The BQ(Q) Kaitlyn

Here’s another great BQ(Q) from another redditor, Kaitlyn. Thanks Kaitlyn, I really appreciate hearing about the methodical approach you took to get your BQ!

Name: Kaitlyn

Sex: Female

Age: 25

Height: 5’4”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 123
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?

The New Jersey Marathon, 3:28:15

Tell us a little about the race.

New Jersey has a very flat course right along the shore — perfect for BQing, and why I picked that race. The day of the race, however, was very windy. Turning a corner at about mile 19 was like turning into a wall of wind (not to be confused with hitting the metaphorical wall). I felt great the entire race and was on pace for a solid 3:25 (I was really hoping to BQ by 10 minutes so I could register early), but that wind really took it out of me at the end, tacking three minutes onto my goal time. Other than the wind, however, the weather was generally perfect. Maybe a little warm, but not bad. I wore a hat though–which I’m not used to–because there was virtually no shade and I’m tremendously pale.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

Short answer: 1 year consistently immediately before, about 6 years cumulatively in the decade before.

Long answer: I ran track and cross country in high school, and I was okay–on varsity–but not one of our strongest runners. I decided not to run in college because I was taking on two majors and thought the student athlete thing would be too much. As it were, I ended up getting a nasty case of ITBS about midway through my freshman year. I stopped running for a year and put on some weight. By junior year, I was unhappy with how out of shape I had gotten and decided to start running again, and ran my first half marathon (1:40:10). I continued to run recreationally through the end of college but stopped during my first year of full-time work, only to pick it back up about a year later when training for my second half marathon. I’ve run pretty consistently since then, with the exception of time off for injuries.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

Probably about 5,000 miles (I didn’t track these things well in high school)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

1,100 miles, which included one month of time off from my first marathon to deal with IT band issues and a few weeks of time off in the fall to deal with plantar fasciitis.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

11 — a lot in part because I was working through a program to gain entry into the NYC Marathon that requires you run 9 local races and volunteer at one. I ran three 5ks, one 4-miler, two 5-milers, one 10-miler, 0ne 15K, two half marathons, and one marathon.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

I took about five different programs and made my own based on my schedule and the milage and types of workouts I knew my body could handle without getting injured. Following strict programs always seems to result in injury for me.

I only averaged about 35 miles a week in the 16 week training cycle leading up to the race, with a peak week of 42 miles. Before training started, I undertook a very conservative approach to building up my miles, starting with 15 miles in one week, 17.5 miles the next, 20 miles, 22.5 miles to 25 miles the first week of training.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

Yep, I swear my running club makes all the difference! It helps to have people to push you in interval/hill/tempo workouts and to run with for long runs.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes! Cross training is key! It keeps me from getting injured. I started taking barre classes, which I think really helped address weakness in my glutes and hips that I’ve pinned as a major source of my IT band problems.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

I generally try to do one tempo/hill/longer interval run a week on Tuesdays and then a shorter interval/speed workout on the track on Thursday (my running team’s practice schedule). During that training season leading up to my first BQ, I’d say in reality I only did about 40 percent of those planned workouts, but they were still very valuable. In my most recent season I did those workouts more like 65 percent of the time, and I shaved another 7 minutes off my time to 3:21. When I didn’t get formal workouts in, I tried to do my runs at marathon pace or faster.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Keep at it. You need to put in the training (and the cross training) to make it to the finish line fresh and injury free. I continue to build up my weekly mileage with each marathon training cycle. I went out too hard in training for my first marathon (averaging about 45 miles a week), and paid for it. I showed up at the starting line injured, put in a good effort in the first 18 miles, and walked/limped the last 8 miles to finish in 5:09:11–less than ideal. I learned I personally needed to cut back on my mileage and instead focus on getting in quality workouts. Learn what works for you.

Oh, and keep in mind it’ll be very difficult to run your BQ if you don’t run a decent amount of your training miles at or faster than marathon pace. I can’t tell you how many people I know who say they want to BQ, but have run virtually no runs at their goal race pace. I’d recommend at least a few long runs that include some middle miles at race pace and progression long runs that see you gradually build speed to run the final miles at goal pace.

Somewhat related: caffeinated salt pills (I use salt stick) are like magic. I have never gotten near hitting the proverbial wall since I started using them. I hate gatorade, so they are a great way for me to make sure I have enough electrolytes in me, and the caffeine is amazing in helping me remain focused (though I am extremely caffeine sensitive.)

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The BQ(Q) – Dan

A couple of days ago a reddit user linked to the BQ(Q). That has brought a lot of traffic, and a few new responses to the BQ(Q). Dan here is one of those responses. Thanks, Dan, for the great answers, I think there’s a lot to learn from your methodical approach to the race! 

Name: Dan

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 27

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

Baystate Marathon 2014 in Lowell, a small yet popular Boston qualifier race for Massachusetts locals, in 2:57:09. It’s mostly a double loop along a river—a few small hills to keep your legs interested, but generally extremely flat and designed for fast times. I’d run Chicago and NYC before (2011 for Chicago when I had no idea what I was doing in 3:32, and 2013 for NYC, my first BQ attempt, in a disappointing 3:13) and wanted a small-town marathon for which I didn’t have to expend any energy just getting to the start line.

I ran the first miles very conservatively (I negatively split the race by about 1:10) and eventually fell into line with two guys who were looking to finish around the same time as I was. We ran together for about 20 miles, switching off leading and drafting off each other to fight a strong headwind that was with us for almost half the race. Having those guys there was enormously helpful. I had to let them go at mile 23 (they both got 2:55), but I never would have been able to keep it up without them. I had one slow mile (7:21) at mile 23, but toughened up and finished strong. I was much less sore immediately after and in the days following than in previous marathons, but apparently I did look very pale upon finishing, according to one volunteer.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

Nearly three and a half years of dedicated running, though I had run a few miles a week on and off since high school as part of a general fitness routine. I never ran track or XC (which I regret).

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

About 4700 miles since I started logging miles in June 2011. Maybe 500 – 800 more in my life before that.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

Almost exactly 2000 miles. It was going to really bother me to not have that round number before toeing the line, but I got there.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran eight races before my marathon, mostly in the spring. Four 5ks, one 5 miler, one 15k, two half marathons, and one oddball 3.5 miler, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, solely to defeat all of my coworkers.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

I made up my own plan. I set myself mileage goals for the week, decided on a long run and a workout, and then filled in easy mileage where necessary. I tried not to have a single day when I was just running five miles or fewer. I hit 70 miles per week as often as I could, and peaked at 75 mpw.

My strategy for the BQ was in two parts: in the spring, I got in the best 5k shape I could, breaking 18 minutes for the first time in my goal race, while keeping up a 16-mile long run every week. After that, I eased off the speed work and started piling on the miles throughout the summer (I participated in the Summer of Malmo thread on /r/advancedrunning, which was a fantastic motivational tool and a ton of fun. I didn’t race in the fall except for a tune-up half marathon. Every step I took in running shoes leading up to the marathon was in service of the marathon. If your goal is a BQ and you’re right on the edge like I was/am, you can’t afford distractions.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

I didn’t have a club or a coach then, but I do now (the club has a coach that sets track workouts once a week). I wish I’d have a group to train with—running the actual race with other competitors was so helpful, and I imagine training with a group would have produced even better results.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

No. Running more is nearly always the answer. I’ve reduced my mileage for the winter, though, and sometimes stop by the weight room after the treadmill.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

One workout per week, and a progressive long run, which maxed out at 20 miles with the last 9 at marathon pace. While I don’t think the long run should be the sole focus, these were hard runs that definitely prepared me better than slow 22 milers last year. I only did a single 20 miler, one 18 miler, and most of my long runs were 17 miles. My workouts were usually long repeats (1600m or more. One week I did “The Michigan,” which was very challenging and a lot of fun, a mix of track intervals and tempo miles.)

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Before the race: Get in really good 5k/10k shape over a period of at least six months. Get times that predict you’ll smash your BQ requirement. Then put in a lot of miles consistently. Don’t go for a bunch of four-mile runs and then do a 24 miler on Sunday. Run a mid-week long run, do a workout most weeks, have a really good long run for which you’re not just plodding along, and then balance the rest of your easy miles. I was always a little fatigued throughout my 16 weeks until I hit my taper, which was the second best feeling in the world (the first being the BQ itself).

During the race: find people to run with. If your marathon is windy, you can shelter each other by using pace lines. If there’s no wind at all, work together to keep yourselves on pace. Don’t let each other go too fast or too slow. There’s a huge psychological benefit to working together, as well. It takes so much of the burden off of you.

After the race: enjoy your success, get ready for the greatest race ever, and don’t forget to fill out this survey.

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The BQ(Q) – Kevin G

Name: Kevin G. http://creakyrunner.wordpress.com/

Sex: Male

Age: 40

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

LA Marathon 2013. 2:47. My first marathon. Pretty challenging course, but just went in with the mentality that it was a hard long run type of effort up until the 20 mile mark. At that point, give it all you have for the last 10k. I had not run over 18 miles before that race.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
That was my first marathon. I had been running for 2 years. I did no running or real exercise from about age 18 through 38.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Tough one. Two years of running….maybe about 4000 – 5000 miles total in that period

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Probably around 3,000.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Not many. 2 perhaps? Id rather train.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
I have a coach who gives me a weekly schedule.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Yes and Yes.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Not then, but it sure does now.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
There was a periodized build up. Lydiardian — about 12 weeks out, yes, track workouts on Wednesdays, and longer tempo efforts on Saturdays. Long run Monday.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Most people it seems do too much for too long a period of time. Get fit and strong, then with about 10-12 weeks to go you can focus on the marathon itself. Keep your long runs under 18miles. Idea is to be healthy and confident at the starting line. Most people’s marathons are toast by the time they stagger into their taper.

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The BQ(Q) – Simon O

Its marathon season now and the BQ stories are coming in fast and furious. Thanks, Simon, for filling out the questionnaire and telling us about his BQ!

After reading the story of my team mate and friend, Greg, I would like to share my story on your blog as well. My BQ was very recent. It was achieved just 12 days ago (October 19th, 2014). Please review my answer, and please consider posting it on your blog. I would like to inspire many runners that nothing is impossible- I am not a born runner (nor did I started running in high school or college). 

Name: Simon O

Blog: http://simonongpassiontorun.blogspot.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SimonOng88

Athlinks: https://www.athlinks.com/athletes/simong89/Profile

 Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 26

Height: 5 feet 8

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 158

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2014- Toronto was my third marathon in my three years of running. My first two marathons were in Calgary with the following times: 4:38:32 (2012) and 3:57:37 (2013). Toronto was my first marathon, in which I followed a training schedule from beginning to end. During the training phase, all my workout time(s) were pointing toward a time of 2:55, which was my goal going into the race. The week before race day didn’t really go to plan – I was busy on my feet, and did not get enough rest. Race day came, and to be honest I was not really expecting a BQ that day! I was lucky to have my assistant coach (Mark Martens) and the rest of my running teammates (the Adrenaline Rush Athletic Team) there to give me the extra confident boost. The first 32k was at a controllable and conservative pace (4:12-4:15 min/km). It was windy that day (I think the wind were going around 20-25k/hr). Fortunately, my assistant coach, Mark, told me to draft behind him, and that he will keep me on pace, and if ever he could no longer hold his pace that I should run without him. By km 39, our pace dropped to 4:20min/km. By km 40 to the end, both Mark and I were digging deep. We were both surprised to finish under 3 hours in such windy conditions, not to mention a slight uphill close to the end. Another team mate of ours (Morris Roberts) finished under 3 hours, and was the only one in his age category (55-59) who have done it that day.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

As some of you might have read the “No Limit” article in the Running Room magazine (link:http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/f592f3f8#/f592f3f8/58), I was 230 lb guy before I have started running in late 2011. Back in high school or college, I am a fat nerd who spent most of my time playing chess, and eating fast food. No athletic background, and was not interested in doing any sport (so, running was the last thing on my mind back then).  It was when I experienced some health problems that I began taking on running as my way to get back in shape. To this day, I am glad that I made that decision. Running is now my passion, and I could not go a single day without thinking of running. Thanks to my friends (you know who you are) and family for continuing to give me support and encouragement!

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

In my three years of running, I have probably logged up to 3,700 miles (around 6000 km).

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

I have logged in 1171 miles (1886 km) from the first week of marathon training (June 22, 2014) to the day before the BQ race (October 18, 2014). Most of these miles were done in group (team) runs. I love team runs, as it offers motivation, accountability, and some competitions (in our group long runs, we often joked about ‘who’s the winner’, as we raced each other in the last kilometre of the long run). Overall, it sure beats running alone with an iPod/mp3, when you have someone to talk to, or someone to joke around.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran 22 races prior to Toronto Waterfront Marathon. The race ranged from 5k up to 25k (and from road races to cross-country trail races).

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

I followed a training program outlined by my coach (Janice Mccaffrey). In the first few weeks of training, the main focus was to build strength, aerobic conditioning and speed. The paces were very conservative, and I learned how to run by effort rather than pace during this phase of training (especially on the hills). Afterwards, there was a transition phase where the focus was to improve lactate threshold. Following this phase was the “goal race specific phase”, where the legs had the opportunity to experience the goal marathon pace. But, I would say the most important part of the training program is the tapering phase, as our running performance improves during rest.

 Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

Yes! I run with the Adrenaline Rush Athletic Club, run by an awesome and amazing coach, Janice Mccaffrey. Ever since I joined this team in Dec 2013, I have been obtaining 5k, 10k, half marathon, and now marathon PB (and BQ). Coach Janice has a vast knowledge in running, and I am fortunate to be taught by her.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

During my marathon training, I rarely do any cross training, with the exception of dragon boat paddling (which improves my core somewhat). In my opinion, the only way to be good in running is to do more running.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, I think the speed and lactate threshold workouts play an important role. The paces for these workouts are way faster than marathon pace; hence, it makes marathon pace feel much easier and attainable on race day.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of us working towards a BQ?

My final words: 

“Train hard, and smart! Follow your training plan, but also listen to your body. Come race day, it is important to step back and spend some time thinking of all your training. You should tell yourself in front of the mirror (honestly, I did this on race day!) that you are fit and you can do this! You must have faith in your training (as training does not lie!), but more important you must have faith in yourself. Have fun, and enjoy your journey to achieving a BQ – it worth it at the end!”

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The BQ(Q) – Luke R

I love reading everyone’s BQ story, but I especially love sharing the stories from my teammates on Prospect Park Track Club. Congratulations on a great race, Luke!

Name: Luke R

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38

Height: 6 ft 1

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 160

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

I was fortunate to have qualified for Boston on my first marathon attempt, which was at Steamtown last month (October 2014).  I finished in 3:13:57 which meets the 2016 qualifying standard for the 40-45 age group (I turn 40 in November 2015).

The first 18 miles were a joy, the next 4 an increasing slog and the last 4 a sheer test of will.  Thanks to the huge downhills in the first 8 miles by mile 22 my quads were screaming at me to stop.  Thankfully nothing cramped up so with an eye on my pace band and some positive self-talk I managed to convince my legs to give me a few more miles.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school? 

I started running in late 2011 (3 years ago).

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

Approximately 1400 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

For the 12 months leading up to the race I ran approximately 1000 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

For the 12 months leading up to the race I ran 12 races

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

I followed a customized 18 week Run SMART program designed by Jack Daniels.  http://runsmartproject.com/coaching/training-plans/

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

I did most of my speed work and some of my long runs with a running club, Prospect Park Track Club (PPTC).  The Run SMART program functioned somewhat as a coach, since it automatically updated training paces based on my race results.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

On the advice of a physical therapist I integrated some lunges into my training program for injury prevention. Nothing other cross training.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

The Run SMART program included one speed work session per week.  This initially consisted of shorter track repeats, building up to longer efforts at 5k pace.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Needless to say, you need to do the work.  But you also need to get to the starting line healthy. For me this meant choosing a plan with conservative weekly mileage (in my case this was a maximum of 45 miles) and ensuring that my easy runs were truly easy (i.e. less than 75% max HR).

Other than that, I lost some weight which I think helped and I also got a running gait analysis which provided some insight into bio mechanical issues that I could work on to improve efficiency and reduce risk of injury.

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The BQ(Q) – Jane

Name: Jane

Sex: Female

Age: 45

Height: 5.4

Weight: 116.8

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

Melbourne Marathon, Australia 3:53:31 Debut marathon after running 4 half marathons over 18 months. I would have been happy with sub 4:30, I ran without pacing (no watch), no music and ran on my own, just listening to my footfall and breathing.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

2 years

I was a ballerina, and then played some netball. At the age of 45 I decided to try jogging

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 

4000km (about 40-50km per week)

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

2000km

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one?

I followed My Asics online plan. I ran about 4 times per week, Monday night tempo, Wednesday speed at the track, Thursday easy and Saturday morning long run.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?  

I do run with a recreational running group for company.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? 

I do a strength routine at home, mostly bodyweight exercises and some cycling.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

I only started speed work about a year ago; focus more on endurance and long runs.

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The BQ(Q) – Bob E

Name: Bobby E IG: bobby_elsinger

Gender: Male

Age: 40

Height: 5’6

Weight: 148

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

I qualified at the Chicago Marathon on my first try.   My finishing time was 3:01:20.   Heading into the race I was very confident in attaining a BQ.  My actual goal was 2:55 and based on a 1:23 half marathon in Ventura.  The final two weeks I started to get greedy and wanted to run sub 2:52.  My first half was 1:25 and I felt pretty confident in 2:52 but by mile 18 I knew it wasn’t gonna happen.   By mile 22 I was laboring pretty hard and started experiencing cramps and had to walk a few times.  I didn’t push the last two miles because a cramp attack might not me out of a BQ time.  I finished with a sense of relief but also disappointed that my greed for 2:52cost me a chance to run sub 3:00.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

I had run sporadically after graduating from college but it didn’t last more than a few months.  In the summer of 2012 I started to run more consistently because I joined a few running clubs.  I didn’t start running more than twice a week until the fall of 2013.  Did you run in college or high school? I ran four years of high school (100-1600m) and college track (800m).  I did three years of college cross country (8K) because I studied in Hong Kong for one semester.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?  

I have no idea but my mileage the last two years since I’ve started running had been under 20 miles per week.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

Around 900 but I lost about three months due to running related injuries.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?  

November Turkey Trot: 5K, February: 5K, April 5K,  September: 1/2 Marathon, October: 10K

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one?

I didn’t sign up for the Chicago Marathon until April and then training was interrupted by plantar fasciitis.  I lifted and did elliptical or bike for a few weeks.  I then jumped into the Hanson’s Marathon Plan which stressed pace and quality but my mileage was low because of PF.  I gradually built up my mileage.  Started out high teens and added about three miles per week on the front end in four to five miles per week near the end.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?  

Living in LA offers a variety of running groups, clubs, or crews so I was able to jump in with other runners almost any day except for Friday and Sunday. Additionally I trained with a group of from my Tuesday night running group who were also focusing on Boston.  Two of them were also hoping to qualify for Boston.  We piggy backed on the workouts of one of our runners who had hired a coach.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?  

Yes, I usually lift weights twice a week.  The full body workout incorporates front squats and dead lifts.  As training became more intense I lifted only once a week.  Yoga was inconsistent though out the training cycle but I was able to do it at 1-2 times a month.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, my training group did speed work twice a week, mostly based on 10K and half marathon pace.  In addition I did strides and form drills approximately once a week.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?  

  • Workout with others.  They will keep you on track, motivated, and push you to be better.
  • Running fast is more than just miles.  Strength, flexibility, drills, and speed work are just as important as miles.  I see so many runners who leave loads of time out on the course because of issues with form, strength, and flexibility.  Becoming stronger, more flexible, and quicker will chop significant chunks of your marathon time without logging more miles.
  • Pace work and interval work is very important.  I know so many runners who neglect this and think they can run 20-30 seconds faster per mile on race day without doing the requisite pace and speed work.
  • Follow a program and stick to it.  Following something haphazardly will usually end up with a similar outcome.
  • Carefully pick a program or coach based on what can work for you. Pick the brains of people who are significantly faster and more experienced than you for leads.
  • Listen to your body.  Most running injuries are from overuse and can be kept in check with sensible time off.  You won’t lose much fitness taking three days to even a week off but you will lose fitness if you have to take a month or more off because your injury got worse.
  • Improve your form.  So many people lose massive amounts of time due to poor form/mechanics and set themselves up for injuries because of sloppy form.  Get stronger and more flexible through hips and glutes.
Bob getting his BQ at Chicago!

Bob getting his BQ at Chicago!

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