My Workout Diary: Jack McGarry
We got the award-winning bartender and co-founder of New York’s acclaimed Dead Rabbit bar to keep a workout diary for one week.
Jack McGarry doesn’t do anything half-heartedly. He set out to be the best bartender in the world and, by the age of 23, was named the best bartender in the world at the Tales of the Cocktail conference. He opened a New York bar, the Dead Rabbit, with his fellow Northern Irish countryman Sean Muldoon and, you guessed it, the establishment won just about every possible award. Over the last few years, McGarry has fallen for running and, as you can imagine, he’s very good at it, showing an uncommon dedication and passion for the sport. He has also been very frank about his struggles with alcohol and the importance of bartenders and chefs taking care of their mental health as well as their fitness. Running helps him on both accounts. He recently kept a week-long workout diary for me as he trained for the Steamtown Marathon, which happens next month in Pennsylvania.
“I’m down in-terms of overall mileage this Sunday due to a half-marathon fitness check-in next Sunday. So today was all about speed and shorter distance. I went out and ran 2 miles at an easy pace then 3 miles at marathon pace plus 10 seconds, which averaged out to a 7.13-minute mile. Then 2 miles at marathon pace (7.04-minute mile) and finished with marathon pace minus 10 seconds for a 6.54-minute mile. The rest of the miles were easy.
Having been averaging close to 60 miles per week the past months and I’m getting pretty skilled at pushing excuses to not run. This has coincided with the opening of our Terrace Bar at BlackTail and traveling due to site visits for another project outside of New York. So, I’ve got legitimate excuses to not be doing stuff but today, and indeed most days, is about getting out there and not letting the excuses win. Putting on my workout clothes is the major battle.
Another important aspect of my fitness regime is tracking my sleep, which I picked up from a fellow fitness enthusiast. It’s a device, and application, called Whoop. You wear it around your wrist and it measures your daily strain (workouts, activities, life) and measures your quality of sleep (heart rate variability, stages of sleep, disturbances etc.) and basically gives you an RYG (red, yellow, green) indicator of your recovery and sleep quality. Anything above 66 percent is peak level performance, from 33-66 percent is optimum and below 33 percent is sub-optimum.
I always used to cut sleep to fit more work in, but that constantly left me deflated and fatigued so I’ll be tracking sleep amount and recovery percentages each day. If I’m in the right zones, I do the workouts. If not, I try and rest. I put so much stress on myself, and my body, and I know I’m a perfectionist. However, having tangible data gives you the ability to make informed, objective decisions.”
“Monday is a heavy admin day for me with the bars. That’s payroll processing, liquor management, fulfilling orders for our online store, dealing with maintenance issues, checking building standard (DOH compliance, overall cleanliness, lightbulbs, chewing gum checks, making sure windows, picture frames and bathrooms are free of graffiti) and planning out the remainder of the week in-terms of goals with our education structure, drinks development, spot checks and other projects. A big chunk of the day was taken up with getting the education kits ready for our new Dead Rabbit menu flips next week.
Monday’s are always generally easy in-terms of working out with marathon training. I train with Hanson’s Running Group using Hanson’s Marathon Method. They leverage a concept called ‘cumulative fatigue.’ It’s about developing the strength and preparedness for a marathon by running for 6 days a week. They have four pillars of this program called balance, weekly mileage, consistency and appropriate pacing. The backbone is a lot of easy running to develop stamina with strength and tempo in there to develop the pace. So, on my off-running day, I head into work very early to clear my admin tasks and then later in the day I focus on my upper body and flushing the lactic acid out of my body from the previous day’s heavy running.
So, I did 30 minutes of Arms & Intervals with Ally Love on my Peloton Bike at my apartment, which averaged out at 17.1mph with an output of 283kj. I also did arms, back and chest at my New York Health & Racket Club (NYHRC) after I finished work.”
“Today was one of those days. Didn’t want it at all. Was meant to get out at 7 AM (my normal running time) but didn’t end up getting it in until lunchtime. I’ve been reading, and listening, a lot to David Goggins author of Can’t Hurt Me. His story is so inspiring and I recommend anyone into fitness to give him a go. He has lots of metaphors, sayings to compartmentalize things and one of the things he talks about is ‘callousing the mind.’ It’s all about adding friction and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to make your mind stronger. To not listen to those bullshit excuses we give ourselves. Once you keep doing it, your mind gets stronger and you can push on. Today was one of those days.
Another accountability piece I have is the Apple Activity App, which tracks the amount of calories you burn, how many hours you’ve stood and the minutes of exercise you’ve done. I have daily targets and I make sure I hit those and I pay particular emphasis to the watch if I’m feeling lazy and ask myself the question, will I be happy with this effort by the end of the day? These are the things that get me out there when I’m not in the mood.”
“Started the morning with a tempo running workout. My coach through the Hanson’s Marathon Method is Melissa Johnson Smith. Melissa sends me my weekly workout plans based on my goals. My goal this year is to get as close to 3 hours as possible running the marathon. I’m working towards the Steamtown Marathon, which takes place on the 13th of October this year. I had a disappointing run of races recently with two DNFs (did not finish) in both the half-marathon and marathon distances. So, she’s been working me hard in-terms of varying the paces and mileage this block, with also focus on cross-training and strength work with my physical therapy. Today, she had me getting my legs primed for Sunday’s half and getting my system ready for running at half-marathon pace (6.46-minute mile). I started out with 3 miles easy then 6 x 800 1/2 mile repeats at HMP with a 400m rest and then finished with 3 miles easy. I hit the paces and today felt awesome.
I then cycled to and from therapy, 7 miles each way. Therapy is as important as physical workout. This is a weekly practice for me and it’s a brain dump with my therapist. She calls out my bullshit and gives it to me straight if I’m going into old behavioral defects or obsessing, perfecting, too much.”
“Went out and got the easy run going first thing this morning. Legs felt heavy after yesterday but started feeling better towards the end of the day. Hamstring was starting to get very tight but foam rolled and stretched and felt a lot better towards the end of the day.
I also did an hour with my personal trainer at NYHRC, Tom Myers. Tom is an amazing trainer and very engaging. Going to work out with him doesn’t feel like a workout because he’s into comic books, movies and sports, so it feels like a hangout. The work I do with him is pivotal as in previous years I never did strength workout and my running suffered because of it. My whole body slumped towards the end of the races and I had serious problems with my hamstrings. With him, I’ve toned significantly and we work hard on my core, to hold my body up properly when running, glutes and hamstrings to support good running form.
As you can tell, I spend significant money on my fitness. I don’t drink and for me, exercise is of huge importance in my sobriety and keeping me focused. I need accountability and guidance. So, this stuff is highly important for me.”
“Friday would normally be another running day but with the half marathon on Sunday in Jersey City, it’s another rest day to make sure my legs are as fresh as possible going into the race. Another thing you’ve probably noticed is that I get a good amount of sleep. I’m normally in bed at 10 PM, I do a bit of reading and then I’m sleeping and awake by 6 AM, latest 7 AM every morning. That gives me time to get my workout in and then get into work to attack the day. If I have to travel, it’s earlier in bed and then earlier to get up. Last week, I had to go to bed at 9 PM to squeeze a 10 miler in before a 9 AM flight. Today, I just worked in the bars and rested. I’ve learned that rest is every bit important as working out. The formula is stress + rest = progress! I suck at resting but I try my best.”
“Had a poor night’s sleep. I had a date night with my girlfriend and we hung out late in the bars. Thankfully it’s only an easy run today to keep the legs engaged going into the half marathon tomorrow.”
“The night before a race is always nervy for me. Didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted but indications from the tracker showed I was ready. Was concerned with the temperature at 75 for the race, which is 20 degrees over what is good for a race, but remained calm and focused. I know I’ve done the hard work and that the pace was in the legs. Warmed up with two miles and stretches. Made sure I was hydrated and fueled and followed my coach’s advice to the letter. This was the best race I’ve ever had. I felt controlled and strong the whole way. Result was a personal best by 7 minutes and I’m in prime position for a very strong performance at Steamtown and a personal best for the marathon distance. Rest of the day was napping, football and pizza!!! Gotta enjoy those rewards.”
My Workout Diary features the fitness regiments of bartenders, chefs, distillers, and brand ambassadors.
Interview has been condensed and edited.