How to Qualify for The Boston Marathon

Many runners dream of one day crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I know this because I was one of those runners. When I was fifteen, I saw the Boston Marathon on TV. Ever since then, I dreamed of running it. Then, finally, in April 2015, ten years after I first saw the race on TV, I lived my dream. 

To say that crossing the finish line was a life-changing experience is an understatement. Despite being about 50 minutes too slow to qualify for the Olympics in the Marathon (Canadian Standard is sub 2:30), completing the Boston Marathon made me feel like an Olympian. There were so many people watching the race and cheering for all of us. Although we were nowhere near the elites, we all still got a lot of accolades and high fives.

It also took a lot for me to get there. When I toed the start line of my first marathon, I never thought I’d qualify. Then, I actually did. If you have been chasing a BQ for the past few years, please don’t despair.

Below are tips to help you qualify for The Boston Marathon:

  1. Review the qualifying standards carefully. Once you’ve reviewed the qualifying standards, understand that to guarantee your spot in the race you must run at least 5 minutes faster than the qualifying standard for your age and gender. There are so many people applying to run the race. Therefore, running a 3:34 when your standard is 3:35 will not get you in.
  2. Figure out what pace per mile (or KM) you need to run to be able to achieve that goal time. For example, if you need to run a sub 5 min km for all 42.2km, it’s very good to know that.
  3. Pick a fast course to attempt to qualify. An ideal course would be relatively flat with minimum sharp turns. It would preferably be done as close to sea level as possible and in temperatures that are not too hot and not too cold. I ran my personal best (3:18) at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, which I think is a great course. I’ve also qualified for Boston at the BMO Vancouver Marathon twice. Another good example of a PB-friendly race is the California International Marathon/.
  4. Give yourself enough time to train before your goal race. An ideal length of time to train consistently for a marathon is 6 months.
  5. Don’t skip your long run. The long run will help you improve your aerobic fitness and boost your confidence that you can actually go the distance. You should do at least 3 or 4 runs that are longer than 32km before your marathon.
  6. Hills are your best friends. Learn to love hill workouts. Hill training helps increase leg strength and power as a result of the resistance that hills give you. It will also help prepare you for the faster and more demanding workouts that are ahead of you.
  7. Train at goal race pace. You should strive to train at your goal race pace once a week, especially after you are done the base-building phase. Your race pace training run doesn’t have to be super long. However, it will give you the confidence that you can keep it up.
  8. Don’t be too stressed about qualifying for the Boston Marathon. There will be plenty of other chances if it doesn’t happen at your next marathon.
  9. Enjoy the journey. Listen to your body. Make your workouts fun. Cross-training will help you decrease your risk of injuries.

If you found these tips helpful, please share with anyone who hopes to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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