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Balancing Career And Training with Jason Holder

Jason Holder, Marathoner
Jason Holder

Jason Holder is an elite runner based here in New York City. After seeing a physical therapist for over a year to treat a nagging hamstring, Jason came to Urban Wellness Clinic for treatment. After only three sessions, Jason was running pain free. Urban Wellness Clinic was able to chat with Jason about how he balances his busy work schedule as a TV news producer at ABC 7 with the demands of a high-level training program.

Urban Wellness Clinic: What’s your running background? We want all the juicy details, i.e., major races, PR’s, how you got into the sport, if you run for any clubs/for any particular coaches?

Jason Holder: I have been running since senior year of High School (2001).  I was a swimmer and finally realized the only thing I was decent at on the team was the mile we had to run before practice.  After high school, I ran cross country and track for SUNY Oswego, a Division III school in Upstate New York.  My post-collegiate running didn’t really start until after a three-year hiatus.  I ran my first marathon in 2009 (Myrtle Beach) and picked up the running bug again.  I co-founded the Charlotte Running Club when I lived in North Carolina which got me back into the racing scene.  When I moved to New York, I joined the Urban Athletics running team lead by Jerry Macari.  I have run the Boston Marathon 4 times with a PR of 2:37:55 in 2013. In 2012, when it was 90 degrees at race time, I finished 97th overall.  I am currently coach by Terry Shea who also coaches fellow Urban Wellness Clinic patient/much-better-runner-than-me Sarah Cummings. Other PR’s include a 15:51 road 5K, a 50:55 15K and a 1:11:19 half marathon.  With any luck, I’ll have better PR’s before too long.

UWC: What are some things you do to stay fit other than run?

JH: Living in NYC of course I do a lot of walking.  I also enjoy join cross-training on the ElliptiGo in Central Park.  I keep saying that I am going to do yoga on a regular basis, but so far that hasn’t come to fruition.  I eat a lot, but I try to make sure I’m snacking on fruits, veggies and nuts instead of potato chips.

UWC: How to do you balance your career with your training?

JH: Working full-time and training at a high-level definitely requires sacrifices.  You have to find time to run.  Sometimes it means going to bed early so you can get out the door early.  Sometimes it means bringing running gear to the office.  As a TV news producer, I have a pretty demanding schedule.  I work 2PM -12AM and almost never get a break and even if I do, it’s 30 minutes at most.  I’ve been on that schedule for nearly a year and it’s meant some changes to my training.  I used to be able to run before and after work.  Now, I do all of my runs in the late morning/early afternoon before I go in.  Doubles are a thing of the past.  When I travel to cover stories, I scope out the running landscape before my trip and try to leave a couple of free hours in my itinerary to run.

UWC: Can you describe a typical training week?

JH: After a failed-attempt to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon, I’ve had to re-evaluate my weekly volume and intensity.  I am currently running 50-60 miles a week with a focus on 5k-15k for the summer and a half marathon in the fall.  It’s generally outlined like this:

  • Monday – 6-7 mile easy run with drills and strides OR rest day, 45-60 minutes of core and stretching
  • Tuesday – Speed workout on the track
  • Wednesday – 7-9 mile recovery run  45-60 minutes of core and stretching
  • Thursday – 7-9 mile recovery run with drills and strides
  • Friday – If no weekend race, tempo run.  If there’s a weekend race easy 5-8 miles and strides
  • Saturday – Race or 7-10 mile easy run,  45-60 minutes of core and stretching
  • Sunday – Long run 13-16 miles

UWC: What is your favorite workout?

JH: I enjoy a long marathon tempo run over a speed workout on the track.  However, with my current training, I am doing a lot more of the latter.  Also, nothing beats a good group long run.  Running isn’t just exercise.  It’s also a huge part of my social life and it’s always great to spend two hours running with friends.

UWC: How do you mentally prepare for a big race or hard workout?

JH: I have to mentally prepare by not thinking about it all.  I have a tendency to over-think and that leads to jitters and poor rest. Sometimes I don’t even set pace goals or distances for workouts until I have started and figure out how my body is going to feel that day.  For races, I approach it like any other run except I’m running faster (hopefully).  It’s always good to have had a successful workout sometime within the two weeks prior to the race to boost my confidence.

UWC: Have you dealt with many running-related injuries in the past? If so, how did you get better? How do you prevent them from coming back?

JH: I’ve had a lot of injuries: Stress fracture (fibula, tibia), IT Band Syndrome, Tendinitis, pulled hamstring.  In the past, when I have been sidelined by a big injury, I have cross-trained like a maniac spending hours on the elliptical machine, the stationary bike and in the pool.  Now, I believe in a much more active rest.  When I developed knee tendinitis in the winter, I stopped doing everything except strength training, core and flexibility.  I was able to bounce back much quicker.  I’ve also become much more vigilant about “pre-hab”. I have a stick, foam roller and calf-stretch board I use daily at home and I supplement that with regular visits with Dr. Emily Kiberd from Urban Wellness Clinic, my physical therapist Jason and to my massage therapist, Leslie DeNunzio in Brooklyn.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that if I do 80-90 miles a week now and completely neglect my strength and core, I am going to get injured.  I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’d rather replace some of the junk miles with time in the gym than see a high mileage total at the end of the week.

Running Group

UWC: Can you share a funny running-related story?

JH: I can actually share?  I fall a lot.  Most of the time, I fall on my own.  I tripped over a trash bag on the side of the road after a really intense track workout once.  I tore up my back and my arms pretty bad.  Two days later, my wife and I went to the Bahamas where getting in the salt water of the ocean was completely out of the question. In college, I was trying to change the song on my “Skip-proof” CD player when I was thrown off the back of a treadmill and into a pile of wrestling mats.  Another time, after running miles on the trails of Rockefeller State Park, I fell in the parking lot.  But recently, I’ve been pushed or tripped twice in local races.  During a kick to the finish of a 15k in Central Park last December, I was trying to pass some mid-pack runners when one cut me off sending me flying to the pavement.  Then, just last week at the start of a 5k in the Bronx, someone shoved me to the ground trying to sprint out to the front at the start.  I have a lot of experience with treating road rash.

UWC: What race/race distance is your favorite? Any races on your wish list?

JH: 15k-Half Marathon is my sweet spot.  They are just long enough to get into a good rhythm, but I like changing it up and trying a little bit of everything.  There are a too many races I would like to do to even list. Here are a few: Peachtree 10k, Broad Street 10 Miler, Falmouth Road Race, any international marathon.  My favorite race is by far the Boston Marathon.  It’s the Boston Marathon!  What more is there to say about it?  I am also a big fan of the Boilermaker 15k in Utica, The Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon and my favorite local races are the Washington Heights 5K and the New York and Brooklyn Half Marathons.

UWC: What’s your favorite piece of training gear?

JH: I do 90% of my training runs in a cap.  I’m not sure why.   It just feels right.

UWC: What shoes do you train in? Race in?

JH: I’m a shoe nerd, so I have a closet full of running shoes.  I do the bulk of my training in the adidas Boston 3s (which are discontinued and very hard to find now) and the New Balance 890v4s.  I do speed work and race in the adidas Adios and the New Balance 1600s.

UWC: What do you to reward yourself after a hard workout or race?

JH: The first thing I go for, depending on the time of day, is a coffee or a beer and a doughnut or a burger.

UWC: What/when is your next big competition?

JH: I’m hoping to race myself into decent shape through the summer with hopes of running a personal best at the Philly Half Marathon in September.

Want to learn more? Follow Jason on Twitter and his blog