Qualifying Time For Boston Marathon: Tips To Get Your Qualifier

qualifying time for boston marathonQualifying Time For Boston Marathon

The qualifying time for boston marathon participation is not easy.

You would think having run under 2.20 for the classic distance me mentioning that is comical.

The truth is I think anything under 4 hours is an elite marathon time. Boston continues to become more stringent on their entry standards.  You really have to be well-prepared to be accepted into this race anymore.

Runners at my level or above should pay more respect to runners seeking to earn a qualifying time for boston marathon entrance. In addition, there are athletes working just as hard if not harder to do this as I did to run 2:19:35 for the distance.

Athletes at my level focus so much on setting personal bests and training to make Olympic teams. The media is always focused on the top athletes at this race. That being said, everyone who competes in Boston has to qualify to do so.

Furthermore, there is no difference in a 4 hour marathoner qualifying for the Boston Marathon than someone qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

They both warrant equal respect.

Training Full Time vs Working Full Time and Training

Professional athletes have nothing more to concern themselves with in this sport. In addition, most of them get to focus all their time and attention to preparation. That being said, those training to qualify for Boston are working full-time and training.

These athletes have other time constraints and responsibilities So, someone training to earn a qualifying time for boston marathon participation is an even more impressive feat.

The Boston Marathon, similar to other major Japanese marathons such as Lake Biwa and Fukioka require participants to run specific times in order to enter.

Boston has specific times based on the athlete’s age, that you must run in order to compete. Note, these may change after this post is written.

Boston Marathon Running Standards

18-34 3hrs 05min 00sec 3hrs 35min 00sec
35-39 3hrs 10min 00sec 3hrs 40min 00sec
40-44 3hrs 15min 00sec 3hrs 45min 00sec
45-49 3hrs 25min 00sec 3hrs 55min 00sec
50-54 3hrs 30min 00sec 4hrs 00min 00sec
55-59 3hrs 40min 00sec 4hrs 10min 00sec
60-64 3hrs 55min 00sec 4hrs 25min 00sec
65-69 4hrs 10min 00sec 4hrs 40min 00sec
70-74 4hrs 25min 00sec 4hrs 55min 00sec
75-79 4hrs 40min 00sec 5hrs 10min 00sec
80 and over 4hrs 55min 00sec 5hrs 25min 00sec

These are not average times that runners must achieve in order to compete.

They are demanding and take more then just running a few miles here and there during the week with little effort.

If you are working a full-time your time management skills and motivation will be tested. We all have 24 hours in a day. How we prioritize the time we do have is critical to our success.

Be Patient

Do not be intimidated if you have not achieved your boston marathon qualifying goal just yet.

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The key is to remain patient and tenacious

You have the capability and the closer you are to hitting the times the more evident this should become. The key is gradually increase the amount of time you are spending at or near your goal marathon race pace.

Remember, the marathon is one event where enormous amounts of time can be dropped off one’s personal best time.

I had a personal best of 2.40.02 prior to running my current best time of 2.19.35.

Furthermore, I had run a 1.07.06 half-marathon so even though I failed at the marathon distance I knew it was just a matter of perseverance.

We achieved the objective.

I coach a man that dropped from 4.40 to 3.27 for the distance so who is to say you don’t have what it take.

You are not beyond your prime

What needs to be done in order to earn a qualifying time for Boston Marathon.

Help Tips For Boston

1. Practice at speeds equal to and exceed goal marathon race pace.

I cover this extensive in the Sub 3 Hour Marathon Pro course.

There are many well-meaning runners who have the potential to earn a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Additionally, it is simply making a few minute, small changes that can really make a big difference.

What needs to be done is simply a shift in how you are setting up your weekly training.

I had a recent discussion with Lisa Rainsberger over the phone. Lisa won the Boston Marathon in 1985 with a time of 2.34.04. She also coached me from 2007 to 2010.

She didn’t have gels to ingest back then nor fancy sports drinks we have today.

The best runners in the 70’s and 80’s were ingesting water and watered-down coke during their races.

This was one of the most successful era’s of marathoning in our Nation’s history. Ironically, most of the runners back then were working full-time jobs and running faster than most professional runners today.

Runners seeking to earn a boston marathon qualifying time to compete have to shift from quantity and start asking themselves this question.

Race Pace Training Or Junk Miles

What percentage of my weekly training volume am I using to practice the goal pace?

If the answer is 10% anaerobic and 90% easy aerobic running there lies your problem.

It isn’t a lack of ability or your past your prime. We all can still run faster late in life.

Tracy Lokken is 44 years young and just ran a 2.21.36 marathon.

Haile Gebressalassie is probably closer to 50 and just recently ran a 1.00.40 half-marathon in England.

Germany’s Irena Mikitenko set a masters world-record for women placing 3rd and running a time of 2.24 at the age of 40.

It all comes down to your level of dedication and how resilient you are willing to become to get your goal.

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The Long Run

2. Increase the speeds you conduct your long runs at

An absolute must to earn a qualifying time for boston marathon acceptance is being able to keep lactic acid levels low within your blood stream.

It isn’t the lactic acid that slows us down but a component of lactic acid, the hydrogen ion.

It when our bodies are not able to convert lactic acid back into energy that we begin to experience problems in pace sustainment.

Runners are selling themselves short by thinking they don’t have what it takes. This is untrue. It is a matter of how the athlete is setting up their training.

It isn’t a capability problem, it is a training management issue.

Running easy for 20 miles will do no more than burn fat and prepare you well to run very long and very slow.

To earn a Boston Marathon qualifying standard  requires better economical running ability. This takes practice and following a strong marathon training plan.

Focus On Recovery

The only way to create that physiological effect is running longer at higher anaerobic intensities.

Easy running is good for recovery and maintenance, just don’t spend too much of your training week at that level.

boston marathon3. Do longer tempos and vary the pace

For example, if your goal is to run 7.00 mile pace for 26.2 miles you want to think long-term.

You do not start out doing 10-mile tempos at 7:10 mile pace the first week.

Furthermore, a great way of gradually hardening yourself is to break these tempos into shorter segments.

Consider these workouts:

2×5 miles at 7.00 mile pace

3x3miles at 7.00 mile pace

5x2miles at 7.00 mile pace

Tempo runs, also called Anaerobic Threshold runs, teach your body to handle high levels of lactic acid within your blood stream.

The hardest part is teaching the body to continually maintain its ability to convert lactic acid to energy.

You want the body to clear lactic acid and convert it to energy faster then it is building up. Once that physiological adaptation takes place you know you are ready.

It is only by running at speeds that far exceed goal race pace that this physiological effect can come about.

Too much easy running without stressing your body’s anaerobic engine is not going to cut it.

Races As Stepping Stones

4. Don’t be afraid to use races as workouts, even up to the marathon distance.

Some of the best runners in the world go as far as 30 miles for long runs in preparing for their goal races.

My goal for the marathon distance is no different than someone seeking to earn a qualifying time for Boston Marathon acceptance.

Our paces are the only difference. It is just as much as a demanding task to qualify for Boston as it is to earn an Olympic Trials marathon standard.

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Splits From My 2013 California International Marathon

Avg Pace
Summary 2:32:56.8 26.22 5:49
1 5:36.0 1.00 5:36
2 5:42.7 1.00 5:43
3 5:20.2 1.00 5:20
4 5:24.7 1.00 5:25
5 5:28.5 1.00 5:28
6 5:32.7 1.00 5:33
7 5:32.9 1.00 5:33
8 5:29.3 1.00 5:29
9 5:34.6 1.00 5:35
10 5:28.0 1.00 5:28
11 5:22.7 1.00 5:23
12 5:31.7 1.00 5:32
13 5:33.2 1.00 5:33
14 5:34.5 1.00 5:35
15 5:38.0 1.00 5:38
16 5:43.7 1.00 5:44
17 5:38.1 1.00 5:38
18 5:42.1 1.00 5:42
19 5:46.6 1.00 5:47
20 5:47.6 1.00 5:48
21 6:57.9 1.00 6:58
22 6:07.3 1.00 6:07
23 6:14.8 1.00 6:15
24 6:17.9 1.00 6:18
25 7:10.9 1.00 7:11
26 6:29.5 1.00 6:29

So, you can see that the overall goal here was to use this as an aggressive long run.

You have to work to gradually build your body’s ability to hold faster paces for long periods of time.

Race Pace Focus

The more you practice at, near and even below goal pace the better equipped you are going to be. This is the overall goal to qualify for Boston. Write down what pace you need to hold for the duration of the race. Finally, duplicate the work habits of those that have done what you want to do.

A great place to start is getting one of our marathon training plans. We have 4,8, 12 and 16-week marathon training plans for both beginners and advanced athletes.

I want to hear you earned a Boston Marathon qualifying standard using one of my plans.

You want to train the body to conserve carbohydrates to train for the last 10K of a marathon.

Stop and review how you have been conducting your training in the past.

Let’s say these were your splits and it was not in a competition setting, but it is just you on a paved road clipping off mile after mile.

If your goal was to break 2.18.00 or hold 5.16 pace for the marathon distance, which run would you think would bring you closer to your goal?

A 22 miler at 7.30 pace or a 26 miler at 5.49 pace?

It doesn’t matter what the time goal you have in mind.

Runners seeking to earn a qualifying time for boston marathon need to spend a segment of their weekly training at speeds that far exceed goal marathon race pace, runs above race pace and very easy recovery runs to rebuild the breakdown of the body.

It is an accumulation of various levels of training intensities that brings about the gold medal effort.

Closing Thoughts

It isn’t just about race pace efforts. Recovery is critical for your success in earning a Boston Marathon qualifying time. It is what you are doing the other hours of your day that matters.

It is all the other little sections of weekly training that will make the difference.

boston time qualifyingHow much rest are you taking?

Are you eating enough? etc.

Are you taking your nutrition seriously?

Some days you aren’t going to have it.

Is the sport mental?


A big factor of athletic success comes down to how mentally hardened you have become.

You will have “off” days. This is where listening to your body and resting an extra day matters the most.

Drop the run and rest.

Attack tomorrow, end of story.

In conclusion, don’t over think the process.

Allow yourself to get into your rhythm and you will.

There are many ebbs and flows in training and every day is not going to be an effortless performance.

Your mental state is vital and part of that comes down to letting go of a bad workout or race.

Take easy days, easy and construct your weekly training in such a way that you have a healthy balance of fast and slow running to get the most bang for your buck.

Lastly, your qualifying time for Boston Marathon acceptance depends on it.

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. There are also running courses and monthly, online coaching available here at rundreamachieve. You can view these options by looking at the navigation menu at the top of this website. I hope this post on qualifying time for Boston marathon has been helpful to you.

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