5 Reasons Why the #Boston #Marathon Really Is a Big Deal #running

running-advice-bugThe Boston Marathon is special to many people – runners and non-runners alike. Marathon runners from all over the world aspire to earn their ticket to Boston, and running Boston is often the highlight of their running careers. But if someone asks why Boston is such a big deal, not everyone has the answer on the tip of their tongues. I’m an exception. Here are five reasons why I think Boston has earned its status at the top of the marathon running heap:

1. You have to qualify to run Boston.

US News Photo 4The first reason Boston is so unique is that it’s a qualified race. In other words, in order to register for the race, you must have already run a marathon at a particular (relatively fast) pace. The Boston qualifying standard drives many people throughout their careers as a mark of achievement. But while the Boston Athletic Association wants the race to be challenging to get in, it doesn’t want to exclude non-elite runners.

While race organizers tightened the standards to qualify in 2012, they still aim to allow approximately the top 5 to 10 percent of runners into the race. Think about that in contrast to the marathon at the Olympics, where only the top two runners from the United States participate. That’s a much stricter standard, and it’s also an example of how high the bar can be for elite competitors.

2. Even you can run the Boston Marathon.

Despite Boston being a race that requires a qualifying time, it’s achievable for non-elite runners. That makes Boston unlike almost any other “elite” event because many of us have a shot of competing alongside the absolute best runners in the world. When you spot someone wearing a Boston T-shirt or jacket, you know they met a high standard to get there.
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Why is the Boston Marathon a Big Deal? (in Two Minutes) #bostonmarathon #bostonstrong #marathon

running-advice-bugOn this special “Quick Tips” episode of Run Time, Coach Joe English answers the question: Why is the Boston Marathon such a big deal to runners? And he answers it in just two quick minutes. If you’ve been asked what’s so special about the Boston Marathon, then we’ve got the answer for you.

Run Time is the talk show for runners. We feature interviews and advice for runners of all skill levels. Find more episodes on our web-site at running-advice.com. Follow Coach Joe English @coachjoeenglish

Future episodes will dive into running topics, including mental strategies, picking the best races, dealing with injuries, eating, book reviews and much more. Stay tuned. running-advice.com.

Running Advice and News


Boston Marathon: Five Things I Learned at the Boston Marathon

running-advice-bugBoy you learn a lot in every marathon. I’ve been running marathons for say 25 years and I’m never surprised that each race teaches me something new. The 2014 Boston Marathon was like no other, with huge crowds and an outpouring of community spirit. This one was a new experience for me as I as woefully under-trainer. I had pretty much planned to walk the Newton Hills, I just hadn’t also planned to walk the three miles before and after them.

Here are five things that I can pass along to all of you from my run-walk-shuffle-jog from Hopkington to Boston — most of which won’t be useful to you, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.

Boston Marathon Elevation Profile

Boston Marathon Elevation Profile

1) Boston’s Really Tough — You rarely hear people talk about their times in Boston. You do hear people talk about “Heartbreak Hill”, that mythical monster of a climb that looms at mile 21. But really it’s not any one hill that makes this course a killer. It’s a combination of lots of downhill and lots and lots of short ups and downs throughout the course that trashes your legs. If you want to see just what makes it tough, look at the hill profile that I’ve attached here. Note the overall downhill trend for more than the first half of the course, but all of those little jagged ups in there as well. Key learning: “Boston is tough. Boston is never boring.”

2) Find a Walking Buddy — I don’t usually walk in marathons, but I kind of knew that my legs were not going to last. Here’s a tip: when you are walking along the side of a race with people passing you, the crowd kinda “stares” at you. Sometimes they clap, but often they sort of look away awkwardly as if to say, “It’s ok little buddy,” with a tap on your head. I quickly learned that if you walk with someone else, then it doesn’t feel so weird. I will add here that if you pick someone that looks even worse than you, then you sort of look like you are ‘escorting’ them and that feels a little better somehow (although you will still be in whatever pain that ails you).

3) Wear a “USA” T-shirt — If you want to get people to really yell for you, then just wear something that says “USA” on it. The chants of “USA, USA, USA” were constant along the course as I made my way along. Of course, if you don’t want this attention then you may want to avoid wearing an American Flag or the letters “USA”. While I was in the midst of walking, some of the chants took on a bit more of a consoling tone like, “It’s OK USA, we’re proud of you anyway.” I found that if people said that and I started to jog a little bit, then they went wild.

4) Water Sounds Different in Boston — The people in the aid station will yell this word that you may not recognize. It’s sounds like this: “Waaaaaah-tah”. I figured out about 6 miles through the race they were saying “water”. Just go with it.

5) Boston is About the People — The fans in Boston are amazing. They chant. They scream. They yell funny things at you. The have signs that say things like, “If a marathon were easy, they’d call it your mother” and “Go Random Stranger.” They offer you beer, doughnuts and cigarettes. The Wellesley Girls are so loud that they will make your head spin. Leave your headphones at home.

The people of Boston put on one hell of a marathon. Everyone should run this one once, but keep in mind that it is a tough one! Have fun out there.

Coach Joe English


Live Coverage: Boston Marathon 2014 Television Coverage

running-advice-bugThe 118th Boston Marathon will be held on Monday April 21st, 2014. This 118th running will be one of the most widely followed because of the events last year and its increased size. Universal Sports Network will carry the race live and will also feature a finish-line camera of all participants in the race.

Here are the details for watching the live coverage and the pre-race show.

04/19 2014 Boston Marathon Preview Show (LIVE) TV: 4:00pm ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon Pre-race Show (LIVE) TV: 8:30am ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon (LIVE) TV: 9:25am ET Online: 8:30am ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon Finish Line Stream (LIVE/VOD) Online: 10:30am ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon Post-race (LIVE) TV: 12:30pm ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon Wrap-Up Show (LIVE) TV: 4:00pm ET
04/21 2014 Boston Marathon (encore presentation) TV: 8:00pm ET

The web-site for the Boston Marathon coverage at Universal Sports is: http://universalsports.com/marathon/boston-marathon/

The official marathon web-site is located here: http://www.baa.org

Check back for our write-up after the race.



Boston Marathon 2014 Registration Information

running-advice-bugFor months the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) has been saying that registration would open for the 2014 Boston Marathon in “early September.” As promised, the BAA announced on this past Thursday August 29th the final dates, procedures and field size for the 2014 edition of the marathon.

Registration will officially open on Monday September 9th, 2013 for the 2014 edition of the Boston Marathon. The same procedures will be use this year as the last two years, providing a “rolling entry” process. This means that in addition to meeting qualifying standards based on age, registration is opened for runners who beat their qualifying standard by more than 20 minutes first, then to those by 10 minutes, and so on until the race is filled.

Here is some of the specific language from the BAA:

“Registration will occur on a “rolling admission” schedule, beginning with the fastest qualifiers. On Monday, September 9, eligible runners who have met the qualifying standard for their age and gender by 20 minutes or more may register. On Wednesday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET, if space remains, registration will open for those who have met their qualifying standard by 10 minutes or more. If space remains, registration will open on Friday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. ET for those who have met their qualifying standard by five minutes or more. Registration will close on Saturday, September 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

If space remains after the first week of registration (Monday, September 9 through Saturday, September 14), then registration will re-open for all qualifiers from Monday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET through Friday, September 20 at 5:00 p.m. ET. If space remains after this initial period, then on Monday, September 23 registration will re-open to anyone who meets the qualifying standards. Registration will remain open until the maximum field size is reached.”

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Join Me at the Boston Marathon in 2014

running-advice-bugI feel so strongly about the events of this past week at the Boston Marathon 2013 and our need to keep moving “Forever Forward” that I’ve decided to personally run the 2014 Boston Marathon. It has been five years since my last trip to Boston and I think next year is going to be the most important year in the history of the race for us experienced marathon runners to show the world that we will not be deterred.

In that spirit, I am announcing a very special group training program for those that qualify and would like to train as part of a group for the 2014 Boston Marathon: I will coach you for free. Yep, you heard it right, but there are some restrictions and important details, so please keep reading if you’d like to join my team.

What you have to do:
– You have to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
– You have to register and be accepted for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
– You will have to pay all of your own travel expenses to the race, including the race registration fee.
– You will need to join the group before the start of the season (to avoid having to adjust training schedules for late starting participants).

What I will do for you:
– I will provide a group training schedule appropriate to Boston Marathon caliber runners.
– The training schedule will be provided by my on-line coaching tool and administered over e-mail as is typical for our on-line coaching programs.
– I will provide a weekly status and inspiration e-mail to help keep you on-track during the training season.
– The training season will last five months (20 weeks), commencing approximately mid-December 2013.
– I will meet with the group on-site and we will go to the starting line together.
– We’ll have a party after the race together.
– There will be no coaching fees charged to join the group.

If you need coaching support for your Boston Qualification visit the following page on our web-site for more information:

If you want to join our movement to go back to Boston in 2014, you can join me and I will help you with your training. Further details on how to sign up for the program will be posted in October 2014 on our web-site.

So get your qualifying time and sign-up for the race. Then let’s go to Boston together in 2014.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News


Commentary – Lost Dreams at the Boston Marathon

running-advice-bugI realize tonight that as something of a thought leader in the world of running, I’m expected to say something about today’s tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon. It’s hard to find a place to start writing about something that left me absolutely speechless. I’ve seen the video of the bombing over and over again. I finally had to turn it off. As the evening draws to a close, I wish to share with you some of my thoughts on this horrible day for the running community.

First, this is a day of lost dreams. Foremost among them for those that were killed or injured, but for thousands of runners this was “their” Boston Marathon experience and that experience will forever be marred. As my friend Steve Harper once told me, Boston is unique in that it is the one time that regular people can compete in an athletic event on par with the Olympics or the World Series. It’s the chance for the mere mortals among us to walk onto a world stage and be welcomed as conquering heroes. Only a handful of people will play in the World Series, but if you work hard enough and keep trying, Steve told me, you can go to Boston. This is the dream. Today, those that worked so hard to get there have had their dream stolen from them.

Second, I have stood on that finish line in Boston. I have photographed it. I know what it feels like, looks like and even smells like. It is surreal for me to watch the bombs exploding just a few yards shy of the end of the race. Whether we realize it or not, the finish line of the Boston Marathon is an enduring historical landmark. In its 117th running, the Boston Marathon is one of the more enduring sporting events in America. Countless thousands have crossed that line and countless more have stood by to cheer on their friends, loved ones or colleagues as they finish their race. That landmark is now forever changed. It is stained with the blood of those that were in the stands today. We can never look at it in the same way again.

With that said, the timing of the bombing tells us something about the motives of the attackers. The race clock showed 4:09:50 on it when the first bomb went off. For the greatest media spectacle, the bomb would have needed to have gone off two hours earlier when the race was being covered live around the world and the winners were finishing. (The winning time this year was just over 2:10:00). From the timing, we could suppose that this attack was directed at the spectators and the middle of the pack runners.

Third, the feeling in the final mile of a marathon is something that I have on my mind tonight. After running for such a long time, the body finally goes through this amazing and joyful release. It is a letting go of the pain and doubt when the runner realizes that they are indeed going to finish the race. This happens to runners at every level and it is something different from what you may think of as the “Runners High.” It is a moment of euphoric mental fist-pumping that every runner does when they’ve “made it.” My heart sinks to think of those runners today making the turn onto Boylston Street or being diverted or hearing the news from spectators. Those hundreds or thousands of runners that hadn’t yet finished must have felt such despair and confusion. They didn’t reach that release point and tonight I pray that they are not forever stuck in a terrible state of limbo between where they were going and where they ended up. Embroiled in a news story that they didn’t ask to become a part of rather than having their moment of triumph.
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Broadcasts — 2013 Boston Marathon Live Coverage Information

running-advice-bugThe 2013 Boston Marathon will be held on April 15th, 2013. One of the greatest marathons in the world is right here in the US and you can watch it live on the Internet and TV. Here’s the scoop on where and when to watch it:

Internet Live Stream
The 2013 Boston Marathon will be streamed live online for free at http://watchlive.baa.org/ starting at 9:30 a.m. ET. April 15th, 2013.

Local Boston Television Coverage
WBZ-TV will carry live coverage of the race from 9:00AM to 1:30PM ET on April 15th, 2013.

Re-run of the race broadcast will be shown from 8:00PM to 12:30AM ET on MyTV38 on April 15th, 2013.

Universal Sports Network
Universal Sports Network and UniversalSports.com are the exclusive national television and digital media homes of the legendary Boston Marathon.

— Sunday, April 14, 2013
– 5:00 p.m. ET: Preview Show

— Monday, April 15
– 9:00 a.m. ET: Pre-Race Show
– 9:30 a.m. ET: 2013 Boston Marathon
– 12:30 p.m. ET: Post-Race Show
– 4:00 p.m. ET: 2013 Boston Marathon Wrap Up Show

For video highlights and more, go to www.UniversalSports.com.

Enjoy the race and good luck to all of the runners.

Running Advice and News


Broadcasts — 2012 Boston Marathon Television and Internet Coverage

running-advice-bugThe 116th running of the Boston Marathon will be held on Monday April 16th, 2012. You can watch the marathon unfold live on television and the Internet. Here is what you need to know to watch the big race unfold as it happens.

Boston Marathon 2012 Television and Internet Broadcast Information
Race date: Monday, April 16th, 2012
Start times (All times US Eastern Time):
— 9:00 a.m. Mobility Impaired Participants Start
— 9:17 a.m. Push-Rim Wheelchair Division Start
— 9:22 a.m. Handcycle Participants Start
— 9:32 a.m. Elite Women’s Start
— 10:00 a.m. Elite Men’s Start & Wave One
— 10:20 a.m Wave Two
— 10:40 a.m. Wave Three

TV Broadcasts:

Local Coverage in the Boston Area
The race will be televised live in its entirety, locally in Boston on WBZ-TV (Channel 4). Please visit www.cbsboston.com, for more information and bonus coverage of the 2011 Boston Marathon.
–8:00-9:00AM Eastern Time — Pre-race Special
–9:00AM-1:30PM Eastern Time — Full Race Coverage

Nationwide Television Coverage
The race will be carried live on the Universal Sports Network. Check your cable listing to see if your cable company offers Universal Sports Network or visit www.iwantuniversalsports.com for more information.
— 9:30AM-12:30PM — Full Race Coverage

Internet Web-cast:
If you do not have access to Universal Sports on your cable network, the race will also be shown nationally on Universal Sports on-line online at www.UniversalSports.com.
–9:30AM-12:30PM Eastern Time — Internet Coverage of Boston Marathon on Universal Sports Network

The B.A.A. website had more than 11 million page views for the 2011 Boston Marathon. The race provides real-time leaderboards and commentary, and avenues by which visitors can track runners in progress. See www.baa.org.

Enjoy the race and check back here for complete post-race coverage on Running Advice and News.



Training — Train to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

running-advice-bugI get a fair number of inquiries from people that want coaching looking for something specific: they want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Usually the inquiries go like this: “I’ve run x number of marathons and now I’m ready to try to qualify for Boston. Do you have a “Boston” training plan?”

The Fabled Boston Marathon Route

What’s interesting here is that there is a recognition by runners that after already having some level of success at running marathons they know that they need to do something differently to earn the mantle of “Boston Qualifier.” What we know about these people is that they have finished some marathons; they want to run more of them; and they are doing well enough that the chance to qualify is somehow within reach.

So what is it that takes the “ordinary” marathon runner and turns her into a “Boston Qualifier?” And are there specific training plans for people that are trying to qualify for Boston?

My answer goes something like this. First, there isn’t some special formula that is unique in qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Remember that qualification for Boston for first-time Boston qualifiers comes more often than not at a race other than Boston. So the training plan isn’t training you to run Boston, just to run fast enough on some other course (perhaps much easier than Boston’s) to get you there. This is important, because it helps us realize that training to qualify for Boston is all about hitting a particular and precise time goal.
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