Name: Jen S
Age (at the time of first BQ): 25
Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’5.5″
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 115
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Baystate Marathon, Lowell, MA
Tell us a little about the race. I had no idea standing on the start line that I was going to run a BQ, or go sub-3:30, or run a 43-minute PR that day. But crazily, all three happened in one race! All I knew going in was that I felt fit and strong, and the only real goal I had for the race was for my run to reflect that. Baystate is a flat and fast course, and the weather was perfect for a marathon that day (low 50s, crisp and clear, calm winds), as it usually is during fall in New England. I felt good and strong throughout the race and ran fairly even splits (<1min positive split from the half).
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 5 years
Did you run in college or high school? No
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 5000?
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? <1000?
Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 8, all were shorter running races and some triathlons including my first half ironman
Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? No, 1 tempo, 1 speed session, and 1 long run per week. Easy recovery days mixed in to bring up the mileage totals and flush out the hard efforts.
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 think it was a pretty big factor, in retrospect. The year I BQ’d was the first year I started doing triathlons, and so I’d done some more cycling than usual and WAY more swimming that I ever had in my life (still a terrible swimmer, though!). Tri training helped push my fitness into new territories, and if I had to distill the “secret” of making big gains in marathoning into a line or two, it’s that you just have to be overall quite fit (doesn’t have to be triathlons, just whatever effectively builds up your aerobic capacity) before starting to do marathon-specific work. The combo of those 2 things will get you quite far, in my opinion. Sounds obvious, but I’m guessing it’s not done in practice as much as it should be!
Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? I did longer tempos (9-11 mile range, during the week/in addition to the weekly long run) and I think they are really helpful for me. Plus they are my favorite kind of workout.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Just the 2 things: 1) be fit and 2) medium-long run tempos.