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!

Congratulations…YOU ARE A BOSTON MARATHONER!

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.

_ELA8288.JPG

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!

I AM A RUNNER…

Posted: December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

Grafton Road Race II

More than anything…I AM A RUNNER! Running has been at the center of my life for the past 40 years and has been instrumental in defining who I am. It has prepared me for setback, disappointment, failure and even tragedy. Running has immeasurably improved my health, wellness and fitness. It has nourished my soul and been the primary source of empowerment and inspiration to chase my dreams in an attempt to live life with more meaning and purpose.

Running has allowed me to become a coach. And now I am also defined by that, which brings a greater degree of fulfillment and happiness into my life. Today begins another journey of preparing nearly 200 Marathon Coalition runners for the 2015 Boston Marathon and I could not hope for any more abundance in my life.

This journey will provide hope and opportunity to people who have gone far too long without both. I couldn’t be more proud of what the Marathon Coalition represents…Empowering Others Through Running!

GO TEAM!!!

Rick Muhr

When I awoke on July 10, 1996 I had no idea my life would be forever changed…in a dramatic and significant way.  I received a call from my sister sharing the startling news that our mother had been diagnosed with leukemia.  I couldn’t get to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota soon enough.

She passed 3 weeks later, but not before I had the opportunity to promise her that I would do something significant with my life to honor her memory.

The past 18 years have been the most significant of my life as I have passionately pursued that commitment to mom.  Thanks to the thousands of runners I have had the honor and privilege of coaching, this truly has been a journey of inspiration.

I’m thrilled to announce that I, along with my co-author and Marathon Coalition runner, Kelly Williamson, will be documenting this inspirational journey in a book; In Memory Of Mom: A Son’s Journey of Inspiration!

If I have coached you and had an impact on your life, I hope you will visit our website and consider sharing your story to be considered for inclusion in our book:

wwwcoachrickmuhr.com

Boston Marathon Coaching Picture

Cara Gilman

Posted: November 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Cara Gilman I

Cara Gilman, Yoga Teacher, Running Coach, Cycle Instructor
I am so excited to announce the newest addition to the Marathon Coalition coaching staff.
Cara Gilman is not only an experienced marathon runner, she’s a certified yoga teacher and cycle instructor. With 8 marathons under her belt, she knows the importance of a well-balanced training plan, one that not only gets you to the finish line but also gets you there over and over again.
She teaches a wide range of classes, from vinyasa yoga to yoga for runners to hip hop yoga. A teacher and coach by nature, Cara brings inspiration and optimism to everyone she touches. Her high energy is contagious and she can’t wait to share it with the Marathon Coalition.
Cara Gilman IV

The Joy Of Coaching

Posted: September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

There is always a huge void in my coaching life after the Boston Marathon each year. I have managed to fill that void by continuing to provide private coaching to runners training for other marathons. It has added a new dimension to my coaching and has improved every facet of my coaching methodology. Most importantly, it has strengthened my friendship with every person I coach.

This past weekend I met with Kelly, Jessica and Natalie for a hot, hilly and humid 10 mile run in Grafton. This was the day after we had all completed runs in the 13-16 miles. It was one of my most memorable runs in 40 years of coaching. I witnessed firsthand why these 3 are such amazing runners…their determination, discipline and amazing attitudes are the cornerstone of success in running and life!

Here is a recent entry from Kelly’s blog describing our run:

Surprising even myself, I am gearing up for yet another training season to get ready to run the 2014 NYC Marathon on November 2, 2014 in support of Boston Children’s Hospital. Follow along as I find out what marathon training looks like in the summer and why I have such admiration for this hospital.

 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Surprises Every Week

“I was born with lightning in my heels…” – Delta Rae
Amazing Training Weekend

Jess, me, and Natalie post-run

Last weekend was one intense weekend of running, probably the most aggressive I’ve ever been with my training.  Saturday was my usual long run day, and I ran 12 incredible miles in my new Altra Paradigms.  I started out easy and hit my tempo miles spot on, without going out too fast, which is a tendency I have.  On Sunday, instead of my typical recovery bike ride, I joined my coach and two other runners he coaches.   We are all training for fall marathons, and I had actually just met them both the weekend before at Rick’s 5K in Newton.  I’d been following Natalie’s training on Facebook, and she is just about as motivating as anyone I’ve ever known.  Funny, beyond funny really, intense and dedicated to killing her workouts.  Jess, well she absolutely rocked that 5K at a 6:40 pace…pretty sure I saw flames behind her heels.

Rick and I at Miles for Mikey

I’ve made it pretty clear that Rick is a running guru and the ultimate coach and mentor.  To be running with him, Natalie and Jess, people I consider well above my ability level, was equally exciting and nerve-wracking.  These are runners I aspire to be like.  I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up, but I quickly figured out that it really didn’t matter.  We weren’t there to race, we were there to share a run as friends and people who truly have a passion for running.  It wasn’t an easy run whatsoever, with hills, heat and humidity to contend with, but when I look back on that run, that’s not what I recall.  I think about chatting with Natalie and admiring her perfect form, trying to figure out how Jess runs hills so effortlessly,  and Rick making sure I was handling the run well, all the while running like the pro he is.  It was definitely a faster recovery workout than I was used to, but I did it…and I could walk on Monday!  This run will be one that I think about when I’m running the streets of NYC, because I was able to hold my own with runners I so admire.  If those sneaky negative thoughts start to creep up, this run with chase them away.

PS – Jess is running NYC as well, and Natalie will be there cheering us on!  How perfect is that?

Mikey Moment

At Miles for Mikey 5K

Mikey walked over to a picture my sister has at her house of my family recently, and he pointed at me and said, “Aun” with a big smile on his face.  Yeah, that’s money in the bank for marathon day, too!

It Has Been A Long Year

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

The past year has been one of the longest and most interesting of my life.

In the aftermath of the bombings that occurred at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, I reflected on every aspect of my life.  The question that took the longest to answer was whether I was truly living my life in a meaningful and purposeful life.  Oh sure, I could easily gravitate to the hundreds of runners I coach and the endless stories of success with their fundraising and improvement in running for a quick ‘yes’ to that question.  But life is never that simple and I’m not one to take the easy way out.

I needed to take a deep dive on every facet of my life, which included my marriage, family, work, friendships and other passions and evaluate each one.  But before I began that journey I felt the need to truly live life.  I knew this was going to be a journey requiring significant thought and reflection.  Running, fly fishing and motorcycling are my favorite activities for reflection so I needed to develop a battle plan.

I decided a major motorcycle journey would provide a significant physical, emotional and spiritual challenge so the planning began. I have always dreamed of riding my motorcycle across our wonderful country but ultimately decided to add more challenge and complexity.  Completing the coveted Four Corners Tour (http://sc-ma.com/rides/usa-four-corners-tour-site) was my primary goal but I also wanted to attempt riding across the country in less than 50 hours.  The Four Corners tour requires a rider to travel from Madawaska, Maine to Key West, Florida to San Ysidro, California and to Blaine, Washington.  Oh yeah, I then had to ride back to the Boston area.

In my attempt to ride across the country in less than 50 hours I chose a southern route from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California.  I made a successful attempt in just 40 hours and 35 minutes.  Trust me, that’s a long time to stay awake, particularly when riding a motorcycling, battling weather, traffic and immeasurable fatigue and exhaustion.

I learned that we are all capable of achieving far more than we realize.  Another lesson I learned is not to put dreams on hold regardless of all the reasons why they don’t currently fit into your life…work is too demanding, time is too limited and it’s far too expensive.  Ultimately, what matters is that we chase our dreams, push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and attempt to find purpose and inspiration in the way we live each day.

The only drawback to this 12,000 mile motorcycle journey in 14 days (http://sc-ma.com/rides/usa-four-corners-tour-site) was that I developed a case of severe Achilles tendonitis.  I was on my motorcycle for more than 21 hours every day so I kept my feet in essentially the same position.  I shifted with my left foot and there’s a lot of shifting involved when riding 12,000 miles.

It has been over a year and I’m just getting back to running 5 days a week.  I certainly have lost a significant amount of fitness and most of the muscle memory in my legs.  However, I gained a higher level of appreciation and love for running.  Running defines me more than anything else.  It’s where I learn the most about myself, what I’m capable of and where my weaknesses are…it’s where I find the greatest inspiration.

Now I’m looking at challenging myself in another arena…running!  My love and passion for motorcycles is as strong as ever, but now I want to enjoy exploring the back roads of New England and not place myself at risk by pursuing ultra distances while sleep deprived.  I know I want to attempt 100 miles on the track to raise money for Chaz Davis, a young man from Grafton, MA that has lost his vision to a rare condition (http://www.telegram.com/article/20140222/COLUMN12/302239925&Template=printart).  I also want to explore how fast I can run a marathon at 56 and complete more trail ultras (24 hours and 100 mile races).  You can have enough rodeo style belt buckets from completing trail ultras

So it’s wonderful to be nearly 100% recovered from this Achilles ailment and training consistently.  I look forward to training the Marathon Coalition runners for the 2015 Boston Marathon.  Seeing this group of runners train for and complete the Boston Marathon will provide far more satisfaction and inspiration than anything I can achieve myself!

Yes, it’s been a very long year and I am still in the process of evaluating how I can live with more purpose and meaning each day… but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I look forward to seeing you on the roads…and trails!

Weight Watchers

Posted: May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

I have taken over a month off from posting here but I’m excited about a new beginning.  Training a group of nearly 300 runners for the Boston Marathon for 5 months requires a Herculean effort.  But the rewards are immeasurable.  This year’s marathon was the perfect celebration in the aftermath of last year’s tragedy.  Now it is time to begin the next chapter of life.

After last year’s Boston Marathon, I felt an insatiable need to live life.  So I chose one of my passions and completed an amazing 12,000 miles motorcycle trip to all four corners of the United States in just 14 days.  I never dreamed I would circumnavigate the entire country on my BMW motorcycle.  Riding from Madawaska, Maine to Key West, Florida to San Yisidro, California to Blaine, Washington and back to Boston was nothing short of amazing.

It also nearly cost me my life when I rode from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California in 40 hours 35 minutes without sleeping.  I hit the desert in Arizona after 36 hours and the temperature was 125 degrees.  I struggled to stay awake and ultimately hallucinated but managed to make it safely to San Diego.  I have no doubt I had several Guardian Angles looking over me.  I learned the first casualty of extreme fatigue is the ability to recognize how exhausted you actually are.  I’ve experienced this in a 24 hour run but it’s a different story at 75 m.p.h. on a motorcycle

I also learned that living life to the fullest has limits and being careful and realistic are important to not crossing the line and risking it all.  Here is a picture taken in Winona, Minnesota, just a few days from my successful return home.

Rick's Ride 026

I have enjoyed privately coaching a special group of runners committed to their running potential.  I’m so inspired by their determination, discipline, enthusiasm and commitment to excellence.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in their significant accomplishments.

One of my greatest joys is teaching new runners to run with perfect form and efficiency.  In the weeks before the Boston Marathon, I spoke to several Weight Watcher groups about healthy living.  I promised them I would conduct a Transformational Running clinic to teach them about beginning a successful training program.  I’m so impressed by their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.

Just over a month after the Boston Marathon, I return to Hopkinton today to conduct this clinic at the local high school track.  If  I am successful, I will help them enjoy running for life.

I may even see several of them at the starting line of the 2015 Boston Marathon in Hopkinton next April!