Amani Toomer runs worry-free these days, no longer on the lookout for defensive backs hell-bent on snapping him in two.
It's a relief, really, for a 13-year NFL veteran who is content to put his music on and run, armed with a technological wrist gizmo that monitors his heart rate, and provides a GPS read-out of where he's headed and how far he's run.
Gone are the 25 (give-or-take-a-few) pounds the New York Giants all-time leading receiver packed on during the first guilt-free six weeks after his professional career ended last year.
After all, when you're attempting to become the first former NFL player in 17 years to complete the New York City Marathon, any extra baggage isn't advised.
"It's not like bones haven't been beat up enough, right?" Toomer said.
OK, it sounds crazy that Toomer, who spent the final season of his NFL career following a regimen of pre-workout massages and cold-tub treatments just to get his body ready for Sunday afternoon, would put his 36-year-old body through six months of marathon training.
But on Nov. 7, Toomer will start dead last in a field that last year eclipsed 40,000 runners. Timex will donate $1 for every competitor he passes to the New York Road Runners Youth Program, one of the key sponsors of the event.
Toomer began training in May with Chris Thomas, the 2009 USA Triathon Amateur Athlete of the Year. Thomas' initial challenge was to transform Toomer's natural breakaway speed into a steady pace that could last the 26.2-mile course.