James is another regular on running ahead referred to me by Bash. Thanks to James for filling this out, and to Bash for referring him. If you know anyone who might be interested in filling out the questionnaire, get in touch.
Name: James S
Age (at the time of first BQ): 26
Height: 6 ft
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 160
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
Rehoboth Beach Marathon in Delaware. Pancake flat. 40 degrees at the start. I decided to go down on a whim and run this race. No intention to run a marathon until the week or so leading up. I knew the race director and he got me in the race, even though it was sold out, day of. It is really the only time I have run a marathon and felt great start to finish. My First Marathon was a 3:45, then a 3:16 and then a 3:04 BQ. I can’t remember being as psyched as I was when I crossed the line as this race.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
Pretty much started 2 years ago. Before that, I would occasionally run once and while but I really started running 2+ years ago.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Somewhere around 30 (3 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 10k, and a ton of 5ks)
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
No on the canned program. I trained real hard for a marathon 2 months earlier that I was hoping to qualify at. I came up short. Bottom line, I left that race realizing I wasn’t comfortable running race pace and I put too much pressure on myself. For this marathon, it was not much planned at all. I was running about 60 miles a week and hitting 20 mile training runs frequently, and I did a ton of race pace running. Every run I could get in at BQ pace, I would.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I ran with a club. This certainly helped. It helped doing speedwork and learning some of the other members approach to running. I would see what the other runners did and incorporate components into my running. One guy runs 2 half marathons a week, so I ran 2 half marathons a week. Another guy stressed the importance of me running with the faster people at track, so I tried my best to hang in with them. Overall weekly mileage, not always running flat courses, what is an easy day?, types of shoes, etc. etc etc. All played into how I trained and approached running.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I swam here and there leading up to it, but I don’t think it made much of a difference. I do think it helped with my shorter distances PRs though.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Just keep working at it, it will come. The marathon is a tricky beast because if you have a bad day you can’t go out and race again next weekend, but working towards improving on a consistent basis will eventually get you there. I’m not sure there are any secrets, just a good balance of lots of miles, good effort during runs and staying healthy. The last part is key. You really need to listen to your body. Also, a lot of this sport is mental. If you aren’t willing to do hill repeats, speed work, tempos, long runs, etc. during your training cycle, then your body probably won’t be willing to run a goal pace on race day. “sometimes you just do things” -Scott Jurek, Ultramarathoner