Planning to run the Brooklyn Marathon? Try these workouts to help you through the final mile.
Some say that the 25th mile of a marathon is the hardest mile in the race. You’re out of gas and your body is begging for the pain to stop. You’re tantalizingly close, but you’ve still got 6,336 feet to go until it ends. Being so close to your goal, it’s easy to let anxiety set in and become a little panicked.
This is particularly true in races that have either a hard final mile or where the finish line is in a location that you can’t see until you’re there. The finish to the Brooklyn Marathon has both.
You can see a map here, but roughly speaking, the final 1.2M of the race goes from the Grecian Temple on East Drive to about 2/3rds of the way across Center Drive. This results in about 131 feet of climbing over a fairly short distance. It also means that, because of the curvy nature of Center Drive, you can’t see the finish line until you’re beyond the 26 mile mark. I remember last year, coming over the bridge expecting to find it right there where the start had been only to see nothing but some people clapping. It was quite a shock to have to run another 125 meters.
The rule of specificity states that in order to get better in any activity, you must precisely practice the skill that you wish to develop. This couldn’t be any truer when it comes to running and race preparation. However, I find that many runners think this rule only applies to the act of training their bodies. They train at a specific pace and in a specific way to get ready to race towards a specific goal. Unfortunately, these same runners often neglect the fact that running—marathons in particular—has a huge mental component as well. Because of this, it’s highly important that runners also precisely practice the mental aspects that will get them to their goal.
With regards to practicing your finish for the Brooklyn Marathon, I think there are two things you can do to get yourself both physically and mentally ready.
1: Physical specificity
As I mentioned above, there’s a modest elevation gain at the end. On a normal day 131 feet over 1.2 miles wouldn’t be much to talk about, but when you put it at the end of a marathon it’s a real kick in the glutes. To prepare your body for this, there are a couple of things you can do.
First, ending your long runs on this same portion of road will get you use to fighting the elevation gain when tired. To do this, simply go to a route mapping site and start mapping from the finish line. Work backwards from there until you’ve mapped out the distance you need for that workout. You don’t have to end every long run like this, but I would suggest picking the last 2 or 3 in your training plan and doing it for those.
Second, perform a series of moderate to hard 1.2 mile repeats over the final distance in the last 4-6 weeks before your taper. To do this, warm up with an easy two miles of easy running that ends at the Grecian Temple; near the water fountain on East Drive. Next, start out (counter clockwise) at a your marathon race pace towards Center Drive. Keep the pace even until you make the left onto Center (where to scooter police eat their donuts). From there, pick up the pace to a hard, but not all-out effort. Finish strong through to where the finish line would be.
Cool down by continuing in the same direction with an easy jog. When you reach West Drive, take a left and go down the hill. Continue with the easy pace until you get back to where you started at the temple.
Repeat this looping route 2-4 times depending your on fitness level. Each loop around is about 2.2 miles.
2: Mental specificity
Even if , like me, you run regularly in Prospect Park and feel you know every curve in the route, crack in the pavement and rise in elevation, you should not underestimate the value of specifically training your mind to take on this final portion of the race. This can be done entirely in your head by simply closing your eyes and visualizing yourself moving through the final mile, but a more effective technique is to actually go out and practice finishing the race.
In the final 2-3 weeks of training (or however long your taper is), set aside one workout a week to do a series of easy repeats over the same distance you did the hard ones.
Start off at the temple again, but this time just run easy until you reach Center Drive. From there, pick it up to marathon goal pace and run through to where the finish would be.
As you’re doing this run, take the time to look around. Turn off your headphones and pay attention to the road as it rises, falls and curves towards the finish. Get to know the trees and the little landmarks along the way. Notice the bridge, the way you come out of the trees and into the clearing. Create a mental picture in your mind that has you finishing strong and well within your time goal.
By practicing your finish, visualizing your success and creating a positive mental image of the experience, you’ll be that much stronger as you’re struggling through the final distance on race day.
If you’re struggling with marathon training or need help in putting the finishing touches on your training, please feel free to email me. I’d be happy to help.