Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be a sponsored athlete at the world’s largest marathon? I am running the New York City Marathon this year as part of the ASICS Editor’s Challenge Team, and it has been a spectacular experience. Today, I ran through Central Park with some of America’s top runners to uncover the secrets to their success.

Physical

We all know that it takes some serious training to prepare your body for the rigors of a 26.2 mile race, but did you know your breakfast can make or break your race? I spoke with Andy Potts, 4th place finisher in this year’s Ironman World Championship, about what it takes to make it through a grueling endurance race. His advice was simple and straight-forward, eat what agrees with you a couple of hours before the race.

For some it’s eggs and bacon, for others it’s a bowl of oatmeal. The essential takeaway is to eat something that you know won’t cause you any stomach issues. The last thing you want to do before a race is eat something new, or grab race fuel that you’ve never tried before. Be predictable.

When it comes to race strategy, Gwen Jorgensen, the 2014 World Triathlon Series World Champion says stick to your plan. Go over your goals, determine your splits and fueling strategy and visualize the race. On race day, don’t get carried away early in the race. Instead, remember your plan and follow it all the way to the finish line.

Mental

What do you think about to stay focused and race efficiently even when it feels like the wheels are about to come off? Surprisingly, you might want to think about your elbows. When everything hurts and your thighs or your calves are screaming for attention, divert your attention by focusing on a body part that doesn’t hurt.

Another mental trick is to focus on the what got you to the starting line. Deena Kastor, American record holder in the marathon and half-marathon and Olympic bronze medalist, says that you can find confidence in your hard work. She reviews her training log before race day and finds conviction and credence in her earlier workouts.

Spiritual

To get through the marathon you need to call upon a higher power. For each of us, that means something different. Coach Andrew Kastor says that an event like the New York City Marathon offers inspiration everywhere you look. The girl who hands you water along the course might be inspired by you to come back as a runner one day.

Every runner has a story. Each one of the 50,000 competitors serves as an inspiration to someone in their community. This event is more than just a foot race, it’s a testament to the human spirit.

Ryan Hall, American record holder in the half marathon, says that we should give thanks every time we run. Even bad workouts are a gift. The act of running alone is something to be cherished.

Andy Potts suggests finding inspiration and keeping it close when times are tough. He thinks of his children and strives to make them proud when self-doubt begins to creep in. His advice is simple and effective: “Smile through the sticky moments.”

Every runner who navigates the cold and windy marathon course through the five boroughs of New York City this Sunday has a chance to do something inspirational. With the right training, the right attitude, and a dose of inspiration, you too can run the race of a lifetime.

2 thoughts on “How to Run the NYC Marathon Like a Pro

  1. Emotional excellent article! We are all hoping everyone in the race adheres to the meaningful and strong advice! Have a great time to all!

  2. Running the NYC Marathon was a great analogy on life and relationships. During my training routine for this monumental moment I had a few personal and physical setbacks. But I still managed to train when I could and to be honest there were a few days I felt straight out lazy. Approximately two weeks before the race I suffered from heel spurs and had to rest just to be ready for my big day. But on November 2, 2014 was show time pending if I’m ready or not . The night before I could hardly sleep and tossed and turned the whole night and could hardly calm my nerves. So I decided to simply get up around 4:45 to have breakfast and get dressed. By 5:58 I arrived at 42nd and 5th Ave. via the Subway. There was a plethora of charter buses taking thousands of runners to the starting line in Staten Island. During the bus ride to Staten Island, the view of the city from the Verrazano Bridge was picture perfect, the air was crisp, heavy winds were gusting and it was flat out cold. In my mind I was thinking “damn, I have to run all the way back.” But I wasn’t fazed by the elements, but sheer thought of completing my 1st marathon was a warm sensation. By 9:42 a.m. I was off and running, For the first half of the marathon running through Brooklyn and Queens everything was going according to plan: I was running about a 7:56 minutes per mile pace.
    By mile 15, both of my hamstrings started to cramp up and my legs started to feel heavy and I was in pain which summoned me to head into the medical tent to stretch out my hamstrings. My muscles were as hard as a rock and the pain didn’t let go. The race wasn’t fun anymore. After a few minutes of stretching and some fluids, I wasn’t going to let a little pain stop me from completing the race.
    I received great advice from a friend who told me when I hit the wall and your body tells you to stop just keep going. On the charter bus the lady who sat next to me told me when you start to feel the pain its only going to last about four minutes and it shall pass. This became my mantra for the rest of the race. By the time I got to mile 20 my shoulders, hamstrings started to cramp up again, calf and vastus medialis (that muscle right above your knees) were all aching me. I had to stop again and stretch, some lady helped me stretch and gave me some salt and water to help with the muscle spasm. I kept trucking on and I knew if I made it to Harlem to see my friends and family I’ll be fine. I eventually saw them and was determined to finish with muscle pain and all. With three miles left, I eventually saw the finish line and with a winning spirit, with hands raised to the sky, I crossed the finish line @ 4:13:43.

    The marathon taught me a great lesson in life, Sometimes random acts of kindness from strangers are the most meaningful in life. Whatever your goals may be in life, keep on trucking until your mission is accomplished. There will be pain along the way, great obstacles to bounce back from, personal issues and doubt along the way thats impeding your advancement. Keep on pushing until you get a break through; eventually the pain will stop and things will get easier. Keep your eyes on the prize every inch by inch, step by step and mile by mile until your dreams come true. 26.2

Thoughts?