What Danica Patrick Learned From Training For The First Boston Marathon

Michelle R. Martinelli

Among the 20,000 Boston Marathon runners competing this year, Danica Patrick probably won’t stand out right away. But the number on his bib in Monday’s race could grab people’s attention, if they look closely.

For his first 26.2 miles, Patrick will wear bib number 500 for the prestigious marathon. Referring to his 14-year career at the top of motorsport, the figure is a nod to achievements in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 of the Boston Athletic Association, the event organizer.

And when she crosses the finish line – she’s hoping close to the four-hour mark – she ticks off a lifetime goal.

“The only item on my to-do list is to run a marathon” Patrick told For The Win recently. “And I hope it will be fun because the goals have been to train, to be prepared, to feel good, to have fun.”

Since to retire from NASCAR and IndyCar racing in 2018, Patrick only slowed down in the literal sense. She was part of NBC’s Indy 500 shows; last year she launched Danica Rosé, originally from Provence, France, and still has her wine brand based in Napa Valley, Somnium; and she hosts a weekly podcast titled, Quite Intense. And, of course, she’s still a fitness expert who regularly posts her workouts and motivational posts to her hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.

But marathon training is totally different from something like CrossFit or a tough workout that Patrick writes for herself. Fortunately, she doesn’t do it alone.

Patrick, 39, expects this to be his only marathon. And she will be joined by her ”ride or die fitness teamAnd two training partners: her sister, Brooke Selman, 37, and their friend, Erin Buntin, 43. They’re all fitness freaks doing CrossFit and pushing themselves, and on Monday they’ll all be running their first 26.2 miles. together at the 125th Boston Marathon.

Typically, runners must qualify for the Boston Marathon, so they’ve already completed at least one 26.2 mile race. But Patrick, Selman, and Buntin can run Boston without qualifying because they’re running to support a charity, the Light Foundation, created by former New England patriot Matt Light. Patrick is the honorary captain for the Speed ​​of Light team. The three collectively raised around $ 48,000, Buntin said.

“When you say to yourself ‘I run Boston’ [people are] like, “Oh, where do you qualify? “And they almost discredit you a bit,” Selman said. “And I’m like, fuck that. … What we are doing is really cool because we are running with a goal.

The trio have been training for the Boston Marathon since Memorial Day, but most of the time they’re not physically with Patrick based in Scottsdale, Selman in Indianapolis, and Buntin in Green Bay.

All three agreed that Patrick is the most natural runner among them, and the retired racing driver said it goes back to her childhood and that she used to run with her mother early in the morning, even in winter. She said that while running long distances isn’t part of her typical workout routines, it still feels comfortable and familiar to her.

Partly because of this, Patrick said she trained confident in her marathon training. Perhaps overconfident, as she focused more on the longer runs than the shorter ones in between. So “as the mileage increased” there was a bit of reality check.

“(Arizona) has been so hot nuclear,” Patrick said of his training this summer. “And so I think my 16 and 18 mile runs really made me realize, ‘Holy shit, I better dial this because I’m feeling bad right now. “”

So she adjusted her training and focus. But she said that because “the nature of sport is really tough on the body” – and in a very different way than NASCAR and IndyCar – she gained a better perspective on the importance of recovery, such as dry needling and refueling. From electrolytes and sodium to energy gels recommended by Selman, Patrick said she learned how to properly maintain her body for a feat like the marathon.

And since she ran wherever her schedule permitted – like training in the desert at her home in Arizona and “punitive” altitude runs in Telluride, Colorado – hydration was everything.

Patrick noted that she also learned to play the “mental game” of long-distance running. Thinking about what hurts and what feels good during a long run, the mind games she plays with herself help her overcome the pain – or, as she recently had. wrote on Instagram, when “[expletive] becomes real after about 12 “miles.

“I will take a UCAN advantage [energy gel] at mile 14, I just need to get to mile 14, ”said Patrick to himself.

“OK, I know every mile, I’m going to take a full glass of my electrolytes. It will really do good. And so you just start doing mini goals. But the body really gives you the big middle finger, saying, “It hurts. It’s hard. I am dehydrated.

And if Patrick, Selman, or Buntin need any help or a little extra push, there’s a group chat for that. Patrick said she and Buntin – who met at a CrossFit gym in Green Bay a few years ago – built a “solid foundation” for their friendship rooted in training, which soon included Selman.

“We talk every day about how your races are going or your fueling,” said Selman. “What are you doing, drinking and hydrating and all that.” We talk constantly, and this is a topic we talk about literally every day.


Although the three future marathoners live in different cities across the country, they still found a few times to run together, as they will in Boston. Buntin said she and Selman ran together in Madison this summer, and more recently Patrick and Buntin completed their last long training run, a 16-mile run, in Chicago early last week and have been since in type mode.

But as a group, the only time the three trained for the marathon together was their longest training run, a 20-mile run in Napa in September. And they treated it – as they have been with many of their longer runs – like a dress rehearsal for Boston, wearing the same clothes they intend to wear on race day right down to the socks. and being prepared with supplies to limit irritation or blisters.

“It all really turned out to be growth for us mentally, physically, emotionally. [and], I would say, even spiritually, ”Buntin said. “And so those are the motivations, right?” So if someone is in a mental block or has a [expletive] run, you have two people saying to you, ‘we’re gonna break it down’ and ‘what were your shining moments? ” Or ‘[Where] physically, are you struggling? ‘”

For some people who are trying a marathon for the first time, the goal may just be to finish. As a self-proclaimed “non-runner,” Buntin’s goals for Boston were more about a strong training program, enjoying it, and being injury-free on race day. Selman aims to have the kind of race where she feels good – or as good as you might expect – by the end.

For Patrick, as she increased her mileage at the start of training, she ran about 8:15 am miles and initially believed that an 8:40 am pace for Boston would be achievable. But after learning more about her body through training, as well as the weather potentially playing a role, she and her group have a more realistic goal of a four-hour marathon – or a little higher than a pace. nine minutes.

But Patrick set goal levels for his first marathon, ranging from a four hour break at a pace of 9:30 minutes until the end of the race. And running and staying together for the 26.2 miles “will make a very big difference,” she said.

“It will help to be really fun to just run with your friends and be able to run together,” said Patrick. “It’s like you’re all practicing somehow.

“And it’s supposed to be fun!” I’m not going to set a world record. I’m not going to win the race; It’s not going to happen. And so the point is, this is something I wanted to do.

Yet the Boston Marathon course is intimidating which includes the infamous Hill of Sorrow – the final of a series of hills with a steep half-mile incline at mile 20 when runners’ legs are anything but cool. But Patrick renamed it, Buntin said, to something more positive because after the hill is finished it’s only about six miles left.

“We felt like the name Heartbreak Hill was related to such a scary word that we called it Home Free Hill,” Buntin said. “Because once we get past that, we are literally free from home. “

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