It’s that time of year again. The snow is finally behind us – we hope! – and we’re getting ready to take our workouts back outside. And, for the Cambridge Club’s squash professional Tyler Hamilton, it’s not a moment too soon, as he begins the final stages of his preparation for April’s Boston Marathon.
After being an avid cross-country runner as a teenager, Tyler took a break from running to play full-time on the professional squash circuit for 5 years (from 2008 – 2013). Around 2015, Tyler started running again – completing his first marathon, the Goodlife Toronto Marathon, in May 2016, with a time of 2:57:12. Since then, he has run four more marathons – the Boston Marathon in 2017 and 2018, the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon in 2017, and the New York City Marathon in November 2018.
In his most recent marathon – November’s New York City Marathon – Tyler completed the race in 2:37:02, placing 125th overall and was the 3rd Canadian. This year, he’ll be tackling the Boston Marathon in April (where he hopes to run sub 2:35) and the Berlin Marathon in September (where his goal is to run sub 2:30).
As Tyler prepares for his upcoming marathon, we wanted to get him to share his top five tips for those getting ready to run their first marathon, or those just looking for a few tips to perfect their preparations.
Stick to a plan
Even if you’re feeling great during your first couple weeks of training, don’t up the ante and increase the volume. The training volume must be incrementally increased each week to avoid injury.
Prioritize the long run
Make sure once a week you are getting in that long run. As your training block progresses, get the long run mileage up to between 32km and 36km. It’s also very beneficial to add in marathon pace increments to this run to get a sense of running on tired legs through the mid-miles of the race.
Mimic the course
Start doing runs on the same topography as the marathon. For example, go up and down a lot of hills if you’re running the New York City Marathon, and get used to several hours of flat running if you’re racing a course like Chicago.
Nutrition is half the battle
Practice fueling with gels and whatever sports drink you intend to use for your race during your long and semi-long runs. Find out how often your marathon will have aid stations, and practice drinking at that rate. If you don’t run with fluids, place bottles along your training route. On race day, never try fueling with anything different than what you practice with in training.
Starting around three weeks before your marathon, it’s time to taper off your training by cutting back volume but maintaining intensity. Start by cutting your training volume by 20% the first week, 40% the second week, and 60% on the third week. Tapering leads to increased in red blood cell count and VO2 max, as well as psychological improvements that leave you feeling sharp and ready to race.
Tyler Hamilton, Head Squash Professional, The Cambridge Club