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Jared Ward Wants The Podium At The New York City Marathon + Advice On Why Patience Is Key In Coming Back to Racing

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“I want to point out that while I’m relaying the advice to be patient like I’ve been given from Meb, Ritz, Ryan Hall, Deena and Des to be patient. It’s still hard to be patient. You want to see the good tune-up races and the good workouts because…I don’t want to go to New York and be in the pack at 15 miles and when there’s a strong move, I run smart and I pick off a few guys over the last few miles of the race and I finish fifth to 10th. I’ve done that. I know how to do that. I want to be fit enough that I can cover a 4:40 mile going up First Avenue and I can be in that pack and I can sit in that race. That’s what motivates me.”

I believe this is the third time Jared Ward has come on the show. His first time was in Feb. 2019 and then he was on last fall before he ran in the London Marathon. Now he’s back as he gets ready for the New York City Marathon and also runs in the Saucony Future Fast 10K in Germany that you can watch next Wednesday at 2 pm ET on the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel.

Jared has raced sparingly since he ran at The Marathon Project last December so we get the details on that, how he’s worked his way back into shape after taking time off to help his wife with their newest baby and his big goals – which include the podium in The Big Apple. I appreciated this episode because Jared and I talk about what that comeback has felt like for many people during this pandemic. I just recently posted to Instagram how initially I was planning to go to the Chicago Marathon and try and break three hours but I’m just not quite there yet. I’m still shaking off the pandemic rust. So if you’re one of those people who has been hoping to get back on the string of hitting PRs and sometimes training is going right but the results aren’t coming immediately, I’m right with you and Jared’s got some good advice.

Photo by Kevin Morris/@kevmofoto

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NOTABLES QUOTES AND NOTES

On why we all shouldn’t stress about comparing training lately to past years:

“The longer you run, the more and more you have to be careful because it’s not apples to apples when you’re comparing a build-up…We talked a bit off-camera about 2018 when I pulled my hamstring and was kind of coming back from it and reaggravated it in September before the New York City Marathon. I thought, ‘Man, there’s no way that this marathon is going to go well.’ I even called up (elite athlete coordinator) David Monti and said, ‘Hey, I gotta pull out of New York. My hamstring is just not acting up. I think it’s healthy but I’m just not going to be ready in time.’ He said to just come and run even if I only run half. I thought, ‘I’ll just come run half and see how it feels.’ I ran the whole marathon thinking, ‘OK. Let’s just see one more mile.’ I was running the whole marathon with this free dropout pass. In some ways, it made it easier to just lay it on the line a little bit more. Because if I made it to Mile 17 and then felt like dropping out, I would just drop out then. But I got there and thought, maybe one more mile. I ended up having a great race and finished sixth.

If I compared that build to even New York the year before, where I finished 12th and ran six minutes slower or something like that, I would’ve been like, ‘Oh no. I’m not even in that kind of shape and that’s not where I want to be in that race. You just never know…There are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of correlations going on. There’s lifetime fitness that we forget about and probably don’t give as much weight to as we should.

That advice from some of these vets is to just be patient and let the fitness come back. It will come back if you’re patient. If you’re not patient, you risk injury and burnout. But if you can be consistent and patient, then that fitness will come back and maybe at the end of the day you’ll surprise yourself with that lifetime fitness that still hasn’t gone anywhere.”

On why he chose the New York City Marathon for his major fall race:

“I love New York. I love racing on those streets. My first experience in New York was as the gran marshall just watching the race from the lead truck and that was awesome. I’ve run it three times. This will be my fourth time. I think I’m figuring out the course and so I’m excited to be on a course that I feel like I know. There are downhill miles late in the New York City Marathon. If your legs are ready for those, you can almost hit the reset button every couple of minutes on another downhill stretch whether we’re in Central Park or getting closer to it…It’s true that I’ve had training build-ups for marathons that haven’t gone as well as this one and certainly tune-up races that haven’t gone as well as New Haven. You still want the confidence that comes from big good races and big good workouts.

I want to point out that while I’m relaying the advice to be patient like I’ve been given from Meb (Keflezighi)(Dathan) RitzenheinRyan HallDeena (Kastor) and Des (Linden) to be patient. It’s still hard to be patient. You want to see the good tune-up races and the good workouts because…I don’t want to go to New York and be in the pack at 15 miles and there’s a strong move and I run smart and I pick off a few guys over the last few miles of the race and I finish fifth to 10th. I’ve done that. I know how to do that. I want to be fit enough that I can cover a 4:40 mile going up First Avenue and I can be in that pack and I can sit in that race. That’s what motivates me. I just want to say that I’m talking myself off the ledge too. I’m telling myself to be patient too because I’m not where I want to be and we’re 8 weeks until race day and I’m feeling anxious to get there.”

On he gets ready for those big surges and moves in an elite marathon

“I do love race pace miles at the end of a long run – a few. Whether that’s running four or five or six miles at marathon pace straight or whether that’s doing some alternating miles where you hit a mile at marathon pace and then slow down. Throwing in a few that are faster occasionally or even a fast 800 in the middle of a mile simulates that surging feeling and shows yourself that you can settle back into a pace and calm down and it’s OK. That pace happens and you might think, ‘Oh no. I can’t do this! and then it slows down and you think, “I can do this!” The body is amazing. I also think that we think we have to simulate things exactly as they are in a race. There’s some merit to just the bulk of marathon training. This is me relaying some inner Coach (Ed) Eyestone. I say to him, “How do we get ready to cover a 4:40 mile on First Avenue in that noise tunnel when someone gets excited and they push the pace?” Coach Eyestone will say, “Jared, just get really, really fit and you’ll be fine.”

We do want some marathon pace miles and some faster-than-marathon pace miles in a long run but I think there’s truth to the reality of just get fit and just get sharp. That comes from your mileage. That comes from staying healthy. Maybe some of it comes from cross-training and lifting. I think, to a certain extent, training is training regardless of the course you’re running on and where you’re at. We’ll do a few things to simulate New York but for the most part, I’ll just be training.”

His mantra for the New York City Marathon

“The mantra that I’ve settled on is trust. I just want to trust myself, trust my system and I want to trust my coach. I want to trust my training partners. Trust the goals I had for myself three, four or five years ago that the pandemic has tried to beat out of me in any way it can. I want to trust. For me, that means volume. I haven’t been up to marathon volume yet. I’ve pushed some OK volume but really the second half of this week starts volume. I’m gonna be pushing the volume and then pushing volume through September, volume through October and I’m just going to trust the system, be patient and let that fitness come.”


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