Pro Tips for the Boston Marathon

By: Nathan w/ Michael Wardian
Published: 3/28/22

With the Boston Marathon just around the corner, we thought we'd get in touch with Nathan Athlete and world renowned marathoner and ultra-marathoner, Michael Wardian, to get some insights and tips about running it. What better way to prep than to get some tips from someone who has done over 300 marathons, right? 

Let's get right into the Q&A so you can get an idea of how to prepare as well as what to expect when running the Boston Marathon. 

Nathan: What's unique about the race (especially compared to NYC & Chicago)?
Michael (MRW): There are a few unique aspects of the Boston Marathon.

  1. The first is history.  The Boston Marathon is the oldest continually held marathon in the world and that makes it super special. 2022 is the 126th running of the Boston marathon.
  2. EVERYONE has to qualify. The atmosphere is unique as everyone that is racing the marathon is a very dedicated and fast runner. The times to hit to earn a bib are legit.
  3. The race is held on the 3rd Monday of April and it is Patriots' Day, which is only a holiday in the Boston area so it feels like everyone is playing hooky from work and school. 
  4. The fans are INSANE...seriously.  The entire 26.2 miles are covered with people and everyone is yelling and screaming their heads off. Especially around Wellesley College, which is around Mile 13. 
  5. The marathon course is tough, it is hilly, has major climbs like "Heartbreak Hill" and therefore shouldn't be a course that people love, but they do because it is "Boston". 
  6. Boston is different than New York and Chicago just because of the people in Boston. I love both Chicago and New York and I would say the fans are amazing at both of those races too, but there is just something incredible about the vibe in Boston and I definitely believe it has something to do with the time of year and that it is on a holiday and a Monday.

Nathan: What was the weather like the last time you ran it?
MRW: I ran the Boston Marathon in October 2021 and the weather was nice; mid 40's and overcast, pretty ideal for Boston. I have run the Boston Marathon in snow and hail as well as blazing hot and humid. You never know what the weather will be, but I love that as you have to be ready for everything.

Nathan: What is your favorite part?
MRW: I love so many parts of the Boston Marathon weekend. I would say my favorite part is seeing everyone leading up to the race as this has been a journey. Each runner has earned the chance to race and has had to train over the winter in harsh conditions and now they get to celebrate with all the other athletes. 

My favorite part of the Boston Marathon course is seeing the Citgo Sign (in Kenmore Square) and knowing that I am going to finish as I have about 1.2 miles to go. Then the absolute best part is banging a left on Boylston St, THAT, is incredible, but just be careful as it is a touch farther than it looks. 

Nathan: What was the hardest part?
MRW: The hardest part is the bus ride to the start as it takes about 60-70 mins and you are like, dang this is far and I have to run all the way back...😉

Nathan: Any tips for course management?
MRW: I definitely have some tips as I have run the Boston Marathon 19 times and made almost every possible mistake, but here are a few tips:

  • Don't go out too hard for the first 10K, it is mostly downhill and very hard to hold back, but it will help later.
  • "Heartbreak Hill" is long and steep, but the "Newton Hills" last much longer than "Heartbreak Hill" so remember that.
  • Use the crowd's energy, they are pushing it out there, feed off of it. 
  • Boylston Street is the finish, but it is longer than it looks.  Put your head down and grind. 
  • Run the tangents. Some people just run all over the roads, look where you are going and if you can, follow the line that the pros use.
  • Aid Stations. There are numerous ways to get support. Use it and be vocal about what you want as the volunteers are well trained and know runners and running.

Preparation

Nathan: Any advice for traveling to the race and/or packing for the race? (It doesn't have to be specific to Boston, could be just marathons in general)
MRW: 
I always suggest bringing all your race kit (shorts, shoes, GUs, socks, gloves, hat, hydration-Nathan) on the plane in "carry on", don't check that stuff as it could get lost.

Bring what you usually have for breakfast before your long runs with you, in case you don't or can't get it before the race. That way you know you have it and if you can get something else, fine but you are covered.

Nathan: If there's one thing a runner can do to help prepare or recover, what would it be?
MRW: I think the biggest thing I could suggest for preparing to race is to do the work and focus on hills and long runs. Everything else will be fine, but the long runs will build confidence and the hills will give you strength and endurance.

The best advice I can offer for recovery is to keep moving for 45-60 minutes after the race. I know you don't want to and it kind of sucks, but it will help, believe me

Nathan: How does hydration impact your race - both during and preparing for it?
MRW: Hydration is huge in any event and not staying up on fluids can have a major impact on performance.  If you did all the work to get into the Boston Marathon, don't sell yourself short, make sure to drink when you are thirsty and I even will just put water/sports drink in my mouth and swish it around to help stay up on hydration.  Also, having bottles or a handheld can be great, but the Boston Marathon also has some of the best aid stations in the world.

Nathan: How many marathons & which ones have you done?
MRW: I have done over 300 marathons and I have done marathons and have the world record for the fastest average time of the Abbott World Marathon Majors which are: Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago, New York- average time: 2:31. 

I have also won the: Rock and Roll National Marathon, Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon (dressed as Elvis-setting a Guinness World Record), Big Sur Marathon, Delaware Marathon, Hartford Marathon, Woodlands Marathon, Cowtown Marathon, Lower Potomac Marathon, Grant and Pierce Indoor Marathon, Frederick Marathon, Ocean City Marathon. 

I have won the World Marathon Challenge, which is 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, Antarctica, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Enjoy the Race

We hope you all benefit from these tips from a pro and that you have an excellent race day! Thank you Michael for the help and best of luck in your upcoming races! 

Make sure to follow Michael on his socials!

Mike Wardian