The BQ(Q) – Charlie

35 years of running and he gets a BQ! Congratulations, Charlie, that’s an incredible accomplishment!

Name

Charlie

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

54

Height:

5′-11″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

175

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Twin Cities 2010

Tell us a little about the race.

Temperatures in the low 40s at the start, and it was sunny and warmed up along the way. The point-to-point course ran along tree-covered roads and I stayed in the shade as much as possible. It was mostly flat with a few hills to break up the monotony. I started out exactly at BQ pace (8 min’s/mile for Men 50-54) and held it for 8 miles, then picked it up slightly until Mile 15, when a medical support guy on a bicycle irritated me by cycling exactly at my pace right next to me. When he wouldn’t go away, I surged for a few minutes to get rid of him, and that surge put me into an elated mood. I picked up the pace for the next 5 miles or so and then WHAM! I didn’t want to run anymore at Mile 21. I wasn’t tired; It was more like depression. But I kept going. Over the last 5 miles I was baby-stepping and my pace was around 9’/mile. Another older runner kept passing me, then he’d stop and walk a bit and I’d pass him, and we kept that up until the end. When I saw the finish line I felt relieved and picked up the pace as well as I could and passed him within 100 yards of the finish line. The Clock Time was 3:35:59 which was the BQ cut-off at the time, so I was ecstatic. Later I learned that my chip time was 3:34:37. Since that time they’ve raised the standards so I wouldn’t have qualified if they were using today’s standards.

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

35 years+/-

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

Approximately 25,000. I spent 30 years in the Army and ran about 15 miles per week with a race about every 5 years. Then when I retired (at age 52) I bumped it up to 40mile/week.

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

1500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

15

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

Yes, Runners World published a program for its RW Challenge and I loosely followed it. On long run days, I would often do a 10k race with a long (6-mile) warmup and lightly jog the remaining miles after the race. I wouldn’t race all-out.

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

No

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

Yes, I did upper body strength training and core exercises 2x/week until the last month. It was probably counterproductive but it was a habit I had acquired over the years. Later (and now) I cross trained 2x/week but with fewer upper body exercises and more leg work (lunges, single leg press, etc.). I also cycle and elliptical whenever I’m injured (which is frequent).

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

Yes. I raced every 3 weeks and I would stack mileage on top of the races. I didn’t care how fast I ran the races, but it made me very comfortable running BQ pace at my target race. I also did at least one speed workout (Yasso 800s or Mile repeats) per week.

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

Top priority should be consistency and avoiding injury. Take rest days and ensure that you recover before going into a hard workout or race. Next priority is volume/mileage: Increase gradually. I found that the 10% increase per week recommended by most experts is too much for my body, so I increase mileage about 5% per week with a cut-back week every month. Once your body is comfortable with high volume, then work on picking up the pace by doing tempo runs, races, and speed work. This might be 2 or 3 years after you decide to get serious, but it takes a long time to build up the volume.

 

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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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