If you’re running the Boston Marathon for the first time and aren’t sure what to expect – don’t panic. In this post we’ve sourced a few top tips from seasoned Boston runners. From challenging elevation changes to long shuttle lines, read on to learn how to take on the legendary Boston Marathon like a pro.
1. Don’t run too hard during the first downhill 4 miles of the Boston Marathon course.
Runners plunge from 490 ft above sea level at the starting line to 180 ft above sea level at the mile 4 marker. Even if it feels easy and you’re feeling fresh, resist the urge to pick up the pace in these early miles. Downhill miles at a quicker clip than you’re accustomed to can increase the pounding on your legs, especially your quad muscles. You will see the effects of this in the late miles of the marathon and you won’t have your legs feeling as fresh as they otherwise would be over the most challenging last 10k of the the marathon had you held back on the early downhills.
2. The Myth of Heartbreak Hill is scarier than the hill in real life.
Heartbreak hill is a half mile long hill that appears between mile marker 20 and 21 of the marathon. The climb is a modest 90ft over a half mile distance, making the climb a respectable but far from sinister 3.4 degree grade. Runners don’t encounter the infamous hill until 20 miles into the course, making the myth or dread of the hill bigger than the hill itself. At this point in the race, many marathoners are “hitting the wall” and a hill of his size can seem daunting.
3. It’s a long haul to the start line so plan your nutrition and warm up accordingly.
By the time you get to the shuttles, wait in line, get to the start, wait to line up for your coral, wait in your coral and final get to start, roughly 2-3 hours has gone by. This means that you probably need two breakfasts. Although the marathon organization team has considered this and provides bagels and bananas at the starting line, this might not be your favorite nutrition option, so we suggest bringing your own as well.
4. Enjoy your experience – the hard work was getting here.
There is no other race like Boston. You worked your butt off (potentially literally) to get here. Now run hard but also enjoy all that is Boston. Thank the spectators, look up from the ground, read the signs and enjoy the commotion. It’s an amazing experience that the whole city enjoys (ok – most of the city). When I ran Boston, I flew Monday night (this is something I don’t recommend!). The airline announced that there were marathoners on board, we received a round of applause from everyone and got to board first – that is Boston!
If you like crowds and a party like atmosphere, watch at the Marathon finish line near Copley Square (Dartmouth St. at Boylston st). However, if your want to actually get a spot to see the lead runners cross the finish line, get there several hours early because it is packed with spectators. Be aware that for security reasons, spectators are encouraged to carry their belongings in clear bags and avoid carrying certain items with them along the sidelines of the race course. For specific Boston Marathon spectator instructions please visit: http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/event-information/spectator-information.aspx.
If you want a truly unique spectator experience without the overwhelming crowds of Copley Square, watch near Wellesley University and experience the “Wall of Wellesley” or “Scream Tunnel” at the marathon’s halfway point (head towards mile marker 13 and you won’t miss it—just look for lots of signs saying “free kisses”). This is a spot where the streets are lined with Wellesley College Students who have a carried on a dedicated tradition of not only cheering on the marathoners with lots of noise, they also offer free kisses to re-energize the weary marathoners for the second half of the race. To get to Wellesley via public transit hop on the Framingham/Worchester Line Train at South Station and hop off at the Wellesley Square stop. The ride will be 8 stops and 39 mins and will cost you $7 one way if you purchase before boarding the train or $10 if you purchase your ticket on the train. Once you get off the train it’s just a short stroll over Wellesley University (head toward Weston Rd at Central Ave (rt 135).
If you’re going to be in Boston this week as a runner or spectator, stop by the Lumo Run booth (#606) at the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo in the Hynes Convention Center. We’ll be demoing Lumo Run, giving away goodies and hanging out with “Racing Weight” author, Matt Fitzgerald (4/16 from 10am – 12pm).