The mission of New York Road Runners is “To help and inspire people through running.” Michael Capiraso (pictured above with Rising New York Road Runners participants after finishing the 1 for You 1 for Youth 5K, part of NYRR's Global Running Day celebrations in 2019), the president and CEO of New York Road Runners, takes this mission very seriously, and works to ensure that people who race with, train with, volunteer with and are employed by NYRR reap those benefits. But he also wants to share ways he personally has been helped and inspired through running in 2019—and how he expects the lessons he learned this year will help him #ResolveToRun through 2020.
2019 was the year I learned I could not continue to rely on the same training that brought me this far.
I realized after I completed the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon that I had begun to dread the last 10 miles, and I vowed to run that stretch, from First Avenue up into the Bronx, back to Fifth Avenue, and into Central Park, 26 times before the 2019 marathon—which was my 28th consecutive time through the five boroughs.
This stretch of the race takes you through so many different neighborhoods, on flats and bridges and hills, and often you are too tired or too inwardly focused to appreciate your surroundings when you’re at that point in the marathon. Running the course this way helped me be more mentally and physically prepared for the final 10 miles on race day, but it was also a great opportunity to run with other people in the community. Pictured below is the group who ran the 26th and final 10-miler with me.
I continued those social runs through my participation in NYRR Group Training and Team for Kids training runs. I’ve worked with our coaches before using our Virtual Trainer, but the group training meant I had to show up in person, and it meant doing many workouts I would not have done on my own, like speedwork and hill training. Running can be an intensely solo sport, but it is also one of the best ways to have a conversation! Listening to other runners talk about their experiences helped shape mine, and it helped me work out the goals I had for myself and my race. Sometimes, you need to get out of your own head and listen to other people’s stories to find the inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I altered my training significantly this year by following the 80/20 plan, based on Matt Fitzgerald's book "80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower." I'm on a constant journey to learn, grow, and evolve as a runner. This training method means that you run 80 percent of your mileage at a low intensity and just 20 percent at moderate or high intensity. Most elite runners follow this plan. Many recreational runners do not, and until this year, that included me. It really made me rethink my training. I learned that the slower 80 percent helped get good quality miles running, while not overly taxing me and improving recovery. This had a direct result on the 20 percent being of the more focused, effective, and productive workouts. It took me all these years of running to realize how important slowing down was!
I also began doing more work on my core. Your core muscles affect your stability when you run. As part of my performance training at the Hospital for Special Surgery, we paid extra attention to the ab, glute, and hip muscles. These exercises do not seem very exciting, but they will help your racing.
I began running two-a-days, working out both in the morning and at night once or twice a week over the summer, during the peak of my marathon training. This is another type of training that the pros practice, and it helps marathon runners at all paces rehearse running on tired legs.
I continued my use of acupuncture, massage, and a chiropractor this year and also ventured into the infrared sauna. The heat helps with muscle repair. What a difference it made.
Additionally, I ate more protein and whole grains and less sugar this year, and I hydrated better—both by drinking more water and supplementing with electrolyte boosts. All of these changes helped my running, which in turn helped me.
Going into 2020, I need to get healthy again, and recover from a hamstring injury. One goal going forward is to work on my pacing. I found that my best pacing effort came during the marathon, and it is something I really need to focus on now that I have done so much work on the tempo of my runs.
As we at NYRR prepare for the 50th anniversary of the TCS New York City Marathon in 2020, I want to run the original course of the marathon—four loops of Central Park—as a training run.
And, building on my experience with the final 10 miles of the modern course, I want to take a bigger chunk—perhaps the last 16 miles—and tackle that a few times before race day.
Running can change lives. NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. I believe in this, and I believe in the power of running to improve both you and your day. And your year!