2016 Boston Marathon

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

2015 Boston Marathon

This is the time of year that prospective Boston Marathon charities are notified by the Boston Athletic Association and John Hancock whether they will receive charity bibs for the 2016 Boston Marathon.

I begin recieving inquiries from these charities once they begin researching  coaching options.  I feel blessed the Marathon Coalition has such a positive reputation within the Boston Marathon community and these charities entrust us with providing the coaching support and inspiration to prepare their runners for the journey from Hopkinton to Boston.

This entire journey of empowerment would not have been possible without the decades of support I have received from the Boston Athletic Association and John Hancock.  I never take their trust and confidence in me and the Marathon Coalition to embrace the values of their charity program for granted.

I have always felt that nothing significant is ever accomplished alone so I would like to thank all the runners that I have had the honor and privilege of coaching the past 20 years.  You have inspired me to pursue my dreams and shown me that NOTHING is stronger than the human spirit, particularly when it is tested.

I would also like to thank the charities that have been with the Marathon Coalition from it’s inception and their extremely dedicated staff:

  • Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring
  • Best Buddies
  • Boston Debate League
  • Boston Museum of Science
  • Boston Partners in Education
  • Bottom Line
  • Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester
  • Boys & Girls Club of Newton
  • Camp Shriver
  • City Year Boston
  • College Bound Dorchester
  • Dream Big!
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
  • Jumpstart
  • Mass Mentoring Partnership
  • New England Center For Children
  • Summer Search
  • Team Access
  • The ALLY Foundation
  • The Esplanade Association
  • The Greg Hill Foundation
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • uAspire

I have also been blessed with the passion and commitment that the Marathon Coalition coaching staff has provided our runners:

  • Coach Greg Guarriello
  • Coach Paul Crockett
  • Coach Cara Gilman
  • Dr. Grayson Kimball

The Marathon Coalition truly empowers others through running!

It’s important to occasionally conduct a complete assessment of your training program to determine areas of challenge and opportunity. Runners, by nature, are task-oriented and can focus almost exclusively on completing daily workouts.

Determine where you need to improve (i.e., nutrition, strength training, post-run recovery, flexibility, etc.) and devote more time and effort into those areas.

There are greater benefits to scaling the duration of a run back and conducting dynamic movements prior to a run to prepare your body for the rigors of running. At the very least, complete your first mile of every run 60-90 seconds slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles. This allows your body to ‘gradually’ warm up and to establish a rhythm of efficiency through a higher cadence and relaxed and rhythmic breathing. Start too fast and you go anaerobic and never find a comfortable rhythm.

Most runners start fast and finish slow. Reverse that trend and you’ll improve your fitness and reduce the chance of an injury.

Post-Marathon Blues

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

The Boston Marathon was just a week ago but it seems so much longer.  Many runners will be returning to work today after a week of celebration and school vacation.  The aftermath of significant accomplishments can be so difficult.  The effort to fill this huge void can seem as significant as the effort to accomplish it.

While the memory of the entire journey will last a lifetime, the reality of life needs to be managed now.  I’m inspired by so many that have already contacted me about training for the 2016 Boston Marathon and the charities that are interested in joining the Marathon Coalition.  The significance of the Boston Marathon has assumed meteoric proportions after the tragedy of 2013 and the amazing celebration of 2014.  This year’s marathon was more than a celebration of running, it was a celebration of life…not only for Boston but the entire world.

The memories of the 2015 Boston Marathon will sustain me until we begin training in late November.   Social media will allow me to stay in contact with those I respect and care about most.  As is the case with life, training for the 2016 Boston Marathon will be here sooner than we realize.

I’ve learned the best way to gain a sense of control over the passing of time is simply to live in the moment.  I try not to look too far down the road for the next big event.  Living in the moment of every second of the day, regardless of whether I’m enjoying it or not, despite whether it seems significant or not, allows me to feel every moment  is precious…because it is!

So, while there seems to also be a huge void in my life this morning, I’m going to focus on living in the moment, savoring the experience of training 175 of the most amazing people who I’ve had the honor and privilege of sharing the past 5 months with, celebrating that we raised $1.5 million for 17 Boston-based charities and allowing the memories of this journey to sustain me until we meet again.

Day Of Reflection

Posted: April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

On the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings I am reminded of the importance of enjoying every moment of life.  This human spirit is so resilient and strong, particularly when it is tested.

I have been particularly reflective as the 119th Boston Marathon approaches and my 19th year as a charity running coach draws to a close.  The Boston Marathon has changed so much in the past two years.  I’ve witnessed a greater commitment by everyone, not only the runners, to celebrate all that the Boston Marathon represents.

The marathon is the culmination of months of difficult training in the worst New England winter in decades.  Runners have emerged from this challenging training season stronger, more determined and eager to celebrate their accomplishments.  They are physically and mentally stronger, more determined to live with greater purpose and more inspired to serve others.

As I stand at Mile 15 on Marathon Monday, I am blessed to experience the best of the human spirit.  I share thousands of extremely special moments with runners that I’ve coached the past two decades.  I am honored when they run into my arms and share how they are feeling.  I’m energized by the power of their embraces.  I’m inspired by their determination…it’s the most special day of the year!

On this special anniversary I am inspired by those that have emerged from this tragedy stronger and more determined to show the world that we are all far more capable of  accomplishing significant achievements than we realize.

Today is a tribute to the power of the human spirit!

Sweet Anticipation

Posted: April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

Now that the Boston Marathon is less than one week 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.

We shouldn’t be disappointed that this journey is coming to an end.  We should be inspired that it ever happened.

When you cross the finish line next Monday it truly shouldn’t be the end of this journey.  It should be the first step in a much longer journey of believing you can make a significant difference in the world!

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.

Now is the time to set doubt aside and BELIEVE you have this.  Monday is your day…the opportunity to show the world what you are capable of achieving.  Nothing is stronger or more compelling than the human spirit, particularly when it is tested.  That will be in full display on Monday!

Team Spirit

Posted: April 2, 2015 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!


Boston Marathon Preparation


With 5 weeks remaining before the 2014 Boston Marathon it’s time to focus on the final stage of preparation. Many of you are running your first marathon or will be running Boston for the first time, so the purpose of this message is to explain how to manage the remaining weeks of training.

Properly preparing for the upcoming 20 miler is the first priority. Depending on where you live, you may be experiencing warmer temperatures for the first time in months. Runners in New England have faced the most challenging conditions in decades. The recent 60 º day was more than many runners could resist and they wore shorts and exceeded their scheduled run by excessive and dangerous levels. I fear these runners may have placed months of hard work and their Boston Marathon preparation at risk.

It is always more prudent to err on the side of caution. You should focus on following the training schedule and completing the 20 miler injury-free. Don’t put too much stock in how you feel during the upcoming 20 miler. Having coached thousands of runners for the Boston Marathon the past 18 years, I have seen runners complete the 20 miler with ease, only to struggle 3 weeks later. Conversely, I’ve seen runners struggle in the 20 miler and finish the Boston Marathon in relative comfort.

Another common mistake is to not follow the training schedule during the taper phase. Tapering (i.e., reducing your mileage 20%, 40% and 60% in each subsequent week) is extremely counterintuitive. It’s analogous to being asked to not review your textbook just weeks before your final exam. No amount of running will improve your preparation during the final weeks of training. But too much running can certainly jeopardize months of hard work. Your body and mind need to rest, recover and prepare for the 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston.

If your running shoes have more than 300 miles on them, you should consider replacing them before the 20 miler. If you’ve not had any issues with your current model, I recommend remaining with the same model and completing several shorter runs before the 20 miler to make sure there aren’t any issues.

This is the time where EVERYONE IS A MARATHON RUNNING COACH…even those that have never run a marathon. While most people are well-intentioned, I recommend following the advice of the Marathon Coalition coaching staff.

Attending the Marathon Expo is the beginning of an exciting weekend but it can be challenging to manage the sensory overload. Being with so many runners and running-related products can be overwhelming. Now is the time to take a deep breath and try to relax. Your energy is better spent on remaining calm and focused on managing Marathon Monday.

Marathon Monday promises to be one of the best days of your life. Enjoy every moment because you will reflect on this day for the balance of your life. The first priority is to be properly fueled and prepared to endure several hours of waiting before the start. Wear warm and comfortable clothes that you can discard before entering the starting corral.

I don’t recommend wearing the shoes you plan to wear in the marathon to the Athlete’s Village. Considering the record amounts of snow New England has received, it’s very likely the area where you’ll be waiting will be wet. Wear plastic bags over your shoes but don’t put the shoes you are planning to wear in the marathon on until after you depart the Athlete’s Village and head to the starting line.

Large garbage bags (worn as a poncho by punching a hole in the bottom and placing over your head) will help to retain your body heat. Bringing a piece of cardboard will also provide a layer of protection between you and the cold ground.

Once you are in the starting corral, focus on remaining calm and conserving your energy. You will notice runners burning fuel needlessly by whooping and hollering in excitement. You will NEVER have more energy on Marathon Monday than you have at the starting line, it’s your responsibility to effectively manage it so that you have sufficient fuel to make it to the finish line on Boylston Street. Trust me…you don’t want to miss that!

The best strategy for traversing the 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston is to manage the distance in stages. Stage 1 is the first 4 miles into Ashland. This is the most extreme downhill section of the course and will set the tone for the remaining miles. It’s important to run conservatively and with absolutely perfect form to protect your legs and minimize the force. Land quietly and with as little force as possible. This is also the most crowded segment of the course so protect your territory by holding your arms up slightly to create a safe barrier around you.

Mile 5-15 is the flattest section of the marathon course. By the time you arrive at Mile 5 your muscles should be fully oxygenated and your rhythm established. This is the section where you can relax, settle in and prepare for the second half of the marathon. Wellesley College is near Mile 13. You will hear the Women of Wellesley long before you see them. They can easily disrupt your rhythm before you realize it. I ran like a Kenyan through this section during my first Boston Marathon in 1979 and struggled through the remaining 13 miles!

Just after Mile 15 (which is where you will see me) is a water stop. Just after this water stop you run down the biggest downhill on the course into Newton Lower Falls and enter Hell’s Alley. I consider Miles 15-17 the most challenging on the course because of the extreme downhill into Newton Lower Falls and the subsequent uphill over Route 128. This area is wide open so any extreme conditions are exacerbated and there are very few spectators. This two mile section requires determination and mental focus. Run with relaxed and efficient form.

Miles 17-21. When you arrive at the First Station at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Washington Street, you have single digit miles remaining! These are the hills of Newton, culminating in Heartbreak Hill from Mile 20-21. It’s extremely exciting to make it to the top of Heartbreak Hill at Boston College. DO NOT ACCEPT ANY DRINKS IN RED CUPS FROM BOSTON COLLEGE STUDENTS. They have been waiting for you the entire day and are eager to celebrate your accomplishment. However, they don’t have any regard for the next 5 miles you need to complete.

The final 5 mile stage to the finish line is the most exciting. The crowds are bigger from Cleveland Circle (Mile 21) to the finish than any other section. You’ll see the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square (Mile 25) and realize, possibly for the first time, that you’re actually going to finish.

The finish of the Boston Marathon is the most exciting of any marathon in the world. Right on Hereford… Left on Boylston and you see the finish line…it’s actually farther away than it appears. But savor every step to the finish. This is the closest you will likely come to being a Rock Star. The screams of celebration are so loud you won’t be able to hear anything else.

Take a moment to look to the sky and share your accomplishment with those that mean the most to you. Nothing significant is ever accomplished alone and you’ve received a lifetime of support and inspiration from countless people. This is your moment to let the emotions flow.   Savor the accomplishment of training for months and raising thousands to provide hope and opportunity to those that have gone far too long without both.

Look up and express your joy when you cross the finish line…the cameras are above you. Nothing worse than having your finish line picture be of you looking down to stop your watch. Don’t worry, you’ll receive a postcard with your official time so focus on looking as good as possible after completing 26.2 miles!


Meb Keflezighi


Moment Of Truth

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Can you recall your most recent moment of truth?  Maybe it was when you left for a run and were tempted to turn around and return home within the first 1/4 mile.  No one was holding you accountable… except yourself.   Or maybe you just crested Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon and realized you didn’t train sufficiently to navigate the next 5 miles without a considerable physical and mental struggle.

It is during these times that we realize how strong and determined we are and where the greatest opportunities for growth and improvement are.  Everyone knows that denial is a weak opponent of significant accomplishments.  We begin to grow when we embrace the truth of the contribution we have made…to our training…to our friends…to our lives.

The New Year allows us to figuratively and, to some degree, literally wipe the slate clean and begin anew.  Rather than begin the New Year with an idealistic view that you can make seismic changes in every aspect of your life, assess where you did well as well as where you fell short.  Then establish realistic goals and develop a plan, with both short and long-term goals, that will lead you to the promised land.

Even the most motivated and capable set themselves up for failure and disappointment by setting too many unrealistic goals for the New Year.  History is a great predictor of the future.  If you don’t have the desire and discipline to commit to something today, it’s very unlikely January 1st will change that.

What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in 2015?  I recommend focusing on just that, with an unprecedented degree of determination and discipline.  You may realize how many other positive and significant things occur in the process.

Happy New Year…I hope it is filled with hope, great health and inspiration!

Transform Your Running In 2015

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
 This is a recent blog post from Kelly Williamson.  I coached Kelly for her first marathon (Boston 2014), which she thought would be her last, and the 2014 New York City Marathon.  She and I have joined forces to write a book (In Memory Of Mom: A Son’s Journey Of Inspiration).  
Kelly describes how she benefited from my Transformational Running Clinic.  With the New Year approaching, this is the perfect opportunity to begin your year on a positive note and completely transform your running for the balance of your life.
Happy New Year!
Priceless Opportunity to Learn from the Best
I have been a runner since I was in high school and I joined the indoor track team to stay in shape for field hockey.  A distance runner before I even knew it, I signed up for the longest event they held indoors, the two mile race.  Honestly, it was awful.  Indoor tracks are so small…so many laps!  Even then, when I had a designated coach, I never learned anything new about running.  No methods to improve speed or run efficiently.  I didn’t think I needed coaching, either.  I mean, who doesn’t know how to run, right?  Wrong.

After I recovered from the Boston Marathon and I’d decided to run NYC, I emailed Coach Rick Muhr a few times, asking about training and nutrition, and he offered to conduct a Transformational Running Clinic to get my training off to a good start for my next race.  Of course, I jumped at the chance, considering it was his influence that turned this one-time marathoner into a may-never-stop marathoner.  That morning, out on the track at Grafton High School, I truly did become a different runner altogether.  He evaluated my form, worked on transitioning between running and walking, discussed nutrition, and I learned the importance of cadence in measuring the efficiency of my running.  Before that day, I didn’t really know what to make of my cadence data that I got from my Garmin, but after the clinic, I knew that a high cadence that is nice and even is optimal.  This graph above blows me away every time I look at it.  The top image is a cadence graph from a run before the clinic, which looks like an EKG.  The three images below are runs following the clinic, with high cadence in perfectly straight lines.  Unreal, but the proof is in the data.  In addition to the mechanics and nitty-gritty details of running, Rick helped me mentally prepare for a new marathon, talking about goals and the very different kind of training experience I had ahead of me.

So, why bring this up now, months after NYC?  Because right now, runners in the Boston area have an opportunity to win a free clinic with Rick like I had this past summer.  A free clinic with a coach like Rick is priceless, and not surprisingly, only 12 hours after announcing the contest, 40 of the 100 available entries have already been claimed by hopeful runners, many of whom I am sure are training of fall marathons.  I cannot stress enough what a perfect way this is to kick off your training, physically and mentally.

This contest is being offered by Rick and I as part of our platform-building efforts as we prepare our book proposal for submission to agents and publishers.  I know how many people are excited about this book.  I hear from people every single day about what an inspiring person and amazing coach Rick is and how excited they are to read the details of his journey to honor his mother’s memory.  I love it, keep it coming, because it is so heartwarming and motivating as his co-author.  Agents and publishers, however, want numbers.  They want proof that this book will sell, so we are collecting data on how many people subscribe to our blogs and visit our website so that we can prove it to them.  One piece of data we are building up is the number of people who are subscribed to receive monthly updates from our website that will offer running tips and exclusive excerpts from the books we move forward.

Thus, our contest!  Sign up for updates at www.coachrickmuhr.com and you are entered.  Simple as that.  The first 100 are entered, and one will be randomly chosen once we get to 100.  Everyone who enters, winner or not, gets training advice and book updates on a monthly basis delivered to their inbox.  Can’t really lose, quite honestly.  Rick is a true wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

So sign up, spread the word about our blogs and website.  Help us get people excited about what I know, for absolute certain, will be an incredible book.

(Not in the Boston area?  Sign up anyways, because the information is invaluable, but if chosen, you’d have to come to Boston to claim your clinic.  Rick isn’t flying to some faraway place.  He has writing to do!)


I am pleased to announce that Rainey Tisdale, Curator of the Dear Boston: Messages From the Boston Marathon Memorial exhibit at the Boston Public Library, will be discussing this project with the Marathon Coalition on February 7, 2015.

Over a year after the attack that took place on April 15, 2013, the city of Boston and the rest of the world continues to heal from this tragedy and celebrate all the positive that has resulted from this event.

This project allowed people from around the world to gather near the finish line of the Boston Marathon to reflect and heal.  The exhibit displayed hundreds of pairs of running shoes (most of them displaying messages of grief, hope and inspiration), notes, posters, hats,  and messages of solidarity from around the world.


No one will ever forget the four lives lost… Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier. Winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, had their names written on all four corners of his race bib.


Holding the finish line banner of the 2014 Boston Marathon were the parents of Marathon Coalition runner, Kevin White.  All of whom were at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded.  Kevin’s father lost his leg that day but returned a year later to celebrate Meb’s incredible victory as well as his own recovery from a life threatening event and a renewed commitment to live life with greater purpose:

Meb Keflezighi

We are defined by how we handle the tragedy in our lives.  This event brought out the best in all of us and exemplified the spirit of a marathoner!