The days are counting down until the Boston Marathon. We might not be running, but we are just excited as we make our final preparations to pack the apples and ship them to Boston for each of the runners, volunteers and staff. But over the next 2 weeks, more than 30,000 runners will be doing their final training runs and checking their lists to make sure they are ready. But it’s not just the physical checklist that makes for a successful Boston Marathon experience, it’s the mental preparation. Our running ambassador and certified running coach, Laura from This Runner’s Recipes has some good advice
LACE UP TIPS WITH LAURA
The Boston Marathon is an iconic race and a lifetime goal for many runners. The Boston Marathon, with all its history and prestige, is not a marathon which you casually show up an hour before the start, run, and then go home afterward. The Boston Marathon is an experience! Whether you are running your first Boston Marathon or are a veteran runner, these tips will help you make the most of your Boston Marathon experience, from running your best race to the post-race celebrations.
Manage Your Expectations
The Boston Marathon represents months or years of hard work for many runners. The race can be built up in one’s mind as the pinnacle of their running career – and while the Boston Marathon is truly a unique and renowned event, it isn’t the be-all, end-all of running.
As with anything, you want to maintain realistic expectations. If you build the Boston Marathon up to be an utterly life-changing event, then you may be setting yourself up for disappointment on race day. However, if you approach it knowing that the overall race will be an amazing experience with a few less than ideal moments, like dealing with crowds, pre-race nerves while waiting in the Athletes Village, and hitting the wall at the Newton Hills, you will be better prepared to handle those moments.
At the same time, because the Boston Marathon is such an iconic event, don’t allow any obstacles to sabotage your experience. You might encounter travel problems such as lost luggage, overwhelming crowds at the expo, or a harder race than you trained for. Focus on the positives of the day – the historic event, the support of the crowds, the camaraderie of the other runners – all the aspects of the Boston Marathon that you eagerly anticipated.
Be Prepared for Any Weather
You know the expression – if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a few hours and it will change. The weather of the Boston Marathon has been notoriously inclement – from wind and rain in 2015 to blazing hot temperatures in 2016. Especially if you are traveling from out of town, you want to pack multiple outfits for race day. That way, if the forecast changes, you’re not stuck wearing winter leggings in 70 degree weather or simply a tank top and shorts in 40 degrees and rain.
Be Present on Race Day
If you race with music or podcasts, consider leaving them turned off for at least the first half of the race and the final 5K. Music is a powerful tool for dissociating from the uncomfortable or boring moments of running, but you don’t want the Boston Marathon or your first marathon to be remembered as a blur of music in your ears only.
Many runners remark that the best parts of the Boston Marathon are the spectators: the scream tunnel near Wellesley, the encouraging spectators at Heartbreak Hill, and the roar of cheering crowds as you turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston. You want to be able to hear these spectators cheering you on and engage with them – smile, wave, thank them – rather than being lost in your own world.
Have a Race Strategy
The first half of the Boston Marathon course is primarily downhill and the second half features hills, including the notorious Heartbreak Hill. If you start too fast on the early downhills you may bonk and struggle over the Newton Hills.
Because of this unique course profile, you want to make sure that you or your coach develops a specific race strategy for the course. This race strategy should account for conserving energy over the early downhills, pacing on the uphills, and finishing strong. A race strategy will aid you in running a smarter, stronger race, which will create an overall more enjoyable race experience than if you are walking during the final 10K.
You just ran one of the most famous marathons – no matter how the race went, now is the time to celebrate! Boston is famous for good food and drink, including lobster and Sam Adams special 26.2 Brew. You just ran a marathon, so you will have a hearty appetite – take advantage of the local treats! Be sure to stop by the Rainier booth for a fresh, juicy apple after the race as well, to get some healthy food in your stomach before enjoying a pint of Sam Adams.
Whether you are aiming for a PR or just want to enjoy the race atmosphere, the Boston Marathon can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Soak up the atmosphere, wave to the cheering crowds, and enjoy the race – you earned it!