Running The NYC Marathon? What You Need To Know About The Course (But No One Will Tell You)

As the coordinator for the New York Road Runners’ Official TCS New York City Marathon Online Training Program, I have worked with more than 12,000 runners on the basics of proper training, fueling, and racing.

If you're preparing to trek all five boroughs in the 2015 marathon, it's imperative to put your health first and set action steps for what will be one of your greatest achievements. Whether you're new to running or a veteran athlete, these tips break down what you need to succeed in the biggest marathon in the world!

1. The first mile is the longest hill of the race — you'll make up your time lost in mile two.

Believe it or not, mile one is the longest hill during the marathon. Most runners don't realize this, what with all the pre-race jitters and excitement of the majestic start over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. With the legendary cannon blast to start the race and Sinatra’s “New York, New York” playing on the loud speakers, it’s easy to let your adrenaline take over. But it’s important to curb your enthusiasm and enjoy the view.

Runners will often think they’re running too slowly, not realizing how steep the first mile is, and sprint the second mile to make up for lost time. Mile two is the longest downhill run of the race, so most of that lost time on the mile one climb is made back up then. Mile three is really when runners should start paying attention to their splits.

2. Slow down before you greet the crowds at miles 16 to 19 and First Avenue.

After runners conquer the 59th Street Bridge, which is a steep, calm mile with no spectators, they hit First Avenue, where the crowd erupts. The New York City Marathon is known for having the best and loudest spectators in the world with more than a million people estimated to be lining the streets.

Runners know this surge of cheers is coming, and pick up their pace, which is not a good move. They need to remember to slow down a bit to account for the excitement, and also enjoy those amazing cheers.

3. Once you conquer mile 23, the end is near.

This is the toughest mile on the course that nobody talks about. It starts around 110th Street and ends just inside Central Park. There is a subtle hill between 110th Street and 90th Street that most runners aren’t aware of.

Runners will start to slow without realizing they’re headed uphill and might mistakenly think they’re “hitting the wall.” It’s time to dig deep and push on through. Central Park and the finish line are just ahead, and the crowds will bring you home!

4. Take it all in and enjoy the city!

New York City is a great place to visit, especially during marathon week. Don’t spend too much time on your feet before the big day. Before the race, try to stick with off-your-feet activities, and save more active events for post-race. Walking is great for recovery!

If you aren’t running or can’t step out onto the course to cheer us on, you can watch the marathon live on Sunday, November 1, on WABC-TV, Channel 7, in the New York Tri-State area from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, and for the rest of the nation on ESPN2 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.

Live-streaming will also be available on ABC7NY.com and via the WatchABC app from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Click here for all the broadcast details, including online and via mobile devices.

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