Crush Your First Boston Marathon® With These 5 Tips

A group of elite runner start the Boston Marathon

You’ve trained for years to run the Boston Marathon® and your big day is fast approaching. Now that the race is just weeks away, it’s time to start your final preparations. Soon it will be time to pack, make a race plan, and figure out race day logistics. The Boston Marathon® can be tricky to navigate, so here are five tips that will help you get the most out of your experience and help things go smoothly.

1. Pack for all types of weather conditions

Even if you are leaving two days before the race, the forecast can change. Because the race occurs in mid-April, it’s subject to unpredictable weather swings and can range from near freezing to sweltering hot.

For example, in 2018 the forecast was calling for mild temperatures with occasional showers and some wind on Friday. By Saturday, the wind had picked up. By Sunday the amount of rain in the forecast had doubled or tripled and suddenly runners were looking at a deluge instead of a run in some light rain. Runners scrambled to buy jackets, gloves, ponchos, extra socks, and more.

Thankfully there are no shortage of places to buy running gear in Boston. So if the forecast does change, you will have options. However, it’s best to come prepared with your favorite sunglasses, hat, poncho, shorts, tights, gloves, sunscreen, and whatever else the weather might call for.

A final note on the weather. The weather can change quite a bit throughout the race, particularly since the start line is 26.2 miles away from the finish line. As you check the forecast in the week leading up to the race, be sure to check Hopkinton, Newton, and Boston during the times when you will be there.

2. Get to the expo early and/or check out Newbury Street

The expo, located at the Hynes Convention Center, is where you’ll pick up your race bib and browse official race merchandise from adidas. The most popular gear items will sell out quickly, especially in smaller sizes. The less popular gear items might be available for a discount online for months after the race is over! You can go to the adidas website or the Marathon Sports website beforehand to check out the official race gear and determine if there is anything you want to buy beforehand.

The Marathon Sports Boston location, located less than a half-mile from the expo, carries most of the official gear, too. If you don’t want to wait in long lines at the expo, Marathon Sports is an excellent option.

If you don’t like any of the official adidas Boston Marathon® gear, there are plenty of other options. Take a stroll down Newbury Street where many brands have “pop up” stores with gear. In the past, brands including rabbit, Brooks, and ASICS have all had pop up stores along Newbury with alternative gear options. You won’t find many adidas competitors at the official expo because it’s an exclusive sponsorship.

3. Have a fueling plan for race morning

A man makes breakfast with a bagel, peanut butter and banana before a race

Because the Boston Marathon® starts later than most other road races, you will likely need to modify your typical eating and fueling plan.

Unless you have some form of alternate transportation, you will be taking a bus to the start line. The bus ride lasts approximately 45 minutes and that might be prime time to have your pre-race breakfast. Due to security measures, you will only be allowed to take one small plastic bag on the bus, so it needs to fit your food and anything else you want with you in Athlete’s Village (the staging area).

You are able to store things in your pockets so consider wearing something with large pockets if you need extra storage for your food. You will be able to get water from Athlete’s village so there’s no need to worry about bringing extra fluids to drink before the race (unless you have a particular hydration mix you like).

Along with eating comes the use of the porta-potties. There are plenty of them in Athlete’s Village but there are lines. Try to go as soon as possible before boarding the bus so you won’t be making a mad dash for them once you get off of the bus.

4. Develop a plan for your spectators

If you are lucky enough to have friends and/or family cheering for you, work with them on where they will see you. Because the Boston Marathon® is a point-to-point course, it can be difficult to see runners at more than one location. Your best bet is public transportation, so be sure that your support crew is familiar with all the options.

Look at the B.A.A. website and also the materials you are given at the expo for more information on how to take public transportation. 100% of the course is lined with spectators cheering. While the crowd support is amazing, it can make it difficult for you to spot your people. Be sure you know what they are wearing (maybe something bright and easy to spot from a distance) and what side of the course they will be on.

Spectators should download the Boston Marathon® app which has an interactive course map; it will help them ensure they are meeting you at the spot you agreed to beforehand.

5. Start slower than you think you need to. And enjoy!

There are many pacing strategies for the Boston Marathon® and you will need to choose one that aligns with your running style and strengths. Whatever that strategy is, be extremely disciplined in following it. Most of the first half is downhill and your quads will get beat up quickly. You may not even realize it’s happening. Be patient. Save your legs and your energy for Heartbreak Hill in the 21st mile.

Focus on savoring every moment of this magical experience. You worked hard to get here, so enjoy the heck out of it!

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