35 Tips For Crushing The Boston Marathon - According to Experienced Boston Qualifiers
Updated: Mar 6, 2022
I share insider tips for the Boston Marathon from a few of our most tenured Boston runners. We’ve coached hundreds of runners for Boston Marathon and we asked them what tips they would tell a new Boston Marathon runner.
Sarah - 3:06 Marathoner
Don’t go out too fast. Seriously. Let runners pass you. Resist the temptation to pass others, especially in the first few miles. The first 1/4 mi is a very steep downhill, but you won’t recognize that because of the excitement. Runners will start to spread out after mile 2, and it won’t feel as crowded at that point. Framingham (mile 5) flattens out, but you still need to conserve energy there!
There is a super steep downhill between 15-16. Controlling yourself here is key. I personally like to view it as the first Newton hill. You then start approaching the uphill at mi 16.
Focus on each Newton hill one at a time. The time you spend running uphill is pretty equal to the time you spend running downhill. You can use the downhill to recover and regroup.
Running down the backside of Heartbreak Hill is just as difficult as running up.
There is a left turn you have to make onto Beacon St around mi 22.5. Be careful! There are train tracks there you have to cross. Just know they are there.
Keep walking and/or cool down after the marathon. Your quads will thank you later.
Weather is the trickiest part of the whole race. The course traverses multiple climates, and the end of the race occurs in the afternoon when it can get hot. Be prepared for the weather to change during the day as you're running.
Manage your energy throughout the weekend. Traveling and going to the expo can be tiring. Build-in time to nap or put your feet up. Race morning can be chaotic. You will walk more than a mile before the start of the race due to gear check, getting to the buses and then walking to the start line.
Bring a large plastic garbage bag (to sit on in case the grass is wet from dew) and your own toilet paper with you to the Athlete’s Village.
Always budget extra time throughout the weekend and race morning! Getting an Uber/Lyft/taxi takes a lot of time, especially when you’re near the convention center. It helps to factor in extra time when getting to gear check and the buses. Hotel elevators in taller buildings tend to have a longer wait than normal.
Don't waste energy when walking from the Village to the start, and stay calm in the corral. Some people rush to get there. In reality, each wave/corral consists of runners of a similar pace to you so there isn't much advantage in trying to get a good position.
Danielle - 3:20 Marathoner
Don’t go out too fast. It’s REALLY hard to hold back with the steep downhill at the start & your adrenaline going. Let the other runners pass you. It’s hard but you will be thankful in the later miles and end up passing a lot of people.
If you to listen to music when you race, wear one headphone. I always listen to music but found myself constantly taking my headphones out to hear everyone cheering. You don’t need the music. The crowds will carry you to the finish.
Enjoy every second. Buy the race pictures. Get the jacket. Smile for the cameras. Eat the lobster rolls. Have fun. Remember why you started running and reflect on your journey to Boston. Everything has come together for your final victory lap.
Kim - 3:21 Marathoner
When things get tough, smile... it relaxes everything and helps you regain perspective and focus
There is no way to get around the fact that your legs will take a beating. Embrace it and expect it. If you are mentally prepared for it, it will be less traumatic when it actually happens.
Reframe the hills if you can. Going up them - think of them as an opportunity to give your quads a rest from the downhill
Practice drinking from an open cup while running... easier said than done! I'm still trying to master this!
Recognize that there are things out of your control, like weather, humidity, etc. all you can do is what you can do.
While we are all competitive and want to do well, it's helpful to think of Boston as its own race - it really can't be compared to other courses or times
Don't skimp on the leg workouts your coach prescribes
Enjoy the city and the energy that comes along with marathon Monday. It's palpable and it's everywhere. It's easy to get nervous about the course and overthink things leading up to the big race. Don't miss the magic of the moment by focusing on what's to come
Have a plan A, B, and C going into Boston. It's unpredictable on its very best day. Having a few goals to shoot for will help to keep you focused and in the game when the unexpected pops up.
If staying in the city, make your dinner reservations for the night of the marathon when you make your hotel reservations
Take the opportunity to meet new runners and connect in a way that only Boston runners can. It's a unique experience and one that transcends age, ability, etc.
HYDRATE in the days leading up... when you think you're hydrated, hydrate some more.
Embrace the carbs, enjoy every last one, make it fun.
Take a good long look at the course map and recognize that there isn't 1, 2 or even 3 big hills. The whole course is rolling hills. Don't be intimidated by it. Expect it. Lean into it.
Afton - 3:20 Marathoner
Start slow. Break the race into 3 parts. First part, miles 1-16, then 16-21, then 21-26.2. It was worth starting slow to be able to pass so many people from miles 16-26. A lot of people struggled on the hills. My first mile was more than 20 seconds slower than my average and my last was one of my fastest at more than 20 seconds faster than my average.
Manual lap each mile. I made the decision literally a minute before I started and I’m so glad I did. My watch pace was always about 5-7 seconds faster than my actual pace. I think I would have worried I was going too fast if I relied on my watch and probably would have slowed down. I also really liked having something to look forward to. Each mile is clearly marked so it was easy to know when to hit lap. I also think it helped me stay in the mile I was running. I just focused on my pace for that mile.
Hop-on-hop off trolley tour was great. It was a great way to see the city without having to be on my feet all day.
Recommend staying in Brookline near the T and near the Emerald Necklace trail. This location was great because it was easy to get around on the T and a great place for the shakeout runs in the days before. Plus it was really fun to rent a BlueBike after the race and bike the 3 miles back to the hotel.
Are you ready to crush the Boston Marathon or hit your qualifying time? You're just one step away from achieving results you never thought possible.