With just days to go before the 2022 New York City marathon, we spoke to Molly Seidel, Olympic bronze medallist from Tokyo 2022 and holder of the fastest time by an American woman on the New York City course, to get her top tips any runner can benefit from.
1. Stick To Your Pre-Race Routine
Having a good routine is almost like a ritual. I’m not necessarily superstitious, but I think that you get a lot of confidence from having a go-to routine before races and working through it. For me, I know that an hour out I’m going to do a quick one-mile warm-up, then I’m going to do my exercises, and then I’m going to eat a little bit of a gel at a certain time. I can put my brain on autopilot and go through what I know works for me. It really can help take some of those nerves away.
2. Don’t Stress About External Factors
What I’ve found doing races all over the world, in all different conditions, is that you can’t necessarily control what’s going on around you. You can’t control the schedules, you can’t control other people, but if you can get to a place in your mind where you’re feeling calm and confident in what you’re doing, that’s 99% of the battle right there.
3. Don’t Worry About The Weather
You can’t control the weather either! I’ve never looked at the weather forecast before my races because I don’t find that it changes my race plan all that much. You are going to be running anyway, whether it's 90°F or 40°. Of course if it’s super-hot like it was in Tokyo then you might change the pace you go out at, but otherwise, thinking too much about it and wondering what it’s going to be like isn’t very helpful. Sometimes you’ve just got to go and do it!
4. Respect The Course
With my depth of experience – my one New York marathon! – I would have to say it is a difficult course, but I don’t think that should make you worried. Adjusting your pace based on New York’s course is very important, but you will definitely rise to the challenge.
5. Don’t Go Off Too Fast
You start going over the Verrazzano Bridge which is really long. It’s a long uphill and then a long downhill. It’s very easy with a big race like New York to get so caught up in the energy of the start and go off too fast, but always remember there’s a lot of race ahead of you.
6. The Race Starts At Mile 16
The best piece of advice that I got before I ran New York was from my Team USA team-mate Sally Kipyego, who had come second at the race several years before. She kept telling me, “The race does not start until mile 16. Be conservative until then and you’ll have something left in the tank.” That was great advice.
7. Be Prepared For Quiet Spots
When you cross into Manhattan on the Queensboro Bridge, you go from all of the excitement and noise of the boroughs you’ve been through on to the bridge, and all of a sudden it’s like you could hear a pin drop. It’s actually a little bit weird and almost like a sensory deprivation thing. Just be prepared for that.
8. Surf The Crowd
Coming off the Queensboro Bridge is the wildest experience. You turn off the bridge and hit First Avenue and there are more people than you’ve ever seen in your life, all the way down, just cheering for you. It’s such a cool feeling. New York is known for its crowds, so use the crowds – use that energy, use that electricity.
9. The Crux Of The Course
Those final miles are always going to be the most difficult: coming through Harlem, up Fifth Avenue and through the park. There are a ton of people cheering you, but it is a steady incline. It is going to be difficult coming up that, then into Central Park with a few rolling hills and a slight uphill to the finish. But I think if you can make it past that long uphill on Fifth before you get into the park, you’ve made it past the most difficult part – then you can do anything.
10. Enjoy It
Running, in my unbiased opinion, is the best sport in the world. It’s the great equaliser – everyone can go out and do the race in their own way. This is a sport for everybody. Go enjoy it!
Seidel was speaking around the launch of the Michelob ULTRA Run Fund which has the goal of reaching 50% representation of female and non-binary runners in marathons, in part by by covering race fees and providing training to first-time marathon runners.
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Kate Carter is an experienced writer and editor, as well as a dedicated runner. Kate worked at The Guardian for 12 years, establishing and running the successful Running Blog. She contributed to Coach magazine between 2015 and 2016, and has also written for World Athletics, Runners World and Women & Home, among others. Kate has also worked as a presenter on The Running Channel. Kate holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a full-body animal costume (female), having run the 2019 London Marathon in 3hr 48min 32sec dressed as a panda.