Matthew C’s Story of Qualifying for the Boston Marathon

Name: Matthew C

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 23

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 128

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? San Francisco 2017

Tell us a little about the race. Race started at 5:30am, weather was ~55F and overcast. My original plan was to stick with a 3:00 pacer the whole time, but due to some confusion at gear check I only got into my corral just as the gun went off for the first wave, and I was only able to work up to the 3:15 pacer before my wave started off. Luckily, I was able to find someone in the same situation hitting about my same pace. Finally caught up with the 3:00 pacer at halfway, and dropped the guy I was running with at mile 17. Luckily, things were strung out just right that I always had someone to reel in and pass through the rest of the race. After mile 20 the course was mostly downhill, which allowed me to open up a little easier and race the last 10k. Finished in 2:55:44 (~6:40 average).

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 10 years total (since middle school), but I only starting seriously training in the last 1.5-2 years.

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? ~2000 miles, probably.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? ~1470 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? Four: two marathons (one DNF’d), a half marathon, a 5 miler

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, Pfitzinger 12/70

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Not particularly. The bulk of the training cycle was during summer rehearsals for marching band which was the most “cross training” I did. That did get me a little extra cardio and some work on supporting muscle groups, but I don’t think it was a key factor in my race performance.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Starting in week 4, the Pfitz plan called for Lactate Threshold runs once a week, then introduced VO2 Max sessions on the track. Both gave me practice running smooth and controlled but fast when my legs were tired, and some extra mental toughness from pushing through those workouts by myself. That definitely paid off in the last 10 miles or so of the race, when my legs were feeling fatigued from hills and the pack had strung out to the point that I was running solo.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? A big benefit I got from the plan I followed was the mid-long run in the middle of the week. Running 15 miles regularly on a weekday (and in the middle of summer, no less) really took some of the teeth off of the full long runs (18-21 miles), and by extension, the race itself.

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