Greg is a regular on running ahead, the running message board which has done more for my running than anything else over the last couple of years.
Name: Greg C (Greg_C on RunningAHEAD.com)
Age (at the time of first BQ): Had just turned 44.
Weight (at the time of first BQ): Between 155-160
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
It was Baystate 2010. I had one of those rare perfect days where everything just went right. The course is flat and fast, the weather was absolutely perfect, and for once I managed to run a disciplined, smart race. I worked my ass off to get there, and then I overachieved a little when I did. Needed 3:20:59, aimed for 3:16:30, ran 3:14:26.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I did run cross country for 2 years in high school, but never with any real commitment or speed. Then I didn’t run at all for about 25 years. I started again just a few years ago, and did my first woefully undertrained marathon (Maine) in October 2009. I ran Vermont City in May 2010, went for the BQ even though I knew I wasn’t quite ready, and crashed and burned hard the last 6 miles, missing the BQ by 5 minutes. Coming that close sucked, and it spurred me on to work harder than I ever had before.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Hmmm, no idea about the high school days, nowhere even remotely near what I do now. The last few years, probably 4,000 or so, so let’s say 5,000 and call it good.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
I ended 2010 with exactly 2500 miles, so roughly that.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
13 or 14 I’d guess.
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
Not really. I did my first marathon loosely following Hal Higdon’s novice plan, but after that I kinda made my own plan, and it’s always evolving. I’m a big believer in taking in all the info you can, using the parts that work for you, and discarding the rest. My training philosophy, and it’s charitable to call it that, is ultimately pretty simple. Run. A lot. Consistently. Mostly easy. Throw in some speed here and there. Do some races of various distances. Don’t get too hung up on the details. Just do the work, even when it sucks, and trust that it will pay off. So far, for me, it has.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
No coach, but I do run with a local group, and I can’t stress enough how vital this has been to my development as a runner. Before I started running with them I was flailing around on my own getting pretty much nowhere. I spent the first year or so of my running “comeback” mostly injured due to inexperience (well, inexperience and being old and out of shape.) and it’s very likely I would’ve given up altogether if I hadn’t found the group when I did. I’ve gained a ton of knowledge, encouragement, friendship and fun times from it, not to mention the extra motivation that comes with friendly competition. I may or may not have “done a marathon” without them, but there’s no way I’d have ever BQ’d, especially in as short a time as I did.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
No. I do believe cross training is absolutely a valid thing to do, but for me, as I’ve ramped up my mileage to levels I’d never before been anywhere close to, I just haven’t had the time, energy, or inclination do anything for exercise but run. A friend that I run with does maybe half the mileage I do but cross trains religiously, and we’re pretty competitive. Everybody’s different. There really is no one right answer. It’s just what works for you.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
There was a time, and it wasn’t really all that long ago, when the whole idea of ever qualifying for Boston was so remote that it wasn’t even a goal for me. I really was one of those “I just want to run a marathon someday” people. As I progressed that slowly started to change. Getting the BQ started to seem like something I could maybe do someday, but still it seemed like a far off dream. A little more progress, and it became something I was pretty sure I could do maybe in the next few years if I worked hard. Some good races, a near miss, and I began to believe that it was possible, and far sooner than I’d imagined. That belief was hugely instrumental. Belief and hard work made all the difference.