The BQ(Q) – Joe Pak

First BQ(Q) respondent who qualified at the Paris marathon? I think so!


Joe Pak (@pakperformance)



Age (at the time of first BQ):




Weight (at the time of first BQ):


At which marathon did you get your first BQ?


Tell us a little about the race.

Overall time: 3:07:43
1st half: 1:34:07
2nd half: 1:33:36

Previous best was 3:18, but I had done a 3-4 Ironmans and Endurance sports (including 4-5 other marathons) at that point. I lost about 5 pounds, so I was healthier/leaner than normal. Race went well, I was just focused on sub 3:10 and am pretty good as sticking to a plan/pacing. I did a lot more “fast finish” hard long runs, which made the biggest difference. Probably 3-4 20+ milers included the last 5 miles “hard.”

Since then, I’ve done a 3:04 and just did a 2:57 at Amsterdam at age 39. Pretty much similar type of training, but I probably ran more and focused on recovery. For the “hard” days I would be fairly well-rested and entered more 10k and half marathons, but would run 6-8 miles at endurance pace before the races. Entering races pushed me to a be physically and mentally stronger for the end of the marathon.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

10 years

Did you run in college or high school?


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


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


Approximately how many races did you run in 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?


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


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

Probably. I did IM Texas and Kona the previous year. After Kona, I focused more on Paris marathon, thus I had quite a good foundation.


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

Yes, fast finish workouts at end of long runs and a lot of 3×8,10,12, 15 min at threshold (eg: 10k pace). 2x/week intervals + 1 long run on weekend (sometime included fast finish). Other days easy/cross train.


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

Remember the protein drinks after hard runs and really focus on recovery/sleep. Losing some weight makes a MASSIVE difference. Finally, pacing. I usually do better not following a pace group and starting a lot slower than goal pace. Generally, I like to use this strategy:
– 1st 10k – easy, conversational
– 2nd 10k – easy/moderate – get into a rhythm/marathon-pace
– 3rd 10k – focus, push it, this is where I gain the time. I would consider taking a risk here.
– 4th 10k – break it up into 5x2k and hang-on
– last 2k – go for it 🙂

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