Boston Marathon training took a different turn for John Hancock employees yesterday. Led by London-bound Olympians Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi and former top marathoner Alberto Salazar, a group of roughly 40 employees ran 2.5 miles along Boston’s waterfront.
During the run and in an earlier question-and-answer session, employees running for charity asked Hall, Keflezighi, and Salazar for training and racing tips.
“It was a blast,’’ said Keflezighi. “I was trying to have as many conversations with as many people as possible.’’
The same was true for Hall and Salazar. All three spent as much time tossing out marathon advice and taking pictures as they did running.
“It was very inspirational,’’ said Stacey Suntken of Wakefield. “Meb gave me some good tips for getting in some quality speed work in my long runs to help me overall.’’
Keflezighi and Hall are fresh off qualifying for the London Games at the US Trials last month. As a result, neither will be participating in the Boston Marathon. Currently, they are recovering from their efforts at the trials and calibrating their training schedules for peak performances at the Games.
Both Americans believe a medal is within reach in London.
At 36, Keflezighi became the oldest man to win the Olympic trials, setting a personal best of 2 hours 9 minutes 8 seconds in the process. He said the secret to setting personal bests at his age was doing all the so-called little things outside of running - such as ice baths, stretching, and building core strength.
Keflezighi plans to continue his professional career through at least 2013.
“If I’m still running PRs, then I’ll keep going,’’ he said.
Noting the depth of the field at the trials, Keflezighi added, “You had to have your A game or way beyond your A game’’ to earn one of three qualifying spots.
Keflezighi, who ran the New York City Marathon 69 days before the trials, said, “London is the next marathon. I’ll do a couple road 10Ks, shorter stuff, then maybe one or two half-marathons, then just train and put in the work for the Olympics.’’
Hall finished second at the trials (2:09:30) after following an unconventional training plan.
“Every one of these marathons that I’ve run has been so big in my development, in my experimenting,’’ said the self-coached Hall, whose training base moves between sea-level Redding, Calif., and high-altitude Flagstaff, Ariz. “So even though I felt like Boston [in 2011, with a finish time of 2:04:58, the fastest marathon ever by an American] was this huge breakthrough race for me and by far the best marathon I’d ever run, I changed up what I did the next time around for Chicago. Then I switched things up and did things differently before the trials.
“I feel like I needed to experiment along the way, so now I can take all that working knowledge, all that experimentation, and put it into my masterpiece, which is going to be training for the Olympic Games and racing in the Olympic Games.’’
The Hancock employees asked Keflezighi, Hall, and Salazar about making their marathon debuts, increasing speed, cross-training, achieving personal bests at older ages, and many other topics.
Hall mentioned the importance of “surrounding yourself with successful people’’ and how training with Keflezighi early in his marathon career gave him confidence.
Above all, the trio recommended good preparation.
When asked what do to before a first marathon, Salazar said, “Look back at your training and know that you’ve done the right training. You need to do that work. You need to train for what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s all about the preparation.’’
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.