Amani Toomer, the former wide receiver who helped the New York Giants to victory in the 2008 Super Bowl, has taken up a new sport. He’s currently training for the November 7 New York City Marathon. Toomer became interested in running during the Giants Draft Day 5K race a few years ago. It turned into a focus after he retired from the NFL.
Running isn’t enough, though. Toomer wants his efforts to count for something greater. So he got in touch with the New York Road Runners’s Youth Programs, which promote fitness among kids, and agreed to run the NYC Marathon this year by starting dead last. The objective: to pass as many runners as he can, with his sponsor, Timex, offering to donate $1 to the charity for every runner he passes. There will be about 45,000 runners total. Toomer’s target time: 4 hrs. and 26 min., to beat Lynn Swann’s 4 hrs. and 27 min. when this other former NFL player ran the marathon 17 years ago.
The biggest difference between training for a marathon and training for the NFL? “No two-a-days and no 250-lb. linebackers trying to take my head off!” says Toomer. Here are his top ten training tips for marathon novices.
10. Maintain a nutritional diet. Eating right is essential to maintaining the lean muscle necessary for endurance training. I’ve tweaked my diet since my NFL playing days, to meet these needs specifically. When I was playing for the Giants it was all protein shakes and lifting weights. Now it’s pasta and lots and lots of running. I haven’t been this light since college! I don't adhere to strict calorie counts or carb/protein/fat ratios. Rather, I've increased my carb intake to promote endurance throughout training, and I remain focused on maintaining a balanced diet.
9. Find a go-to training location. I use a track in New Jersey and the Timex Performance Center, where the New York Giants practice, for the bulk of my training. I also mix in some road running.
8. Keep a consistent schedule. I prefer to run early in the mornings, but sometimes I’ll run before dinner. The mileage has gradually increased as training progresses. In addition to running, I cross-train with weights. My training regiment was created by Chris Thomas, the 2009 Amateur Triathlete of the Year. He keeps me in check and on track. Chris is keeping a detailed blog at Facebook.com/TimexSports--check out the Amani's Run tab--that outlines my specific workouts, target times, etc. Speaking of Chris...
7. Get a solid trainer. It’s great having Chris to help me every step of the way. I know I am learning from the best, and that gives me confidence.
6. Get yourself a trusty watch. I use the Timex Ironman Global Trainer with GPS, which provides me precise data and info that are crucial to setting good goals and understanding my progress.
5. Run by the numbers. If you’re going to invest in technology, make sure you get the most out of it. Break out your training in miles and time. Similarly, know your heart rate and your zones.
4. Move in baby steps. Both figuratively and literally. The goal of training is to make small improvements each and every day so that I will be ready for race day.
3. Get some comfortable running shoes. In football it was turf toe, in running its blisters--and you can't afford to be on the bench in either game.
2. Have something to run for: My mission to help kids stay fit is a great motivator for me. I am starting dead last, and for every person I pass I will earn $1 for New York Road Runners's youth charity.
1. Positive Reinforcement: In football, cheering fans always gave us that extra boost. I will need your support on race day, so if you’re not running, then come out and cheer us on!