The BQ(Q) – Kimberly B

Here’s a great new BQ(Q) with Kimberly who qualified by running a 3:26 at Columbus. Congrats, Kimberly!

Name: Kimberly B

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 38

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 152#

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?  Columbus Marathon

What was your finishing time?  3:26

Tell us a little about the race.

The weather was great in 2006 with lows in the mid-30s and high topped out in the mid 50s, I think. The course is fast and flat with very nominal ‘hills’ on overpasses and crowd support on the cloverleaf designed course that also happens to wind through the OSU campus area is amazing and easy for friends and family to see you multiple times if they want.

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

6 months

Did you run in college or high school?

I ran track in High School but didn’t run again for about 20 years when my daughter started running track in junior high

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

I don’t keep a running journal and aside from maybe 300 a season in High School and 100 a season in junior high I averaged about 50 mpw in the 6  months leading up to the Columbus marathon so maybe 2600 mile lifetime total before BQing at my first marathon?

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

Maybe 1200?

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran a race series with 5ks, 10ks, 15k, half-marathon and a 20 miler  … I think I ran a race about every 3 weeks from May thru Sept leading up to my BQ at the Columbus Marathon

Did you follow a canned program?

Altered, but I did Pfitzinger/Douglas marathon training for less than 55 mpw

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

No, just ran on my own and made my training plan on some notebook paper

Did cross training play a role in your training?

Yes, I was working at the local Y as a swim instructor and aerobics instructor as well as doing 3x/week strength training with plyometrics at the end and stretching for 20 minutes each day (mostly pilates)

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

Yes, I followed the protocol of Pfitzinger’s book I did the 2 mile time trial and based my weekly interval workouts on my time according the directions in the book and I did my Lactate Threshold/tempo/marathon pace workouts too as best I could fit them along with the training races as they fit into the racing series schedule I signed up for.     Multi-speed training is the key to reaching one’s personal potential.  I am a strong believer in specificity of training.

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

Pay attention to your body, take a rest day if you are fading in your workouts, take some time off if you get injured and instead of aiming for some random ‘time’ posted on the BQ page you should instead focus on becoming your very best and attack each workout with purpose.  Know what the goal of a long slow run is, know why you need to find your range for VO2Max workouts, know what a Lactate Threshold workout is for and hit that zone.  Do not race every workout nor do every workout at LSD.   Live with purpose and run with purpose.    Have FUN.

The BQ(Q) – Luca

Very excited to share this great questionnaire filled out by my Prospect Park Track Club teammate Luca. Luca is a stalwart of our club, organizing out of town runs and other events all while being blaziningly fast. Huge congrats, Luca, on qualifying for Boston and going sub-3 all in one go!

Name: Luca

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 37

Height: 5’9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 125

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

Chicago 2015, 2:58:25 — it was not an easy race; I ran with Ben C., a PPTC teammate who reached out to me asking to run together since we may have had similar goals. He is faster, much faster and finished Chicago in 2:53 but for the first 30k we paced each other and had a lot of fun; the plan was to run 21-minute 5k’s up to the 30k mark after which each one was on his own. Up to 30k it was easy sailing, averaging 20:30 5k’s and crossing the halfway mark in 1:27:30. After I crossed the 30k, my form started to deteriorate; the warmth (it was around 65 at that point) and the steady breeze from south-west were becoming more and more noticeable. At a water station, I couldn’t keep up with Ben who continued his race and I mine.

 

To be totally honest, I gutted it out, the last 2 5k’s were incredibly tough and I slowed to a crawl (21:30 and 22:00). I ran Chicago in 2010 (one of its hot years, 70 at start and 85 by 9) and seeing those places where I walked and called it quits kept me honest and kept me going. Crossing the finish line left me with some bitter taste for I had not run the race I wished I would have run, but I avenged both Chicago 2010 and NYC 2014 and I broke 3 hour so I wasn’t feeling bad or anything. It was just a very weird rush of mixed feelings.

 

By the way, splitting the race in 5k-chunks made it more manageable: I helped me to avoid checking the watch every 15 seconds for the impending beep and breaking the flow. (The actual reason was more menial: Ben runs in km/min, I in mi/min — 5k is something we both understand and have a feeling for.)

 

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

No track or cross-country in high school; I would have liked high school more had I had it, I guess. I started running as I was finishing grad school in 2008 so 7-8 years

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

No idea! A very rough estimate would be around 15o miles a month to account for injuries, so approximately something north of 10,000

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

I was injured for all winter and got back in April starting at around 25mpw, I think, increased to 40-50mpw by July; I used a shortened training cycle — 8 weeks of training and 2 of tapering — during which I was averaging 70mpw with a peak of 84mpw.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 

Very few; I raced the New York Road Runners Team Champs in August and Lehigh Half in September

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 was helped by two friends, Allan and Chris. I followed somewhat closely Allan’s MTG program and ran several of the workouts he created for the group. That was a huge help!

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

PPTC; I didn’t technically utilize a coach but I was helped by the aforementioned Allan and Chris. (And with “helped” I really mean it.)

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

I often say I would do a triathlon if it were not for the swimming leg and the bike leg. I profoundly dislike swimming and accept biking as transportation. I didn’t cross train but I was doing physical therapy once a week to address tightness and soreness.

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

A huge role. Simply put, I don’t think one can BQ without working on speed and especially long sessions of marathon pace runs (in this context, tempos); I was running 8-10 tempo runs every week except for the one leading to Lehigh. I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s another way out: one needs to train the legs to that pace and cadence.

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

Be consistent. Be determined. Be honest. The first two don’t need an explanation; it’s what everybody says. The third is different. What I mean by that is you will BQ when you will see indications of a BQ; if your half marathon PR is 1:35, it doesn’t matter how much you train, a BQ is simply not realistic. I really think that it’s important to get shorter races down first; work one year to improve your speed, get a sub-1:30 half (or what is for women, sorry I’m not familiar with women’s times) and then the chips will fall into place.

 

The BQ(Q) – Guillaume R

Guillaume played football (soccer to us Americans) in high school and then didn’t do any exercise for a decade. In two years, he went from starting couch to 5k to running a 3:06:53 marathon. That’s an incredible accomplishment. See how he did it below!

Name: Guillaume R

Sex: male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 35

Height: 5’9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 160

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

I BQed at the Ottawa Marathon in May, 2015. It was my first marathon and I ran it in 3:06:53 despite a pulled muscle in my glute that bothered me the whole course (I pulled it doing strides 5 days before….%$?$?$%? !!!!!). I was aiming for 3:04:59, but was still very pleased with my finishing time. The race went pretty well. I was on pace for 30-35km but I slowed a bit between km 35 and 37. Still I managed to finish strong. My first half was in 1:32:45 and my second half on 1:34:08. The 3:10pace bunny feared me when he showed up beside me on 38km, but apparently, the 3:10 bunny had become the 3:07 bunny…..

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

I’ve been running since June, 2013. No running in high school or college, but I played football in high school. Between 2003 and 2013, I didn’t exercise at all, nothing ! I was so out of shape that I start running with an iphone app called “From couch to 5k”. My weight managed to stay the same during those years, so it probably save my running quite a bit.

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

3473 miles

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

2200 miles in the 365 days before the BQ

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Two half marathon (1:33 in august 2014, 1:25 in may 2015) et and two 5km (19:06 in october 2014 and 18:40 in april 2015).

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

For my first half marathon I followed the Hanson’s program which I really like and the total volume is near what you need to run a great marathon. It was perfect preparation for marathon training.

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

8 months before my first marathon I hired a coach. We talk every week and he prepares me a training schedule every month. He’s an ex-olympian on the Canadian national team and he runs really fast ! Having a coach is a great tool, it really helps you to move out of your comfort zone. Without one, we tend to gravitate towards what’s comfortable and not towards what we need.

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

I try to do TRX training once or twice a week, mostly core and legs work, but I didn’t do any in the 2 months prior to BQ. I live in Quebec city, Canada and during winter, it’s sometimes hazardous to run on the streets, so this winter I did some snowshoe running. I live in the city, so I used the bike paths to snowshoe. You can’t go as fast, but a 60 minutes run or a 60 minutes snowshoe ride is the same effort, just run by feel and don’t watch your garmin all the time. I also did some plyometrics during the winter to work on explosiveness and running economy.

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

Every week from the beginning until one week from marathon, I did speed work. From short intervals like 2 x 7 x 70 sec @5k speed to longer one like 3 x 13 min @half-marathon speed and about everything between the two. I also did strides once or twice a week and plyometrics about once a week.

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

Volume, volume, volume. I totally disagree with things like Run less, Run faster. From a biological point of view, it just can’t happen unless you’re a very talented runner, but most of us are not ! To BQ, you’ll have to run and a lot. I ran 6 times a week, weeks ranging from 70 to 105 km and I did 6 long runs of more than 20 miles (32km) in the months before. I even did a 40km (25 miles) at easy pace 8 weeks before my marathon. You can run less, but chances are that you’ll hit the wall big time. And yes, you’ll  need to adjust your schedule to run that much. I have three kids (10 months, 3 years and 5 years) and most of the time I go running at night when they’re asleep.

 

The BQ(Q) – Eric H

Eric is about my height, and about my build, and about my age. A lot of great lessons in here! Thanks for taking the time to fill this out!

Name: Erik Hash (twitter @erikhash)

Gender: Male

Age (at time of first BQ): 38

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 170-175

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

I qualified at the California International Marathon Dec. 7, 2014 with a time of 3:08:37.  I needed sub-3:15 since I turn 40 in early 2016.  I had signed up for CIM on a bit of a whim while injured and used it as motivation to train through the fall.  I had set a PR in the half marathon in November.  Between the half and my Yasso 800 times everything pointed to being able to hit my time but I was pretty nervous going into the race because my mileage was down a bit compared to my prior marathon in May.  I lined up with the 3:10 pace group and tried to stay just in front of them early on to avoid the crowd.  I went out just a bit faster than I should have but not too terrible.  CIM is a net downhill course but does have a number of rolling hills that take a toll.  I managed to roll along with my pace pretty even in the low 7’s.  It started to warm up around mile 17.  I was trying to stay on top of my s-caps and fluids.  I definitely hit a wall at mile marker 21 and slowed a bit.  It felt like I was running 8 or 9 min miles but in reality I had only slowed to a 7:20.  I recovered at mile 22 and then had some mental battles, screaming internally “you didn’t fly halfway across the country to not finish this”.  I hit the wall again at mile 25 but still only slowed to another 7:20 mile.  At CIM you can see the turn for quite a long distance, so my focus was on a big flashing arrow.  Once I got through mile 26, I was able to kick it in through the finish.  I’ve never had that much elation and exhaustion at the same time.

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

I ran track and XC in high school along with 1 year of college XC.  Ran through college but then fell off with only occasional running between 1998 through 2009.  When I started I ran 2-3 times a week and built up to half and full marathons.  I could finish a marathon on 3 days a week.  It wasn’t until the start of 2014 when I made a conscious choice to run 6-7 days a week and started tracking my calories to lose 35 lbs that the running really fell into place.

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

Not sure on the lifetime mileage.  Somewhere between 5,000-10,000.

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?

10-12

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 program.  I picked up tidbits here and there reading other peoples’ training logs on www.ndorfnz.com, a local website that pre-dated Strava.

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

No club or coach.  Almost all runs are solo.

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

No cross training before the BQ.  I’ve since added swimming and cycling into the mix.

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

I mixed in some tempo efforts and track workouts. I primarily stuck with 800 repeats, building up through the cycle.

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

A BQ wasn’t even a dream until I made a conscious choice to change things up.  I had to truly dedicate myself to the training and weight loss.  It was worth every bit of effort.

The BQ(Q) – Mike A

Another excellent BQ(Q) (and another plug for Pfitzinger!).  This one comes from Mike, who BQ’ed in his first attempted. Thanks for taking the time to fill this out, Mike!

Name: Mike A

Sex: Male

Age (at time of first BQ): 27

Height: 5’11

Weight (at time of first BQ): 165

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

The 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon in 2:57:14. This was actually my debut marathon, and without realizing I chose a very difficult course. The first half starts with a large downhill, then a steep uphill, then another large downhill. By the time it is over your legs are wrecked. I felt strong until the Sea Wall section of the course (~21 miles in). This portion gets very lonely as the faster runners are now strung out, it is exposed to the elements (wind), and there are a lot of turns. I luckily had some time in the bank, because I hit the wall in the section. I was aiming for 2:55, but after that section of the course I was very happy with 2:57:14.

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

Previous to the BQ I was running for 2.75 years, which all started as a way to lose weight. I did not run in HS or college.

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

Approximate? Thanks to technology I can give you the exact: 6118 miles in 2.75 years.

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

I broke 2000 miles in the year prior to my BQ.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Nine races in 2014.

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 followed Pfitzinger’s 18/85 program from Advanced Marathoning.

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

No, it was all solo.

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

No cross training.

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

I did some speedwork in the form of tempos and intervals were included in the latter weeks. The key workouts though would have to be long runs that included marathon pace sections as well as mid-long runs in the middle of the week.

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

Pfitzinger’s mid-long runs are brutal but definitely help your aerobic base. I encourage everyone to include them in their training.

The BQ(Q) – Jay S.

Thanks to Jay for taking the time to fill out the BQ(Q) — those interested in lower mileage plans, and plans involving crossfit style training should pay especial attention to what Jay wrote at the end.

Name (and website/blog/twitter if applicable): Jay S.

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 42

Height (at the time of first BQ): 5’8”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 148

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?
Abebe Bikila Day International Peace Marathon & Half – 3:12:01.
http://www.safetyandhealthfoundation.org/bikila/

Tell us a little about the race.

Compact gravel surface along the C&O Canal Towpath in Washington, D.C. The marathon is out-and-back twice. A very slight uphill going out, and downhill back. Not enough to slow you down, but knowing you’re headed “downhill” on the way back (especially the last 6.55 miles) provides a mental boost. I also liked the idea of breaking the race down into four parts.

Race morning was maybe 65° and 85% humidity. Warmer than ideal, but it’s tree-lined and was under cloud-cover. The temperature definitely slowed me down, but it’s hard to say how much.

A BQ for me was 3:15, but I figured I needed better to gain entrance. My plan was to run for a 3:12 (7:20 min/mi) the first 3/4 of the race, then pick up the pace as much as I could after the third turn-around and see if I could break 3:10 as a stretch goal. The race had two start-times. A “non-competitive” start at 8:00 AM and a “competitive” start at nine. I went out at 8:00 for the slightly cooler temps. This was a very small race. For the 8:00 start, there were only 250 runners, split about equally between the half and the full.  I’d never run on this course before, but I’d be able to get the lay-of-the-land (so to speak) on the first out-and-back. As typical for me, I went out fast, around 7:12 min/mi. I tried settling in with a couple other runners to slow myself down, but didn’t find anyone at quite the right pace. Eventually I just settled into my own pace, and the miles kept clicking off around 7:08 – 7:15. I knew I should slow down, but whenever I tried to it seemed like more effort. So I just kept it where it was. The first 6.55 mi clicked by in 47:14 (7:13 avg pace). The second 6.55 mi was uneventful and I ran it in 47:08, for a halfway time of 1:34:22 (7:12 avg pace).

I knew the third 6.55 mi was going to require my concentration. I felt like I was slowing down, but the splits proved otherwise. I ran the third 6.55 mi in 47:26 for a 3/4 time of 2:21:49 (7:13 avg pace). Now I was really hopeful for sub-3:10 as I still felt pretty good and the last 6.55 mi would be literally downhill. Unfortunately, around mile  I started to fade a little to a 7:22 mile, then mile 23 was a 7:33. I’d also started to feel some intestinal distress. I was hoping I could run through it, but by mile 24 I realized it was slowing me more than just taking a pit stop. The porta-potties weren’t where I needed them to be, so into the woods it was on mile 24, which left me with a 7:49 mile. I was able to pick things up a bit, but not for long before my calves started to give indications of cramping (a first for me). A saving grace at this point was it started to rain lightly, which was very refreshing. I pushed my legs as much as I dare, but the last two miles were 7:43 and 7:58. I ended up running the last 6.55 in 50:21 (7:41 avg pace), crossing the finish line in 3:12:01 (7:19 avg pace). Funny, I ended up just where I should’ve been.
 How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?

I purchased a treadmill in 2002 to help lose weight. I was 31 years old and 35 lbs overweight at the time. My first race was a half-marathon in

Jan 2003, completed in 1:57. I never ran in high school or college, and wasn’t (and am still not) particularly athletic.

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

~ 10K miles.

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

About 1,800 miles in the 12 preceding months.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

5 races in the 12 months preceding.

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 followed the Run Less Run Faster plan. But see my final thoughts.

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. See final thoughts.

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

Yes, it’s part of the Run Less Run Faster plan.
Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

This is a bit long, but I don’t feel this interview would be complete

without going into my running history. I’ve now run a total of 7 marathons, including my BQ. My progression was as follows:

Dec 2003 – 4:22
Jan 2005 – 4:15
Oct 2005 – 3:56
Nov 2007 – 3:36
Nov 2013 – 3:22
Jul 2014 – 3:55 (Grandfather Mountain while training for my BQ, so I
ran it as a long run, not a race).
Sep 2014 – 3:12.

My first and second marathons were completed on typical beginner training schedules. For my third, I followed Higdon’s Advanced I plan. But, I never cross or strength trained, barely stretched, and started battling Achilles tendon issues in both legs. Not knowing better, I went to a podiatrist. Not knowing better, he prescribed orthotics. I continued to run as much as my body would let me. For my 3:36, I followed the Pfitzinger 55 mile-per-week plan, and this was the first marathon I actually felt good at the end, especially since I’d had to back off during training at times due to my Achilles.

I ran fairly consistently the next couple years, but nothing longer than half-marathons. In Oct 2009, I ran a 1:38 half which was a PR at the time. Unfortunately, in Nov that year I was a pace-group runner for a marathon when I was suddenly hobbled at mile 17, which turned out to be my Achilles. Months of PT followed. I was pretty bummed, because I had been in my best running shape at the time, and my Achilles hadn’t been bothering me that year. I thought I’d found the right combination of shoes, orthotics and training. But obviously not. So due to the injury and starting a new job, I ended up taking a break from running for the most part from 2010-2012.

By the end of 2012, I was ready to start running again. During this time-off, I’d read Born to Run, which motivated me to scrap my orthotics and stability shoes, switch to more minimal “zero-drop” cushioned shoes, and work on my form, transitioning to a mid-foot running style. Also, the PT I’d seen had evaluated my strength and running form, and told me my Achilles issues probably stemmed from my weak hips. My hips were collapsing when I ran, which put stress on my lower legs.

I needed to add strength and cross training to my running. I’d heard a lot of good things about Crossfit, so I started that in Jan 2013 and at the same time started building my mileage.

2013 was a year of Crossfit while slowly improving my mileage and pace, and mostly running by feel. About mid-way through the year, another runner persuaded me to run a fall marathon. I picked up a copy of Run Less Run Faster as it seemed like the best complement to Crossfit. I ended up doing the last 8 weeks of the RLRF marathon plan with Crossfit 2-4x week and off of that, ran the 3:22, which frankly blew my mind. It’s what finally gave me the confidence I could BQ. I ended 2013 at 1000 miles, with plans to BQ in 2014.

In 2014, I stuck with Crossfit and still running by feel until 16 weeks out from my BQ, when I started the RLRF 3:10 BQ training plan. I trained using its prescribed paces, but adjusted some of the speed work when it was too fast (mostly I ran the tempo and long runs as prescribed, but ran the interval work at slightly slower than prescribed). I also added some additional easy runs as I had a secondary goal to run 1500 mi in 2014. Midway through 2014, I boosted my mileage again when I decided I wanted to try for 2014 miles in 2014. I’m pretty sure RLRF doesn’t have you run over 35 mi/week, but some weeks I was up to 60 mi. Besides BQ’ing in 2014, I finished it with 2050 miles.

I believe it’s the additional strength and cardio from Crossfit that allowed me to push harder in my running that was key. That said, I don’t think Crossfit is the perfect complement to running, it’s just the one that worked for me. But I am now a firm believer in strength (resistance) and cross training, and the idea that running starts from the hips and requires a strong and stable core. I also now think that the running shoe industry and orthotics are mostly bunk. You gotta find what works for you, but I think most folks would be fine in a basic cushioned zero-drop shoe.

One other point: race nutrition. I researched carbo-loading for my BQ. See http://endurancecalculator.com/ and the related paper “Metabolic Factors Limiting Performance in Marathon Runners.”

– I spent two-days pre-race carboloading on > 90% carbs by using maltodextrin powder mixed w/water. It’s almost impossible to carbo-load properly on solid food as you end up with way too much bulk in your intestines.
– I had “breakfast” 3 hours pre-race of a sports bar, two gels, and more maltodextrin powder (150 g carbs total).
– I made my own sports drink from the maltodextrin powder and sugar. I consumed 42 oz of the drink during the race, as well as 3 gels (~ 125 g carbs total). This is the least fade (i.e. hitting the wall) I’ve ever had in a marathon and I think proper pre-race and in-race nutrition was an important factor.

I hope all this helps other runners.

The BQ(Q) – M

Thanks to M from the great blog Read Eat Write Run for taking the time to fill this out. Congrats on your BQ!

Name: M @readeatwriterun

http://readeatwriterun.com

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 47

Height: 5’8”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 106

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

Shamrock, March 16 2014! 3:49:25

For full race report

http://readeatwriterun.com/2014/03/shamrock-2014-race-report-or-how-i-got-my-first-bq/

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

I’d been running on and off since age 30, but only started seriously training since 2013 (despite training for and completing marathons in 2003-04). I was never an athlete growing up, only did sports in PE class as required and things like splashing around in local pool in summer, riding bike to and from places.

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

I have no idea!

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

In calendar 2013, about 2740.

In the training plan (12/2/2013 -3/16/2014), just under 730.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Before the BQ – one, a 5k about 6 weeks before – I am not used to racing in marathon buildup, I usually do any shorter races after my A race is over.

This year, since Shamrock I have run a half marathon in June, two more full marathons, one in October, one in November (both BQs, October a big PR from Shamrock). And at the end of this month, I’ll run my first ultra – 50k.

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

It wasn’t a canned program, but a training plan I built myself based on Greg McMillan’s YOU (Only Faster) book. I did a lot of supplemental reading as well, but my plan was based on that book and his articles, calculator, etc. Highly recommend.

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 cross-trained instead of running for 2 days a week. I’d had an injury in August 2013 (ramped up mileage too fast) that caused me to choose not to run a November 2013 marathon, though I was only off running for a couple of weeks. In recovering from the injury and moving forward, I did a lot of rehab (pool runs, up to 2.5 hours, stationary biking) prior to starting my training plan and was very very careful to not push too hard.

Once I started my training plan, I kept up with the biking as well as core work that I’d been doing, and sometimes got to the pool.

I also started doing the Wharton Active Isolated Flexibility routine while injured, and am still doing it daily, over a year later.

I did – and still do – exercises prescribed by my chiropractor, chiropractors of Tyler Texas who I see weekly.

I also started (post-Shamrock) doing Coach Jay Johnson’s General Strength Exercises (on Running Times web site, free) and they’ve made a big difference in improvements since Shamrock.

I’ve kept up with all these things on top of my running. It takes time, but it is worth it.

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

Yes. I think what really made a difference to my running was running more time at goal pace or faster, whether tempo, tempo intervals, fast-finish long runs. In my Shamrock training, two of my long runs were 21 and 22 miles with 17 and 18 miles (respectively) at goal pace.

I also did some cruise intervals and faster repeats, but I think that for me, locking goal pace into my brain and body with lots of miles at that pace or faster made the most difference.

McMillan’s book and web site (and articles) have lots of good info on different workouts, it’s piecing them all together that takes time and effort and thought.

I do 99+% of my training on a treadmill, including my long runs. (longest treadmill run so far 25.2 miles) During long runs, I try to mimic the course profile – I also try to only take water at where the race water stops are.  I’ve been a treadmill runner for years due to schedule, weather, safety concerns and personal preference. During decent weather, I try to get outside on Sundays but it hasn’t happened a lot – more like once a month than weekly.

So I’m proof you can train on a treadmill and BQ!

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

Keep going after your dream, hold on to it. I wanted to BQ since I started running occasionally and casually in 1996, and I did my first two marathons in 2003-04. I wound up walking in the first one and injured myself training for the second one (had to walk from mile 20 of that one and have dealt with the aftermath of the injury since). I didn’t give up the dream, but I really didn’t have any confidence I could ever get fast enough, even though I was getting older which is supposed to help. When they cut 5 minutes from the BQ times, I was so upset (though I was nowhere close to BQ at the time) as it seemed my dream had just moved a little further away.  I went through years of dealing with injury, cancer diagnosis and treatment, multiple job changes moves, family medical situations and other life stuff. But I kept holding on to my dream and kept moving toward it. I can still barely believe that it’s happened, much less that I’ve BQ’d 3 times this year! Next year will be my first Boston Marathon.

Find a way. Find YOUR way. There are many routes to the same goal, it’s not a one-size-fits-all journey and anyone who says  they’ve got THE answer is probably trying to sell you something. (might work for them, might work for many, but it only matters that it works for you) You might do well on less mileage and more cross-training, or your body might do well with higher mileage at slower paces. You have to try different things and be willing to say, “this doesn’t seem to work for me, how else can I accomplish the purpose I’m trying to fulfill to help me reach my goal”. You have to be willing to change if something stops working for you.

Always think long-term. Consistency – thus health and lack of injury – is the key. When in doubt, don’t do anything that might make you unable to run tomorrow or next week. No single workout will make your race, but injuring yourself can stop your training, make you miss your race and put your future running at risk!  Be willing to pull back instead of push sometimes. It’s a hard fight with your ego to do less especially if the mileage monster sits on your shoulder (more interested in your training log numbers than the end results) or you’re seeing friends or people on social media doing amazing workouts. But if you’re trying to BQ, you have to get to the start line healthy to get that precious time. To paraphrase Boston RD Dave McGillivray, remember that it’s “your game, your rules” and keep your eyes on the prize!

The BQ(Q) Kaitlyn

Here’s another great BQ(Q) from another redditor, Kaitlyn. Thanks Kaitlyn, I really appreciate hearing about the methodical approach you took to get your BQ!

Name: Kaitlyn

Sex: Female

Age: 25

Height: 5’4”

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 123
At which marathon did you get your first BQ? What was your finishing time?

The New Jersey Marathon, 3:28:15

Tell us a little about the race.

New Jersey has a very flat course right along the shore — perfect for BQing, and why I picked that race. The day of the race, however, was very windy. Turning a corner at about mile 19 was like turning into a wall of wind (not to be confused with hitting the metaphorical wall). I felt great the entire race and was on pace for a solid 3:25 (I was really hoping to BQ by 10 minutes so I could register early), but that wind really took it out of me at the end, tacking three minutes onto my goal time. Other than the wind, however, the weather was generally perfect. Maybe a little warm, but not bad. I wore a hat though–which I’m not used to–because there was virtually no shade and I’m tremendously pale.

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

Short answer: 1 year consistently immediately before, about 6 years cumulatively in the decade before.

Long answer: I ran track and cross country in high school, and I was okay–on varsity–but not one of our strongest runners. I decided not to run in college because I was taking on two majors and thought the student athlete thing would be too much. As it were, I ended up getting a nasty case of ITBS about midway through my freshman year. I stopped running for a year and put on some weight. By junior year, I was unhappy with how out of shape I had gotten and decided to start running again, and ran my first half marathon (1:40:10). I continued to run recreationally through the end of college but stopped during my first year of full-time work, only to pick it back up about a year later when training for my second half marathon. I’ve run pretty consistently since then, with the exception of time off for injuries.

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

Probably about 5,000 miles (I didn’t track these things well in high school)

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

1,100 miles, which included one month of time off from my first marathon to deal with IT band issues and a few weeks of time off in the fall to deal with plantar fasciitis.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

11 — a lot in part because I was working through a program to gain entry into the NYC Marathon that requires you run 9 local races and volunteer at one. I ran three 5ks, one 4-miler, two 5-milers, one 10-miler, 0ne 15K, two half marathons, and one marathon.

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 took about five different programs and made my own based on my schedule and the milage and types of workouts I knew my body could handle without getting injured. Following strict programs always seems to result in injury for me.

I only averaged about 35 miles a week in the 16 week training cycle leading up to the race, with a peak week of 42 miles. Before training started, I undertook a very conservative approach to building up my miles, starting with 15 miles in one week, 17.5 miles the next, 20 miles, 22.5 miles to 25 miles the first week of training.

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

Yep, I swear my running club makes all the difference! It helps to have people to push you in interval/hill/tempo workouts and to run with for long runs.

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

Yes! Cross training is key! It keeps me from getting injured. I started taking barre classes, which I think really helped address weakness in my glutes and hips that I’ve pinned as a major source of my IT band problems.

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

I generally try to do one tempo/hill/longer interval run a week on Tuesdays and then a shorter interval/speed workout on the track on Thursday (my running team’s practice schedule). During that training season leading up to my first BQ, I’d say in reality I only did about 40 percent of those planned workouts, but they were still very valuable. In my most recent season I did those workouts more like 65 percent of the time, and I shaved another 7 minutes off my time to 3:21. When I didn’t get formal workouts in, I tried to do my runs at marathon pace or faster.

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

Keep at it. You need to put in the training (and the cross training) to make it to the finish line fresh and injury free. I continue to build up my weekly mileage with each marathon training cycle. I went out too hard in training for my first marathon (averaging about 45 miles a week), and paid for it. I showed up at the starting line injured, put in a good effort in the first 18 miles, and walked/limped the last 8 miles to finish in 5:09:11–less than ideal. I learned I personally needed to cut back on my mileage and instead focus on getting in quality workouts. Learn what works for you.

Oh, and keep in mind it’ll be very difficult to run your BQ if you don’t run a decent amount of your training miles at or faster than marathon pace. I can’t tell you how many people I know who say they want to BQ, but have run virtually no runs at their goal race pace. I’d recommend at least a few long runs that include some middle miles at race pace and progression long runs that see you gradually build speed to run the final miles at goal pace.

Somewhat related: caffeinated salt pills (I use salt stick) are like magic. I have never gotten near hitting the proverbial wall since I started using them. I hate gatorade, so they are a great way for me to make sure I have enough electrolytes in me, and the caffeine is amazing in helping me remain focused (though I am extremely caffeine sensitive.)

The BQ(Q) – Dan

A couple of days ago a reddit user linked to the BQ(Q). That has brought a lot of traffic, and a few new responses to the BQ(Q). Dan here is one of those responses. Thanks, Dan, for the great answers, I think there’s a lot to learn from your methodical approach to the race! 

Name: Dan

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 27

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155

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

Baystate Marathon 2014 in Lowell, a small yet popular Boston qualifier race for Massachusetts locals, in 2:57:09. It’s mostly a double loop along a river—a few small hills to keep your legs interested, but generally extremely flat and designed for fast times. I’d run Chicago and NYC before (2011 for Chicago when I had no idea what I was doing in 3:32, and 2013 for NYC, my first BQ attempt, in a disappointing 3:13) and wanted a small-town marathon for which I didn’t have to expend any energy just getting to the start line.

I ran the first miles very conservatively (I negatively split the race by about 1:10) and eventually fell into line with two guys who were looking to finish around the same time as I was. We ran together for about 20 miles, switching off leading and drafting off each other to fight a strong headwind that was with us for almost half the race. Having those guys there was enormously helpful. I had to let them go at mile 23 (they both got 2:55), but I never would have been able to keep it up without them. I had one slow mile (7:21) at mile 23, but toughened up and finished strong. I was much less sore immediately after and in the days following than in previous marathons, but apparently I did look very pale upon finishing, according to one volunteer.

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

Nearly three and a half years of dedicated running, though I had run a few miles a week on and off since high school as part of a general fitness routine. I never ran track or XC (which I regret).

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

About 4700 miles since I started logging miles in June 2011. Maybe 500 – 800 more in my life before that.

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

Almost exactly 2000 miles. It was going to really bother me to not have that round number before toeing the line, but I got there.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

I ran eight races before my marathon, mostly in the spring. Four 5ks, one 5 miler, one 15k, two half marathons, and one oddball 3.5 miler, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, solely to defeat all of my coworkers.

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 made up my own plan. I set myself mileage goals for the week, decided on a long run and a workout, and then filled in easy mileage where necessary. I tried not to have a single day when I was just running five miles or fewer. I hit 70 miles per week as often as I could, and peaked at 75 mpw.

My strategy for the BQ was in two parts: in the spring, I got in the best 5k shape I could, breaking 18 minutes for the first time in my goal race, while keeping up a 16-mile long run every week. After that, I eased off the speed work and started piling on the miles throughout the summer (I participated in the Summer of Malmo thread on /r/advancedrunning, which was a fantastic motivational tool and a ton of fun. I didn’t race in the fall except for a tune-up half marathon. Every step I took in running shoes leading up to the marathon was in service of the marathon. If your goal is a BQ and you’re right on the edge like I was/am, you can’t afford distractions.

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

I didn’t have a club or a coach then, but I do now (the club has a coach that sets track workouts once a week). I wish I’d have a group to train with—running the actual race with other competitors was so helpful, and I imagine training with a group would have produced even better results.

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

No. Running more is nearly always the answer. I’ve reduced my mileage for the winter, though, and sometimes stop by the weight room after the treadmill.

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

One workout per week, and a progressive long run, which maxed out at 20 miles with the last 9 at marathon pace. While I don’t think the long run should be the sole focus, these were hard runs that definitely prepared me better than slow 22 milers last year. I only did a single 20 miler, one 18 miler, and most of my long runs were 17 miles. My workouts were usually long repeats (1600m or more. One week I did “The Michigan,” which was very challenging and a lot of fun, a mix of track intervals and tempo miles.)

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

Before the race: Get in really good 5k/10k shape over a period of at least six months. Get times that predict you’ll smash your BQ requirement. Then put in a lot of miles consistently. Don’t go for a bunch of four-mile runs and then do a 24 miler on Sunday. Run a mid-week long run, do a workout most weeks, have a really good long run for which you’re not just plodding along, and then balance the rest of your easy miles. I was always a little fatigued throughout my 16 weeks until I hit my taper, which was the second best feeling in the world (the first being the BQ itself).

During the race: find people to run with. If your marathon is windy, you can shelter each other by using pace lines. If there’s no wind at all, work together to keep yourselves on pace. Don’t let each other go too fast or too slow. There’s a huge psychological benefit to working together, as well. It takes so much of the burden off of you.

After the race: enjoy your success, get ready for the greatest race ever, and don’t forget to fill out this survey.

The BQ(Q) – Kevin G

Name: Kevin G. http://creakyrunner.wordpress.com/

Sex: Male

Age: 40

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 155

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

LA Marathon 2013. 2:47. My first marathon. Pretty challenging course, but just went in with the mentality that it was a hard long run type of effort up until the 20 mile mark. At that point, give it all you have for the last 10k. I had not run over 18 miles before that race.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? Did you run in college or high school?
That was my first marathon. I had been running for 2 years. I did no running or real exercise from about age 18 through 38.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
Tough one. Two years of running….maybe about 4000 – 5000 miles total in that period

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
Probably around 3,000.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
Not many. 2 perhaps? Id rather train.

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 have a coach who gives me a weekly schedule.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
Yes and Yes.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
Not then, but it sure does now.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?
There was a periodized build up. Lydiardian — about 12 weeks out, yes, track workouts on Wednesdays, and longer tempo efforts on Saturdays. Long run Monday.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Most people it seems do too much for too long a period of time. Get fit and strong, then with about 10-12 weeks to go you can focus on the marathon itself. Keep your long runs under 18miles. Idea is to be healthy and confident at the starting line. Most people’s marathons are toast by the time they stagger into their taper.