How to Run the NYC Marathon

The NYC Marathon is one of the largest and most thrilling races in the world, but it is also one of the most difficult to qualify for. Each year, runners from around the world vie for 50,000 coveted spots in the marathon. Once you are invited to the race, it is important to have a consistent training regimen that includes running, strength training, and nutritional balance. Race day is all about pace and endurance. Running in the NYC Marathon takes a lot of work and some good fortune, but the reward is great.


[Edit]Qualifying for the Race

  1. Enter the drawing for a chance to secure a spot at the race. Between mid-January and mid-February, apply for the drawing through the New York Road Runner website. The drawing is at the end of February. Though this is the easiest way to secure a spot, it is not guaranteed.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 1.jpg
    • In 2017, over 98,000 hopeful runners applied for the drawing and only 16,000 were accepted (a 16.5% rate).[1]
  2. Raise money for Team for Kids to be guaranteed a spot in the race. Runners raise money for this New York Road Runner youth program each year. If you are able to pledge and raise at least $2,620 by October, you are guaranteed a spot in the marathon.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 2.jpg
    • Every year, 4,000 use this strategy to get into the race.[2]
  3. Have a qualifying time at other races to ensure a spot in the marathon. If your official time at other New York Road Runner races is fast enough, you can secure a space at the NYC Marathon. These qualifying times are based on age and gender.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 3.jpg
    • Some of these races include the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon, the NYC Half Marathon, the Women’s Half Marathon, the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and the Staten Island Half Marathon.[3]
  4. Claim your deferred marathon entry from last year. If you were admitted into the race last year but officially cancelled your entry, you are guaranteed a spot this year.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 4.jpg
    • You must pay the entry fee again.
  5. Become a New York Road Runner member to get into the marathon. Become a New York Road Runner member and complete at least 9 of their races. You must also volunteer at 1 or more race to guarantee a spot in the NYC Marathon.[4]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 5.jpg
    • You must complete the races and volunteer in the calendar year prior to the marathon in which you want to compete. For example, you must complete 9 races in 2017 to be eligible for automatic entry into the 2018 Marathon.
    • You must become a New York Road Runner member by December 31 to qualify for this option.

[Edit]Training for the Marathon

  1. Eat foods that are rich in protein and carbohydrates. These types of food provide fuel for both your exercise and recovery.[5] Try different types and quantities of food during your training routine to find out what works best for your body.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 6.jpg
    • Good energy foods include bagels with peanut butter, pasta, and oatmeal.
    • Know how long it takes for your body to digest food before you are able to run comfortably. It can take up to 3 hours for your food to digest completely.[6]
  2. Keep your body hydrated. It is important to keep your body hydrated throughout your training weeks as well as the day of the race. Drink to of water each day during your training. Drink no more than of water on the morning of the race.[7]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 7.jpg
    • Drinking too much water on the morning of the race can make you cramp up.
    • Coconut water is a great way to replenish electrolytes without consuming the added dyes and sugars of a sports drink.[8]
  3. Incorporate 3 training runs each week on non-consecutive days. Complete 1 long run—at least —each week. Do one moderate run—at least —at a pace that is slightly slower than your 5k pace. Finish one moderate run—at least —at your 5k pace or slightly faster.[9]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 8.jpg
    • Remember to do recovery stretches after each running session.
  4. Complete cross training sessions on the days between your runs. Do 1 HIIT or metabolic conditioning class. Finish 1 non-impact aerobic class each week. Round out your cross training with a yoga class.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 9.jpg
    • HIIT exercise routines include exercises such as squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, and burpees.[10]
    • You can interchange any of these cross training sessions for an easy 30-45 minute run.[11]
  5. Complete your last two long runs before your final training week. Make these last two runs as similar to marathon day as possible. Simulating the big race will get your body used to marathon conditions and pace.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 10.jpg
    • Wear the same shoes, socks, and clothing as you plan to wear on race day.
    • Eat the same pre run meal before your last two long runs.[12]
  6. Allow for adequate recovery time between runs and strength training. Remember to stretch after each exercise period. Incorporate at least one rest day each week into your training routine.[13]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 11.jpg

[Edit]Strategizing the Week before the Marathon

  1. Avoid long distance running for the 6 days before the race. Keep all of your runs in the week prior to the big race around to long.[14] Do not run the day before the marathon.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 12.jpg
  2. Eat more carbohydrates for the 6 days prior to the race. Try to consume at least of carbohydrates per of your body weight. Increase to per of your total body weight during the last 3 days before the race.[15]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 13.jpg
    • Some good foods for carbohydrate loading are sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa.[16]
    • Do not overload on carbohydrates. This will make you bloated and lethargic on race day.
  3. Pack your race gear in your carry on luggage. If you are flying to NYC for the marathon, make sure to keep everything you need for race day in your carry on bag, including clothes, shoes, band aids, nutritional products, and energy gels.[17]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 14.jpg
    • You do not want to be scrambling for new gear if your checked bag is lost.
  4. Consume simple meals in the days leading up to the race. Cut foods like red meat, nuts, dairy, fried food, and roughage out of your diet the day before the marathon. Also try to avoid high fiber foods.[18]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 15.jpg
    • Do not try any new foods in the week leading up to the marathon.
  5. Do not do a lot of walking or standing on the day before the race. Too much activity the day before the marathon will wear out your legs. Get to the expo early to avoid waiting in long lines to get your racing bib and packet.[19]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 16.jpg

[Edit]Running on Marathon Day

  1. Look up the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. Wearing the appropriate clothing is essential when running in any type of weather. Make sure your layers are comfortable and able to be discarded along your route. You do not want to have to carry a sweatshirt for the entire race.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 17.jpg
    • If rain is in the forecast, bring a trash bag with a hole cut out for your head and wear it while waiting in the corral. Take it off before starting the race.[20]
    • If it is a cold rain, rub petroleum jelly on your arms and legs to keep warm. Do not rub jelly on your head or neck as it does not allow for adequate sweating and you may overheat.[21]
    • If the weather is supposed to be hot, try to drink cold fluids (such as a slushie) before the race.[22]
    • The New York Road Runner club collects discarded clothing and donates them to charity.[23]
  2. Bring only what you need to the race. It is important to not be weighed down with unnecessary baggage. Make sure your phone is secure and not in your way.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 18.jpg
    • Some essentials include your photo ID, some cash, and a small snack.[24]
  3. Keep your pace steady for the first couple of miles. The first section is uphill, and many people try to overexert themselves. Don’t waste energy trying to swerve around other runners during the first .[25]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 19.jpg
  4. Stay hydrated along the marathon route. Slow down, but don’t stop, at aid stations. Stopping will shorten your muscles and cause cramping.[26]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 20.jpg
    • Squeeze the cups to avoid spilling.
    • Keep your core cool by dumping some water on your head and neck during the race.
  5. Focus on your music or inner mantra during the race. The noise of the crowds may cause you to speed up too early and leave you with no energy for the end of the marathon.[27]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 21.jpg
    • Make a playlist that will help keep your energy up during the marathon.[28]
    • Examples of positive mantras are “I am strong and feel good” and “I am running great”.[29]
  6. Look at a runner in front of you and focus on the back of their shirt. Act like you are a fisher reeling in the person in front of you. Once you pass that runner, repeat the process.[30] Keep going and remain motivated throughout the race.
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 22.jpg
    • Be prepared for the hilly last . This is where many racers run out of steam.[31]
  7. Cross the finish line and celebrate your accomplishment. Once you have crossed the finish line, it is important to stretch. Taking a long walk after the race will help flush the lactic acid out of your body and bring you gradually back to your resting state.[32]
    Run the NYC Marathon Step 23.jpg
    • Eat a big, hearty meal afterwards to replenish the nutrients your body lost while running.[33]


  • Do not do any running for 2-3 days after the marathon. Do yoga instead to recover.
  • Runners who have at least 15 NYC Marathon finishes under their belt are guaranteed a spot in all future NYC Marathons.[34]



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