The New York City Marathon is set for November 5, 2023. With a training start in early July, you’ll have a solid 16 weeks to prepare. 

Don’t worry if you’re new to running marathons; this timeframe offers ample opportunity for beginners to train effectively and build up their experience.

Many runners, especially those who are training for their first marathon, often question the appropriate amount of running they should do to adequately prepare for the New York City Marathon.

When it comes to training for the NYC Marathon, determining the appropriate amount of running over the 16 weeks is crucial. The key is finding a balance between building endurance and preventing muscle fatigue.

By following a comprehensive NYC Marathon training plan, you can eliminate the need to make decisions regarding the distance, timing, and pace of your long runs. These important aspects are already scheduled and outlined in the program, allowing you to focus on your training without any additional concerns.

Your longest run will vary based on factors such as your running experience, injury risk, and goal finish time.

So often, there is a perception that runners HAVE TO do a 20-mile or 30-km long run. However, marathon training plans are personalized and tailored to individual needs. For instance, an 18-mile or 30 km long run may be less challenging for a sub-3-hour marathon runner compared to a sub-5-hour marathon runner, who may require almost double the time to complete the same distance.

At Coach Parry, we focus on planning long runs based on time spent running rather than a specific distance to cover. This approach takes into account the runner’s experience and ability to handle longer distances and reinforces the point made above about faster vs. slower runners. 

Novice runners or those prone to injury may benefit from slowing down the weekly progression of the long run, i.e., having a smaller increase in time from week to week.

Now that you have a clear timeline for preparing for the New York City Marathon, let’s shift our focus to the essential training aspects you should concentrate on.

How To Prepare For The New York City Marathon

Training for the New York Marathon goes beyond simply running. It encompasses several essential elements that serve as the building blocks of your training plan.

These components are vital to your overall preparation and will contribute to your success in the marathon:

  • Easy Runs
  • Long Runs
  • High-Intensity sessions / Speed sessions
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Cross Training
  • Nutrition
  • Recovery Time 
  • Tapering

Easy Runs

A well-rounded running plan must include easy training runs because they help build weekly volume and aerobic capacity/fitness levels.

The key to easy runs is maintaining a truly relaxed and conversational pace. It’s crucial to emphasize that “easy” means truly EASY. 

You should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation with a running companion as if you were in a loud restaurant or bar throughout these runs, rather than feeling out of breath or like you’re gasping for oxygen. 

If you run on your own you should be able to burst into song without getting out of breath. If you’re anything like me and can’t sing this may be daunting but it’s a good test nonetheless!

Easy runs are primarily intended to build the aerobic system, which is essential for providing energy at the submaximal effort.

These runs give the body the chance to adapt, strengthen, and heal its muscles, tendons, and ligaments while enhancing its energy metabolism.

By running at an appropriate intensity, you strike a balance between stimulating your aerobic capacity and allowing sufficient recovery time before your next challenging workout.

It’s important to keep in mind that easy runs are generally shorter than long runs, lasting an hour and a half or less.

The speed should be quicker than your recovery run pace, even though it is much slower than your race pace.

In fact, easy runs are usually run around 5 -10 seconds per kilometer faster than recovery runs. 

It’s crucial to distinguish between easy runs and tempo or interval workouts, which require more effort and intensity.

In our video, see how adding simple runs to your training plan can have a profoundly positive impact, Why Are Easy Runs Important & Do You Need Easy Runs In Your Training?

Long Runs

Long runs have several benefits, but their main objective is to increase your endurance.

In addition to building endurance, long runs also play a crucial role in improving your running economy. 

During these runs, you train your body to become more adept at sustaining a steady pace over long distances.

This increased efficiency can translate into improved performance on race day.

Long runs also present an opportunity to test out different nutritional strategies.

This Is Why You Need To Include Long Runs In Your Training

Strength Training

To avoid injuries and enhance your running performance, you must engage in strength training.

One of the most significant benefits of strength training is that it helps prevent injuries. It does this by ensuring that smaller muscle groups are working correctly and contracting at the right time to help stabilise the body. 

When smaller muscle groups aren’t functioning correctly, larger muscles take over and lead to misaligned movement patterns, and because running is a cyclic sporting action, this continued repetitive action can result in potential injury. 

Additionally, scientific studies have shown that strength training can improve your running economy by 4%–6%, depending on your level and the type and frequency of strength training. Think of running economy as the fuel economy of your car – you want to be able to go further and faster in your car with less fuel. 

This translates to you being able to run further and more efficiently with less fuel in your body. It also helps delay the onset of fatigue. 

When it comes to incorporating strength training into your routine, it is best to conduct 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week.

While it might seem like there isn’t enough time for strength training, it is critical to make time to do so to prevent injury and enhance performance. 

Strength training must be done on a regular basis. In order to create the foundation and enhance your entire training plan, strength training and running training must be balanced.

I find, personally, that when I am not doing strength training consistently, I can still run well. But when I’ve been doing strength work for a while and then stop again, I only then really see the benefit, and I miss the effects strength training gives me.

Coach Parry’s training philosophy is built around strength training, so we give it the attention it deserves by incorporating our Strength and Conditioning plans into our all-encompassing training plans.

You may learn more about strength training and its significance by reading more about it here.

Our plan is a starting point for one session per week and can be conveniently done at home, without the need for expensive equipment. You can access the plan by clicking here.


A well-rounded training plan must include cross-training.

Cross-training enables us to engage in activities that have positive effects on our cardiovascular systems and load our muscles without subjecting them to eccentric loading, whereas running largely entails high-impact motions that put stress on our muscles.

Cross-training will help you prepare for the NYC Marathon by diversifying your routines and minimising the harm to your body. Here are some top cross-training possibilities to take into account:


Tapering is the process of lowering volume before a significant competition., in order to allow for increased recovery and get the benefit of all the training you have been doing. 

Even though it is one of the most important parts of your NYC Marathon preparation, I find athletes struggle to cut back on their training, more so from a mental perspective, as they feel they will lose fitness. 

This, of course, is not the case. (Reminder: we only get the benefit of the training we are doing while we are recovering, not while we are training.)

Tapering involves reducing the volume of training, while in some cases keeping the intensity the same. For the New York marathon, we will look to start the taper period no longer than 2 weeks out from race day which is essential for complete recovery from training and achieving peak performance.

The purpose of the taper is to maintain some training stimulus while allowing your body to refresh and maximise strength for race day.

Marathon Tapering Method GUARANTEED To Have You At Your BEST Come Race Day


A balanced diet is crucial for optimum performance when training for a marathon.

It should include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and an adequate amount of micro and macronutrients. 

But, if you struggle with fatigue and tiredness throughout the day following your morning workouts, it may be an indication that your post-workout nutrition as well as your overall daily nutrition needs adjustment.

While training naturally causes fatigue, a significant portion of it can be alleviated by enhancing your nutritional intake. We require a certain amount of calories just to survive, in order to maintain our usual bodily functions and basal metabolic rate. 

When we exercise, this requirement of calories is obviously going to increase and if we do not match our intake to our output tiredness, sleepiness, and fatigue may set in. 

After long-term low energy availability, your performance may decline, and even further than that you may start to show signs of physiological damage such as stress fractures, amenorrhea (losing menstrual cycles), and other physiological system concerns. 

For expert guidance on optimizing your marathon training nutrition plan, don’t miss the opportunity to chat with Nicki de Villiers, our highly experienced Sports Nutritionist. 

Please note that access to this service is exclusive to members of the CP Training Club. Additionally, if you’re located in Pretoria, South Africa, you can also schedule an in-person consultation with Nicki.

With a wealth of knowledge and over 20 years of experience in the field of dietetics, including a specialization in sports nutrition, Nicki is your go-to professional for enhancing your performance through proper fueling. 

Nicki has extensive experience working with elite athletes and Olympic athletes, including her affiliation with the Comrades Marathon. Her expertise in sports nutrition has benefited runners at all levels.

Recovery Time 

Many runners frequently overlook the need for rest days in any training plan. This stems from the old school “no pain-no gain” mantra. However, if you understand the physiology of exercise, you will learn that without recovery we never see the benefit in training

It is vital to realise that without proper recovery you will not properly benefit from your training. We have to stress the body (ie. exercise) to see change BUT without recovery you will continue to dig yourself into a hole and never see any benefit. Your body has the chance to adjust and progress on rest days in light of the training you have already done.

Without giving yourself enough time to recover, you not only risk not fully benefiting from your training efforts, but you put yourself at more risk of injury and increased risk of illness too

Taking the time to recover after your runs is crucial for allowing your body to adapt and improve for your next run.

Now here’s why you need to include long runs in your marathon training

The Importance Of Long Runs In Your NYC Marathon Training

The long run is super important for your marathon training. It helps you in many ways, like building up your endurance so your body can supply oxygen and energy to your muscles during the marathon. 

Doing long runs also improves your running technique, especially for longer distances. 

They prepare you mentally to be on your feet for a long time, and physically, they make your tendons, ligaments, and muscles stronger. They also help you figure out what kind of nutrition works best for you during the marathon.

When you do your long runs, it’s important to take it easy and enjoy them. They shouldn’t be about how fast you can go or how fit you are.Do not use these runs to “measure” or “test” how fit you are. Keep those tests for your time trials. You should be able to comfortably chat with your running buddy during these runs.

Running long distances increases the number of blood vessels in your muscles, which helps deliver oxygen and energy more efficiently. But there’s a point, usually between 20-23 miles (32-37 km), where running even more doesn’t give you any extra benefits. It can lead to injuries, so it’s not worth the risk.

Here are some common mistakes people make during their long runs:

Common Mistakes We See People Making When They Do Their Long Runs

  1. Running too hard: One of the biggest mistakes is pushing yourself too much during long runs. Remember, they are meant to build endurance, not to test your speed.  You are not meant to feel shattered after your long run and more importantly the next day you should be able to continue to train.
  1. Increasing mileage too quickly: It’s important to gradually increase the time of your long runs. Jumping too far too soon can increase the risk of injuries.
  1. Stopping too often: While it’s great to take walk breaks, stopping for long periods or pausing your watch can give you false data. Let your watch run to get an accurate reflection of your average pace.

It’s important to understand that not all marathon runners are the same, so their mileage will vary. What works for one runner may not work for another.

Now, let’s talk about the timing of your last long run before the NYC Marathon…

When Should Your Last Long Run Be Before The NYC Marathon?

When it comes to your longest run before the NYC Marathon, finding the right timing is essential. You want to avoid feeling overly fatigued on race day by running too close to the event, but you also want to benefit fully from your training by not doing your longest run too far in advance. 

The timing suggestion I have for you depends on your running ability and experience:

  1. Novices: If you’re new to marathon training, I recommend doing your last long run about 4 weeks before the London Marathon. This gives you ample time to recover and taper before the big day.
  2. Intermediate and advanced runners: For those with some marathon experience, it’s best to schedule your last long run around 3 weeks prior to the race. This allows for adequate recovery while maintaining your fitness level.
  3. Elite runners: If you’re among the top 5% of the field, like sub-3-hour marathoners, you may choose to adjust the timing slightly closer to race day based on your personal preferences and what works best for you.

Now that we have the timing sorted, let’s look at the pace you should aim for during your longest run.

The Role of Long Runs in NYC Marathon Training: Finding the Right Balance

At Coach Parry, we believe in finding the right balance when it comes to your longest training runs for the NYC Marathon. While they play an important role in your preparation, extremely long runs may not always be the best approach. 

Here’s why:

  1. Length And Timing:

As we’ve mentioned before, the ideal length and timing of your long run depend on factors such as your race goal and running experience. It’s crucial to tailor these aspects to meet your specific needs and abilities.

  1. Diminishing Returns And Potential Damage:

After completing your longest training run, there’s a point where the benefits start to diminish. Pushing beyond that threshold may do more harm than good, potentially compromising your training in the following weeks and even on race day itself.

Now, let’s take a look at a comparison based on Coach Parry plans, outlining the variations in the longest run leading up to the NYC Marathon based on your race goal. 

Please keep in mind that these distances may be subject to change depending on how your training progresses.

Longest Run Distances & Pacing For The London Marathon

Race Goal TimeLongest Run TimePace RangeAmount Of Weeks Before Race Day
Sub 3 Hour3:00 Hours4:25-5:10/km (7:06-8:19 min/mile)3 Weeks
Sub 3.30 Hour3:30 Hours5:15-5:50/km (8:27-9:23 min/mile)3 Weeks
Sub 4 Hour3:15 Hours5:45-6:30/km (9:15-10:28 min/mile)3 Weeks
Sub 4.30 Hour3:30 Hours6:25-7:05/km (10:20-11:24 min/mile)4 Weeks

In conclusion, we want you to understand that the mileage for the NYC Marathon is individual-dependent. No two runners will respond in the same way to the same mileage volume. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing mileage with others, but we strongly urge you not to do so.

If you have concerns about your mileage, it’s better to err on the side of caution and opt for slightly lower mileage rather than pushing yourself too hard.

While we are speaking about the last long run, I feel it’s key to mention that too many runners place too much emphasis on the importance of this ONE run. It is never ONE training run that will make or break your race day, it’s the accumulated, progressive build-up of training – day on day, week on week – that is really going to be the defining factor. 

Not your performance in this one run. So, while I like to still incorporate one last long run, just note that if something goes wrong on that day or you don’t manage to get the time in for that run you can still do well on race day. 

Follow the marathon training plan you’ve chosen, trust the process, and be aware that not all advice is created equal.

Ensure your success with 12 weeks of access to the Coach Parry NYC Marathon Training Roadmap.

This is a proven, science-based 12-week London Marathon training plan that not only outlines the daily training sessions but also specifies the appropriate pace for each session, helping you prevent injuries and ensuring you’re neither overtrained nor undertrained on race day.


Shona is the former Head of Sport Science at the High-Performance Centre, University of Pretoria. She returned from Madrid, Spain, in 2013 where she completed her MBA in Sport Management with Universidad Europea de Madrid (Real Madrid FC). Shona’s current work and interest lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) conditioning and sport science working with elite ultra-endurance athletes such as Caroline Wostmann (2015 Comrades & 2Oceans winner). Aside from football strength & conditioning, Shona’s other passion and expertise lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) as well as Women in Sport. She has competed in 4 Half IronMan distance events and three 2Oceans Ultramarathons herself. She has also worked with other elite female athletes such as London 2012 bronze medallist in canoeing, Bridgitte Hartley.

Comments are closed.