If the thrill of watching runners cross the finish line at Boylston makes you want to run a marathon on your own, then you'll want to tackle the challenge on the right foot.
As race day approaches, we ask for tips and tricks from readers who have already run a marathon or are training for the first time. We listen to a number of readers, including new runners and runners who have completed dozens of marathons. They share everything they wanted to know about the Boston Marathon before arriving at Hopkinton, tips for hitting the "wall," and what the ideal training plan should look like for a first-time marathoner.
Below are some tips for getting the most out of your marathon before, during, and after race day.
The answer has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
Get ready for race day
“First, make an appointment with the doctor to let them know you intend to race. If you don't have a problem, take a conditioning program and start your workout. You won't be competing tomorrow, so start slowly and pay attention to your body. Expect pain and treat it with stretching, massage, soaking in the bath, etc. If you experience pain, temporarily stop exercising or adjust to treat aches and pains. Don't let your body tell you that you are tired. Control over objects. Your body will get tired or sore at times, but keep pushing to reach your 26.2 kilometer goal. You will be rewarded with achievements and results. Have fun and smile! I completed my first marathon at the age of 65 in Chicago on 10-10-2010. -Gary W., Fresno, CA.
"Train well! I think at least 40+ miles a week for two years is a good place to start before starting a MARATHON training program. It helps get the body in shape a lot. More than 60 miles a week for a 12 week plus marathon. These eight weeks should cover six long distance running of 18 to 22 kilometers and a week of speed training (two is optimal) Two weeks before the race, five to six miles [running] for 30 seconds faster than your target marathon pace is good confidence. Two four Time trials – miles every four weeks are great for measuring your training progress (about 10-15 seconds faster than marathon pace at (same expected pace). Finally, do three or four runs during this cycle, including a half .marathon/30km. This is an advanced training program, but doable for beginners. I've done 57 marathons, 3 ultras, and had a full marathon PR of 2:36:46". -Kevin B., Haverhill
“Run a 5K the week before the marathon. Your running time predicts your marathon time. -Rick, Milwaukee, Wis.
"Find a training program that fits you and your schedule. Customize your running shoes and buy two or three pairs to alternate during the training season. Work on cross training days (core work is important) and don't forget post strength work. Take breaks, recovery and nutrition are also important during training Find out what nutrition you need on race day and experiment with using gels, GUs or other carbohydrate/electrolyte sources on the longest days of the training season Don't try anything new on race day.
Get your copy of Grateful Running by Grayson Kimball. This book is easy to read and will help with race day mental training. Get used to feeling uncomfortable while running. walking/running in bad weather wind, rain, snow. It will strengthen you, you never know what Mother Nature will give you on race day, but you will be ready. Remember your "why" – why are you running? To commemorate or honor someone? Create positive mantras to help you get through hard times during the race. You'll need it for Heartbreak Hill if you go to Boston." – Susie W., Lynn
“You need to have at least a 12 week training cycle. You should be running at least 6 days a week or at least cross training. No fewer than three races over 20 kilometers. You may have to do half as much to see how your body reacts. Water, water and more water! The average sleep is more than 7 hours. Don't take time off just because something hurts you. You will never be nominated if you are nominated. Running with others, training is much more fun with others. Committed to racing. If you take half a step, you will twist your buttocks ten times for 21 to 26 kilometers. —Andrew A., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
"Start an exercise program and stick to it. Don't neglect it. If you miss a few runs it's not a disaster, but try to stick to your plan as much as possible." -Vaughan, CO
"Don't listen to your heart. Training is the key to 100% success. Set your first goal and reward yourself if your first attempt is successful. Never give up and one day you will cross that line and call yourself a marathon runner. You need a plan that good and started from long distance, good luck to all new runners.” – Rodano, Rome, New York
Go your own way
"It comes out slowly. Don't be too eager to come out." -Dennis M., Roslindale
"Build up to speed during practice and racing. Sure, you'll want to PR, but finishing is better than getting hurt. Also, drink water and Gatorade when advised to avoid hitting a wall. And 3M's Transpore tape is great for preventing nipple inflammation. -Jeremy, Arlington
"Timing is key. don't get out too early. Ideally, walk the second half quicker than the first, based on your target time." —Joe M., Andover
"Know your pace and stick with it. As the first 10-13 miles build up downhill, people tend to go out too fast and 'flap' their legs. If you stick to your planned pace, by the time you reach 128 and Newton Hills, you will feel far fresher and ready to attack the hills. Good luck." -Steve, Littleton
"Slower than I thought at first. You'll thank yourself when you get to Newton. Lots of fellow runners have lost their wheels because of an entertaining first half. – Alidar, Wellesley
"If you're not serious for a long time, start slow and slow. It's a great life experience and you'll want to enjoy it to the fullest. There's going to be a lot of adrenaline in the morning, especially at Hopkinton, and the first few kilometers are a bit downhill, so go fast faster than usual. You will be tempted to give up. Chances are you will pay later during the race while climbing Newton Hills. Go ahead and enjoy. Maybe finishing a few minutes later than expected will add to the memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy it to the fullest.” -Tom, Cambridge
"Feel it all and enjoy the moment and opportunity to run a marathon. It's great to have a game plan, but keep realistic expectations so disappointment doesn't spoil the moment if your goals aren't met. There's a lot of uncertainty in a marathon, so just be grateful and grateful that you're here. " -Nigel M., New York
"I've done 10 marathons, five of them in Boston. Pucker for Wellesley College's Scream Tunnel. That's the best part of the race." —Gene, Dover
“Before you officially start training, have a solid foundation, then give yourself three months to build, starting with 10km. Find a leadership group for support. Think about all the little things like nutrition and hydration and do strength and core training. Stretching and foam rolling. Try yoga. Most importantly, love the process. Smile at every step of the big day. Get them all. You deserve to be there. You're a marathon runner." – Jill, South Boston
"Those who fail to prepare are preparing to fail. Practice, prepare for all types of weather, get preloaded playlists, and be sure to rest between April 1 and the date of the Boston Marathon (or 2.5 weeks between the last distance run and the marathon day ). And have fun. It's fun. One of the best days of my life." -Tamara W., Cambridge
“Running your first marathon is a great celebration. 26.2 miles is a victory lap over the hundreds of miles you've traveled to get to the starting line. Enjoy! End your goal with a smile. Forget about time. Be proud of yourself, you did something most people can't even dream of. Trust your practice, start off cool, get back on your feet, get energized with the support of people along the way, dig deep, know that it will pass (both the easy and the hard parts) and remember your WHY . Casey F., Chicago, Pain.
"Enjoy your day! Count four 10Ks, add a few more miles. You worked hard to make it today. Have fun and smile! – Win, South Beach!
"The best mental advice I ever got was, 'Everyone's first marathon looks like a mess. Success is wanting to run a second.'" This helped keep perspective in my first marathon when things were going downhill. I'm done, and I've run more." – Joel J., Austin, Texas
“If you put your name on the cover, you are more likely to support your name. It might feel silly or pointless at mile two, but it's a good boost to hear a stranger calling you at 22 miles. -Ian, Concord, NH
Last memory for the big day
"Panels for your nipples. Everyone worries about their feet and legs, but when your nipples bleed, you forget to run. Then, the rooms. Before there were things called 'walls'. Unfun and inactive. Bring your own place , you may disagree with the place on the course. Water You should never miss a water stop just because you feel good. Dehydration strikes quickly and can kill you. Miss the first water table. There is a reason a water station has more than one at any given time. The volunteers at the back counter are always happy to help you.
“Ice bath, the sooner the better. There are tricks for this, so look for the best method. Vaseline or something. Do not be stingy. You wouldn't trust a body part that could come into contact with anything else. This Garbage Bag can be used to sit out on stage or warm up before you start… just remember to punch a few holes before you leave the house. Goodbye. Not everyone can run as long as possible. Enjoy your results and be sure to thank the volunteers… the volunteers will be on the course longer than you. -Bob B., Longwood, Fla . .
“I raced in Boston in 2019 and probably made all the mistakes on race day. First, I wasn't ready to start the 6 km uphill. He was too fast and hurt me later in the race. I also think I've had enough exercise. "hill" but the road is endless. So if you think you've had enough, do more! Finally, the tempo changed five times from start to finish. The sun and humidity got me half way. You will need: a pinch of salt and lots of electrolyte fluids before, during and after, make it today to escape my pain. So I'm done, but I've learned a lot. I hope to have another opportunity soon. Good luck!" – Christopher W., ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
“Don't wear anything you haven't worn before on your longest journey. That way you'll know it's comfortable and not pulling, rubbing, wrinkling, etc. Run as fast as your workout. The adrenaline will blow you away but again, keep what you've got and know that the adrenaline is there, that it will eventually be there. The race is top 20 to bottom 6 or a similar variation. Stay mentally strong. when you hit that wall and you know you're going to make it through. There's nothing wrong with walking or stopping to eat and drink. Take care of your body while you run and it will make your recovery easier. Just remember everything. people who want you to support you." – Mike, Arlington
"Slow and steady, especially in the first five kilometers. Take water at every stop for the mile (you'll dehydrate anyway). Have a spell. That's mine. no shortcuts, just hard work. Count the miles, not the minutes Music to the beat right talk to other runners during walking breaks Gel spatula for sneakers Finally, have fun and have a well-thought-out plan for meeting friends and loved ones at your destination, and a way to get back home without leaving. —Andrew D., West Roxbury
"Don't make any changes on race day. Don't eat something you haven't tried before, don't wear new running shoes, don't try a new exercise, or try to force yourself to do more repetitions. By now you've done the work and established your routine. … don't change things now. Run your own run. Other runners will be faster and slower than you, ignore them. Everyone goes their own way. So try not to stop on the hills. Run or walk, but maintain what little momentum you still have. Don't stop at hydration stations. Slow down, jog and walk, but don't stop. Once you stop, it will be much more difficult to start again. Make eye contact with volunteers and try thanking them. Don't drink alcohol the day before a race or two days before a race.This isn't a Paddy's Day 5K where you can fight a hangover; this is more than 8 5K . Enjoy a drink once you cross the finish line NipEAZE is amazing Nipples don't tear, very good. SkinGlide by BodyGlide is great for other areas that are prone to irritation.
"Enjoy. Smile for the cameras, give the kids a little thumbs up and try to live the day. Celebrate when you cross the finish line. It's a great achievement, so enjoy! You win position. Beer race. Get ready in warm clothes, dry, and light food. You've just put out a tremendous amount of energy, now you need to warm up and recharge your body." -Tom B., Dorchester
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