QT: 2019 Boston Marathon Takeaways/Lessons Learned
How did you spend Marathon Monday 2019?
If you’re at all like me, you made sure that you were streaming the race on Monday while you were “working”.
Watching the elites do their thing is always a mixed bag for me.
On one hand, it’s obviously awesome just watching what they are capable of doing over 26.2 miles.
On another hand, it’s a little disheartening how easy they make it look to run at ~5-minute pace mile after mile.
But perhaps the best thing about watching the Boston Marathon is being able to (hopefully!) learn a few things from the elites that will help me improve my own running.
5 Takeaways from the 2019 Boston Marathon
You Can’t Control the Weather
I feel like a broken record sometimes talking about the futility of trying to control the weather, but it certainly bears repeating.
For at least the past few years, the weather has been a major story coming out of the Boston Marathon. And this year was no exception!
One of my athletes, who is the first active #DizRunner to be running Boston, termed the weather as schizophrenic. She was right.
This race wasn’t just hot. It wasn’t just cold. And it wasn’t just windy or rainy.
This race had a little bit of everything in terms of weather.
Go with the Flow
Attention all you Type A runners out there: when are you going to learn to chill the fuck out?
Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh.
But seriously, being able to adapt/adjust when things aren’t going to plan is vital.
Take the weather as an example.
It’s one thing to have it hot. Or cold. Or windy or rainy or whatever.
It’s another thing when it’s a little bit of everything.
When the weather changes, all you can do is just roll with it.
And when the busses out to the start of the race are literally pulled off the road because the weather is so severe, roll with it.
Is it ideal?
But is there anything to be gained from freaking out that things didn’t go exactly to plan before the race even started?
Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Bold Move
When Worknesh Degefa made her move, with over 20 miles still to go in the race, the announcers seemed to think she was a little nuts.
They kept talking about the fact that she had never even driven the Boston Marathon course, let alone run it.
They mentioned, several times, that the only marathon she had ever run was the UAE marathon a few months earlier. And that race is flat as a damn pancake.
So, the perception I was getting while watching the race unfold, is that the announcers were setting the stage for Degefa to blow up and one of the women that held back to overtake her before the finish.
And, obviously, that never happened.
Now, if the race was 27 miles instead of 26.2, it sure looked to me like Edna would have caught her.
But it wasn’t 27 miles long. And Degefa was able to hold onto her pace long enough that she was able to cruise to victory.
Do you want to spin the roulette wheel every time you race?
But if you have a big goal you’re shooting for, there may come a time that you need to make a bold move in order to give yourself a chance at hitting the target.
Finish Strong (and Smart!)
How about that finish in the men’s race, eh?
I feel like there were two lessons from this one.
The obvious one: the ability to finish a race strong on tired legs is huge!
Whether you’re going for a Boston Marathon win or a new PR, getting your legs to turn over at the end of a long race is kind of important.
And call me crazy, but doing a bunch of 400m repeats (or other types of speed work) isn’t quite the same as getting after it when the legs are a bit heavy.
Now, I’m not saying that some good speed work isn’t important. Because it is.
But I just don’t think that getting after it at the track mimics that final push as much as we like to think it does.
What is a, potentially, better option?
The fast finish long run.
The other lesson from the finish of the men’s race that may have been overlooked: don’t start your kick too early.
In that situation, with three world-class runners pushing toward the finish line, it’s tough to wait.
But in most situations, the guy (or gal) that makes the first move gets passed before the end.
And that is exactly what happened on Monday.
When Desisa made his move, I hoped he didn’t go too soon.
Sure enough, within the last 100m or so, Cherono passed him and that was it.
Too often we do the same thing.
We look at our watch and see we have a few tenths left in our race, and we start our final sprint to the finish.
Almost inevitably, we burn up that last little bit of energy and fade hard before we cross the finish line.
My advice to all of my runners on race day? Wait until you can literally see the finish line to begin your kick.
When you can see the finish, it’s that much easier to simply hold on and give max effort.
Stay patient. Kick late. Finish strong.
You are Not an Elite (And Neither Am I!)
When they were announcing the elite fields for the races, the conversation seemed to keep coming back to how this runner overcame this injury and that injury to get to the starting line of the race.
And then after the race, I saw a headline about an elite runner that (apparently) ignored a stress fracture to run the race anyway.
For those runners, who are litearlly putting food on their table and a roof over their heads, I’m not sure I can fault them for laying it all on the line to try to race well at Boston.
Even if that means doing something that, for you and I, would be firmly classed as stupid.
These men and women often push their bodies to within inches of their breaking point in order to try to be in peak condition on race day.
And all too often, at some point, they push too hard and they do break.
Then they spend a year or two putting themselves back together, only to do the same thing again.
While I would argue there are better ways to do things from a training perspective, even for the elites, I get it.
As an elite, there are no guarantees.
So do all you can to make the next race the one, and worry about the next race later.
But for us?
That makes zero sense.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of running for the next 20-30 years is very appealing to me.
As such, I need to be willing to be smart and always keep the big picture in mind.
Training to within an inch of my breaking point?
Clearly not a smart thing to do.
And, if I may be so bold, I’d say the same applies to you as well.
What Did You Learn?
Those are my takeaways from the 2019 Boston Marathon, but I’m curious to know what I missed.
What did you learn from watching this years race?
Leave a comment below, or hit me up on social media, and let me know what you learned watching the best runners in the world taking on one of the most iconic marathons in the world.
Running lessons for mortals from watching the elites at the 2019 Boston Marathon #runchat Click To Tweet
What was Your Biggest Takeaway from Watching the 2019 Boston Marathon?
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