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October 26, 2022

Kyle Merber’s New York City Marathon Training Update Vol. 9

The hay is in the barn. I wish there was a bit more hay in there, but this is what we got! Regret that I didn’t start this marathon build-up a few weeks earlier has been creeping into my idle thoughts more and more lately…But how many people show up to the starting line holding on for dear life, with their bones held intact with KT tape, and praying that a few choice days off can save them?

Instead, it feels like my trajectory is directed straight up. I don’t have plans to scale things back significantly, which was always my mindset approaching the end of the season as a professional miler, too. My thought was that if I could run the hard workouts in the middle of a 90-mile week, a moderate one coupled with a couple of easy days ought to be enough to liven the legs.

The first real session I did with the intent of training for this marathon was 6 x mile on the track with 60 seconds rest. It was nothing special, but I averaged 5:09, which wasn’t half bad coming off the couch and still recovering from many sleepless nights at the World Championships.

Fast forward to this past week and I had to push the workout off until Friday because I had multiple days in the office. That generally entails me rolling out of bed at 5:30 to shuffle through 5 miles in the dark before rushing to the train — not exactly the most conducive schedule. Especially because it means that I get maybe ten minutes with my daughter before and after work. God bless flexible work-from-home situations!

Anyway, the fastest mile I had run this block was a 4:58 at the end of a tempo, and so it felt like I was due to tune up with some “speed work.” And to tie a nice bow on the tail end of this experiment, it seemed appropriate to do mile repeats again to measure my progress.

As you may imagine, running more in the past ten weeks has helped improve my splits. This time around I ran 8 x Mile w/ 60 seconds averaging 4:49. This is an objectively pretty good and normal session. Like, most professional track guys have probably done something that looks exactly like this during their fall base training.

Late in the game, it was encouraging to do something that played to my strengths and to gain some confidence in the process. As I have been trying to assess how fast I think I may run, I’ve been trying to locate someone’s training log that could serve as an indicator. But no one that I have been able to find has the same history, skillset, or approach to the game as me. I’m a bit of an anomaly here because it’s not really fair for me to compare my workouts to someone running 120-mile weeks. They’re obviously more tired than me after my measly 63 miles and I’m sure most people at the front end of the pack never ran a 22-second flying start 200 before their adductors needed to be medically sewed back together

This Sunday I ventured north along the Hudson Valley to meet up with the Empire Elite squad for their long run. It was fun to run with so many friends and click off 17 miles worth of 6-flats. I figure if I couldn’t gain as much fitness as I’d have liked during the past few months, then I might as well lean into the freshness. Running only 17 miles felt like a shakeout.

There are doubts in my head that ebb and flow with an immense and irrational level of self-belief. But rather than focusing on the miles that I didn’t do, I have to concentrate on the ones that I did. And sometimes I need to remind myself that the goal is not to run the fastest marathon that I am physically capable of running. If that were the case I’d quit my job and be living in the mountains. The aim is to run the fastest marathon possible given the constraints of regular life — you know, like 99% of the field lining up.

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