Archive for March, 2013

Risk Versus Reward

Posted: March 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

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 manuever, the bachelor party 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 emotional waters or doubt and excitement can drain you of energy. The runners that can 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!!!

Marathon Dreams

Posted: March 30, 2013 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

The start of the Marathon was 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 15, 2013. 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 20 miler and the morning of the actual start. On April 15th 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 before dropping the items you want at the finish line onto buses parked along the route to the start. 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 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!

Where It All Begins

Achievement never rests…it will be waiting for you when you awake! I am drawn to motivated people who are in constant motion and who place a high value on health, wellness, fitness and serving others.

Our society has become so soft and undisciplined. We’re killing ourselves with comfort and conveniences that don’t require us to move. Traveling the country has provided an interesting perspective on how unhealthy we’ve become. It’s unsettling that the standard of being surprised when I see a healthy person has become far too common.

There’s a seismic divide between the healthy and unhealthy…similar to the middle-class swiftly evaporating. On one hand you have the Boston Athletic Association being forced to tighten the qualifying standards because the marathon’s popularity has reached epic proportions and at the other end of the spectrum are vast amounts of people racing towards obesity at record rates. The most unsettling aspect of this is the recent research indicating that more than 30% of children are obese. The long-term ramifications of this, coupled with the removal of physical education classes being eliminated and the lack of education on leading a healthier lifestyle, should concern everyone!

My hope is the Marathon Coalition runners will continue to be as disciplined as they have the past 5 months once the marathon concludes. I know that I will be focusing on improving my diet and restructuring my fitness routine to achieve greater balance in the mind, body, spirit model. I will also evaluate the feedback that I receive from each charity that I coach to identify areas where I can improve.

I have plenty of room for improvement in my life. I’m motivated to lose a few pounds by being more consistent with my fitness, eating healthier and establishing several new fitness goals. I certainly want to learn more about yoga so that I can have better overall health. I definitely need to improve my flexibility and I would like to spend more time running on trails and enjoying nature.

I still have another attempt of running 24 hours on the track on my radar. My goal is to run at least 100 miles. I also plan to improve my swimming in an effort to complete an Ironman. I’ve done plenty of ultramarathons but I plan to do plenty more. The marathon continues to intrigue me so I hope to have a consistent summer of training and run Hartford in October.

Movement has been an integral part of my life…that’s not going to change. Movement has been my constant and loyal’s been the foundation of incredible achievement!

Team Spirit

Posted: March 27, 2013 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. 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!


This is the time of year that I’m most proud of being a marathon running coach! I’m excited to see the Marathon Coalition runners accomplish a goal they’ve worked extremely had towards for nearly 5 months. It may have even been a lifelong dream that was cultivated when they sat on their parent’s shoulders along the historic route to Boston cheering on the runners. We’re just over a few weeks away from seeing their dreams realized!

I get far too much credit for the role that I play in their journey. Yes, I am there for them when they need me and I host a weekly training for those 5 months. But I am not doing the work that’s required to prepare for the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston. I’m not the one battling the demons of doubt that need to be managed and fought at a time when they’re feeling their backs are against the wall and they’re uncertain whether they can crest the next hill. And I certainly don’t ask family, friends and colleagues to support my fundraising efforts.

My pride for them extends well beyond the running of the Boston Marathon. They have displayed an incredible commitment to improving the lives of others-to giving opportunities to students that spend far too much time dreaming about them and not enough receiving them. I mentioned in a podcast at the Museum of Science that I’ve seen Kenyans walking at Mile 15 but every charity runner I coach finishes. When you’re committed to a cause greater than yourself, particularly when it’s to improve the lives of others, there’s no doubt you’re going to dance on Boylston Street.

Some of my most special times have occurred at the Runner’s Expo when I encounter a runner I’ve coached. They have their Adidas bag with their number inside and they’re beaming with pride. It makes me so proud when they introduce me as ‘their’ coach to their family and friends. I’m really just a small cog in a wheel of compassion they likely don’t even see. Because they don’t spend much, if any, time contemplating how special they and their efforts are…they’re too busy committed to improving the lives of others. They are so selfless that they’ve even taught me to think less of myself and more of others…now that is a task far greater than 10 Boston Marathons.

So my role as a charity running coach is quite simple…fan the flames of compassion in a group of special people 5 months before the Boston Marathon..and stand back and watch it blaze as each one of them crosses the finish line on April 15, 2013!

Let’s Roll Baby!

Boston Marathon History

Posted: March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

This picture was taken in the Athlete’s Village before the 1979 Boston Marathon. Yes…ahem, that’s me on the right in all black…it was during my Johnny Cash phase of marathoning. The two friends with me were from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. I encountered them during my longest run at the time (7 miles). They were running in front of me so I sped up and engaged them in conversation.

They told me they were tapering for the Richmond Newspaper Marathon the following weekend. I remember asking them how far a marathon was. When they indicated it was 26.2 miles I mentioned I would like to try it. After learning that 7 miles was my longest run, they recommended I train for 4-6 months and complete several 20 mile runs. They were surprised when I greeted them at the starting line a few days later. They were even more surprised when I passed them both in the marathon and went on to run 2:59:55 and qualify for Boston. The qualifying time in 1979 was 3 hours so I made it by 5 seconds!

And so began my marathoning career. Less than a month later I ran 2:55:00 in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washinton, DC. I thought it might be a good idea for a final tune-up before Boston so I ran the Virginia Beach Marathon in March (2:47:28). With just under a month of recovery I ran Boston for the very first time…it was unbelievably special. The finish line was at the Pru and I remember finishing and eating some type of hot sout on a military cot in the basement parking lot. I finished in 2:48:35 and had never been happier to see the finish line of a marathon.

I eventually ran my fastest Boston in 2:38:44.

When I look back on that day in 1979, I never imagined that I would be returning 34 years later as a coach of over 200 Marathon Coalition runners. It’s been an amazing journey. Running has been very, very good to me!

This is a recent picture of me racing in the Grafton Road Race…a lot has changed in all those years!

Time To Recover

Posted: March 24, 2013 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, water running, yoga, elliptical, etc.), along with getting sufficient 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 yesterday. 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 been looking 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 yesterday’s 21 miler.

Most importantly, Marathon Day is a completely different experience. Yesterday 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 15th. 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 18th and your mind will communicate that to your body to ensure it’s prepared 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!

Hopkinton To Boston!

Posted: March 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

You will be running through most of these towns during our 21 miler Saturday and all of them on April 15th. There is so much running history that has taken place along this amazing route and you will soon be part of it.

You will create your own history beginning this weekend and further developing it on April 15th. 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 be 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 34 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!

And 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.

Preparing for this weekend’s 21 miler should be well underway. The next two days should be focused on developing your plan for the days leading up to the marathon on every level. Fueling, hydrating, resting , shoes, clothing and mental prepartion are the focal points of a successful journey from Hopkinton to Boston.

The final long run is the perfect time to test your complete plan for the upcoming Boston Marathon. You should attempt to replicate precisely what you will be doing in the days leading up to Boston. Hydration is often overlooked, particularly when the temperatures are so low. Hydrating during the colder months is as important than the summer. Properly fueling for a run of 20+ miles should begin days before and not the night before. I eat whole foods and avoid high fiber and processed foods. Carbohydrates will provide the energy your muscles need to sustain you through the rigorous initial 21 miles of the Boston Marathon.

I try to eat approximately 2 hours before a long run. Breakfast before a long run is usually oatmeal with soy milk. I avoid dairy altogether. (Soy, rice, and almond milks generally don’t contain the sugar lactose, which can be difficult to digest), toasted bagel with almond butter and a banana. I then use a water bottle with an energy drink to top off the tank.

It’s so easy to overlook resting because you have so much on your mind. Balancing life with putting the final touches on your marathon preparation is extremely challenging. Consequently, two nights before a major event; whether the 21 miler or the Boston Marathon, is your most important night to sleep.

Be sure to dress for temperatures that are 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Turn the clothes you plan to wear inside out and remove any tags or modify areas that may cause abrasion. Obviously you shouldn’t be wearing clothing you haven’t tested on several shorter runs. Applying Body Glide liberally will prevent chafing in sensitive areas (e.g., under arms, between legs, feet, and under a running bra, etc.).

Proper mental preparation is arguably as important as any other aspect of your preparation. Take time to reflect on how much work you’ve invested in this effort and how fortunate you are to even attempt the Boston Marathon. Accept the reality that you will NEVER feel totally prepared…that’s the excitement of something as significant as the Boston Mararthon. And that is why the sense of accomplishment is so signficant.

The time you invest in your final preparations for the 21 miler and the Boston Marathon will determine the degree of success you experience. Make the investment now and reap the rewards later!

Boston Marathon And Beyond…

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

At this stage in your training you’re likely focused on the goal of getting to the finish line in relative comfort. You have to focus on tapering properly by following the prescribed training schedule and avoiding injury. You have to also make sure you eat well, stay hydrated, get sufficient rest and not introduce anything new into your routine.

There is so much to consider in the remaining weeks before the marathon that you may not consider life beyond the marathon. While focusing on the aforementioned tasks is precisely what you should be doing, I encourage you to take a moment to consider life beyond Boston. Many runners have expressed concern over the huge void that will exist in their lives once the marathon is over. It’s so easy to become consumed by the monumental task of training for Boston that you don’t consider how your life may change from this experience.

You many never have a clearer glimpse into what you’re capable of accomplishing in life than when you cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I’ve heard countless stories of how life-altering this accomplishment is to so many. Once you prove that you’re capable of committing to and completing a major challenge you begin to consider what other pursuits may be in your future. Completing a marathon, particularly the Boston Marathon, is one of the most empowering experiences you’ll ever have.

Becoming a Boston Marathon Finisher will be part of your legacy forever. No one will ever be able to take that title from you. The finisher’s medal will likely be kept with your most valuable possessions. But this experience is about so much more than checking it off your ‘Must Do’ list in life and the finisher’s medal. It’s about discovering things about yourself that you never considered or imagined. Training through the difficult winter and mostly on the hills of Newton likely revealed some weaknesses in your fitness, your mental state and possibly even your character. Those runners that embrace the reality they’re not as strong as they once thought and dedicate themselves to improving are likely to take more than the finisher’s medal from this experience. They take a passion and commitment to live their lives in the spirit of continuous improvement.

Too many people focus exclusively on their strengths and attempt to ignore their weaknesses which guarantees their accomplishments and self-perception will forever remain limited.

I hope that you take a moment to consider life beyond the marathon….it’s never going to be the same!