By Dr. Jack Daniels
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when training for the Boston Marathon. First, overall, the course is a little downhill, but with some definite uphill running along the way.
Second, as with any course, especially during the spring, weather conditions can vary a fair bit. Often there is a breeze coming at you in Boston, since you are running toward the ocean to your East, and ocean breezes often blow inland. Now and then Boston can get a pretty solid tailwind when a weather system is blowing in from the northwest.
Third, and maybe most importantly, the first five miles of the Boston course in downhill and it is easy to put in some faster-than-average mile times in those first five. It is not bad to take advantage of those early downhill miles, but it is usual for your quads to take a beating as a result of downhill running and if you are not used to it, the latter miles at Boston can be a real struggle.
The idea is to take a little advantage of the first five miles (by going a few seconds faster than you plan to average over the entire course), but to realize you will also be losing some time between miles 16 and 22 when there is a fair bit of uphill running to be done. However, if your legs are used to some downhill running and the early downhills don’t cause a problem later on, the final 3 or 4 miles are also downhill and you can take advantage of those toward the end of the race.
Overall, on a calm and nice day, and with a nice steady effort, the Boston course can allow you to run a little more than a minute faster than a perfectly flat course will allow. The key is to do some training over undulating terrain, including some prolonged gradual downhill running so your legs are used to doing that and will not let you down over the Boston course. Hopefully, the program that we are supplying you with will prepare you for a good performance and one that is not disappointing. Remember that the weather of the day can have major effect on performance so be prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Take advantage of the advantages and minimize the disadvantages that you have to face.
Training for Boston? Customize one of Jack’s Boston Marathon Training Plans, specifically designed to help you prepare for the rolling hills.