New York City Marathon: In the Groove

Training for the New York City Marathon has been a roller coaster ride. Photo of New York, New York in Las Vegas by Rob Young.

Training for the New York City Marathon has been a roller coaster ride. Photo of New York, New York in Las Vegas by Rob Young.

Four weeks down, 12 to go…

When something clicks, you know it—the snap of a seatbelt, the tick of a lamp switch, the click of a camera shutter. Sure, the sound lets us know we’re locked and loaded, but there’s also a feel to it. When something is in the groove you just sense it.

In my fourth week of training for the 2010 ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 7 my training finally snapped into place. I had three great runs. Mile repeats—click. An easy-feeling tempo—click. A long run that could have gone on and on—click. It was as if I could hear a popping sound in the air as each run and I locked into step. Click, click, click.

After my reality check last week, I was mentally holding my breath when I set out for my next group of workouts. After two great runs, I felt more at ease, but still uncertain about my looming long run. I couldn’t really wrap my head around it, and I was hedging on my pace in my mind.

But right around the 2-mile mark I heard that virtual click and hunkered down. Every mile, I either held or upped the pace, finishing with the often-elusive negative split—meaning the second half of the run was faster than the first. Even then, I tacked on an extra mile. I was feeling great and had some time to kill, so I figured why not. I don’t think I’ve ever added an impromptu mile to a long run before. That was definitely a first—click.

What relief! What joy! It’s the feeling you have at the end of a roller coaster ride when the car glides down the last dip and cruises level for a bit before coming to a stop. You’re a little elated, a little giggly and a little relieved. The roller coaster that has been my training feels like it’s leveling out, and now all I have to do is glide. Cruise control—click.

I’m still struggling with running just three times a week, as prescribed by my FIRST training program. But I’m not being terribly strict about it. I’ll sneak in a fourth run now and then when I feel like it, and FIRST says that’s OK. On the plus side, I don’t have to struggle with squeezing in a fourth and fifth run, as I have in years past. All I have to do is be religious about my three key runs, and I’ve been ticking them off the list—click, click, click.

I’ve been able to ride this wave of euphoria and glide into my next week of training. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing or a physical thing—or perhaps the perfect marriage of both—but there’s something about being in the groove that just feels right. I’m hoping to glide for as long as I can, because I know it’s bound to come to an end at some point. In the course of three months, I’ll probably get sick again, or lose motivation, or have a bad run, or any of the many things that can get a runner down.

But when one of those things inevitably happens, I’m going to remind myself what it feels like here in the groove, in the pocket, where everything is clicking, neurons are firing, synapses are snapping, and all the proper connections are being made. In a word, the groove is pretty groovy. Right on.

Photo by Rob Young.

Karla Bruning is an award-winning journalist and running nerd. She has completed three marathons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning. To listen to an interview with Karla, check out The Marathon Show, available for streaming or download on BlogTalkRadio and iTunes.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


08 2010

3 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Good luck with the training, hope the marathon goes well, and thanks for the attribution!

  2. April #

    Good luck with the training, Karla! I am running NYC for the first time this year and I’m so excited, but I’m in a rut! I had a really bad long run and it messed with my head. Help! I desperately need something to click.

    • Karla Bruning
      Karla #

      Thanks, April. We’ve all bee there. If you read my Reality Check post, you know I was just there last week. I wrote this post about getting over a bad run a while back:
      They’re so frustrating, but NYC is still a while away. I’m sure something will click soon. Good luck with your training! And if nothing else, I’m sure the excitement of running NYC will carry you though–it’s really an amazing race. Hang in there!