Whippet Wisdom: Tips from the Coaches: NYC Marathon Mental Preparation

The very first Wisdom piece back in late July discussed race strategy for Team Champs – course specifics on navigating turns, hills, tangents, etc. For the next week-and-a-half, think about your NYC Marathon race strategy during the easy miles of your recovery runs/ easy bike rides/ stretch and foam rolling sessions/ riding on the subway to work, etc.  Saturday’s Manhattan run will feature the final 10 miles of the course which provides an added benefit to this race strategy implementation.  As we said back in July, you can only achieve success if you envision success.

The NYC Marathon is a much longer course with its own nuances so rather than focus on a mile-by-mile planning, think about the race in the bigger sections.  One suggestion is to break up the race into eight 5K segments instead of 26 individual miles. While not equidistant segments, these may be helpful as well: Verrazano Bridge, long straightaway of 4th Ave Brooklyn, Atlantic Terminal/ North Brooklyn, Queens/ Queensborough Bridge, long straightaway of 1st Ave Manhattan, solitude of the Bronx (except for the Whippets cheering station!), 5th Ave Manhattan, Central Park/ the finish.

Follow this link and search for “NYC Marathon Pace Sheet” which is a suggested tool for calculating splits.  The calculator does not simply take your finish time and divide it evenly but takes into account the NYC Marathon course to provide mile-by-mile, 5K, half marathon and other important splits.  Some folks create wristbands using this information which may be helpful to remember come race day.

As for goal finish time, go into the race with three goals: good, better, best.  “Good” represents a time which you feel confident in achieving based on your training. “Better” is a time which begs you to come for it; while the time is not easily achieved and will take some work.  “Best” is a stretch time which might only happen under perfect conditions but still possible.  For most people, I recommend these times be no more than 10-15 minutes apart.  For example, good of 3:40, better of 3:35, best of 3:30.  While the difference does not seem like much, we all know that 5 minutes is eternity in a marathon so, while the range is large, it is reasonable.  Each of these times should be plugged into the calculator so you are mentally prepared when you see those times at the given checkpoints.

To help your chances of success on race day, it’s best to find a partner or two.  We created this google doc survey to fill out your race day goals.  This survey will be published late next week with the idea of finding someone in your wave and in/ nearby corral to run with in the first part of the race and people to look for as the race progresses.

As always, we’re here to help so let us know if you have any questions.  Have a great weekend!

More about Matt

Matt is one of the co-founders of the Dashing Whippets with Rich.

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