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Braving the elements

Posted by Ty Velde  April 1, 2010 08:41 PM

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While everyone hopes for perfect weather on race day, 60 degrees and partly sunny for me, the truth is thatís not always the case. When it comes to the weather on race day, you have to deal with the hand thatís dealt to you. Sometimes itís great, sometimes itís bad, and sometimes you just shrug your shoulders and realize that it could be worse. When it comes to race day, weather plays a critical element.

However, unlike certain sports, unless conditions are deemed dangerous or threatening, ďthe race must go on.Ē Whether you like it or not, when it comes to the weather on race day, you need to be prepared for anything.

Of course you can purchase the right clothing, read the right books, and take what you feel the necessary steps based on the race day forecast, but does this mean you are really prepared? Most likely these steps are being taken just days prior to the race and are not truly a reflection of how you have been training.

When it comes to training, more often than not, we choose to wait for conditions that work in our favor. If itís chilly, we run inside; if itís raining we opt to wait until itís dry. However, is this really the best strategy? While itís important to be smart and make sure to stay healthy, training only when conditions are optimal, or even 60 percent in your favor is not always the best thing to do. The reason I say this is that if you have never run in the rain, but on race day itís raining, how prepared are you going to be?

While you may have been training for months and are in top physical condition, if you wake up on race day and itís chilly and rainy, you could be in for a big surprise. Not only will the elements provide physical challenges, they will provide mental ones as well. Anyone who braved the 2007 Boston marathon can testify to this fact, as the weather was such that the BAA almost considered canceling it. However, they didnít, which meant that anyone who lined up in Hopkinton that day faced a challenge far beyond what they had initially anticipated when they signed-up and started training several months earlier.

So when it comes to training, be smart, but donít be afraid to brave the elements. A few runs in the rain, will not only be refreshing, but ensure that on race day, it wonít be the first time you've stared down adverse conditions. Instead of wondering how youíll handle things, youíll have an understanding of how to navigate the challenge that lays before you. While situations like this are never ideal, at least you will have an idea of what to expect when the gun goes off.

Between now and race day, if the sunís not shining and the ground happens to be wet, donít use this as an excuse to take a day off or run inside. As long as youíre properly prepared and play it safe, think of this as a challenge that will prepare you for what could unfold on race day. And if the weather gods anoint us all with a beautiful day, you can be assured that when youíre chugging up Heartbreak Hill, the memories of these kinds of training runs will inspire you all that much more and give you that extra mental edge to keep on pushing towards the finish line.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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