Today I had a need to get down to Boston for work, so I took an early detour to visit Coach Megerle. As usual, he was busy juggling responsibilities as the director of the Tufts Marathon Challenge and every inch of space on his walls was filled with pictures of former athletes. His passion for his athletes and their performances is contagious. I left his office energized as we're inside of three months before the race. I clarified a few questions and had plenty of other issues reinforced. Here are a few tid bits:
- It takes 30-60 days for training efforts to fully take hold. He shared a study that isolated certain key muscle fibers. The athletes in the study did ZERO exercise for three months. At the end of the time, those fibers were stronger.
- Around 1996, he had a swimmer (from Sanford, ME) who caught pneumonia in early January. For the next seven weeks, he swam every third day and hardly did any hard swimming. At New Englands in the first week of March, he won and set school records in five events. This is one of his classic stories that demonstrate how important rest and recovery are.
- My longest run should be no longer than 18 miles, and no closer than 5 weeks before April 16.
- Descending interval repeats shouldn't end at all-out efforts. On a good day, I can get hard 400m intervals down to about 1:22. There's no need to go any faster than 1:30.
- Coach doesn't like gels/shot blocks, etc. He believes in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which he will serve at mile 9 on race day. Since PB&Js are my favorite food, I'll practice eating them in practice so I can handle it on race day. Having said that, I'll still bring the Hammer Gel along for the rest of the run.
- He said one of the biggest detractors from performance is when runners have specific time goals. Guilty as charged. I'd like to match my time in 2003- 3:15. Given that was 9 years ago, he said that might prove to be difficult. He told me to go out in early February and do 6-9 miles at that race pace (7:25) and see how I feel. If I'm able to do it and feel fresh at the end, it might be fine.
I love visiting Coach. He's dedicated his life to helping athletes reach their potential with conviction, research, persistance and passion. Every one of his athletes has their own story and he works to make each one of those stories a success. Many of his ideas aren't mainstream, but when you hear them enough over the years and see the incredible results, it's convincing.
In Coach We Trust!