What I learned from Elite Running Coach Andrew Kastor
There are only two months left until the New York City marathon, and I am freaking out! You’d think after completing five marathons, four of which have been NYC, I’d be an expert at running 26.2 miles. The truth is, every year brings a different set of challenges and doubts.
This year’s: bouncing back from a running injury, working later hours than normal, and honestly, being totally unmotivated.
That’s why I was super excited that Andrew Kastor was in town this week. As coach of the Asics Editor Team (and husband of Olympic marathoner Deena Kastor!), he’s been our go-to guy for everything marathon related. Not to mention, he always has great advice.
So, this past Tuesday night, he led me, along with the other team members, on a short run (in the rain!) through Central Park. (Olympian Julie Culley even joined in our mini training session!)
The pace was a bit quicker than I anticipated—-I looked at my watch at one point and we were clocking about 8:40s (That totally let’s me know, I have not been pushing myself hard enough, because although the pace was challenging, I didn’t have any problem keeping up.)
We did a series of drills (high knees, butt kicks, backwards running) and stretches (quad stretch, hamstring stretch, and warrior 1), all of which are meant to help increase speed, loosen up tight muscles, and keep injuries at bay. He even watched each of us run for about 100 yards and then analyzed our form.
I learned that I tend to look down when I run. (You’d think after six years, I would have broken that nasty little habit. Alas, it still plagues me.)
After our workout, we chatted about the race, how training was going, nutrition, running form (to be efficient, run tall and run relaxed, Kastor says), and how we should be treating ourselves to massages regularly to help our bodies recover. (Now that is what I am talking about!) A few other key pointers from Kastor:
Before we started our running drills, he had us swing our arms around to help shake out our shoulders. Apparently tight shoulders can lead to tight hips, and tight hips can lead to, yep you guessed it, injuries. “A simple rotation in the arm can cause a rotation in, say, the ankle,” explains Kastor. The result: biomechanical inefficiencies.
Sometimes I’ll run before work and then sit at my desk for hours. When I finally get up, my hammies feel super tight, and that’s because “sitting shortens your hip flexors, which in turn tightens your hamstrings,” says Kastor. His recommendation: Every hour, get up and walk around for about five minutes to stretch things out. (Feeling any other twinges? Find out how to injury-proof your run.)
Whenever I have a bad run it automatically turns into 'I don’t think I can finish the marathon.' Kastor says I need to start training my mind in addition to my body. “You have to give yourself positive affirmations,” says Kastor. “You have to see yourself at the finish line. If not, you are doing yourself and the rest of your training a big disservice.”