You’ve logged the miles, broken in the shoes, and scarfed down more protein-packed grain bowls than you thought possible. Yes, you’re ready to run a marathon—but as the big day approaches, how do you fine-tune your training?
To help you across the finish line, we asked four of New York City’s top elite coaches for the one piece of running advice that really changed their game. Here, according to these serious pavement-pounders, is what every 26.2 veteran or first-timer (good luck!!) should know… —Larkin Clark
1. Don’t get ahead of yourself
“The best piece of running advice I have ever received was from Dr. Nicholas Romanov, founder of The Pose Method,” says Will Torres, founder of Willspace Elite Personal Training Studio. “It was to make sure that, when my foot strikes the pavement, it’s landing below my body instead of in front of my body.” The other key component is to keep your alignment completely upright. You’ll thank yourself post-marathon: “Once I improved my technique, a lot of the pain that I was pushing through went away because my body was absorbing impact better,” he says.
2. Run, don’t walk
For John Henwood, founder of TheRUN, his advice is not what you do when you’re running, but what you’re doing when you stop. “Changing from a walk recovery between each interval to a jog recovery [is important],” he says. “Even if you have to walk at first, as soon as your feel like you can jog, try and break into a jog. You’ll be faster and fitter much quicker.” According to Henwood, this type of training comes in handy during those moments in a marathon where you’re contemplating taking a break.
3. Slow and steady might actually win the race
Resist the need for speed when you can, recommends Debora Warner, founder and program director of Mile High Run Club. “Many runners neglect low-intensity, steady-state training when prepping for a race, [but] slow miles help build mitochondria in the cells, which is necessary for optimal oxygen utilization,” she says. “Instead of always prioritizing speed, I started increasing my volume of conversation pace mileage before digging into the higher intensity training, then layered in speed on top of that solid foundation. It takes patience, but it’s worth it.”
4. Take it easy
Brian Rosetti, elite athlete and founder of The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project, says that over-training on your easy run days can hinder your overall progress because it slows down the recovery process. How do you know if you’re overdoing it? “Before you start the workout, you have to know which physiological function you wish to improve,” Rosetti explains. “You can do workouts to strengthen your heart muscle, improve endurance, improve aerobic power—AKA your VO2 max—or improve your speed/economy.” Aren’t sure if you’re hitting your true training purpose? Check out Rosetti’s The Run S.M.A.R.T. VDOT Calculator to help you figure out a good pace.
(Photo: Well+Good’s Lisa Elaine Held by Nils Ericson for The New Jock)