The Boston Marathon
It’s nearly every marathoner’s dream to run the famed Boston Marathon. What’s so special about it? Besides the fact that the Boston Marathon is full of history, being one of the oldest marathons in the world what makes it more prestigious is the fact that runners are required to meet qualifying standards in order to enter, so participation in the race is considered an honor by all marathoners. You can see how this is a challenging yet achievable goal available to marathon runners. The qualifying standards are tough, the rule of thumb is that only ten percent of runners qualify to run Boston. Even more now, that due to it selling out in a record 8 hours this year, the Boston Athletic Association(BAA) has announced new qualifying standards and a registration process for the 2012 and 2013 races. For 2012, the qualifying times will remain the same but the registration process will change to a rolling registration to give the “fastest” runners a chance to register the earliest. For 2013, they will have the same process and also reduce all qualifying times by 5 minutes and 59 seconds. To see the complete qualifying times click here.
2013 B.A.A Qualifying Times (effective September 24, 2011)
“Boston is about the journey not the destination.”
What makes the Boston Marathon more special is the people that they just love the Boston marathon and are so proud of it. The whole city gets involved. The hotels, the restaurants, the store clerks; all take a special interest in the marathon and their city. There are thousands upon thousands of spectators cheer the runners on in Hopkinton, Ashland, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston. So runners have people cheering them on the entire 26.2 miles and in 2010 I was one of the people. I was on Heartbreak Hill and the enthusiasm, energy, excitement all around me was incredible. I just remember a flood of the emotions going through my body when the first Elite runners approached. It was then more than ever that I knew I had to run a Marathon and qualify to run Boston! I had no idea though that it was going to be in 2011!
Are your Ready to run a Marathon?
How can you determine if you are ready to start training for the Marathon? Marathoning is not for beginners. Running a marathon is not something to be done lightly or without adequate preparation. It requires seriousness and dedication. You should have been running for at least 6 months, 15 to 20 miles per week if you want to run a Marathon 6 months from now. If you already have a good milage base or have run previous Marathons, then you are certainly ready to begin a training program designed to help you reach your top performance. Like in any other sport, there are distinct stages in a good marathon training plan or program.
There are three phases to marathon training. The first phase is base building during which the runner builds the strength and endurance base necessary for specific marathon training. This phase may take 4 to 6 months for the beginner marathoner. The second phase is the sharpening phase, which apply specific workouts to achieve maximum marathon performance. This phase is usually 8 to 10 weeks. The last phase is the tapering phase, that involve final preparation, planning and resting during the week or so before the race.
When determining the best training schedule for a marathon there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. The ideal training program should include a hard-easy day variation and the overall training time should fit comfortably with your work and family commitments. I created my own training schedule which you will see in the training session of the blog. However, there are many great resources online where you can get training programs. Here are some great links:
- Hal Higdon has programs ranging from beginner to advanced marathon. There are a variety of programs at each distance; for example there is a “beginner” half-marathon program which reaches 10 miles (16K) as the maximum distance, as well as an “advanced” half-marathon program which reaches 15 miles (24K) as the maximum distance. His advanced distance programs generally incorporate 5-6 running days and high mileage. He also includes marathon programs for seniors, as well as “Boston Bound” program designed to train for the Boston Marathon. None of his marathon programs include long runs that exceed 20 miles (32K). For my first half Marathon I followed his Intermediate training plan and it served me really well!
- Jeff Galloway has a variety of programs for beginners to advanced marathoners. These are great programs for people who want to run 3-4 times/week and incorporate cross-training into their running program. His half-marathon programs and marathon program incorporate walk breaks; Galloway was one of the pioneers in using walk-breaks to help average runners improve running endurance. His marathon programs include beginner programs and time-goal programs for advanced marathoners. The advanced marathon programs have you building to long runs which exceed the marathon distance (including walk breaks).
- Runner’s World Magazine website is another good source of training programs. This site links to various articles which describe different training programs, ranging from 5K to advanced marathon.
Training Pace Calculators
For all of the above programs, if you are training for a distance race you will need to decide on a goal time and training paces, especially for your long runs. Here are some links that will help you do this:
- Running for Fitness will allow you to predict a race goal from shorter race times. It also has great calculators for pace calculations and conversions, calorie burning, and heart rate training.
- The MacMillan calculator will help you determine what paces are best for different types of runs.
My Training for the 115th Boston Marathon
“The Spirit of the Marathon”
Understand the emotions behind running a Marathon watching this inspirational video.
Don’t you want to run one now!