Here’s Deena Kastor’s advice to runners for dealing with the weather
Running a marathon in the driving wind and rain presents several challenges for participants.
For the second straight year, conditions on Patriots Day in Boston call for windy, wet, and cool conditions all along the marathon course right as the elite runners are getting set to embark on their 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston.
Throughout the Boston Marathon’s 122 previous iterations, participants have faced a myriad of adverse conditions from last year’s winterlike temperatures to record heat 2012.
Waltham native and renowned marathoner Deena Kastor, who holds the American women’s record time for a marathon, is no stranger to running in these types of conditions. Participating in last year’s Boston Marathon, Kastor was forced to drop out at mile-14 after suffering from hypothermia.
“I went into the race thinking that adverse conditions would be in my favor because I consider myself mentally tough,” Kastor said. “I was looking forward to racing in those conditions.”
Kastor’s mistake? Her choice in clothing. Wearing a rain jacket, capri leggings, and a hat, a rain-soaked Kastor was bogged down.
Her advice for runners this year: “I would forgo wearing tights and go with shorts and putting some petroleum products on my legs so that the rain slid off instead of cold wind whipping at wet tights. I would’ve stuck with the waterproof jacket and a hat to keep the rain from hitting your face because that can be really distracting.”
Aside from proper apparel, there’s little physical planning runners can do when heading into a bad-weather marathon, especially when not knowing the forecast months in advance. It’s more the mental preparation that will help runners push through the challenging conditions.
“A positive mindset matters the most,” Kastor said. “Altering your goals on the fly but to also be an encourager the whole time. That’s the nature of the marathon in general, but the weather just adds another factor.”
Kastor anticipates this year’s race to be similar to that of 2007, when springlike temperatures were shrouded by a sheets of rain and strong headwinds. That race produced some of the slowest winning times in over two decades.
“If it’s a head-wind, tucking into a pack of people would be good,” Kastor said. “But make sure you’re repaying the favor for a few miles and take turns. On a day when the wind is against you, make sure your mind isn’t also against you.
“Sometimes, getting to the finish line isn’t about how fast you can run but about getting there as fast as you can.”
Upon completing a marathon in cold weather, a longer recovery is definitely key. Despite not finishing last year’s race, Kastor was as sore as she had ever been the following day. Allowing your body enough time to reboot is crucial in the recovery stage.
“It just shows how unforgiving cold weather can be on your muscles,” she said.
Earlier this year, Kastor experienced her proudest cold-weather marathon moment.
Competing in the Tokyo Marathon, where temperatures peaked in the low 40s and rain persisted throughout the day, Kastor was knocked over twice by other runners, dislocating her shoulder. She pushed through the final nine miles in agonizing pain, finishing 30th in the women’s elite field.
But her proudest marathon accomplishment in any adverse weather condition: finishing the 2004 Olympic marathon in 101-degree heat.
“When it comes down to it, we are the driver of that journey,” Kastor said. “Making sure that we’re planning properly and then being an advocate for that finish line every step of the way.”
The bib numbers of several runners have special meanings. Here’s a look:
1 and F1: Always worn by the defending champions. This year that means Yuki Kawauchi and Desiree Linden.
1979: Reserved for Joan Benoit Samuelson to commemorate her victory in 1979. On the 40th anniversary of her victory, she has made it a goal to run within 40 minutes of her time in 1979 (2 hours, 35 minutes, 15 seconds).
4848: NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson’s race team is No. 48, but that had already been doled out when Johnson entered, so he doubled up.
5454: Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi wore 54 during his playing days from 1996 to 2008.
Specific athlete tracking during Monday’s race is available through the BAA’s AT&T Alert system.
Numbers game, Part 2
More and more Boston Marathon runners are tracking their race and training performances using the Strava app. About 28 percent of the 2018 field uploaded their data from the race, a significant increase from 8 percent in 2015. Spreadsheets of runner metrics that Strava provided to the Globe show some interesting insights about athletes and the Boston Marathon.
■ Four weeks prior to race day is when athletes who are on a 16-week training plan log their most training miles. Women average 38.9 miles that week and men log 44.1 for an overall average of 42.2.
■ Athletes average two long runs of 20 or more miles over 16 weeks of training.
■ Forty-three percent of athletes who did a long run (16 miles or more) four weeks before the race week had an average pace faster than their marathon pace. That suggests some are simulating how they’ll run on race day.
■ Pace data from the last three Boston Marathons show a predicatable decline in average pace starting in mile 19 (where the Newton hills begin). After mile marker 21, there is an upswing in average pace because the course again descends for a couple miles, then there is a slight rise in pace after mile marker 25.
■ In 2018, the average pace of Strava runners was fastest in mile 4 (7:23) and slowest in mile 21 (8:54). In 2017, it was 7:24 in mile 4 and 9:19 in mile 21.