“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”
– Juma Ikangaa, Tanzania
Most of the runners I am currently coaching for the 2013 Boston Marathon are first-timers. Every training run that they’ve completed for the past several months has been their longest. The unknown of what they are capable of achieving, mentally and physically, is both exhilarating and unsettling.
When training began nearly 2 months ago they never imagined 10 miles would be an easy run. We will increase our next 4 weekly long runs by 1 mile increments before we take a significant step back in mileage. This will allow their bodies to recover and their minds to begin to believe they can actually handle the rigors of marathon training and move into the final stage of training.
I am a huge advocate of running in the moment. It’s important not to obsess on how many miles are remaining but-it’s more beneficial to focus on your form, breathing and having a positive attitude. Too many runners allow negative self-talk to dominate their thought process and suddenly they become consumed by how uncomfortable they are and how miserable running is.
But there are times where you need to remove yourself from the moment and visualize what Marathon Day will be like.
Imagine arriving at the Marathon Expo with your Boston Marathon confirmation card and your driver’s license. Walking up to the volunteer and presenting your credentials provides a moment of incredible pride…you begin to realize the magnitude of the next several days. You’ve worked extremely hard to arrive at this moment and begin to feel you’re one of the chosen ones…rightfully so!
You step into the Marathon Expo and become immediately overwhelmed by the magnitude of products. There’s a special aura to being close to so many runners that you’ll be sharing the journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Enjoying carbohydrate-rich meals in the final days with people who have supported you for so many months and admire your commitment, allows one to appreciate how special the marathon journey is.
Arriving in the Athlete’s Village and realizing you’re on the verge of one of the most amazing experiences and significant accomplishments of your life is incredibly powerful. Suddenly you’ve entered your assigned corral and you realize it’s show time. You hear the Star Spangled Banner and the fighter jets fly over…the gun sounds and there’s a sea of runners as far as you can see. The feeling that you have at that moment is what all the months of difficult training are all about.
The experience of running Boston simply cannot be adequately described in words…you have to experience it. I have always said that,’When you cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon you will realize, possibly more than any other time in your life, who you truly are and what you’re capable of achieving!’
So when you are battling the headwinds, hills, traffic and snowbanks on yet another seemingly endless long run; remove yourself from the moment and consider ‘why’ you are training for the Boston Marathon and the impact it will have on the remainder of your life. One day your finisher’s medal will be tucked safely away in a drawer but the benefits of enduring the challenges of training for and completing the Boston Marathon will pay significant dividends forever.
You cannot earn this experience without the will to prepare!