9 Boston Marathon Race Day Tips

Twas the week before Boston and Liana was not running. Taper they call, but torture is more like it. So instead she came up with her Boston Marathon tips and personal approach based on the professional Liana approach.

When it comes to racing Boston there’s two approaches.

A. Attempt for a visit to PR city

B. Dance your way through a 26.2 mile party

I’m going to disappoint you and tell you that unfortunately this is not a guide on the latter (although these is nothing wrong with partying down the raceway). Sure, you want to have fun and enjoy Boston, but some of us want to also run our best Boston as well. Whether its an attempt of a PR, a course PR, or just running the best race we can on that day, it’s okay to want to have more than just “fun.”

I want to preface by saying that just like snowflakes, every runner is unique. The technique that works for me, might be a nightmare for you, so take everything I write as always with a grain of salt. And in case you don’t know me, I’m a middle of the pack runner and this will be my third Boston.

Nine Boston Marathon Race Day Tips

9 Boston Marathon Race Day Tips

9. Be very careful with the sightseeing. I know many runners are from out of town, and Boston is one of the best walking cities to visit. You can walk a marathon and barely notice it when the weather gets lovely here. But, you’ll feel it at the starting line when your legs barely want to move. Utilize the T, it’s cheaper than a cab and will get you to most sightseeing places. Alternatively, save your sightseeing for Tuesday as it makes a great recovery.

8. Try nothing new!
I’m serious! The Boston Marathon expo is one of the best running expos out there (way better than the one year I went to NYC) and you are surely to pick up something new and never tested, even if it’s just a new flavor of GU. Well, I highly suggest putting that back into your suitcase and saving it for another run.

7.  Sunblock yourself up like cray, cray, especially your right side, because being half dark and half Casper is not fun or sexy.

6. Figure out your travel arrangements & don’t stress out about the bus times
Getting to race start has never been easy given that it’s about 26.2 miles out of Boston. Add in the 9,000 (33% more) runners joining you this year means it won’t be any easier. Using the buses in downtown Boston is one of the better options as the roads close at 7AM.

My first year, I freaked out about trying to make my “designated time bus.” Even though, I barely made it, I was rewarded with sitting for 2 hours in the village before I could line up for my corral. My second year, I took a bus 30 minutes later and still had a good hour to spare before I had to get into my corral. Given the amount of runners and security logistics, I probably would still only give myself 30 minutes of lateness at best. However, if I’m running late, I’m not going to worry about it, worst case, I start in a later corral.

5. Don’t stress out about an early dinner I usually try to eat dinner at 5PM, but since most of us won’t be running until 10AM or later, I usually just eat something normal at 7PM or so. I don’t want to wake up starving and over eat on race there. Eating a little later for dinner keep me from stuffing my face silly in the hours leading up to gun time on race day.

4. Plan your race day meals – Unlike most races, it’s midday at best before you get to run. It’s not as simple as eating breakfast, driving and running.  The first wave doesn’t start until 10AM, 2nd wave 10:25, 11:00, 11:25 for the fourth and final wave. Most of us are running during a time we would normally be eating lunch and my stomach doesn’t let me forget that. I usually drink some tea at home at 7AM, I eat my breakfast, two piece of toast and peanut butter, on the bus at 8:30 when i’m entering the village. For me, two hours is far enough to digest my breakfast for 10:25 start, but close enough to start time that I’m not starving 5 miles into my race.

3. Be smart with layers – The weather you have while getting on the bus, will most likely be nothing like the weather a few hours later when you start your race. Unfortunately, with the new baggage policy anything you bring to the village will either stay with you the whole race or be thrown away. Also, while we’re worried about staying warm before the race start, worry a little bit about staying dry. The only place to sit in the village is the grass (unless you’re VIP or Elite, or both.) The grass tends to be wet, so I always bring two trash bags, one to lay/sit on, one to wear in case it decides to randomly rains.

2. Bring your own fuel. I think there’s only one Gu station at mile 18. And it’s not Gu, it’s the powerade version of it, which I’m particularly am not a fan of.

1. Remember, it’s just a race! It’s never good to take yourself too seriously 😉

7 thoughts on “9 Boston Marathon Race Day Tips”

  1. I like this and a lot of these can apply to any race (fortunately for me, because I’m nowhere near Boston level and never well be, especially considering I’d have to run fast for 26.2 miles instead of just 6.2 miles to qualify).

    I like your approach because like you, if I’m gonna do a race… I’m mentally gonna go hard and race it, even if I don’t think it’ll be a PR (due to hills, weather, etc), I’m still going to shoot for the best time possible. This is still doing the race for fun, but if I want to run purely for fun I can do that without paying or travelling, you know? You have some great tips too, I like the one about the sunscreen (I always get cooked on parts of my body, ugh) and also the dinner the night before. I bet pre-race breakfast is tough too, if it were me I’d probably take something to eat on the bus or in the corral.

  2. Sunblock? I think I’ve forgotten what that is after the winter we’ve had. My tip is to try to soak up everything around you. Somehow it all seems to slip by in a blur.
    Both times I ran I ended up in an eternal potty line in Runners’ Village and to rush to the starting corrals. Better than being there too early though, IMO.

    1. I always find some weird side porta potty. Also, there’s some when you go into the corrals that I’ve used. but you’re right, everything does pass in a blur, no matter how slow it seems.

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