nyc marathon

10 Tips For the NYC Marathon

10 tips for the NYC Marathon

I’ve been fortunate to run the NYC marathon on a couple of occasions.

Marathon weekend has such a special energy in the city, it’s hard to believe how amazing the support and atmosphere is.

I thought I’d share my top tips for running the NYC marathon below.

Have a great run and please let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

  1. Ride the ferry to Staten Island and enjoy the views of downtown Manhattan. But get there half an hour earlier than your scheduled time. It is REALLY busy and you're better off getting over a little earlier than stressing over missing your start time. Once you get to Staten Island, be prepared for a bit of a wait for the bus. 

  2. Run with a pacing group if possible. If you know your average pace and a time you're going for, it makes sense to run with a pacing group. These are led by experienced runners and leave you mentally more free to enjoy the experience. 

  3. If you're traveling from overseas, ideally arrive into New York on Thursday evening. That gives you Friday to explore the expo and Saturday to freshen your legs in preparation for Sunday's run. Arriving any earlier will mean standing and walking around more in NYC, which subtlety drains the energy out of your legs, leaving you ill-prepared for race day.

  4. If you've trained with music and headphones, take them with you on race day. 42.2km is a long way. The crowd and atmosphere will definitely inspire you like nothing else. But there are some quieter sections (e.g. Queensborough bride) where a shot of your favorite cheesy motivational music helps you stay focused and get the job done. 

  5. Do lots of hill training. While the course is mostly flat, the bridges can sap your energy and strength. Ideally, get in one session per week of hills to build the strength and capacity in your legs.  If you can manage this, race day will be a breeze.

  6. Don't worry about which level of the bridge you start on. Still the same views. And no you don't need to worry about waterfalls of  urine if you're in the lower level. 

  7. Prepare a mantra for when the going gets tough.

    My favourites are: “1000% positive”, “Pain is temporary, glory is forever” and “Wounded But Not Conquered”

  8. Do some training runs that mimic the later start time. Try and get your body used to running late morning through to mid afternoon. And do some runs where it is crowded and you have to learn to dodge around people. With 50,000 runners from all around the world, this is a skill you need to practice! 

  9. Write your name on your shirt. When you need an extra shot of energy, move over close to the crowd and the New Yorkers will inspire you with their energy and enthusiasm.

  10. The day after the marathon, stumble to Tavern On The Green to collect your copy of the New York Times. Find your name and get your medal engraved with your time. 


NYC Marathon In Review

Thursday 2nd November 2017


Up at 3:30am to get on a 6am Qantas flight from Adelaide to Sydney.  Thank-you Mum for dropping me at the airport!  Flew Adelaide - Sydney - LA - JFK.  Sat next to a guy from Sydney who was also running the NYC marathon.  It seemed like half the plane was traveling over for the marathon (technically there were 1006 Aussies running). 

On the plane, had the chance re-read the George Sheehan classic, 'Running and Being'.  Written by a cardiologist, runner and writer his approach to writing and running always inspires. 

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Landed into JFK and collected my bags.  Waiting along side Hawthorn great (now Brisbane Lion) Luke Hodge who was also there to run the marathon.  (He did a very decent time of 3:21 by the way).

Friday 3rd November

Had dinner with friends Luke and Marie last night. It was a nice feeling being back in NYC and seeing some familiar faces.

Headed to the expo at the Javits Centre.  Was super impressed by the organisation and speed of number pick-up considering how many people were going through. 

Adelaide to New York...only a 20 hour plane ride away!

Adelaide to New York...only a 20 hour plane ride away!

Met a lady who was running the marathon for the fifth time.  Her secret was to consume a beer at the 32km mark.  She thought that was the absolute key to finishing strong - with a good combo of carbohydrates, electrolytes and alcohol to numb the pain.  I will have to try that next time.

After the expo, I headed over to my old gym, the New York Health & Racquet club on 56th street.  Ran three kilometers on the treadmill. Ran a couple of kilometers on the treadmill and then went for a swim, stretch and massage on the foam roller.  Unwinding the residual tightness from the flight. 

A quick lunch at Starbucks and then headed over to Central Park to hear Dean Karinazes speak about his ultra-marathons.  His main advice for the marathon - take it easy in the first half and come home strong.

Saturday 4th November

Went to the NYRR in the morning to hear the world champion runners speak and about their careers and NYC marathon strategy. 

Running Royalty...from left Haile Gebrselassie, Paula Radcliffe, Bill Rodgers, German Silva and Ryan Hall

Running Royalty...from left Haile Gebrselassie, Paula Radcliffe, Bill Rodgers, German Silva and Ryan Hall

There were many pearls of wisdom, but Paula Radcliffe's advice particularly stood out:

Run the first third of the marathon with your head, second third with your legs and the final with your heart


After listening to the runners, I  dropped my bag off at Orthology, located a stone's throw from the finish line at Columbus Circle.   Had a quick run in Central Park to stretch the legs out one last time. 

Then spent the afternoon with the feet up and watching the running documentary, Breaking 2.

Inspirational watching these guys run and put everything on the line.  I won't wreck the ending if you haven't already seen it, but just to say, if you haven't yet seen it, please do. 

Cooked up some pasta for dinner and tried to have an early night.

Race Day - Sunday 5th November

Didn't sleep too well, as you'd expect.  Woke at 2am and didn't really get back to sleep.  Got up at 4:45am and had a quick breakfast of toast and cereal and then walked over to the 72nd St subway station to get the 1 train down to South Ferry. 

Got on board the 6:30am ferry to Staten Island and then a bus over to the start line. 

Passed the first test - getting over to Staten Island in one piece. Even had time for half a bagel and cup of tea

Passed the first test - getting over to Staten Island in one piece. Even had time for half a bagel and cup of tea

I was in wave 2 that started at 10:15am, so I had a few minutes to do some final preparation - ensuring my laces were down up properly, taping my knees, doing a few hip openers, applying some sunscreen and preparing my gels and snacks in my flip belt for easy access.

A few deep breaths and then we were called up to the start line.  

This is the moment of truth and before every race I always feel a lot of gratitude, just to make it to the starting line.  It's a nice chance to reflect on your journey, the many small battles won and the abundant learning experiences training for a marathon provides.  And most importantly, very grateful to all of the people that helped me along the way. 

The weather was close to perfect - about 14 degrees with heavy cloud cover and a few light showers in the forecast, although I would have liked it a little colder.

I decided to run with the 3:40 pacer and that allowed me to run on top of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.  After the gun went off to signal the start, we hear Frank Sinatra's song New York, New York playing out across the bridge. 

My goal during the race was to stick with the 3:40 group as long as possible.  Runners, like cyclists, can benefit from a drafting effect.  The person running in front of you buffers you from the wind and you save precious energy.  There were probably about 20 people in the group.

As I did most of my long training runs on my own, running in a big group is so much easier psychologically.  It is almost like being carried through the streets in a big comfy lounge chair.  You just have to be careful of potholes and obstacles on the course that come up quickly due to your lack of peripheral vision.  

The best thing about running with a pacer is that they know the course inside out and know when to push and when to take it easy. 

Mentally that frees you up big time so you can then pay attention to what's going on in your body.  The main metric that I tracked on my GPS watch was cadence.  I was trying to maintain 175-180 as much as possible. 

When I started feeling a bit tired or sluggish, I noticed my cadence had dropped to 165-170 and by increasing by 5-10% it would immediately ease the pressure on my legs.

It's one of the ironic things about running that I'm still trying to get my head around. 

Intuitively, you'd think to run faster you need to step out with a bigger stride.  But the opposite is true - higher cadence, turning your legs over more quickly with a forwards lean actually makes you go faster, (with better efficiency). 

Running with the pacing group was also beneficial because you didn't have to constantly check times and pace so you could enjoy the spectacle that is the NYC marathon!

For me, the NYC race is all about the people

The way New Yorkers get behind the marathon is second to none.  They 100% have your back on race day.  If you are showing even the slightest bit of struggle they will go out of their way to yell your name and put a fire in your belly.  The day after the marathon, again many people go out of their way to congratulate you on finishing.

Anyway, back to the race.  

The first mile is up and down the Verrazano-Narrows bridge and after that, it's a pretty flat run through Brooklyn and up through Queens. 

Things went well early on and I was enjoying the feeling of running and seeing the miles tick by quite quickly and reasonably enjoyably. 

At the first 5km checkpoint, I ate a banana and then from there, every 5km a Winners gel (30g of carbohydrate) along with one Allens lolly snake and either a gulp full of water or Gatorade. 

At around 12km, I felt the early inklings of some leg cramps, so I downed the salty pickle juice that my nutritionist had recommended.  That seemed to help calm the legs over the next 10km. 

By the 25km mark I was holding pretty strong as we ran up the Queensborough bridge - the second steepest part of the race.  There were lots of people slowing down and feeling the burn...and I was one of them.  Managed to lose contact with Paul, the 3:40 pacer. 

At the top of the bridge, I was pushing close to my limit and was around 300m behind the pacer. 

On the downhill I picked up the pace and latched back onto him as we were greeted with a  massively cheering crowd on 1st avenue in Manhattan.  

From there, it was a long, straight stretch up to the Bronx.  This was a hard part of the race where the reality of running a marathon really kicks in.  The race really goes up a notch as the intensity from the crowd ramps up.  Trying to keep up with Paul the pacer was tough as I think he picked up the pace a bit too.  Thankfully he did the difficult job of weaving around people and making a path and I was close on his heels.

Over the Willis Ave bridge (that connects Manhattan to the Bronx), at about 31km, my legs had enough and I could feel a full blown cramp not too far off.  It was mainly in the back of legs in the hamstrings, but the quads weren't too far off either.   My legs were pretty cooked after chasing the pacer down the bridge and the glycogen stores were running low.  I slowed right down to a walk for about a minute and then once over the bridge and started shuffling again.  Thank-fully the walk freshened up the legs and I started feeling better.

In 2015 I also suffered from cramps and so this time, I carried some salt packets, with me.  The sodium helps replace the loss from your sweat.  I went through the packets pretty quickly and thankfully, the first aid stations were also handing them out and I found these really gave me a few more kilometres of cramp-free running. 

Made it through the Bronx and then back over into Harlem and finally made it up 5th Avenue which is long slow uphill.  Getting over that and then a few nice downhills in Central Park, although I was slowing right down by then and doing a walk / run combo. 

Finally, over to Colombus Circle and up to 67th street Central Park, crossing the finish line in a time of 3:46:50. 

Really happy, relieved and actually quite shocked by the time...easily beating my goal of under four hours!

Just after crossing the finish line...

Just after crossing the finish line...

Slow walk up Central Park West

Slow walk up Central Park West

After party at Orthology with Sophia and Jun

After party at Orthology with Sophia and Jun

Monday 6th November

Walked over to the morning at the Marathon Pavillion, getting my medal engraved and some more foam rolling and stretching out.  Then over back over to the NYRR to watch a replay of the marathon.  Didn't feel too bad, all things considered.  As the day progressed, the delayed onset muscles soreness crept in, in particular the quads...damn subway stairs!

Stretching out in a sea of foam rollers and therabands the day after the marathon. Thanks to the Physios at the Hospital For Special Surgery

Stretching out in a sea of foam rollers and therabands the day after the marathon. Thanks to the Physios at the Hospital For Special Surgery

My Biggest Struggle

I don't think anyone is every 100% fit before a marathon. 

There are always niggles and you try and manage the best way you can. 

For me, my left knee was the major concern. 

An old football injury nearly 20 years ago resulted in a torn medial meniscus and degeneration.  I had an MRI done a few months before the marathon and it didn't look great. 

I must admit that deflated me a bit. 

Obviously I was wary of any aggravating the pain and potentially causing more damage to the knee.  But I also found that the more running I did, the better the knee felt. 

What really helped was making a list with two categories - modifiable and non-modifiable contributing factors to knee pain:

Non-modifiable Risk Factors

  • Structural pathology - damage already down to the mensicus

  • Genetics

  • Age

Modifiable Risk Factors

  • Load management

  • Running technique

  • Recovery strategies

  • Food / diet

  • Strength / Flexibility

  • Weight

  • Movement habits

Accepting that my knee was not 100% and never will be allowed me to focus on ensuring the rest of the foundation was as optimal as possible.

Reflecting back over the past few months, I came up with a few other things that I think helped me achieve my marathon goal:


Capacity vs Demand

Build capacity in a developmental sequence, allowing plenty of time at each stage for adaptation to occur.  Running is a high load activity e.g. running 10km is 10,000 steps at 3 x body weight.  All that force has to go somewhere. 



  • Nutrition advice from Steph Gaskell at Nutrition Strategies in particular ensuring intake of 20g protein x 3-4 spread throughout the day, rather than all at dinner time.

  • Daily foam roller + tennis ball release (great techniques learnt thanks to Yoga with Jem)

  • Restorative Yoga with Evelyn at Yogita

  • Pilates x 1 week

  • Regular ice baths

Got A Running Coach

Thanks to Sam Hicks who really helped me with strength training and building a road map towards my goal.  He had me do some quality runs in the last few weeks before the marathon that really helped prime my body for race day. 

More Running, Less Hills

Previously I did too much Mt Lofty.   Running up there x 2 week was good for the cardio-vascular fitness at the expense of my hip flexors getting really tight.  This time I trained hills x 1 per week but they were short sharp repeats that allowed more time for the longer runs.

Flip belt

This was a life saver - carrying my gels, lollies etc in a comfortable position around my waist.  I would recommend you try this in all of your long runs as it took a little bit of getting used to.

Music During The Marathon


In 2015 I wanted to experience the full vibe of NYC and didn't wear head phones. 

This time I took my phone and at around the half way point (as soon as I was starting to struggle) put on the NYC playlist. 

I found this was a REALLY good way to re-focus. 

Even though the crowd is amazing, it's sometimes nice to get back in your own space for a few minutes. 

You can check and out my cheesy motivational Playlist here


In Summary

NYC marathon was an incredibly fun and inspiring experience - it's definitely a 'bucket list' thing to do.  I can say the process and learning journey building up to the marathon  was just as satisfying as the race itself.  

If you ever get the opportunity to run the NYC marathon, I'd highly recommend you take it!

Why I Decided To Run The New York Marathon Again


In 2015 I experienced my first marathon in New York City. 

I managed to achieve my goal...that was to survive to the finish line at 42.2km.

It was a surreal experience running through the 5 boroughs of NYC. 

The energy from the crowd, the comradery running along side runners from 90 different countries and the finish line in Central Park was incredible.

But after the race I was really sore. 

Those post-race subways stairs were an absolute killer...for days afterwards.

I vowed that marathons weren't made for me. 

Although I did want to do another one...someday.

If I was to do it again, I wanted to run it properly in a somewhat respectable time.

Getting in

So when an opportunity presented itself to head back to New York to run the marathon in 2017, I wasn't quite sure what to do. 

Running a marathon could be seen as overly taxing on your body

That is definitely true if you are under prepared. 

In 2015, I was coming off a really low base and that limited my enjoyment of the marathon, having to walk a lot of the second half due to cramps and muscle/joint overload. 

So this year I've had the chance to build a more substantial base and take the slow and steady route to the the peak.

Getting Mentally Prepared

I was reading an article that listed several psychological strategies to help overcome then mental barriers during the marathon. 

One of the them was 'find your why' and repeat it to yourself when the going gets tough. 

So I sat down and compiled a list of the top 7 reasons why I wanted to run the NYC marathon again.


7 Reasons I'm Running New York Again

1.  For My Daughter

To show her that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and don't let any limitations get in your way. 

2.  For My Patients

To demonstrate that you can do anything, including running a marathon despite being diagnosed with things like torn meniscus, FAI hips, labral tears, lumbar disc bulge/tear, plantar fasciitis e.t.c.

I am the proof that this is true!

With a good physical foundation and plenty of quality recovery, you can do anything you set your mind to. 

Of course, you will get knocked down - spiritually, physically and emotionally at times throughout your life.  Whatever issues you face, there are people out there ready to help guide you towards your goal.

Keep going and most importantly, use the pain as fuel on the fire of self-transformation. 

“Fall down seven times and get up eight”- Japanese saying

3.  To Learn More About The Human Body

Running helps keep me in touch with what's going on in my body. 

Long runs become a form of mindfulness meditation and a great chance for reflection.

Being aware of what comes up.  Then either accept it or learn to problem solve it. 

Running has a way of placing a spotlight on your weaknesses. 

If you want to test your physical foundation, go for a 20km run and see what sort of pain you feel.  That is a good indication of what might be happening in your body and where you can improve on. 

Using a 'Growth Mindset', you take your weaknesses, failures and frustrations and turn them into strengths.   As long as you're patient and not in a hurry, you can use this to your advantage.

For me personally, running a marathon is a really difficult mountain to climb.  I'm by no means a 'natural' runner.  It is a skill that has taken many years to optimise (with plenty of room for improvement).

I think from an evolutionary perspective, running is the end product of many small movement foundation steps.  It's almost like a computer game, you have to 'complete' each level before moving onto the next. 

Running the marathon successfully provides a positive confirmation that you've achieved an adequate base of function e.g. core stability, leg strength, flexibility, endurance,  breathing and recovery.

Proactively creating a stronger and more resilient body as it adapts to appropriately applied stress is deeply satisfying. 



4.  To Make Me Accountable

I have a form inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects my hips and lower back.  As my body reacts adversely to any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the main form of treatment is exercise and movement. 

If I'm not moving at least one hour per day, I tend to get very stiff, sore and fatigued.

Signing up for the marathon has made me really accountable on a daily basis.  Not just for the movement side of things but also what I eat. 

As the training runs got longer, my body seemed to respond better to the long runs. 

Overall, I'd say I'm much healthier now, than before I started the training for the marathon earlier in the year.

5.  To Learn To Become Friends With Pain

Pushing your body to the limit on three hour training runs gets you face to face with pain and it's interesting to know how you react to it. 

Practicing breathing, relaxation and staying calm in times of stress helps build the neural pathways that support your healing and recovery in many other aspects of your life.


6.  NYC Marathon Is Full Of Positive Energy

There is a lot negativity in the world and it's easy to get caught up in it. 

There's a saying, if you ever doubt the goodness of humanity, go and stand at the finish line of a marathon.  There you will see some of the best in human spirit, encouragement and celebration.

The connections you make with people through the marathon are inspiring, to say the least. 

Everyone has a comeback story and it's great to connect with and hear people's journey. 

It really brings people together in such an empowering way.

7.  To Test My Theories On Running

In my work as a Physio I give out a lot of advice to runners and also teach workshops on how to improve and optimise the running experience.

So it's always a good opportunity to put into practice what I teach and make sure it works and in the process, hopefully making me a better Physio and do a better job of helping you with your running.  

It's been fun to use myself as a guinea pig, studying a lot of research and finding out what works and what doesn't at the coal face. 

I have learned lots, in theory and practice, and happy report that everything holds up and I can't wait to pass this knowledge on to you.

If you're interested in running a half-marathon or marathon I'd love to help guide you along the way, just shoot me an email

Over to you...

What is your reasons for running a marathon?  I'd love to hear in the comments below.