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A 12-minute improvement at the 2019 New York City Marathon for my athlete!

November 5, 2019
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Nyasinga sought my coaching ahead of his New York City Marathon
Duncan Nyasinga running at the 2019 NYC marathon

I have never raced at the New York City marathon before, but I was the closest ever to the experience of running it this year as I tracked one of the runners I coach online who was running it.

Duncan Nyasinga approached me in late August this year to help him prepare for the 2019 New York City Marathon. His aim was to better his personal best time on race day.

“I came across your name through the internet after being mentioned by my Canadian friend. I am currently in the NYC area and planning to stay and run the 2019 NYC marathon. My best time is 2:40:21 for the full marathon,” Nyasinga had written to me via email.

Nyasinga sought my coaching ahead of his New York City Marathon

“I know I am capable and I believe there are no limits on humanity. I have a passion to run and I have been following YouTube clips of Kipchoge as he prepared for the Nike under 2hr project and the current 1:59 project which helped me run the 2018 NYC time of 2:45:23,” he had added.

Although he had at first told me that he didn’t have money to pay upfront for a coach at that moment, I trusted him and agreed to begin giving him training programs in advance, but he actually paid for my services sooner than I had expected after he began training with me. I could see his determination to improve his running, and it was very exciting to work with him in the 11 weeks that followed before his race this past weekend, the 3rd of November 2019.

Interestingly, not only did he get to improve his time at the New York City marathon this year, but he miraculously got to meet and briefly chat with his role model, Eliud Kipchoge himself at the finish line!

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The evening before the race, he had given me his bib number so that I would track him during the race. He also called and we discussed the race strategy taking into account the topography and the nature of the New York marathon’s course. Our plan was to go out at a pace well ahead of his targeted time in the first half of the race, then try and balance that in the last half making sure he fought to remain inside the targeted time.

I kept checking his progress with the mobile application on my phone. The first half of the race went so well, I even got a little worried that he had overdone it as he crossed it in 1hr 12 minutes. The projected finish time was 2:24. That was way faster than the time we were targeting. It would have been a tremendous achievement if he had maintained that.

However, as I had feared, the times started getting slower after he crossed the 25km point and the projected finish time began changing. It was evident that he was beginning to suffer and struggle in the last few kilometers of the race when, for the first time, his pace was over four minutes per kilometer.

But, despite the tough course and the struggle towards the end of the race, Nyasinga was able to improve his personal best time for the marathon by seven minutes. He crossed the finish line in 2:33:27! I was so happy as his coach. It was an amazing experience and another learning opportunity to prepare better for the next race and another personal best time.

Justin Lagat is a long distance runner. A World Athletics Certified long distance running Coach, and Freelance Sports Journalist. Work appears at World Athletics, RunBlogRun, Spikes Magazine, and Run Republic, among other websites.

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