When I learned that I’d be running the 2022 NYC Marathon for Arts in the Armed Forces, I had to do a lot of soul searching to figure out the best path to success this time around. The last (and first) time I ran it in 2017, I finished the race in the dark at a finish time of six hours and berated myself for months – maybe even years – on what I considered a less than stellar performance. I should have done better, I told myself. I did all the mileage, why did I crumble so badly around mile 22?
If I’m honest with myself now, I just did the bare minimum. I checked the mileage off the schedule and moved on, and told myself as long as I saw the number on my watch, I was golden and I’d have a great race. Five years later, I recognize that my negative experience was the result of setting unrealistic expectations and not taking my training seriously enough.
This time around, I’m doing three things differently to ensure I perform to the best of my ability.
Number one: MORE OUTDOOR RUNNING.
In 2017, I relied way too much on the treadmill and paid dearly for it once I hit the pavement of the 5 boroughs. So this time around, I made a deal with myself that I’m allowed to run on the treadmill twice per week, max (safety/weather permitting). Long runs HAVE to be outside, too. So far, I notice a difference in my treadmill versus road running, mainly that the treadmill allows me to be faster and THINK that I should expect to see those paces on the road too. Nay nay. The conditions are MUCH different, and I have to consistently remind myself of that. But it’s making me stronger with every mile I log, and that’s what matters.
Speaking of stronger, I also completely neglected strength training in 2017. That’s why this year, I’m incorporating regular strength workouts (like the YouTube videos found in that link) into my weekly schedule, particularly early on (like right now). I’m particularly focusing on single-leg strength to address the imbalances between my two sides. My left leg is still weaker than my right as a result of my ACL reconstruction back in 2013, and that has led to some niggling issues that have sidelined me and made running difficult since then, like the piriformis syndrome I dealt with before the 2017 marathon.
Another part of that strength training involves tightening up my running form. In short, I discovered that I’ve been running with poor form for essentially the entire time I’ve been running. I always wondered why certain areas of my body would get tired so easily and early in a run, and why certain parts were almost never sore or didn’t feel engaged. With strength training and focusing on my form for the past 3 weeks, I have noticed a HUGE difference in how I’m able to run without feeling tired for many more miles than I used to. Simple tweaks like engaging my hips and core, stopping my arms from swinging across my chest, and keeping my knees farther apart have all added up in a big way. I’m so excited.
Lastly, I realize that with the stakes as high as they are this time around, I am going to need some professional help. So I signed up for coaching through Perform Running, a personalized running program that matches you with a coach based on your needs. While I’ve only just started, I am excited to see what I can accomplish with a coach helping to create a training plan and guiding me through strength training. It’s reassuring to know that I’ll have someone who knows the biology behind all these things and can help reel me in and push me when appropriate.
And this isn’t a sponsored post or anything (I’m paying full price for my subscription), but if you’re interested in checking them out, use code JSKARZYNSKI for 80% off your first month (which gives me 20% off too)!
All in all I’m really looking forward to seeing where I’ll be in a month or two of consistent changes and hard work. It’s been great to fall back into a training rhythm like I did back in 2017. I’m sure it’s going to get even harder as I go, but I’m ready.