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September 14, 2022

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

I am sitting down to write my first sentences for this week’s newsletter at 9:30 pm on Monday night. My heart rate is still elevated from what was supposed to be an easy 30-minute jog, so yesterday’s effort — and 5th Avenue Mile after party — might still be taking a toll on my body. When running is your occupation, proper recovery is part of the job. But now it is a bit further down my list of priorities. The sacrifices I used to make are no longer really viable. All that is to say I stayed out past midnight celebrating the end of the season and am paying the price today.

Week six of training was my best yet. I snuck in 68 miles and had a strong workout on Wednesday, going 2 x 5 mile at 5:16 pace with a half-mile jog between them. This is still within the realm of workouts I used to do and not necessarily groundbreaking, but a necessary step to bridge that gap to where I want to be.

The highlight of this block so far was easily the Sunday long run. With the 5th Ave Mile taking place and my weekend being full of media obligations (re: drinking beer with athletes), I spent a lot of time on my feet. The plan was originally to run 20 miles alternating between an ambiguous effort of hard and easy miles with my coach/spiritual advisor, Tommy Nohilly, on the bike beside me so I could practice getting fluids and gels down.

Having worked with Tommy since college, we’ve always had a great relationship and a collaborative approach to training. He believes in my ability to run a good marathon much more than I do. I don’t really need a coach for this marathon. Like, I can write my own schedule, but most weeks I send him what I’m thinking about for my efforts and he tweaks and fine-tunes them. It’s a healthy relationship and one I’m extremely grateful for. Mainly because his advice is generally a reminder that I am exhausted and to take it a bit easier. That’s the true value of a coach, to provide an outsider’s perspective and more often than not, pull back on the reins a bit.

But then there are the intangibles! A few weeks ago I jokingly sent him this picture after a workout to let him know it went well, and in addition to saying good job, he recognized that my hips were out of line and what exercises needed to be done to adjust them. (I had felt off on the run, but hadn’t told him yet.)

Anyway, Tommy ended up needing to get to the race earlier than me on Sunday so I dropped some bottles and gels on the course and set out solo. It wasn’t hot, but there wasn’t that cross country season crispness to the air, either. (It was quite humid.) I got right into things with opening miles of 6:18 – 5:46. As a miler, every long run can be intimidating, however, the inclusion of a workout into the mix amplifies that tenfold.

At 15, I saw the end in sight and with a strategically placed gradual downhill finish, I was able to close it out with a couple of fast final “on” miles: 5:12 and 5:10. Then because Tommy wasn’t there to tell me not to, I added on another 5:37 mile to cool things down because I felt good.

Ultimately, 21 miles at 5:45 pace is the best long run of my career. It’s amazing how much easier the strength stuff is when you no longer have to balance it with being able to close in a 1500. I’m kinda starting to believe what Tommy was telling me six weeks ago…


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