I get a fair number of inquiries from people that want coaching looking for something specific: they want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Usually the inquiries go like this: “I’ve run x number of marathons and now I’m ready to try to qualify for Boston. Do you have a “Boston” training plan?”What’s interesting here is that there is a recognition by runners that after already having some level of success at running marathons they know that they need to do something differently to earn the mantle of “Boston Qualifier.” What we know about these people is that they have finished some marathons; they want to run more of them; and they are doing well enough that the chance to qualify is somehow within reach.
So what is it that takes the “ordinary” marathon runner and turns her into a “Boston Qualifier?” And are there specific training plans for people that are trying to qualify for Boston?
My answer goes something like this. First, there isn’t some special formula that is unique in qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Remember that qualification for Boston for first-time Boston qualifiers comes more often than not at a race other than Boston. So the training plan isn’t training you to run Boston, just to run fast enough on some other course (perhaps much easier than Boston’s) to get you there. This is important, because it helps us realize that training to qualify for Boston is all about hitting a particular and precise time goal.
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