New York State of Mind

By Russell Winwood - COPD Athlete · 28 Sep 2015

It seems like a lifetime ago that I started training for the New York City Marathon, yet here I am less than five weeks from the race. Even better than it being so close is that based on my performance in my last lead-up race, I'm comfortable I’ll achieve my race goal of under six hours.

The Twilight Bay Run is a great local event in my local Brisbane suburb of Wynnum and on a course that I do most of my training on. While knowing the course was a big advantage it didn't make the race any easier or the hills any less steep. In the week leading up to the race I was not feeling 100% – as you’d expect at the start of the Aussie spring, there was plenty of pollen in the air and my breathing has been laboured, especially in the mornings. Knowing that the Twilight Bay Run started at 5pm was keeping my spirits up, as I knew there was less likelihood of pollen being a factor as it impacts me more in the morning.

From the start of the race I felt good, covering my first K in under seven minutes, which is very quick for me. But I knew that pace was unsustainable so I backed off to a more manageable 7.5 minutes a K. With my condition, it's important to keep the balance of heart rate and oxygen levels right. If I over exert myself I run the risk of permanent damage.

My finishing average pace ended up being 7:41 per K – a perfect pace for me as I felt fresh after the race and my recovery over the next couple of days was excellent. 

But the best thing about the race was that I’d set a new personal best for that distance by 18 minutes. This achievement reaffirmed with my coach, Doug, and I that we are on the right path for New York City.

The hard yards

The weekend just passed was the start of two hard training weekends before I start to taper off in preparation for New York. After last week’s 27K, my legs are a little weary, but the task doesn't get any easier with next weekend marking the longest run of my training program: 35K.

Physically, the long runs aren't so bad as I have over 700Ks in my legs since I started training for this event. But, like training for any endurance event, it’s the psychological battles that become harder. A combination of having to be super disciplined and just wanting the race to be run plays on my mind; a feeling I'm well-equipped to handle having trained for three Ironman events previously.

Like any goal in life, you have to do the hard yards to reach it. Knowing the sense of achievement and the example I can set for other people with asthma and COPD is a major motivation for me. There's not a run that goes past that I don't think about the difference that exercise has made to my life and how much it can make a difference to those who haven't discovered this natural medicine yet.

The countdown

Pretty soon I'll be counting down the days rather than weeks to New York. It's now all about doing the remaining Ks staying healthy and keeping injury-free. It's often said of endurance events that half the battle is getting to the start line in one piece, but so far, so good. New York on 1 November will be cold and probably windy, but, for me, it will be the greatest place in the world!

Guest writer: Russell Winwood
COPD Athlete