Here are a few top tips from a local who’s clocked 2:15:05 on the bridge-heavy five borough course.
Written by: Sabrina Grotewold
Olympian John Henwood of New Zealand lives, trains and coaches runners in New York City. He finished 15th at the 2005 ING New York City Marathon and 21st in 2008. While he coaches athletes—from running to strength training—with a variety of abilities, he’s coached several sub-3:00 NYC marathon runners and Olympic Marathon Trials qualifiers. His running team, Henwood’s Hounds, are currently ranked fifth in the 2011 New York Road Runners club points standings in the open women’s category.
If you’re gunning for a personal best at this year’s ING New York City Marathon, here’s some advice from a local who’s clocked 2:15:05 on the bridge-heavy five borough course. Here are coach Henwood’s tips:
- Complete your final workout seven to 10 days before the race. Henwood’s favorite workout: 3 minutes at 10K race pace, 2 minutes recovery at normal running pace; repeat eight times.
- In the seven to 10 days leading up to the event, run relaxed and easy to return the “bounce” to the legs. If you’re feeling antsy, Henwood may prescribe 10 minutes of 100-meter strides during race week.
- Have a fueling strategy before the start. Learn where the fuel and fluid stations are along the course—they’re printed prominently on the course map. “Consistent fluid stops of water, Gatorade and GU (or another gel) are important to run a PR,” coach Henwood advises.
- Dress appropriately for the weather. It’s preferable to be too warm rather than too cold—dress in layers and bring throwaway clothes. The winds can really whip around in the start area at Fort Wadsworth and while you’re waiting in the corrals on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
- When you arrive at the start, sit down and keep your legs at rest until 40 minutes prior to moving to the start line.
- Henwood’s suggested race day warm-up: 10-12 minutes of easy jogging followed by three or four 70-meter strides at race pace, then stretching, to be completed 40 minutes prior to moving to the start line.
- Plan to run an evenly paced race. “I try to get runners to run an even pace throughout the whole marathon,” Henwood says. “It’s a very hard marathon [course] to negative split.”
Notes on the course:
“The first mile is mostly uphill, so runners need to take it very relaxed during the first mile, as their adrenaline could get the better of them. You don’t want to use up too much energy in mile 1. Also, be aware that coming off the Queensboro Bridge can be tricky. The crowds are going crazy and runners can easily get carried away, thinking they’re the six million dollar man on the downhill part of the bridge. Use the energy of the crowds to flow downhill. Save your energy for the Bronx and for running along 5th Avenue when you’re back in Manhattan. You’ll need it!”