[Editor’s Note: We’re lucky to work with NYC running ambassador, NYRR pacer and coach Stephen England. Stephen has run/paced the NYC Marathon 5 times and coached dozens of runners in preparation for this race. Here are his final tips to our local Marathon Training Program with the NY Flyers.]
“The hay is in the barn 🐴!”- Coach B. Rosetti. Spend as little time on your feet as possible the next few days and rest those legs. Spend the next two days doing mental training. What’s your goal? How do you want to feel at mile 5, 10, 15, 20, 25? Visualize the last 0.2 in your head. Believe in yourself. You are ready!
Nutrition 🍝 :
Hydrate and eat as cleanly as you can. No time for junk food. You are what you eat! Make yourself earn that “treat” after the marathon. Plan your carbo-loading meal (Saturday) for lunch and something a bit lighter for an early dinner. Nothing new or crazy! Race day breakfast. What and when? I like the 2-hour prior to race method but go with what works for you.
Fuel for the course. Are you taking gels? A bottle with your favorite fuel because Gatorade and you don’t cooperate? Do you have it ready? Prepare now, not Saturday afternoon.
Yes, it’s exciting. Go early (Thursday) and be efficient (bib, race bag, photo of you and bib, 1-2 must do booths). When shopping remember, “nothing new on race day” is famous for a reason.
What will you be wearing? Get your singlet/shorts/skort, etc. ready. Put your bib on your shirt ahead of time. Put your name on your shirt so everyone can (and will) cheer for you. This is your day and the crowds will be even more magical if they know who they’re cheering for! Do you have sunglasses 🕶? It’s going to be a sunny day ☀😎
Staten Island survival = throwaways! What to bring (beanie, gloves, hot hands, hoodie, sweatpants, blanket, mat, something to read, etc.) Need throwaways? Get them now from a thrift store or cheap department store. Don’t wait for Saturday afternoon!
🚨 Don’t forget; 🚨 Body glide/Aquaphor etc and sun screen. The first layer of gear that no one sees unless you don’t apply!
Do a lot of this. I know it’s hard, we are New Yorkers! The most important night of sleep is Friday. Saturday night not so much; but still get in bed early even if you cannot fall asleep straight away. Off those legs! Set multiple alarms as it’s daylight savings that night. I repeat, set multiple alarms!!
Generally, you want to get 200 calories in per hour or 100 calories every 30 minutes starting 45 minutes into the race in order to stay properly fueled throughout. The weather forecast is looking great! (Low 44, high 53. Sunny!) Drink every mile marker Gatorade or water. It doesn’t have to be the full cup (you will spill some grabbing it and drinking it) every time but consistency is paramount. If you wait until you get thirsty, it’s too late.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient. Run the course with an even effort: slower uphills, faster downhills. If you pace and manage your fueling well throughout you will have a great race.
Wear a pace band to help guide you. You can get these at the pacer booth of the expo (these are even pace bands). Every mile marker you can compare your watch time to your pace band. It’s a great tool to keep you honest in the first half of the race. To get an “even effort” pace band course specific for NYC go here: http://findmymarathon.com/pacebandresult.php…
Another option, find an NYRR Pacer to run with and ask him or her before the race “what is your pacing strategy?” If you are comfortable with what they are saying, which you should, they are a great resource.
Course Strategy 🗽
Start-5K: It’s packed! You won’t be able to see the ground in front of you at times in those opening miles but after all, what did you expect for the largest marathon in the world? It’s important not to weave in and out of other runners. Don’t panic if you’re a few seconds behind pace early on. Conserve your energy, it’s long ways to the finish and you don’t want to make the race “longer.”
5K-Halfway: Find your groove. Brooklyn is mostly flat so it’s a great part of the course to get into M-pace and enjoy the relentless cheering. But don’t get ahead of pace. Going over Pulaski bridge you’re only halfway. Are you racing yet? I hope not.
Halfway to 18: Keep doing what you were just doing in Brooklyn but now you’re in Queens. Turn left onto the Queensboro Bridge and the silence begins. It’s footsteps and heavy breathing all around. But you’re not heavily breathing because you ran smart so far! No one is cheering for you here- assess how you feel, what do you need to do to keep feeling great? Relax your arms, shoulders. It’s about to get crazy. Down the ramp and welcome to the wall of sound. Rock star status ensues. Enjoy the buzz of being in Manhattan! Are you still on M-pace? You can easily get sucked into running too fast here as the crowd is awesome!!! So be an awesome smart runner and stay on your pace!
18-21: Toughest section. 1st Avenue goes on and the crowds fade. Onto the Willis Ave. Bridge (two gradual climbs, not one) and into the Bronx. Mental strength is needed getting in and out of the Bronx as you’re now in the furthest/northern most stretch of the course. You’ll see Run SMART Project coaches Brian and Tiffany here so smile and show them you’ve got this! Dig deep. The crowds are coming again real soon.
21-25: Your race is now all about heart. Remember how many early and late runs you’ve done to get here? How many Q workouts you’ve done? How many times you’ve skipped seeing friends and family to train for this race instead. Now you truly race for home. Embrace the energy of the crowd in Harlem. It is like nothing else. But don’t forget the toughest hill of all is next and it’s not a bridge. From 110 to 90th Street on 5th Avenue is 1-mile gradual incline. BE STRONGER THAN THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU. People will walk here, just not you!! Use the crowd to energize you. Into Central Park now and just over 2-miles to go. You know where you are now, really really well. Home advantage. Stretch your legs down Cat Hill and once again out of the park on the SE corner.
The crowds await by The Plaza and all the way home now. This is grit, grit and more grit up the slight grade along Central Park South. Pace is out the window now. Whatever you’ve got, you’ve got. It will hopefully be even faster than M-pace if you were smart in those first 18 miles. Turn right on Columbus Circle where we’ve met every Wednesday and back into the park. 0.2 to go. I’m not crying, you’re crying😭!
Up the hill to the finish 🏁
Hands up 🙌🏼, head up 😃 Soak up every single second of this moment!
You’re a marathoner!🥇😍