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Defining “Boston Strong”


What is Boston Strong?  What does it mean?  Who qualifies as being Boston Strong?

Boston Strong is the slogan created to describe the heroic mindset of the people affected by the bombings at the 2013 marathon.

Boston Strong represents the families and friends of the fallen.  They still feel the pain every day.  Their loss is immeasurable.  Their strength is challenged every day that they live without a loved one. Going on with life makes them worthy of the title Boston Strong.

Boston Strong includes everyone who was injured in the bombings and have fought back by living and eventually.  Some will physical pain to deal with for the rest of their lives.  Most will have mental pain to deal with for the rest of their lives.  It was/is traumatic.  These people are Boston Strong.

Boston Strong includes all of the runners who were not injured in last year’s race, but were scarred in other ways.  They have had to face their fears. Many of them came back to finish what they had started.  Some may never return.  They are all Boston Strong.

Boston Strong also represents the city of Boston and all of its citizens.  They were weak for only a moment of shock, but quickly rallied to the rescue of the victims.  They have lived an entire year with a dark shadow of terrorism.  The city government, the people, and their neighboring communities have risen above the shadow by working tirelessly to not only recover, but to thrive.  They stood up straight and tall and said, “Fear will not win the day.”  On Patriot’s Day, 2014, the citizens of Boston and all of the communities along the route and showed the world the energy, the commitment, and the resolve of a strong community.  The people of these communities define the Boston part of Boston Strong.

Boston Strong also encompasses the world-wide community of caring people that took it so personally that they  dedicated themselves to raising money for the One Fund Boston to support the victims of the bombings.  They see themselves as a part of it whether they were there or not.  They feel the need to reach out and help.  When other could not make it on their own, they stepped in.  They are Boston Strong.

Boston Strong describes the fans at this year’s race.  About one million fans lined the streets along the 26.2 mile route.  They knew that another bomber might be there.  They would not be denied.  The crowd was almost twice as big as usual because many people wanted to step up in the face of the terrorists.  People came from around. the country and around the world, some with no connection to any runner.  They just didn’t want terrorists to win.  The fans lined the streets from Hopkinton to Boston and cheered at the top of their lungs for hours.  Every one of those fans are Boston Strong.

carrying runner boston 2014

The spirit of Boston Strong is captured in this photo of runners carrying a collapsed runner to the finish line. The running community rallied to support the victims. We carried each other across the finish line.

Boston Strong is a term that also describes the runners of the 2014 Boston Marathon.  They faced the same knowledge that there might be attacks again this year.  There were runners who had returned to finish last year’s race.  There was the typical crowd of qualified runners and fundraisers.  Then there were the additional runners, the ones that only signed up because of the bombings.  I am one of those runners.  I had qualified more than once, but had no intention of registering until the bombings happened.  Then you couldn’t stop me.  “They can’t do that to us.” Testing the courage and resolve of people that run 26.2 miles as fast as they can…  that was a very bad idea.  We runners are Boston Strong.

This was my first time to run the Boston Marathon.  It was an awesome event.  It was incredibly well managed by the Boston Athletic Association, the law enforcement professionals, the medical professionals, the sponsors, and the thousands of volunteers.  The fans were amazing.  Their encouragement pulled me through the toughest times.  I owe all of these people a lot.  I thank you all.

As a competitive runner, it wasn’t my day.  I was ill early and struggled to finish 2 hours slower than my goal.  As a human being and as a member of the running community, however, it was a glorious day of triumph.

Collectively we stood up to say,

“We are Boston Strong.  You did not win.”

The runners, the Boston Athletic Association, Boston and the local communities,  and the human race, they were the winners.   They all stood up, Boston Strong.


Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run.


What Is a Custom Training Program and Why Do I Need One?

What is a Custom Training Program?

A custom training program is a schedule of training runs in preparation for a specific race with a specific time goal.  My next major goal, for instance, is to finish the Indianapolis Marathon in under 3 hours.  In order to accomplish this, I know that I will need to average a pace of 6:49 per mile.  That is a tall order,since my last marathon was completed at a 7:24 pace.  How in the world do I expect to accomplish this goal?

1)  I have a plan.

I have an 18-week plan laid out.  I know what to run each day and how fast to run it.  Every day has a specific purpose.  There are days designed for speed & days designed for rest.  Some days, all I have to do is relax and run a few miles.  Weekends runs are more ambitious than weekdays because I have more time and energy to spend on the weekend.  On most Saturdays, I run mile repeats.  On every Sunday, I have the long run of the week.

The weekly mileage gradually increases from 30 to 50 miles per week.  Every third week, miles are reduced so as to not overwhelm my body with the new work load.  In the last few weeks of the schedule, there is a decrease in miles on the schedule.  This is designed to rest, heal, and store up energy for the actual race.

The intensity and speed of the daily runs also increases over time.  Just before the taper period, near the end of my training schedule, I intend to do 16 mile repeats at 5:45 minutes each.  This is a full minute faster than my intended race average.  If I can accomplish this, then racing at a 5:50 pace will seem somewhat relaxed. 🙂

2)  I will follow the plan.

Will I follow the plan exactly on every day of the schedule?  No, but it does guide my daily decisions and keeps me on track.  The only variations I make will be because of soreness & life issues.  Some soreness is a good sign of hard work.  I have planned for that kind of soreness.  I alternate fast/intense days with relaxed or rest days.  The other kind of pain, however, is a warning that something is not right.  It means that either you trained a little too hard or that your body may soon be injured.  In either case, I may choose to ease up on the speed and/or distance.  In a worst-case scenario I may take an extra day or two off.  In my last marathon training program, I had to take it easy for two weeks.  Once I felt better, I resumed the training program.  No extra miles to make up, just resumed the program the way it was written.  I still managed to PR by 28 minutes, so resting worked!

3)  I realize that I may not make it this time

Sometimes we just set our goals too high.  Sometimes we meet our goal, but sometimes we don’t.  In that fall of 2011, I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  In order to BQ at my age, I needed to run it in 3:25 or less.  Even though I PRed by a full 28 minutes, I fell short of the ideal goal by finishing in 3:27:27, just two and a half minutes from glory.  Was this a failure?  No!  I PRed by 28 minutes.  That is a huge win.  I had set my “Lofty Goal” at 3:25, but I had a “Happy Goal” of 3:35.  I knew that it was more reasonable.  The fact that I exceeded my happy goal and just missed my lofty goal means that my training program was a big success!

Why do you need a training program?

You need both a goal and a plan to meet that goal in order to achieve.  It is that simple.  Runners training without a plan are likely to take more days off.   Runners without a training program are likely to increase mileage either too quickly, which leads to injury, or to slowly, which leads to disappointing results.

A Running Coach can help you set goals and develop a custom training plan to meet those goals.  What do you want to accomplish?

Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor

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