Runners With Sights on the Boston Marathon

Runners have a love affair with the Boston Marathon. Rightfully so, even if you’re not a marathoner, heck, even if you’re not a runner you’ve heard of the famed race. The hills have names, the stories of races past are epic.
tough runner
I recently wrote a piece for Competitor.com: Four Boston Marathon Tips From Dick Beardsley. I thoroughly enjoyed doing this one for a few reasons, 1) the 1982 Boston Marathon, coined the Duel in the Sun, between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley defines mental toughness 2) Dick Beardsley was one of the most supportive and inspiring people to me after my car accident. He had multiple accidents that left his legs mangled, yet he is a runner today. He’s one of the sweetest, most positive people and his encouragement through my recovery meant the world to me.

In the article Beardsley noted how his parents, both non-runners, had gifted him with ‘to Boston Marathon’ funds upon his graduation from high school. When he finally did get to the starting line he recounts, “I’ve never been to a race where when you step off the plane you can feel the excitement in the air! I’ve spoke with Olympians that have told me they would rather win Boston then a Olympic medal!”

Racing brings out that electricity, the nervous excitement of hopes, aspirations, goals every runner has. The goals they’ve staked so much of themselves in, sweat out the miles, the grueling hard workouts, this brings anticipation. The anticipation is mixed with a bit of pressure (you need a little self-inflicted pressure, just enough, not too much though) because the day is finally here. Be it Boston or any race, a runner needs thrives off of that energy, the nerves, it ups the ante, and can fuel your performance.

The Boston Marathon has its hills named, but what aren’t named are the downhills. Ahhh, those tricky descents are deceptive because one would ‘think’ rolling downhill, letting gravity do a bit of work is ‘easier’. But as Beardsley stressed when asked of a crucial training tip for runners aiming for Boston, “TRAIN YOUR BODY ON THE DOWNHILLS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!” Hill climbs work the quads but so do downhills; ironically the pounding force of the downhill can beat you up just as much, maybe more.

It’s also easy to carried away and blitz out too fast with those steep downgrades. In the article Beardsley cautioned runners how NOT going out too fast is infinitely more important on the Boston course.

Runners should train for their race course. I wrote all about that in THIS post, because there aren’t races on a treadmill, you want to be prepared for the conditions you’ll be racing your competitors on.
kara goucher and shalane flanagan
This year’s Boston Marathon, I won’t be shy, I’m not going to even try to hide the fact that I’m rooting for Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan. Hopefully this year one of these amazing women will bring Boston back ‘home’ in that an American will take the title.

For all those racing, be it the Boston Marathon or otherwise, have confidence. You’ve done all the work you can do by the point you reach the days and moments before hitting the starting line. Rather than look back with any doubts or ‘I should have dones’, push that from your mind. You can’t change the past. Only look forward, recount the tenacity for which you DID do the work, be realistic with your goals for the race, but don’t be afraid to reach high enough to make yourself feel a little uncomfortable…nervous maybe.

When the gun goes off, feed off of the energy around you, thrive off of your competition, let them pull you along, and RACE!

1) Have you run the Boston Marathon? Are you running this year?

2) How do you use the atmosphere of race day to fuel your performance?

3) Share a mental affirmation, or something you tell yourself, to make you feel confident when you hit the starting line.
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11 Comments

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11 Responses to Runners With Sights on the Boston Marathon

  1. Kim

    I would love to see Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan win, also.
    I can’t even imagine the excitement of being in Boston and running it – maybe one day!!

  2. Yes, I’ve run Boston, and there’s a misconception that the course has hills. Correction: the course IS hills. But, none of them are really that steep. You are always on a hill it seems, which means you can see lots of runners ahead of you, and the changing neighborhoods is like you’re on some quest encountering strange beings on your way to toss the one true ring into the Volcano of Mt. doom. The environment is like none other, and it seems as if the city is cheering for itself that day, celebrating it’s uniqueness, like it’s “Boston” christmas, and they are the ‘ya-whoos’ in ‘whoo-ville’ or something similar.

    • thanks for the perspective, and being that i’ve never even set foot in Mass. i always have wondered just how ‘epic’ those hills are…haha. of course even the mildest upgrade can seem like a mountain spread across a marathon distance. that said, i can’t even begin to say how horrible of a turn things took this year. when randoms runners and their cheerleaders are turned into a targets, i don’t even know what to say.

  3. I dream of running Boston some day! I have to run my first full (and get a lot faster or older….) first :-)

    I think my adrenaline gets pumping just from the atmosphere at the start of any race. All those runners in one place ready to do their thing is pretty cool.
    To feel confident for a race I always tell myself: Trust your training. You put in the work. If something happens on race day, it’s not because you’re not ready.

    • that’s the EXACT thing i think works best for confidence…remember all the tough workouts you powered through, you know you can make it thru the race. :)

  4. Amy

    I’ll be cheering for Kara as well!
    I haven’t run the Boston Marathon — yet…. I’m hoping to run it around my 80th birthday, which is when I figure I will be able to get the qualifying time for the course :)
    I love the feeling of race day, and the feeling of other racers around me is what helps to banish the nerves that always build up on the week before the race. At the starting line I always tell myself ‘No Day But Today’; in fact, I write it on my arm before every race, just in case I forget midway around the course :)

    • that’s an awesome affirmation, and i think it’s awesome u write it on ur arm each time out too! hmmm, i think the seeds have been planted for me on a little something special for you, my dear. i’ll need to get working on that…haha, and how about the two of us at 80 will run boston! well, if i’m not Rascal-scooter bound by then…lol. ;)

  5. I read this before, and after the marathon. It’s a terrible day. but the marathoners are amazing, and it all makes me want to run more, not less.

    Racing atmosphere is amazing – it makes such a difference!

    • i wrote this post before and now responding to comments i have to admit i’m not even sure how to really reply. it’s such a tragic cloud looming over the race, which SHOULD never be there. so sad…but i think it does go to show just how close the running community can become and feel.

  6. Pingback: Boston Marathon 2013: Runners United Through Tragedy |

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