Final Marathon Preparation

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Marathon Coalition sports psychologist, Dr. Grayson Kimball, offers the following advice for everyone running Boston.

 

Greetings to the TEAM:

 

Your big day is drawing near and the usual nerves and trepidation are probably settling in. Believe it or not, the

hard part is over. The nerves you feel are merely excitement. The training is the difficult part; the marathon is

the fun part. Monday is simply your second 20-mile run, with 6.2 bonus miles for being in such great shape!

Hopefully you will all have a peak performance on Monday but the reality is you may not. No matter how much

of a challenge you may be having, constantly remind yourself that your training, your belief in yourself, and

your dedication to the mission of your Charity will be all you need to pull you through. Above all, soak in the

excitement, the pageantry, the intensity, and the unique experience that makes the Boston Marathon all that it is.

 

As your thoughts race by the minute, try to focus your energies on things that are within your control. Things

that if you don’t like, you can actually change. Things like your diet, your attitude, your plans for the weekend,

what you are going to wear the day of the race, etc. Do not spend your time worrying about the weather –

we can’t change it. Do not spend your time wishing the start time was different – we can’t change it. Do not

spend your time worrying about what other people will think about your performance – we can’t change it. The

more you focus on yourselves and what you can control, the more enjoyment and satisfaction you’ll have on

Marathon Monday.

 

It is no secret in how much I value the mental approach to running (check out http://www.gratefulrunning.com).

The simplest of mind tricks can really enhance your running experience. One thing that I like to do to boost

my confidence and keep my mind “in the moment” during the last few miles of a marathon is to repeat the

following mantra every time I breathe – “with every breath I take, I get stronger”. This phrase makes me feel

like a more poised and efficient runner – which is critical when trying to finish the marathon feeling strong and

feeling proud. Here are a few additional mental triggers I want you all to think about between now and the

finish line:

 

On Marathon Monday…

 

o I will have the confidence needed to succeed

o I will engage in realistic, positive self-talk throughout the race

o I will take charge of my feelings and not have any emotional breakdowns if adversity comes my way

o I will have a game plan for my race that will help keep me focused on what I have to do

o I will stay focused on the little things I do that make me a great runner

o I will run my best and be satisfied with what I have accomplished

o I will always say “I CAN”

o I WILL BELIEVE IN MYSELF

 

As I mentioned over the course of our trainings, music can be a powerful motivator when trying to snap out

of a bad run. Sometimes a simple lyric can put everything in perspective and get you back on track. So when

you are feeling fatigued, exhausted, and worn down – remember this fitting line sung by the great Jerry Garcia

- “struggling man has got to move, struggling man has no time lose, I’m a struggling man…and I’ve got to

move on”….That gets me back in the groove, hopefully it will for all of you…

 

In closing, it has been a tremendous experience, an honor, and a privilege to be a part of Marathon Coalition

coaching staff.

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF and MAKE SUCCESS HAPPEN on Marathon

Monday.

GO TEAM!

Sweet Anticipation

Posted: April 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am looking forward to spending several hours at the Marathon Expo this afternoon.  I speak at Macy’s Downtown Crossing at 1:00 p.m. at a GET INSPIRED session and then again tonight to a group of entrepreneurs running the Boston Marathon.  Tomorrow morning will be a quick presentation at the Museum of Science and then to what promises to be our most amazing and inspiring Marathon Coalition pasta party ever.

Michelle Lewis will be performing her new music video…Run, Run, Run (paying tribute to all those training for the Boston Marathon:

Monday promises to be another one of the greatest days of my life…I love the anticipation of observing so many runners realize the dream of a lifetime!  This is a culmination of nearly 6 months of dedicated and disciplined training during the most challenging New England winter in history.  It’s also a bittersweet time because I know I will never see many Marathon Coalition runners again.  But I’m reminded of a quote by Dr. Seuss:

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”

I also know that I will be lifetime friends with many of the runners on the 2014 Boston Marathon TEAM…and that’s the greatest gift of all!

The Marathon Therapist

Posted: April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

I become more of a therapist and less of a running coach the final week before the marathon. Even the most experienced marathoners can work themselves into an emotional frenzy while managing all aspects of their marathon preparation. Just a few of the areas of concern are:

When should I arrive at the expo?
What should I eat in the days before the marathon?
What should I eat the night before the marathon?
What should I eat the morning of the marathon?
What should I eat during the marathon?
Am I hydrating enough?
Am I getting enough rest?
How am I getting to Hopkinton?
What should I wear in the Athlete’s Village?
What should I wear to the starting line?
What if I become too warm?
What if I’m not warm enough?
What is the weather going to be on Monday?
Where can my family meet me?
What if I miss them?
What is the best strategy for managing each segment of the marathon course?
What side of Commonwealth Avenue do we run on?
Should I take aid from spectators?
What is the best T-stop for my family to meet me?

These are just a FEW of the questions I have answered in the past 24 hours. The best advice I can offer is to take a deep breath and begin planning your weekend beginning with the expo. If necessary, make a list (and check it twice) of everything you could need for the weekend. It can be very reassuring to place everything you plan to have on Marathon Day out so you can literally see what you’ll need.

I always recommend keeping everything simple or you will quickly become a bundle of nerves and excessively neurotic. Keep in mind that your family and friends may walk away shaking their heads, throw their hands in the air and proclaim, “I give up…I’ll see you at the finish line!”

I know one thing for sure, you will be a completely different person after you cross the finish line. You will be calm, you will be normal again…and you will have an incredible sense of accomplishment!

The Power Of Togetherness

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

Chelsi and April

Although I missed being with all the Marathon Coalition runners at our last official training run, it was such an inspirational weekend.  I was honored to officiate the Spiritual Union of my niece and her partner.  Chelsi an April organized such a meaningful and empowering ceremony.

I have always loved weddings, witnessing two people express their love for one another and committing to sharing a lifetime together is such a powerful experience.  Being an integral part of that commitment was exponentially more powerful.  As I stood beside April watching  Chelsi walk down the aisle, my emotions were like a runaway train I had absolutely no control of.  But I knew I had to maintain some semblance of control because I wanted this to be such a special ceremony.

I had a lifetime of memories racing through my mind at the moment.  Chelsi was 4 years old when I gave her my motocross boots, helmet and riding gear.  When she stood in them they came to the top of her hips.  Little did I know she would become one of the top female motocross racers in the country.  More recently, she entered the male  dominated world of flat track racing and, once again, dominated this genre of racing where you’re seldom on the brakes and flat our flying while sliding sideways through the turns.  This is an arena where old white guys simply aren’t accustomed to being beaten by such a young female and displayed an immeasurable degree of aggression.  I’m so proud of her for NEVER backing down from this challenge.  You cannot imagine the surprise on their faces when the young upstart schooled them in her first race and removed her helmet…the shock on their faces was palpable.

I will never forget what happened in the aftermath of losing my mom to leukemia in 1996.  Immediately after mom’s funeral, we traveled from Illinois to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee for the Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.  As we were all grieving the loss of mom, this was a welcome distraction and an opportunity for our family to grieve together.  That was the first time I saw Chelsi race and was completely amazed at how fast and fearless she was.  I simply couldn’t believe this was my tiny niece taking on the big boys of the sport.  Ironically, she wore a crash test dummy fastened to the back of her chest protector as a way to distinguish herself from her competitors.  She crashed during this race and flew over her handlebars while going for the win…breaking her collarbone.  She is undoubtedly the fiercest competitor in our family.

In 2004, Chelsi was hit head-on by a drunk driver in a truck while riding her motorcycle .  She fought for her life with the same determination she has displayed during her competitive career…she was only 19 years old.  She has endured more surgeries in the past 10 years than her current age of 29.  She emerged from this life-threatening ordeal a more grateful and appreciative person.

Despite all of her impressive accomplishments, I’m most proud of Chelsi for her compassion.  She has had the biggest impact on all her nieces and nephews and has given immeasurable amounts of time to all of them.  For someone so young, I have never seen anyone earn the respect and love of so many.  I always feel like I’m with a celebrity when I spend time with her while attending national races in Indianapolis.

One of life’s greatest gifts is meeting and falling in love with someone who brings out the best in us and appreciates our uniqueness.  April has clearly been the greatest gift Chelsi has received.  As one of the best basketball players in the nation, she also shares a competitive spirit.  But she has channeled that energy into having a significant impact in the world and on the lives of others.  I’m always inspired by people who commit themselves to making such a difference in the world.  April’s example of selflessness continues to be a source of inspiration.  We are blessed to have her in our family.

The union of Chelsi and April is further proof that we are stronger and more compelling together than we are alone!

 

Embrace The Emotion

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Now that the Boston Marathon is less than two weeks away, the emotional roller coaster is at full speed. It’s the convergence of two diametrically opposed emotions. The excitement of the approaching Boston Marathon is palpable, the sadness of an incredible journey is drawing to a close.

Being a running coach is very similar to being a teacher…I’m on the verge of seeing my students graduate.  Sports seem to evoke the strongest emotions in me.  I get emotional when I see Rider on the lacrosse field with ‘MUHR’ taped to the back of his helmet.  I simply cannot contain my emotions when a Marathon Coalition runner passes me on the Boston Marathon course.

I’ve witnessed the incredible impact the Boston Marathon has on runners and that’s the perfect capstone to a training season. Looking back to the first TEAM meeting seems so long ago. I’ve witnessed a complete transformation from a group of people who were uncertain whether they could complete the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston to a unified group of runners filled with anticipation and confidence. Nervousness and uncertainty are constant companions leading up to the marathon…even for veteran marathoners.

Our training is about to cross the threshold from the comfort of training to the reality of the race. It’s time to embrace all the emotions that occur in the final days before the Boston Marathon!

Risk Versus Reward

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” 
― Molière

The excitement of the approaching Boston Marathon is palpable! The anticipation of the next 2 weeks is so exhilarating. It all begins with the trip to the Fitness Expo to pick up the official number. This can be the first time all of this actually seems real!

Approaching a registration volunteer with your official Boston Marathon confirmation and driver’s license is the first step in the marathon weekend journey; one that is filled with excitement and anticipation. Once you enter the expo the environment is similar to a pep rally before the Friday night game, the step onto a military plane before a maneuver, the rehearsal before the wedding, it’s the anticipation of a MAJOR accomplishment.

The weekend can be like an emotional roller coaster that you have absolutely no control over. You simply need to try to remain calm and maintain your composure. Navigating these emotions of doubt and excitement can drain you of energy. Runners who stay focused on the task at hand throughout the weekend will be rewarded with unbound confidence when they’re starting at the starting line.

Taking on the 26.2 mile challenge from Hopkinton to Boston is steeped in possibility and risk. Balancing the scale between possible failure and monumental success is exhilarating. But there’s a HUGE difference between fear and respect. You absolutely have to respect the Boston Marathon…it’s the most challenging marathon course imaginable. The weather in New England on Patriot’s Day is as unpredictable as a 16-year-old behind the wheel of a car.

If you’re not nervous about running Boston I suspect you’ll learn some valuable lessons on Marathon Monday. There’s always the voice of doubt asking if you’re prepared, can you really make it to the finish line, have you done all the necessary training to arrive at the finish in ‘relative comfort, do you really have the heart and determination to accomplish this? Those are reasonable questions and can certainly cast doubt over what has the potential of being the biggest day of your life.

The Boston Marathon makes a runner feel alive! I love big challenges because there’s undeniably a correlation between the magnitude of the risk you take and the reward you receive. Are you ready for this? I have no doubt that EVERY runner on the Marathon Coalition TEAM will see the finish line…BRING IT BOSTON!!!

Boston Marathon Finish

Marathon Dreams

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

“We are different, in essence, from other people. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”-Emil Zatopek, Czech runner who won the Olympic gold medal in the 5,000, 10,000 and the Marathon in 1952

Boston 26.2

The start of the Marathon moved from Ashland to Hopkinton in 1924. You will certainly begin to appreciate the magnitude of what the small New England town will feel like on April 21, 2014.   As we arrive, there will be excitement in the air as thousands of other runners, many of them charity runners, will be preparing and departing for their final test over some of the most challenging miles of the Boston course.

However, there is a seismic gap between what you experienced the morning of the 21 miler and the morning of the actual start. On April 21st the excitement level is beyond your imagination. There will be helicopters hovering above the start when you arrive, you’ll likely proceed to the Athlete’s Village and attempt to calm your nerves. Volunteers will check your race number to ensure you’re entering the correct corral.

Once you enter the corral you’ll likely be a bundle of nerves. You’ll connect with the runners next to you and undoubtedly feel their nervous energy. Once you hear the national anthem and the fighter jets fly over, you know the start is just minutes away. Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a moment and reflect on all the work that you’ve done to get to the start. Most importantly, remind yourself that patience is a virtue and the importance of running conservatively the first few miles until you settle into a rhythm.

You will be so tempted to run too fast at the start because of the initial downhills and the seemingly endless flow of runners passing you. Simply remind yourself that many of these runners will likely be walking on the hills of Newton from miles 17-21. I have always felt the halfway point of the marathon is not at 13.1 miles but actually at mile 20.

You have invested the necessary effort to train and prepare for the historic Boston Marathon. Now it’s time to appreciate the significant sacrifices in your life when most of your friends, family, and colleagues were simply going about their normal lives. Your sacrifice, determination and commitment will be aptly rewarded in just over two weeks. Among the greatest you will recieve will be the encouragement and praise from the people that respect and love you the most…and knowing that you made such a signficant difference in the lives of others!

Boston Marathon Finish

Team Spirit

Posted: April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It it the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” -Andrew Carnegie.

Running is essentially an individual pursuit…it’s one of the primary reasons I was initially drawn to it. I didn’t have to rely on anyone else. I could simply put on my running shoes whenever I liked and go wherever I wanted. In races I didn’t have to rely on a teammate to make the shot, hit the ball or catch the pass. Whether I did extremely well or was an abysmal failure, I was entirely responsible.

My perspective on the individual aspect of running began to change soon after I became a running coach for Team In Training. I realized that nothing significant in life, particularly training for and running a marathon, is ever accomplished alone. The support and encouragement a runner receives during training and along the marathon course is as important as the perfect pass in a team sport.

Charity runners are undoubtedly part of a TEAM committed to one goal…raising as much money as possible to make a significant difference in the lives of others…to give hope and opportunity to those that have gone far too long without both.   I’ve been so inspired by the example of the thousands of charity runners that I’ve coached who place their commitment to the mission of their respective charity about their individual achievement.

I have never been more proud to be on a team than being on Team In Training and the Marathon Coalition TEAM! I am honored to be the coach of so many determined and committed runners. Their example of selflessness inspires me to give more of myself at every opportunity. The team spirit that exists on the Marathon Coalition TEAM has helped me to think less of myself and my personal goals and far more about how I can help others achieve their goals.

Being a coach of charity runners is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received…I rank it up there with my wife and children!

Go TEAM!

Hopkinton To Boston

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

You will be running through all of these towns during our 21 miler Saturday and all of them on April 21st.  Don’t worry, it’s only 26.2 miles. There is so much running history that has taken place along this amazing route and you will soon be part of it.  I believe the 118th running of the Boston Marathon will be the most historic of all.

Your current focus, as it should be, is likely on completing the distance. But as I look back to 1979 when I ran Boston for the first time in 2:48:35, I continuously consider my history along the course from Hopkinton to Boston and the impact that it’s had on my life. I hope that you will take a moment to look beyond the finish line and contemplate the impact that your Boston Marathon effort will have on your life.

You will discover this journey is so much more than just running. It will define you in ways that you simply can’t imagine. You’ll learn things about yourself for the very first time. You may be sitting in the Athlete’s Village and hearing a language for the very first time or standing in the starting corral and be inspired by something or someone who you’ve never noticed before.

I remember signing my very first autograph just as I was entering the starting corral over 35 years ago and haven’t signed another one…that’s the power of Boston! I’m always touched by the little girls that are always near the starting line with their autograph books asking every female runner in sight for their autograph. You may spark a dream in a child to one day run Boston…that’s the power of the Boston Marathon!

The marathon is undoubtedly a challenging event and that’s why it is so special. Boston has a history of being one of the most challenging marathons in the world. But as with most things in life, the greater the challenge the greater the reward!

When you cross the finish line in Boston you will be duly rewarded. You will receive a heroes welcome from the volunteers at the finish line. And when you look into the eyes of a friend or family member for the first time after finishing,  you may feel emotions that you’ve never anticipated. And you will begin to feel the magnitude of your accomplishment.

When you hobble to work on Tuesday morning with your finisher’s medal around your neck and receive applause from your coworkers, you will feel their pride for you and realize that you’re an inspiration to so many.

You are an inspiration to me, too! I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in your incredible accomplishment.

Time To Taper

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Now that the 21 miler is in the books the tapering process begins in earnest. It’s important to take several complete days off from running to allow the muscle soreness to completely disappear. The residual effects of Saturday’s long run can actually cause soreness to worsen on the second day so don’t be alarmed if this occurs. Walking and other forms of low-impact cross-training (i.e., spinning, deep water running, yoga, elliptical, etc.), along with getting enough rest, eating well, and staying hydrated and using the Roll Recovery R8 will speed your recovery.

Many first-time marathoners can’t imagine how they’ll be able to run another 5 miles after the incredible effort it took to make the ascent up Heartbreak Hill Saturday. There are two very compelling reasons that contribute to this doubt. Once your mind knows the precise distance you’re running on a given day it communicates that to your body. If you were only scheduled to run 13 miles yesterday, I can assure you that you would have looked forward to just getting to 13 miles. And you would have been just as grateful the run was over at 13 miles as you were when you completed the 21 miler.

Most importantly, Marathon Day is a completely different experience. Saturday doesn’t even constitute a dress rehearsal for the Boston Marathon. Despite running with several hundred other runners as you made the trek from Hopkinton to Boston College, you were largely running alone compared to what your journey will be like on April 21st. Very few of the cars on the marathon course were happy about all the runners slowing their progress. But in just a few short weeks, all of New England will be focused on the Boston Marathon. The marathon course will be entirely yours for as long as you need it to be.

Those same drivers that were frustrated by your presence on ‘their’ roads Saturday will be laying out the red carpet for you and providing a heroes welcome as your make the journey into Boston. You will plan to run 26.2 miles on April 21st and your mind will communicate that to your body to make sure it’s ready to cover the entire marathon distance.

And the unimaginable excitement of everything the Boston Marathon entails is your assurance that you will make it to the finish line!