Facing challenging conditions
Many of us are probably still on a high after watching Desi Linden win the Boston Marathon in conditions that, to put it mildly, were not ideal. As a long time Yuki Kawauchi fan, I was also very excited to see him break through for the victory in the men's race.
But how did they do it? Neither was considered a favorite. Linden was considered an underdog at best by most discussing the contenders pre-race and Kawauchi was not even a part of the conversation. What can we learn about what they did and how can we apply it to our running?
Each had their own path to success but I'm taking three primary lessons from this amazing race by these amazing individuals:
Prepare for the conditions by running in the conditions
Linden's home training base is Michigan. Kawauchi has run so many races that he's run in nearly everything, including a New Year's Day marathon in Massachusetts this year in which the conditions were so challenging he was the only finisher.
Both of these runners were prepared for the incredibly difficult conditions they faced on race day because they faced similarly difficult conditions in training, previous races, or both. They didn't let the weather distract them and they knew how to adjust to it.
Have a plan and stick to it
At the start of the race, Kawauchi set out at a pace that most people considered suicidal. You can't run into a strong headwind on a rainy day at world record pace for the first mile of a marathon and do anything other than blow up.
I would normally not recommend such a strategy but Kawauchi knew who he was and who he was facing. He knew the pack would at least stay close. He knew he couldn't win in the final few miles if the early miles were slow. So he devised a strategy to fatigue the other runners and take them out of their comfort zone. While it seemed like the absolute wrong strategy for the conditions, it was the absolute right strategy for the runner.
Run for more than yourself
On the other hand, things were not going Linden's way early. What did she do? She changed her mindset. She decided to do what she could to help a fellow American win the race.
If you listen to experts on high level performance, taking the pressure off of herself and running for something greater than herself is very likely just what got her back on track. Once she got back on track and was in the running late in the race, she was able to refocus and finish strong.
While we'll all be hoping for the best, it's not impossible for Seattle Marathon weather to be less than ideal. Make sure you're prepared to handle whatever Mother Nature can throw your way.