Planning for the Training, Not Just the BQ

I qualified for Boston at the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. Even though I was “in”, I knew I probably wouldn’t be in. It’s a tight race these days, and the faster you go the more likely you are to get that highly sought-after bib! For 2014, 3:34:04 didn’t quite make the cut, and that’s totally okay. Boston is prestigious, that’s why we strive to be there. If thousands of other females between the ages of 25-34 are faster than me, then they should have their hard-earned bib. Women running marathons these days are nothing if not a quick and determined group of gals!

And if I have to qualify again to be among them in 2015, then so be it.


“The body achieves what the mind believes.”


I can and will run a sub-3:30 marathon.
Declare. Run. Repeat.

A folder has been created in my bookmarks, the search is on! I’m not looking for the perfectly flat course or the best climate or the easiest destination to get to. I am looking for something that doesn’t scream HILLS everywhere or snow in May or require worldly trip (that’s happening on its own, without running).

I’m looking for a race that will check a few boxes, and will get me here:

Boston Finish Line

As the fate of the internets would have it, this research has been interrupted by a few reads that totally changed my mindset. The goal: re-qualify for Boston (2015). Sure, that will fill miles of mind-games and internal monologues next spring.

But, more importantly, the training? That’s a lifestyle. It changes your everyday routine in ways that we, as runners, {eventually} miss when it’s not all-consuming. We change our weekend agendas. We plan ahead for runs, cross-training workouts, meals, rest and sanity-checks. We think about the Finish Line countless times from Day 1 to Race Day, and anxiously await those tapering weeks.

But what about everything in between?


“The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important.”

Hunter S. Thompson


The training is what really challenges you – physical and mental exercises that get you ready for everything that can/will happen from mile 1 to mile 26.2. The training is a way of functioning that (hopefully, all-fingers-crossed) gets you ready for that goal time.

Whether or not that race goes exactly the way you plan? That’s {unfortunately} somewhat unpredictable. But the work you put in to get yourself there can’t be taken away.

Challenge & Change

You will learn the importance of the journey. The journey is the reward.


As the end of this fall marathon season marks the beginning of spring race-planning, just keep these thoughts in mind. Remember that you don’t choose to run a marathon (or any other distance) just so you can show up on race day and pound the pavement for 26+ miles. (Let’s be honest, that’s not always the fun part.) Sure, the goal is to finish, but the motivation is the challenge of getting yourself in shape enough to do so.

The fun is in the miles that lead you up to that startling line, in realizing that yes you can survive 10-20 milers and adjust your schedule to fit in ALL-things-running and dedicate yourself to something and see it through.

Join me: pick a challenge that will change you (whatever that may be), then enjoy the journey that gets you there.


Filed under Goals, marathon, motivation, running

7 Responses to Planning for the Training, Not Just the BQ

  1. I am by no means anywhere near a marathoner, but this is a highly motivating post! I have 2 goals for 2014: finish a half marathon and finish a Tough Mudder. I’m not making any time predictions or anything like that because right now I’m lucky I can run a 5K without stopping. I had gotten up to 5 miles before I was injured in September so I’m working my way back up now. This post made me feel totally kick-butt and that I can do it, no matter how hard it is. Thank you for that.

  2. Haley

    Love this post! The EXACT same thing happened to me. I ran a race the day after the initial 2 week sign up period and while that’s usually no big deal, this year it filled up too fast. Hoping to get to 2015 as well. Good luck in training!

  3. Your goals are always impressive. Can’t wait to hear what marathon you choose to run to get that BQ, round 2!! My goal right now is power through all these dang classes and not get defeated on the way.

  4. This was so great to read! I think that even though I didn’t reach my goal time in my recent marathon, I was still really happy at the end of it all because I had a mostly great training cycle. Like you said, race day can be pretty unpredictable. My goal is to get a sub 4 marathon in 2014!

  5. Laura

    This is great! Reading this just made me realize that what I remember first about my last marathon (RnR USA this year) was not the race itself, despite a huge PR. No, it is the months of training that led up to it, which I did with an organized training group for the first time ever and felt like I really nailed and enjoyed! I’ve decided to take a break from full marathons this coming year to give my body a break, but I do miss that singular driving focus that marathon training provides. Time to get serious about training hard for a spring half marathon!

  6. You (and your attitude) are amazing! You WILL get that sub-3:30, and we can’t wait to watch it!!

  7. There are quite a few great races around Michigan that are good for Boston qualifying, or so I here… :)

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