In the summer and fall of 2013 and 2014, I worked as a coach with Jonathan Cane's Jackrabbit Sports Marathon Training Program. It was a great opportunity to learn from a terrific coach and share my love of running—and the real joy I get from marathon training and racing—with individuals who were just starting out in the sport or looking to improve over past performance.
Last year, I attempted this coaching work while also trying to compete in cross country, with a particular emphasis on running well in Van Cortlandt. While I am sure I gained some nice stamina from the 18-week marathon program, I definitely went into most of my Sunday XC races feeling tired and a bit banged up after the Saturday long run. In December, after struggling through a tough 10k at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, PA , I decided it might be time to rethink my "let's just do it all" mindset and actually focus on performing well in specific events.
Converting from an 85% runner—going out and running too hard most of the time and never really recovering or racing well—to someone capable of hitting PRs and feeling good about my efforts has been a tough road. I just sort of got used to pushing through pain and ignoring what I've been told by coaches since I was a kid, "push hard on workout days, recovery properly, sleep well, and set yourself up for breakthrough races." But I've been plugging away at it since January.
My weeks are much more reasonable now. I've been maxing out at about 45 miles per week and running much more conservatively. My Tuesday and Thursday workouts—focused on speed for the indoor track season—have been intense, but I now ensure that my post-workout days are very easy going, often something like 6 miles at an 8:30 pace.
Tomorrow night, I will run what is likely my last indoor race of the year, the 1500 at the Front Runners FRNY Indoor Track Meet at the Armory, and hope to run sub 4:50. Success in the 1500 will set me up for a strong outdoor track season, I think, so I go into tomorrow evening intent on doing what I know how to do. I've set myself up for a breakthrough race, now it's time to break through.