Staying Motivated to Qualify for the Boston Marathon

We often become disappointed and disheartened when we don’t achieve our goals. Especially when we are so close! Like myself momentarily on May 3, 2015 when I crossed the Vancouver Marathon’s finish line in 4:00:01!  A few seconds shy of my 3:59:59 goal.

Staying motivated is not so much about the achievements because those moments are fleeting, but more about making progress towards our goals. Training for a marathon takes many months, hours and miles of dedicated training.  Qualifying Boston will take me several years. Each step is a step closer to the goal.  Did I make progress towards my sub 4 hour marathon? Absolutely, I knocked eight minutes off my personal marathon record. 

Set Milestones to Mark Progess and Stay Motivated

​It is important set mini progress goals during marathon training, but also during the main event itself. Time will take care of itself.    Setting small milestones as road markers along the way towards any goal will keep you inspired to keep moving forward. Once the dust settled it was time to analyze this race even more closely to see if my milestones had been achieved.

1. Improved Physical Fitness

It was late February 2014 when I decided it was time to regain the fitness I had over ten years ago.  Runs started at twenty minutes.  Since then in over sixteen months I have competed in three half-marathons and two full marathons, all in times faster than when I was younger.

2.  Personal Marathon Record

It was very close to under four hours however it was also my fastest time for the distance as well as the Vancouver Marathon! Let's celebrate this accomplishment.

3. Faster First Half and Closer Halves

Strategy for BMO Vancouver was to go out fast, which is an unusual idea. The point was to see if I could accomplish a faster first half to so that I could have confidence that my half marathon time was also improving as Scotia Half is in June.

During the first half I felt strong and fresh, like I could fly but had to ground myself so that I wouldn't burn too much fuel.  Around eighteen miles my legs started to give up. Remembering my first marathon where I stubbornly tried to run the whole way​,  this year I decided to run walk the to the finish line.


1st Half

1st Half NGP

2nd Half 

2nd Half NGP


Full NGP

MEC 11/14


8:35 min/mi


10:02 min/mi


9:21 min/mi

BMO Van 05/15


8:14 min/mi


9:34 min/mi


8:52 min/mi

NGP - Normal Grade Pace. A calculated value that equates the effort to that have running on flat ground. It enables comparison of different courses.  Values are from a Garmin Forerunner 620 and analysis using TrainingPeaks Software

Reviewing the table shows that based on NGP, during the BMO I also had a stronger second half than the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Grand Banana.  

The second aim was that difference between the first half and second half was closer than for the MEC Marathon in November 2014.  


1st Half

2nd Half










Looking at the table above, this more goal of more consistent halves was not achieved.

4. Improved Post Race Recovery

One clear sign of improved fitness is how the body feels after a race as well as how quickly it recovers.   At then end I was very tired and a little dizzy. When the medic asked me to take a seat, I gladly took it.  He was kind enough to grab me some juice and a granola bar while I sat.

After about ten minutes of rest I decided it was time to get up and go find my bag so that I could put on some warm clothes.   Walking was a little tenuous though surprisingly not too difficult.  Unlike after the 2012 BMO Vancouver Half Marathon when I felt like my legs were going to seize almost immediately.  Monday I could walk with only a small amount of leg ache.

Marathon Training Analysis

Near the end a woman ran past me shouting "I'm going to Boston! I'm going to Boston!" Two of my friends also qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon. This strengthens my desire to qualify too! 

The biggest lesson from my training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon is that I need to do more long runs as well as make them longer.  Stamina for the last 8 miles is lacking.  An eighteen mile run is not long enough. Running for twenty-two miles or at least 3:30 hours would seriously boost my finishing capacity.   While Boston Marathon qualifying time is 3:05, I'll start with a more modest goal of 3:24 then see what my next step is.

Another lesson is to start more conservatively during my next marathon and focus on a more consistent pace. 

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Alfred Ball

Alfred is a Practicing Kinesiologist who started his own business, Lifemoves Health and Rehabilitation in 2007. He has been writing since a very young age. He enjoys writing about the challenges of entrepreneurship and growing a business while maintaining an active lifestyle.

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