How to Race Your Best in Boston: Part II

When To Make Your Move

With the basic Marathon Race Execution framework in mind, you have to evaluate how you want to approach your own personal race day. Many of the runners had to set a personal best just to earn the right to race Boston, and it's only human nature to want to do better. Yet Boston has a history of chewing up the ambitions of all but the fittest of runners; so where can you realistically make something happen on the big day? Here are some basic tips based on ability level:

More: 4 Steps to Your Perfect Pace

Beginner @ Top of Heartbreak (Mile 21)

Whether you are a beginner athlete or just a first-timer in Boston, there's no point in trying to dominate the race from the start. You only get one shot to run Boston for the first time; it's all too easy to miss out on an amazing marathon experience by getting too caught up in the race itself.

Instead, be patient until mile 21, just at the top of Heartbreak Hill. You'll have seen all there is to see and felt the power of the crowds. Now get to work and pour your energy into making it to Kenmore Square, where the energy of rabid Sox fans can help carry you to the finish line.

More: 5 Easy Ways to Run Better on Race Day

Intermediate @ Rte 128 (Mile 15-ish)

You have been patient for the first half of your race, and Rte 128 presents the first real hill of your day. This is where you can begin to pay attention to your pacing and try to tighten things up. You'll know by the time you make it to the Fire station at mile 17 if this is going to be your day or not, so focus on running well in a controlled manner. There will be plenty of runner carnage on the hills of Newton to keep you motivated and focused on passing the competition.

Advanced (Miles 7 to 9)

Somewhere in this range the course flattens out and you will have found your stride. You need to bring your A-game if you are going to race to your potential, and you start here—not in the first mile. We still start slightly conservatively as it allows us to set the stage for a strong finish. You'll need all your energy (and focus!) to run the Newton hills well. Once you hit Beacon St., it's time to really let things rip and give it your all.

More: Getting Past the Wall on Race Day


Boston is a one of a kind event; but you need to approach it with the same discipline and fitness that got you to the starting line in Hopkinton. Regardless of the outcome, you are going to have a spectacular experience that should bring memories to last a lifetime—or at least longer than the pain in your legs!

Don't get psyched out by the hills; enjoy the day and the crowds. Race smart and you might even surprise yourself with the results!

More: 11 Golden Rules for Running a Successful Boston Marathon

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