The Guide to Boston Marathon (2): Training Strategy


I respect that everyone has their own unique way to tackle the beast.  Therefore, I will not fully discuss about my training herein.  However, I wish to discuss few things I did and did not do for training that might be good reminders for most.

Hills training

One of the most popular topics I came across while training for the Boston Marathon was whether or not to do hills training.  If you go on any runner’s forums (e.g. Boston FB page, Runners’ World, and etc), you will see the majority of runners would suggest doing hills training, especially downhill running.  I live in a city where hills are everywhere!  My coach had only prescribed 1 workout that was elevation specific/downhill for me to do; otherwise, all my training were pretty much running around town in rolling hills.  I never had the time to train on the track and had done all my speed workouts using a GPS watch on the roads.  So for me, I didn’t really do any downhill/hills training for the Boston marathon.   Honestly, I did not find the hills/downhill that bad in Boston comparing to the hills I have run here in Vancouver.  It is most likely the placement of the four hills starting at 25th K and ending at 33K that makes it a beast to run!  In retrospect, I think I have prepared myself very well for the race by running many race pace specific training, especially on my long runs.  If you live in an area that is pancake flat, then it might be worthwhile to look into some form of hills training.


If my memory serves me correctly, there was only one gel station at the entire course of the Boston Marathon.  It was also situated later in the race at around 20 mile? I highly suggest to practice taking gels during your long runs and familiarize with a particular brand that sits well in your stomach.  I carried 8 gels on the day, aiming to take 1 every 5km.  I lost one right at the start so I figured I’d take one of the gels at the course.  That station happened to be somewhere along a hill before Heartbreak and the gel tasted extremely awful in flavour and the texture was at least 10X thicker than my normal PowerGel.  The moral of the story is to bring your own gel and perhaps bring extra ones as backups! I’ll talk more below about what to bring on race day!

Course Map

I used this course map as my desktop wallpaper at work and whenever I had a chance I’d just stare at it.  I find it to be important to really understand the placement of the big drops as well as the hills.

Boston Course Video 

For those who wish to better visualize the course, here is a video link of approximately 20mins of the entire race course:

Boston Marathon Mile-By-Mile Description

Here’s a great link ( those who might want to know more what happens at each mile on the course.  The condition on the day I ran the marathon was quite horrible so much of my memory of the course was pretty much a blur.

Please continue reading PART 3 

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