Name: Pete D.
Age (at the time of first BQ): 41
Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’2
Weight (at the time of first BQ): 190
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Santa Rosa Marathon, 2017
Tell us a little about the race. It was a very hot day in Santa Rosa, but fortunately the race started early enough to beat the real heat (103F by noon, but not too bad before 9:30). It was a pretty flat course, but naturally the last few miles were a real struggle. I tried to stay on a 7:10 mile pace and just hung on at 3:09 overall.
How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? About 20 years, in some form
Did you run in college or high school? Yes
What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? About 10,000
How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? Approximately 1,200
Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 5
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, I have had a number of injuries and cross-train a lot, so I really listened to my body and made the plan up as I went. Still I tried to have a lot of discipline and generally plan a few weeks ago. I’d go longer/faster when I felt good and shorter and I felt lousy.
Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No
Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Definitely. I play hockey, cross-country ski and use an erg machine to row at home (especially in the winter). I mixed in some lifting and yoga too. I think all that helps build a base of fitness so that you only need to focus more intensely on running for a shorter period — 10-12 weeks leading up to the race.
Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Very little. I only did sustained speed, like longer runs at an even 6:50 to 7:10 mile pace. No intervals, no high-end speed.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Stick with it and be wary of boxed programs, in my humble opinion. I’ve seen some programs that I believe are too rigid and probably won’t help a lot of people. I would recommend building your own and catering to your own issues, schedule, soreness, energy level, illness, etc. If you feel tired and got 3 hours of sleep, don’t follow it up with a long/hard run. If you feel great and happen to run into a beautiful sunset, add a few miles. Find motivation and inspiration when you can, and use it hit faster paces.
I have two young kids and work full time, so I run when I can find the time. It may actually take more personal discipline to freelance it rather than following a set schedule, but remember to really push yourself (pace and distance) on the days you feel good and ready for it, so you can scale back on the days you don’t.