The 2023 New York City Marathon takes place on Sunday, November 5th, and if you’ve registered this year, you’re probably ready, set, go! But before you start running, consider these tips on how to make it to the finish line.

Kristina Centenari, a New York-based strength coach at Tonal and running coach at Nike who has experience as a marathon runner, spoke to CNBC Make It about how runners can best prepare for a marathon.

Centenari’s advice boils down to three key factors for a great marathon experience: preparation, equipment and mindset. This way you can set yourself up for success in any marathon.

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The 3 Keys to Finishing a Marathon

Ready: preparation

If you’re running a marathon soon, you’re probably not a new runner. Centenari recommends that beginners train for six to eight months before a marathon to prepare their bodies for long-distance running.

However, even experienced runners should develop a plan before a marathon that they will stick to until the big day, recommends Centenari. “It leads to concrete progress, but also gives you a sense of responsibility when you’re on the move,” she says.

Everyone’s plan will look different, but your plan should always include strength training and mobility, what she calls “off-road training,” in addition to running.

I think having people cheering you on and standing by you is a really important part of the process.

Kristina Centenari

Running coach at Nike and strength coach at Tonal

Centenari also emphasizes the importance of “taking your rest as seriously as your running and your off-road training.” You can’t ignore rest, she notes, “if you’re running and resting three days a week .” [for] Make sure you rest on these days.”

And as you prepare for the big day, Centenari encourages you to find community. Building community before a marathon can take many forms, from connecting with people who will run the marathon with you to connecting with loved ones who will support and motivate you. “I think having people cheering you on and standing by you is a really important part of the process,” she says.

Set: Equipment

But training is only part of the equation. According to Centenari, being in top shape for a marathon also means having the right equipment to support you.

“The first priority is fuel,” she says. “This is something you figure out in the weeks leading up to the marathon and manage in your training.”

In general, Centenari recommends consuming gels, goosebumps, or easily digestible carbohydrates every 30 minutes for energy. “It can be hard on the stomach to eat solid food while running a marathon, unless it’s something you do often while running and know it works for you,” she notes. However, even those who can eat solid foods during marathons should avoid foods high in fiber, she adds.

Grab water even if you don’t think you need it.

Kristina Centenari

Running coach at Nike and strength coach at Tonal

To hydrate, Centenari highly recommends slowing down at water stations during the marathon and grabbing a small cup of water. “Take water even if you don’t think you need it,” she says.

And what you wear to the marathon is another consideration to keep in mind when it comes to gear. In cold weather, you may want to put on multiple layers, but you shouldn’t put on too many of them, says Centenari.

“You want to trust your body to warm up, so thinner layers are better than heavier, thick layers,” she notes.

“Usually it’s the extremities that feel very cold, such as the fingers or the ears,” says Centenari. Consider running with gloves and a hat to feel more comfortable, even if you’re wearing a short-sleeved shirt, she says.

Centenari also advises you to wear clothes that you’re comfortable throwing away if you know you’ll get too warm while running in them. “Usually at the start of a race there is a container where you can dump your layers of clothing,” she says.

Go: Mindset

After the right training and equipment, the final step toward the finish line is approaching the marathon with the right mindset.

There will be days when you train or moments during the marathon when you don’t feel particularly motivated, but that’s part of the process, Centenari says.

“When you feel those ups and downs, just know that’s part of it. Expect it instead of fighting it,” she notes.

Rely more on confidence in yourself than on motivation.

Kristina Centenari

Running coach at Nike and strength coach at Tonal

“As marathon day approaches, remind yourself that you have prepared and are ready for this challenge,” she adds.

“Rely more on confidence in yourself than on motivation,” says Centenari.

“I didn’t coin this phrase, I coined my favorite phrase [around marathon week] is “The hay is in the barn.” You’ve put in the work to get there, and now it’s time to let go of the wheel and trust that work.”

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