The BQ(Q) – Dan Varga

Really pleased to share Dan’s story of running a three hour marathon after losing fifty pounds! Inspiring stuff, Dan, thanks!

 Name

Dan Varga

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

38

Height:

6’1’

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

183

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Utah Valley

Tell us a little about the race.

I went out today with the goal of keeping my pace in the 6:40’s as long as I could in hopes of breaking 3:00 in my first official marathon. My split times were 6:49, 6:43, 6:43, 6:54, 6:49, 6:49, 7:12, 7:21 (stopped to get rocks out of shoe), 6:43, 6:41, 6:50, 6:37, 13 -6:40, 6:47, 6:52, 6:33, 6:33, 6:39, 6:40, 6:49, 6:45, 8:00 (emergency bathroom), 7:01, 6:55, 7:07, 1:41

I felt great until mile 23 when my heart rate finally got into the 170’s and suddenly I couldn’t keep my speed up anymore. My heartrate was basically in the 150’s until mile 22. I did get attacked by a bird twice by the golf course. I ran it’s wing into the back of my head as it dive bombed me. Scared me, maybe that is what drove my heart rate up and over the edge. That’s right, blame the bird.

Overall, I am very pleased, just wish I would have worn the gaiters and didn’t have my bowel issues and then I would have broken 3:00. There’s always St. George. It was great to run into my wasatch back team at the mouth of the canyon to provide some needed energy, and then my family and parents came and watched me go several times from there until the end.

I ended up 39th overall and 9th in my age group 35-39 I think it was broken down to. Not a bad first effort I would say. Look forward to doing some actual speed work and see what I can really do for St. George”

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

15 months

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

1500

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

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

3

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, 10 Miles a day, 3-4 days a week. A couple of speed miles. 10 miles easy, 10 miles hard on weekend long run.

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

No

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

no

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

Some Tempo Miles. 10 mile Speed Run. Occasional shorter races.

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

Miles. Lots of miles, slow, medium, some fast.
The 2 years I trained I used a heart rate monitor all the time to judge effort.
My first marathon I tried to run at a 155 or 160 heart rate for as long as possible, whatever that speed was. It eventually went up (mile 22), and the speed went down. Ran 3:01 my first marathon after losing 50 pounds and running 3-4 times a week for 15 months.

The BQ(Q) Rob Bond

Name

Rob Bond

twitter: @bondrobbond Instagram:@rojobo007

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

23

Height:

6’1

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

175

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

2013 Baystate Marathon

 

Tell us a little about the race.

The race went pretty well for me. I was able to finish in 2:51 and although I was really feeling it in my legs for the last 4 miles, I never truly hit the wall and only ran a positive split by a few minutes. I ran with a group for a lot of the race and that really helped to take my mind off of the run.
I had a pretty good buildup to my first marathon. I started the cycle hoping for a BQ, but training had gone well and I had a goal of 2:53 by the time the race arrived. I had been running consistent 50 mile weeks for a few months and had one week where I ran 70 miles.
Before the race, one of my coworkers told me that I would need more fuel than I thought, so I ended up taking 5 energy gels during the race. I didn’t quite get nutrition right, and had to stop to use the bathroom once, but I think taking in more nutrition helped me in the end.
I was lucky that the weather was just about perfect.

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

2 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

3000

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

2000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

5-10

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, coolrunning’s advanced marathon program

 

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

No

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

I didn’t do much extra cardio work besides running in the buildup to the race. Before I started running I would go to the gym regularly for my exercise. As I started to run more, I still made an effort to go to the gym and do some running-related things like lunges, core work, and hip and hamstring exercises.

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

Yes. I would do, on average, a tempo run and a track session per week. The track session might have some intervals between 400 and a mile, and the tempo stuff would be 3+ miles usually. Every other run was at an easier pace, so probably 80%+ of my miles were easy running.

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

I believe it is really important to set goals in your hobbies. Whether that goal is to get a certain time, run a little every day, or complete a mile without stopping having a goal is, in my opinion, key to getting the most out of yourself.
As a lifetime lacrosse player, I first started running after graduating college and losing my outlet for athletic competition. Having a plan and a goal keeps me focused and gets me out of bed in the morning on days when I could have hit the snooze button. I signed up for my first Marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston. I didn’t know what I was capable of, but I believed that if I could follow a process then I would at least be able to say I gave it my all. I believe training for Boston is a great goal and I hope all of you working towards it either get the mark or are able to say that you tried your best and got the most out of the process along the way.
I had some good advice from friends that most of the runs should be pretty comfortable and slow. Running long slow distance as I built up my mileage base was key to getting the endurance required to complete my marathon. The faster stuff is important, but without the base I would not have achieved my goal. I found it helpful to run some longer intervals at just faster than marathon pace. For example, 2×3 miles as part of a 10 mile run. This gave me confidence that I could run the marathon pace for the full distance.

The BQ(Q) Data Analysis Posts

This page collects all the posts I’ve done analyzing the data from the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire.

  1. Data Analysis of the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part 1: Overview
  2. Data Analysis of the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part 2: Training Programs
  3. Data Analysis of the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part 3: Speed Work
  4. Data Analysis of the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part 4: Cross training
  5. Data Analysis of the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Popular Marathons

The BQ(Q) – Kathy H

Thanks for your response, Kathy!

Name

Kathy H

Sex:

Female

Age (at the time of first BQ):

45

Height:

5’8

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

142

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

California International Marathon

What was your finishing time?

Tell us a little about the race.

(didn’t answer)

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?

(didn’t answer)

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

1016

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

4

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

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

Yes

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

Some. I half ironman triathlons May-September before the December marathon. Those are the only races I do; no running races.

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

Yes. Integral to achieving the race time.

 

Data Analysis of Boston Qualifier Questionnaire Part III: Speed Work

speed work

We know that most (over 84%!) of the BQ respondents did speed work as part of their training, but what kind of speed work? Let’s find out:

image (4)

 Some runners did 800 repeats, quite a few did mile repeats, but tempo runs was the most common workout with marathon pace runs But broadly speaking, the theme seems to be longer efforts. This makes sense to me for the length of a marathon effort improving the upper end of your aerobic ability seems keys. I’ll definitely be working these kind of efforts into my training.

 Want some inspiration? Here’s Meb on a 12 mile tempo run. Yours may be slightly slower.

Another note on the data is appropriate here. Many people who said they did speed work, didn’t tell us what kind, and people used different nomenclature for similar workouts. I lumped together workouts like “tempo run” with “lactate threshold runs” and 800 repeats with Yasso 800s. I realize there may be some difference here, and am open to doing this in a different way. Please comment with your thoughts.

 

The BQ(Q) – Christopher B

So here’s the first response from the new online BQ(Q) form. Thanks, Chris, for taking part!

Name

Christopher B

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

27

Height:

5’10”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

165 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?

Lehigh Valley.

Tell us a little about the race.

ran a 3:01:08

Fastest miles were the last two dropping from a 6:52-6:54 average to a 6:42 and then a 6:29

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

Off and on for 11 years, consistently for 2

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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?

1500 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

11

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

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

Yes

 

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

No

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

Yes. Track work Mondays and Wednesdays. Between a failed BQ attempt and LeHigh Valley, ran some more tempo work for the 6 weeks in between.

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

 

The BQ(Q) Stephanie W

The women 45-50 age group here at the BQ(Q) has been pretty sparse, really happy to add Stephanie’s story to the mix! Thanks for taking part, Stephanie!

Name: Stephanie W www.Joyinthefire.com, @IRun4MyCrazy.

Sex: Female

Age (at time of first BQ): 50

Height: 5’5”

Weight: 112

 

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

 

Marathon where I got my first BQ: “Leading Lady’s Marathon” Spearfish, S. Dakota, 8/17/14. My finishing time was 3:59:19. It took place downhill in the lovely Spearfish Canyon. As the name states, it is an all woman marathon. I was a little worried about the mountain air & not being used to it, but it wasn’t a problem at all. I finished 25 out of 126 finishers. The marathon was/is, the only distance offered. What was nice about this race is that I had actually paid to go the prior year but got injured, but the $ carried over to the following year. I may not have been as ready to have raced in 2013 anyway. I couldn’t have picked a better race to qualify.

 

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

 

I had been running for 7 years prior to my BQ. Most of those early years was just learning the basics and being more of a “recreational” runner. I got serious with my training after my first marathon in Kansas City in 2011. I realized that being a “recreational runner with no plan” was not going to get me the results I needed. I did not run in college or high school. Quite the contrary, I was clumsy & non-athletic!

 

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

Since I never really kept track of yearly mileage until a couple of years ago, I am not sure what my approximate lifetime mileage was leading up to BQ.

 

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

I can only say that that particular year(2014) I ended up with 1,288 miles for the year. It looks like I will exceed that by a little this year. I ran 2013 miles in 2013 (My goal).

 

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

 

I ran one half marathon, and one other marathon (for training purposes) in 2014 leading up to August 2014. Lots of miles/distances covered on my own. August 2013 to August 2014, I had ran an additional marathon & a couple 5k/4 milers.

 

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

 

I did not use a canned program but incorporated all of the “canned” programs I had used in years prior. My biggest influence came from Jeff Galloway and incorporating the run/walk method into my long runs. Psychologically it helped me to get through those runs. I also started listening to my body and rested when I felt I needed to and pushed harder when I felt like it regardless of what the “plan” was for any given day.

 

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

I did not start running with a club/group until this past spring (2015). I did however, use an online coach for the first quarter of the year 2014. His training outline kept me accountable & he utilized a lot of running by time instead of specific miles. I did a lot of treadmill running because it was in the winter, but I feel that having a professional coach helped enhance my training even if it was for a short time.

 

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

I didn’t do a lot of cross training except for bicycling & ab work. I feel that strengthening the core is very important for runners. I did abs every other day and biked 3 times a week.

 

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

I think speed work was instrumental in being able to finish strong. As much as I despise it, I was able to finish with a little kick in my step. I did “Yasso 800s” at least 2x weekly at the local track. Those with fartleks, tempo runs, etc. gave me the variation I needed. Also doing a couple long runs back to back on consecutive days every 2 weeks gave me the ability to keep going on tired legs.

 

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

Final thoughts: If a BQ is your goal, (and obviously it is the crowning achievement for most of us runners), never give up. Never tell yourself for one second that you “can’t.” I ran Boston 2015 and have qualified 2 more time since-August 29, 20l5 at Nebraska State Fair Marathon with a time of 3:20:00- (unfortunately not enough cushion to get in Boston 2016 with only 40 seconds). I then ran Twin Cities on 10/04/2015 and finished 3:55:20. Hoping with a 0:4:40 cushion I will have the privilege of running Boston again in 2017. Believe in yourself and keep on keepin’ on! Champions are made when you think you have nothing left in the tank!

 

The BQ(Q) – Ross C

This one hits close to home. Ross is exactly the same height and weight as I am, and just a couple of years older. He also seems to have a similar history in running. I find all the BQ(Q)s inspiring, but this one perhaps a bit more so than most.  Thanks Ross, you’ve got me fired up!

Name: Ross C

 Sex: M

 Age (at the time of first BQ): 45

Height: 6 feet

 Weight (at the time of first BQ): 172

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

I ran 3:13 at the 2014 Baystate Marathon. Perfect conditions on race day (a chilly fall morning, a little overcast but some sun). I ran with friends from my running group as a number of us were trying to BQ. We had all put in a lot of training in the preceding 14 weeks. A few of us stayed together during the first half of the race before breaking up around the mid-way point. I ran strong through 21 miles but started to feel wiped out. My pace per mile fell by 15-25 seconds per mile for the last few miles but it wasn’t a big collapse.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I played other sports but never ran with a team in HS or college. For close to 30 years, however, running has been a constant in my life. Most of that time was just lacing up my sneakers and jogging 3-4 miles a few times a week. I didn’t wear a watch, didn’t race much, didn’t run with other people but I still loved it.

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

That’s a hard one. Maybe 12k-15k?

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

About 1400

 Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

3 road races and 1 triathlon

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

I did Hanson Brooks (peaked at 70 miles week)

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

I have a club that runs in Bedford/Concord/Lexington, MA. It’s a small group but some of them have become great friends and it made a difference for me.

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

Yes. After a bad running injury in 2013, I took 8 weeks off (no running L) and developed a strength training program to help me heal. Once I was better, I continued with it. It’s mostly exercises for hip flexors, legs, core work, plus stretching. I do a similar routine to this day.

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

Yes, Hanson Brooks had one track workout and one tempo run per week and as faster run on the weekend. It definitely helped.

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

I have a few thoughts….

  • What you do when you aren’t running is every bit as important as the runs themselves. Getting good sleep, cross training, eating the right foods all make a huge difference and set you up for better runs.
  • I try and not be discouraged by a sluggish training run or a poor race. There’s always something to learn from those experiences and it usually involves pulling back for a few days and getting some rest.
  • You are more capable than you think. In 2011, my PR at the Boston Marathon was 3:59. Qualifying for Boston seemed unattainable and I didn’t think I’d ever run faster. But I met some new people and realized I like training hard and pushing myself beyond what’s comfortable.

The BQ(Q) – Joe M

I LOVE getting responses from other runners in New York City. Joe’s BQ(Q) gives you the straight forward answer to what it takes to BQ — do the work. Thanks Joe for taking part!

Name: Joe M  @ultrarun_nyc

Sex:  M

Age (at the time of first BQ): 32

Height: 5’7”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 153

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

NYC Marathon.  3:02:59.  I went out on 2:56 pace, fully confident I could hold that pace.  Aerobically it felt wicked easy, but in the end my hamstrings had other ideas.  I cramped up with a half-mile to go, which forced me to stop and stretch just before the finish line!

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I had been running for 5 years.  I ran cross country in high school, but never fast and I gained 50 pounds between then and the day I started running again 5 years ago.

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

12,000

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

2,000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

8

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

I take one day off every 14 days.  I do one tempo, one interval, and one long run every week.  I take a month of downtime (cross-training) in the winter.

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 used to be a heavy weightlifter and I think the overall strength has helped allow me to train at a high intensity for a long time.

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

Yes.  I think speed work is so important to running a BQ, not to mention a lot of fun to let the legs uncoil.

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

Work your ass off.  Set out a schedule and stick to it like glue.  Do the speed work in the rain.  Be tougher than you used to be.  When you feel tired, or weak, or sluggish … run anyway.  That all goes away after 2 miles.  And always always always … crush it!!!

The BQ(Q) – Mike Wardian (Hoka One One)

Really excited to share this informative BQ(Q) composed by Hoka One One athlete, Michael Wardian. Mike is one of the most successful distance runners in America, competing at a high level at every distance from the 5k to 100 miles. Mike has set world records for the fastest marathon and 50K on an indoor 200-meter track. In March 2015, he set the World Record for the fastest 50K on a treadmill, and then broke it in May of 2015. He’s also an incredibly nice guy.

I had the chance to speak with Mike briefly at the Vermont City Marathon this year. He was funny, approachable, and my son loved his beard. Thanks again, Mike, for taking the time to fill this out and tell us about your first BQ. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you get up to in the year to come!

Name: Michael Wardian

Twitter: @mikewardian  Instagram: mikewardian

website: www.mikewardian.com, Facebook: michael wardian

Sex:  Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 22 years old

Height:  6 feet 0 inches (183 cm)

Weight (at the time of first BQ):  148lbs (currently 139lbs-142lbs)

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Marine Corps Marathon-1996

What was your finishing time?  I ran 3:06:54:

Tell us a little about the race.

I ran the 21st Marine Corps Marathon in order to get a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and I had to run under 3:10 and made my goal.  I ran in lacrosse shorts, cotton socks, a cotton t-shirt, no band-aids, I felt great but nervous till about 18 miles then I was feeling really confident and then with 4 miles to go I thought I am totally making it but with 2 miles to go I had like 15 mins and I thought, this is AWESOME but with 800 meters, it was getting close…but I made it.

Still one of the happiest moments in my running career.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I had been running for about 1 year when I got my BQ.  I did not run in high school or college.

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

I would think my approximate mileage was about 2,340 miles or about 45 miles per week.

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

I ran about 2,340 miles.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran one (1) other race, the  MS 1/2 marathon and I ran 1:14 mins for 3rd place, I had no idea what I was doing but ran as hard as I could for a long as possible.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
I did follow a canned program that was given to me by Vicky Voisin, my buddy Vince Voisin’s mother. She had just run the Boston Marathon and was nice enough to make a copy of a training program for me.  I don’t even know who wrote it.  I just wanted to run a little as possible to achieve my goal at first and then after reading Lydiard, I started to run more and longer.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I did start running with the Pacers Running Club, here in Washington,DC and I don’t run with Pacers anymore as my time is super compressed but I would if I had more time, I love those guys and the friends I made.  I still run with some of the guys 20 years later.  I don’t have a coach, I actually coach people and can be contacted for coaching at mwardian@rocketmail.com

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I do cross train with cycling and weights.  I am bike commuter so I ride my bike at least 10 times a week and a lot more as I run errands and try to go by bike whenever I can.

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

I do enjoy speedwork and when I am trying to get faster I go to the track at least 1 time a week, I have been racing a lot so have been going to the track less but if you want to get faster for me the track is where to do it.

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

I think that everyone is capable of getting a BQ and I hope that your readers have the opportunity to run the BAA Boston Marathon, it is such an incredible event and really is a standard bearer for what a first class event can be and the impact it can have not just on the community but on your life.  I know that my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon changed the course of my life and I feel so fortunate for everything that Boston has given me and I know it can for you too.

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