While I am inspired by all of the responses to the questionnaire, Greg’s story is really something special. With no background in running, Greg changed his life and went from 250 pounds to 148 pounds and qualifed for Boston in his first marathon. Congratulations, Greg! What a great story.
Name: Greg M (@GregMedwid)
Age (at the time of first BQ): 38 (though I also needed 3:15 since it was a 2014 Boston Qualifying race)
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 148 lbs
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
Victoria, BC – 2012. This was my first marathon and I finished in a time of 3:06:46. Really I had no idea what to expect about the marathon and fought with a whole bunch of goal ideas of what to run that day. Finally I decided it was “BQ or Bust”, and knowing that at my age I needed a 3:15 really gave me an opportunity to go out easy and enjoy the first half of the marathon. Victoria had a scenic course and perfect weather with absolutely no wind! By the time I hit the halfway mark, I believe I was on pace for about 3:02-3:03 so I started thinking, “I’m king of the world!!” – of course this feeling went away with about 3 miles to go as I felt like death. Nevertheless, getting in with a reasonable time in my first was a big confidence booster and I accomplished what I wanted, which was qualifying for (and ultimately running) the Boston Marathon.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I had been running 2 years. (began in 2010) And as for running in college or high school….HELL NO! I thought that running was a punishment, something that sadistic PE teachers assigned kids to do when they were too hungover to supervise the students. I was the fat kid with the glasses and the inhaler, my asthma was a perfect excuse not to run for the first 36 years of my life. At my peak weight, I topped out just over 250 lbs.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
I would say I had run about 3,500 miles.
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Probably about 2,700, with 2,500 of those coming in the 9 months leading up to the Victoria Marathon. Friends and other runners had really thought I was crazy the way I upped my mileage and yet somehow I held it together and put out some monster-mile weeks in my training.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
In 2012 I ran 24 races. (collection of 5k’s, 10k’s, HM’s, 1 marathon, and even some odd-distance races like a 17.7k race)
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 had been running plans from Pfitzinger earlier in that year but for the summer of 2012 I hooked up with a coach at my LRS. She worked the whole collection, from the LSD to “Interval Tuesday” even ran a lot with me during that time. (she herself was running around a 3 hr marathon)
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Yes, the LRS had a 14 week coaching program, and it was my first opportunity to work with someone who knew about proper running, form, paces, and REST. As she told me before I set off for Victoria: “If you try to go for sub-3 instead of that BQ goal and miss, I will catch you and kick you in the ass. Don’t put that much pressure on your first marathon, you really need to run it before you’ll truly understand.”
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes, I was a gym rat during my running as well – I think the time on the spin bikes helped my cardio, the weights and core work definitely paid off in that I didn’t experience any pain or injuries in my training and exponential increase in mileage. (Miles run in 2011 – 700? Miles run in 2012 – over 3,000) In addition, that cross-training made it much less painful on the rest of my body, as other body parts other than your legs start to speak to you during a 3+ hour run.
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes, “interval Tuesdays” and “tempo Thursdays” were staples all throughout my training, and I really enjoyed the chance to turn it up with fast 800’s or handle a 40-minute tempo run here and there. They definitely made me a complete runner and trained my cardio as much as any LR did for my musculoskeletal strength.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
The training leading up to your best marathon can be hard, but while you celebrate successes day-to-day, make sure you rest, stretch, and cross-train as well. And if you do feel a little niggle or tweak, don’t be afraid to take 2-3 days off in order to come back strong – your fitness won’t suffer over a few days compared to if you get hurt and have to take a month (or longer!) off.