Posted in Blog.
Are You Running The Boston Marathon & The NYC Half?
Training is going great, you’ve put in strong miles all winter long, and you’re crushing your marathon workouts. You’re also lucky enough to have a bib number for the NYC Half. You’re probably thinking about toeing the line and putting these marathon miles to work for you to gun for a new half marathon PB (personal best). I would be tempted too! However, let me make a case for considering the moderate route.
I had a professional marathon coach once point out to me, “If you’re training correctly for a marathon, you probably won’t be setting any PBs in the half during the buildup. I’m wary anytime an athlete is setting a new personal best in the half just 4-5 weeks prior to their goal marathon.” What he means by that is; if you’re truly emphasizing marathon specific training, AKA knocking out long runs with an emphasis on consistency, drilling your nutrition strategy, and hammering out strong weekday volume, you probably aren’t also honing the sharpness that an all-time best half marathon performance demands. My former coach has guided a few athletes to the olympic marathon, he knows the event. Every year, he would bring attention to a pro athlete who would go and smoke the NYC Half, way ahead of MP (marathon pace). He would say “mark my words…” Sometimes he was wrong, but 95% of the time he was dead right. That athlete would end up dropping out before the marathon even started, not finish the race, or fade in the second half. You will almost never see a pro that is a serious contender for Boston come to NYC and run a new personal best. Not to say you can’t feel strong, and be encouraged by how you feel given your endurance based training, but chances are that if you use a half marathon PB to judge your marathon readiness, you’re setting yourself up for potential disappointment. Not to mention the toll that an all-out effort over a challenging 13.1 mile race takes on the body...
A good rule of thumb for the general running population is that for every mile raced, it takes 1 additional day of very easy running or rest in order to recover for the next challenge. Boston is 4 weeks after the NYC Half, so if you are throwing down a max effort on March 17th, you are leaving yourself with *roughly* 2 weeks until race day before your body is ready to get back to some substantial training. Most training plans have key workouts and strong mileage planned for 28 to 14 days to go, not something you want to take on with a depleted body following a max effort half marathon. FLPT owner, therapist, and coach Michael Conlon has seen time and and time again an athlete PB in the half 4-6 weeks prior to a marathon go on to fizzle out in training down the homestretch. The physical fatigue of the half takes a toll, and that can ultimately take a toll on our marathon race day confidence as well.
Let me pose an alternative idea.
When else are you going to have a race simulation opportunity over a 13.1 mile stretch with crowd support, mile markers, aid stations, and no time-outs prior to your goal marathon? Unless you’re a fully fledged pro (in which case this article probably doesn’t apply to you anyway,) probably never! Race simulation is a great way to capitalize on the logistics and details that the NYC half can provide you to benefit your training. Now is your chance to practice waking up early and eating your pre race meal, coffee (or lack thereof) and seeing how well you fare over 13.1 miles at marathon pace on a challenging course. NYC Half is an excellent simulation for Boston in that it is hilly and features late race climbing. Without taking a major taper for the NYC Half, you’re going to be carrying some fatigue in your legs. What better way to prepare for a marathon than to metronome goal marathon pace with some mileage in the legs. Better yet, when the race is over, you won’t be wrecked. You’ll certainly be tired, because that’s a big workout, but you won’t be wrecked. You’ll need a few rest or easy days, maybe some TLC for the legs, such as AlterG running, rest, Normatec Compression Sleeves, Cryotherapy, etc, but on the whole you’re going to be able to slip right back into your training rhythm without a hitch. A maximum effort might not leave you feeling quite so spry.
Fast forward 4 weeks, race day rolls around, and you’ve already done your dress rehearsal. You’ll have the confidence that your cinnamon raisin swirl toast will sit perfectly as you carefully descend then climb some serious hills, right on your well-practiced pace. Suddenly, you’re well on your way to demolishing the Boston Marathon.