Whippet Wisdom: Tips from the Coaches

Pre-race Speech

As any other “coach/ athlete” relationship, the same is true for us. The season began with many of your own training ideas based on what has worked and not worked for you in the past. We discussed ideas how to improve that training by incorporating techniques you may not have tried before. You put in some great long runs and long workouts. You stuck through it with the rest of life beating down your door – work, family, etc. You got through your last long run and your last true interval workout and now it’s time to taper and enjoy this week.

For tips on preparing for this week (food and beverage, sleep, expo), race morning (it’s cold on Staten Island!), and course description, check out our NYC Marathon prep slide show on our website: https://goo.gl/7VXudB. Simon and our panel moderators – Daniela, Jay and David – provided TONS of great info and tips in this presentation so take 20 minutes to review it.  I promise it is worth it.

It’s game time – this is where you put everything learned into the field of play.

Get out comfortably and enjoy the atmosphere. Look around and enjoy the sights – and think about what you’re going to do the rest of the day. A solid first 10K will get you out of the gates and off on the race of your life. It doesn’t have to be crazy, but stay relaxed the entire time. Be patient over the Verrazano and ride the roller coaster that is a slow first mile and a quick second mile. Don’t tighten up and get flustered by the crowds. You may have to weave to move up, but avoid the sudden jerks and look for comfortable openings to cruise through. Maybe even get in behind someone who is doing the same and go with them but save most of this until Bay Ridge.

The second 10K will be the easiest of the day. You’ll finally be warmed up and cruising! The packed crowds at the start have lightened up and moving through the pack becomes easier. Here is where reining it in and resisting the urge to accelerate is important. You’re not half way yet, remember that. Settle into a rhythm, take some deep breaths, make sure you getting fluids and other ‘comforts’ in this section – don’t forget about them! You’ll cruise down 4th Avenue in Park Slope, past Atlantic Terminal and through North Brooklyn crossing the half feeling nice and relaxed, but here is where the work begins.

I always say the third quarter of any race is what determines the outcome. Don’t fall asleep after crossing the Pulaski and passing through Long Island City. Run those miles confidently and on target. Look around and spot a couple people in the crowd. Make sure those people stay around you. Don’t get caught focusing on one person because if they slow down or speed up, you will go right along with them. Find multiple people. Hopefully a Whippet will be in sight to help you along. Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Whatever works! Just make sure you are not going faster than or slower than the entire group around you. This is your tribe!

In the final 10K, it’s all about positive reinforcement and the Whippet cheering squad in the Bronx will remind you how awesome you are. You’ve come too far to let it slip away now… and, gosh darn it, you deserve to be there! As a distance runner, there is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are running the race of your life and you’re going to do what you set out to accomplish – and maybe even faster! All the runs and workouts completed have not only prepared physically but mentally for the race as well. In the last 10K, start remembering all those workouts and long runs and remind yourself that getting through those helped you to be where you are right now – and they are going to get you to the end. This is a quote from Ryan Hall after finishing 4th in the 2009 NYC Marathon: “Over the last 10K I made it my goal to let out whatever was inside of me. I had trained very hard for this moment – too hard to let it completely slip by. This is when the battle becomes about personally overcoming your own body and not giving in to the desire to completely fold when the chips are down.” Make this your mantra the final 10K!

Also, whether you want to admit it or not, the marathon is in fact a race. In the last 10K, ‘engage’ with people. If someone passes, make even the smallest effort to go with them for 30, 60, 90 seconds or longer. It will help take your mind off the fatigue and begin to race. A philosophy I believe in from the mile to the marathon is the ability to run a faster time comes from racing people; not the clock. At the end of the race, choose a “no pass zone” where you will try not to let anyone pass from that point to the finish.

You’ve had a tremendous training season.  Time to show New York and the world how great it’s been. Good luck and see you on the course!

More about Matt

Matt is one of the co-founders of the Dashing Whippets with Rich.

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