Training Why Getting Your Butt Kicked In Boston Is A Good Thing

Why Getting Your Butt Kicked In Boston Is A Good Thing


You Ask, JP Answers

Before he was a triple marathoner JP Bedard was hit with a few surprises on his first Boston Marathon. Here’s what it took for him to finally find the upside and get him back to the iconic marathon for a 13th time later this month.


Dear JP:

Have you ever run a race that turned out to kick your butt in a way you just didn’t think it would and weren’t prepared for? Not just distance but toughness, weather etc.



Dear Jeff:

Great question. Many years ago, I qualified for the Boston Marathon in my first marathon – at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Needless to say, I was relatively new to the running scene, so it wasn’t until a few months after that first marathon that I discovered what an honour and big deal it was to qualify for Boston.

I registered for the Boston Marathon in early January, and then continued to train through what was a particularly cold and nasty winter. As it turned out, braving the elements was not my biggest training obstacle, but rather, it was my inflated ego that kept whispering to me that considering the success I had in my first marathon, I should have no problem running a sub 3-hour marathon in Boston. 

April arrived and so did the Boston Marathon weekend. The first task on my agenda was to hit the world famous race expo so that I could buy a much-coveted Boston Marathon celebration jacket. When the gun finally went off on race morning, I ignored all the advice the seasoned veterans had given me throughout the weekend, and I laid down some serious tempo over the first 10k of the race. Now, anyone who is familiar with the Boston course knows how foolish it is to attack the early downhill. I hit the timing mat at the halfway point right on target for my ego-inflated projected finishing time… And then the uphill section arrived with a vengeance. All of the needless downhill pounding earlier in the race had taken its toll on my quads, and before I knew it, I was gasping for air and walking up the progressive hills. And all the while, I watched in horror as the precious seconds and minutes ticked away. I crossed the finish line in a time of 3:25, and I felt gutted. I felt no joy when one of the volunteers placed the Boston finisher medal around my neck. I moped back to my hotel feeling completed defeated, and I can remember later that evening sitting off in a corner like a stewing belligerent toddler as I waited for my flight back to Toronto.

The following Sunday morning I was back at the Running Room to meet up with a large group of runners for our weekly long run. Everyone kept coming up to me and congratulating me for running the Boston Marathon, and on more than one occasion, I could see in their eyes how eager they were to get the opportunity run the iconic Boston Marathon one day. And that’s when it finally dawned on me: Boston didn’t owe me anything. In fact, it had taught me a valuable lesson, in that it reminded me that the reason I started running in the first place was to make authentic connections to other people, something that I was incapable of when I was in full blown drug and alcohol addiction.

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading back to Boston for my 13th time, and I’m going into the race knowing that for me, Boston always gives me exactly what I need – comradery, grandeur, humility, shared sorrow, redemption, and most importantly –rebirth.

Dear JP:

How do motivate yourself to get out the door when running groups are not an option? And by the way, I don’t like talking when I run.



Dear Michelle:

I think all of us can relate to your quest to find the motivation to get your run in. I find this is especially true if you are working from a training schedule leading up to a goal race. No matter how much you enjoy running, as soon as you start measuring your workouts in terms of kilometers or tempo, the temptation to simply tick another box in your daily to-do-list increases exponentially.

I, too am not a big fan of talking while I run; and in fact, even when I run on my own, I don’t listen to an iPod or anything else that distracts my mind. With the exception of my Sunday long run, each day I’m up and out of bed before 4:30 to run the streets of Toronto on my own. How ironic that as runners, we are in constant motion, yet the greatest joy is discovered, or unlocked deep within us. For me, running has little to do with getting from one place to another as quickly as possible, and everything to do with returning to a better place inside me.

When it comes to what motivates me, there are a few things I continually draw on. No matter what mood I’m facing at the outset of my run, or even how hectic my day ahead may be, time and again running has shown me that there is a “better me” to be found at the end of the run. Take last Thursday for instance… I went to bed knowing that freezing rain and terrible road conditions would be waiting for me when I woke up for my run. When the alarm went off at 4:15am, two things prevented me from staying in my warm bed. First, I always check the forecast the night before my run, and this permits me to be sure I’m mentally prepared and practically equipped to tackle any conditions that Mother Nature throws my way. And second, whenever I’m considering skipping a workout, I like to run the tape in my mind all the way its conclusion… that’s me living with the overwhelming guilt and self-defeat that will percolate throughout the rest of my day if I skip my run.

For inspiration I often turn to Canadian humanitarian, Jean Vanier who said: “Loneliness is a taste of death.” Even though I spend 80% of my time running alone, I believe that ultimately, my association with the broader running community teaches me to accommodate and to compromise, both of which are essential skills for me to foster if I hope to have any kind of longevity in our sport.

As added motivation and accountability, I check in with my running family on social media after I get back from my run. There are always people who inspire me by running more, giving back more, and overcoming even greater challenges. Next time you’re feeling your motivation reserves are somewhat depleted, I suggest you chat online with an injured or sick runner who would do pretty much anything to switch places with you. The way I see it, the more you are able to live within the discomfort of your brain, the greater success you will have on race day. When it comes to motivating yourself to get out the door day after day for your workouts, the sooner you can get out of your head and into your run, the less complicated the entire process becomes. My mantra: “Train in your run. Race in your mind.”

Send your advice and questions to JP Want more tips, tricks and practical advice from JP Bedard? Check out his previous posts with questions from elite and everyday athletes.


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