The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire — Aaron Fox

Name: Aaron Fox

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 41

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’3″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 192

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Mountains 2 Beach

Tell us a little about the race. This is a point to point race, about 700 ft net downhill that I specifically targeted for BQ. I needed 3:15, realistically 3:12, and trained/targeted sub 3. I started off with the 3:02 pacer, and left that group about mile 8. Felt great through 16-17 miles (half in 1:29:07), then the sun and miles got me, and I faded a bit the last 10k. Ended up 3:03:02 and ringing the BQ gong felt great.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 4.5 years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 9000

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 2500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 6

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? none

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? my coach loves strides, so I did a lot of those. once a week I did sessions of a couple min on, a couple min off, with the ratio increasing throughout the plan. but there were no prescribed paces. All effort based.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? For those of us with no running background, I really think it comes down to just an accumulation of miles. The specific plan can help a little, but at some point it just comes down to having thousands and thousands of miles in your legs. Good luck!

The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – SR

Name: SR

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ): 45

Height (at the time of first BQ):  6’0

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 195

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

Tell us a little about the race. Goal was to run even pace of 7:35 in first half and 7:37 in second half to take advantage of the net drop in altitude. Got to 20 miles feeling great and my last 10k was my fastest.

Ended up running 7:36 average which was my goal pace.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ? 6 Years

Did you run in college or high school? No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ? 5500

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 6 Years

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 2

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 Hanson’s modified with more mileage and fast finish long runs.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Some cross training with several dry needling sessions that really helped out when my bad hamstring or calves got tight.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? Mixture of 400, 800, and mile repeats once a week.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? I made a huge leap in endurance when I started running easy runs easy. Until I made that change, I was blowing up around mile 20. My tempo run paces were identical or a few seconds slower than past training periods.

Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Kevin McCabe

A great, detailed story of qualifying for Boston. Thanks Kevin for taking the time to write this up!

 

Name: Kevin McCabe

Sex: Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):  36

Height (at the time of first BQ): 6’1″

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 184.4

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Peak to Creek Marathon

Tell us a little about the race. Peak to Creek is great race in Western NC. It’s a net down hill race (Total Ascent: 285 ft, Total Descent: 2946 ft). It is about 6 miles of rolling hills to start (pace yourself in this section) because the next ~8.5 miles are steeply downhilll and you will get any lost time back. The next ~8.5 are flat, and the last 4 are slightly down hill. It’s run in Pisgah National forest along Wilson Creek and is quite beautiful.

My strategy was to run 7:11 over the first 6, then 6:50 down the hill, hang on for the next 8.5 at 7:11 and try to speed up on the downhill finish so I’d come in around 3:08. I ended up running about 7:20 to start, then about 6:43 down the mountain, but had so much energy left I ran about 7:00 pace for the next 10 miles, so I was able to ease up to about 7:20 into the finish to keep from blowing up over the last few miles and finished in 3:06:34 (a minute and a half faster than I had expected).

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? 6,400

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ? 1600

Approximately how many races did you run in that year? 18 races >5k, 18 5k’s

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? No

 

If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was? Historically followed Hal Higdon but had to modify due to heavy race volume

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach? No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how? Somewhat, I had been a triathlete for 6 years prior to BQ and had even done an easy effort half-ironman 6 weeks before. I think adding the swimming and biking helped me recover from the huge volume I ran in the spring time and huge intensity over the summer.

However, in the year prior to my BQ I had focused primarily on running. 7 months before my BQ I had completed my first 100 mile event which had required me to run ~250 miles a month as training. As a comparison, I had never exceeded 145 in a month training for a marathon.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how? After the 100 miler in April I took about 6 weeks off completely. But starting in May my local run club hosts an all comers track meet. I spent 12 weeks attending every track meet running all 4 running events and the race walk event. I managed to set track PR’s in every distance except the 200m (100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, mile, 3000m, 5000m). I was only running about 20-25 miles a week during the summer (primarily due to heat in NC). But every Saturday I would run a 5Km race.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ? Training for the 100 mile event really opened my eyes to what a solid endurance base can do for your speed. I also learned that in order to run fast, you have to run slow. Training for the 100 my usual long run pace was between 10:30-13:00 min/mile but I’d be running between 3-4 hours. My “fast” runs were between 8:45-9:30 (~130-155 HR). During training I was worried that I was losing speed. However, during my training I ran a very tough train marathon in 3:33, the next weekend I ran 2 marathons back-to-back. In all 3 marathons I started with an easy pace and picked up speed in the second half negative splitting two of them.

I had previously run a 3:16 and 3:24 marathon but faded BADLY in both. The increased mileage/endurance base helped me keep from fading in my BQ. After I had built up a sufficient endurance base, I worked on building up my speed. From there, I spent about 6 weeks balancing the two.

Finally, it took 3 years of work for me to get to my BQ from the time I set it as my goal. I didn’t have a necessarily linear path to achieving it, and may have been aided by a coach. I’m proud that I was able to get there on my own through trial and error and sheer dumb luck. I feel there were soooo many factors that helped me get there that this form wouldn’t fit but I listed the major factors in my training. Below are some additional factors in roughly descending order of impact:

1) BIG endurance motor – training for the 100 made the marathon seem easier and built up the aerobic motor
2) speed work – increasing speed while maintaining cadence
3) varied pace during training—really slow during long runs(10+min/mi), fast during speed workouts (<6:20 min/mi), in between for group runs (7:40-8:30 min/mi)
4) eliminate alcohol, caffiene and reduce sugar intake during training
5) Rest – used fitness tracker to monitor resting heart rate and hours of sleep per night/week
6) consistency – had 3 separate groups of friends on different days to run with (all were faster than I and could BQ by 20-30 minutes)
7) walking – I added a 2 mile walk every afternoon during work
8) diet – I ate fairly healthy but it was hard given the quantity necessary
9) data – I started keeping track of and analyzing my data (mileage per wee/month/year, resting HR, weight, etc)

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) – George

Now this is cool, George ran Boston in 1970, the last time it was possible to do so without qualifying, and qualified the next year with a 3:30. Excited to share this little story from the golden era of running.

 

Name

George

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

23

Height:

5’8″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

125 lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Boston

Tell us a little about the race.

My first marathon was Boston, 1970, the last year one could enter Boston without a qualifying time. The qualifying time for the following year was 3:30, no adjustment for age and women were still excluded. I ran conservatively based on advice from experienced marathon runners who had raced a Boston many times and finished strongly in 2:59:50 gun time (no chip timing back then).

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

4 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

4000 miles

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

2000 miles

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

35

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?

Perhaps, I strength trained a couple times a week with weight machines

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

Yes, Definitely. The core of my training was intervals supplemented with medium to long runs of 12-15 miles. My primary focus was middle distance and short road races, not the marathon.

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

In my opinion the focus on 16 week programs is misplaced. The training over the year before the start of the program is what will make the difference.

The BQ(Q) Brad Lindeberg

Name

Brad Lindeberg

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

28

Height:

5’5″

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

135 ish

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Lincoln, NE

Tell us a little about the race.

It was my second “born again” marathon after a long running hiatus from High School. I had run the San Francisco Marathon in July 2010 and was only a few minutes from a BQ. I targeted Lincoln, per a recommendation from my Uncle who ran Boston in the 80s. I arrived well prepared and the weather was perfect: high 40s with sun and little breeze. First half split was a bit fast but I ended with 03:05:47 – good enough for 2012 but 47 seconds too slow for ’13 and beyond. I hoped to re-qualify in Boston but 2012 was a hot year. I re-qualified in fall of 2014 and ran Boston again in 2016.

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

About 2 years semi-structured

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

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

No idea. Probably around 1-2,000

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

1000

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

8

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?

Yes. I was weight training my upper body and core. I also enjoy playing golf – walking 18 holes while carrying a bag.

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

Yes. I ran some shorter distances fast and tune up races fast. I didn’t run too many long runs close to my goal pace.

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

Find a reputable plan/coach to keep you honest. Do plenty of cross training, strength training, and things that make you happy to avoid injury and burnout. Lastly, sleep as much as you can.

The BQ(Q) – Jana T

Jana runs with my club, Prospect Park Track Club, though we’ve never gotten a chance to run together. I hope I get to see her at this year’s club championships and thank her for this awesome contribution to the project. Lots of good stuff in here, thanks Jana!

Name: Jana T

Sex: Female

Age (at the time of first BQ): 23

Height (at the time of first BQ):  5’6

Weight (at the time of first BQ): 110lbs

At which marathon did you get your first BQ? Tell us a little about the race.
I ran my first BQ in the New York City Marathon 2013.  It was my first marathon ever, so I had no idea what to expect.  I had a rough idea of a time goal between 3:15 and 3:30, but was not sure how I would do.  I passed through the half marathon mark in ~1:32 which was very close to my half marathon PR at the time.  At that point, I knew that I had made a big mistake in my pacing.  I paid for my mistake in the second half of the race when my legs got heavy, I felt nauseous, and I even had to walk a few steps.  I trudged in to the finish line with an average pace of 11 minutes each for the final two miles! I finished the race in a respectable 3:26:43, but knew that it was not as well as I could have done due to my awful pacing.  However, I was still happy and proud of myself for finishing my first marathon.
I saw my friend Robin at the finish line.  She screamed that we both had qualified for Boston. I had not been thinking about the idea of running the Boston marathon, but since I had qualified decided that I should run Boston.  I do not recommend that another person run their marathon the way I ran NYC in 2013.  Since then, my marathon planning and pacing has much improved. I finished the 2015 Boston marathon in 3:15:16. I think I can be faster next time I race the marathon.

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 11 years when I ran my first BQ.

I started running at age 12. I was inspired to become a runner after watching my dad run the 2001 ING New York City Marathon, and I started running shortly afterwards. I began by alternating between walking and running for 30 minutes on the treadmill each night while watching Everybody Loves Raymond on T.V.

Two years later, I joined my high school team (Scarsdale High School) I started out as the slowest freshman on the team….but my competitive attitude helped me make varsity and later become the fastest female distance runner on the team.

I ran D1 Cross Country and Track at Fordham University.  College training was higher weekly mileage, very time consuming, and more structured than I was used to in high school.  I stuck to it for four years, but it was not for me.  I’m happy I did it though, because I learned so much from my teammates who were MUCH more intense than I was.  From college running, I learned how to really push myself during workouts, how to listen to my body and avoid injury—how much training is too much, etc., and the basic components of an effective training plan.

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?
No idea. Some runners are data oriented mileage calculators.  That has never been my style.

I do believe that people should be running for many years before attempting their first marathon and especially before going for a BQ.   It is not impossible with a low lifetime mileage, but I think having a higher lifetime mileage helps to run a fast time.

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?
No idea…see above answer.

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?
I ran three half marathons that year in addition to running the marathon that year. I found that running half marathons is really great during marathon training. If you are going to do long runs, you might as well do some of them in a race. Also—it is really easy to PR in the half when you are in the middle of marathon training.

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?
My training plan/philosophy is pretty basic. During marathon training, I do speed work twice a week—usually Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a long run on Saturdays. What I find to be most effective for speed work is tempo runs of between 3-9 miles (depending on the week). I begin with shorter tempos earlier in the training cycle, and build up to the 9 mile ones towards the end.

I strongly believe in long runs that are long. So many people only go up to 18-20 miles for their longest long run. Then when they get to the marathon, they are not ready and hit the wall. I like going at least as high as 24 miles for my longest.  All together, I like to do four or five runs of a distance 20 miles or longer in the marathon training cycle.  I try to run these at 8 minute pace or faster, but some of the long runs end up being slower.  Long runs are my dress rehearsal for the race. They give me the confidence to conquer the distance and the pace that I will need to do on race day.

On my remaining days during the week, I just run—usually between 5-8 miles each day, depending on the day. Those regular run days are pretty relaxed and I don’t have a goal for their distance or pace.

Rest and recovery is just as important to my training as the actual running is. I usually run 5 days a week and have two rest days while I am marathon training.  After I finish the marathon, I will take some time off to recover mentally and physically. This can be 1-2 months of rest time with very little running.

I’m fairly strict with my diet during marathon training.  Absolutely no candy, dessert food or greasy snack food such as potato chips.  I try to eat a little of each food group and get 8 hours of sleep each night. All of that helps my body to feel ready to do the training.

I have always been very independent with my running.  I am not one to follow a canned training plan word for word.  However, I am a very hard worker and can tolerate more pain while training and racing than other people.

I have a true passion for long distance running which propels me to do the training.  If you love something, you will do it well.  The marathon distance can feel very natural for me.  I dream about running all the time, and then wake up and run in Prospect Park before work. I once dreamed that I ran two marathons in a row.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?
I wasn’t able to run with a club for NYCM 2013. I was living in Westchester at the time and working in Manhattan, so long commutes made it hard to go to workouts with any club.
Now I live in Park Slope and work in Carroll Gardens.  It is amazing having a short commute. Running with Prospect Park Track Club has improved my times so much! The difference between running alone and running with others who are working on the same goals is huge.

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?
I indoor rock climb two times a week during marathon training cycles.  It seems to help with core strength and overall fitness. It also helps to give my body a break from running once in a while.  On days that I climb, I don’t run at all, or I do just a very short warm up run of 1-2 miles.  I hope to be a runner for my entire life, so I’m very careful to give my body rest, variety in training, and not too much running mileage.

Did speed work play a role in your training? If so, how?
Yes—see above in question 7

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?
Running is not an exact science. Go into your training with a purpose and plan, but don’t be a slave to any training plan.

Run with people who are similar pace as you, or slightly faster. They will help push you during workouts and especially long runs.

Listen to your body and you will know what it needs.  Don’t run with injuries. If you run on a slight injury, it will become a major one.