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September 21, 2022

Kyle Merber’s New York City Marathon Training Update Vol. 3

I entered this week with one goal: to finally get over the 70-mile mark. On a run many months ago, long before I committed to doing this marathon, there was a conversation between a couple of busy guys. We were theorizing the possibility of training for a marathon effectively by fully committing to the hard-easy schedule. While we might not have the time to harden the legs on pure mileage, that same task could be accomplished by making big days really, really big.

Thus far, I had only moderately committed to that approach. Some 13-mile Wednesday mornings and a single 21-mile long run weren’t exactly going to make up for the rest of my maintenance runs being five or six miles long. That needed to change. The truth is that I already care more about this marathon than I’d originally expected and certainly intended and that sentiment only continues to grow.

Granted, compared to how I used to operate and obsess over every detail of my training, I’m still only barely scratching the surface of my ability to become all-consumed by this sport. In many regards, from the perspective of my lifestyle and overall well-being, this newfound approach is probably much healthier. A friend recently asked how I am managing to balance everything, and I’ve realized it’s a combination of a few things.

Compartmentalizing has never been more important — when running, I need to be fully present. And when I log in to my workday, then how my legs feel ceases to matter. Once I pick Laoise up from daycare, then she deserves my undivided attention. And then after bedtime, that’s when I write, grab an extra run, or snuggle up with Patricia on the couch.

Things have been going quite swimmingly since the start, and this week’s workout was the first time I really hurt. The assumption that the faster stuff would still be comparatively easy for me, at least compared to more beefy long-run-workout-hybrids, didn’t hold true. The goal was to run 12 x 1k with a minute jog rest on the bike path at 5-minute pace, which happened — it just sucked. My shitty recovery over the past several weeks eventually caught up to me — lesson learned… again… for the thousandth time.

On Thursday and Friday night I had the bandwidth to get out for runs on the bridge — it’s one of the few spots lit up at night near my corner of Westchester and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a scenic venue. After the first night, I shot a text to photo extraordinaire, Joe Hale, to see if he’d join me for the second round. A bunch of the new gear showed up at my front stoop so it was time for an impromptu photo shoot and test run.

After running 44 miles in three days, I felt like I was crashing a bit on Saturday, but no matter — Sunday was the main event. The plan was to run 23-24 miles. The morning of, I hadn’t decided on where to run yet; I wanted minimal hills and a place to stash fuel. In the past, I’d have a training partner to snap me out of my indecision, but now, I’ve learned that coordinating logistics for every session is another downside of working out alone. (Before you start feeling bad for ol’ Kyle, I do have friends! But being in your 30s is interesting — you have too many friends to keep up with, but not enough that you’ve got someone on call who wants to ride a bike for 2.5 hours alongside you.)

The route wasn’t perfect, but I got some water and a gel at 15, and then a dry gel at 21. But more importantly, the effort wound up going great. About an hour in, I began entertaining the idea of turning 23 miles into a full marathon because the miles were clicking off naturally. In the end, it was a 2:40 marathon off a big negative split.

I hit 85 miles on the week and the big days were finally big.

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