In less than two weeks, Eric Gillis will line up at the start of the Boston Marathon. He is the only elite Canadian male runner to do so (Rachel Hannah will represent Canada in the women’s elite field). As we continue to countdown to this holy grail of North American racing, we had a chance to ask Gillis a few questions about his upcoming race.
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Canadian Running: Name one workout that you love that you think has prepared you for Boston.
Eric Gillis: The workouts that get me most prepared for Boston are long marathon race pace efforts on the roads. My favourite, and the longest of these is “the simulator” done three to four weeks out. It’s a 30-minute warm-up, 30 minutes slightly above–slower than–race pace, 30 minutes at goal race pace, then 30 minutes slightly under–faster than–race pace. Once I’ve completed this one, the race feels close.
CR: What are some tactics you’re using to keep yourself mentally ready in the weeks leading up?
EG: Taking time to reflect is always important for me, especially in the finally few weeks before a marathon. Once I “perceive” that most of the work has been done, complacency can easily creep in with me. I try to be extra mindful of staying in flow when mileage and workout volume start to come down. Keeping the same routines going into the taper is beneficial. By that I mean that I’ll eat, sleep and run at similar times during taper as in the middle of my build.
CR: Tell me something you’re excited to do in Boston (not running related).
EG: The elite athlete team with John Hancock are planing to organize an Easter egg hunt in the hotel for Heidi, Luke, and some of the other athletes’ kids. I’m looking forward to having a bit of chocolate too!
CR: What’s going to make you happy in Boston? What’s the goal?
EG: I have confidence that the experience of running the Boston Marathon will make me the most happy. A strong placing won’t hurt either!
CR: How does fatherhood work into all of this? How do you manage to be both a successful athlete and an involved parent?
EG: When possible, having my family watch, and in the case of Ottawa, Toronto, and now Boston, even stay in the same hotel as me and have meals together leading in, really means a lot. Being an athlete with kids is probably not too different than if I was a teacher and parent. I envision working on improving the same things, such as staying in the moment with my kids, and meeting them at their level.
CR: You’re kind of an expert on staying consistent and performing well. What’s one solid piece of advice on having a successful race?
EG: The best advice I can give for having a successful race is to really look deeply into what realistically, a successful race looks like to YOU!
CR: You were in Boston to put up the race signs. How was that experience?
EG: I was in Boston to preview the course. I took the train there after the NYC half. It happened to be four weeks out from the marathon at which time they start putting up the first of the 500 banners around the city. John Hancock, the sponsor of the professional race, invited me to join Desi Linden and Bill Rogers to raise the first banner, along with the Mayor, other officials plus lots of press. I got a good feel for how much the city gets behind this race and how much it means to Boston. I can’t wait to get back for the real thing!