How to Qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon

Step Three: Determine Your Proper Training Path

Now that we know what the gap is between your current fitness and your desired BQS, we have to pick the right training path to get you ready for the race.

With a deadline of September 1 to qualify, you only have a set number of weeks to do the training. The sooner you start, the more time you have to get ready.

More: How Much Marathon Training Do You Really Need?

And it's worth pointing out that the larger the gap, the more significant your training will need to be in order to be 100 percent ready for your race.


Block 1 of 4: Two weekly threshold interval sessions in Zone 4/Threshold Pace. One weekly hill-bounding session. One long run at Goal Pace + 30 seconds per mile. Additional runs are less than 45 minutes, at Easy/Steady pace with 6 to 8 Strides at the end.

More: What Are Threshold and Tempo Runs?

Block 2 of 4: Same as Block 1 of 4, only include one 13-mile "Race Simulation" weekend run followed by a Day Off.

Block 3 of 4: Two long runs: (1) Wednesday long run done as 60 percent at Goal Pace + 30 seconds per mile, final 40 percent of the run at Goal Pace. (2) Saturday long run done as 25 percent during warm-up, then at 50 percent as alternating 1 mile at five seconds faster per mile than Goal Pace, 1 mile at 10 seconds slower per mile than Goal Pace. There should be one 18-mile "Race Simulation" weekend run followed by a Day Off. One threshold/mile repeat session per week and one VO2 Max interval session per week. Any extra runs are Strides.

More: How to Improve VO2 Max

Block 4 of 4: Four weeks out is the final long run with last 50 percent at or slightly faster than Goal Pace, two VO2 max interval sessions. Extra runs are Strides. Weeks three and two are two medium length runs with 33 percent of each run at goal pace. One VO2 Max session per week; extra runs are Strides.

More: Run Fast With Strides


Workout Explanations

Threshold/Mile Repeats

Typically 45-minute runs including 2 to 3 mile repeats at 10K pace with 50 percent rest at an easy jog. So run an 8:00 mile interval, and you earn 4:00 of rest!

VO2 Max/Interval Repeats

Typically 45-minute runs including 4 to 6 repeats of three minutes at 5K pace with two minutes of rest after each.

Hill Bounding

A plyometric or strength workout, not a hill sprinting session. You bound up the hill for 30 to 45 seconds, and then you sprint over the crest of the hill for the final five seconds of each interval. Example video here (note there is no sprint in the video).


An easy run up to 45 minutes in duration; finish with about 10 minutes left in a place where you can run strides. A stride is 20" at 5K pace/effort with perfect form. Ideally you will count 30 single footstrikes in each repeat.

Race Simulation

This is a longer run done as you expect your race to play out. First 5 miles are at Goal Pace plus 15 seconds per mile (so if your Goal Pace is 8:00/mile, you will run 8:15/mile), followed by the remainder at Goal Pace minus five seconds per mile (7:55/mile pace in our example). Eat and drink as you will on race day; note how you perform, etc.

Step Four: Find A Complementary Race

Now that you know your BQS Gap and how long you should ideally train to achieve your goals, it's time to find the right race for you. Using the minimum marathon training window determined previously, and with an eye towards your personal budget and life schedule, choose a Boston-qualifying race that suits your abilities. When you line up to race, remember that all the fitness in the world won't help you if you can't put together your best possible race. 

More: 11 Chances to Chase a Boston Qualifier This Year

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