Max Elbaum, Author, Activist, Boston Qualifier

Max Elbaum isn’t just an accomplished runner, he’s also the author of the excellent Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin Mao and Che. Revolution in the Air is the first serious look at what happened to the American Left after 1968 and its an excellent read (I reviewed the book here).

Huge thanks to Max for taking the time to do this,

Name: Max Elbaum

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 51

Height: 6’3″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 170

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Napa Valley

Tell us a little about the race. 3:26:53. Every mile within 10 seconds of 7/53 per mile pace. Cool day, excellent running weather, very pretty course.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4 years seriously, another few years of occasional jogging before that

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 8,500

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2,200

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 Run every day, 1 long run on the weekend, 1 speed workout during the week

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 in your training? If so, how?  Yes. My first marathon had been 4 years before, 4:14, trained for that with long runs but no speed work. After that I incorporated speed work into training and my times improved, got into the 3:30s and then the 3:26 at Napa

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I turned 50 after my fourth marathon and had been getting close to a BQ. So I started on the chase. I missed the first 3 times I tried for various reasons – too hot a day, had a cold, like that. But didn’t give up and in my eighth marathon – Napa in 1999 – I made it with minutes to spare. Boston in 2000 was worth all the effort. After that I got off the speed-at-all-costs train, kept doing marathons and ran a couple more BQs but more concerned with being able to run for the long haul than running a new PR or getting another BQ. I’m now 69, about to turn 70, have run 38 marathons, all different ones, rather than do any course twice use the marathons to explore new places. good luck to all, enjoy every mile.

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Bob Pollmann

Name

Bob Pollmann

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

53

Height:

5’5’

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

135

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

St.George Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

It could not have went any better! I had completed a great marathon training build up, so was plenty fit. Did a lot of early AM training, so the early start was perfect. Ran comfortably the entire race, getting mile splits on roadside timers on the course, I was ‘hot’ at every point – under my predicted/desired pace, as I was shooting for anything under 3:00 – 2:59:59 would have been ‘just fine.’ I only ate two gels along the way which proved to be adequate, and drank every several miles. I actually dropped some faster miles at the end of the race, and finished well below my goal of just under 3 hours, and ran a 2:53:52!

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

20 + years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

No clue

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

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, not this time. Pretty much just ran.

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

Did speed work early in the prep phase – based on the ‘Canova’ model

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

I think that the key is getting in the solid ‘race pace’ runs – making them longer and longer

The BQ(Q) – Dave

Name

Dave

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

51

Height:

5-10

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

170

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Victoria (BC) Marathon, 10/9/2016

Tell us a little about the race.

My 7th marathon, and 4th attempt at BQ of 3:30. Finished in 3:28:55. The course was a little hillier than I’d like, but not too bad; weather was perfect. Ran virtually even half splits – this was the first time I’ve been able to hold a steady pace throughout the race, and avoid a major crash after ~20. Very happy with the race. Wish I’d been able to cut about another minute off, to give me a chance at making the cutoff. But it was still a 4:35 PR, so probably all I could’ve asked for.

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

About 7 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

Roughly 10,000

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

2,845

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

15

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?

No. Pretty much zero non-running physical activity.

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

Presumably; it’s been part of the training for a while.
The usual – some 5k-pace track intervals, some longer LT-paced tempos, some long runs with marathon pace finish.

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

No magic formula – just run. Did not start running seriously till my mid-40’s; first marathon at age 47. Steady mileage accumulation over time; >2300 miles in 2014, >2500 in 2015, and on pace for >2800 in 2016. Last 4 marathon training cycles averaged 60-70 mpw. Have run 1-2 marathons/year, gradually chipping away at the finish time. The last couple years I’ve started running a lot of other races as well; maybe that’s good for training, but in any case has been a lot of fun. And a big factor is that I’ve managed to stay pretty healthy the last ~1.5 years, although not sure why. But that certainly helps maintain the mileage consistency.

The BQ(Q) – Charlie

35 years of running and he gets a BQ! Congratulations, Charlie, that’s an incredible accomplishment!

Name

Charlie

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

54

Height:

5′-11″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

175

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Twin Cities 2010

Tell us a little about the race.

Temperatures in the low 40s at the start, and it was sunny and warmed up along the way. The point-to-point course ran along tree-covered roads and I stayed in the shade as much as possible. It was mostly flat with a few hills to break up the monotony. I started out exactly at BQ pace (8 min’s/mile for Men 50-54) and held it for 8 miles, then picked it up slightly until Mile 15, when a medical support guy on a bicycle irritated me by cycling exactly at my pace right next to me. When he wouldn’t go away, I surged for a few minutes to get rid of him, and that surge put me into an elated mood. I picked up the pace for the next 5 miles or so and then WHAM! I didn’t want to run anymore at Mile 21. I wasn’t tired; It was more like depression. But I kept going. Over the last 5 miles I was baby-stepping and my pace was around 9’/mile. Another older runner kept passing me, then he’d stop and walk a bit and I’d pass him, and we kept that up until the end. When I saw the finish line I felt relieved and picked up the pace as well as I could and passed him within 100 yards of the finish line. The Clock Time was 3:35:59 which was the BQ cut-off at the time, so I was ecstatic. Later I learned that my chip time was 3:34:37. Since that time they’ve raised the standards so I wouldn’t have qualified if they were using today’s standards.

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

35 years+/-

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

Approximately 25,000. I spent 30 years in the Army and ran about 15 miles per week with a race about every 5 years. Then when I retired (at age 52) I bumped it up to 40mile/week.

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

1500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

15

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, Runners World published a program for its RW Challenge and I loosely followed it. On long run days, I would often do a 10k race with a long (6-mile) warmup and lightly jog the remaining miles after the race. I wouldn’t race all-out.

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 did upper body strength training and core exercises 2x/week until the last month. It was probably counterproductive but it was a habit I had acquired over the years. Later (and now) I cross trained 2x/week but with fewer upper body exercises and more leg work (lunges, single leg press, etc.). I also cycle and elliptical whenever I’m injured (which is frequent).

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

Yes. I raced every 3 weeks and I would stack mileage on top of the races. I didn’t care how fast I ran the races, but it made me very comfortable running BQ pace at my target race. I also did at least one speed workout (Yasso 800s or Mile repeats) per week.

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

Top priority should be consistency and avoiding injury. Take rest days and ensure that you recover before going into a hard workout or race. Next priority is volume/mileage: Increase gradually. I found that the 10% increase per week recommended by most experts is too much for my body, so I increase mileage about 5% per week with a cut-back week every month. Once your body is comfortable with high volume, then work on picking up the pace by doing tempo runs, races, and speed work. This might be 2 or 3 years after you decide to get serious, but it takes a long time to build up the volume.

 

The BQ(Q) – Tim

Name

Tim

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

53

Height:

5’6”

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

150

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Wrightsville Beach

Tell us a little about the race.

Flat course, small field (about 600), perfect temp 3/2016 at 50 degrees, cloudy, intermittent light showers.

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

7.5 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No

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

8700

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

1700

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

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?

No 85% easy, slow running, 15% tempo/marathon pace, 6-7 run days/wk, 4 weeks 60-70 miles at peak

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

No

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

1-2 hours per week of sweet spot (sub-threshold) bike trainer rides, 5000yds (2 hrs) of swimming per week

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

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

Tempo runs at 1/2 marathon pace were fastest runs I did. Ran two races during marathon training as check out races: 10 miler 5 weeks out and a 4 mile race two weeks out from marathon.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share with those of us working towards a BQ?

Learn from unsuccessful BQ attempts and try to adjust training with each subsequent attempt . DON’T GET INJURED!

The BQ(Q) – Don

Forty four years of running and almost 100,000 miles and THEN Don ran a BQ. Now that’s staying power!

Name

Don

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

54

Height:

5′ 9″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

138

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

RNR New Orleans 2014

Tell us a little about the race.

Warm and humid

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

44 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

92000

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

2080

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

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?

no

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?

Used both track intervals and fartlek

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

Don’t wait as long as I did..lol

 

The BQ(Q) Ken B

Here’s a great response from a 50 year old runner with 10,000 miles in his legs. Congratulations, Ken! Thanks for sharing your story!

Name

Ken B

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

50

Height:

6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

178

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Cleveland Towpath

What was your finishing time? Tell us a little about the race.

3:34:10 as I recall. Ran a +1 sec split. Perfect day weather wise following a perfect summer of training with a friend 16 years younger than me.

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

7 years

Did you run in college or high school?

No.

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

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?

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

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?

Ran with a friend 2 to 3 times/week who is 16 years younger and faster. Everytime I ran with him was speedwork. So YES.

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

Extra mileage, speedwork, plenty of rest, good diet, staying healthy, etc., all contribute.