Stephanie is a close friend and a woman who has given me enormous help and encouragement in my running. Thanks Stephanie for agreeing to fill this out!
Name: Stephanie T
Age (at the time of first BQ): 27
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 135
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your time? Tell us a little about the race.
My first BQ was NYC 2005. I ran 3:34:35, which I surprisingly just had to look up. It’s strange, I don’t remember a lot about this race now, aside from wanting to both collapse and do it all over again when I finished. I also know that I made the classic mistake, despite knowing it was the classic mistake of a first marathon, of starting out too fast – I think I was aiming for 3:30 and slowed down considerably in the last 10k. This was the third time I had decided to train for a marathon – my other two attempts were aborted by injury (the first came early in training, was fairly minor, and just revealed how I had no idea what I was doing at that point; the second came fairly late in training and was fairly serious), so crossing the finishing line was just extremely satisfying that day.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I had been running consistently since fall of 2002, when I moved to NYC without a job and going for a run became a way to both kill time and explore the city. Before that I had run a half-marathon in the summer of 2000 (1:51:59) that Ikind of trained for, and ran casually with no race goals between 1999 and 2002. Before that I ran low mileage as training for team sports from 1990-1999.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Maybe 4000? 4500? I really have no idea. Are we counting every time I ran 3 miles at age 14?
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
I’m going to guess about 1750. I had a serious injury in July 2004 and didn’t really return to running until that November, so my mileage probably wasn’t that high in the winter. I think I was up to 40 mpw – which was my base before I started marathon training — by March.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Twelve in the ten months before my November 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 did. I used the NYC Marathon Advanced A plan, which starts with a 40 mpw base and goes up to a 60 mile week. It also has a fair number of 20+ mi runs, compared to other plans. Knowing myself, I know that the best way for me to train is having a preset plan that I adhere to without a second thought once it’s begun. However, this could now be a plan that I make for myself, and certainly wouldn’t be this exact plan that I used, which doesn’t prescribe any kind of variety (or speedwork) in the runs.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I started running with a club the year that I ran my first marathon, and it made a huge difference to be around people who placed the same priority on running and racing as I wanted to. I don’t tend to run into a lot of competitive runners or people who take athletics seriously in my day to day life, and without the support of people who had similar goals, at times it had felt like pushing water uphill explaining to everyone in my life why I HAD to get my run in for the day.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Not at all, even though I do think it’s probably a good idea. I’m semi-retired from marathon running these days, and now do a LOT of cross-training. It’s dramatically strengthened my entire body – arms, core and legs, and were I going to run a marathon again, I’d definitely want to maintain the strength that I get from those workouts throughout my training. On the other hand, given that successful marathoners run tons and tons of miles, I’m not sure I could bring myself to substitute miles with swimming or spinning during my official marathon training period.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Don’t forget the shorter distances! A BQ might be what you’re shooting for, but there are a lot of opportunities for successes and new PRs along the way that can be just as satisfying as a great marathon – and will be critical to building the base you need to BQ. More simply, just commit to getting out the door as your schedule dictates. No matter what. Bad weather, vacations, special events, hectic days — they happen, but your run can happen too.