“You’ll never be able to do that.”
Those were the words that flew out of my good friend’s mouth when I told him that my goal was to run a sub-4:00 marathon. In his defense, nothing in my running career would indicate I could run that fast, plus it was early morning, and I think he just didn’t have as much brain-to-mouth control. Regardless, his words fueled me.The truth is that I hadn’t even told him the really crazy part of my goal. My real goal wasn’t to just run a sub-4:00 marathon – it was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Which meant I had to run like a sub-3:55 marathon.
After running a one-off marathon in 1996, I dusted off my Nikes and started running again in 2008. In March 2010, I ran the LA Marathon for the second time, finishing in 5 hours 8 minutes and immediately declaring “Never.Again.” That seemed a likely reality as I immediately went into a grad school program and while I continued running, it was definitely on the back burner, and marathons were not on my radar. Upon graduating with my master’s degree in August 2011, I needed a new project. Because Type A. I considered getting my second degree black belt, but the marathon kept calling. I couldn’t shake the idea that I was much faster than 5 hours 8 minutes. So my friend and fellow black belt-turned-distance-runner-friend started semi-coaching me and creating training plans for me.*
Within two marathons I cut my time down to 4:30. A substantial drop, but still a lifetime away from the 3:55 I needed to BQ. I would then spend the next 3 and ½ years training, striving, getting injured, and only being able to take five minutes off my time.**
In September 2015 I was 48 years old, injured AGAIN, and desperate. So desperate that I was finally willing to change everything I thought I knew about running and turned myself over to a coach. One year and one marathon later, on November 12, 2016 I ran a 3:52 marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
In the next four weeks, I’ll share the four major changes I implemented to take over 30 minutes off my marathon time at the age of 49. My hope is that if you have a BQ dream and you’ve been bumping up against the wall, or if you just find yourself in a running rut and stagnating times, that maybe one of these changes can help get you there. I’m not a particularly gifted runner, but by training a certain way, I went from being a good runner to…well, I find myself five weeks away running Boston! Wait, what?!?!?
“You’ll never be able to do that.” But I did.
BUT. I. DID.
*I mention her quite often and refer to her in my earlier blog posts as “FMC” — Friend-Mentor-Coach.
**You can read about these attempts in real-time in my earlier blog posts.