Conquering the Marathon Training Block

The 2019 TCS New York City Marathon is just around the corner, which means training and preparation will soon begin for this iconic race. As a 2016 Olympic Marathoner, professional runner and training coach, Jared Ward prepares to compete in the marathon this year. He shared with Honey Stinger some insider tricks to help you conquer your training for the TCS NYC Marathon, or any marathon or long distance race goals you may have.
Photo by: AJ Rich
I fell in love with the marathon distance before my first marathon, during training. There was something very natural about tempo runs and the rhythm of long runs. Or it was the oxygen debt training on the track I was ready to be rid of… but in either case, I liked my new home. Six years later, I still get jittery thinking about a marathon training cycle. And I’m smiling typing this thinking of how I’m three months from the TCS NYC Marathon. I can already imagine coming off the Queensburo Bridge onto 1st Ave and hearing the crowds. This marathon is electrifying. Time to train. As you train for your next marathon, I offer 3 tips that help me focus through a training block and to the big day.
1. Focus on your strengths
Focusing on your strengths cultivates confidence. Before I ever start a training block, I sit down with my running coach and assess my strengths. Both in general, and in terms of current fitness. This translates to a training and then a racing strategy as I work towards leveraging those strengths. Because the Boston Marathon went so well last spring with a new personal best of 2:09:25, I’m entering my NYC Marathon training and strategy from a good angle. My strength was great coming off of Boston, and I've been working with my running coach on my speed over the summer. 
Photo by: AJ Rich
2. Eat clean foods
In college I subscribed to the theory, “If the engine gets hot enough, it will burn….” And I didn’t eat real clean. In the last few years of my life I’ve come to realize how eating better foods can make a big difference. And the biggest thing? I just feel better. Biggest nutrition tips are 1) eat (or drink) protein at night, and 2) consume calories (mostly carbs for me) immediately following a run or workout. Both seem to jump-start recovery. Favorite post run snack? Honey Stinger Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Organic Cracker Bar. I’m a sucker for dark chocolate. This bar is like candy, and made with natural ingredients that keep me feeling good.
3. Take needed time off
I train Monday-Saturday then rest Sunday. Most marathon runners train 7 days/week, but I’ve found that the extra rest day does a lot for me both physically and mentally. After a hard long run Saturday, I can forget about running for 48 hours. And when I’m tired Thursday, I can wrap my mind around getting through Saturday then taking a break. I think Sunday rest has helped keep me healthy and able to handle hard week after week. As soon as the TCS NYC Marathon is over, I’ll be looking for the best burger I can find.