The Boston Marathon. It’s the holy grail for any endurance runner and a goal that many runners will chase season after season after season. Qualifying for Boston requires focus and a plan. We reached out to our teams and clubs to ask for their best tips on how to qualify for this bucket list race.
Choose the right course
As Team Podium member, Casey Hannan points out, Boston is such a popular race that you probably want to be at least 5 minutes or more under the qualification time to have a better chance of getting a spot. Ideally, you want to find a flat or downhill course with the right weather conditions for a fast run (cool temperatures - ideally in the mid 40’s - mid-50s). A great tool to pick a course is findmymarathon.com It will give you all kinds of information about the course, including what percent of people Boston qualified on that course. Make sure your course is certified as a Boston qualifier before you sign up. If you’re not sure, email the race director.
Create a Training Plan
Make sure that you have plenty of time to build a solid base so that your body is ready for the added intensity of trying to meet a BQ time. Each workout you do should have a specific goal and you need to make sure you execute that goal. If you aren’t working with a coach, it’s crucial for you to make a plan and stick with it.
Some great sets to add to your workout:
- Periodic hill runs or hilly trail runs. Hills are nature’s way of helping you build strength in your run!
- Tempo runs at a pace that is 15-20 seconds faster than your race pace. Start with 2 x 15-minute sets and build to 2 x 30-40 minute sets
A great training tool is the Garmin 935. You can measure your pace, cadence and with the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod, you can also measure stride length, ground contact time, balance, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio. These measurements can help you become a more efficient runner. Another benefit is that you can pre-program your workout into the Garmin Connect App, hit start and go! (The pod can also be used with the 735).
It’s important to take time for stretching, strength training, focused nutrition and sleep when focusing on a big goal like Boston. Not only will this help you recover more quickly, these practices will also help you stay injury free. We recently did a blog post on the importance of mobility and some great tools that you can use from Trigger Point. Go here to read it.
Find out if your race has pacing groups and start with your group. Make sure you’re tracking your own pace throughout the race. Your pacer can have a bad day or as was the case for Bethany Rutledge, he could get a little lost and take you the wrong way. Don’t blindly follow a group. Make sure you know the course and are meeting your goals at each mile mark
What about you? Are you chasing Boston this year? Or have you raced the course a few times? Share your tips with us!
Great article – thank you.
I’m shooting for sub-3 hour to qualify for Boston this winter. I figure focusing on running will up my tri season performance as well. Just as you suggested, I used findmymarathon.com to pick a “pancake flat” course – Jacksonville.
Cross-training with swimming and light cycling has helped, as well as resistance bands and other mobility work. Sometimes I get a bit too excited to be back on my tri bike on the off days, and I push too hard. Going easy on cross-training rides ensures my legs aren’t tired for my key runs.
The training program I’m using is from a blog post here:
I like this approach a lot, especially since doesn’t require super high mileage heading into it.
We’ll find out if it works Dec. 16! However, I’ve definitely been able to up my speed, and did a 1:27 half marathon the other day as part of a training run – huge PR for me.