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Conquering the New York City Marathon: Run in the City that Never Sleeps

The New York City Marathon is a dream race for many runners, offering the exhilaration of running through the five boroughs and the challenge of conquering the city's iconic bridges. However, from Coach Christine’s perspective, it is also the most difficult of the majors from a logistics viewpoint. In this blog post, we will guide you through getting into the New York City Marathon, provide insights from a coach's perspective on training for the race, and offer a robust hill workout to help you tackle the inclines and fatigue of the later miles.

Getting into the New York City Marathon: Securing a spot in the New York City Marathon can be highly competitive and sought-after. Here are a few ways to increase your chances of getting in:

  • Lottery: Enter the race's official lottery, which opens several months before the event. While it's a game of chance, it offers a fair opportunity for all applicants.

  • Charity Entry: Many official charity partners offer guaranteed entries in exchange for fundraising. This option allows you to support a cause close to your heart while fulfilling your marathon dream. Missed our fundraising tips blog? Find it here.

  • Qualifying Times: If you're a seasoned runner, you can try to qualify based on age and gender standards. Check the official website for the qualifying times required.

  • NYRR 9+1 Program: Participate in nine qualifying races and volunteer for one event hosted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) organization. By completing this program, you earn guaranteed entry into the following year's marathon.

Training for the New York City Marathon: From a coach's perspective, here are key training aspects to consider:

  • Build Base Mileage: Establish a solid foundation with gradually increasing weekly mileage. Run four to five days a week to build endurance and adapt to the marathon distance.

  • Long Runs: Schedule one long run per week to develop mental and physical stamina. Increase the distance gradually, peaking around two to three weeks before the race. Incorporate sections of hills during these runs to simulate race conditions.

  • Speed Work: Include interval training, tempo runs, and hill repeats to improve speed, anaerobic threshold, and hill-climbing ability. Hill repeats provide an excellent opportunity to build strength and resilience for the bridges and later miles of the race.

  • Strength and Cross Training: Incorporate strength training exercises to improve overall muscle strength and prevent injuries. Cross-training activities like cycling or swimming can complement your running and aid in recovery.

  • Hill Repeat Workout: This workout helps you train for the later miles and inclines of the bridges.

Decisions: Leading up to race week and race day, you’ll have to make a series of “decisions” that can cause angst for many runners. You’ll see the below debated within social media groups and Reddit threads.

Where to Stay? This decision will be the foundation of the other decisions you’ll need to make. Therefore, consider your budget, your comfort level with public transportation, and whether staying near the start (Staten Island) or finish line (Central Park) is more important. Or if you end up staying in one of the other boroughs and figuring out how to get to the start line and back. This is not an “easy decision,” but one that may be made easier when you look at the other decisions that must be made for race day. So let’s go through those questions below. How to get to the start line? To ferry, or not to ferry. No, really, bus versus ferry is hotly debated, and like everything running-related, it comes down to what is best for you, but here are some pros and cons of each. I won’t discuss private transportation or VIP charity bus shuttles here because truly private transportation, unless if you live in Staten Island, is not advisable.

Which one you decide does depend on where you stay for the race weekend. Quite a few runners feel most comfortable staying mid-town and taking that bus shuttle to the start line. Others like myself felt that the ferry was such an iconic experience that figuring out the additional transport logistics to the ferry terminal was well worth it. Good to note that you may take a bus once your ferry arrives on Staten Island, so if you are 100% trying to avoid a bus, that may not be feasible.

Bag Drop and Post-race: This is the end of the line; you have been up for hours, hungry, and have run one of the most iconic races in the world. Make sure you have post-race recovery snacks in your bag and a reservation for something delicious and nutritious nearby before heading back to your hotel. Coach Christine used the New York Sports Club day pass just a couple of blocks from the finish line to shower and change before finishing dinner. Since the course stays open for quite some time, transportation back to your hotel can be delayed. Don’t count on being back quickly to have some creature comforts for your post-race experience. Race Week - What to do?

  • Taper Town: Taper your training volume during the final week for optimal recovery. Prioritize hydration, nutrition, and quality sleep to prepare your body for the race.

  • Mental Preparation: Visualize success and develop a race day strategy based on your training, pace goals, and course knowledge. Break the race into sections to stay focused and motivated, especially during challenging segments like bridges.

  • Expo: Attend the marathon expo to collect your bib, explore exhibits, and gather valuable information. Be mindful of spending excessive time on your feet to conserve energy.

In conclusion, while the race can take a bit more logistical planning, the New York City Marathon presents a remarkable opportunity to test your limits and experience the thrill of running through the vibrant streets of New York City. Be prepared by training diligently, incorporating robust hill workouts, and effectively managing race week and race day to maximize your experience of this iconic race. Embrace the challenge, enjoy the journey, and savor every moment of this incredible marathon experience.

Don’t forget there is no place quite like New York City! Have questions about your training? Drop us a line at

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