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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Friday Inspiration — Rob Krar on Depression

The videos I post on Fridays are often inspiring because of the physical talent and hard work they display. This video of Western States champion Rob Krar discussing his battles with depression is inspiring on a whole other level. Sure it features Krar flying past tourists as he climbs in and out of the Grand Canyon. But more importantly it focuses on his struggles with depression with some frank talk about how his depression affects his loved ones and his running. Well worth a watch.

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The BQ(Q) – Lulu Y

Name: Lulu Y (thelittleyarisdiary.wordpress.com)

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 40

Height: 5’3

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
I qualified at California International Marathon.  This was my 3rd attempt at a BQ.  My finishing time was a 3:40:11 (needed 3:45).  CIM is billed as ‘the fastest race in the West’ and it may very well be.  The course is a gradual drop over the 26.2 miles with rolling hills, which help dampen the strain on the quads.  It was cold throughout (27-35F) which worked great for me.  I ran with the 3:45 pacer the whole time, but not realizing that he was running faster than 3:45.  He ended up getting us a great cushion.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I had been running off and on for 10 years, but only consistently running for the 5 years prior to the CIM race.  I had to take 6 months off in 2010 to nurse an achilles tendinitis.
I never really seriously ran in college or HS.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Approximately 6000 miles

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
About 1000+.  I’m not a high mileage runner because of my propensity to injuries.  I run no more than 40 miles a week during peak training.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
One – My body will only allow for one race a year.

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’ve consistently used the Greg McMillan program that you can download from the NYTimes Run Well section.  His program incorporates quite a bit of speed work and track work, and the long runs top out at 18.  When I first used it in 2009 I was able to input my time for a shorter distance (5-10K) and it would generate a semi-tailored program for me with a projected marathon finishing time.  I don’t know if that is still available for free, but he does have a website which can do that but at a cost.

For what it’s worth – his program had predicted that I would finish in 3:40:36

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
No, but Greg McMillan is technically a coach.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Didn’t do any cross training only because no other forms of exercise appeal to me that much.  However, I suspect if I did, I could run faster.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
I believe speed work is HUGE.  You really do run faster and are able to tolerate the lactic acid buildup that you get later on in the race.  Plus, it breaks up the monotony and makes training much more interesting.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Consistent training is a part of it, but being smart about the race is also key.  Find races that play to your strengths.  Some like flat races, others like gradual descents (would advise against huge elevation drops because it beats up your quads before you get to the finish).  Avoid late spring/summer races!  Also be smart about racing – try to run even or negative splits.  A lot of people bolt out the gate due to adrenaline rush but end up paying for it towards the end.  You need a lot of patience to hold yourself back in the beginning, but you’ll be rewarded at the end by not hitting ‘the wall’ and finishing strong.  Someone once said, “run the first half of the race with your brain, and the second half with your heart.”
Also listen to your body.  There is no one program that will work for all.  We’re all different.  Some people can do high mileage training.  Others can get away with lower mileage but with tons of speed work.  Lastly, never push through injuries because that will only sideline you.

Good luck with your pursuit.  Consistency and patience will pay off :)

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Training Totals for the Week Ending 9/28/2014

Run Miles for the week: 13.1 in 2:06:12
Run Miles for the year: 843.3
Projected total miles for the year: 1131.
Run Streak: 3 (13.1 miles)(4.4 / day)
Number of runs that were one stupid mile: 0
Number of days until I beat my old run streak: 111
Prospect Park loops for the week: 2
Prospect Park loops for the year: 77
Body Weight Work: 00:00:00
Average weight: 178
Total Exercise Time: ~2:00:00
Hebrew: 00:15:00
Books Finished 0
Total Books Read for the year 29

Notes: I swear to god, one of these days I’m going to string together a decent amount of training.

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The BQ(Q) – Victor

Here’s a great response from Victor. Victor ran sub-3 in his first marathon, but, as a member of Czechoslovakia’s national team, he was no beginner. Thanks for sharing your story, Victor. I wish I could have met Emil Zatopek!

Name: Victor (aka Goorun on Running Ahead)

Sex Male 

Age (at the time of first BQ) 19

Height 5’10 3/4″

Weight (at the time of first BQ) 135 lbs.

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

I was born and raised in Europe (Czechoslovakia, in the part which is Czech Republic now). It was a small, local marathon with only about 200 runners in it.

2:59:xx  (don’t remember seconds, but it was barely under 3 hours).

I started as a cross-country skier when I was 5 year old, switched to track running when 14 and by the time I ran that marathon, I was good, cocky, track runner who thought that marathons are stupidly slow. I’ve never run a race longer than 10k at that point. I ran with the leaders, half split was 1:12:xx. The second half was a humiliating hard lesson. When I finally finished, I said I’ll never run a marathon again.

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

Pretty much since I was 5, seriously training from 14.

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

Hard to say. Probably around 10,000 miles.

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

As a track runner, I ran about 2,000 miles per year in my late teens. I ran over 7,000 miles per year in my peak marathon running years.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

40-50 races, mostly on a track.

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 the National Junior track and field team in my teens and had some world class coaches. Coach Odlozil (silver in 1500m in Tokyo Olympics) who was a good friend with Peter Snell and coach Lydiard was one of them, so Lydiard’s training philosophy was the base for my training. I also met Emil Zatopek and got chance to talk to him one on one. Always admired his training work ethic.

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

Yes, see the above.

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

Not really. We did some gym workouts and running specific strength training. Also running form exercises, but mostly just running. We were actually forbidden from riding bikes, because that developed muscles we didn’t need. :)

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

Yes. Since I came from track running, intervals, fartleks, hills etc. were bread and butter of my training days.

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

I never thought that I had a lot of talent, but I become fairly good runner (ran on the National Team) by working hard and doing it for years. Running is not complicated sport. Keep doing it and one day you could be there. BQ times are IMO easier to achieve in older AGs , so if you can’t get it now, just wait for that next AG. ;)

 

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The BQ(Q) – Roger S

Roger has a textbook story of training for Boston. Lots of miles, lots of speed work, and lots of shorter races before tackling the marathon. It definitely worked for him. He ran a 2:35:49 his first time out. Check out the solid base building, and strong speed efforts, Roger describes below. I know I could learn a lot from this approach.

Name: Roger

Sex: M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 25

Height: 5’9

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 136 or so

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

Denver Mile High (now defunct, but similar course to Denver Rock ‘n Roll). 2:35:49. I drank too many beers the night before, which was kind of dumb but I wanted to invoke Frank Shorter who supposedly drank a pitcher or 2 the night before winning Gold in Munich. The thing is, I didn’t account for the fact that my start was at 8 AM and his was late afternoon. So I was a little fuzzy the first hour or so.

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

I had been training for about six and a half years. Ran cross country and track in college but not in high school.

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

Maybe 15,000 to 16,000 or so

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

~3000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

10 or 15 in the year prior, but just 2 in the 3 month build up.

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 just went by feel and by what I knew. Totally self coached since college and I did not refer to a training guide. I had done some high mileage running in college but was very inconsistent in races. I had matured a lot as a runner the year before, and something of a breakthrough in the half marathon the previous October. Took it fairly easy through most of the winter (50 miles a week or so), and got into serious training in February, 3 months before the marathon. I built to average of 60-70 miles a week and held it for 8-10 weeks, peaking at maybe 75-80. I did a weekly long run (16-20 miles) and about 6 weeks out started doing long reps at 5K to 10K effort. I think the most I did was 4X 1 mile at 10K pace. And in my long runs (not all of them but every other week) I would run at about 10 miles at an easy pace, and then the rest of the way at a hard effort, more or less goal marathon pace. No gels, no water, just run. I also did a mid-week 12 miler or so. Other days were 6-10 miles, mostly easy effort.

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

Completely solo. It was my first year in that town and I didn’t really know any other runners.

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

A little bit. In December and January I cross country skied once or twice a week with a college ski team (sometimes up to three times) and did a couple of 10-15K races in January and February. I think this helped with strength and endurance.

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

As I said above, starting 6 weeks out a weekly session of reps, usually 800s, 1200s, or 1 mile (and maybe up to 2X2 miles) at 5K-10K effort (didn’t do these on the track, just by time) with roughly half to two-thirds the recovery time. So if it was 2.5 min reps, I’d take 1.5 min recovery, 5-6 min reps then recovery would be 2 to 3 minutes.

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

I ran back in the era when we were told to ‘respect the distance.’ That is, be prepared. All my marathons have been under Boston Qualifying time but I still haven’t run Boston. Maybe some day.

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The BQ(Q) – Greg M

While I am inspired by all of the responses to the questionnaire, Greg’s story is really something special. With no background in running, Greg changed his life and went from 250 pounds to 148 pounds and qualifed for Boston in his first marathon. Congratulations, Greg! What a great story.

Name: Greg M (@GregMedwid)

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38 (though I also needed 3:15 since it was a 2014 Boston Qualifying race)

Height: 5’ 10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 148 lbs

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

Victoria, BC – 2012. This was my first marathon and I finished in a time of 3:06:46. Really I had no idea what to expect about the marathon and fought with a whole bunch of goal ideas of what to run that day. Finally I decided it was “BQ or Bust”, and knowing that at my age I needed a 3:15 really gave me an opportunity to go out easy and enjoy the first half of the marathon. Victoria had a scenic course and perfect weather with absolutely no wind! By the time I hit the halfway mark, I believe I was on pace for about 3:02-3:03 so I started thinking, “I’m king of the world!!” – of course this feeling went away with about 3 miles to go as I felt like death. Nevertheless, getting in with a reasonable time in my first was a big confidence booster and I accomplished what I wanted, which was qualifying for (and ultimately running) the Boston Marathon.

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

I had been running 2 years. (began in 2010) And as for running in college or high school….HELL NO! I thought that running was a punishment, something that sadistic PE teachers assigned kids to do when they were too hungover to supervise the students. I was the fat kid with the glasses and the inhaler, my asthma was a perfect excuse not to run for the first 36 years of my life. At my peak weight, I topped out just over 250 lbs.

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

I would say I had run about 3,500 miles.

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

Probably about 2,700, with 2,500 of those coming in the 9 months leading up to the Victoria Marathon. Friends and other runners had really thought I was crazy the way I upped my mileage and yet somehow I held it together and put out some monster-mile weeks in my training.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

In 2012 I ran 24 races. (collection of 5k’s, 10k’s, HM’s, 1 marathon, and even some odd-distance races like a 17.7k race)

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 had been running plans from Pfitzinger earlier in that year but for the summer of 2012 I hooked up with a coach at my LRS. She worked the whole collection, from the LSD to “Interval Tuesday” even ran a lot with me during that time. (she herself was running around a 3 hr marathon)

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

Yes, the LRS had a 14 week coaching program, and it was my first opportunity to work with someone who knew about proper running, form, paces, and REST. As she told me before I set off for Victoria: “If you try to go for sub-3 instead of that BQ goal and miss, I will catch you and kick you in the ass. Don’t put that much pressure on your first marathon, you really need to run it before you’ll truly understand.”

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

Yes, I was a gym rat during my running as well – I think the time on the spin bikes helped my cardio, the weights and core work definitely paid off in that I didn’t experience any pain or injuries in my training and exponential increase in mileage. (Miles run in 2011 – 700? Miles run in 2012 – over 3,000) In addition, that cross-training made it much less painful on the rest of my body, as other body parts other than your legs start to speak to you during a 3+ hour run.

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

Yes, “interval Tuesdays” and “tempo Thursdays” were staples all throughout my training, and I really enjoyed the chance to turn it up with fast 800’s or handle a 40-minute tempo run here and there. They definitely made me a complete runner and trained my cardio as much as any LR did for my musculoskeletal strength.

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

The training leading up to your best marathon can be hard, but while you celebrate successes day-to-day, make sure you rest, stretch, and cross-train as well. And if you do feel a little niggle or tweak, don’t be afraid to take 2-3 days off in order to come back strong – your fitness won’t suffer over a few days compared to if you get hurt and have to take a month (or longer!) off.

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