The BQ(Q) – Jonathan B

As we approach 150 entries into the BQ(Q) project, some trends are clear –consistency, mileage, speed work. Jonathan B hit all these points and more in this very informative response. Thanks for taking the time, sir!


Name: Jonathan B

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 31

Height: 5’10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 150lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, April 2015 with a time of 3:01:21.  This was my fourth marathon and first since the fall of 2013.  I had done this marathon twice before and also done the half marathon portion a couple of times so I knew the course.  The weather was cold and rainy but I felt great the whole race.  So good, in fact, that I had to hold myself back late in the race for fear of blowing up in the last few miles and losing the BQ.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I didn’t start running until I was 22 and I didn’t run a marathon until I was 28.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

Probably around 8,000 miles.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

1,500 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

5 races.  Two half marathons, one 19.65 mile race, a relay, and a 10k.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

Hanson Marathon Method, advanced version.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Their book and plan completely changed me as a runner.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

Neither.  I ran with friends from time to time but mostly solo.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

During marathon training I do very little cross training.  In between races, I generally do HIIT-type cross-training mixed in with running.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, in the Hanson plan you have two “hard” runs per week.  One is a speed/strength interval run and the other is a tempo run (6-10 miles at race pace).  They call them SOS (something of substance) workouts and along with the long run (longest was 16 miles) they are where you make your gains.  The rest of the miles are slow “filler” miles.  They also serve a purpose, but the SOS runs are where the big improvements happen.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Use a “real” marathon plan.  A lot of internet plans are designed to get you to complete a marathon.  You need a plan that will help you to not just complete it, but kick its ass.  Before you do the “real” plan, spend time getting a solid base.  I wasn’t ready for the Hanson Marathon plan during my first or even second marathon attempt.  The simple truth is that to be a faster runner, you have to run more.  So if you want to BQ, you need to make a commitment to running and then be consistent.  I had to sacrifice other things in my life in order to run more miles.  There’s no way around it.  But that’s one of the great things about running…there are no shortcuts and you get out of it what you put in.


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