The ultimate goal for many recreational runners is to run the Boston Marathon. While just qualifying and being able to participate is enough for some athletes, the runner who wants to race Boston—seeking a new personal record (PR) or a solid performance—requires appropriate preparation and a good, well-executed race strategy. This article focuses on the latter, assuming you have put in the right race-specific training.
Boston is a unique course, and one that can yield fantastic results or outright disaster. The point-to-point nature heading from land to sea, and timing of the race in the highly volatile spring, can result in unpredictable weather conditions. The tailwind that propelled Geoffrey Mutai to a course record 2:03:02 in 2011 was followed by record-high temperatures in 2012 that killed nearly everyone's hope for a PR.
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But since you can't control the weather, you need to focus on the other key elements of the Boston Marathon. The first would be the unusual pre-race schedule and later start time. This can require some adjustments to routine, especially for those used to running early in the morning. Running later in the day (between 10:00 and 10:40 a.m. start time) is something you should practice if you're not used to it, particularly with a long run so you can practice your fueling strategy, which may be quite different at this time of day.
Some other tips to consider as you wait for the race to start include:
- Dress warmer than you think you need to. While the opposite is true when you are running (wear less than you think you need), you don't want to lose any energy (or mental stamina) to shivering before the race.
- Don't waste energy moving around, but don't stay so still that you stiffen up either.
- Avoid staying out in the sun, as this can also drain your energy.