The BQ(Q) – Jana T

Jana runs with my club, Prospect Park Track Club, though we’ve never gotten a chance to run together. I hope I get to see her at this year’s club championships and thank her for this awesome contribution to the project. Lots of good stuff in here, thanks Jana!

Name: Jana T

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 23

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’6

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
I ran my first BQ in the New York City Marathon 2013.  It was my first marathon ever, so I had no idea what to expect.  I had a rough idea of a time goal between 3:15 and 3:30, but was not sure how I would do.  I passed through the half marathon mark in ~1:32 which was very close to my half marathon PR at the time.  At that point, I knew that I had made a big mistake in my pacing.  I paid for my mistake in the second half of the race when my legs got heavy, I felt nauseous, and I even had to walk a few steps.  I trudged in to the finish line with an average pace of 11 minutes each for the final two miles! I finished the race in a respectable 3:26:43, but knew that it was not as well as I could have done due to my awful pacing.  However, I was still happy and proud of myself for finishing my first marathon.
I saw my friend Robin at the finish line.  She screamed that we both had qualified for Boston. I had not been thinking about the idea of running the Boston marathon, but since I had qualified decided that I should run Boston.  I do not recommend that another person run their marathon the way I ran NYC in 2013.  Since then, my marathon planning and pacing has much improved. I finished the 2015 Boston marathon in 3:15:16. I think I can be faster next time I race the 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 for 11 years when I ran my first BQ.

I started running at age 12. I was inspired to become a runner after watching my dad run the 2001 ING New York City Marathon, and I started running shortly afterwards. I began by alternating between walking and running for 30 minutes on the treadmill each night while watching Everybody Loves Raymond on T.V.

Two years later, I joined my high school team (Scarsdale High School) I started out as the slowest freshman on the team….but my competitive attitude helped me make varsity and later become the fastest female distance runner on the team.

I ran D1 Cross Country and Track at Fordham University.  College training was higher weekly mileage, very time consuming, and more structured than I was used to in high school.  I stuck to it for four years, but it was not for me.  I’m happy I did it though, because I learned so much from my teammates who were MUCH more intense than I was.  From college running, I learned how to really push myself during workouts, how to listen to my body and avoid injury—how much training is too much, etc., and the basic components of an effective training plan.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
No idea. Some runners are data oriented mileage calculators.  That has never been my style.

I do believe that people should be running for many years before attempting their first marathon and especially before going for a BQ.   It is not impossible with a low lifetime mileage, but I think having a higher lifetime mileage helps to run a fast time.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
No idea…see above answer.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
I ran three half marathons that year in addition to running the marathon that year. I found that running half marathons is really great during marathon training. If you are going to do long runs, you might as well do some of them in a race. Also—it is really easy to PR in the half when you are in the middle of marathon training.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
My training plan/philosophy is pretty basic. During marathon training, I do speed work twice a week—usually Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a long run on Saturdays. What I find to be most effective for speed work is tempo runs of between 3-9 miles (depending on the week). I begin with shorter tempos earlier in the training cycle, and build up to the 9 mile ones towards the end.

I strongly believe in long runs that are long. So many people only go up to 18-20 miles for their longest long run. Then when they get to the marathon, they are not ready and hit the wall. I like going at least as high as 24 miles for my longest.  All together, I like to do four or five runs of a distance 20 miles or longer in the marathon training cycle.  I try to run these at 8 minute pace or faster, but some of the long runs end up being slower.  Long runs are my dress rehearsal for the race. They give me the confidence to conquer the distance and the pace that I will need to do on race day.

On my remaining days during the week, I just run—usually between 5-8 miles each day, depending on the day. Those regular run days are pretty relaxed and I don’t have a goal for their distance or pace.

Rest and recovery is just as important to my training as the actual running is. I usually run 5 days a week and have two rest days while I am marathon training.  After I finish the marathon, I will take some time off to recover mentally and physically. This can be 1-2 months of rest time with very little running.

I’m fairly strict with my diet during marathon training.  Absolutely no candy, dessert food or greasy snack food such as potato chips.  I try to eat a little of each food group and get 8 hours of sleep each night. All of that helps my body to feel ready to do the training.

I have always been very independent with my running.  I am not one to follow a canned training plan word for word.  However, I am a very hard worker and can tolerate more pain while training and racing than other people.

I have a true passion for long distance running which propels me to do the training.  If you love something, you will do it well.  The marathon distance can feel very natural for me.  I dream about running all the time, and then wake up and run in Prospect Park before work. I once dreamed that I ran two marathons in a row.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I wasn’t able to run with a club for NYCM 2013. I was living in Westchester at the time and working in Manhattan, so long commutes made it hard to go to workouts with any club.
Now I live in Park Slope and work in Carroll Gardens.  It is amazing having a short commute. Running with Prospect Park Track Club has improved my times so much! The difference between running alone and running with others who are working on the same goals is huge.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I indoor rock climb two times a week during marathon training cycles.  It seems to help with core strength and overall fitness. It also helps to give my body a break from running once in a while.  On days that I climb, I don’t run at all, or I do just a very short warm up run of 1-2 miles.  I hope to be a runner for my entire life, so I’m very careful to give my body rest, variety in training, and not too much running mileage.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes—see above in question 7

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Running is not an exact science. Go into your training with a purpose and plan, but don’t be a slave to any training plan.

Run with people who are similar pace as you, or slightly faster. They will help push you during workouts and especially long runs.

Listen to your body and you will know what it needs.  Don’t run with injuries. If you run on a slight injury, it will become a major one.

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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