Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to Know

There have been thousands of books, magazine articles and blog posts written about running The Boston Marathon. I’ve written a few of those blog posts my self!

I’m not an elite runner, famous or a certified running coach. But I have run The Boston Marathon eight times and seventeen marathons all together.

I ran Boston in 2018 in the middle of a storm and I ran Boston in 2012 when it was over 80 degrees.

This advice is from my own personal experience and is written for first time Boston Marathon runners.

Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to Know

Train for the Boston Marathon

If this is your first marathon, I hope you’ve been training for quite a few months. Most running plans will advise new runners to train for eight or ten months.

Going from your couch to 26.2 miles is a long process that should not be short changed.

This may seem obvious, but there are people who have never run a marathon or any race and decide to run Boston. If you are able to complete the 26.2 miles, you may cause harm to your self in the process.

I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2003 with only about four months of training. I advise against this!

Read My First Marathon Experience

Running a marathon is unlike any other running event you may have participated in. The level of fatigue and pain that you may feel is unlike anything that you have ever experienced.

Proper training is the best way to minimize fatigue and pain and enjoy your Boston Marathon Experience. Boston truly is a special race weather it is your first marathon or your first running of The Boston Marathon. You want to enjoy it as much as possible.

My advice is to pick a training plan that matches your goal and stick to it as closely as possible. There are plans out there for all levels of runners.

To pick a training plan you need to pick a goal finish time. The Boston Marathon has a six-hour cut off. So you should pick a plan that will set you up to meet this time at the least.

If you have run a race in the past month you can use The McMillan Running Calculator to calculate your estimated finish time. This calculator is fairly accurate.

As a first time marathoner I would use the finish time provided as my goal.

If you have yet to run even a 5K, I highly encourage you to run one soon. Then use your finish time in the McMillan Running Calculator.

Running a race is different than training. Almost everyone starts a race too fast sometimes. It is best to have this experience at a local 5K and not a few miles into The Boston Marathon.

It takes a lot of experience to avoid a fast start. After all these years, even I go out too fast sometimes. A 5K melt down will give you a taste of what going out too fast feels like and what The Wall feels like. You wont soon forget that burning feeling in your legs!

Get a plan. Follow the plan. Run the plan. It’s simple.

Welcome to Boston now meet The Wall

As a first timer, your body has never experienced the fatigue and pain of a 26.2 mile long run.

All training plans will take you from short runs up to a long run in the 20 mile range. This is why training over many months is required. It takes that long to build yourself up to running those long runs.

Long runs teach your body how to run for a long time. Long runs teach you how to fuel and hydrate properly so you can avoid The Wall or Bonk.

Def. Bonk: To hit the wall, to run out of juice. The point beyond which your body does not want to move.

Basically your body will have run out of energy producing glycogen. Once this happens you cannot replenish your stores. It will take your body hours to replenish the spent glycogen and by that time the street lights will be on!

It is a very unpleasant experience both physically and mentally. For some people it has been fatal.

Replacing glycogen while you run is vital to avoiding The Wall. You may have seen World Class marathoners grabbing sport bottles during a marathon. These bottles have sports drink and possibly a custom mix just for that athlete. They are fine tuned machines.

An Elite Marathoner is conditioned to run 26.2 miles and they are on the course for about half the time that you will be. They can get away with a few swigs of sport beverage.

You will need much more and you need to learn what works for you and when to take it.

Read Glucose and the Endurance athlete

gel, running food, glucoseLong runs are when you want to learn which food and beverage works for you. This is a process of trial and error. I’ve been doing this over 15 years and I’m still tweaking and trying new things.

When you discover a food that works for you, stick with it. For your first marathon you just need to find one sport drink and one gel that you can tolerate.

Most people use gels for convenient, quick energy. For some people gels bother their stomach. That’s runner speak for throwing up and/or diarrhea.

There are many brands of gels to try. Each has their own formula and some will work for you and some wont. Figure this out during your long runs.

fig newtons, glycemic indexYou can also eat common food items for energy. During a marathon, I’ve used Fig Newtons several times and Snickers bars twice. These are cheaper than gels and they will probably agree with your system. I still eat Snickers bars during Sunday Long Runs.

Gels are packaged for running. If you use cookies or candy bars you will need to package them for easy access. Candy bars do not work well in warm temperatures.

I’ve been eating Fig Newtons and Snickers bars my entire life. They may have added some pounds and cavities, but they never made me sick. Try some of your favorites if you like.

One draw back to common food items is that they probably do not have the electrolytes your body needs during a marathon. So if you go with Snickers, make sure you drink sports beverage during the race.

Read Fig Newtons and the Glycemic Index

Fuel Early and Often

Don’t wait until you feel tired to fuel. Once your body becomes depleted you cannot get ahead of it. It’s the beginning of the downward spiral towards The Bonk.

You need to start consuming calories early in the marathon. I advise taking your first gel at 5K or 5 miles at the latest. If you consume something every 5K you should be alright.

A well conditioned athlete’s muscles and liver can hold up to about 2,400 calories in the form of glycogen. As you run, your body turns glycogen into glucose and burns about 125 calories a mile. As a new runner you will not have 2,400 calories stored at the beginning of the race.

Your calorie burn depends on several factors such as conditioning and effort.

As an example: Assuming you consume no calories during a race, have 2,400 calories stored and burn 125 calories per mile you will bonk around mile 20.

You will have way less than 2,400 calories on board, but you will consume some. You just need to pay attention and make sure you consume enough.

Managing energy has to be part of your race plan. You have to be on top of this.

Heartbreak Hill meet The Wall

One of the beautiful things (irony) about The Boston Marathon is that mile 20 is just before Heartbreak Hill.

Just when a poorly fueled body will bonk. You don’t want this to happen to you and it doesn’t have to.

When you make the right hand turn just after Mile 17 and the Newton Fire Station, you hit a series of hills that continue until Cleveland Circle at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. You’ll know why it’s called the Chestnut HILL Reservoir as you run up the hill to the turn at Cleveland Circle.

Heartbreak Hill is the last hill. I always see people walking on these hills. Some are just tired or in pain. Others have hit the wall and have that far away look in their eye.

Once your body has depleted it’s store of glycogen during a marathon, it is impossible to recover. You cannot replenish glycogen faster than your body is consuming it. If you bonk, your goal finish time vaporizes before your glazed eyes. There is no way to recover. Once you bonk it’s about survival and trying to get to the finish. It’s not pretty and it never feels good.

When you bonk you probably have depleted electrolytes also. Your body will feel exhausted. This is the standard combination of misery. Your body has run out of energy to move and the electrolytes necessary to prevent cramping.

Depleted glucose and electrolytes can be dangerous. You can loose the ability to maintain your body temperature and your heart and other organs can fail. Glucose is the only energy source that your brain uses. I’ve seen people hauled off the course wrapped in blankets in a gurney!

This is not how you want your Boston Marathon Experience to end.

Read about one of my bonk experiences

This is why it is so important to fuel early in the race. If Gatorade and Clif Shot Energy Gels upset your stomach, bring your own fuel. Even if you like Clif Shot Energy Gels, they don’t hand them out until mile 11.8.

I advise taking some calories at 5K,10K and around mile 10. Just one gel or fig bar at each marker should do. The BAA will have digital clocks at every 5K and mile marker, so you can’t miss your marks.

I also carry bottles in my belt and have carried a 500ml bottle of sports drink mix. It’s better to carry what you know works for you.

The BAA will provide Poland Spring Water and Lemon Lime Gatorade Endurance Formula each mile starting at mile two.

You can use these water stops as a walk break if you need it, but get off to the side and out of everyone’s way. If you do walk the water stops start early in the race before your muscle tighten up. Don’t wait until you are in trouble.

If you like Clif Shot Energy Gels you can get them at miles 11.8, 17 and 21.5.

You will need three gels for the 5k, 10K and 10 mile refueling. I would bring a 4th for late in the race, just in case. If you’re having a rough day you may need that extra gel after the mile 21.5 Clif Energy Zone.

If Clif Shots tie your guts into knots, then bring six or seven of what ever works for you. If Lemon Lime Gatorade makes you hurl, then bring your own beverage and just take water as needed.

A belt full of seven gels and a few drink bottles may seem like a lot. But if you fuel properly, by the half-marathon mark half your supplies should be gone. And if you are struggling late in the race that last gel will seem like Lembas.

Don’t Eat That!

The pasta dinner the night before Boston is a big tradition. I’ve never gone.

If you don’t like pasta or pasta sauce upsets your stomach, don’t go. Don’t go to a restaurant and have pasta just because it’s a pre-race tradition.

Don’t stuff yourself because you are carbo-loading. Eat what you normally eat just maybe a little more than usual. Your body can only carry 1,800 to 2,400 calories. Anything extra will just make you feel fat on Marathon Monday.

I also avoid alcohol. Well, too much alcohol. Alcohol accelerates dehydration and in the days before the race you want to stay well hydrated. I would stick to one or two beverages. You can party after the race.

Free Food at Hopkinton

When you get to Hopkinton there will be all kinds of food. Dunkin Donuts will have coffee and bagels. If coffee and bagels work for you, go for it. I always have coffee before a race and a plain bagel always settles well in my stomach. It’s a good way to top off your energy store just before the race.

Cliff, PowerBar and other vendors may be giving out free product. It will be tempting to take a bunch of them. But if you packed your belt properly, you don’t have room to take that stuff with you.

If you’ve never had what ever product is being given away, don’t take one. This is not the time to try anything new.

You don’t want to eat anything new the day before your race. In the hours before the start you absolutely do not want to eat anything new. Nothing.

Your bowels will be jumping around like a basket of snakes all ready. You do not want to put anything unknown into that pit of vipers!

Just because there are gallons of coffee and thousands of bagels, power bars and gels, even if you have had them all before, don’t be a glutton. If you normally eat one bagel and have one 8 oz coffee, stick with that.

What goes in…

Honolulu Marathon 2017, Porta PottiesPlease read this carefully if this is your first Boston. I cannot stress this enough. When you get off the bus head strait for the porta potties. Your bowels are sure to be churning and you must pee before the race starts. Just the excitement of the race is enough to get things moving for most runners.

When you walk onto one of the two fields behind Hopkinton High School you will see more porta potties than you have ever seen in your life! Each one will have 100 people lined up laser-focused on their door. I’m not kidding and neither are they. There are no cuts in one of these lines.

It can take 30 minutes to over an hour to get through the line. Get through the line at least once and then walk around.

After you have checked things out and found your friends, get back into line. I guarantee that when you hear your corral called to the start you will instantly need to relieve yourself.

Boston Marathon 2018 Hydration

Proper hydration is essential for you to finish the race. As I mentioned earlier, even the elite runners have something to drink during the race. They are only out there for about two hours, so they don’t need as much as you and I do.

Much like training, hydration is a balancing act. You want to get enough hydration but not too much. During your training runs you should be able to figure out what you need.

At The Runners Village you may be bored and you will be nervous. This often causes people to drink more than they should. Weather it is coffee, Gatorade or water it all has to come back out eventually. This is why I advise standing in the porta potty line: it gives you something to do and you can talk to people and ease your nerves. Oh, and you’ll need to pee.

Boston Marathon Water Stop, Andy Nagelin, HPHydration during the race is different for everyone. It’s important to get to the start line hydrated but not over hydrated. I usually stop drinking anything the hour before my start time, then I get in line for the porta potty. This hour gives my body time to process what I have consumed and helps me avoid a porta potty or woods stop during the race.

During the race I normally take sips from one of my bottles of sports mix. Just enough to keep my mouth and throat wet.

My rule of thumb is that if I’m sweating than I’m properly hydrated. If I start to notice that my face is dry then it’s time to get more water or Gatorade. Usually by the half-marathon mark I start grabbing a cup of something at the water stops.

You have to pay attention to your body. Most of the fluid you consume during the race will be sweat out and you won’t have to make a stop. If you feel dizzy or your mouth is dry, take some fluid.

Dehydration is as big of an issue as bonking. If you run out of water or energy, your race is done. There will be race officials and medical assistance all along the course. If you start hallucinating or feel like you are about to die, ask for help.

You also don’t want to over hydrate. This starts at the Runners Village, as mentioned above. Early in the race only drink what you feel you need. It may be half a cup of water or it may be a cup of Gatorade and water.

If you drink too much you will need to make a stop. Over-hydration can also cause exercise-induced hyponatremia. This is when you have consumed so much water that the sodium levels in your blood fall below safe levels. This is a very serious condition.

The best way to avoid this is don’t drink more than you need and drink some of that Gatorade since it contains sodium.

Advice from the BAA

Pay attention to your body.

Don’t get hurt

If this is your first marathon, or one of your first, you probably have few aches and pains. You probably feel great and energized after a run. This is normal. But it doesn’t last.

Talk to anyone who’s been running for a while and they will tell you about their latest injury. It happens to everyone, but you don’t want it to happen to you.

There are so many ways to get hurt running. It seems like a safe sport, no one is trying to tackle you or slam you into the boards. But you are your own worse enemy.

Many runners dive into training before they are prepared. Or they miss a day and add the miles to their next run. Or they don’t get enough rest or don’t eat right. They don’t stretch or do cross training.

It can all seem to be too much. But when you get an injury, that few minutes of stretching after a run or time in the gym doesn’t sound so boring anymore. It’s no fun recalling that run when you got that injury.

I feel that getting to the start line healthy but under trained is better than getting to the start line in great shape but with an injury. You just don’t want to do that.

How to avoid injury?

Pay attention to your body. Some runs just don’t feel right. This happens a lot but often goes away after a few miles. With experience you learn when you are just feeling lazy and when you really should cut your run short or stop.

Training is a balance between pushing your self and knowing when you need to take a break.

Running is about adapting. Sometimes you need to adapt your plans based on the situation.

Pay attention to your weekly miles

If you follow a professionally designed plan you should be okay. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is to increase your miles by no more than 10% per week.

Running all of your miles in one day does not count! Increase mileage gradually over time and perhaps add days to your running week. Having at least one rest day is a very good idea.

If this is your first marathon you should use a professionally designed plan.

When I ramp up for a marathon I start by adding a day or two to my regular running schedule. Then I gradually add distance to each run. I find it easier on my body to run four or five shorter runs than running two short and one long run.

You do need long runs in your training plan, but they should come only after you have trained for a few months. Most training plans will ease you into longer runs.

Running a half-marathon a month or so before Boston is a good idea for any runner.

As a first-timer I think this is a very important part of your training. You need a long race to see how your body will feel and to gauge where you are with your training. It can be quite humbling!

Keep track of the miles on your shoes

lacing techniques, Five Things Every New Boston Marathon Runner Needs to KnowThis may seem silly to you, especially when your running shoes still look brand new. While the uppers may still be clean and bright, the sole of your shoe degrades significantly by 500 miles.

The cushion and support you had for the first few hundred miles begins to dissipate. It happens so slowly that you won’t even notice it. Then one day your knee or hip will get a twinge. You’ll know it when you feel it. You may start to get blisters all of a sudden.

If you are tracking your weekly miles, pay attention when you get around 500 miles. This is the time to get a new pair of running shoes.

Often I keep the older pair for shorter runs or walking around. Even though running shoes can look good for years, I generally get rid of any shoe that is more than three years old. Even for walking, your feet are not getting proper support from old shoes.

Your a runner, you need to take care of your feet.

Don’t over due the stretching

Runners need to stretch and strength train as part of their marathon training.

If you get to Hopkinton early, you may have a long wait for your start time. You may get bored sitting around. Looking around you will see runners stretching everywhere you look. It may look like people are stretching for hours. You are actually seeing people doing there normal routine and it isn’t an hour long.

stretching, yoga, clarity through pain

My advice is to only stretch as much as you normally do. Don’t try a cool stretch you see someone else doing. Hopkinton is not the place to learn yoga either!

You are going to be bored and nervous. The best thing to do is to stand in line for the porta potties and talk to other runners. Sit when you can to rest your legs and feet.

When you are ready, do your normal stretching routine. You may want to do it when you get to the field or you may want to do it just before you head for your corral. Just don’t over do it.

Don’t go out too fast

This happens to almost everyone at their first Boston. Your adrenaline will be surging and the crowds will make you feel like a rock star.

When you have that BAA bib pinned to your shirt, you are a VIP for the day. It is your show and all of the volunteers, staff and security are there to make sure things go as smoothly and safely for you as possible. Be sure to thank everyone in sight!

All of this VIP treatment contributes to your excitement. These folks are just doing their job. You need to do yours and keep your shit together.

If you have arrived at the start line uninjured and totally pumped up by the environment, you are likely to run one of your fastest miles.

The first five miles are mostly down hill or flat. The first time I ran Boston in 2003, I didn’t notice a hill until just after Mile 5 at the Framingham border. Looking at the elevation map, you can see that there are bigger hills before that. But I was so pumped up I didn’t even notice them.

Boston Marathon Course Map
BAA map

Because you are so pumped up and there is so much going on around you, it is easy to go out too fast. It is very important to focus on your pace as quickly as you can.

If you run the first mile 30 seconds or a minute below your goal pace, that’s okay. Not great but it shouldn’t hurt you. If you run the first five miles way under your goal pace it can come back to bite you in the ass.

And if you are so unfocused those first five miles you will probably also forget to fuel at 5K. That’s two strikes against you right there.

On many long runs I use the first mile or two as my warm up. The idea is to take it easy and see how my body feels. If something hurts I can stop and stretch.

The first mile or two is when you need to enjoy the euphoria of the start of the race, take in the sights and sounds of the crowd and relax.

This is the time to do a systems check and see what is bothering you today. It’s time to make sure you double tied your laces and that your running belt isn’t digging into your side, that your watch is started. Things like that.

So follow your training plan, don’t over do it. On race day run your plan. Hit the port potties often and don’t eat or drink anything new.

Run well my friends and I’ll be looking for you in Hopkinton!


Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was my last long run at 52. On Monday I turn 53 and will continue to remind my self that I’m still in my early 50’s.

This week we ran the same Sunday Long Run route that we ran week six, the Winchester Highland route. Three weeks ago it was around 90°, sunny and humid. Nothing that a runner likes.

This week it was in the high 50’s, overcast with a light drizzle. Eventually it rained and everything was soaked through. Near the end I just ran through the puddles because it didn’t matter anymore.

Last Long Run

Most runners have considered their last run, long or short. Usually this thought pops into a runner’s head when they are layed up with an injury and have way too much time to think.

With a nagging, persistent injury it can feel like your running days are over. When the pain just wont go away, it’s easy to wonder if you have had your last long run.

It’s not like facing down a life threatening illness, but it can feel like your life will never be the same again. Runners have lots of running friends. While running can be a solitary sport, often a big part of a runner’s social life is built around running. The people and socializing are one of the wonderful things about running.

The thought of loosing so much of your social life can be depressing.

Then there is the fitness and health running gives to you. If you can’t run how will you maintain your weight and youthful vigor? When Boston had the record winter two years ago I was in peak condition from training for three marathons. I shoveled for the entire season and never really ran out of steam.

If I had not been a runner and spent so much time focused on being in shape, that winter would have been much more difficult.

Running and aging

Getting older is just part of life. As my Dad says, it sure beats the alternative.

In my mind, life is a series of taking fall-back positions. Your life is under a constant assault by time and eventually you have to yield your position in order to continue the fight.

This is a military concept so I may not have a full understanding of how a battle is conducted. But I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

When you are young, your body will take a lot of abuse and bounce back quickly. When we are young we probably do a lot of damage to our bodies because it’s easy to bounce back and compensate.

I used to carry anything that my hands and arms could hold onto. I could load and carry around 50lb bags of cement. It would have been smarter to use a cart and my back wouldn’t hurt so much today.

Now I am much more careful about carrying heavy items and use back support when I do.

As a runner I have also learned a lot about preventing and managing injuries. I’ve hurt my self while running several ways, now I manage those situations and generally avoid injuries from them.

Pain is a powerful teaching tool! You can read about what to do and not to do. But often the lesson does not resonate until you go out and do something stupid.

A few years ago I dreamed of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. After trying a few times and going through various injuries I question that quest. My fall back position is to run fewer marathons and not worry about Boston.

Long distance running can be brutal on the body. I have even considered giving up the marathon and only running halfs, 10K and 5K races. I’m just not there yet but I feel that my position could be over-run at any time.

Older and Wiser?

53 isn’t really that old. My parents are 88 and 89. I should have at least another 35 years on this earth.

Many of us felt like we knew everything when we were 17 or 20 and definitely at 30. We were just fooling our selves. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize there is so much to learn. What you thought at 40 is laughable at 50.

I can only imagine looking back at today when I am 63. What opportunities did I miss? Oh the mistakes I made! What can’t I do at 63 that I could do at 53? What silly ideas did I hold to be true?

I may be wiser in that I know I can hurt my self. I know injuries can take a long time to heal and some never truly go away. The same can be said about relationships.

I know some lessons are never truly learned until the bridge has been crossed. You cannot understand what it means to be a parent until you are. You cannot understand true joy until your heart is busting and your eyes are full of tears. You cannot understand loss until there is an emptiness that cannot be filled.

Life’s lessons are learned through joy and loss, pleasure and pain.

Last Long Run at 52

This week’s run was much more enjoyable. While I do not enjoy running in the rain, it is much better than running in the heat. I teamed up with Freddie Pare early in the run when we figured out we had the same goal pace: 9:30.

My running mate from last week, Stephanie was there again this week. I was glad to see her return after that 18 miler from last week. I think she ran the half distance this week as I didn’t see her after the first half mile or so.

last long run, marathon trainingI won’t give you turn by turn details since they are the same as week six. It was nice to run the same course in better weather. Freddie and I agreed that it was a great way to gauge your progress.

This route has the most hills of any course in our series. For week six I ran the course at a 10:46 pace. This week my pace was 9:41! A few weeks of “training” helped but I think the weather made the most difference.

last long run, week nine elevation map

I’ve never run with Freddie so we had a great conversation and pulled each other along.

I left the charging cable for my watch at work and it died Saturday night. This week I used “Run Keeper” as a replacement.

I haven’t used Run Keeper in a few years and used it to replace my watch then also. At the time Run Keeper was new and everyone around me was fascinated by the time pace and distance announcements coming from my phone.

I liked Run Keeper because it has some nice details and uses cell towers instead of satellites, so it links up faster. What I didn’t like about Run Keeper was trying to start a race, start Run Keeper and get my phone stowed away in a moving crowd of runners. And on rainy days I hated taking my phone on a run.

During our run today I stopped to use a porta-pottie at a construction site. It was very dark in there so I had to be careful not to drop anything. So I didn’t take my phone out to stop Run Keeper. As I was looking for hand sanitizer Run Keeper reverberated in the porta-pottie announcing my current distance pace etc. I could hear Freddie outside laughing.

Run well my Friends!


Sunday Long Run Number 7 for 2017

Sunday Long Run Number 7

Week Number 7 was much cooler than last week, and we only had to run 14.6 miles!

I was traveling last week so I only managed to get in one 4.34 mile run along the water front in Baltimore. I definitely need to be more diligent with my training while traveling. On Friday I had planned to do another water front run but I was exhausted from a busy week of long days.

We had a pretty good sized crew of probably 30 people or so. It looked like more than half of the runners ran the short course of 7.1 miles. One person ran our Tuesday night Club Run route of about 6 miles. It’s all good.

The map below says week 4 but we switched things up a bit this year.

Week 9, week 4 Sunday Long Run Number 7 MaoThis week we ran down Main Street and took a left onto Melrose Street and then a left onto the Fellsway, left onto Tremont Street and then a left onto Lake Street to Emerson back out to Main Street. A big loop around Ell Pond.

From Main we took a left onto The Fellsway and we were off.

Around 3.5 miles we hits the Fellsway Hills. I was running with Don Keren and told him we should take it easy up the hill. Our first mile had been 9.13 and this was just a training run. On top of that Don had climbed another 4,000 footer in New Hampshire on Saturday.

Just like last week we were running with Jessi Marquardt who was taking it “easy” this week. We traded places with her for most of the run. And ran with her quite a bit also.

After the Fellsway Hills we took a right onto Highland and went up that hill to our first water stop. It was beginning to feel hot and I was glad to be wearing a singlet.

From Highland we took a left onto Elm Street and got to run down this hill this week. Then we ran the back side of Spot Pond and saw Tom Gorman at our second water stop just off of South Street.

Training runs are a good time to experiment with new things. This week I tried out a Saltstick caplet. Each one has 215mg of Sodium and other electrolytes and vitamins. At our water stop I took one caplet and two Hyland Leg Cramps tablets.

My next marathon is going to be hot, so I wanted to see how my gut would react to taking basically a salt tab. Everything seemed fine for the entire run. I use the other two next week for our 18.1 mile run.

We were about 8.5 miles into the run and with less than six miles to go I felt pretty good. It’s amazing how much easier it is to run in cooler weather!

From here we continued on Pond Street which turned into Highland Avenue. Just down from the traffic rotary near Flynn Rink we had our last water stop at about 10.5 miles.

I still felt okay but knew if I stopped for too long my muscles would tighten up. Don was still talking as I decided to head out. Before I got to East Border Road Don caught up.

As we chugged up the Fellsway East hills again we had a good conversation about all the issues in the news, particularly discrimination. I wont go into the details but it’s amazing we had the breath to carry on a conversation like that!

We ended up cutting the run short and went down West Wyoming. I’m still ramping up my miles and Don had been hiking the day before.

As I increase my miles I’m trying to avoid aggravating my little aches and pains into big aches and pains. There’s still four months until my marathon.

Next week, 18 miles!

Run well my Friends!


Sunday Long Run Marathon Training 2017 02

Sunday Long Run 2017 02 is actually run number 3. Our program is managed by an engineer, so we start with run 00.

Jim Carson has managed the Sunday Long Run program since I have been involved with it. He organizes the volunteers and makes sure we have supplies for the water stops. I don’t think we have ever cancelled a run because we didn’t have volunteers, even when Jim was away.

Sunday Long Run 2017 02

It was a brisk, sunny morning with temps in the high 20’s to low 30’s. Runners don’t mind the cold as much as they mind the rain. So a cold dry morning is fine by us!

I showed up early to Brueggers and put my money on the table. As everyone else came in they assumed I was collecting and placed their cash on top of mine. The pile was growing nicely and then Jim came in and took over the collection.

A few minutes before eight about 50 of us piled onto the sidewalk in front of Brueggers for our instructions.

Sunday Long Run, MRC, Spot PondI’ve run this course so many times, I could actually visualize each turn and each hill. We had a lot of Mystic Runners with us and many listened carefully to Jim’s instructions.

I was at the front of the pack and headed down Main Street to West Wyoming. I ended up running with several of the faster runners in our club and was concerned that I was going out too fast.

You can go out too fast even on a training run. You don’t get a DNR if you cut your run short due to fatigue but it does kind of suck.

As we headed up the Fellsway Hills I stayed with the faster runners. Very few people were behind us and I was really getting concerned. We ran both hills on The Fellsway and then turned right onto Highland Ave for another hill.

Sunday Long Run, Melrose Running Club

As we approached our first water stop I decided to hang a bit longer at the stop and let the faster people go ahead. I knew better than try to keep up with them for the full 12.5 miles.

I ended up running with a few Mystics around the back side of Spot Pond in Stoneham. We had a good chat and ran a little slower than the group I was with previously.

While I was hanging at the water stop at the turn onto South Street I saw my friend Gail Severt coming in. I decided to wait and run with her. We used to run together all the time and I knew we would have a good talk like we used to.

As we approached Flynn Rink I decided that I needed a bio break. It’s hockey season and the rink is a public facility, so I knew I was all set. Gail ran ahead and I went into the hockey arena.

By the time I got to our last water stop, Gail was gone. I was now near the end of the long run group and most of them were going a lot slower than me. A few were even walking.

I would run with them a for a bit and then push on. At this point I just wanted to get the run over! 12.5 miles is a real run, even with social water stops!

This weeks route involved running The Fellsway hills both ways. I felt pretty good and I like running hills, so I pushed hard up and down the hills.

My knee bothered me a bit from the down hill pounding, but overall, I felt pretty good.

A Sunday Long Run isn’t about speed really. It’s about getting your body used to running long distances. Gradually we build up to 20 and even a 22 mile run.

We do this over 16 weeks with step back weeks built it. If you don’t over do it the rest of the week, the program is an excellent way to prep for Boston or any other spring marathon.

The program is so good that often, half of our runners are from other clubs! You gotta be doing something right!

I ran 12.51 miles at a 9:09 pace. It looks like I spent about 23 minutes hanging out.

Tips for Sunday Long Run Runners

During a race I always double tie my laces. Most new shoes have laces that rarely come untied, but I see runners with flopping laces all the time. This week I didn’t double tie and I had to stop for each shoe.

Tip: Always double tie your laces. It’s a needless waste of time, especially during a race.

I also had to make a bio break. All runners should carry a few dollars and a few tissues with them. You never know when you may need them. It’s also a good idea to know where there is a public toilet, like an ice rink, and a place to get a drink.

There are Dunkin Donuts everywhere. With a few dollars you get get a bio break and buy a bottle of water on your way out.

Tip: Get to know where the water fountains and restrooms are that you can get into. It can make life so much easier!

Run well My Friends!


In Pursuit of Goals

The McMillan Running Calculator

A plan is essential to achieving a goal. Knowing where you want to go is not enough. You need to plan each step along the way. Without a plan there is no way to chart your progress or know what to do next. Your goal is point B, but each step along the way can motivate and reward you or give you a wake up call.

For runners there are many tools and programs to help with planing. A popular tool s the McMillan Running Calculator. If you have run at least one race, you can use this calculator.

To use this calculator you enter a recent race finish time and the goal time for your next race. The calculator can take a finish time from a one-mile run and make a calculation for a marathon finish.

Basically, you tell the calculator where you are currently and where you want to be. McMillan then calculates what pace and time you should be able to run several common distances if you want to achieve your goal.

Using what your current finish times and what your goal finish times should be, you can build your training plan.

In Pursuit of Goals

A goal must be well defined and achievable.I want to run a fast marathon” is not a clear goal.” ” I want to run a marathon as fast as Meb Keflezighi” is a goal 99% of us could never dream of achieving.

My goal is to run a 3:25 marathon in five months. Many runners my age can run that fast so I know it is achievable. Weather or not I can achieve that goal is something I will have to find out for my self.

But my goal is clear and achievable. That is step one.

Once you have established your goal, your Point B, you need to access where you are at currently, Point A. Is the goal beyond your current capabilities? Maybe way beyond your current capabilities? Do you have the resources, talent or drive to achieve your goal in the time frame you have established?

Step two is building your plan

The McMillan calculator will provide finish times you should currently be capable of based on the recent finish time you entered. Compare these times to other recent race finish times. Are you ahead or behind the calculated results? This is Point A.

The table below is based on a recent 1:45 half marathon. I put the McMillan numbers into a spreadsheet and plugged in my most recent finish times for those distances and you can see that I am way off on most of them.

My 1:45 half marathon finish indicates that I can finish a marathon at 3:40:59. That is 15 minutes slower than my goal, and there are many variables that could keep me from even achieving 3:40.

Across the board my numbers are off. My 5K is only off by 7 seconds per mile, but my 10K is off by almost a minute per mile! My half is spot-on since that was my benchmark time. I should be able to run a marathon at an 8:26 pace, but my current pace is 9:32 and my PR pace is 9:09!

Distance 800M 1 Mile 5K 10K 1/2 Mar Mar
Time 2:56 6:32 22:41 47:06 1:45:00 3:40:59
Pace/Mi 6:32 7:18 7:35 8:01 8:26
Recent Times 7:25 8:34 8:02 9:32
Distance 800M 1 Mile 5K 10K 1/2 Mar Mar
Time 2:43 6:03 21:02 43:42 1:37:25 3:25:00
Pace/Mi 6:03 6:46 7:02 7:26 7:49
Recent Times 7:25 8:34 8:02 9:32

When we look at the second part of the McMillan Calculator results,my goal times, the numbers look even worse! It’s a good thing that I have five months to meet this challenge!

The early goals in a plan should be striving to hit the finish times the calculator says you should be running currently. You may not want to run a test marathon, but you should build into your training plan several 5K, 10K and even one or two half marathons

You don’t want all of your training runs to be at race pace. When you do train at race pace check to see if you are hitting your current goal pace for that particular distance. As your training progresses you should start to hit your target pace at the different distances.

Races are the best way to test yourself. When you are running with friends, everyone may not want to or be able to run at your target pace. At a race everyone is running as hard as they can. Run some races, test yourself and have some fun!

As your training progresses you should be hitting or exceeding your target pace on a frequent basis.

To achieve Your Goal

My basic philosophy for achieving a goal is to:

  • Identify my goal and have a specific outcome and time frame
  • Assess my current position, condition etc. and be honest with myself
  • Map out a plan to get from point A to point B
  • Work the plan, be dedicated, but not rigid
  • After a set-back, re-adjust my plan and keep moving forward

Going from a PR marathon time of 4:00 to 3:25 is a very aggressive goal. I need to knock a minute and twenty seconds off of every mile for 26.2 miles. I’ve made some changes in how I think about racing over the past two years and it has made a difference. Now I need to change my approach to training. A goal like this requires greater focus and dedication.

I have my goal, I have my plan. Game on.

I don’t think that my approach is revolutionary. It’s pretty basic stuff that anyone can use to achieve their goals. No matter what your running goals are for this year, or the rest of your life, check out the McMillan web site. Punch in your latest finish time and then punch in your next race goal.

Run well my friends.

© 2013-2015 andrew nagelin

New Years Commitments Revisited

As 2012 drew to a close and the promise of 2013 was alive in everyone’s imagination many of us made resolutions and commitments for the new year.

My New Years Commitments

My commitment was to run three days per week each week in 2013. This week will mark the end of week 18 which should have me completing my 54th run of the year.

My run on Tuesday was number 49 for the year, so I am a little behind on my commitment. As I started the Tuesday run my left Achilles started acting up. Things often hurt for a few minutes and then get better. This time the hurt continued throughout my run and is still bothering me.

One of the lessons that I have learned over the years is that if something hurts you need to give it some rest. So I’ve decided to bag the rest of the week, take some anti-inflamitories and ice my ankle as often as possible.

By taking some time off now my body will be able to repair the damage from my half-marathon and I wont have a lingering pain all summer. I know I need to do this, but I do not like it.

With the year one-third over I will be behind my commitment by five runs at the end of this week. I plan to work hard over the summer so that I can get a PR at Bay State in October, and I’m even dreaming of a Boston Qualifying time at Bay State. It’s a stretch goal! With these goals in mind, getting those five runs back into my schedule should not be a problem.

How are you doing with your New Years resolution or commitment? Have things slipped a bit or are you done? There is still plenty of time to get back on track.

Most of us made these resolutions for a reason. Possibly to achieve a life-long goal or to improve ourselves in some way. It is easy to get caught up in life’s every day struggles and forget our dreams. Resolutions are those grand goals that if achieved will help us achieve our dreams.

new years commitments
It’s about more than just running this time

The goals are grand because the dreams are grand. Grand goals are not easy to achieve. They are the “what ifs.” But by sticking to your plan or re-committing to your plan you can achieve your goals and dreams and the “what if” will turn into “I did”.

I am behind on my commitment but I have not given up on my dream. Three runs per week are the base that I need to achieve my goals. As I’ve said before, it’s about more than just running this time.

© anagelin 2013