Interview with Boston Marathon runner David Suarez ’25

Suarez: “I felt the love and the support of that day—especially if you find yourself at the Boston, bask in it all.”

The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest and most famous marathons in the world. It takes place annually on Patriot’s Day in Boston, Massachusetts, attracting tens of thousands of elite runners and excited spectators. Totaling to more than 26 miles with numerous challenging segments, the Boston Marathon requires all participants to run a qualifying time depending on the age group and gender. 

The Tech spoke with David Suarez ’25, a participant in the 2024 Boston Marathon, on his experience and perspectives about running. Suarez is majoring in 6-4, and said that his favorite part about running in the Boston Marathon and many other marathons is the “excitement and energy people bring.”

Suarez first started running because he was “forced into a sport,” which was cross country. However, his passion for running grew significantly at the end of Spring 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions loosened. He began to run for enjoyment, not merely for the sake of running, because he noticed that “with slight changes in routine came new discoveries.”

Gradually, he was running between 50 to 70 miles per week and held a personal record of 1 hour and 20 minutes for half marathons. His progress motivated him to set a higher goal: to run a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Eventually, he signed up for a qualifier in October 2022. As Suarez continued to train, his hard work paid off — he was able to achieve a running time of 2 hours and 52 minutes, which is more than enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Suarez trained intensely from June to September of the summer prior to his qualifying race, accumulating to a total of four months. Suarez said that his training routine is mostly based on feel. Nevertheless, he expressed that he wants to “take things more seriously when the idea of a work-life balance doesn’t feel like something of a fever dream.”

Eventually, when the day of the Boston Marathon came, Suarez noted the vibrant scene with the ecstatic runners accompanied by cheering spectators in stark contrast with the challenging course that awaited them. He remarked, “As soon as the gun goes off, you will get wind of the fact that the course is not for the faint-hearted. If you push miles 1-16, you will be at the mercy of the hills from mile 17 onward. That’s what I came to understand, at least: I cramped from miles 17-26, eventually toughing it out to reach the finish.”

As an avid long-distance runner and student at MIT, Suarez acknowledged that it could be difficult to achieve a work-life balance. He said, “I’m no stranger to the fact that MIT is a difficult school, so I don’t hold it against myself when I have to set aside running for the sake of coursework.” He added, “With the support network of peers and friends I have, I’m able to see past any of the setbacks.”

Suarez’s advice for aspiring marathon runners is the following: “Know that if you don’t train, it will show on the day of the race, and let that be enough to keep your training consistent.” Additionally, he encourages prospective marathon runners to always try to push beyond their limit. He said, “The marathon is an exercise in running on tired legs. So you have to get used to the stress and the strain of the marathon distance. Make those long runs a little longer, and fit in a few more workouts at or exceeding your goal marathon pace.”

He also noted, “Much of the speculation in the running world centers around advice regarding electrolyte consumption. I often see people decked out in elaborate kits (gels, tablets, shoes, etc.) on race day, and question whether I'd been unprepared.” However, he firmly believes that none of these preparations is strictly necessary. 

Instead, Suarez expressed, “Running should be an affordable and accessible activity for all. The bulk of your expenses will typically result from shoes and race fees.” For prospective marathon runners, he recommends buying “a pair of stable trainers that last 500+ miles, saving up for a pair of lighter race-day shoes (so, two pairs of shoes), and registering for local races so that you don’t incur travel expenses (the Cambridge Half and the Boston 5K/Half come to mind).” He also noted, “You can ask for student discounts if you're buying gels/salt tablets: in particular, Heartbreak Hill Running Company will give you 10% off.” 

He also recommends local running clubs such as Heartbreak and Tracksmith as well as the app Strava to keep in touch with other runners. Moreover, Suarez encourages prospective marathon runners to have some figures to look up to. He has his own heroes as well — Suguru Osako and Eliud Kipchoge.

Finally, Suarez gives some advice specific to the Boston Marathon. He said the following: “Make sure that your sleep hygiene is near-perfect by the day of the race. Wave 1 leaves from Boston Common at 6:45 AM sharp, just to give you an idea of what to expect. Bring some food as well. If it’s particularly cold, find some extra clothing to donate while at the Athletes’ Village (volunteers have bags for such donations). And make sure to bring your own food and fuel on the bus. Three or four Maurten gels, plus Gatorade, water, the occasional orange slice, and a few high-fives from spectators make up the extent to which you’ll be provided fuel along the course.”

Suarez gave some advice for some prospective runner.s “Don’t take Boston too seriously, especially if it’s just your first. Just try to relax. Enjoy the experience: if you're up to it, talk to a few people on the ride to Hopkinton. Thoughts I've had about the entire Boston Marathon as an experience seem to resonate more generally, especially as a student with the privilege of being here at MIT: really, who knows if you'll have a chance to meet these people ever again?”

Overall, Suarez enjoyed his experience, saying, “I was glad to see that a few of my friends and family had shown up to support me, and we took some time to celebrate afterward.”