Record Setter: Tyler Andrews Breaks Treadmill Half Marathon World Record
With a passion for athletics and youth empowerment, Tyler Andrews broke the Treadmill Half Marathon World Record in Boston on March 1, 2014. Organized by Strive, a group that leads trips for high school athletes to Africa and South America, Andrews finished in just 1:07:18—11 seconds faster than the previous world record.
Welcome, Tyler Andrews
Concord, Massachusetts native Tyler Andrews spends his time between Quito, Ecuador and home training as a professional runner. Andrews competed in NCAA track and cross country for Tufts University and is now looking forward to his first Boston Marathon this April.
“I want to know how far I can go. So far, I don’t think I’ve gotten there. So I just keep running.”
What made you decide to attempt the world half marathon treadmill record? How did you get here?
Actually, I did a similar fundraising run in the Fall. The idea was that I was going to run at a five-minute-mile pace for basically as long as I could. People pledged and made predictions about how long I could last. I ended up running just over 13 miles. So I ran the half marathon at a five-minute pace, which is actually faster than what I ran the other day. I had no idea that there even was a world record for the treadmill.
One of my student’s parents is a runner for Boston and works for NPR. And she thought this was great and talked me into doing an official record attempt. I talked with my coach. We had already planned a half marathon into my build-up for Boston, so this worked out perfectly in terms of my own training. I definitely couldn’t have done it without the help of a lot of people.
You ran the last mile in just 4:58. How did that feel?
It didn’t feel good, I can tell you that. Actually, about six weeks ago I was hit by a car. And lost about two weeks of running. So I was definitely a lot less confident coming in than I wanted.
Back in January I was coming in really hot from training. I was running 150 miles a week for about a month. I did a 28-mile run at a six-minute pace at altitude. So I was coming out of a really great block of training. And then, of course, life happens and I was sidelined for two weeks.
So I was a lot more humble going into it. I was cautious in the first three-quarters of the race. And at the end I was hurting a lot more than I expected. I had built up a buffer in terms of being under the pace I needed to be. And I think at about nine miles I kind of slowed it down to catch my breath and get my feet back under me a bit. And at 10 miles I had to run about 5-flat for the last 5k.
My coach, Jon, was there and at that point he said, “You’re going to have to run 5-flat.” And I thought, “All right, I can do this, but it’s going to hurt really, really bad.” I feel like I always have that last gear, where no matter how tired I feel I can make up a lot of time the last few hundred. I think it was mostly in the last two minutes that I made up the time.
Hit by a car? What were your injuries? Are you ok?
I remember I sent an email to my coach that night letting him know that I might miss a couple days of training. That was my first reaction. I was worried about how it would affect my training. And he just said, “Well, thankfully you’re all right!” He was much less concerned about how my training was going to progress than the fact that I was still alive.
I was really lucky. I had some hip and back problems—misalignments basically. So I saw a chiropractor a couple times, which helped a lot. It could have been really bad. But mostly it was just bruising and getting a little banged up.
It sounds like your coach is a great support for you, how long have you been working with Jon Waldron?
I have been working with Jon for six years now. We have a really comfortable relationship with each other. He has always been good about helping me trust the work I’ve put into my training. After the accident, he was really good at keeping me calm during those weeks when I was freaking out. He’d tell me, “You’ve run this fast before, it’s not like you’re doing something you’ve never done before.” He’s always keeping me positive and focused on the long term.
How was running on the ProForm Boston Marathon treadmill different from running outside?
When you run on a treadmill you don’t have wind or hills or bad weather to deal with. That’s nice. You have a lot more control. The biggest difference is that the machine is setting the pace, as opposed to you setting the pace. When you go out and run a race, you are running by feel. And then, when you get tired you naturally start to slow down.
The biggest difference I found—and this actually helped me—is when you are running hard on a treadmill you have to actively slow down. You have to press a button to make yourself slow down instead of your body naturally slowing. So for me, there was a long stretch in the middle of the run where I was feeling pretty bad, but I decided to keep going. Because I really didn’t want to have to push the button and make myself slow down. Instead of the effort staying the same and then getting slower, the pace is staying the same and it’s just getting harder and harder to maintain. This can be really beneficial because it can help you push through the hard spots.
“The biggest difference I found—and this actually helped me—is when you are running hard on a treadmill you have to actively slow down.”
What first inspired you to become a runner? What is your backstory?
I started running seriously my senior year of high school. I was on the high school cross country team before that but it was just for athletic credit. Then senior year is when I met Jon. He was the new coach that came in for the cross country team. We got along super well and he got me fired up about running and training.
I was an 18-minute 5k runner. I wasn’t anything. When I think back, the thing that had kept me in the sport is that I didn’t have a good sense of the sport because I started so late. I was in the weak league. I was running 18 minutes, but I was winning races. So I thought I was really good, even though I was really bad in retrospect.
It got me fired up. I thought, “This is awesome. I really like competing. I like being good.” So I really benefitted from the “small pond” scenario. Then I ended up taking a year off before college and my first two years I spent at a college without a cross country program. So I basically spent three years just training on my own and with Jon.
Sophomore year I transferred to Tufts University in Boston partly to run and partly to study engineering. I ran for three years NCAA. I kept improving. I never saw a ceiling. Every season I would get to a new point and think, “I’m not there yet.” I have a very driven personality—I want to find what my maximum potential is. I want to know how far I can go. It’s the idea of trying to get the most out of yourself. So far, I don’t think I’ve gotten there. So I just keep running.
That is what has kept me around. I just want to keep pushing and try a little more volume, a little more intensity. I’ve always been a long distance guy. I’m at the point where I am starting to look at the marathon.
What is your next goal?
Marathon is really the next big thing. I have six and a half weeks or so until Boston. It’s really about staying healthy and getting my mileage back for another month or so. The training is what kills you: running too much, running too fast, running too hard with not enough recovery. At this point, I know I am in pretty good shape even with a couple weeks of missed training. I just want to get to the starting line in one piece.
As told to Erica Colvin, ProForm writer