Wise words from Andrew, a former college middle distance runner who BQ’ed in his first marathon. Thanks, Andrew for taking the time to fill this out!
Age (at the time of first BQ): 28
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125lbs
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race:
My first marathon was the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, November 2013. I had been injured much of the summer but was getting some decent training in, and had run a pretty comfortable 1:15 half marathon, so my goal was 6:00/mile pace (2:38ish) for the full. I didn’t have the endurance/strength base that I needed to, however, so I ended up running 2:48, split into 1:18 first half and 1:30 second (ouch). Painful, painful lesson.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I competed in high school and some college- injuries and illness prevented me from running as much in college as I wish I could have, but I did compete in DIII/NESCAC. I was more of a middle-distance runner (800m and 1500/mile)
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Have no idea…probably 20-30 miles per week four years of high school, 75-80 miles per week for two years of college, a couple of years off for injury…I couldn’t even begin to estimate.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
In the months leading up to the marathon, I ran 175, 231, 241, and 252 miles per month. Prior to that I was injured and ran only 30 miles one month, 70 one month, and 90 one month. I ran 280 miles leading up to my injury, and 260 the month before that. In total, I ran 1629 miles in the 9 months leading up to my marathon, or about 180/month (45-50/week). When I was injury-free, I was averaging about 65 miles per week, with a maximum of 75.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
2, including the 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 tried to follow Pfitz’ “Advanced Marathoning” plan that maxes out around 85 miles, but injuries kept me from getting much above 70 ever.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I did core strengthening and some lower body work, but mostly just ran
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
Definitely- some VO2 max type work, like 6×600 up to 6×1200 at 5K pace. I should have done less- with my middle-distance background, I would have been better off focusing on longer strength work.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
For most people, it’s very difficult and a huge accomplishment- if you’re one of the 99% of people for whom running a BQ is difficult, don’t get discouraged when you don’t hit it the first time. I have run with and coached a lot of people, and the biggest mistake I see in marathon training is that they get really excited and pumped-up for 8-12 weeks leading up to the race, and when they don’t make it, they get discouraged and stop running for months before trying again. The key is consistency- if you run for 2-3 years and build mileage up over that time, you will see massive improvements. Consistency is the key.