Runner Q & A: What Matters In Marathon Prep

As a personal trainer and a run coach, I’m asked these questions pretty often. For those of you running your first marathon, listen up! These just might save you on race day.

Q. I’m so nervous for my marathon, I’m afraid I won’t be able to sleep the night before. Help!

A. Well, you’re in luck because the sleep you really need happens TWO nights before the big day. That means Friday night is the night for you to kick back and call it an early evening. Get plenty of rest and lazy around as much as you possibly can (2pm nap anyone?). Whatever you do, make every effort to get as much rest as possible in the week leading up to your marathon. Doctors have stressed that you don’t “make up” for lost hours of sleep, so try not to lose any that week.

Sleep is good.

Q. How do I stay warm at the start line and in the beginning of the race? It’s supposed to be 35Β° at Ft. Wadsworth and up to 55Β° by the time we get to 1st Avenue.Β 

A. Layer, layer, layer. I suggest wearing throw away pants, a sweatshirt, gloves, a hat and possibly cover up with a Tyvek suit or garbage bag to keep the cold out at the start line. Be ready to throw all of your cover-up items away (most races collect them and donate them to shelters). I DO NOT suggest full-length tights unless it’s supposed to be 45Β° or colder during the entire race. You will just get too hot and sweat more than is necessary. So, guys, wear shorts and either a lightweight long sleeve or a short sleeved t-shirt and hold onto your gloves for a little bit. Gals, I would wear lightweight crops (vented in the back) and a long sleeve vented top over a tank top. You may take the long sleeve on and off throughout the race, but you’ll be glad to have it when it’s shady. Gloves are the best accessory because sometimes you want them even if you’re in a tank top and shorts.

It was 60 by the time I finished and I felt perfectly dressed the entire way.

Q. Any tips for getting out of the park after the New York City Marathon?

A. Why, yes. I have a few. The NYCM finish line is by far the worst I have EVER encountered. It’s a great big bottleneck and they make you walk a mile up hill to the family meeting area before they let you out of the park. Most people follow along because they’re too tired to argue. I’m not one for forced marching. Disclaimer: None of these are sanctioned by NYRR, but I have used them many a time to get the hay-ho out of Central Park after the marathon. My first marathon, I was in desperate need of a bathroom and there was one near the medical tents off to the left of the finish line. That allowed me to hit the POJ and exit the park right there. Mind you, I must’ve looked like I needed medical attention because no one argued with me. The second one is to just jump the police barricades. JB and Mr. Red Sox did this last year. Basically, if someone tries to stop you you basically just ignore them and get out of the park as quickly as possible.

Here is your finish line (looked great today!)

Rock on, marathoners! And for the rest of you…

…Go out and run!