When I started running, I got involved in the forum at runningahead where I learned pretty much everything I know about running. Tara has been a regular over there for years and I really appreciate her taking the time to fill this out, thanks Tara!
Name: Tara C
Age (at the time of first BQ): 25, then not again until I was 45 – (the following answers are for the 25 year old me, not the 45 year old me)
Weight (at the time of first BQ): ??
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.
New York City Marathon – It was an unseasonably hot day (70s) – but since I MUCH prefer the heat to the cold I was happy about it – and I was certainly in the minority. It was my first ever marathon – and I had hoped to possibly BQ – but didn’t know what to expect. This was well before Garmin – so watching your Timex and keeping track of splits on the run was difficult. Mostly I tried to maintain a steady effort – and did. I got a cramp at mile 25 but that was it. I ran a 3:23.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
I ran XC in high school and college – but only as a way to gain fitness for XC ski racing. I started running when I was 13 years old – so had been running about 10 years prior to my BQ.
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
10 years of teenage/twenty-something running – I have no idea about mileage? Maybe 500 a year – so 5000 miles total?
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
At 24 I was running about 5-6 miles a day, so approx 1500.
Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Zero. No other races that year.
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 followed a program I found in Runner’s World magazine. It was based on running time – not mileage.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
No. I ran solo. Every. Damn. Day.
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
No speed work. Although being young and foolish I am certain I ran too hard most days.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Being 20+ years older than my first BQ I have learned that every runner is unique – what works for someone doesn’t necessarily work for you. So don’t be afraid to experiment and be confident that you’ll find the right training for you.
So much of running and training for marathons is mental. The ability to get up and grind it out day after day. During peak weeks ask yourself “How badly do I want it?” and know that each mile that you endure in training (especially on tired legs and toasted motivation) are money in the bank for race day.
Lastly – Believe. Believe you can do it. Picture yourself running the race and kicking ass. Imagine the time on the clock that you want to see as your cross the line. Start prepping your mind well ahead of race day. Trust in your training and believe in yourself.