It was the hottest Boston Marathon in history.
Heat waves blurred the horizon as Jack and his competition toed the starting line, their uniforms already drenched in sweat. It was over 100 degrees, and spectators lined the course with sprinklers and garden hoses at the ready to cool off passing runners.
40 percent of the field dropped out that year, but, through smart racing and pure grit, Jack gradually worked his way into the lead and then into history as he crossed the line the champion of the 1976 Boston Marathon with a finishing time of 2:20:19.
The race was nicknamed - appropriately enough - the “Run for the Hoses”, and it was one of the biggest defining moments of Jack’s life.
“One” being the operative word.
Jack went on to record a personal best of 2:11:17 at Boston in 1978 and qualified for 3 consecutive Olympic Trials in the marathon in 1972, 1976, and 1980.
Jack also taught sports psychology at Tufts for 26 years and now works as a training consultant to the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge through which he has raised over $30 million for breast cancer research.
Jack has no shortage of insight when it comes to mental game, and he loves sharing that insight to help other runners.
Listen in as Jack discusses his tips and tricks for setting goals, bouncing back after bad races, and finding happiness in the process.
3:55 How was your experience at ZAP Fitness?
6:15 How did you first get into running and what really sparked your passion for the sport?
19:45 What were the conditions for 1976 Boston Marathon?
21:13 Did your strategy change going into that race?
26:17 What were the last 8 miles of that race like for you?
31:58 How did it feel having the crowd cheering for you as you won the Boston Marathon?
37:03 What do you advise runners to do in regards to setting goals or multiple goals per race?
46:02 Why should we differentiate “Victory” from “Success”?
49:20 How do you advise runners bounce back from a ‘bad’ race?
57:13 How much time did you give yourself to ‘grieve’ over a disappointing race?
1:00:31 What’s next for you?
“I just almost had to keep pinching myself. ‘Is this really happening? I’m really winning the Boston Marathon!’”
“Too much focus on the outcome will contaminate your performance….The process by which - if we attend to that, then the outcome becomes a byproduct of that process, and we have much more control over the process as opposed to the actual outcome.”
“Part of the human condition is that we tend to confirm our greatest fears to ourselves, and if our greatest fear is to lose a race, we increase the likelihood of that happening by whatever means.”
“Having a secondary goal to fall back on when we know the first one is gone - that can help keep your feet in the fire. If somebody goes to the starting line of...a marathon...wanting to qualify for Boston, and now their splits are telling them that’s not going to happen. You don’t want to just throw the whole thing out and find yourself giving up, and now you take nothing away from the race other than beating up on yourself….Have a secondary goal going in that you can fall back on.”
“Victory is purely defined by the results, and success can be defined by an internal measure of what you did against what you felt you had to give.”
“It’s running smart first, and tough second, and taking your last effective steps at the finish line and crossing the finish line knowing that no matter how else you may have executed the race, you probably could not have run any faster.”
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