 20 mile run the calculators tell me I burn 2500-3000 calories and the scale tells me that I can easily drop 6 to 8 pounds of water weight on a hot summer day. Nonetheless, I work hard to not binge eat after a long run.
During this cycle of training I have minimized consumption of beer, ice cream, cake, pie, candy, and other desserts. I have a mantra … think fruit first … that I use to fight off my sweet tooth.
While running I am rather lucky that I am able to comfortably eat and drink. A lot of runners tell me they can’t do either easily while running. My go to fluid is Gatorade (lime/lemon) and or water. For food I enjoy Gu, Hammer Gel, Cliff Bars, and Power Bars. I am “opportunarian” so I also end up consuming the odd assortment of bars and drinks running friends try and realize they can’t digest easily. I have box full of odd ball gel flavors from my friends.
Mental Preparation and Logistics
I know I can run the distance. I have done it before. What I have never done before though is a race with such complex race day logistics and I won’t be able to drive the course the day before. My wave starts at 9:40, but to get to start line I need to board a bus in Manhattan at 5:00 a.m. I have no idea how long the bus ride will be, but I am pretty sure I will be sitting outside for several hours. During those hours I will need to figure out how to stay fed and hydrated, hopefully get some coffee, stay warm, and doing some warm-up running for 10-15 minutes about 20-30 minutes before the start. It doesn’t sound easy. Plus I will probably need 3 to 5 port-a-potty visits depending on the wait time.
I have already watched this 2010 video of the marathon course about 10 times. I am hopeful it will help me see some familiar landmarks on race day, anticipate some of the hills, and be ready for the corners (more than I thought).
Anything you want to know about my race prep? Will you be cheering for me as I run through the five boroughs?