Whether a first time runner or seasoned veteran, we have helpful tips for anyone making the 26.2 mile treck - and how to reward yourself when it’s all over!
About The Marathon
The NYC Marathon has been a city tradition since 1970, where there were a total of 127 runners. Today, the marathon draws so many people that you have to be accepted to participate; last year, the marathon had a record 49,595 finishers. The race’s 26.2-mile route goes through all 5 boroughs, starting in Staten Island and ending in Central Park.
With the marathon being so popular and in one of the country’s busiest cities, preparing for the marathon is nowhere as simple as just showing up and running (or watching). There are many steps to getting ready for the NYC Marathon.
The week before the marathon is full of interesting events that you should be sure to take advantage of. Try a “Last 10” run that takes you through the course’s last 10 miles. Lots of well-known brands, like FitBit and Poland Spring, hold their own marathon week events as well. You can enjoy a delicious, carb-loaded buffet at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion the night before the marathon, or plan a motor coach tour of route before running it. There are tons of things to do!
One of the biggest pre-marathon events is the Marathon Expo, located at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Hall 3B, Eleventh Avenue at West 36th Street. As a participant, you are already required to stop at the Expo to pick up your race materials, so why not check out what else there is to offer? The NYRR Running Lab will predict your finish time and give helpful tips on where to find water stations and more. There are also dozens of cool vendors including Saucony, Footlocker, RunDisney, and iHeartMedia. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by other runners! Maybe make some friends?
If you want you and your friends and family to be able to see each other during the marathon, you’ll need to do some planning. If you don’t choose specific spots for your loved ones to catch you, you can’t guarantee that you’ll see them. Pick about 4 to meet up at – this way, you’ll know exactly where they are. They can use the subway to travel from meeting spot to meeting spot, and in some areas they can even walk. This is super important because having cheerleaders for encouragement is huge! Also plan a designated spot for meeting up when the race is over so you can get right to celebrating.
Locals And Pros In The Know
The best way to get a real taste of what the NYC marathon will be like is to check out some local running blogs. These people know the course like the back of their hands and will provide you with their honest thoughts. Here are some that we suggest:
What To Wear & Bring
As a runner, you already know what to wear for the active part of the marathon. But if you aren’t used to the early morning NYC fall weather, you may not have considered that you will be freezing until you get running.
The wait before the marathon starts is long and cold, so layers are paramount. Find some old sweats, pajamas, a beanie, a hoodie or even gloves that you’re okay with ditching when it’s time to start. You’ll keep warm until the race begins, and the NYRR will donate your old clothes to charity. Win-win!
Want to be cheered on by name throughout the race? Try writing your first name on your shirt. Onlookers will shout your name throughout the whole race, which not only feels great, but can keep you motivated!
Also, remember to bring some snacks (that you have tested with long runs!) as you may get hungry as you wait for your turn to start. Don’t try any new snacks, drinks, or gels – this is the last time you want a bad reaction! Don’t forget your phone in case you want to listen to music or take pictures during the marathon. Runners also suggest bringing body glide to prevent chafing. You don’t want any irritating pain holding you back!
Make sure your plans take travel times and waiting times into consideration. There are lots of people running and spectating, so things can get pretty slow and crowded. For example, you might have a long wait to get on the Staten Island Ferry. We suggest using the official NYC Marathon Transportation Guide for specific timing information. You’ll also have to get through some security checkpoints and bag checks once you get to the village, where you’ll also get Gatorade, water, and a chance to use the bathroom.
An hour before the race you’ll get to the corrals. This is where you take off your old warm clothes and move towards the starting line!
The race begins in Staten Island and starts off uphill. The Verrazano Bridge will be packed, making it a great opportunity to warm up with a slow pace. You might be tempted to push through to pass the crowd. Remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a race, and you need to save your energy for later!
The run through Brooklyn and Queens is flat and long. This is where you want to ensure you’re keeping a steady pace. At certain points you may feel like you are going too slowly, but trust your running plan – overexerting yourself will cost you in the end. This is especially important to remember when going uphill.
Once you get into Manhattan, around mile 16, is where it starts to get crazy. The cheering, the screaming, the energy. Don’t get too distracted, but use the exciting environment as inspiration. The wild crowd may tempt you to speed up a lot, but remember to stick to your plan - and don’t forget to stop by the water stations so you stay hydrated.
At mile 20 you enter the Bronx until the next mile when you’re back in Manhattan. This is where things will get tough. You’ll start to feel the impact of running 20 miles on your body, and there are some more hills. Listen to an upbeat running playlist to keep you going.
Don’t assume the last few miles are the hardest part. Stay relaxed and focused. Use the crowd around you for a final burst of energy. Soon you’ll be over the finish line, feeling one of the best feelings in the world.
You did it! Once you’re through the post-race area, it’s time to meet up with your loved ones and celebrate. Have a few drinks (one Circle Line employee had her family waiting for her with a shot of tequila!) and a big, delicious meal. And don’t forget to post that finish line pic to Instagram!
Trust us – you’re going to want to take the day after the marathon off. You’ll be exhausted and sore, and after all that hard work and weeks of preparation, you deserve a day off. Relax and rehydrate. If it’s possible to stay in the city, there are some more fun things to do on Marathon Monday. At the Marathon Expo, you can get your medal engraved or snatch some exclusive fitness gear. And if you can muster up the energy, join your fellow zombie marathoners for the post-marathon shuffle around the city. You’ll see people going downstairs backwards because it’s less painful, which can be a pretty funny sight.
Take advantage of what else NYC has to offer by doing some sightseeing on Monday. Don’t worry, there’s a relaxing way to do this. By taking a Circle Line cruise, you’ll get some beautiful views of the city…and you’ll get to sit down the whole time!