Marathons to Qualify for Boston: Tips to PR NOW

Are you seeking some marathons to qualify for Boston? If so, welcome to RunDreamAchieve. My goal with this post is to share some of my top recommendations to run fast. More importantly, also to share some strategies to help you get a new PR. The Boston marathon is a highly competitive race. We all know there are time standards you need to hit in order to qualify to compete there. So, you need to be picking the right marathons in order to set you up for success. A big mistake runners make is simply seeking “fast” courses. There is no such thing. I write that because the athlete has to be in phenomenal shape for any course is to be fast. Remember, you need to improve your body’s lactate tolerance or else you will not be able to hold the pace.

One of the best tips I can share here is to start running your long runs at faster, varied paces. I teach this strategy in all of my running courses and training plans here at RunDreamAchieve. The athlete has to learn to handle ever increasing amounts of lactic acid. The marathon demands this or else you only hold pace for a smaller percentage of the race distance. I advocate doing a faster paced long run followed the following week by an easy, relaxed long runs. The reason is to ensure you are recovering from these workouts. The long run was the most difficult workout I did leading into my PR of 2:19:35. I finished 4th overall and top American at the 2007 California International Marathon. No, I was not wearing Nike super shoes either during that race. The shoes you are wearing doesn’t determine how fast you are going to run either. You need to have done your home work in training first.

What is the Best Marathon to Qualify for Boston?

So, what are the best marathons to qualify for Boston? Below are a few of my top recommendations. Again, there is no such thing as a fast course, only a well-trained and prepared athlete. There are plenty of marathoners out there who run flat courses who still never touch their personal bests. It is how you prepare and mental training that go into running a new personal bests. I will write a few of my top recommended marathons I would go after a Boston marathon qualifier at below…

  1. Monumental Indianapolis Marathon – I ran 2:26:43 here in 2011 for 5th overall. Flat, weather is great and race volunteers are awesome
  2. California International Marathon – ran 2:19:35 there in 2007. Not what I would consider “fast” as it has many rolling hills but you can still set a PR here
  3. Columbus Marathon – flat and always competitive
  4. Rotterdam Marathon – race is held below sea level and is pancake flat
  5. Berlin Marathon – pancake flat and always highly competitive much like Rotterdam
  6. Chicago Marathon – flat but weather can be uncooperative some years, highly competitive
  7. Bayshore Marathon – flat and held in Traverse City, MI
  8. Virginia Beach Marathon – flat and highly competitive
  9. London Marathon – has a lot of turns but is flat and always competitive
  10. Houston Marathon – super flat, highly competitive, watch the concrete!

Do You Have to Run a Marathon to Qualify for Boston?

Yes. The Boston marathon is a highly selective race so there are certain time standards you need to meet based on your age. I am big believer in speed development even if you are a long distance runner. We can always work on our speed as this will make marathon race pace feel more in control. Again, you want to slow down less and run more efficiently throughout your race, not just a portion of it. It is not a good feeling to run out of glycogen and hit the so-called “wall”. You don’t need to experience this anyway if you set up your training correctly. So, doing faster paced long runs is key. The best marathons to qualify for Boston are flat and ones that you can sustain pace on in the most efficient way possible.

I made some significant drops by simply making small changes in how I did my long runs. I would normally do what most other runners do, run long, slow and easy on the weekends. Of course, this is still important and not every long run should be conducted at fast paces. So, always alternate a faster paced long run followed the following week by an easy, jog long run. Remember, recovery is absolutely essential. The benefits of the workouts you do today will be seen weeks from now. Delayed gratification is key. Also, if you continue to feel fatigued in training on a routine basis, consider getting a blood test. You could be running low on iron or ferritin. Iron plays a major role in cellular health and oxygen transport throughout the body. I was diagnosed with anemia back in 2007. I started running much faster once I got my ferritin levels back to normal. So, consider this if you continue to train or race less than to standard.

How Hard is it to Qualify for Boston marathon

The Boston marathon only accepts about 2 percent of the people who register to compete there. So, you have to be as competitive as you possibly can be. My goal is to set you up for success by teaching you some different strategies. Again, you want to improve your lactate tolerance. So, doing 1, vo2 max workout per week is key. In addition, you need to also start doing longer tempo runs. Yes, you can still get a big physiological boost from a 4 mile tempo run. That being said, we are talking about the marathon here. So, you need to start training for longer periods of time at your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in your muscles. The more efficient you can become in training the better you are going to race when you taper down. The best marathons to qualify for Boston are the ones that will give you the least struggle on.

Also, make sure you are jogging on recovery days. There are still far too many runners running too fast on their easy days. In addition, running far too slow on their hard days. My goal with the running courses and training plans that I teach here is to ensure runners are training properly. It is much easier to know what you should be doing each day, week, and month rather than guessing. So, definitely consider investing in one of these resources. Examples of the vo2 max workouts we do are repeat miles, 800m, K’s, and two-mile reps. We start our 16-week training block with more rest and less rest as the athlete adapts to the training demands. In addition, every 4th week is a recovery week to ensure adaptation is taking place.

Closing Thoughts

Above I have discussed 10 of the best marathons to qualify for Boston. That being said, there are flat marathons all around your local area to choose from. Make sure to pick one that is going to give you the highest chance of running a fast time on. Yes, you can still run fast marathons on hillier courses. In fact, many runners seem to perform better on more challenging courses as compared to what we would deem easier, flat courses. Remember, we are aiming to get a Boston marathon qualifying standard. So, pick the course where you feel you will get the best result on. We focus on a 10-day rather than a 3-week marathon taper with RunDreamAchieve running courses and training plans here.

The key tactic here is to not start dropping mileage or intensity until 10 days rather than 3 weeks out from your marathon. A big mistake runners make is to start easing up too soon. You want to continue to remind your legs of what you are training them to do up until 10 days out from the big race. I can promise you that you are going to feel better than had you started dropping 3 weeks out. I am looking forward to hearing about how your Boston marathon preparation went. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level in their training and racing.

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