Want to Run in the New York City Marathon?
2 million live spectators lining the streets of all five boroughs.
Millions more following along on TV or online.
After starting in 1970 with only 127 entrants, 55 finishers and roughly 100 spectators, the New York City Marathon today is the largest race of its kind in the world, and one of the six annual World Marathon Majors.
Want to be one of them some day?
Oh, and actually be able to cross the finish line once you get there?
It’ll take smart training and possibly a little bit of luck.
How Do I Get Into the New York City Marathon?
Despite being the largest marathon in the world, the New York City Marathon is also one of the toughest to actually get into.
Assuming you’ve never before gained entry to the NYC marathon, you can:
- Post a sufficiently low qualifying time at a marathon or half marathon at a race hosted by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) within the previous year. We’ll be honest: these times are REALLY hard—you already have to be in around the 98th percentile or better among all time marathon finishers.
- Meet the same lofty qualifying time standards at a non-NYRR race, and hope you submit your application early enough to nab one of those limited first-come, first-served guaranteed spots.
- Become a member of the NYRR, enter and finish at least nine scored, qualifying races within the previous calendar year, and then either volunteer at one additional race or donate $1,000 to the NYRR’s youth and community services programs.
- Run for one of the approved charity organizations. Entry would be contingent on meeting certain fundraising goals.
- Simply enter the lottery and hope for the best. The acceptance rate in recent years was about 16%–or in other words, out of every 6 runners who applied for a chance at a non-guaranteed spot, only 1 was selected.
More bad news for you—the field for the 2018 marathon is already mostly full, with the drawings having already taken place. (It’s still possible to get into the field for this November if you run for charity). The application window for the 2019 marathon will likely take place in early 2019.
But of course, getting into the marathon is only half the battle. You want to make sure you can actually finish it, right?
Marathon Training Tips
Being able to complete a marathon is a great challenge, but also a great goal to set for yourself. While the endeavor requires a lot of time, training, and sacrifice, it’s also one that is achievable by almost any person in relatively good
True, you’ll probably never become a world champion—or come anywhere even close. And if you’re currently out of shape and have never run before, it may take a long time before you can complete 26.2 miles in one go. Perhaps years.
But if you keep at it, completing a marathon is absolutely an attainable goal for the average Joe. You’ll probably never get the chance to play in the NBA or content for a tennis championship. But there are 80-year-olds who can run (and complete) marathons. You can get there, too—even a prestigious event like the New York City Marathon!
Check in with your doctor and foot doctor first.
While completing a marathon is an attainable goal for most healthy individuals, training can be arduous and expose you to heightened risk of injury.
Before beginning, check in with your general practitioners and make sure you’re healthy enough to train safely. He or she may give you some suggestions as well about how to train safely.
Also, check in with your foot doctor, too. Distance running can place a lot of wear and tear on your feet and ankles—especially if you have any kind of structural defects, gait abnormalities, or even low-quality socks and shoes. We can help you troubleshoot any potential problems with your feet before you end up hurting yourself!
Do you need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the latest and greatest technical gear? No. But at the same time, cheap sneakers, shorts, and a T-shirt are definitely not going to cut it at this kind of mileage!
Before you begin training in earnest, make sure you have a good pair of running shoes that are appropriate for your gait pattern and running style. Also invest in some lightweight and comfortable athletic clothes made from breathable, moisture-wicking technical fabrics. That very much includes undergarments.
Start slow and work your way up to a good base mileage
So before you can even think about entering a race for real, you need to establish a consistent running habit at home and get your body used to handling the stress and distance.
If you’re a complete non-runner today, it’s going to take some time. Even the most ambitious “couch to marathon” type plans require about 8 months of training before you’re ready to tackle 26.2 miles. More realistically, you’ll be looking at probably a year of consistent base mileage of at least, say, 30 miles per week before gearing up for 3-5 more months of focused marathon training. (This ought to get you up to about 50 miles or more per week in base mileage.)
If that sounds like it’s a million miles out of your league, it probably is … at least for now. But when you stay focused on tracking down small goals and building slowly, you might be surprised at what you can achieve within a manageable timeframe.
Start wherever you need to start—even if it’s alternating two minutes of walking with a minute of jogging for 10 or 20 minutes at a time. Figure out what you can handle and run 3-5 days per week (and taking the remaining days for rest and recovery).
Increase your weekly mileage gradually. Whatever you run the previous week, don’t attempt to go more than 10% further the following week. This allows your body to slowly get used to greater and greater distances while minimizing your risk of injury.
Work in a weekly “long run”
Once you’re at the point where you’re putting in several miles per run, 4 or 5 days per week without too much issue, build in a “long run” about once every week to 10 days or so.
The long run not only covers more mileage than your normal runs (about a third of your weekly total), but should also be run at a slower pace. This teaches your body to handle the longer distances and, crucially, to burn fat more efficiently.
One thing to keep in mind, though—no matter how great a runner you become, your long run should never exceed 20 miles. That’s about the maximum point where the risk of hurting yourself outweighs any training benefits you main gain from it.
Don’t worry—if you can do this, you shouldn’t have any problem making the full 26.2 miles on race day.
Go for shorter distances first.
If you’ve never really done any timed races before, set your goals on a shorter distance—commonly a 5k, 10k, or half marathon. This has several advantages:
- It gives you a more immediately attainable goal to work toward—so instead of grinding a year or more toward a marathon, you can see results faster.
- There’s no substitute for getting some real experience participating in timed, officially sanctioned events.
- You can re-evaluate your long-term goals based on your experience. Some people train for a 10k and it motivates them to keep pushing toward that marathon! Others find out they don’t really like racing that much and stick to shorter distances, or just run for their own pleasure. Either way, better to find out as early as possible which camp you’re in!
We generally wouldn’t recommend you attempt your first marathon without at the very least putting a couple of shorter races on your resume—ideally a 10k or half marathon, which is roughly 21k.
Pick your marathon.
Once you’ve prepared your body with the necessary base mileage, it’s time to choose a marathon! It’s possible that the New York City Marathon will be your first, but more likely you’ll have to start with something a little less crazy! Make sure it’s at least three months out so you can complete your final training preparations.
During the last few weeks before the big race, you’ll actually taper your training a little bit and run shorter distances. This is to help you rest, recovery, and store up your energy for the race itself.
One Final Tip: Listen to Your Body
Admittedly, we’ve really only scratched the surface here. If you’re seriously interested in becoming a regular marathoner, you’re probably going to want to dig deeper into things like dietary plans, speed training, or even techniques to deal with low motivation, pre-race jitters, and other issues that can come up.
Still, we want to leave you with one more critical thing to remember. While no one enjoys having to shut it down and experience a setback, you should always, always, always listen to your body. Training for a marathon is hard work, but it shouldn’t be painful.
If it is, don’t stubbornly press onward. Give your body the rest it needs, and get your injury checked out by a specialist.
If that pain is anywhere near your feet or ankles, you can always go to the Aadvanced Footcare Associates. Our podiatric team has decades of experience treating athletes of all ages and ability levels and helping them get back on their feet. To schedule, contact the office closest to you today:
- Rego Park: (718) 896-4433
- Plainview: (516) 822-9595
- Flushing: (718) 969-2266