Chasing A Boston Qualifying Time – Weekly Recap – 3.1.20

Chasing a Boston Qualifying Time

I’m so happy to say that I think this was my last week of travel for a while!  The heavens part and angels sing, and my husband agrees to keep putting up with me.  I was in Austin Monday evening through Thursday afternoon.  It felt so good to come back and know I won’t be going back out of town next week.  Chasing a Boston Qualifying time has been no easy feat, and having a significant amount of work travel hasn’t made it any easier.  I do have to admit, there were a few perks I enjoyed during this week of travel.

Wednesday, I had hoped to head out to Town Lake after work, but it was rainy and I got out a little later than usual.  So I opted to just do an easy run on the treadmill, and catch up on my Hulu shows.  Thursday, I had planned to do my tempo run on the treadmill, but when I went downstairs there wasn’t an open treadmill.  I pouted a little, but decided to have some coffee and wait a bit.  While I was waiting, I realized how exhausted my body felt.  I was honestly dreading this run.

I had about 30 minutes to wait for a treadmill, but after 10 I decided to go back up to my room and get some extra sleep.  This last push has been wearing me down.  It’s expected, but still really freaking hard.  So, any opportunity that I have to get a little extra rest, I am capitalizing on.  Even though I was not looking forward to my tempo run, I knew I would be disappointed if I just bagged the workout.  I’m so close to being done with this training block, and I’m just not willing to give up on myself.

So instead, I talked to my husband and decided to get in my tempo miles at Town Lake after a half day at work.  The miles were not easy, and the softer trail is not exactly the ideal surface for trying to run fast miles.  But it was exactly the run I needed.  The sun was out, and there were so many people just walking around, enjoying a beautiful afternoon.  Afterwards, I headed back to my boys. 

Chasing a Boston Qualifying Time - running outside - marathon training
Happy face and the Austin skyline

I took a much needed half day off work on Friday, and enjoyed another morning of sleeping in.  Praise the Lord, because I needed it.  It’s been really nice to make space for the things that help me get through these hard periods in training.  I’ve been training and chasing a Boston Qualifying time for quite a while at this point, and as much as I know I will hit that time, it’s not an easy goal.  I know it’s one that some people hit with ease, and for others like me it’s a long, hard fight.

Related Post: How to Keep Running When You Want to Quit

This week I really reflected on how chasing a Boston Qualifying time has impacted my training, but hasn’t harmed my relationship with running.  I know this is something other runners have struggled with, so I wanted to share some of the things that I think have helped me maintain a positive relationship with running while going after this challenging goal.

How To Not Go Crazy Chasing A BQ Time Goal

When I first starting thinking about chasing the dream of a Boston Qualifying time, I honestly held myself back for a good period of time.  I had watched other runners become frustrated and depleted going after the coveted time without success.  And I understood why.  It’s so easy for a healthy hobby or habit to suddenly transform into a dangerous obsession, especially when there’s a prized goal involved.  In fact, a runner I really respect, Kelly Roberts, has a very successful YouTube channel and blog where she shares her experiences with chasing a BQ here.  After reflecting on all of this, I want to share a few things I’ve done to make sure I don’t destroy my longest running (pun intended) relationship to date; my relationship with endurance running.

Give Myself Time
I would pay a high price to wake up tomorrow and be able to run a Boston Qualifying time.  But I don’t have an extra kidney sitting around, and I don’t think it would really do me any good anyways.  A BQ time is so sought after because it is so challenging.  If it were an easier time to hit, it wouldn’t quite as special.  Respecting the fact that it is a tough goal means that I have to give my naturally unathletic body more time to achieve it.  I’m not inherently patient, but I’m self-aware enough to know that I will only frustrate myself, and likely injure my body, if I don’t give myself enough time to get stronger and faster.

Allow Myself to Have Other Goals
While I have been shooting for a Boston qualifier, I have taken time to shift my focus onto other goals every so often.  I prioritized completing my MBA over the summer.  I focused on getting that first muscle up that I still can’t do consistently.  We purchased and renovated our first rental property when we were feeling particularly insane.  Giving myself the space to pursue other goals has given me a break from focusing on a marathon time unrelentingly.  It’s given me other successes to celebrate, and it’s given my legs a chance to recover.

Redefine Failure
I’ve seen a lot of runners go for a Boston qualifying time, run a strong race, cross the finish line with a solid PR, and still feel like a failure because they didn’t hit the time cut off.  And I get it.  It’s disappointing to set out hoping for one thing, and walking away with something else.  But for me, I had to redefine what failure meant to me BEFORE I started training.  Failure for me is giving up on myself when racing becomes uncomfortable.  It’s allowing self-doubt to dictate how I train or race.  It’s being too scared to try different things. 

Every race I have run since I started chasing a BQ time, I have truly celebrated my achievements.  The fact that in a hillier than expected course, I kept pushing well beyond what felt comfortable.  The fact that I didn’t allow myself to quit pushing and cruise it once I knew a BQ time wasn’t happening, and walked away with a 12 minute PR.  The time that a training strategy just didn’t work for my body, and I didn’t race well by time, but raced well by effort.  Not viewing these races as failures has kept me from sucking all of the fun and joy out of racing.

Run for Non-BQ Reasons
Similar to having other goals outside of a BQ time, I have prioritized running for other reasons in different seasons.  Learning how to trail run so I could run my first 50k gave me a good, long break from my time goal.  Choosing races that had nothing to do with Boston, like running the Austin half-marathon with my mom, reminded me that I love running for running’s sake.  It allowed me not to confuse my goal with my motivation for running in general.  My motivation to run comes from the fact that it helps me manage my mental health and keep me out of trouble.  I chase my goal of Boston Qualifying because it’s exciting and challenging.

Decouple My Self-Worth From My Time
This is the one I see people struggle with most.  Not just with chasing a BQ time, but any goal that is important.  This is the easiest mental mind f*ck to fall victim to.  When you have a goal that is meaningful, it is not difficult at all to unconsciously decide that you are only a worthwhile person if you achieve that goal.  Whether it’s losing weight, or changing careers, getting out of debt, or hitting a 200 pound back squat.  Being hyper-focused on a goal is a tricky thing and its easy to tip the balance. 

Most difficult goals require a lot of dedication, time, and energy, but zeroing in too much on the goal can mean losing sight on the bigger, more important picture.  The picture that while the goal is significant and meaningful, it is not attached to your value as a person.  I know my value lies in the fact that I am myself, unapologetically.  Not in my BQ attempts or achievement, not in my bank account, not in my possessions; it is intrinsic and can’t be diminished. 

So even though I have started countless races with the hopes of crossing the finish line under 3:30 without success, I know I am not less of a runner or more importantly less valuable as a person.  Knowing this truth has kept me from feeling defeated when I haven’t hit my goals.  Is there disappointment?  Sometimes.  But not defeat.  I know there are thousands of races left in my legs, and innumerable opportunities ahead of me.

If you’ve got a BQ time in your sights, one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda Brooks, has a great blog post with some on point tips for nailing that Boston Qualifying time.

I hope these ramblings help any of you who might struggle with missed goals, or hold yourself back from chasing big goals out of fear.  If there’s a big running goal you want some help achieving, and think run coaching might be valuable for you, please reach out through my Contact Me page.  If you’ve been a chasing a big goal for a while, I’d love to hear how you’ve kept yourself sane in the process.

This Weeks Workouts

Total Miles: 56
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 14
How the Runs Felt
This week I really tried to focus on finding the joy in running.  I know this is substantially important for me, since I am feeling somewhat burnt out with my training lately.  For me, that’s looked like prioritizing running in outdoor spaces that I love when I have the opportunity.  And trying to get as much damn sleep as possible.

Monday’s strength run was tough, but I honestly didn’t feel like it was as difficult as the last couple of strength runs.  Which is interesting since the workout featured the longest repeats in the entire training plan.  Hopefully that indicates that I’m getting stronger.  Wednesday, I focused on relaxing and enjoying my show on the treadmill, and I already talked about how I shifted my plans so that I could run outside at Town Lake on Thursday.

Related Post: How to Run a Faster Marathon

Friday, I capitalized on the opportunity to sleep in and run a nice, easy paced 10 miles in the sun.  It was a great change, since most of my weekday runs tend to happen before the sun comes up.  Saturday, I changed up my fueling strategy a bit.  I shared on my Instagram that my stomach has been rioting after some of my runs recently, which has been frustrating to say the least.  It has been a good, long time since I experienced consistent GI distress.  So, I decided to try relying on liquid calories for my 13 miler, and I have to say, my stomach seemed happier.  I’m interested to see how it holds up with longer distances.

Chasing a Boston Qualifying Time - marathon training - nutrition for marathon tarining

What I’ve Been Listening To
All of the outdoor running has given me a great opportunity to check out some new podcasts.  I’ve been loving The First Degree, which made me interested in Up & Vanished.  It’s a podcast that I had previously written off, because I felt like the first episode was campier and more melodramatic than I prefer.  But I gave it a second chance, and the narrator definitely hits a better stride after a couple of episodes, and the series is extremely unique.  It started out as a cold case, but while the podcast was airing, arrests were finally made.  I also started listening to Atlanta Monster, a difficult podcast about the missing and abducted boys that disappeared from inner city Atlanta in the late 70’s.  It’s a really hard story to hear, but it focuses on the important themes of race and class inequality and how they affect the vulnerability of those populations.

How the WODs felt
This was an interesting CrossFit week for me.  My regular box programs workouts based on the CompTrain programming, which meant it was a de-load week.  However, the box I drop into in Austin also follows CompTrain programming, but one week behind.  So Monday’s workout was tough, but included a nice little breather minute.  Wednesday I dropped into RK512 for a pretty brutal lung burner.  And Friday, I came back to my regular box for a fairly manageable WOD.  Overall, I’d say I felt pretty good in the boxes.

Chasing a Boston Qualifying Time - weightlifting for runners - strength workouts for runners

What Went Well
I was a little better about prioritizing my core workouts and stretching this week, and didn’t save all three days for the very end of the week.  Making sure to prioritize my mindset and give myself opportunities to run in places that are more enjoyable for me really breathed some fresh air into my training.  The extra sleep this week also went a long way.

Chasing a BQ - stretching and flexibility for runners

What Went Shitty
My stomach has been better this week, but not completely happy.  My nutrition hasn’t changed, but my stomach just is not loving the higher intensity and faster paces.  The liquid calories seemed to work well, but only time will tell if it’s a real solution for me.  I also have to say that I wasn’t the best employee at work this week.  I got my work done, but all of the travel has really impacted my ability to fit in some of the admin work that needs to happen eventually.  I’m honestly not willing to work until midnight, because I know I have to get up early and get my training in.  It’s a balancing act, and this week, some of my admin work suffered.  I know it’s temporary, and I’m hoping that the decrease in travel will help get things back in gear.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week will be my last high mileage week before the marathon.  I plan on just trying to survive this high mileage that happens to fall on Daylight Savings Time. Ugh.  I also plan on using my 18 mile run to test out my liquid calorie idea, and see if it will be feasible for the marathon.

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