Minute 1: The slow burn is the key to unlocking Boston Marathon Success
We think you can learn a lot about a person by the way they roast their marshmallows. Are they hasty, willing to thrust the skewer right into the flame for a risky but quick payoff? Or do they prefer to keep their distance, slowly rotating until they’ve reached a perfectly even toasting. However you choose to cook your Krafts around the campfire is fine with us, but one writer thinks patience pays off in life, and especially in marathons. Take a look at “Don’t Burn the Marshmallow: Racing Boston.” Toeing the line for the 7th time in Hopkinton on Monday, Peter Bromka is a 2:19 marathoner who has some credibility on the matter. The early downhills are especially dangerous, as they make it easy to overexert yourself before the race really begins. Do that, and you’ll pay for it on Heartbreak Hill around mile 20. He warns not to push too hard, too early, because like a marshmallow, “you can’t unburn your legs once they’re scorched.” The slow burn theory seems to be supported by empirical evidence, too. Read “Race Strategy for the Marathon” from Runners Connect to see why. Our previous youthful strategy of “putting time in the bank” with a jackrabbit start was more youthful than strategic, according to this piece. It turns out that nearly every world record in long distance running occurred with a negative split: running the first half slower than the second. A rule of thumb you can follow is for the first 13 miles, aim for a pace 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your goal. Then, use the energy you conserved to make up the difference with a strong second half and finish. If you’re looking for a clear halfway marker and some motivation to pick up the pace, you can count on the Wellesley scream tunnel to get you moving. They’ll boost morale with high fives and cheers. Unfortunately, due to covid restrictions, there’ll be “No kissing at Wellesley scream tunnel for marathon this year.”
Minute 2: Putting an end to cartilage myths
Jane Fonda helped popularize the phrase “No pain, no gain” in her 1980s workout videos. Maybe that’s OK if you’re talking about a little muscle soreness, Jane, but when workouts and runs lead to sharp knee pain, there aren’t enough leg warmers in the world to cover up the scary idea of permanent knee damage. Well even if you didn’t trust Jane’s fashion choices back then, she was on the right track to reassure you about knee damage. It turns out that it’s better for your knees to be pounding the pavement than propped on the couch. This new story in Canadian Running explains why: “Good news: running doesn’t damage your cartilage.” It seems intuitive that running frequently would grind down cartilage, but it appears that humans really were born to run. One study looked at 90 participants of different activity levels, ranging from non-runners to collegiate level competitors. They found no association between running and reduced cartilage thickness. That's one of many studies that report similar results, but that’s not to say runners will all avoid knee injuries. There’s a condition called “Runner’s Knee,” after all. Learn about it in “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)” from Johns Hopkins. It’s often caused by running with improper form, muscular imbalances, or overuse, and the result is pain and tenderness in the kneecap area. If you find yourself with Runner's Knee, you’re going to want to incorporate some icing and heating into your recovery. If you’re serious about it, you should check out this cyberpunk-esque new knee brace: “Hyperice X Review: Hot-to-Cold Contrast Knee Therapy On The Go.”
Minute 3: The celebs running marathons this year
One of our all time favorite spoof videos is this gem from Comedy Central: “First Person to Run a Marathon Without Talking About It.” It is so spot-on that even our most modest running buddies will cringe when they see themselves reflected in the video. The phenomenon of humble bragging is most pronounced among celebrities who run 26.2 miles to enhance both their fitness and their followers. No judgment, since we have never run a marathon without talking just a little too much about it, but we don’t have legions of PR reps and image shapers letting the world know about our plans. We also won’t judge because frankly it’s fun to see athletes from other sports and Hollywood types challenge themselves just the way every other amateur runner does. Often the famous are doing the race for noble and charitable reasons. Check out “Celebrities, notable figures lace up for marathon” to see who you can expect at Boston, and why they’re running. Among the list are some athletes, like NASCAR’s Danica Patrick and former New England Patriot James Develin. We’re also excited to see Chris Nikic perform. Last year, he became the first athlete with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman race, and we’re sure his achievement in Boston will be just as inspiring. This may come as a surprise, but there have been a fair few celebrities who’ve run marathons in the past, and performed quite well. See who in “Celebrities Who Have Run Marathons: Ryan Reynolds, Andi Dorfman, Kevin Hart and More.” One of the fastest on the list is Bryan Cranston, who after being fired from the soap opera Loving, wandered around NYC and found himself watching the marathon from Central Park. He was inspired to participate the following year, putting up a respectable time of 3:20:45. This should come as no surprise, for those familiar with his achievement in the sport of race walking.
Minute 4: Don’t let the weather wreck your race
It won’t be long before you spot us making our way down popular leaf peeping trails, a pumpkin spice latte in one hand, apple cider in the other. Like many runners and outdoors enthusiasts, we can hardly contain our excitement for the fall. The summer heat has given way to crisper air -- exactly what you need to produce our fastest times of the year. Be sure to make the most of it though, because it won’t be long before things go from cool to cold, and you need to start prepping for winter. For that, read “How to Find the Best Clothes for Winter Running.” The key is flexibility. You want something to insulate you from windchill, but don’t pick a jacket so thick you overheat once you’re warmed up. Sweat wicking clothes like long running tights can be a lifesaver as well, covering most of your skin but keeping moisture levels low to avoid complications from freezing temps. Even before the winter, you’ve got to look out for bad weather surprises. That’s why you should see this new story from Women’s Running: “How to Make it to the Finish Line on a Rainy Race Day.” In the middle of a rainy race, there’s not much you can do to avoid it, but you can certainly make the day easier by staying dry before and after you run. Bringing an umbrella and a spare pair of socks really comes in handy. We’re really hoping not to have a repeat of 2018’s Boston Marathon weather (see: “Is Today the worst weather in Boston Marathon history? It depends on how you define ‘worst’”), but at least we’ll know how to be prepared if things go that way.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Not everyone stays as active as they would like, and that’s totally understandable. Sticking to a rigid workout routine takes time out of your day, but it’s not the only way to get exercise. We are big fans of squeezing in mini-bursts of exercise because we have lost count of the number of post-work runs and gym visits sabotaged by client demands, school pick-ups and colleagues who want just one more Zoom call before the sun sets.For a list of ideas to turn your daily routine into a series of mini exercises, check out this guide from Polar watches: “Fun Ways to Get Fit Without Working Out: 100% Daily Activation Every Day.”
Instagram is full of flashy personalities and tons of unsolicited workout advice. “Fitness Influencers” have carved out a big niche for themselves, but we should be asking if what they do is inspiring, misleading, or even harmful. There’s no accreditation process before you’re allowed to shell out your views, so the quality of information varies widely. Just because an Instagram star has 6-pack abs, that doesn’t mean they are qualified to help you work on your own core. Not to mention, influencers often present an unrealistic image: the greatest hits of their lives and fitness journey that leaves us feeling inadequate in comparison. It’s fair to ask the question: “Do social media fitness influencers really have your best interests at heart?”
You’re trying to be helpful. You approach a fellow runner from behind and say in a clam, but loud voice: “On your left!” You may think it’s a courteous warning, but sometimes it just startles your fellow traveler and makes them think your just a hardo trying to show off. Finding space for each other in a race can be particularly tricky, and there are lots of rules that go along with it. If you need a refresher on your passing etiquette, take a look at this article: “How to Pass Someone the Right Way When You’re Running.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
It can’t be overstated enough: if you’re so eager to jump into a run that you forgo a warmup, you should slow things down. Warming up can be quick, fun, and performance boosting. Warmups are also important for injury prevention. Whether you haven’t been warming up at all or you’re stuck in a rut of doing the same stretches every time, the short video below will give you some inspiration, and tell you why warming up brings huge benefits to runners.