Wow, the NYC marathon is a tremendous event! The energy that surrounds this race is just unbelievable.
A first marathon is unique from so many angles. You can coach and teach someone for their experience, but they still have to go out there and do it on race day. There is nothing like the pain and self-doubt that one feels over the last 10k of a marathon. The key is to stay as positive as possible and keep on moving.
Amani, myself, and Ian Ray started the day as the last runners of the day. It was quite a site to see everyone go off before us. We negotiated the crowds well going over the bridge and we settled into a steady pace. Amani felt great and his heart rate was in check. Our early pace was a bit more aggressive than I would have liked, but Amani was not working too hard. I focused on trying to keep the pace consistent and keep the early emotions in check. I was worried that Amani might get overly encouraged by the crowds early on and go out too fast. Our biggest obstacle over the early miles was trying to make our way through the 45,000+ runners that started in front of us. There was a lot of zigzagging going on. Amani rolled along well until we hit the bridge, then the lack of crowds and hill started to take their toll a bit. He was slowing, but I knew once we got to the crowds on 1st Ave the excitement would pick him up. Sure enough once we made the turn, Amani’s pace picked up again. At mile 17 I told Amani to just keep running down the middle of the road and I would go and get the liquids at the aid stations. He was starting to show the signs of muscle fatigue and I could see the salt forming on his shirt. I had started giving Amani salt tabs around mile 13 and I continued to give him more as we went along. We were slowing down a bit at this stage of the race. Amani was very focused. We rolled through the 20 mile mark right under the 3 hour mark. So we were still on pace for our goal of sub 4 hours.
I had Amani complete 3 long runs. The longest duration run he had done in training was 3 hours and 20 minutes. All three long training runs happened to be 20 miles. So, we were now entering new territory. I could see it on Amani’s face that he was really feeling the muscle ache at this point. As we approached mile 21, Amani had to stop and stretch a bit. He had experienced a deep hamstring cramp. I encouraged him to let it release, then to keep moving. We got rolling again, but I knew that he would need something to focus on over the next 5 miles. I told him to just try to click off one city block at a time as we ran through Harlem. I’m a big believer in breaking long races down into segments. Our next focus was to get to Central Park. Then we would have about 20 blocks until we entered the block.
The last 3 miles of the race were tough. As we ran by the mile 23 marker Amani was going through a run/walk combination. I was trying to keep him focused on anything except the pain that he was feeling. This was obviously quite challenging. The crowds were tremendous, but when your body starts feeling the extreme fatigue from running that long, there is not much that can make you feel good. The remainder of the run was a continuation of the run/walk. Amani stayed strong and persevered. We crossed the finish line and he was completely spent. It was a tremendous day with many highs and many lows. A first marathon is always a very interesting learning experience.
I had Amani do a 50 minute run with 3 miles at a Zone 4 (roughly 5k-10k race effort) heart rate. Amani did great on this workout and hit it just as prescribed. He averaged slightly below 8 minutes per mile. This is a far cry from our first run test when his threshold (all out) 8 minute effort only covered one mile. You can view Amani’s workout from his Timex Global Trainer:
We have a little over a week left so stay tuned for more posts into the race.
We are getting to crunch time before the marathon. With a 10 days left before the big day, Amani’s training is now centered around shorter efforts with some intensity. The idea is to let Amani absorb all of the hard work that he’s done up until this point. I like to keep some intensity in the program to keep his legs sharp and to keep him mentally focused.
The reality is that there is not much that we can do the last 7-10 days that will make a big difference for the race. However, there is plenty we can do wrong. Physiologically, it takes the body that 7-10 days to reap any benefits from a particular workout and 6 weeks to fully absorb a training build. Amani had a very comfortable 17 mile run this past Sunday.
Stay tuned for more posts leading into the race.
Here is a great workout to see the progression of a tempo workout. Amani will do 100 meter strides as part of his warm-up during a run like this. The idea behind doing these strides (85% of all out sprint) is to get Amani’s leg turnover ready for his mile repeat efforts. You can check out the workout here from Amani’s Timex Global Trainer:
Take a look at the spike in Amani’s heart rate and speed during the strides. Also, look how well Amani is adjusting to pacing his mile repeats. His heart rate is staying very controlled. This is a very good indication of Amani’s fitness gains. This was a 75 minute run, but it felt very controlled and manageable relative to some of the longer volume runs I have had Amani perform recently.
Stay tuned for more posts.
I had Amani do his longest run by time this past weekend. Amani did this run on a challenging, paved course. He got a good taste of the muscular fatigue he will feel during the marathon. This run really challenged Amani. He did great, but his speed was not quite at the level he was able to maintain on his flatter training course. Even though Amani ran this workout at a slower pace, he will get a very big fitness boost from this workout. It’s important to remember that every workout does not have to be a personal best. However, every workout should have a purpose. This workout was about building Amani’s endurance strength. We certainly accomplished this. You can see Amani’s workout from his Timex Global Trainer here:
Stay tuned for more posts to come.
I had Amani run a heart rate step up 2.5 hour run this past weekend. The idea is to build into the effort with some time spent in Z1 (easy, conversational), Z2 (starting to build into the effort), Z3 (race pace), then bring it back down into Z1 to cool it down. You can check out Amani’s run here:
This was a well executed run. You can really see the progression tracked by Amani’s Timex Global Trainer.
Stay tuned for more posts.
I had Amani do a 10 mile run with some marathon tempo effort on Wednesday. Amani’s progress continues to be very strong. He was able to hold an average pace of sub 8:30 per mile for the entire run. During the tempo section, Amani dropped his pace down to the 8 minute per mile speed. You can check out Amani’s run here from his Timex Global Trainer:
These type of efforts will set up Amani’s longer runs going forward. It will feel relatively easy holding sub 9 minute pace relative to the tempo effort pacing in the shorter workouts.
Stay tuned for more posts.