I’ve had no shame in crowdsourcing the collective wisdom of the running community to help steer me on my own path to the starting line of my first marathon. Fortunately, I am in a position where I was also able to ask some of the best marathoners in the country for some advice. Maybe some of their thoughts could help you in your next big race! Oh, and of course, I asked for predictions too.
“When you’re fit, the first few miles of the marathon will feel like you’re jogging. With all marathons, you need to be as smart as possible for as long as possible because it’s not the aerobic system that is going to max out like in most races. The limiting factor will be the pounding of the pavement and your fuel intake. Debuting at the NYC marathon seems about as hard as a balancing act can get while trying to learn the distance with one of the toughest last 10ks in the world. I think three key words; respect, humility, and patience, can help you stay centered and focused on what matters as you wait for the inevitable pain of the marathon to kick in. And I’m thinking 2:23 on the NYC course assuming you don’t start walking and that you try to consume 600-800 calories.”
—Parker Stinson, 2:10:53, US 25K record holder
“I don’t know if my one-time marathon gives much wisdom. But in your first marathon, make sure you don’t get carried away in the first 13 miles. You should be feeling good by 10k. If you feel excited and want to adjust your goal, wait until you’re 18 miles in before you begin speeding up. My prediction is 2:20:42. Fast enough that you’ll be confident to hit the OTQ on a fast course with some minor adjustments.”
—Conner Mantz, 2:08:16, second-fastest debut by an American man
(Kyle Note: Two months ago Conner said 2:23 to 2:27 so I’ve won him over.)
“I’d say I still have a lot to learn about the marathon but for NYC/general wisdom: it goes by faster than you think! The hardest part is you may find yourself alone if you are stuck between packs, so call on any solo tempos or long runs to get you through. Just focus bottle to bottle (it breaks up the race because, yay snacks!). Hang tough on the Queensboro mountain and well done on choosing the best marathon in the world for your experience! I don’t know enough for a time prediction, but I think you will get the trials Q and I stand by the idea that NYC is a slow course by 2-3 mins!”
—Molly Huddle, 2:26:33, 3rd at her debut at the New York City Marathon, 28x US Champ
“If I learned anything about marathons from sitting on Ruth Chepng’etich for 2 hours and 14 minutes at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, it’s that if you want to run a fast marathon, you gotta really go for it.
So Kyle, in your debut marathon at the TCS New York City Marathon (in which I’ve publicly made MY goal to beat YOUR time), my advice for you is if you reaaaalllllllly want it, you gotta Ruth it. Throw away your perception of a conservative, negative split marathon. I suggest you THRIVE in the first half and SURVIVE the second half. Marathoning 101, bro. Throw caution to the wind and let the NYC Bridges and the energetic crowds pull you through the last 10 miles. They won’t let you down.
OK, but seriously…Know what you are going to stubbornly and relentlessly tell yourself when your legs get heavy and your mind is tired. And what you will say is, “if I slow down, Keira is such a pompous winner, she will never let me live this down. So I’m gonna put the ‘hammer’ in ‘hammer time’ and never surrender.”
Nitty-gritty reminders: make sure to get in the carbs (food and liquid version) and electrolytes in the days leading into the race. Fuel in the race before you need to, easier to front load. Be conservative. Be patient. The race within the race starts at mile 20. Set yourself up to have something in the tank come mile 20.
Time prediction: 2:19:12”
— Keira D’Amato, 2:19:12, Second fastest American ever
“The biggest thing is staying controlled and trusting your training. There will be without a doubt a time you feel better than you thought you would and times you feel worse. However, as long as you’ve prepared well, the true battle will just be the one with yourself. Also, given my current information, I will play it safe and predict you will finish.
(15 minutes later)
Just saw some workouts you posted. Never mind! I am going with 2:15:37!”
— Nathan Martin, 2:11:05, 8th at the New York City Marathon in 2021
“Some advice…Get a world record bonus in your contract beforehand — just in case. And halfway is at 20 miles.”
— Jared Ward, 2:09:25, 6th at the 2016 Olympics
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