Boilermaker Blog

Your First Boilermaker

In 2012 the Boilermaker will be thirty five years old. This will be a big race. In general big anniversaries add that extra luster that create demand to be a part of it.
I’m assuming that there will be many potential first time runners who are saying to themselves “if I don’t run the race now will I ever do it?” No doubt, this is one fun race to participate in. If you are serious about achieving this goal in 2012 I have some advice.
Straight up, I’m not a doctor, physical fitness trainer or nutritional guru; just a guy who has run this race a number of times
Be realistic
Are you ready to run 9.3 miles in the middle of July on a challenging course? Have a conversation with someone whose opinion you respect and really knows you. Perhaps it’s someone who has run the Boilermaker before. Should you decide to do it use this person/ people as part of your support group.
Get a physical
Would you drive from New York to L.A. without having your car checked out? Leaking oil, bad tires and soft brakes are scary, heart problems, muscle/ joint issues much worse. Some people simply are not made for running. Do not take that to mean that there is not an exercise program appropriate for nearly everyone.
Assuming you have no underlying medical problems running is a great way to lose weight, get your blood pressure down.
What will become clear to you early is that the discipline of running may have some great crossover benefits in breaking bad habits like smoking ( do you think!) and watching what (and how much) food you intake.
Sign up early!
There are two reasons to sign up early.
One, this race will sell out; what a shame if you are in shape but the door closed on you. Secondly, when you make a financial commitment you now have some skin in the game. It has now become more than just bold talk.
Where are we going?
Establish a running course by distance and topography (hilliness). Obviously a track is the easiest to start with; the measurement is precise and is flat. Unfortunately, running a track (in my opinion) is very boring. The other problem is tracks usually are not plowed during the Winter.
If you are a running newbie you may find your first runs to be less than pleasant; let’s be honest they will probably be terrible!
Focus on how long you were running/ walking (and it’s OK to run, walk, and run) not necessarily the distance. That will come over time.
One of the real challenges in committing to this race in January is the sad reality that your first few months of training will be when we are in the grips of Winter. If you are cold averse (I hate running in the cold) remember that a treadmill is a great compromise. However, in saying that there is no better way to train for a road race than running. Sort of sounds like common sense!
Find a friend
One of the horrible truths of life is it’s easy for us to quit on ourselves. “Oh, the weather is bad; too hot, too cold, raining, snowing, oh, it’s too early, it’s too dark” on and on.
When you have a running partner the old ‘guilt gremlin’ reminds us that when we decide not to run we have let down someone else (who also is hot/ cold wet..).
Try and find a running partner(s) who is either around your same level of athletic ability or someone who is more proficient but patient. Did I add that you should really get along with them?
Local running clubs also offer an opportunity to not only find running support but to create a social network as well.
Track your progress
What gets measured gets better.
While there are a number of great running logs available on-line a simple pocket note book will do.
Keep track of day you race, how far you went/ amount of time, weather conditions maybe even something unusual you saw (one time I had a coyote, or coy-dog, run in front of me while running a back road in Old Forge).
You will begin to impress yourself, “Wow, look how far I’ve progressed”!
Stepping out
On any given weekend leading up to the Boilermaker there are a number of races throughout the community. When you feel comfortable try out a 5k (3.1 miles) race. The goal is not to win but to get feeling comfortable with the preparation prior to a race, handling the start line, and learning to pace yourself. If you are local to Utica the weekly Developmental Runs are a nice option (with a hilly environment).
In early January we will be opening registration for the Boilermaker, maybe we’ll see you there!

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