Top 6 Exercises That Runners Don’t Need To Do In The Gym!

Runners and triathletes have specialized STRENGTH needs that differ from the the sedentary person that is going to the gym in search of “that burn” or just needs to get into shape for summer.   The average person or athlete that trains for a non endurance sport needs a much different STRENGTH program than that of an endurance athlete.   It drives me absolutely crazy to see endurance athletes jump into these silly metabolic, barre, or boot camp classes for STRENGTH gains.  Runners and triathletes do anywhere from four to twenty hours of weekly aerobic/conditioning based activities.   Do you really think that runners/triathletes need anymore of this when you go to the gym for your STRENGTH training?  Below are my top 6 STRENGTH TRAINING ERRORS made by endurance athletes when they go to the gym for STRENGTH.

1.   Burpees: (high reps for conditioning)

Do we really need to be jumping onto the floor and getting back up again in hopes of raising our heart rate and creating a tough challenge?   It would be a much better use of time by spending this time lifting some weights.  The primary goal of squat thrusts or burpees is for conditioning purposes and not for STRENGTH building.  The exercises and movements that we do in the gym need to be dedicated to activities that help to build STRENGTH and not replicate the exercise stress of our endurance events.

2.  Light weight lower body: (body weight or light weight high reps squatting and lunging)

We spend so much of our time on our feet with the repetition of running and are constantly moving our own body weight around unloaded.  There is just no need for body weight exercises on the lower body when our primary goal is to gain lower body STRENGTH.   This lower body STRENGTH  that we are in search of in the gym should be a complimentary STRENGTH that helps to enhance our running.  Once again, we don’t need to replicate the same unloaded movements that we are doing for between 4-20 hours a week in our endurance activities.  We need to load up the squat bar, pick up some heavy kettlebells, or move some heavier loads with that lower body.   This will help to achieve our goal of building STRENGTH while at the gym.

3.  Battling ropes:  (high rep conditioning sets)

The primary goal of battling ropes is for conditioning purposes and can serve as a GREAT tool for the sedentary individual in search of that washboard stomach for summer.  That being said, endurance athletes are already getting a ton of aerobic and anaerobic system stimulus each week in your regular training programs.  Traditional fitness programs are filled with daily rope intervals to kick up the intensity in their workouts.  This exercise stimulus closely resembles that of the speed work sessions that you may already be doing on the roads and track on a normal weekly basis.  Therefore if you goal is to be building STRENGTH while in the gym then you will be missing the mark on spending too much time on this one.

4.  Sled pushes:  (sled pushes for conditioning)

Another great fitness tool that trainers/coaches utilize all across the fitness planet is that of the SLED!   It is a FABULOUS tool for both STRENGTH and conditioning purposes in our general populations.   Where trainers go wrong with our endurance athletes is that the sled is systematically misused and not applied correctly to meet the needs of the endurance athlete.   The sled is either weighted too light or placed incorrectly into the workouts.

5.   Single joint range of motion exercises:  (isolation bicep and tricep exercises)

With busy training schedules it’s super important that as endurance athletes we need to be efficient as possible with our gym time.  Spending time focusing on single joint range of motion exercises does not fit the bill.  Everything that we do in competition requires full body coordination, stability, and STRENGTH.  Although standing in front of the mirror and cranking out bicep curls may be aesthetically pleasing to you it just doesn’t have much carryover to sport.  Focusing on complex or full body movements will be a much more productive use of time and carryover more directly to your running, riding, and swimming.

6.  Machine based exercises:  

In the 70’s machine STRENGTH training was popularized with the bodybuilding boom.  When we use machines for our STRENGTH we completely remove the stability element from our training.  With endurance events stability plays a huge role in our sport and can be simultaneously challenged with our strength by doing activities while on our feet.   STRENGTH exercises that resemble the movement patterns of our sport are going be much more efficient and have far more carryover to our competitive events.

7.  BONUS:  HIIT Training or METABOLIC strength workouts:

This one here is a HUGE ERROR that is made by endurance athletes all across the land all the time. Light weight high rep training with short recoveries, although a great option for the sedentary population is just not appropriate in large doses for endurance athletes.  Repetition ranges over 12-15 reps or timed sets of 45 seconds or more with short 15 second recoveries will not achieve the STRENGTH goals that you are in search of.  These types of workouts are geared for folks that don’t do any ancillary cardio and need a STRENGTH/cardio mix to complete their exercise needs.  For endurance athletes the goal of the gym is for STRENGTH as we will achieve our cardio goals in our regular training.  Drop the conditioning workouts for more true STRENGTH based workouts.

In the article above I have attempted to give aspiring endurance athletes the guidance that you will need to either fine your STRENGTH routine or change to one that will meet your endurance goals more efficiently.  Our sport is very demanding and having a STRENGTH program that compliments our sport is essential towards injury freedom, consistency, and performance at our highest levels.  Get to the gym and get STRONG!

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10 tips to RUNNING at your BEST!!

1. Set tangible goals:  One of the BIGGEST errors that I see is when runners set goals that are just out of their reach in the current season and too ambitious for current fitness levels. What this does is sets up a training block where expectations are lofty and when they are not met in the early season it sets a negative tone for upcoming training and races.  It’s critical to develop early season confidence which can be applied throughout the training block as things begin to ramp up and peak races soon approach.  Setting reachable goals is an integral part of building the confidence necessary to be as consistent as possible while executing a long grinding training plan.

2.  Have a plan:  Once your seasonal goals have been established it will be time to get your plan together.  Whether you hire a professional coach or make up the plan yourself it will be an essential element to you reaching your goals.  Your plan should consist of a strategic approach to training with progressive workouts and long runs that gently prepare you for your peak races.   It will be key that your plan takes into account your personal and professional life and has a balance that will allow you to navigate through your life and keep training consistently through the peak of the season.

3.  Be flexible:  Your running and life will not always go exactly how you may be expecting it to go.  Be prepared to make the necessary adjustments to your plan and your life to allow for you to be successful.  Athletes that get too rigid in following their plan will likely end up getting frustrated and fall off track when things don’t go exactly to plan.  The best plans are those that change to meet the ups and downs of your regular life.  A solid running and life balance will be the key to your longevity as a runner.

4.  Be disciplined/patient:   Your fitness takes time to build or prime and a slow burn approach is much preferred to a get results NOW strategy.  Your physiology is very complex and your body’s energy systems prefer to be developed in a preferred order.  Now this can differ from athlete to athlete but there are some concepts that remain constant from runner to runner.  For example we know that racing too often in your base phase is a bad idea and can compromise high level gains later in the season.

5.  Run practice races:  Another HUGE error that I see is where we have runners (especially marathon runners) that think that they don’t need to race in preparation for their peak marathon events.   Running and racing fast is a skill that must be refined and practiced in order to be sharp.  The seasonal races that you put into your schedule serve multiple purposes and are very important components to any successful season.  We must practice the race type intensity many times in order to be able to call on this skill on race day.  Without this experience athletes are likely to fall short of expectations in those big events at the end of the season.

6.  Always listen to your body:   This concept will be one of the most important of all in keeping you injury free, on the roads running, and crushing all of your goals.  There is a time to follow your running program and there’s a time to alter the plan to fit your needs.  When your body is telling you that it needs a break or it it can’t handle the prescribed workout, you better LISTEN!  Sometimes it’s best to sneak in that extra day off or to bypass your weekly speed work session in favor of an easy run.  Give yourself that extra day and pick right up where you left off.

7.  Strength Train:  It’s essential to have a complimentary strength program for the demands of all of your running miles.   A proper strength program that is designed for runners will be an important component in keeping you injury free and consistent in your training.   As we run and race our running muscles get fatigued and break down in the latter miles.  Some extra support, stability, and strength will be crucial for that finishing kick and completing those quality long run miles.  Rep ranges in the 3-8 range will be optimal for enhancing power and creating strength gains that will directly translate to your running.

8.  Taper correctly:  The process of tapering is one that is constantly used incorrectly by runners all across the land.  In many cases we miss that sweet spot and either taper too much or not enough.  Now, we must consider that all athletes are not the same and each will respond differently to various tapering methods.  At some points of the season we won’t even taper, others will require just a short reduction in volume, and then the marathon will require more.  I have found a huge benefit in having athletes for many consecutive seasons as this lets me learn how each individual responds to different tapering methods.  Once we get this formula down we can count on consistent performances on race day each time out.

9.  Value your base phase:  For some reason so many athletes (Whitney Earnest) think that the base phase is less important than other phases of training.   When in reality the base phase is probably the most important part of every training block.  This 6-8 week block lays a critical foundation for all of the other training elements that will follow.   Establishing that aerobic base while growing your mitochondria and preparing your musculosketal system for the demands of faster running happens here.

10.  Know your current fitness:  With the birth of every new season come goals, expectations, and dreams.  Whether your season is focused on the 5k or the marathon there will be a significant commitment made and goals to achieve. In order to construct the right plan, keep on track, and not over train it will be essential to know your current fitness to start the season and as it progresses.  So many folks just guess on their fitness or use grandiose goals to gauge training intensities.  When we do this it’s very likely that we will be training too fast, too much, too early in the season.  Your training program must start where you are at and work towards where you want to go.  It must be progressive and match the needs of your physiological systems.  To get that big bang on peak race day takes patience and persistence and most of all TIME!

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Is the Runner’s Strength Project right for me?

Last weekend, we launched The Runner’s Strength Project(RSP) and the response has been great! Runners everywhere are now using the program and are already enjoying it.  Coach Mat is manning the Facebook page, taking questions and providing even more content on how to use strength training to help your running.

We’ve received some great questions about the program so we thought we’d have Mat write up the most common ones so you can determine if the Runner’s Strength Project will help your running.

Q: Why did you create the Runner’s Strength Project?

A: I’ve been using this system with my runners for a number of years and having great results. In order to ever reach your potential as a runner it’s essential that you are injury free and consistent in your training. A few years ago, I saw that too many runners coming to me were weak and couldn’t stay consistent in their training. I knew that if I could create a strength program that would give them the strength to handle running and also fit with their run training and busy work/life schedules, they would excel. That’s where this program was born.

Q: How do I know if the RSP is for me?

A: The RSP program is designed to accommodate all ability levels of runner.  Because the program is progressive, you’re able to pick the appropriate exercise scheme to meet your individual needs and adjust recovery times as needed to control intensity.  Just like run training, having a strength program that can easily be modified to meet the needs of many different ability level athletes is extremely important and a key aspect to any successful program. Remember, everyone requires different levels of exercise stimulus to get her where she wants to go in a safe manner. I’ll guide you through that process in the RSP and monitor the RSP Facebook page to answer your questions as you train. (You can even check out a complimentary core workout I just posted on the RSP Facebook page. Click the image below.)


Q: What is the difference between the RSP program and the other strength programs for runners?
A: I think what Greg liked when he visited my gym and saw the results from my runners was that this program takes the best of strength training (so the training is uber-efficient) and blends it with run training. Since I’m a running coach and strength coach, he liked that the strength program we offer is 100% specialized for the exact needs of the runner.  He’s not a fan of strength trainers that push their runners so hard in the gym that their running suffers.  As a running coach, I understand that. I want runners to be strong but this can’t interfere with their run training. The two must work together. That’s the idea behind the RSP.

It’s also important to acknowledge that runners have very special strength requirements as the day to day demands of our sport are very significant.  You must be tough to be a runner!  A unique level of specialization in training is needed so we are sure not to overstress the lower body of the runner.  This is an area where many strength programs for runners go wrong.  As runners we need complementary strength, not just strength that is just going to wear us down. That’s why we see the best results with routines of shorter repetition ranges.  Our main focus with this program will be on the torso, hips, core, and upper extremities – the parts of the body that provide us with essential stabilization and support to power our running movements. 


Q How can the RSP help me today?

A: By getting started today we can get your body adjusted to your new program before you get into your more serious summer run training or preparation for a fall half or full marathons.  Adding RSP to your program will have an almost immediate effect on your upcoming races.  You will also be able to tolerate a heavier training load in the coming months and will recover much quicker from tough running workouts.

The ability to recover faster, train more consistently, and add some extra work into your program is often that extra push that you need to get you to the next level in your running.  It will make the last half mile of a 5k so much more tolerable and allow you to dig down and finish with that finishing kick that you have been lacking.  And for marathoners, those last 4-6 miles of the marathon can actually be enjoyable with a little extra total body strength.  A common theme of the past season with my marathoners was the statement, “I never hit the wall and I could have kept running right past the finish line!”  Get STRONGER, FITTER and FASTER this year with the Runner’s Strength Project.

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Runner’s Strength Project

John Scudder’s Journey to 2:39:57 in London

 

My Journey to the 2016 London Marathon

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(The last 4 weeks)

    It is Easter week and I am on a one week family ski trip in Langenfeld, Austria. I just ran a  1:19:45 flat course half marathon this past Saturday in Rheinzabern, which is almost five  minutes behind my half PR of 1:15:09 just two years ago. Running feels like a chore to me, my  legs are very heavy, and any kind of faster running like intervals, tempo runs, and marathon  pace runs feel extremely difficult. I am tired after a long winter season marathon buildup  averaging between 75­80 miles a week with a peak of 90 miles last week. Skiing with my family  during the day is so much fun, but trying to get in 75 miles during the week in the mornings and  evenings seems like an enormous undertaking.

  Despite this, I grind through the week and choose difficult mountain runs on a few of the training  days. I am getting too soft on hills and I need a kick in the ass. I am slightly annoyed with my  good friend, former high school teammate, and professional running coach Matthew Nark of  Nark Running Strategies on my Wednesday morning 10 x 90 seconds at nearly an all­out pace  with short recoveries. His prescription for the day feels impossible and my legs just won’t allow  for it. I fail to come close to the prescribed pace, so I jog to the nearest steep hill and punish  myself with 10 x 10 second hill sprints with walks back down. I run easy the remaining 3 days in  Austria, but given the hills and mountains my HR rarely stays low.     After a tiring four­hour drive back home on a warm and almost summer­like 60 degree Sunday  evening, I put on my singlet, shorts, and head lamp and take off for my last 20+ mile run before  the London Marathon and my last run of a long week. The goal is a 22 mile long run with an 8  mile marathon pace goal finish. I manage to complete the long run, but with only 7 miles at well  below goal marathon pace, nearly 20 seconds per mile behind pace. At this point I am not  confident at all that I am even remotely ready to run a sub 2:40 marathon, a time goal I set out  to achieve over four years ago.

Three weeks out   

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This week of running has not started any better than the last. I skip my Wednesday 2 x 5k  tempo run due to fatigue. I cannot imagine trying to run any faster than 8 minutes per mile  today, so I jog on a leisurely 10 mile lunchtime trail run. It is Thursday and I do not feel much  better than yesterday, but I lace up my shoes and head out to the local track. I average only  marathon pace on the first 5k, well short of the 5:30s/mile pace I am shooting for. After a short  rest, I average 5:40 pace on the second 5k. Ok, so maybe that isn’t too bad, and maybe I still  am pretty fit.     After a couple days of easy running, I head out for my Sunday 15 mile long run with the goal of  running the second half at marathon pace. My total weekly mileage after today’s long run will be  around 60. I can feel that the additional rest and reduction in mileage is helping my speed.  There is a noticeable extra pep in my step today. My stride feels faster and easier to maintain. I
nail the fast finish run and even manage to run near half marathon PR pace for 3 of the faster  miles. Things are looking better.

Two weeks out 

I will continue to reduce mileage down to a total near 50 this week. I start the week with an easy  bike ride to and from work with friends. I give myself a reward with a Biergarten stop on the way  home. It has been a long buildup and a cold beer sounds good right about now. My Wednesday  workout of 12 miles with 12 x 60 seconds nearly all out and 60 seconds of jogging goes well  despite strong gusty winds and heavy downpours. I choose a nasty hilly trail route because I like  the mental and strength boost the Austrian mountain running has given me.  With just over 10  days before the London Marathon, my confidence is improving, but I am still unsure if I am  ready to achieve my dream marathon time of a sub 2:40.

     It is now eight days before the race and Mat wants me to run 8 x 3 minutes at tempo pace  (5:30s/mile) today. I run very well in the 10 mile workout while my boys bike and giggle loudly  riding through mud puddles next to me on a flat and fast bike path alongside the German  Autobahn. I feel much more confident in my speed after this run today and running is becoming  fun again. Today, just a day after yesterday’s intervals, and a week out from race day, Mat  wants me to run a 5 mile marathon pace fast finish at the end of a 10 mile run. I struggle greatly  to keep up with marathon pace on the windy, rainy, cold, and hilly 10 miler. I have doubts that I  am not ready to hold a 6:05 pace for 26.2 miles and perhaps Mat is having me do too much  faster running so close to the race.

  One week out

I run a very easy five miler on Monday. I will take Tuesday off and run my final marathon pace  tune­up on Wednesday. On a warm and sunny Wednesday I run 8 miles including 5 x 5 minutes  at London goal pace. Suddenly, 6 minutes per mile is feeling much easier. I am happy the  forecast calls for much cooler weather than this in London. My energy levels have been rising  rapidly throughout this final week of my marathon taper. I start carb loading on Thursday  morning with a large portion of sweet potatoes and beet juice with one boiled egg. I slightly  increase my overall calorie intake while replacing most of my normal portions of fats and  proteins with healthy sources of carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, rice, fresh fruit, small  portions of fruit juice, plenty of vegetables, pasta with tomato sauce, and unsalted pretzels. I  also reduce caffeine intake and increase water consumption throughout the week.     It is Friday, and Mat has me run 5 miles with 8 x 100 meters at a very fast pace. I go shirtless  on a 70 degree sunny day in Germany before my afternoon flight from Stuttgart to London.  The  sun feels great on my back. I finish the five miles feeling fresh and ready. Yes, it looks like once  again Mat knows exactly the recipe to get me ready for a peak race and a chance at a new PR.  The forecast for London is well below normal temperatures with a chance of sleet, snow  showers, or rain and it will certainly be windy. I think if the weather is not too bad in London,
then it is still possible to achieve my goal. Mat and I discuss that I will need to run a smart  negative split race by conserving energy until later in the race and finish fast. It worked in Berlin  and it will work again if I can execute.

Marathon day in London 

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After 7 hours of sleep I wake up feeling fresh without an alarm clock as I have all week. I notice  some text messages from my very understanding and supportive wife and children and it lifts my  spirits. I pound a half liter of water right away. I prefer to drink more before a marathon on race  day as early as possible and drink much less in the final 90 minutes before the race. The last  thing I need is a bathroom stop when I am trying to trim 34 seconds of my 2:40:33 PR. To date  out of all the marathons I have run with a time goal, I have never had to stop for a toilet, quite  the opposite of what I go through in the weeks and months of training beforehand.     My legs are well rested and I can feel the positive effects of three days of solid carb loading and  last night’s pre­race dinner of calf liver with pasta and tomato sauce and a glass of red wine at  Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen. I look out the window and see that it is raining. The forecast calls for the  rain to move out within the hour. I eat a breakfast of three pieces of white toast with butter &  honey, one banana, one cup of rice cereal with almond milk, a small portion of mandarin  oranges, a small portion of scrambled eggs, a cup of orange juice, and one cup of black coffee.  It is 7:40 AM and time to head out. The race starts at 10 AM and it will take an hour on the  London Underground and Southeastern Railway to arrive in Blackheath with plenty of time  before the point to point race starts.    I arrive in Blackheath around 8:45 AM. It is easy to figure out where to go because there are  crowds of runners in front of me. It is about a half mile walk from Blackheath station to the  runners’ start areas. The town looks like what I would expect a nice English town in April to look  like; we walk by a few nice pubs and restaurants with flowers outside on what appears to be a  main street. Police officers have the area covered and well­secure as they call out where the  runners should go. The smell of grilled food is already in the air so early in the day. I have a  buzz that this could be my day as I snap off some selfies and other photos.     As we walk closer to the start area, I notice a huge line of people making the big mistake of  walking in their race shoes through medium length wet grass. I find my way to a sidewalk  slightly out of the way. Like Mat said, I need to control every variable possible to have a  successful race, and avoiding water­logged socks and shoes is one of them. There are three  blimps towering over the open fields, one for each runner start areas: green, red, and blue. I am  supposed to go to the blue area for the UK Championships since I qualified for this race with a  sub 2:45 marathon time and I am a member of the UK running club Serpentine. Any member of  a UK running club or any UK citizen who runs under 2:45 in a marathon qualifies to run with a  UK Championship entry.


The UK Championships meeting area is perfectly situated close to the race start line within the  blue area. It has two tents for championship runners to change and stay warm in, which is quite  a luxury on this lower 40s F, chilly, and breezy morning. The area has many port­a­johns and  fewer people so I will not have to wait in long lines to go to the bathroom my usual 3­5 times in  the hour before a big event due to nerves or whatever else causes the issue. I am very fortunate  I am starting in this area. I am thankful that my fellow Serpentine running club teammate, Alex  Jeffreys, brought my jersey to Berlin so that I could take part in this amazing event. It relaxes  me. I am no longer concerned with whether it will rain or how bad the headwind might be.     15 minutes before the race start a man with a loudspeaker announces to us that we need to  move our clear bags storing post­race items to the truck so they can transfer them to the finish  area. I keep on my arm sleeves, a headband, a pair of cheap gloves, and a warm 8 year old  long sleeve running shirt that has an old stench to the point that no washing machine on earth  could take the smell away. I ditch two of my seven gels I have brought along for fuel because I  think five will be enough. I hand over my bag and head to the start line. A couple of minutes  before the gun goes off I throw my old shirt and the headband to the side of the road. It is go  time.    Race ­ 5k ­ Time 18:55 – Diff 18:55 – Pace 6:05/mile, 3:47/km    The gun goes off and I quickly settle into what I think is a tad slower than goal pace. I am  thankful I started up towards the front because the road is not all that wide. I notice quickly that  many people are trying to pass and run aggressively. I know this is folly. Starting too fast in this  race is something I will avoid at all costs, as I have been burned late in many previous  marathons from fast or even goal pace starts. Around mile 2.5 I throw off my arm sleeves. It is  very chilly, but I am already warming up despite the increasing wind speed. There are  occasional speed bumps on the course in the first three miles and the marathon staff personnel  call out warnings to the runners.     Having just run the Berlin Marathon last fall, I am disappointed that these streets are rougher on  the feet and legs. The road is not as smooth as the perfect streets of Berlin and it feels as if it  will be easy to trip up if I am not careful. I am definitely going to feel my feet and legs ache later.  I take note and focus on staying with the marked blue line, which is the shortest possible path  along the marathon route that officials create mainly for the elite athletes up front. I make sure to  watch out for other runners and not step on anyone or be stepped on. It is more crowded three  miles in than I expected.     Despite my efforts to start slower, my first 5k is faster than the 6:08/mile pace Mat and I agreed  to target in the first 20 miles. I know from the past few years of sub 2:40 marathon attempts that  I need to run an average of around 19 minutes per 5k through the entire race.  Our goal was to  come in slightly above 19 minutes per 5k for the first 30k with energy still in reserve and then  finish as fast as possible in the final 10+ k. I clocked the first 5k in 18:55. I am not worried  though because up to this point I haven’t been sporadically speeding up and slowing down, I
haven’t been weaving around people, and I have been relaxed, save for the slight anxiety about  the running surface and slightly increasing winds.    Race ­ 10k – Time 38:12 – Diff 19:17 – Pace 6:12/mile, 3:52/km   

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I have now found the conservative pace that I was looking for the first 5k. The Garmin  Forerunner 620 has been inaccurate on two of three mile splits earlier on by showing my  average lap pace as my goal of around 6:08, but then flashing an actual faster split three to four  seconds lower to my surprise. Can I trust this watch? It functioned poorly under the Frankfurt  skyline in October and I went out too fast in the first 10k of that marathon. I still have plenty of  packs to follow and I notice runners are still running very aggressively this early in the race. The  wind is starting to pick up from my front right side and sometimes as a headwind. I am starting  to feel warmer. I finally ditch the gloves and down the first of five GU gels I am carrying along at  mile five.    Race ­ 15k – Time 57:26 – Diff 19:14 – Pace 6:11/mile, 3:51/km    We pass the packed and rowdy area of the Cutty Shark and I feel a surge of adrenalin despite  keeping the pace on target. The crowd support is great here. I hear many calls of “Go  Serpentine!” We turn gently to the right and head straight into the headwind. I am focused on  tailing people closely to avoid energy loss from the wind. I know that a small amount of wasted  energy now can derail me in the end. I notice that this race seems to have water stations every  mile and that relaxes me. I take Salted Caramel with caffeine GU gel number two at the 15k  mark. I am confident that I am on the desired pace now and fixated on seeing 6:08­6:09/mile on  my Garmin.    Race ­ 20k – Time 1:16:33 – Diff 19:07 – Pace 6:09/mile, 3:50/km    I am totally focused and “in the zone”. My breathing is fine and I am running comfortably hard. I  am locked very close to 6:08/mile pace. I feel like I definitely still have a chance at a sub 2:40. I  cross the London Tower Bridge enjoying the huge crowd support at km 20.    Race ­ Half – Time 1:20:34    I remember Mat and I discussing that I would be about 50 seconds behind pace after 20 miles. I  do the math and figure I am about 25 seconds behind pace right now. I am roughly on track,  and I have plenty of reserves still to go harder later. I am also now running with the wind from  my back and it feels effortless.    Race ­ 25k – Time 1:35:19 – Diff 18:46 – Pace 6:02/mile, 3:45/km    We are running towards Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs. I down my fourth GU gel of the day  and slip in my two fastest miles thus far without burning too much energy. The crowd support
was supposed to be weak in this area but plenty of people are out cheering the runners on. The  wind is helping me slightly now and the cool mid to upper 40s F air feels good. I notice at 25k  that I have already begun trimming the time deficit too early. It is a reminder that I need to be  careful in the next 5k to conserve energy for the remaining 12.2k.

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  Race ­ 30k – Time 1:54:09 – Diff 18:50 – Pace 6:04/mile, 3:47/km    I have shifted from being careful not to go too fast to being careful not to go too slow now. I am  close to 6:08/mile pace, but the Garmin is showing readings at times of 6:15/mile or more. I hit a  couple 6:08 miles. But then at mile 18, I record a 6:14, my slowest split of the day so far. This  surprises me because throughout the mile my Garmin lap split was showing 6:08 pace. My  confidence slips slightly and I realize I have to pick up the pace to goal pace or slightly better, at  least temporarily.

  Race ­ 35k – Time 2:12:57 – Diff 18:48 – Pace 6:03/mile, 3:46/km    I rip off a 5:55 19th mile without digging too deep, passing many runners and my confidence  returns. But am I starting the kick too early? Any faster now and I may jeopardize the finish. I try  to push slightly faster than 6:00/mile pace, but we are now heading back towards the Tower  Bridge and the headwind is catching me at times. There are no runners to tail because most are  going slower than me. I conserved energy while they went out too fast and now they are paying  a heavy price. I see a lot of runners in agony and some even dropping out or moving off to the  side of the road.     As I pass the 20 mile mark with a 6:05/mile goal pace split I consume the fifth and final gel from  my belt. I feel confident that I have fueled and hydrated properly during the race so far. Now it  comes down to a final 10k where the real race begins. I start my kick gently and hit the next mile  in 5:59. Not exactly as fast as I wanted to go, but it may be good enough. I pass through the 35k  mark and notice that I am a few seconds faster than 2 hours and 13 minutes, the pace I needed  to be on track for a 2:40 marathon. I still have energy reserves and I have not hit a wall yet. I  notice so many people are cheering for my UK running club Serpentine as I run by. I  acknowledge their support as best as I can without using too much energy.    Race ­ 40k – Time 2:31:42 – Diff 18:45 – Pace 6:02/mile, 3:45/km    I hit another mile split at 5:57. This gives me confidence that I am actually slightly ahead of pace  now. I am starting to lose energy though, and I drink the sports drink Lucozade offered on the  course. I know my friend Andi and his fiancé will be spectating around mile 22.5 and I hope to  see them. Within a few seconds of thinking this, I see Andi waving and cheering my name loudly  in front of me on my right. I wave to him as best as I can with my right hand and smile. The  crowd is so loud. I am struggling to hold pace now, but I am invigorated from seeing my friend  on the course. I am trying desperately to hold on to the pace and I run two consecutive 6:08
miles. Just before I run over the 40k mats I see that I am 18 seconds ahead of the needed 2  hours 32 minutes pace. This is a huge confidence boost. I can do this!    Race ­ Finish ­ Time 2:39:57 – Diff 8:15 – Pace 6:03/mile, 3:46/km 

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My Garmin shows a 6:00 split for mile 25. I see the London Eye to my left across the Thames  River. I remember reading tips on the London Marathon that said when you see the London Eye  to your left you will know you are only a little over a mile away. All I need to do is hold onto a  6:00/mile pace the remainder of the way and it is mission accomplished. But I am really  struggling now. My heart rate is soaring from near 160 in the first half to the mid 160’s later and  to now over 170. I am starting to feel my breathing go out of control. I have a cramp developing  in my right chest muscle and on the lower right side of my abdominals. This isn’t good.     I see a sign showing 600 meters to go. I am not sure that I can pull this off. I feel myself slowing  and I have anxiety now about where my time stands. Further ahead of me a sign shows 400  meters to go. I see on the clock there is approximately 1 minute and 27 seconds between me  and a sub 2:40 marathon as I pass by it. I know at this point I must sprint the remaining 400  meters or fail. A “Pain is temporary” quote from the Nark Running Strategies Facebook group  just popped into my head. I feel like there is somebody sticking me with a dagger in the right  side of my chest and right abdominals. My breathing is completely out of control. I turn a right  corner for the final straightaway.     The crowd support is epic. I can hear the cheers and yelling but my vision is blurry except for  the big red finish line in front of me. I run full speed across the finish line mats in relief and  immediately stop my watch. My breathing is still out of control, but I am done now, finally. A few  seconds pass. I look down at my watch with anticipation. Did I do it? 2:39:58. Marathon staff  personnel are tending to ailing and fatigued runners who just crossed the finish line. I let out a  loud “Yes!” three times. Many workers and runners look back at me and smile. By running the  final 400 meters at a 5:26/mile pace, I finally achieved my goal of a sub 2:40 marathon. And Mat  Nark had me trained and coached perfectly to sprint at the end when I needed to the most.

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