Whippet Wisdom: Tips from the Coaches

This is the first installment of “Whippet Wisdom: Tips from the Coaches.”  Our goal is to send tips/ tricks/ strategies with regards to training and racing with a specific emphasis.  Email with any questions!

Team Champs race prep and Sunday run for marathoners

This weekend’s Team Champs is one of the best events in the NYRR calendar because of the ability to cheer for your teammates of the opposite gender. There will be plenty of support coming from surprising places throughout the entire race. And the after-party is not to be missed! Also, the race course is one of the fastest courses in Central Park but intelligence and patience are required to succeed.

The race starts on the 102nd Street facing west before making a quick left turn 150m into the race to head south. While the opening mile is a net uphill, because this race has the fastest of any NYRR on the calendar yet has the smallest number of entrants, the race goes out fairly quick and it is easy to get sucked in. As the old adage goes, patience is a virtue. Use the crowd to achieve your predetermined goal at the first mile but do not engage in racing people.

Most of the next 2.5 miles is downhill so settling into a rhythm is crucial. Maintain your race plan and run even splits in the first two miles. The long downhill following 86th Street and the drop following Tavern on the Green provide great opportunities to maintain your pace with decreased effort. You are very likely to be passed by many people but ignore them and run your own race.

Aim for your goal pace/ 5 seconds faster at the one mile mark and a total of 5-10 seconds faster than your goal time at two miles. Up to 10-15 total seconds faster is perfectly fine, but be careful to avoid being 20+ seconds ahead of goal time at mile 2 (i.e. not more than 10 seconds/mile faster than goal through two miles). It’s easy to think about using downhills as a way to bank time – especially in the first half of a race – but I always caution against doing so. It’s better to take advantage of those sections to hit time goals expending as minimal energy as possible.

As you round the bottom of the park and pass the carousel, the course begins to incline so increasing your energy level will be necessary to maintain the same pace. Do so in a controlled fashion without expending too much energy. If you are a below-average uphill runner, you may need to focus on staying with competitors around you to maintain pace. By holding a steady effort of around goal pace for this mile, you should hit the third mile in a total of 5-15 seconds faster than your goal time for three miles.

For those who go out too fast, the fourth mile – which includes Cat Hill – will be a reality check. Do not be one of those people. If the first half of the race was run relaxed and on target, climbing Cat Hill will be a grind but not exhausting. And, after cresting the hill, the legs should recover over the next 200m which are slightly downhill. Though your time for this individual mile may be slower than your goal pace, you should reach the 4-mile mark in a total time that is very close to your goal time for this point in race.

From here to the finish, the focus shifts to catching as many people as possible. The remainder of the course offers no significant obstacles. Exit your comfort zone and go after every person in front of you. If someone passes you, fight to keep your position. Do not think about the clock or look down at your watch. Exiting your comfort zone and racing people to the finish will have you cross the finish line well ahead of your goal.

For the remainder of the week, think about race strategy during the easy miles of your recovery runs/ easy bike ride/ etc. Tonight’s Manhattan run will feature a course preview which provides an added benefit to this race strategy implementation. You can only achieve success if you envision success.

For marathoners who are racing, keep to your usual race day schedule of 1.5-3 mile warm-up and 1.5-3 mile cool down. Avoid running a longer cool down and save your legs for Sunday. While the marathon training plan lists 40-56 minutes of easy running, any additional miles will benefit your training. With that said, do not compromise your race to achieve long run success. There are many weekends left in your marathon training for long runs. If you are able to run more than 90 minutes on Sunday, you did not race hard enough. 🙂

See everyone on Saturday!
Chris 40


More about Chris Forti

Chris grew up just outside of Boston where he competed at the high school and collegiate level. In Boston, he coached athletes with varying objectives - from youth to high school to adults - and went so far as to marry his favorite athlete. He joined the Whippets in 2013 and is excited to be coaching for this highly motivated group. He works at siggi's yogurt in New York City as a demand planner and can be found playing "catch the red laser dot" with his favorite kitty, post-run. He calls himself "40" because "Forti" is evidently too many typeface characters to handle and can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@chris40runs), and Instagram (@chris40runs)

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