The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon. It also has strict entry requirements: to be eligible to just apply (no guarantee of entry) you need to meet the qualifying time. If you're a woman aged 18-34 who wants to race in the 2024 Boston marathon, for example, you'll need to have run a marathon in 3:30 or less.
Before she flew off to the US, we managed to get our amazing Pretty Athletic ambassador Jo to sit down for a few minutes to tell us all about her Boston marathon adventure which will now be happening in a matter of days. Read on for more about her journey to the Boston and her top tips!
When did you start running?
I’ve really been running for as long as I remember. I have such happy memories of running a little 5-6km loop round the house with my Dad in rural Norfolk in my early teens. It ended with a steep hill and we’d always race each other up it!
You've run quite a few marathons before, can you tell us a little bit about them?
I ran the Edinburgh Marathon back in 2014 although my approach to training was a lot less structured back then. It was a very daunting prospect and I did all of my training on my treadmill - watching films back to back! I hit the wall at mile 20 (textbook) because I didn’t really understand race nutrition. It was awesome though!
I had no plans for more marathoning but have always entered the London ballot. On my birthday in 2019 I found out I got into the 2020 race. It became virtual but I achieved a GFA running laps round my parents house - so raced again in 2021 and gained another GFA and a BQ. In 2022 I again managed a GFA and a BQ. Since I turn 40 this year, I thought why not go for it so I entered Boston! It’ll be my victory lap and after this, I’ll definitely take a break from marathons!
You're running the Boston Marathon next week. How are you feeling about it?
Boston is a total bucket list thing. It seems so unlikely that I’d find myself here doing this. It’s a long way from my comfort zone and halfway around the World but I’m so excited! I’m taking my little family and we’re spending Easter weekend in New York before heading to Boston for a week. We’ll walk miles in NYC and eat and drink everything - and that’s OK.
When I arrive in Boston I’ll take control of time on my feet, nutrition and hydration. Race week is important. I’ve planned three little shakeout runs. I’ll head to the expo on Friday and rest on Sunday and eat lots of carb-heavy but simple foods. I won’t sleep well before the race but it doesn’t matter and with any luck I’ll sleep on the way home!
Any tips for marathon newbies?
- Run a few of your training runs at race start time. Get up at the same time and have the same breakfast you will on the day.
- Have a race nutrition strategy - are you planning to use gels, tablets, banana, nuts? - and practice it during training. Nothing new on race day!
- How ever you train, you won’t hit 26.2 until the day. Remember that last bit is a mental rather than physical battle. Choose one or two words or phrases you’ll repeat to yourself when it gets hard. Me? ‘Yes you can’
- Cut your toenails!
- Remember to enjoy the experience. It’s a gift and the memories with be with you forever!
What are your marathon day kit essentials?
- Bone conductor headphones with a killer playlist.
- Decent socks tried and tested on long runs.
- PA Rescue Balm for my lips and any areas where chafing could happen. For me that’s around the edges of my sports bra.
Finally, what's your favourite Pretty Athletic product and why?
The Sweatproof Hydration Gel. It smells like a spa and leaves my (hardworking) skin so soft. Tbh having a British brand that’s specifically designed for female athletes is just wonderful. It’s like it’s all made for me! Us women can be sporty and tough and powerful and still as feminine as we want to be too.
Thanks so much for sharing Jo, and a huge good luck for Boston!!
For anyone who wants to know more, you can check out Jo at https://www.instagram.com/jo_griffinfitely/