NYC Half Course Strategy 2020

NYC Half Course Strategy 2019

Let’s get the NYC Half Course Strategy 2019 straight today. With the new course of the NYC Half Marathon in 2018 and a few changes in 2019, there comes a new strategy for the race. If you’re not familiar with the new course yet please read the article about the NYC Half 2020 course before you continue reading this article.

I have created a great course strategy for the NYC Half, so you will be able to face all the challenges of the race with a lot of confidence.

NYC Half Course Strategy 2020 and why it’s so tricky

Everybody who ran the NYC Half Marathon before they changed the course was able to enjoy a challenging start in Central Park with a downhill 6-miles run to the finish line. Now runners are facing the opposite. There is a hill in Prospect Park at Mile one and then while running towards Manhattan Bridge it’s a nice downhill. This can be tricky for some of us and here is why:

How are you going to pace yourself keeping in mind the golden rule of every race of “not going out too fast” when after tackling the first hill at mile 1 the following part of the race up to Manhattan Bridge is pretty much all downhill? How do you get the endorphins and your adrenaline under control? One main part of the NYC Half course strategy 2019 is to go by an effort at the beginning of the race and totally focus on yourself. Here’s how that works:

Focussing on effort not pace is key

NYC Half course strategy 2019: Pretend that you’re NOT running a race and focus on your effort at the beginning of the race. Shut down your emotions. Don’t pay attention to what everybody else is doing. Let all the others who want to run ahead of you, get ahead of you. They are either the faster runner or making a big mistake. Either way, you don’t want to run with them, right? Focus on your breathing and good form while running the hill in Prospect Park. Keep the effort steady.

While running downhill to the water where you will enter the Manhattan Bridge (total length is 6,855 ft (2,089 m) it is okay to run approximately 20 sec faster than your regular half marathon pace. Effort should be 7/10.

Race mode ready on Times Square

The Manhattan Bridge will be the second hill of the race and it is also the hardest one. Did you practice this bridge in training? You will notice that it’s pretty narrow having lots of other runners around you. Run with the flow and don’t let the craziness here get to you. You might have to slow down a little bit but that’s okay. Another nice decent is following before entering the rolling FDR Drive where you can make up some time.

I didn’t really like this part of the race and I totally underestimated the rolling hills on the FDR drive but now it’s time to start zoning into your half marathon pace.

My NYC Half course strategy 2019 tip: Make sure to not race the first half of the NYC Half even though it is so tempting to do so. Wait for it and save energy. You will need it.

Once you make your turn on Times Square it is finally time to set your body into race mode. Running Times Square is one of the most exciting parts of the NYC Half. Keep in mind that it is a climb through which is why you might be running a bit slower. Take the energy in and enjoy the crowds. It will help you to run uphill.

The rolling hills of Central Park

With Central Park ahead of you get mentally prepared for one more hill: Cat Hill (Distance: 0.25 mi, Rise: 49 feet, Average Grade: 3.7%) is the last challenge you will have to face, Harlem Hill luckily won’t be part of the race and the 3 sisters (3 rolling hills back to back) on the west side of the park were eliminated as they were part of the NYC Half Marathon in 2018.

Runners will be excited about a less hilly Central Park during the NYC Half. The new route finishes just north of Tavern on the Green which will make it also much easier to leave the park after the finish.

By the time you run up Cat Hill, you will be running a 9/10 effort. Put all your heart in this last hill and get excited because the finish line is almost there. If there is still energy left go all out. The new course of the NYC Half 2019 is definitely tricky but manageable.

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  1. Hi Sabrina,

    I’m planning to run the NY Marathon next year and I just wanted to thank you for this blog, I like coming here from time to time and getting myself prepared 🙂



  2. Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to walk us through this. This was totally a great read, not to mention super informative. My last race wAs I. 2014 🤦🏽‍♀️. I have not really been running, still active though. I’m thinking of doing 2020 at the sign up tomorrow. After reading this I’m more on the “yeah let’s do this” side

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