That’s the question I think a work-a-day hobbyjogger has to always ask: am I willing to do the work? Because for nearly all of us the limiting factor is not our God-given talent or genetics, it’s simply how hard we are willing to work–to what extent we are willing to prioritize running against all the other things we have in our lives. It’s a tricky balance to get right but one that I think makes it all a little more interesting.
Name: Mike G / Hobbyjogger Chronicles
Age (at the time of first BQ): 30
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight (at the time of first BQ): not sure…160 ish.
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
It was at the 2000 Baystate Marathon, on the old course that started and finished at the Greater Lowell Tech School in Tyngsboro. It was only my 2nd marathon–the first being Big Sur in 1999 which I ran almost on a lark, woefully under trained. I decide in the spring of 2000 that this was the year I wanted to finally qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Originally I wanted to run Chicago with a buddy but he got injured almost right away so I changed plans to Baystate so I wouldn’t have to travel. I followed a plan that I found on the race website, I think it peaked at about 65 mpw. I had no idea what I was doing and I was hurt and running through injuries the whole time. Luckily I didn’t know any better and wasn’t aware of any online running message boards where people would have told me how crazy I was for trying to BQ in only my 2nd marathon when my first had been a 3:40. I needed a 3:10 to qualify (I didn’t even know about the “59 second rule” and ran a 3:09:40. It took absolutely everything I had. At the time it was definitely the highlight of my athletic life.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I always ran a bit for fitness, but that was about it. I had run in high school but that was really sprints and middle distance (800m) so no real distance background.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Maybe 10,000 miles if you include 4 years of high school track 12 years earlier
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Not sure. I wasn’t running at all really before I started my 16 week or whatever marathon training. Probably 7-800.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
1 including my BQ 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?
Like I said above, I found a training plan on the Baystate website. It was written by John Barbour who at the time was the coach of the Greater Lowell Road Runners. If I recall it was a fairly standard “intermediate” marathon plan. It focused on tempos and a weekly long run and a lot of easy distance. I actually bagged a lot of the workouts because as I said I was constantly battling little injuries. My preparation was not ideal by any stretch. Looking back I was so unprepared but I didn’t know any batter. I felt like I was right on the edge of major injury or breakdown that entire summer/fall leading up to it.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Not really during my marathon build-up although I probably had pretty good basic fitness just from being athletic my whole life. I had done a ton of skiing, mountain biking, some running and other sports.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
The thing that strikes me most now, looking back, is how hard I thought I was working and how impossible it seemed at the time. And now, 10 years later, I’ve actually lowered my marathon PR by a full 20 minutes from that 3:09:40. Training really is a progression and every time you reach a new level you need to really look down the road at what’s next. I’ll be the first to admit that it was easier for me to BQ than for a lot of people but the thing is I didn’t stop there. If I look at where I started, with a 3:40 at Big Sur, then a 3:09 at Bay State a couple years later to now having run 2:49 last fall at age 40 I think that proves that over the long haul training really works. And I still feel like, if I was willing to put in the work, I could do a lot better. That’s the question I think a work-a-day hobbyjogger has to always ask: am I willing to do the work? Because for nearly all of us the limiting factor is not our God-given talent or genetics, it’s simply how hard we are willing to work–to what extent we are willing to prioritize running against all the other things we have in our lives. It’s a tricky balance to get right but one that I think makes it all a little more interesting.