Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a sponsored athlete at the world’s largest marathon? I am running the New York City Marathon this year as part of the ASICS Editor’s Challenge Team, and it has been a spectacular experience. Today, I ran through Central Park with some of America’s top runners to uncover the secrets to their success.
We all know that it takes some serious training to prepare your body for the rigors of a 26.2 mile race, but did you know your breakfast can make or break your race? I spoke with Andy Potts, 4th place finisher in this year’s Ironman World Championship, about what it takes to make it through a grueling endurance race. His advice was simple and straight-forward, eat what agrees with you a couple of hours before the race.
For some it’s eggs and bacon, for others it’s a bowl of oatmeal. The essential takeaway is to eat something that you know won’t cause you any stomach issues. The last thing you want to do before a race is eat something new, or grab race fuel that you’ve never tried before. Be predictable.
When it comes to race strategy, Gwen Jorgensen, the 2014 World Triathlon Series World Champion says stick to your plan. Go over your goals, determine your splits and fueling strategy and visualize the race. On race day, don’t get carried away early in the race. Instead, remember your plan and follow it all the way to the finish line.
What do you think about to stay focused and race efficiently even when it feels like the wheels are about to come off? Surprisingly, you might want to think about your elbows. When everything hurts and your thighs or your calves are screaming for attention, divert your attention by focusing on a body part that doesn’t hurt.
Another mental trick is to focus on the what got you to the starting line. Deena Kastor, American record holder in the marathon and half-marathon and Olympic bronze medalist, says that you can find confidence in your hard work. She reviews her training log before race day and finds conviction and credence in her earlier workouts.
To get through the marathon you need to call upon a higher power. For each of us, that means something different. Coach Andrew Kastor says that an event like the New York City Marathon offers inspiration everywhere you look. The girl who hands you water along the course might be inspired by you to come back as a runner one day.
Every runner has a story. Each one of the 50,000 competitors serves as an inspiration to someone in their community. This event is more than just a foot race, it’s a testament to the human spirit.
Ryan Hall, American record holder in the half marathon, says that we should give thanks every time we run. Even bad workouts are a gift. The act of running alone is something to be cherished.
Andy Potts suggests finding inspiration and keeping it close when times are tough. He thinks of his children and strives to make them proud when self-doubt begins to creep in. His advice is simple and effective: “Smile through the sticky moments.”
Every runner who navigates the cold and windy marathon course through the five boroughs of New York City this Sunday has a chance to do something inspirational. With the right training, the right attitude, and a dose of inspiration, you too can run the race of a lifetime.