As I have posted more and more of these BQ(Q)s it is becoming clear that the answer people give to the final question is usually the best. Don’s answer is first rate. Thanks again for taking the time to fill this out, Don!
Name: Don S
Age (at the time of first BQ): 35
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 175 lbs
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
Minneapolis Marathon, 2009. I ran my first marathon in the fall of 2008, posting a time of 3:31. Trained my ass off over the winter in hopes of a BQ (needed 3:15 at the time), but knew it would take a lot of work and good conditions on race day. For some reason I got a bug up my ass about trying to go sub-3:00 and this bug only got bigger as race week approached. Went for that sub-3:00 at the race and blew up after mile 17…hard. In hindsight it was a very dumb move as it could have cost me a BQ, but I did manage to finish in 3:08, hitting my BQ time with a lot to spare. The next time out I hit sub-3:00 at Twin Cities Marathon, putting up a 2:58. I believe that going after it at Minneapolis Marathon set me up to nail sub-3:00 at Twin Cities 2009. My body and mind learned a lesson in running with pain and severe fatigue. This made the next time out more “normal” if that makes sense.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
Didn’t start running until 2008. Never ran in high school or college. When I did start running (late 2007 / early 2008) I was very overweight (weighed ~220 lbs when I started running) and was slooooooooowwwwww. Never thought I’d be anything other than a back-of-the-pack runner and I was fine with that. I just knew I loved to run and I loved how it made me feel. When I began losing weight I noticed I got faster.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Couldn’t have been more than 300-400 miles, if that.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Same as previous question.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
I ran ~15 races before the Minneapolis Marathon between 2008 and early summer 2009. Everything from a 1-mile race (which hurt like hell and I’ll never do again) to a full 26.2 marathon (my first) and everything in between.
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
Did not follow a program and still don’t. I like doing whatever I feel like doing and pushing myself rather than allowing a program to push me. It seems that nobody or no plan could ever push me harder than I push myself. It’s worked so far and as the age old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Nope, mostly solo running but sometimes run with friends. I still find that my best training runs are solo.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I did weight training, core strengthening and some bike work, but mostly just old school running as many miles as my body could handle at the time.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
It did but the type of speed work I do is either running races like 10Ks or Half Marathons or running hard tempo runs once a week. Didn’t do any track or traditional interval work. Still don’t, actually.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Enjoy every step, every mile on this journey. The training is the avenue to get you to race day and to a BQ. There is a lot of sweat and pain in the process, but don’t shy away from that pain. It means you’re alive and that you have a shot at doing something special. Savor that pain, remember it and take it with you to race day. Remember it when you’re hurting and your mind is screaming to stop and walk for a bit at mile 21. Use that pain to ignore those screams and KEEP RUNNING! Remember it when it feels like your legs are going to fall apart at the hips at mile 23. Remember that you have been there before, during training, during the early mornings when you awoke before anyone else in the house to get out and get a 22 miler in before the heat and humidity got too bad, all of this the day after a hard set of mile repeats in that very same heat and humidity that you’re now looking to get a jump on. Remember that you earned that pain during endless hill repeats that all left you gasping and dry-heaving. That pain is what will get you the pleasure of a BQ time. Embrace it, for you have created it and earned it. Remember it when you’ve finished and you’ve BQd and you begin to think. “Now, to start planning my PR run at Boston!”