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Months of disciplined and dedicated training can be compromised in the weeks leading up to themarathon without a proper taper. Significantly reducing your training volume can be so counterintuitive as the marathon approaches. It’s like being asked not to study for your finalexam in the final weeks. But, your body and mind need a reprieve from the rigors of months of training. I recommend a three week taper consisting of reducing the mileage of your last full training week (which should include your final 20 mile run) by 20% the first week of the taper, 40% the second week of the taper and 60% the third and final week of the taper.Being as disciplined with your taper as you have been with the previous months of training increases your chances for success on April 15th. 


How well you manage the first 4 miles of the Boston Marathon course will determine how the remaining 22 miles unfold. It's extremely tempting to start too fast because you've been waiting hours (some could argue months) for this exciting moment. You will be standing in the starting corral with thousands of other excited runners, the national anthem will be play, military fighter planes will complete a flyover, you'll hear languages you've never heard and then the gun sounds and the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston begins.

The first 4 miles are mostly downhill so you may be tempted to go out too fast and 'bank' time. Don't make this mistake…your legs will thank you once you arrive at Mile 17 and begin the hills of Newton. Spend these miles establishing a rhythm of total efficiency.

Focus on keeping your chin up, shoulders back and down, hands relaxed (imagine holding fluttering butterflies) and close to your torso without crossing your center line, land with a slight bend in your knees and minimize your contact time with the running surface by landing quickly and quietly.

Remember, this is a journey of a lifetime. Try to enjoy every moment…the sights, the sounds, the smells, the small children looking for a high five…dreaming of one day being just like you.

Miles 5-15 should have you feeling comfortable and settled into a rhythm. These are the flattest miles on the course. Focus on your form, rhythm and cadence. Don’t be distracted by all the runners passing you, you’ll likely pass them back if your patient and conservative with your pacing. You will hear the screaming co-eds of Wellesley College long before you see them. Men tend to run way too fast in this segment just before the 13 mile mark…and pay a heavy price for it. Please don’t ask me how I know this. Just past the Mile 15 water stop, you’ll encounter one of the most significant downhills on the course into Newton Lower Falls. Be sure to shorten your stride and ease down this hill in an effort to reduce the stress on your legs.

Miles 16-17 are a long gradual uphill out of Newton Lower Falls to the iconic Fire House at Mile 17. This section requires a focus on form and attitude as there tends to be less spectators on this short section. The uphill can be deceptive so ease of the pace slightly and prepare for the Newton Hills. You now have single digits remaining…9 miles to the finish!

Miles 18-21 are where you encounter the most hills on the course. Once you turn right onto Commonwealth Avenue the Fire House will be on your right. There is always a large and boisterous crowd here. Don’t be tempted to pick up the pace, you’ll need that energy as you embark on the Newton Hills. Take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, adjust your attitude and run as efficiently as possible. Shorten your stride, lean slightly forward, use your arms more, breathe deeply and rhythmically and think about what it’s going to feel like to take a right on Hereford Street and then a left on Boylston Street and see the finish line!

Once you arrive at Mile 20 at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Centre Street in Newton, you begin the 1 mile climb up Heartbreak Hill. You will encounter Boston College students who have been out there all day.

DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING THEY OFFER IN A RED CUP (I hope I don’t offend any BC student’s but they know I speak the truth)!

Once you crest Heartbreak Hill, it’s really time to get focused and prepared for the final segment.

Miles 22-26.2 are indescribable in many ways. You are on the homestretch down. It’s mostly flat with a few rolling hills. But this section should not be taken lightly.

Your legs will likely be tired and your glycogen stores low. This is where tapering properly, being adequately fueled and hydrated, consistent pacing and a positive attitude pay off. Now is the time to reflect on ‘why’ you chose to run the Boston Marathon and ‘what’ impact it will have on the remainder of your life. This can be such an emotion section of the course. You’ll see the historic CITGO sign on this stretch (it’s much farther away than it appears). Once you arrive in Kenmore Square you only have a mile to go…YOU KNOW YOU HAVE THIS NOW!

Take a right onto Hereford Street (the slight uphill feels as significant as Heartbreak Hill) and then take a left onto Boylston Street. This may be the closest you come to ever being a ROCK STAR…but you are now! People will be 20 deep, hanging from rooftops, screaming for you.

You can see the finish line and you now realize you are about to become a BOSTON MARATHON FINISHER…for life!

Congratulations on your significant accomplishment

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