Before the Race
1. Shave it all off
You need to be prepared to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. Remove all excess hair that could create drag. Shave your legs, arms, chest, and head. Think of every excess hair removed as a second off your race. You’ll be amazed how much lighter and aerodynamic you feel on the start line.
The only hair you should leave is a mustache if you have one. Prefontaine proved once and for all that mustaches translate directly to speed. Much the same way that an air intake on a jet engine filters air for efficient combustion, a mustache will filter and direct air to your nostrils to fuel you most efficiently. If you can't grow a mustache, fear not the stick on variety are affordable and available at most convenience stores.
Prefontaine and his famously aerodynamic mustache
2. Fuel Up
There’s a reason that some of the fastest marathon times in history have been clocked in at Boston, and it’s all due to the high-octane fuel of traditional Boston cuisine. Make sure to load your body with as much clam chowder as you can get your hands on. It's sure to be in high demand with 20,000+ runners fueling up on its omega-3-fatty acids, so get to the grocery store early and buy in bulk. In addition you’ll need to load up on carbohydrates for long term energy stores. Forego the typical spaghetti dinner in favor of the typical carbohydrate dense Boston meal of Dunkin Donuts and Boston Lager. The carbo load will leave you feeling brazen and energized, nobody will stand between you and victory.
3. Altitude Training
If you haven’t been training at altitude all year for the race you can still make some last minute preparations to prepare for Boston. Keep in mind that the race is net downhill so oxygen saturation in the air will increase throughout the race allowing you to work harder towards the finish. This also means that you’ll be beginning the race at altitude and should prepare for this. In the days before the race, breathe through a straw to strengthen your lungs and simulate the oxygen deficient air you’ll encounter at the start. In the nights before the race you’ll want to rapidly acclimatize to the low oxygen levels you’ll encounter at the start line. Sleep as high up as possible, an upper-bunk on the highest floor of your home will do nicely. You can mimic reduced oxygen conditions with your thermostat. By increasing the temperature and humidity in your home while you sleep you can decrease the relative oxygen concentrations in the air and speed your acclimatization.
Oxygen concentration decreases with humidity
4. Crowd Management
The Boston is one of the biggest marathons in the world, and unless you’re leading the race you’ll be caught in the pack at some point. On top of that, the Boston locals are a particularly rough bunch in traffic, commonly referred to as Massholes for their erratic and wild movement choices in traffic. You’ll need to be prepared to weave in and out of the traffic through the first 3 miles. Plan your pre-race prep runs through Boston so that you pass through Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, Downtown Crossing Area, South Station and Copley Place ideally during rush hours in the middle of the day. The large crowds and constant foot traffic will train you to weave through the hordes of oblivious and erratic pedestrians and give you a leg up in dealing with massholes in the early stages of the race.
You’ll want to have a prepared playlist of music to motivate you to greatness. We’ve included a sample playlist of Boston songs (Boston both the artist and the subject) to motivate you on!
On Race Day
6. Proper Warmup/Cooldown
Make sure that you’ve prepared your outfit to mirror your race success. You’ll need to bring the appropriate athleisure wear for both before and after the race. Before the race you’ll need to keep your muscles and loose. You can accomplish this with all types of athletic wear but fitted sweatpants and a warm hoodie are next to none in the tender embrace they provide your muscles.
After the race you’ll need to look the part of a champion. Make sure that you have your race-monogrammed quarter zip handy to wear for the post race pictures. It’ll do an effective job of prominently displaying your medal and subtly indicating to bystanders that you’re better than them for completing a feat they could never even dream of accomplishing.
7. Racing Gear
Proper racing gear is key to a PR. Make sure that you’re decked out in everything that you could possibly need while staying as lightweight as possible. Shin socks and forearm sleeves are a must-have. Lightweight gloves, sunglasses and a hydration pack are optional and all have weight tradeoffs, but could mean the difference between a PR and precious minutes lost at a first aid station. Most runners are torn when it comes to what type of shirt/singlet to wear which is why we’re suggesting something even more effective, the same gear that has propelled Boston hero and folk legend Tom Brady to the status of GOAT, a #12 Patriots Jersey. This athletic gear is as much a fashion statement as it is a high tech sports ultrawear essential. Engineered to provide speed and uncompromising flexibility, Nike has even considered outfitting it’s sub 2-hour hopefuls in the same gear, and has led to high profile attempts to steal the technology.
The Pinnacle of sportwear technology. Image from NFLshop.com
8. Race Strategy
During the race you can take advantage of strategic running to shave minutes from your finish time. Wind always plays a major factor in a long race and traveling East towards the sea will lead to you running head on into dominant winds off the Atlantic. Drafting is incredibly strategic at Boston. Once you’ve cleared the crowds of the early miles, position yourself behind larger runners to block the oncoming gales and save your energy for the final miles. When you must make a pass, do it in sheltered corridors and quickly find a new competitor to draft. Turns can be used as acceleration slingshots. When approaching a turn, position yourself along the outside line. Enter the turn on the outer bank, and when you reach the highest point of the curve at the top of the embankment, cut inward to find the inside line of the next straightway. This will allow you to most efficiently convert your centrifugal energy into lateral speed and slingshot past competitors.
Advantages to Drafting
An incredibly scientific breakdown of the centrifugal slingshot
9. The Finish
The end of the race will be your moment of glory. Drive through the finish, leave it all on the track. Passing competitors will motivate you to drive faster and end the race a winner. Glance at the clock as you finish and smile, you’re a Boston finisher and a true champion.