My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Date: July 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 45

Happy Monday and Happy 16 Weeks Until the New York City Marathon!

Today officially kicks off New York City Marathon training for me. I like a 16-week plan because it’s not too long, but it still allows room for a little flexibility. I haven’t run a marathon in almost two years (I ran NYC in 2014, then took a break from the 26.2-mile distance last year), and I think maybe that’s a good thing. My body doesn’t quite remember the pain the marathon can inflict, and I’m excited to increase my mileage and feel that post-long run excitement, exhaustion, pride, and hunger.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Post-long run scene. Everyone was sleepy. I was wearing a towel.

Since this was once a running blog, I’m thinking about doing weekly training recaps here. I’ve never done these, but I think it’ll be nice to reflect on my progress each week, and I enjoy reading other peoples’ recaps. So if you’re into that, cool! If not, I’ll probably post them on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, so go ahead and proceed directly to Fridays With Ellie.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Ice cream date with my best girl! And Brian was there, too.

I won’t make a more specific race plan or time goal until much later in the training game, but I do already know that I want to go sub-3:50. My marathon PR is from 2012, when I ran the Manchester City Marathon in 3:51:20. I’d like to break that — and then some — and I think I can do it. I want to do it. So right now, my goal is 3:49:59, but hopefully with a few months of training, I can either be more ambitious or more realistic or somewhere in between.

This will be my sixth marathon, and I’m in a place where I feel comfortable with my knowledge of running and training, but also want a rough guide and something to keep me accountable and in line. So I’m using New York Road Runners’ Virtual Trainer as a template, but I plan to tweak it a little. My weekly schedule will look something like this…

Monday: Rest or yoga

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Handstand practice thwarted by a certain four-legged friend.

Tuesday: Track Tuesday! Interval work on the track or the Bridle Path. Friends make you faster!

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

The Track Tuesday crew!

Wednesday: Easy run or November Project

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Row, row, row your boat. Or something. I don’t remember.

Thursday: Tempo Thursday! I haven’t done a tempo run in, oh, years? I need to get comfortable doing longer speed workouts (as opposed to just doing 400m repeats on the track), and this will be my scary, time-to-get-uncomfortable day. I’ll also probably work some hills in on these days. (So one week I’ll do a tempo, the next week a hill workout.)

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

We call ourselves “accountaHILLabuddies.” Because we keep each other accountable…when it comes to running hills.

Friday: Bike, yoga, spin, or rest — whatever cross-training method I’m feeling, or a pre-long run rest day. This also gives me a play day to try new classes or keep riding my bike, which I’ve been pretty into lately.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

After a 72-mile ride with Brian. My legs were tired, my back was sunburned, certain other parts were feeling very broken.

Saturday: Long run

Sunday: Bike, spin, yoga, or rest

I want to get to the gym to lift and do core stuff twice per week — probably on Tuesdays and Thursdays, since those are already hard workout days, and then I can truly recover on my easier days.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan


Beyond the training plan and the time goal, I have a few other goals for marathon training this year.

1. Mix up my long runs.

My friend Emily has a rule during training: No two long run routes are the same. In the past, I’ve done almost all of my long runs rounding loops of Central Park. And I don’t hate that, because I love the park and all of its familiar faces every weekend. But now that I’m in a new area, I want to explore it more by foot. So instead of always running south along the water and back (as I’ve been doing), I want to explore the Long Path up in the Palisades, I want to run up and over the George Washington Bridge and into Manhattan, and I want to incorporate workouts and fast finishes into my long runs. I’m a creature of habit, but I want to keep my weekend adventures exciting.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

This is Emily. I am always chasing her.

2. Stay strong!

Well, get strong first. Then stay strong. The only injuries or minor aches and pains I’ve ever had have been the result of overuse or muscle imbalances and weaknesses. (Dead Butt Syndrome is no joke.) Squats, push-ups, planks, and all that jazz.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

“Guys, if I do this, does it look like I’m planking on the water?!” “No.”

3. Be smart.

If something hurts, rest. A 16-week plan means I have time to work through aches and pains, and I can take extra days off as needed. Easy enough, right?

4. Eat better.

Effective immediately! I was doing well, and then this weekend hit and now I can’t remember the last time I ate a vegetable. Again, easy enough. I don’t want to feel bloated and wishing I’d focused more on my diet come race morning.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

If you’re in NYC, proceed immediately to Gotan and get the tuna salad.

5. Let it hurt. 

Not like injury hurt. But let the workouts hurt a little. That’s how you get harder, better, faster, stronger.

6. Run with friends more often. 

RSVP below.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan

Fast friends = faster race times. It’s math. And science.

As for the watch…

I’ve loved running and racing without a GPS watch this year, and I think it would be silly to abandon a strategy that seems to be working well. But I also need to keep track of my weekend mileage on long runs, and running my Strava app for three hours straight will drain my phone battery and use up my entire data plan in just one day. So I might bring back my watch for long runs and some workouts. I’m still sort of undecided. I don’t want to get too attached to it.

My New York City Marathon Training Plan


OK, New York City Marathon! Let’s do this!

ANYONE ELSE ENTERING MARATHON TRAINING MODE? First marathon? Fifteenth marathon? First New York City Marathon? Share share!

Comments (45)

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