And hello again! I’m continuing with my impromptu Focus on Fitness week with Thinking Out Loud (Thanks, Amanda!) with my own thoughts on the big bad BQ. Tomorrow will be some advice from the one and only Joan Benoit Samuelson, who I had the pleasure of meeting last week.
Suz’s Thoughts on Running a BQ
There has been a lot of discussion of late (due to the fact that Boston Marathon registration is currently going on) about the importance for runners to get a “BQ” or Boston Qualifying time in order to feel like real runners. I have a few points to make on the matter, so we are going back to bullet points for this!
1) A BQ time is an arbitrary number used as a benchmark
First things first. I want to reiterate that Boston Marathon Qualifying times are arbitrary benchmarks, set (and revised) over the years to reflect a certain standard in running today and to whittle down a field that is assumed to be massive if not otherwise controlled. gasp for breath.
Ok, now that we have that established, I want to rephrase the BQ for others: If being “elite” is like for MENSA, getting a BQ is like being in the “Gifted” program. Again, arbitrary, though based on a scientifically or statistically devised standard. But there are so many factors to take into account: do you test well? What if you are really good at reasoning and not so much at remembering? Does that make you less of a smart person? What if you can sprint like the blazing wind, but your endurance is nonexistent? Does that make you any less a runner?
2) A BQ time does not a runner make
If you think that you need a BQ in order to be a “real runner,” I would personally like to slap you hard across the face.
If you run and feel it in your bones (figuratively), you are a runner. If you wake up day after day to sweat it out or freeze it out (now that we are entering the colder times) for the sheer sake of putting one foot in front of the other because it makes you feel alive in some way, you are a runner. Running at a certain pace, or for a particular number of miles, does not qualify you as a runner.
And if you need any more reason to believe that, check out this fantastic post on I Love To Run about What a “Real” Runner Looks Like
3) Getting a BQ time should not rule your running
I’ll continue this thought in the next point, but you should set your own standards of excellence, goals, and where you want to go with your running. If you want to run just to effing run, you should do just that. If you want to break 4 hours, then focus on that. Don’t focus on 3:35 or whatever, unless that is the number that you want. Because, guess what? Getting a BQ time doesn’t guarantee you the glory of running Boston.
Don’t let not running a BQ run your life, in or out of running shoes. There is more to life. You shouldn’t run just in order to get a BQ. If it is a goal, then great! But really? Run because you want to run. Not to get another few letters on your bedpost. (another point that I will come back to!).
4) Compete against yourself and yourself alone
(well, except for that person you are passing, but otherwise)
In continuing point A of point 3, when you are out there running or racing, the only person you should be concerned with beating in any way, shape or form is yourself. You don’t run (or at least I hope you don’t) just to stick it to someone else, do you? You aren’t running a BQ just to say WHAT NOW to your coworker, are you? If you are, then you are never going to be happy because you aren’t living for yourself. You are living for external gratification and to pone other people. And that is a miserable life.
Think about it another way: if you hit a BQ, are you just going to pack it up after? Are you going to stop trying? Are you done?
I picked Phoenix as my PR race for this year. The Chicago Marathon has always been meant as a victory lap. I didn’t change my plans just because I BQ’d. I maintained my plans because I achieved my goal and my next goal was to enjoy ever marathon training that I have in me before I take a break.
5) In the long term scope of life, a BQ means nothing more than what it means to you.
Your eulogy is hopefully going to speak to your amazing personality, the way that you kept your promises to your friends, and your incredible family values. Unless BQ is part of your name, I hope they don’t etch it in your tombstone.
I think of a BQ akin to my Masters: it impresses certain people and is useful in particular situations, it is a great topic of conversation and way to connect with people. But I would rather talk about my coaching, or the projects that I was involved in during my Masters. I would rather speak to what marathoning has done for my life, or what I loved about living in New York.
I am not going to be a better mother because I have run a BQ. I am not a better coach because I have a BQ. I am not even a better runner because I have a BQ. My name is not “Running a BQ” Suz.
But am I proud of running a BQ? Yup.
I worked hard for it, ran hard for it, and poured my passion into it. I took the right mentality going into the race–if it is the right race, I will go for it, if not, I will enjoy the ride–and it allowed me to relax and just run. And for a Crohn’s Disease patient with no real history of running to find her fast and achieve that; well, yeah, I’m proud of it! But I’d be proud of my time regardless.
My Bottom Line?
Ultimately, I am more proud of my performance that day than I am of my time or “running a BQ.” Ask about the life in the miles, not the miles in the life.
And in the words of another runner, Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”A #BQ shouldn't rule your #running (says the BQ runner!) #fitfluential #sweatpink #runchat via @suzlyfe Click To Tweet
What do you think? What do you think about getting a BQ time?
What is your goal in the long term scope of your running life?
What keeps your running?