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The importance of running 'your race'

Posted by Ty Velde  April 3, 2013 11:04 PM

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As race day approaches (I can’t believe it’s less than two weeks away) the reality of what we’ll all about to undertake really starts to settle in. Training is for the most part complete and you’ve conditioned yourself accordingly. In short, you’re ready to go! But, we still have a few more days to go until we board the buses to Hopkinton and head to the starting line.

100ty_velde.jpg Ty Velde is a regular contributor to Boston.com's Marathon blog.
During “the waiting” as I like to call it, it’s hard not to get caught up in the flurry of news and information flying across the transom about the marathon. Twitter is going nuts; just look at the hash tag #bostonmarathon. There’s great conversation happening within the blogosphere. Running groups on LinkedIn are abuzz with activity and I’ll bet every one of your friends on Facebook knows that you’ll soon be running Boston.

Needless to say, the energy that pulsates around the race both within and outside the running community, is electric. While it’s certainly exciting, it can also be daunting. With all the buzz and conversation it’s very easy to get caught up in thinking about and comparing yourself to others in terms of training, race day approaches, PR’s and other associated goals.

As a result, this is also a time take a step back and start thinking about how you are going to run “your” race. It’s time to think about what you’ve done to get here and what you will need to do to complete the journey from Hopkinton to Boston. Not only will focusing on how to run your race provide you with a more actionable way to plan and approach race day; when reading about and participating in the buzz of conversation happening around the race, it will enable you to better see where you fit into mix.

So what does it mean to “run your race”? While there are many factors, the following are a few key elements that I like to think it's about, particularly as we move ever so closer to race day.

Your training and conditioning
It all starts here, as how you have trained and conditioned in many ways sets the tone leading up to race day. Simply stated, training and conditioning is about preparedness. While I always find race day to be a completely unique experience unto itself based on the crowds, excitement and associated energy that surrounds you, how you have trained and what you have done to get to this point does provide a solid foundation for planning your race. For example, did you hit all your training milestones? How did your body react, as you started to rack up the miles? Ultimately, when you start to think about how you are going to run your race, it’s critical that you assess your training and use that as a benchmark for your tactical approach towards race day.

Your body
No one knows your body better than you. You know its quirks. You know what makes it hurt. You know what feels good. Most importantly you know its limits. While running a marathon does push our physical boundaries, knowing what you can and cannot endure is crucial for running your race. This is particularly important when staring down a 26.2 mile run, as knowing your how your body will react to the stress that it will encounter can mean the difference between crossing the finish line in relative comfort, agony or at all. In short, by proactively planning to address issues that may arise with your body, you can likely avoid them flaring up on race day and impacting your performance.

Your rhythm
While many runners tend to focus on pace, when it comes to running my race I like to focus on rhythm. In short, to me pacing tends to be based more about time and splits, while rhythm is about comfort, control and speed. Therefore if you achieve a good rhythm, you will ideally maintain a good pace.

However, the key to achieving rhythm when it comes to running resides in understanding what is needed to achieve it. While rhythm is not the easiest concept to explain, as runners it’s something we innately understand because when you hit your rhythm everything just feels right. You’re going at the right pace, your body feels good and you’re enjoying living in that moment. In many cases you’re even able to push harder because in finding your rhythm what you’re doing is really maximizing your potential and not overextending yourself. Therefore, when planning for your race I would encourage you to think how you have found rhythm previously while running and therefore what will be needed to find it on race day. Not only will this will help you prepare both physically and mentally for how to approach the race, it will also help to guide you once you’re out there running and on your way to Boston.

Your goals
In running the Boston Marathon, we all look to do so with various goals in mind. For some it may be to win, for others it’s to qualify, for some it’s just to cross the finish line. However, when running your race, it’s important to think about it within the context of the goals you have set for yourself. Goals are what have motivated us to get to this point and in large part the reason we are here. Therefore, when running your race its imperative that you do so within the context of goals you have set for yourself, as these are the true benchmark for success, and the measure by which you will ultimately judge the outcome of how well your race was run.

Your time
When thinking about your time within the context of the marathon, the most logical things to consider are the clock and when you cross the finish line. While time is an unavoidable factor when it comes to running a marathon, when it comes to running your race, I like to think of your time as taking on another meaning.

In short, this is your time to prove to yourself and to others what you are able to do. This is your time to create a memory that will last a life time. This is your time to participate in one of the world’s most prestigious and premier sporting events.

No matter what your reason is, come Monday, April 15, 2013 this will be your time to run your race!

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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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