Will I Ever BQ? Questions For Fellow Runners

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently…will I ever BQ (qualify for the Boston Marathon)? My mom and I want to run the Boston Marathon so bad and qualify one day. One day  being the key word. Running 8:XX minute miles for 26.2 miles seems impossible right now! Though for her, her qualifying time is 4:00 (mine is 3:35).

My last marathon was in 4:50, which was a big improvement from my first (awful) marathon of 5:15. That first one was the worst I have ever felt in a race before, and I remember feeling so bad for holding my mom back. But at least I got some redemption in my second NYC Marathon by running faster and not stopping to walk at all! And we crossed the finish line smiling, whereas the first time I was angry, yelling at my mom, and ended up puking in the bushes as soon as I crossed. Good times!

new york city marathon finish line

So now, as we are a month or so away from beginning marathon training (ps. – we got into the Chicago Marathon!), we are discussing goals. I think we can run under 4:30, but who knows. I’m feeling particularly inspired after reading this post on Reddit about someone who went from a 4:51 marathon to a 3:33 marathon!

I know that I need to run more miles, and will aim to run about 40-50 mpw. And I know many runners/bloggers I read are running anywhere from 30-50, if not more…so that’s where you all come in.

I have a few questions for my fellow runners, whether you have BQ-ed or not:

  • If you have qualified for Boston, how long did it take you? How many marathons?
  • What would you say has been a key factor in getting faster/more comfortable at running faster speeds?
  • If you run over 30 miles per week, how do you balance strength training and cross training? I see a lot of runners who still manage to do spin classes and yoga classes…I can’t seem to fit it all in my schedule! Do you do 2-a-days?
  • OR do you forego cross training for more miles (i.e. – running 6 days a week)?
  • Has anyone reading this gone from a 4:XX marathon to a 3:35 or less? That’s the time I need to qualify. Or do you know of any running bloggers who have?
  • Have you ran the Chicago Marathon? Thoughts on the course? I’m mostly nervous about the hit or miss weather!

Any answers, tips, advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated! I am feeling motivated and ready to at least get a sub 4:30 in my next marathon. Thank you for your help!


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  1. I’ll be at Chicago too! I think having a solid base of higher miles helped me – I was consistently running 38-43-ish miles prior to marathon training and even during highest point, never hit more than 52 miles. Because I had the distance, I could focus more on speed. I did speed work and tempos and used races as longer distance tempos.

    I definitely cross-trained (bike) and kept up with strength training. It wasn’t always easy, but I restructured my workouts so that they were shorter and could be done as a 2nd workout for the day.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted…Move it May Monthly ChallengeMy Profile

  2. My BQ time is 4:00. My last run at Chicago last year was 4:17. Can I do it? Fingers and toes crossed.

    I love the Chicago marathon! There’s nothing like it! Of course, I’ve never run anything but Chicago. My first attempt was a disaster, and I changed up my training, taking 1hr10mins off my finish time. If you want to read my weekly training recaps from last summer, that might be helpful…let me know if you have questions.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…CourageMy Profile

  3. I’ll be at and running Chicago! in my mind, quality trumps quantity. I run 3x a week (when I am not hurt), mixed with yoga and spin and strength training. Proper nutrition, PT, and balance are the beyond important. And then, the day of, have someone start you off right, and push just hard enough that you can maintain the push, but not push past. Ultimately–I think that BQ is possible, it is just going to take the right circumstances (as it does for most of us!)
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Windy City Bloggers, Soulcycle, and Random RandomsMy Profile

  4. Congratulations on getting into Chicago!
    Since I’m close(ish) to the next age group, I’m waiting until I move up and can qualify with a 3:40 instead of a 3:35. I’m hoping to start getting a solid base now and gradually increasing speed, mileage and strength.
    Ange @ Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Runners be crayMy Profile

  5. I got into Chicago too!! Really hope we can all meet up when we’re there! I am going to be training for a BQ in Chicago, but whether i can knock 15 mins off my current PB remains to be seen! Scared to run that fast!
    I’m only going to be running 3 -4 times a week though as I know speed rather than mileage works best for me and my fitness!
    Charlie recently posted…Why I Believe Everyone Can Complete a MarathonMy Profile

  6. Okay, I am not BQ expert, but I will say this: consider getting a coach who knows their stuff. For what it’s worth, I think it is 100% possible for you and your mom to BQ. A few of my friends who are Boston regulars didn’t start running until overweight adulthood and went from 4 or 5 hour first marathons to sub 3s. They literally worked their hineys off and it took each of them some time, but that’s the beauty of their personal journeys to Boston. And many of them surrounded themselves with experienced runners to train with and coaches to help drill them, navigate nutrition, and stay injury-free. You can do this!
    Coach Henness recently posted…Mocha Coconut FrappéMy Profile

  7. I got into Chicago as well! I’m nervous about it because I haven’t ever done a full, and I have been having some running issues the past couple of weeks!
    AJ @ NutriFitMama recently posted…Making it through the week- Thinking out loud ThursdayMy Profile

  8. You are making progress! All the advice I have received about qualifying for Boston and running faster is… speed work and focusing on nutrition. Hugs!
    Rachel recently posted…Amazing Women EverywhereMy Profile

  9. Great questions. I’m on the quest for a BQ also. I have a year and a half until I enter the 40 year old group, so my time will go up to 3:45. Would love to be able to run Boston for my 40th. My best marathon time so far is 4:28, so I have a lot of work to do as well!! Good luck!
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…My #REALCHAMPIONS and how they have helped with my running journey!My Profile

  10. I have no experience with this, but I think it would make a lot of sense to get a coach who you can talk to about reaching your goals and set up a really great training schedule. I’m sure you’ve got a BQ in you!
    Kate @KateMovingForward recently posted…Celebrate Your Superpower with the Avengers!My Profile

  11. I feel you. A BQ seems so far away for me right now. I’ve been getting faster over the last few months, but a 3:35 marathon? I’m sure if I worked hard enough, but I wouldn’t want to push too hard and get an overuse injury. I think working bit by bit to shave time off your goal is a great way to go. 4:30 this time, 4:15 the next, just keep chipping away at it with each training cycle!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…That Time I Signed Up For The Dopey Challenge On A WhimMy Profile

    • I agree – there is a fine line between training hard and an injury. hopefully I can train hard this summer and keep my shin issues in check.

  12. Wow, I’m impressed by the person who went from a 4:51 finish time to 3:33! That’s absolutely incredible! Now, what’s important is that you focus on you. Like you’ve pointed out, there are factors that will be out of your control, especially the weather. Just take things one day at a time and focus on the big picture of your goal.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…2015 Manassas Runway 10k RecapMy Profile

  13. right there with ya girl. i’m thinking maybe when i turn 40 (i’ll be 33 this fall). i’m also hoping for a 4:30ish marathon this year. my plan is to up my overall mileage from 30~week to 40-50~week and staying consistent w/pure barre. i also plan on running at least 2 20 milers or maybe 1 20 and 1 22 miler. good luck!
    Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted…The ONE Simple Thing Every Blogger Should DoMy Profile

  14. I always joke with my friends that the older I get…the higher BQ time I get ;) haha!
    Carmy recently posted…PRs are Personal for a Reason.My Profile

  15. Oh bless just to finish a marathon would be an amazing feat for me! I hope you find some guidance here, but I think you are fantastic as is!!
    Sam @ PancakeWarriors recently posted…Quinoa Black Bean BurgersMy Profile

  16. Have you read Loving on the Long Run? She talks about using the Hansons Marathon Method to BQ and chip away a significant amount of time from her first marathon. Honestly, I think BQing is more about hard work than talent, so I definitely think it’s achievable!
    And with Chicago, be prepared for the wind! I live in off Lake Michigan east of Chicago and the wind can come off the lake at all directions.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Turning Track Workouts into Fartlek RunsMy Profile

    • No I haven’t heard but I will check out her blog – thanks! I have no idea what to expect with Chicago – so nervous!

  17. No tips since I’m not a runner. But good luck!
    Also, not sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I LOVE that you an your mom run together :D
    GiselleR @ Diary of an ExSloth recently posted…20 Quick and Dirty Workouts in 30 Minutes or LessMy Profile

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