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Boston marathon tips

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Boston marathon tips

Post  JohnP on Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:55 pm

I'm trying to get my mojo going for this marathon which is six weeks from today. Because of a lot of work "busy-ness", it's been hard to focus on the race even though it's my first Boston. Still, I am very consistent with my training, training hard, and I am hoping for a PR, no plans to just finish. A lot of you have run Boston. So...

Can you provide your best serious tips for anything about final training, pre-race plans, and actually running the race? For example, due to a fall, I haven't been able to do much outside hill training and can't do treadmill declines. How much is that going to hurt me?
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Don S on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:38 pm

@JohnP wrote:I'm trying to get my mojo going for this marathon which is six weeks from today. Because of a lot of work "busy-ness", it's been hard to focus on the race even though it's my first Boston. Still, I am very consistent with my training, training hard, and I am hoping for a PR, no plans to just finish. A lot of you have run Boston. So...

Can you provide your best serious tips for anything about final training, pre-race plans, and actually running the race? For example, due to a fall, I haven't been able to do much outside hill training and can't do treadmill declines. How much is that going to hurt me?

Can you do any leg weight training? If so, I'd recommend doing some leg extensions on cross training days. Not the same as running decline, but it will build quad strength.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  JohnP on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:55 pm

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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Jerry on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:56 pm

Maybe it's a good thing and you will peak at the right timing both mentally and physically?!
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  JohnP on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:57 pm

@Don S wrote:
@JohnP wrote:I'm trying to get my mojo going for this marathon which is six weeks from today. Because of a lot of work "busy-ness", it's been hard to focus on the race even though it's my first Boston. Still, I am very consistent with my training, training hard, and I am hoping for a PR, no plans to just finish. A lot of you have run Boston. So...

Can you provide your best serious tips for anything about final training, pre-race plans, and actually running the race? For example, due to a fall, I haven't been able to do much outside hill training and can't do treadmill declines. How much is that going to hurt me?

Can you do any leg weight training? If so, I'd recommend doing some leg extensions on cross training days. Not the same as running decline, but it will build quad strength.

Don, I am trying to do these once a week. The main problem I have is my knees hurt doign them so I use lower weight and change the start angle to less that the default degrees. I am hoping it stops snowing on Thursday/Friday here as it has much of this year which has hurt weekend outdoor running for me.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:31 pm

Other quad strengthening exercises like lunges and squats (or even those dreaded wall sits) will help too. I'm lucky enough to have hills here in Atlanta, and I had(will have) the ability to run small ones and drive to bigger ones in Ohio, but I still try to do these types of exercises.

Loved the quick article you attached as it is so very true. I've been struggling a bit myself this training cycle with a bit of a hip flexor tightness that had me pull back for a week or two, the selling of my house and the related stress, and now a nasty cold that had me punt a speed session this morning as there was no way I was up for that. I am though getting in the mileage albeit it not what I probably "over designed" for myself, but what I know will more than get me to the top of Heartbreak hill and to the finish. The article's first caveat was to "trust your training", and if you are doing it to the best of your ability, then "trust" it you must. I use that mantra a lot as for the most part, my training will get me through 26.2 miles unscathed. I think the toughest thing about Boston is that the "don't go out too fast" thing is key. If you do, you WILL pay for it and I believe more so than in any other race. I've raced and run Boston many times, and I have only had one really good race (even my faster runs were not as good). Why? Because I knew that year, it was not in the cards to really "race" and I smartly held back on those early hills. Even though I felt like I was walking backwards and that everyone including the charity runners and bandits passed me, I still had a ton left over the uphills. My biggest fear with Boston is that I know the course too well and I get carried away because of it. I'm certain that I can tell you about every time I ever ran over those hills or by that school or through Natick (since I grew up there), but I always tell myself to "trust" my training and don't let anyone else tell me how to run the race.

You will be more than fine, John, and I hope that I see you after the race with a smile on your face (and a beer for me as I'll be a few minutes after you Smile)!
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:47 pm

So, specifically referring to those first few miles... Since it's a big net downhill, what pace would you recommend? Straight MP? MP-10sec? MP-20sec? To further complicate things, I typically start with 3 miles at MP+20sec, if it's a flat course, and I make the time up by mile 13 or 16.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:37 pm

Since you run a lot of hills, Mike, and you know you have the ability to make up the pace (and I usually try to run a cutback for the 1st 6 miles), I would run the first 3 at MP+20 or even 30 sec. It is hard to do at Boston and takes the utmost discipline - something I need to work on myself.

My best success actually came at St. George, also a net downhill course, where I ran the first 2 miles at MP+30, then the next 2 @ MP+20, the next 2 @ MP+10 and then I was at MP. I never felt the couple of "uphills" on the course and my fastest miles were my last 2. I would love to do that at Boston, but have yet to be able to do so. Maybe just because the middle is tougher and the time of day can be a factor.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  JohnP on Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:47 pm

Thanks Michele - from all I can read, it seems that it's so crowded at the beginning that it's hard to go faster than MP anyway the first few miles. This is consistent with the larger marathons I've run. On the other hand, I do know at CIM that I went out too fast as the first miles are a decline as well so I learned from that. I do wonder about the later start as usually I am out the door 6-7:00 AM for runs and this seems like it will be 11:00 AM before I cross the start line.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Ben Z on Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:51 pm

Best advice I ever received was save something for Newton. You'll need it. Then use the crowds and rolling downhill to really bring it home the last five miles.

Plus, don't underestimate the hill just before heartbreak. The third hill I believe. I thought that hill was worse than heartbreak because it surprised me.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:20 am

For us Boston noobies, is heartbreak the last? I thought it was the first...
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Dave-O on Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:56 am

Just 6 weeks, huh? Very Happy

1. Unlike others that consider the bus ride from Boston to Hopkington to be an integral part of the experience, I prefer getting dropped off in Athlete's Village. It saves stress, time, and allows you to relax. If your wife is coming with, see if she'll drop you off.

2. Be prepared for the wait in Athlete's Village - drinks, snacks, extra clothes, and maybe even a cheap foldnig chair to sit. I bought a cheap yoga mat from Target to lay on.

3. The start of the race is emotional, unlike any other race. For many, its the culmination of years of hard work, the realization of a dream. There's energy in the air. Don't let it cause you to hammer the first 5k. Thats especially hard because its quite downhill.

4. Have a thought-out strategy. It matters more in this race than any other. I find the various Boston split calculators out there to be accurate. Don't micro-manage your splits, but if you're maintaining an even effort level, you should find yourself close to the suggested splits.

5. You need to do whatever you can to prepare for the downhills in the next 6 weeks. Weights, hill sprints, hilly long runs...whatever you can. If your knee is hindering your ability to do so, I would suggest adjusting your goal accordingly. I don't mean to scare you, but the damage the downhills do to your quads is real, and you realize it during the Newton Hills.

That's all I got for now...I'll keep brainstorming for you!
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Dave-O on Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:59 am

How do I attach a file to a post? I have a great Boston spreadsheet saved with a ton of course information.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Diego on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:18 am

Be a sponge. You really need to absorb the cheers from the crowd, especially from mile 16-17 on.

Watch the downhill and hill at mile 15-6. Very underrated.

No matter how tired you are feeling at the end of Heartbreak(and it's not really that much of a hill--more like an incline), try to push back down to marathon pace immediately after. Yes, there's another slight incline in the final 8k, but if you are absorbing the crowd's energy, you will not feel it at all.

There are porta john's near the start. You don't have to stand in line(30 minutes or more) at the ones in the Village.

Have fun!!

It's the only race I was sad when it was over.

Pack some good grub in your pack for after the race. The post race food sucks bad.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Scott C on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:45 am

Athlete's village:

If it's wet, bring a second pair of shoes.

Line-up at facilities as soon as you get there. Go to ones closest to the exit to the start line, those lines stay shortest the longest.

Wait is long, make sure you are warm. You can always shed, donate.

Sunscreen.

Race:

Besides disciplining yourself from going out too fast, many will be impatient and will push, dart in and out, cajole, etc. Ignore them. Run your race. To go "slower", you must consciously decide to do so.

I advocate drinking at every stop. It's a little harder early on if you are hemmed in the middle. Pick a side to make sure you get a drink. The aid stations are dual sided; right comes first, then left. Because it's first, the right tends to bog down. Use the right one to alert you to the aid station, then be ready for the left. I tend to go for the middle to end of the stop to avoid congestion.

Don't go too fast down the hill at Lower Newton Falls (@25K). Use it to prepare you for Newton. The first hill is very near.

The saying is true - the race begins at the Newton Firehouse. Run relaxed to here. It should be doable, the net downhill will get you here in a fine time; just make sure you have something for the hills.

Know where the four hills are on the course. Concentrate on conquering each. Count them off. Avoid surprises.

Once off Heartbreak, you'll know if you have anything left. The next two miles you can fly if you do.

Keep your head up. Look for the Citgo sign. Visualize it as an enormous magnet, pulling you in.

Once you turn onto to Hereford and then Boyleston, soak in the energy of the crowd. It's still a fair way to the finish, build your kick as you go down Boyleston.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  fostever on Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:13 am

At this point in the training doing leg lifts and other strength exercises would be ok, but it's probably not going to matter much and could actually make things worse. If you haven't been doing any hill training or treadmill inclines the worst that's going to happen is you will feel it in your quads after the race a bit more than everybody else is going to feel it. My first was in 2010 and I took the strategy of enjoy the race and try to learn the course for the next time instead of trying to blast a great time, not that that is impossible. A guy I met who qualified in 2010 PR'd by over 20 minutes there last year with the perfect conditions. My personal opinion would be to play it by ear instead of setting out with some lofty goal ahead of time. Good luck, John, see ya there.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Mike MacLellan on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:37 pm

...So, reading this thread this morning, for the first time, Boston became more than just some abstract goal I'm shooting for. Whoa. I'm ready for that long run I was dreading, now.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  KBFitz on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:53 pm

@Dave-O wrote:How do I attach a file to a post? I have a great Boston spreadsheet saved with a ton of course information.
You don't. BBCode has no provision for direct attachments. servimg.com takes only images [yes, I tried]. Your only options are to find 'Boston Marathon Pacing & Info.xls' online and provide a link or upload it to an online file storage service and provide a link in your post. With the recent demise of MEGAUPLOAD, I have no further recommendation of online storage sites. However, my ISP provides online storage. I suspect yours may too.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:46 pm

Oh so right about the downhill into Newton Lower Falls - probably worse than any of the others (around mile 15- 16, there is a school on your right as you go down the hill).

The first hill at the firehouse and Brae Burn GC is the worst of the hills, IMHO. You turn from a relatively flat stretch of Rte. 16 and then up the hill. Each of the Newton Hills is followed by a pretty decent downhill though, so remember that you do get a reward. Heartbreak is at the 20 mile mark and really insignificant as compared to the others. It is called Heartbreak as that is where one runner (Tarzan Brown maybe?) passed Johnny Kelley Sr back in the 30s and stole the race from him, not because it is so steep. It is actually quite short as well. The mile or so after Heartbreak leading to BC (Boston College) is a dead zone by an actual graveyard and a bit tougher than you would expect.

You then see the Prudential Bldg and Citgo sign for the next 5K which is a killer.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  JohnP on Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:30 pm

Dave-O, just email the file to jpirog @ hotmail.com.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Martin VW on Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:55 pm

The memories of some of my fellow Senior runners seems to be a bit spotty. Smile

The long, steep downhill into Lower Newton Falls is immediately before the 128 overpass which, while within the town of Newton, it is not one of the four so-called Newton Hills. At 3/4 of a mile, it's actually the longest uphill on the course. Wide open and always gusty, no matter what direction the wind is blowing, the 128 Overpass is grossly underrated in terms of its toughness.

So, the downhill into Newton Falls is in the wrong location in terms of preparing for the Newton Hills. The downhill past Newton-Wellesley Hospital - which is more gradual - is the one that leads into the turn at the firehouse. Use THAT hill to both recover from the 128 hill and to prepare for the Newton Hills. Don't expect to make up much time ont hat stretch, you'll just pay once you turn the corner.

Yes, the first hill past the firehouse is the longest of the Newton Hills, and yes, it is followed by a long downhill. The second hill isn't so much of a hill as a "bump", and is followed by a long flat stretch.

But it's the one-two combination of hills 3 and 4 (Heartbreak is the 4th) that, while perhaps not as long or as steep, definitely are the "hardest" to run at speed. I have the HR data to show that - my HR reaches the high of the day every time, and it's really hard to think of attacking that hill at anything under MP + 15. It's the fact that they are close back-to-back, with less recovery in between, the fact that they are the 4th and 5th hills in the past 5 miles, the toll the long downhills also take, and their placement at Mile 20 that makes them tough - and tougher than the other hills.

One other thing - on that first mile in Hopkinton, there's actually a pretty steep uphill about 0.6 into it. Because you come flying down the hill with so little effort, your HR is still low, and if you try to keep flying up that short but decent uphill, you'll send your HR shooting upward and dump a whole bunch of muscle glycogen into your blood since you're not yet "leveled out" in teems of your exertion level. Be VERY conservative on that first mile. I wouldn't look to post anything much less than MP to MP + 15 for that first mile in totality, including easing up that uphill.

In case you can't tell, I'm loving getting to do my long runs on the course. Smile And I can also tell you this, the course is MUCH harder in reverse, in every segment. Running up the BC hill, running up the downhill stretches within the Newton Hills, running up that hill in Wellseley, and ESPECIALLY running up the 4 miles into the start are MISERABLE compared to running west to east.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  wrichman on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:08 pm

@Martin VW wrote:
In case you can't tell, I'm loving getting to do my long runs on the course. Smile And I can also tell you this, the course is MUCH harder in reverse, in every segment. Running up the BC hill, running up the downhill stretches within the Newton Hills, running up that hill in Wellseley, and ESPECIALLY running up the 4 miles into the start are MISERABLE compared to running west to east.

Well then it's a good thing it's not called "The Hopkinton Marathon"
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Chris M on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:17 pm

@Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Oh so right about the downhill into Newton Lower Falls - probably worse than any of the others (around mile 15- 16, there is a school on your right as you go down the hill).

The first hill at the firehouse and Brae Burn GC is the worst of the hills, IMHO. You turn from a relatively flat stretch of Rte. 16 and then up the hill. Each of the Newton Hills is followed by a pretty decent downhill though, so remember that you do get a reward. Heartbreak is at the 20 mile mark and really insignificant as compared to the others. It is called Heartbreak as that is where one runner (Tarzan Brown maybe?) passed Johnny Kelley Sr back in the 30s and stole the race from him, not because it is so steep. It is actually quite short as well. The mile or so after Heartbreak leading to BC (Boston College) is a dead zone by an actual graveyard and a bit tougher than you would expect.

You then see the Prudential Bldg and Citgo sign for the next 5K which is a killer.



The school Michele mentions on the huge downhill leaving Wellesley is Warren School. Different elementary school than the one I went to but I ended up in HS with all of those snobby Warren kids. When you first come into Wellesley back at mile 12.5 closer to the screaming college girls, that was my part of town. I grew up about 1/2 a mile from the Wellesley College gate off to the left of the course. The best pizza in Wellesley is on that big downhill a little further down from Warren School. Peter's Pizza. Yum. Without looking it up, I'm saying their phone number is 235-0031. 30+ years later and I remember it and I'll bet I got it right. But if you wanted to take full advantage of the speedy downhill and not stop there, there's Wellesley House of Pizza down at the bottom of the hill on the same side and Mark's Pizza on the right side. Both are OK but not Peter's. The bottom of that hill and before you cross into Newton would be a good place to stop running for the day since you have 16+ miles done and you really haven't climbed any hills yet. The next 10 miles.....tougher. I've run two nicely paced Bostons through Wellesley and then had to jog/walk/stumble that "2nd half". Maybe the 3rd time will go better.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:30 pm

I grew up about 1.5 miles from the main car entrance to Wellesley (right where the girls really begin to scream in front of the "Quad" dorms, so I guess I was about 2 miles from Chris Rolling Eyes

I didn't mean to imply, MVW, that the hill into the Lower Falls had anything to do with the ones on Comm Ave. Just that it is forgotten and a pretty tough downhill before you cross the highway. I used to love to train on the course - miss that. A bunch of us used to run almost every Sunday morning from the firehouse at Rte 16 to BC and back! You are right, the hills are almost worse in reverse. I often would run from my parents house to Kenmore Sq and hope on the train back home for a training run.
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Re: Boston marathon tips

Post  Bob on Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:58 pm

Love this thread.
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