The Asphalt Classroom: My Four "P's" of the Boston Marathon
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
I have been fortunate enough to run Boston for seven years in a row and this April will be number eight. This by no means, makes me an "expert". Every Boston has been a different experience and race for me. Some have been good and some have been less than good and yet I would not trade any of them for the PERFECT race. I don't believe it exists. It's that whole unicorn-chasing-excellence-never-going-to-get-it-thing.....
Within those past marathons, I have discovered my path to the finish and it involves what I call my four P's.
Preparation, Pace, Patience, and Power. These are the things I can control.
1) Preparation: Consistency is my biggest ally here. A program is laid out and I stick to it. Simple. Nothing fancy. Run fast when I am supposed to and slow when I am supposed to. If it rains, run. If it snows, run. If it sucks, run. A coach should never be injured, EVER, so maintenance through bodyweight training, stretching and foam rolling are part of my program. I have analyzed the course and train accordingly with hills on my routes. I fuel and drink properly on my long runs, simulating my race day plan. I do not waste my race in training by trying to go faster or longer just because I feel good. I recover with a proper drink and meal after a hard day of training.
I eat the same all the way up to race day. If you don't eat pasta before your long runs then why eat it the night before? I go to bed early and I sleep. Lots. With earplugs and eye covers. I take naps when I can. My list of to-do's and my workout are written out the night before so I can wake up and go.
I read over my log before I leave for Boston. Seeing where I was and the path I took to where I am. It is empowering and gives me more confidence and security while keeping the door of doubt shut.
Most importantly I find silence for 10 min. everyday. Notice I did not say meditation but silence. They are two different things.
Control your mind by understanding your mind and you have 99% of the race run....
2) Pace: This is the one thing we ALL can control. Effort is not to be taken lightly. Trust me, if you have not prepared accordingly and done the miles, if you have not run fast in training you will not run fast for very long on race day. Speed and strength do not magically appear. Nor does age disappear. So CONTROL YOUR EFFORT. Keep it in your lane. I don't get sucked in to what is going on around me and resist the temptation to run faster than I can. I worked hard to get here and I am not going to let my ego ruin the day. Effort is enjoyable and yet, can also be painful, so beware and be smart.
3) Patience: With training I emphasize patience. Being prepared 100% is not going to happen in one workout or one week or even one month. Accept that. On race day you are not going to have the perfect race. You may have a great personal performance but it is never perfect. I refuse to be rewarded by running to fast in the first half. That gratification is short-lived. I focus on one thing: The Newton Hills and beyond. This is where my race is. Nine miles of pain and that is by choice. I come here to test myself.
This is where I find out if I am a coward or a hero. It is war.
Be Patient if things go south for a bit. Don't panic, it can change by the second or the minute and you can always, always surprise yourself.
4) Power: This is all about your mind. Your Power. Your Engine. Your Attitude. I have no philosophical pick-me-ups. If you can control your attitude on race day you will be successful and you will have a great race regardless of your time.
When it is over, there are no excuses, EVER. How often we hear it though. "The course was this or that", "It was hot", "It was cold", "To crowded", "Rainy", "Bad Start" Your race is as difficult as you want it to be. Only one thing matters. Getting from Hopkinton to Boylston Street one mile at a time. Preparation. Pace. Patience. Power.
They will get you there one step at a time.
Take a leap of faith......and believe.