Marathon Prep Tips from Members of Harlem Run

Alison Desir
by Alison Desir
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Marathon Prep Tips from Members of Harlem Run

The NYC marathon is quickly approaching and, with more than 60 members of Harlem Run participating this year, November 5 can’t come soon enough. I sat down with a few members of the movement to touch base on their training and uncover some useful marathon tips for those who might be considering taking the plunge. If you’ll be in town for the marathon, please join Harlem Run at our cheer station on 124th Street and Fifth Avenue!


Experience: I have been running for a little more than two years and, compared to those who I have met on this running journey, I still consider myself a beginner. So far, I have only run one marathon, the 2016 NYC marathon. In addition to this year’s marathon, I’m looking forward to running the Paris Marathon next spring.

What are you most excited about for the NYC marathon?

Much like the first time that I ran NYC Marathon, I am excited about running through my city, borough to borough, giving high fives to the people in the crowd. This year is even more exciting for me because my son (born in July) will be waiting for me at the finish line along with my wife.

What has training been like so far?

Training this year has been hard. My son was born at the beginning of my training. With a newborn, sleep kind of doesn’t exist! Not being able to sleep through the night makes the training runs harder and longer than I would like. The funny thing, though, is no matter how tired I am, my son keeps me motivated. I run for him.  

Training with Harlem Run is definitely a tremendous help! It gives you something to look forward to every week. They hold you accountable with your training and help get you through rough patches. You never have to run alone when you run with a group.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is interested in running a marathon one day?

The only advice I can offer someone running their first marathon is to respect the training and the distance. Run your race and have fun.


Experience level: Beginner/Intermediate; I’ve run two marathons.

When you’ve faced obstacles in your training, how have you overcome them?
One of my biggest obstacles is time management. I bought a planner and a chalkboard with my schedule as a constant reminder of what I have to do every day. Crossing stuff off a checklist helps me keep myself accountable. The other is motivation. Finding that motivation to get out there for every run, strength train, etc. has been very difficult this time around. I do my best to set myself up for success, i.e. sometimes going to bed in running clothes when I have a run early in the morning, meeting up with a group for a long run. A lot of times, what I struggle with most is the very difficult task of quieting and ignoring the excuses that float around in my head telling me not to get out the door.

Through Harlem Run, I’ve discovered a network of runners who have given me a remarkable resource of running knowledge, advice, experiences and emotional support that helped me become a better athlete and person.   

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is interested in running a marathon one day?

People always ask if I walk or if anybody walks during a marathon. The answer is: Yes! I have walked during a marathon and lots of people walk during a marathon. There’s this misconception of what running and what a long distance runner/athlete is suppose to be. You don’t have to run an exact pace or look a specific way to complete a marathon.

My first run was a super sexy pace around a track in the middle of winter wearing sweats and a down coat. I had to run the outside the track because the actual track was buried under 3 feet of hard snow. I barely did three loops, run walking. The only prerequisite is to start. So to someone who is interested in running a marathon one day, if you want to do it, you can do it. Marathoners look like me and you, whoever you are.



Experience: I’m new to marathons but I’ve been running for most of my life. The NYC marathon will be my second marathon.

What are you most excited about for the NYC marathon?

I’m most excited to get a second chance at this race after completing it last year. This time, I will leverage my experience and community to achieve better results.

What has training been like so far?

It has been good but hectic. I do find it difficult to manage with my other responsibilities, as a husband and father. Harlem Run has been a huge help in raising my morale and creating accountability through encouraging conversations. The most notable benefits of training with Harlem Run are the palpable love, connecting with the community (from all walks of life) and just having partners to join you in the struggle —both running-related and personal.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is interested in running a marathon one day?

Push past those tiny voices in your head telling you that’s not doable. Self-doubt and fear are barriers to prospering. Everything is possible; you can and you will.


Experience: I’ve run two marathons, the NYC marathon in 2016 and the Paris Marathon in 2017. I have two on deck: Chicago 2017 and NYC 2017.

What has training been like so far?

My running friends help me when I hit a roadblock. Some runs really negatively affect my self esteem and make me question whether I can actually run these races. My friends not only help me with being accountable, but also normalize these feelings and help me understand that “bad runs” are important parts of training. Harlem Run is so motivating for me!  

What are you most nervous about heading into the marathon?

I started having anxiety dreams about the marathons back in June (ha!). The dreams always have similar themes: running so late I almost miss the start or being at mile 20 in NYC at 10pm. I know that’s just anxiety and I need to remember to trust my training. I’m most nervous about running two marathons a month apart from each other. I don’t know how I’m going to feel after Chicago and whether my body will recover fully for NYC.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is interested in running a marathon one day?

Best advice: Everyone is going to give you advice, some of it is helpful, some of it comes from other people’s feelings projected on to you. My advice is to find your tribe. Find the people who will wake up at 5:30am with you to run; the people who will wait for you to finish your race at your pace; the people who will push you when you need it and support you when you can’t go anymore. Also, find a training plan that works for your life (MapMyRun has great options). Oh, and don’t start your marathon too fast!

About the Author

Alison Desir
Alison Desir

Passionate about community, mental health and fitness, Alison AKA powderedfeet is an endurance athlete sponsored by Under Armour and a believer that sport has the power to change lives. When Alison isn’t running, she’s working to resolve and speak about issues related to women and girls.


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