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NYC Marathon: Our Top Tips for Success on Race Day

The first Sunday of November is a special day in New York City: 50,000+ runners will start the biggest marathon in the world and 2 million spectators will cheer them onto the finish.

At Urban Wellness clinic, we have helped hundreds of runners, from novice to elite, stay healthy and strong before, during, and after their races.

Whether this is your first marathon or tenth, here are our top tips for race success:


1. Stretching it out: The consensus is unclear on when to stretch…before, after, or both? No matter what the naysayers may say, in our experience, a good stretching AND strengthening routine before and after a run helps you stay limber and less prone to injury. Here’s our signature warm up for you:


2. Foam rolling: When you don’t have time to get a massage, turn to your next best friend: your travel foam roller. Taking 10-15 minutes a day to foam roll your legs after your run pushes any swelling or inflammation out to be processed by the lymphatic system. Try this routine – don’t rush, and pause on those tender spots.

3. Active Release Technique (ART): As you log those miles in the lead-up, different aches and pains are bound to crop up. Be smart about how you deal with them. An Active Release Technique treatment at Urban Wellness Clinic can make this a reality. We assess injured tissue and break up any adhesions to revitalize circulation and movement. We have successfully treated many elite runners, so you’re in great hands.


4. Post-run ice baths: One effective way of minimizing the post-run soreness is an ice bath. Cold constricts blood vessels, flushes out waste, lowers metabolic activity, and reduces the swelling and breakdown of tissue. Go for 50-59 degrees, for 10-20 minutes.

5. Cryotherapy: The problem with ice baths is that the cold you experience in them is an unrelenting, penetrating physical cold and you need to stay in for around 10-20 minutes for it to work. With whole-body Cryotherapy, the body is exposed to extremely low temperatures of up to -150°c for only 3 minutes. Cryotherapy will help improve your running performance and the experience will make you feel fantastic. The additional rush of ‘feel good’ endorphins helps combat the effects of fatigue leaving you feeling refreshed and exhilarated.

6. Compression therapy: a compression device (like the one we use at the clinic, Normatec) utilizes compressed air to massage a person’s limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed up recovery time. The recovery compression boots begin compressing around the feet. The massage pattern moves along the leg segment-by-segment massaging the limb and forcing fluid out of the extremity.


7. Strong first: Strength training is an important piece of any runner’s workout as it bulletproofs the body and making you less likely to injure yourself. Running is so linear that the body compensates with certain patterns of tightness and weakness. Here are our top five strength moves for all runners.


8. Taper: A strong training plan tapers in those last 3 weeks—meaning: fewer miles and more rest. You won’t sacrifice fitness or ability by slowing down. Your legs already have the muscle memory to carry you across the finish line. A review of 50 studies on tapering showed the levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones—all of which are depleted by high mileage—return to optimal levels during a taper. Subjects’ average performance post-taper improved by 3%. Might not sound like much, but that’s 5-10 minutes’ worth of marathon!

Race Day

9. Dress to win: All things considered, dressing the part is still up there on your to-do list! Compression socks stimulate blood flow and help legs recover faster from pounding the pavement all those miles. BodyGlide applied generously to sensitive areas (ahem inner thighs) helps you avoid painful chafing! A lightweight beanie creates an excellent microclimate for the head, providing protection from side and tailwinds especially on the Verrazano Bridge. Finally, iron your name to the front and back of your shirt. The crowds are what make the NYC marathon legendary, and having everyone yell your name makes the run that much more memorable. Your ego (and soul) will thank you at mile 20!


10. Dream and plan your post-race meal: What you consume immediately after the race and in the days to come is integral to your recovery. Refuel depleted muscles with a carb and protein-heavy meal. Renew electrolytes and antioxidants with vitamin-rich berries and juices. I had a patient dream of a steak frite dinner for the last 6 miles to pull her through “hitting the wall.” Let those dreams run wild!

11. Race Day Strategy: Dialing up this element is essential to a successful race day! On your long runs, practice your race-day nutrition and hydration strategy. For newbies, hydrate with 6-8 ounces of fluid every 2-3 miles and take your time drinking at the aid stations on race day. Fuel up with an energy supplement in your first 5-10k so your body can get into a rhythm. Consume additional fuel every 45-60 minutes to help keep energy in the tank. Figure out what works best for your digestion during your last couple of long runs.

12. Collagen: The most abundant protein in your body and is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts including tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. Taking Collagen will help relieve joint pain, prevent bone loss, and boost muscle mass.

13. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s): BCAAs have several benefits for endurance runners: a great energy source, helps with muscle tissue recovery, and most importantly, it improves the immune system which tends to get depleted following intense training or running.

During the Race:

14. Moving meditation: Movement is a powerful tool: most runners know what I’m talking about. Movement with visualization can do wonders to get you in the right mindset. For one of your last training sessions, go for a 10-mile run down 5th Avenue and through Central Park. Open your mind to a moving meditation to get you through those mental blocks at mile 20.

Good luck to all of our runners – your dedication and hard work inspire us daily! We’ll be rooting for you at Urban Wellness Clinic.

Give us a call if you need a tune-up before or after race day: 212-355-0445 or

Best in health,

Dr Emily Kiberd