Learning From The Elites: Post Boston Marathon 2015
This is a post that I originally wrote back in May of 2015 but I think is a good way to start off 2016. I’ve added some extra insight that we didn’t have from the immediate post race reactions, but these are points that all of us can take home and learn from.
The Boston marathon has come and passed and as much fun as it was watching the elites leave it all on the course, it’s easy to forget about the thousands of other runners who have overcome the odds and have logged countless miles to make it to the start line in Hopkinton. The purpose of this article however is not to talk about the training it takes to make it to Boston, that can be reserved for a 1 on 1 conversation, but to talk about what a finely tuned race plan can do for your race. The elites are great at this and the runners that perfectly execute their plans are the runners that find themselves in a good position down the homestretch. Much can be gleamed from post-race interviews of elites and how they felt they executed their plan and if they were prepared enough.
For example we can look at Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan to see two contrasting views post marathon. A little background info, going into the race Shalane and Desi were the top two Americans and I thought Shalane had a chance of winning the race and possibly going after the American record. Desi however stuck to her race plan while Shalane wasn’t able to execute like she had wanted. This is where post race interviews can shed insight into how you should prepare for a marathon.
Shalane’s Post Race Comments: “I didn’t get on the roads, as much. I could just tell the pounding, the typical Boston course, my legs felt it. I tried to talk my legs out of slowing down, but they didn’t want to listen…”
Takeaway: Experience on the course is invaluable to your race plan. Even Shalane who has probably ran on portions of the Boston course 100 times didn’t have enough preparation exposure to the course this year.
What does this mean for you?
Run on the course, if you live near the race route plan your long runs over some of the most crucial miles. Get to know the turns and where some of the water stations might be located. If you can’t get to the course find a route near you that has a similar profile. Do your long runs over a hilly route, like Boston, or over a relatively flat stretch of pavement if you are racing a course like Chicago.
1) prepare your legs for the pounding
2) help you visualize running over the course.
Desi’s Post Race Comments: “With the conditions and the course, I knew today was going to be a war of attrition. My goal was to go out there and make it a full marathon — to grind it out and hopefully there wouldn’t be a huge pack at the end.”
Takeaway: Have a semi fluid race plan, prepare yourself by visualizing multiple scenarios and conditions. If you go into the race and it is rain or windy, you will be ready. Have your coach take you through multiple scenarios, or in other words “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”. Put yourself in position to succeed by visualizing yourself succeeding.
Don’t leave anything up to chance on race day: practice on the course — or something similar, visualize success, practice your pacing, practice your fueling for pre-race and during the race. These are all variables that with proper practice and with proper leadership you can conquer.
Having a coach to guide you through race day preparations can be the difference between a PR and a long day at the office. These tips can apply to any race at any distance, now get out there and do it!