Two weeks ago, Bryan Morton scored a 5K win at the Casa Superhero Run, posting 15:44, ahead of JT Sullivan’s 15:53.
That breaks down to 5:04 per mile—a pretty quick pace. But then again Morton has some pretty speedy PRs: 15:17 for the 5K, 32:01 for 10K, and 53:08 for 10 miles. He’s also run a 1:07:16 half marathon and a 2:30:01 marathon at the California International Marathon.
“I’d love to break 2:30,” said Morton. “I know I’m capable of doing it. The goal is to run the Tokyo Marathon in February. I’ll also be running the Scotiabank Half Marathon in Canada on October 22. It will be a great opportunity to come off with confidence on the way to Tokyo.”
Morton didn’t start running until he was 25, but there’s no question that at 35, he takes his running pretty seriously.
“I was a cyclist at Indiana University, and competed in the Little 500. What got me into running was when I moved to Chicago—there was just nowhere great to cycle!”
Now a happy Austinite, Morton is a client partner at Austin’s Facebook headquarters.
“I’m on the sales and account management side,” he said. “I work with performance marketers. We’ve done some studies at Facebook, and believe it or not, we actually post less than most people.”
As a runner, Morton has found his home at the marathon distance, where he has been unusually consistent: 2:31:23 (Boston 2015); 2:30:14 (Chicago 2016) and a 2:31:33 at the Rotterdam Marathon this past April.
“I grew up in Chicago,” he said. “The marathon course there is pancake flat, and last year the weather was good. But Rotterdam was too warm—around 60 degrees. In the marathon, I’m often in this no man’s land where I’m behind the elites, but ahead of most of the pack. So I have to adjust my strategy, hoping that I’ll have someone to pace with. You have to make a decision whether to go out with a pack, or run your own race and work into a pack.”
With former Longhorn ace Steve Sisson as his coach, Morton follows a three-month training progression leading up to the marathon.
“I’ve learned that I benefit from building an aerobic base eight months out— running 90-100 miles a week, and building up the volume,” said Morton. “Then I’ll start adding speedwork, tempo runs, etc.”
There are a couple of key workouts—gut-checks if you will—that tell Morton if he’s race-ready.
“The one we did last week was a total distance of 10K, and it involved 1K at 10K pace, alternating with 1K at half-marathon pace around Zilker Park. It went well. It was mostly flat, but tests you mentally as well. Coach Sisson also believes in getting in at least one 30-mile run in a marathon buildup. We’ll do that two to three weeks out from the marathon.”
But perhaps the real key of Morton’s marathon consistency is his marathon race plan.
“We call our marathon strategy ‘running in progression’” said Morton. “You run your first 10K a few seconds per mile slower than marathon pace, then the next 20K, you’ll run right at marathon pace. The final 10K, you’ll go a bit faster, and make up the few seconds per mile you gave up during the first 10K. The idea is that if you go out faster than your fitness level, you’re likely to slow down considerably.”
As he approaches the Scotiabank Half Marathon, Morton’s recent workouts have him feeling fit. “I’m in pretty good shape right now, so we’ll see how it goes,” he said.
Upcoming races: Saturday on October 7 at 8:00 a.m., The Circle of Hope Community Center 5K in Pflugerville (Lake Pflugerville). Saturday, October 14, 8:00 p.m., the Dark Sky 10K/5K at Calaveras River Bike Path at Canyon of the Eagles Resort 16942 Ranch Road 2341 in Burnet.