Jon Phillips is all about running. He’s been at it since he was a kid, eventually running for and coaching at New York University and, between the two stints, competing for a year at the sub-elite level. The East Williamsburg resident also works for the apparel brand Brooks Running as its Eastern Regional Event Guru.
Phillips, 31, will be one of the more than 55,000 runners participating in this Sunday’s NYC Marathon. We chatted with him about training for the race and why he likes to run.
What does being the Eastern Regional Event Guru mean?
I manage maybe 25 stores and different accounts that sell Brooks products in New York. I educate them on Brooks products and how to sell it. The events part focuses more on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series, which we’re a primary sponsor for. I typically work all of those expos, and also other marathons like New York and Boston.
Are you working the marathon then?
I’ll be setting up the booth [at the Javits Center] on Wednesday, then working 10 hours a day Thursday and Friday and Saturday. Yep. [Laughs] I always wanted to run New York. My dad ran New York in 1982. I’ve been here for almost 12 years, the marathon was something I always wanted to do. I knew that working for a running company and working in events, there’s never going to be a good time to do it. Every year when I watch it, I’m like, I got to do it next year, and I pulled the trigger.
What kind of competitive running did you do?
I’ve been running for 23 years now, I started when I was like 7, ran my first 5K. I was trying to qualify for the 2012 marathon trials, I was a little short on the qualifying standard. Now it’s kind of been a transition more towards just enjoying running for running, making it a little less about competition.
What has your marathon training been like?
I’ve been running 40 to 50 miles a week and doing longer runs on the weekend. With events, I’ve been traveling a lot, sometimes that will get in the way and I’ll have to skip a run or two. But it’s nice not to worry too much about that anymore. I don’t live or die by the run anymore. It’s been kind of just a decent amount of training to ensure that I’ll be able to enjoy the experience. That’s the big goal. I also have to get on a plane that day at 7 p.m. after the marathon. I’m debating calling Delta and being like, potential wheelchair. [Laughs] I just really want to make sure to really enjoy that experience.
Where do you run?
I run around North Brooklyn. I also run in Central Park. A few friends from NYU, coincidentally we now are running fall marathons and have been training together. We go up to Rockefeller State Park in Tarrytown, about 40 minutes north of the city.
There have been criticisms about the sheer number of people who do marathons now and that it takes people over six hours to finish. What are your thoughts on that?
I’d say if anybody has the inclination to jog or walk 26 miles and see New York, an incredible way to see any city is to run through it. Whenever I travel, it’s the best way to see anywhere. You get a completely different perspective. That’s what Brooks is all about — allowing people to run and be active and inspiring them to go at whatever pace they like. I would challenge those people. That’s what’s great about running — it’s inclusive. Anybody who wants to go out just needs a pair of great shoes and they can.
What will you do over the course of 26.2 miles? Will you listen to music?
I’ll be soaking it all in. I’m more of a minimalist. I don’t wear a GPS watch or anything, just check my splits. I’ll just find a good path to run along with and enjoy the race.