Come fall each year, the trees crisp, the temps chill, and the Big Apple becomes a lap-track for those runners training for the TCS New York City Marathon. The same can be said for Chicago, Washington D.C., and Portland. Another thing these metropolitans all have in common is that carving out a clear path that’ll let you go the distance you need to train to run 26.2 miles is tricky. Selfishly, since I’m currently in training and running into this issue myself, I figured I’d ask for some help from someone who’s been here before.
Enter, buzzy trainer Jess Movold, who New Balance hand-picked to run NYC with them because of her “passion for the sport of running is contagious and she is authentic and real in everything she does,” they tell me. This year marks her sixth NYC marathon, and while the distance itself is defining, hitting all of the burroughs by foot means more. “It’s the route in the city that makes you feel like a superhuman,” Movold shares. “You have this energy with all of these other runners at the starting line who’ve come from all over the world.”
Of course to get to the starting line, takes work, too, so I peppered Movold with questions on how to make the most of city runs. For starters, she says that newer runners should take it easy worrying about pace and the like. “Expect that you’re going to be 15 to 20 seconds or maybe even 30 seconds slower per mile when the elements are challenging,” she tells me. All of that prep running on real streets in changing conditions will pay off on race day. Want to know how else Molvold keeps it moving? Scroll down for her tips on training in a city (New York or your own).
1. Plan your water stops ahead of time
It’s important to stay hydrated, especially since a bulk of training happens when the temps are up there. In many cities, this requires that you pack along a water bottle or a hydration pack, but Movold says you can also hit spots as you see them i.e. public water foutains, which you can typically find in parks or community tracks. “I don’t plan around hydration stops, but it’s important to incorporate that into your runs,” she tells me. “Unlike somewhere where you really have to map out your long runs, NYC kind of allows you to roll with the punches. I don’t really know where I’m going to go, but I have an idea of that.”
2. Utilize any park loops that you can find
Mapping out a space to run 22 miles (with adequate pit stops) can send the most avid runner into a MapQuest frenzy. The easy solution? Use as many park loops as possible. “You can easily add 3 miles in many or 6 if you’re running in Central Park,” she says. And the same holds true for park loops in cities around the country. The added bonus? Many of these frequently have restrooms and water fountains, so you can venture out from there.
3. Bridges are built-in hills
When finding actual mounds of earth for hill drills isn’t doable in a concrete jungle, bridges are the next best thing. “[They] have an incline to them and incline is resistance and working against something that’s pushing back against you,” Movold tells me. It’s a good thing to note, especially since the NYC marathon is packed with inclines, and adding frequent hilly runs to your training schedule can help you build up stamina and endurance.
4. Try to knock out long runs early
“Early morning runs are really helpful because it trains your body to wake up and get ready,” says Movold. “You can use that stillness to be able to have that headspace and go into your run with clarity and dedication [for the time] you’ve set aside for that,” she says. Plus, when the city is quieter, you have fewer elements (i.e. crowded sidewalks filled with tourists) to battle.
5. Don’t let stoplights stop you
Okay, so remember all that stuff earlier about free-running without a set course. This is when it comes in handy because if you don’t have a route to stick to, you don’t have to let stoplights trip you up. “I say turn if you’re coming up to a red light,” Movold suggests. “Pick a direction before you get there so you can stay moving. If you know that you have to keep going straight, I click my watch so that the pace will stop, and I stay moving. It’s also a good chance to adjust something that’s off and check in with how everything is feeling and then you’re back in the groove. There are lots of moments like water stops during the marathon where you’re forced to slow down, but you’ve got to keep moving forward.” And before you know it, you’ll be at the starting line.
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