Eight things to consider as you approach the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon is everything it’s cracked up to be. The amazing history coupled with the prestige of having to earn lofty qualifying standards means you have an extraordinary event with a high level of intrigue and allure.
I was fortunate to run Boston twice, racing the famed 26.2-mile course from Hopkinton to Copley Square in 2005 and 2006, and I also assisted on the production of the race on several other occasions. Each of those experiences taught me valuable insights about the Boston Marathon weekend that went way beyond strategies about how to survive the notorious Newton Hills.
Whether you have qualified for this year’s race and are in the final phases of your training or are hoping to go in the future, take heed and follow these eight valuable lessons before you line up in Hopkinton. Knowing what to expect, how to plan accordingly and where to adjust your mindset will go a long way towards making your race a successful experience.
Don’t Be ‘Just Glad To Be Here’
Although qualifying is a significant achievement, you earned the right to take part. Often, those that are new to the event adopt an attitude that is one of gratitude for simply being able to race, and they loose a potential opportunity to actually compete and race well.
Certainly being excited and appreciative of the opportunity is significant, but seizing the moment is imperative. Take advantage of the opportunity in front of you and, although you should soak in the whole experience, don’t forget you are also there to race. For a number of reasons, there is no guarantee you’ll ever get back to do it again. Make the most of it.
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Avoid The Hype
Unlike almost any other marathon, there is a certain amount of hype and subsequent hobnobbing that precedes this race. Every time I’ve been to Boston, I hear various conversations taking place in the lobby of the host hotels, where runners are chatting about where they qualified, their age group results, their latest training advice or their new gear.
Again, not to take away from the enjoyment of the experience, keep in mind that you only have a finite amount of mental and emotional reserves. Try to keep all that energy and focus stored up for the race itself, as opposed to expending it on talking about the race.
Beware Of Distractions
The expo is always an exciting part of any event, but especially in Boston because it’s where many shoe and apparel companies debut new gear. Certainly you should take part and enjoy the opportunity to see all the industry has to offer. But similar to the lobby chatter, beware of expending too much energy and focus at the expo. Take part and pick up some nice keepsakes, but also be mindful of the time on your legs, your hydration needs and appropriate meal planning, not to mention how much you are exerting emotionally.
Same goes for the other races the Boston Athletic Association puts on that weekend — the B.A.A. Mile and the B.A.A. 5k — and the time you spend shopping, dining and walking around on Boylston and Newbury Streets. When in doubt, take it easy and lay low.
Beware The Race-Day Shuttles
Because the starting line in the small town of Hopkinton is 26 miles west of the finish line on Boylston Street, the event includes an extensive shuttle program from downtown to the start. Along with proper meal planning and adjusting you race morning routine, you also need to temper your race day excitement because the shuttles leave hours in advance of the start of the race.
Yes, focus is required race morning, but also plan for a 40-50-minute bus ride and consider bringing music, a warm layer of clothes, a book, fluids and even a small meal.