Preparing For The NYC Marathon

Hi everyone, Cesar here chiming in on marathon training prep! While the NYC Marathon is still more than 20 weeks away, many runners are starting to ponder how they will be preparing for their big race in November.

If this is your first marathon, I strongly suggest follow a training plan. Why you ask? Training for a marathon is unlike any race you may have done previously. Training for a half marathon is no where close to training for a full marathon. I highly encourage runners not to try to “wing it” with your training. I’ve seen people do this and it results in injury and none of us want that!

With so many training plan options out there today, choosing how to prepare for a marathon can be almost as daunting as running the 26.2 miles! Doing a simple google search for “Marathon Training Plans” will give you several results, all of which will cost you nothing to follow them. On the other extreme, organizations suchs as New York Road Runners offer comprehensive plans with different features that can add up and cost you a pretty penny. Since your race fee is so high, opting for one of these may not make sense for you.

So what is runner to do? Every runner will be different on how they will approach this however I wanted to suggest a couple of things that you should ensure are included in your training.

Remember It Is Your Plan! There are alot of plans out on the internet that are very generic in nature. They will tell you to run the mileage but once again, every runner is different. Some may need more time to build up their mileage than others. If this is your first marathon, ask yourself and be honest with yourself if jumping to 26.2 miles will be a big jump for you. If so, be mindful of these generic plans and how quickly they outline your jump in mileage. Also make sure that the paces prescribed in these generic plans make sense for you. If you need help figuring out what pace you should be training at, you can drop me an email at my contacts below!

Build the Base First! While everyone is eager to get race day ready, it is extemely important not to progress your mileage too fast. Make sure that your plan has you building a base of miles first before you jump into higher mileage or jump into drastic speed work. Your first 3-4 weeks of your plan should include building your base. your runs should be around 4-7 miles and not much longer. Also these miles should be done at an easy conversation pace and no where near your race pace. Adding in some strength training and core work at your gym will also help prepare your legs for the demands of increased mileage which will come soon!

Once Your Base Is Built It’s Time To Build Mileage This part of the plan is inevitable. To run 26.2 miles, you need to train for 26.2 miles. However this is the area where many people risk injury. It’s not a smart practice to jump from 6 mile long runs to 15 mile long runs. That’s where injuries occur and exhaustion can set in because your body just isn’t used to that increased mileage. A good rule of thumb is to increase your weekly volume by 10%. If your plan has you jumping more than 10% to a new long run, maybe it time to think twice about that plan.

Also something to note, based on how many weeks you are training, try to maximize your longest run between 20-22 miles. This is where the longer plan (ie 18-20 weeks) is prefereable. There are a lot of plans that max out their longest long run at 18 miles. That’s 8 miles more that you are asking your body to give you without knowing how it will respond. With that being said, be mindful of trying to rush your training to get to a 20-22 mile long run. Getting there should be a gradual process that progresses along the lines of what I previously recommended of adding 10% each week.

Don’t forget speed work and hills! Speed work may not be for everyone but if you are looking to run a certain time then don’t skimp on the speed work. Long intervals such as 1200 meter repeats and mile repeats are perfect speed drills to implement when training for a marathon.

Unlike speed work, for the TCS NYC Marathon, hill work should definitely be part of your training! There are 5 bridges to overcome on this 26.2 mile trek in addition to other hills (more on those at a later date). Make sure that your training plan implements hill repeats thru out! If you live in the NYC area, I strongly suggest working out on any and all of the bridges that are part of the course.

  • Pace is a critical part of your training! I’ve seen so many plans that just detail the mileage to be done on a daily basis with no mention at all as to pace. Some experiences runners may know the paces they need to run during their training but not every runner will know! Your plan should be descriptive as to what your pace should be on a daily basis especially if you are looking to run under a certain time. Long runs should be done at a vey relaxed pace or how some call it, a conversation pace. Speed workouts should be done at a much faster pace but not necessarily all out. Then of course for those who are looking to run under a certain time, there is the ever popular “marathon pace”. This is the pace that you will need to average to hit your desired time. Some of your runs should be run at marathon pace but it shouldn’t be all of them. I’ve seen people train at marathon pace all the time and that type of training is not sustainable over the course of 16-20 weeks. On some of your runs, your plan should include portions of your runs where you work up to marathon pace and hold it.
  • Somewhat related to this is working on achieving negative splits on york long runs. For those unfamiliar with the term, negative splits is when the second half of your run is faster than your first half. Training your body for this will help you overcome “the wall” which usually hits in the second half of a marathon.
  •  In closing, there are ALOT of things clearly to consider when choosing a plan but it is worth your time to research and ensure some of these are addressed by your training plan. After all, it’s your race, and you want to run YOUR time!

    If you are still unsure about which plan to choose or if you are unsure about the paces your training runs should be at, you can always drop me a line at wearenycrc@gmail.com and I would be glad to assist!

    Additionally contact me about personalizing a plan as well based on your needs! Good luck to all marathoners and their training!!!

    Cesar