I thought it would helpful to understand my coach’s thinking behind my newest pr a 3:32 at the NJ Marathon. I would like to think I am a coachable athlete and his star athlete hahaha, And I usually don’t question the training plans he gives me, I just do it and I like that I don’t have to think…. He does the thinking for me and I learn from all his mistakes! Ha ha! This time around I was feeling much stronger going into marathon training and noticed he tweaked a few things but wasn’t really sure what…. Like I had more two-days and he switched up my speed work. Instead of running yassos on the track I had some pyramid sprints, which I really loved!! I also kept asking for more and more and harder workouts. I was getting a little bored and told him I was feeling ‘meh’ … I maxed out the workouts with no problem.. .and boy did he really give it to me! He made sure I wouldn’t complain again and kept me in check with tougher big boy workouts. And this marathon training was during the worst coldest winter everrrrrr. Polar Vortex was not going to stop me from reaching my goal. I ran a 3:38 in Toronto this past Oct 2013, I was hungry for a faster time. The new goal was 3:35……..I already qualified for Boston again so this was all about my own personal goal. A goal race.
Below is my Q & A with my coach (zandy mangold) who kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. He is an accomplished marathoner/ultra runner and ultra-photographer and a fellow Hammer Sponsored Athlete who is currently in training for two different 100 milers this summer. His most recent accomplishment was finishing the Badwater Salton Sea, a little 81 mile race.
Hey Coach of the Year,
I’m curious what your thinking was behind my successful NJ Marathon. I trust the training sked’s you give me and appreciate that you tailor week to week based on how I feel.
ZM: I thought you could crush your pr as long as you stayed healthy. My approach was to ramp up the distance and intensity of some workouts relative to previous training schedules and I figured if your body could adapt then you would start to realize your potential as a marathoner. As for weekly schedules and tweaks to the training, yes, it’s crucial for the coach and athlete to be conscious of the mind and body and adjust training accordingly in order to avoid injury and maximize output.
EG: Ok, Lets go back 6 months…… I ran a 3:38 in Toronto, I was confident I could lower that by a few mins, just not sure how. Starting out 2014 what did you think I needed the most to get my marathon time down?
ZM: You needed to get physically and mentally stronger. My idea was to challenge you with the NJ training schedule so that your physiology would adapt to the rigors of distance training and while doing so your confidence in your abilities would grow. Though I didn’t know old man winter was also going to fight you the whole way! There were quite a few two-a-days and longer runs in general to build your endurance. You always had the desire to run your fastest, but I’m not sure you believed 100% in your ability. I didn’t want a time goal to be the focus of your training, but when I saw how you responded to the work, I felt a sub 330 was possible – which I told you just before the race.
EG:I ran a lot more tune up races this time. I ran two half marathons, a 25k and a 10k, leading up to NJM, do you think this helped?
ZM: Absolutely. I feel like runners can always learn from race experience and in your case I think you improved your feel for pacing, especially negative splitting, while honing in on race nutrition, specifically how to use Hammer Nutrition products when you race. Disclaimer – I am sponsored by Hammer Nutrition and huge fan of their products and fueling philosophy and I know that I’ve urged you to drink the koolaid for years, and as you have adapted it to your needs it’s been an important part of your success. (Btw, congratulations on also being sponsored by Hammer for 2014). Perhaps, I would have eliminated a race in deference to more specific training, but we talked about how to approach certain races so you could take advantage of them as training runs / races.
EG: Ha ha yes thank you for making me drink the hammer kool-aid, now I love it! So, you know I hate speed work but I know it works! You allowed me to run a bunch of runs by time and not pace. And my speed work seemed different this time around, it was hard but not difficult to push out. I even complained it was meh and boring. Thoughts?
ZM: It’s important to not get burned out and variety helps with that. Also, I am aware that stats aren’t your favorite pastime so I felt it would help you to run for the sake of running. Ultimately running free is what keeps people moving for the long-term. Given that speed workouts are important, but not your favorite, I tried to mix speed training into tempo runs, fast finishes and hill workouts.
EG: Correct I hate stats and numbers! You were confident I had a sub 3;35 in me, and right before the marathon you told me I had a 3:30 in me… what made you think this?
ZM: Based on your times and effort in training and races leading up I had no doubt you could sub 3:30 if the weather conditions were normal. Also, I figured you wanted to finish fast in order to watch the Spurs
EG: Yes Spurs are big motivation, the Tim Duncan stare you told me about worked for maybe 1 mile ha ha. But hey your idol coach pop won coach of the year and lets hope they sweep Portland, who says old guys can’t do well.. Spurs, Meb…… Back to questions….Did I max out? I did have my pelvic/hip out of wack but that was the only setback I had during training. And that wasnt really a setback. My awesome chiro and our massage guy fixed me. Anything else on this?
ZM: You can still improve.
EG: And last question— I did a lot of snowboarding Dec/Jan/Feb and felt much stronger during my running. Will you ever accept snowboarding? Admit it —does help?
ZM: Hahaa. No way duuuude – I would never prescribe snowboarding to a runner, but it is important if it keeps you happy and one might benefit from being at high altitude.
EG: Stop being scared of the snow coach! oh wait- this is last question —my next marathon—- predictions?
ZM: You’ll crush it.
thank you Coach! I hope the bathroom you were standing next to on the airplane, while typing this, didn’t stink too bad