We are two weeks away from the Boston Marathon…

That just gave me goosebumps.  Deep breath Steve.

Oour preparation to this point has created a window of potential finishing times.  There will be some race day variables that can affect our performance, but your window of potential finishing times has been set.

Think of your window like this.  On a perfect day, Great conditions, Great sleep and flawless execution you’re running 3:15.  If things go awry (think last year’s conditions) you’re running 3:40.  3:15 to 3:40 is your window.

The out of control factors that can affect your race:

  1. Weather- are you better in heat? In cold?  Rain?  Sun?
  2. Wind- My first 20 miler was on 3/11.  I finished along Heartbreak hill.  There was a tailwind as we hooked a right onto Comm ave that morning.  Not just any tailwind.  This thing gave you wings.  I want this exact wind pushing us up HBH.
  3. Acts of God- my wife went to Costa Rica the week before last year’s race (Yay) and got so sick (boo) she… well lets just say you should avoid the ice in Costa Rica.
  4. Corral- If you’re faster than the other runners in your corral then they’re slowing you down.  That’s how that one went.  You can wait them out (and suffer) or you can maneuver through them (and suffer).  The race will open up, but this closes your window a little.
  5. Your life schedule- I hope and pray that your next two weeks of work are relaxed and stress free.  I hope your kids and family members are healthy as well.  I hope you have no undue stress in any facet of your life for obvious reasons, but also because these things will affect your body, and your race.

What about all the things you can do to affect your window positively?

  1. Work on your mindset (positive affirmations).
  2. Be consistent with your diet.  Eat to energize and nourish yourself.  Cut out what you don’t need.  When you run you hit the ground at three times your body weight.  If you lose 1 lb that’s 3 lbs less force on your body every step.  If your stride covers 5 ft and there are 5,280 ft in a mile, and 26.2 miles in a marathon you are taking ((5,280/5)x26.2) 27,677 strides.  Three extra pounds per stride means you are carrying 83,031 extra lbs.  Healthy weight loss is 1 lb per week.  Lose 2 lbs between now and race day and you will save yourself the work of carrying 166,062 lbs.  If you lose more than 2 lbs during this time then you are losing some water weight.  And you don’t want to lose water going into a marathon.  Nah’mean?
  3. Be consistent with sleep.  If you can control this one then try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for the next two weeks.
  4. Pace- Pick the right plan, execute, and hopefully things break right for you.  The first step here is to have a plan.
  5. Measure the Risk vs Reward of everything you do from here forward.

The hard truth: there’s more ways we can get worse between now and race day than there are ways to get better.  We’re close to the race.  The hay is in the barn.

And that is hard to accept.  Why?

We’re so close.  The race is finally real.  So real we get a shot of adrenaline every time we see one of the Marathon banners hanging from street lights.  We want to run this race as well as possible.  We want to honor the months of preparation, the sacrifice we’ve made, the people who have donated to our causes.  Suddenly this race is bigger than just running from point A to point B.  How we run it says something about us.  That hypothetical race we signed up for months ago is very REAL.

Preparation has now been mixed with fear.  Two months ago, last month… we had time.  We could make up for that time we ran 12 instead of 17.  We had weeks to schedule that massage, fix the IT Band issue.  Now the day is here.  No more time.  We’ve set our window.   That fear has given way to desperation, and that desperation leads to some dangerous behavior.

People are running 20 milers on injured legs.

As my friend Jefferson Green lamented last Wednesday, ‘There was some serious carnage out on the course this weekend.’

People are pushing through sore knees, swelling, sprains, tendonitis, shin splints, inverted calluses and worse.  You’d be amazed at the number of ways in which we can hurt ourselves.

And you’d be inspired by the many ways in which everyday people can push through these injuries to train for the race.

My advice- know the difference between good pain and bad pain.  DON’T PUSH THROUGH BAD PAIN.

The risk is your injury can get significantly worse.  The reward is that maybe you get that last long run in and increase your fitness by some marginal number.  Marginal.

Risk outweighs reward.  Let this inform every training decision going forward.  Safer to sit one out and get healthy.  This is hard to accept when the very thing we want to do is push through.

Ignore that instinct.  Listen to your body.  Measure risk vs reward.

Your body is the sum of your habits over the past few months.  The good and the bad.  You won’t change that in the next week.

One thing you can change is your mindset.  The great news: there is no risk, only reward.  Let’s look to running history for inspiration.

Billy Mills in the Olympic 10k final.

Mills barely qualified for the US team.  He was so lightly regarded by his own team that he wasn’t even given the official Olympic shoes.

But Billy was embracing a positive attitude.  He was writing daily affirmations in his run log.  He was feeling good, like he had a shot.  The night before the final he wrote

‘I’ve done the work.  Now all I have to do is believe.’

The race went out fast.  Billy ran through the halfway mark (5k) seconds faster than he’d ever run a 5k by itself.!a

‘Believe.’

He hung tight.  Then this happened.

Your window may be set, but you can still believe.

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