Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What You Need to Know to Qualify for the Boston Marathon


In the last post, I defined my goal for qualifying for the Boston Marathon: “I will run the Ottawa Marathon in 3:30 on May 28, 2019.”

To achieve this lofty goal, I will obviously have to train diligently. Determining how to train requires that I acquire the proper knowledge. “Acquire Knowledge” is the first A in the DREAMS Cycle ™.

Many elements need to blend together to deliver a Boston Qualifying time. The basic one is the training plan. My approach to developing a training plan is captured in the running guide I developed: “Plan on RunningYour Best”.

A multitude of sources of information is available on training for a marathon. You can become a student and educate yourself. Runner’s World is a great source of knowledge. Alternatively, you can download a training plan from sources such as HalHigdon, CoolRunning. The Boston Marathon even has their own marathontraining plans.

If you have the means, the most effective advice you can get is by hiring a coach. A certified coach will not only assist you in the development of a training plan, but will adjust you training as necessary and provide some motivation. For those interested, I am willing to guide individuals for free using the DREAMS Cycle approach. I am a level one NCCP coach. Just contact me.

For a cheaper support system, you can utilize a software package or even better, an online platform that will prepare a training customized plan. Garmin Connect and RunCoach are two that I have experience with. Garmin Connect is linked to the Garmin GPS watch my wife bought me a few years ago for our anniversary. I can download my training and they have some basic plans available. Recently, I was introduced to RunCoach when my wife and I registered for the Ottawa Marathon. As part of the registration, there was an option to get support from RunCoach. I ticked the box and then I received an invitation to register for RunCoach. So far it seems like a good platform as it sends me an email every week with the suggested training. RunCoach also includes a paid Gold Membership for those who want one on one advice and support.

No matter what tool you access to obtain a training plan, the main components of an effective marathon plan are: Long Runs, Hill/Strength Workouts, the Speed Sessions, the Steady Runs, the Recovery Runs and the Rest Days. Here is a quick breakdown.

Long Runs

This used to be referred to as LSD – Long Slow Distance. Through experience, I found no reason for this workout to be particularly slow. The main purpose is to build the endurance necessary to reach the finish line of a marathon at the desired pace. One common guideline for the Long Run is to run the same amount of time you plan on finishing your marathon, but at a slower pace. In my case, with my desired marathon time, my long runs would be about 3 hours and 30 minutes. This represents about 35K. My personal belief is that 35K is better than 32K. It gives you that extra mental and physical edge to get you to the end of the marathon.

Steady Runs

Steady Runs are the runs that will build your condition and confidence to race at the pace needed to qualify for Boston. These would normally be done a race pace, the pace you plan on running in the marathon. The distance to cover would be between 15 and 25 km. For my goal of a 3:30 marathon, my race pace would be 5 min per km.

Strength/Hills Workouts

The Strength/Hills workout will build the strength required to tackle the hills on a marathon course. Even if there are no hills on the course, the strength developed allows you to push your speed workouts to higher pace. The fitness gained through the Strength/Hills workouts will assist in delaying the onset of fatigue.

Speed Workouts

The Speed Workouts will build the speed necessary to sustain your desired pace during the race. The Speed Workouts are accomplished at a faster pace that you race pace. When you run you marathon, the pace will feel easy at the beginning as you will be trained for running faster. Building your speed comparable to what you would run in a 15K or half-marathon race should be sufficient to get you ready for the marathon.

Recovery Runs

Recovery Runs aim at providing some recovery after steady runs, long runs, speed sessions or strength training. You cannot run hard all the time, but you need to long it the miles anyway.

Rest Days

Few individuals can train seven days a week without getting injured. One or two days per week of not running will allow the muscles to rebuild and become stronger. In my case, my body has always needed a couple of days of rest. I usually take these Rest Days on a Monday after a long run and on a Friday at the end of the work week.

 Distance

One of the common questions when attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon is “how much distance do I need to cover.

A study by Strava indicated that Boston Qualifiers ran about 85-90 km per week. That seems to be consistent across many individuals who have qualified. For my 3:30 marathon, I figure I need to reach at least 75 km/week and I should probably try to reach 85 km/week.

Getting to 75-85 km per week and a 35 km long run takes a gradual buildup. The increase from a consistent running base should be limited to about 10% per week and no more than 5 km increase per long runs.

 

Once you have the knowledge of how to train, the next step is to put it all together and create a training plan, which in the DREAMS Cycle ™ is your “Action Plan”, the second A.

Monday, March 25, 2019

SMART Goals to Qualify for the Boston Marathon


I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon to be able to run with my spouse who has already qualified. In order to make this desire more concrete, I need to set a goal, a goal that is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-constrained.

Each of the elements of a SMART goal needs to be Explored, which is the first E in the DREAMS Cycle ™.

Specific

In order to be specific in my goal, I need to find a race where I will attempt to qualify. Many marathons across the world are deemed Boston Qualifiers (BQ). These are races with certified courses. Many BQ lists are available for the US and Canada. I am fortunate enough to live in Ottawa where we have the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May and that can serve as my Boston Qualifier. When I started running over 30 years ago, I completed the Ottawa Marathon five times. It was always a great race. Lately, I completed the Ottawa Half-Marathon in 2018 which has some parts of the course similar to the marathon.

Measurable

This one is relatively straightforward. The distance is set at 42.2 km. For the times needed to qualify, the Boston Marathon sets these. The times required to qualify for the 2020 Boston Marathon are the following:

Age Group
MEN
WOMEN
18-34
3hrs 00min 00sec
3hrs 30min 00sec
35-39
3hrs 05min 00sec
3hrs 35min 00sec
40-44
3hrs 10min 00sec
3hrs 40min 00sec
45-49
3hrs 20min 00sec
3hrs 50min 00sec
50-54
3hrs 25min 00sec
3hrs 55min 00sec
55-59
3hrs 35min 00sec
4hrs 05min 00sec
60-64
3hrs 50min 00sec
4hrs 20min 00sec
65-69
4hrs 05min 00sec
4hrs 35min 00sec
70-74
4hrs 20min 00sec
4hrs 50min 00sec
75-79
4hrs 35min 00sec
5hrs 05min 00sec
80 and over
4hrs 50min 00sec
5hrs 20min 00sec

 

Won’t you know it, they tighten the times by 5 minutes compared to 2019. For the 2019 Boston Marathon, the times for my age group (55-59) were 3:40 and now it is 3:35. That makes my goal that much more challenging.

 

Achievable

The goal of running a qualifying time for Boston is not insurmountable; it just requires dedicated running and some good fortune. My past history would indicate that I should be able to qualify. After all, I did qualify in the past. Of course that was 20 years ago as you can find in my book, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon. My most recent attempt at the marathon was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2012 where I finished in 3:48:20. I need to cut almost 14 minutes from that time.

A recent indication of my fitness would be the half-marathons I completed last year in around 1:40, one in Ottawa in 1:40:21 and the other in Toronto in 1:39:14. Some predictors have you multiply your half-marathon time by 2.085 which would mean a 3:28:30 for me; that would qualify me. Another site, Slate, estimates a 3:52:30 marathon based on my half-marathon performance. That prediction is a little scary, as I would completely miss my time. Runner’s World also has a predictor which gives me a 3:32:25; still under the qualifying time.

Of course, the outcome of the race will really be based on the training that I will do before the marathon, as well as what happens the day of the race.

Relevant

The goal that I set for myself needs to be relevant to my dreams and desires, and my purpose. As described in a previous blog post, I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon to run Boston with my spouse again.

Time-constrained

When setting a goal, it cannot be vague and just be in the future. The goal has to be within a certain timeframe or else people would simply keep postponing. My spouse qualified for Boston when she ran the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon in the Fall of 2018. That qualified her for the 2020 Boston Marathon. I have till mid-September to qualify for the 2020 race when they normally open the registration.

 

Based on the 5 elements of a SMART goal, I need to Establish a SMART goal which is the second E in the DREAMS Cycle ™. Here is the goal I set for myself:

I will qualify for the Boston Marathon by running a sub 3:30 marathon at the Ottawa Marathon on May 26, 2019.

This goal gives me a bit of leeway. However, even if I am under the qualifying time of 3:35, there is no guarantee that I will get into the Boston Marathon. They have a limited field of 30,000 and in order to get in, you normally have to actually run faster than the qualifying times. This is what has been happening for the past few years. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Reality is what is between you and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

You want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. What a wonderful and invigorating desire! Now is time to face reality. To paraphrase John Lennon, reality is what happens when you’re busy trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Reality represents the second R in the DREAMS Cycle ™. Reality reflects what is happening in your life that will impact the achievement of your dreams. Two dimensions of reality need to be considered: The Dice of Life and the 5 L’s of Life.

The Dice of Life

The Dice of Life is just a metaphor for what life throws at you. More importantly, just like a dice, it has six facets that represent the six elements that will allow you to reach your dreams and desires. The six elements are: money, time, energy, opportunity, skills and support, in no particular order. In your lifetime, and at any particular time, these elements will be available to you in a certain quantity. How much of each you have and how much you need to achieve your dreams will determine where you need to spend your efforts to succeed and how successful you will be. Each of these elements will be explained in the context of qualifying for the Boston Marathon with personal examples related to my own attempt. You should explore how these relate to your own reality.

Money

Money makes the world go round. It is also something you will need in order to qualify for Boston. In order to run, you need shoes and clothing. You will also need money to register for a qualifying race. If you plan on traveling away from your home town to race, then you will need to spend additional funds.

Fortunately, running is not that expensive of a sport. I normally run in $80 running shoes, and simple shorts and shirts. Although race fees are getting expensive with most marathons above $100, this is still within my budget. Based on my current public service job, money should not be a major impediment for trying to qualify for Boston, unless of course I attempt to qualify in an exotic location like Hawaii.

Time

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon takes time. You have to put in the distance; you have to log those long runs. You will need to dedicate at last four solid months to train properly. Unfortunately, the amount of hours in a day and in a week is limited, and you have other priorities in life besides running. Here is a video on time management that is worth spending time on: Ted Talks.

I am employed in a full time job. I also have a wonderful wife and three wonderful kids under 15. I also like to spend time writing stories, books and blogs. I figure that out of the 168 hours we each have in a week, I need to sleep, work and commute, pursue family obligations, take personal care like eating and grooming; I can thus only dedicate about 6-8 hours per week to running. Hopefully that will provide sufficient time to train (read this article on mileage people run for a Boston Qualifier). What I found over the years however, is that time will find itself for the important things in life. What defines the priorities in your life will be covered below in the 5 L’s of Life.

Energy

Energy will determine the amount of effort you can put into your training. The available energy you have depends on a few factors with the main ones being health and fitness, diet, and sleep. Of course, this energy gets consumed by other activities besides training, such as by work, chasing kids around, and doing household chores. Interesting enough, exercising takes energy, but it gives back even more in the long term.

My energy is divided between a few priorities. A major part is dedicated to my work where I can sometimes feel drained at the end of the day. Some of my energy is spent assisting the kids with their homework. I also find that dealing with simple daily demands of keeping up a household sucks up energy. During the week, I usually don’t start running until 7:30 pm when I am often tired. This leaves a limited amount of energy to put into the training runs. The fact that I am now over 50 years-old does not have as much of an impact as I thought it might as I have stayed healthy and fit for most of my life. I have had some injuries in the past that have curtailed my running, but right now I am injury free.

Skills

Skills relate to your innate abilities, as well as your developed abilities. Some people are born runners, while others are made. My firm belief is that with a bit of practice, most of us can become decent runners.

Personally, I am more of the made kind of runner having shown little promise when I was young. However, over the years, my running abilities have improved. I have been running for over 30 years. Throughout that time, I have gained experience and knowledge. I have complete 12 marathons, two 50K ultramarathons and a couple of Ironman Distance races. I qualified for Boston in 1996 when I was in my 30s. My last marathon was six years ago when I ran a 3:48. I believe I have the skills to qualify for Boston again.

Opportunity

Opportunity refers to the doors that open to you in your journey to qualifying for the Boston Marathon. These can be nurtured or more importantly grasped when they come up. To grasp these opportunities, you need to keep your eyes open and take action when you encounter them. Opportunities could be related to being invited to a running camp, or as simple as having a world class marathon in your home town.

For me, one of the opportunities is that in Ottawa where I live, we have a world-class marathon, the Ottawa Marathon. This race provides an opportunity to run a Boston Qualifier with few travel hassles. I also happen to work downtown and I have a parking spot in my building which makes the travel to the race site even simpler.

Support

Support for your dreams and desires comes for other people. These are your family, friends and co-workers. These are the people you can count on when you need help. They can provide moral support, financial support, and even liberate some time for you by taking care of some of your time-consuming activities.

I am fortunate enough to be married to my wonderful wife who not only supports me fully, but she is a great runner. We train together as much as we can and this inspires, motivates and pushes me to train at a higher level. My sister has also always provided encouragement for my crazy endeavors, encouraging me at many races.

The 5 L’s of Life

Life is comprised of more than just running. Other aspects of your life include work and family. These other priorities need to be examined to determine how they fit with your desire to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In order to determine how much of the Dice of Life you want to dedicate to qualifying, you will need to identify the other priorities in your life and how much they mean to you. This exercise starts with identifying your 5 L’s of Life: Labor, Love, Learning, Lifestyle and Leisure, again in no particular order.

Labor

Labor represents the activities that earn an income. This relates to being employed, self-employed or even retired. Work creates various demands on people related to, for example, available time, income, stress, and even opportunities. For me, my public servant job is generally restricted to normal weekday working hours. Only occasionally do I travel or work on weekends. This provides time to run before work, after work and on the weekends.

Love

Love refers to family and friends. Relationships must be nurtured to be meaningful and lasting. Depending on where you are in your life, you might have to make a bigger commitment to your loved ones. One of the most demanding times can be around the birth of a child and the first few years after. My children are growing up and getting more independent. However, during the school year, there are so many demands related to school and activities that it can become all consuming. This means that I often only get to run after the school work is done and the house chores like cleaning up after dinner are done. During the weekends, it is sometimes challenging to schedule the long runs around family and kid activities.

Learning

Since a large portion of people’s lives is spent at school or in learning situations, this will affect the time you have for training. Studying for an exam or taking courses nightly would impact your available time. Moreover, depending on your knowledge and experience with running, you might also want to learn more about running and training. Personally I have had my share of school time (21 years of formal schooling) so any learning I decide to do is focused on the task at hand. Related to running, I have been running for over 30 years, I am a certified Level 1 coach, I wrote a manual on training (Plan on Running Your Best), and I even taught a course on running through the local school board. The learning I need is more around new products and staying on top of new developments which I do through reading magazines such as Runner’s World.

Lifestyle

The area identified as lifestyle refers to how you decide to live and what you have, such as health and wealth. I am not much of a material guy so the gathering of wealth is not critical. Of course, we still need to take care of the house which takes time and energy. Health, however, is a critical component in my life and I am dedicated to staying fit. In addition, I love to compete in races. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon fits in this Lifestyle category.

Leisure

Leisure encompasses the activities you do for fun and relaxation. This includes simple activities such as going out to dinner or watching television, to exciting hiking adventures in the Amazon. Although I love to relax and enjoy a good book or movie, some people say I rarely take it easy. There is some validity to this, but my projects keep me very occupied and satisfied.

Now Picture Reality

Through exploring the Dice of Life and the 5L’s of Life, a better sense of what is your reality should emerge. This will assist in determining the right goal for qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Run With Purpose


I have a dream of running the Boston Marathon again, as described in a previous post. That dream is shared by many runners. To get to Boston, you will obviously need to train hard. What will drive you to get out the door consistently and complete those necessary long runs is your purpose for running Boston.

To determine your purpose in running the Boston Marathon, you need to explore the reasons it is so important to you. The Reasons represents the R in the DREAMSCycle ™. In a quiet place, away from distractions, think of the reasons you want to run the Boston Marathon. Here are a few possibilities:


  • Weight control – having Boston as a goal will encourage you to train which will allow you to lose weight or stabilize your weight
  • Company – you like to run with others and running a Boston Qualifier will provide lots of company
  • Travel – you like to travel and you have never been to Boston
  • Pleasure – you love the feeling of running, the energy it provides you, the feeling of euphoria when you complete a marathon
  • Health and well-being – training to qualify for the Boston Marathon brings you physical and mental benefits that make you feel energized
  • Relaxation – training for the marathon brings you a sense of peace
  • Meeting new people – you like to meet new people and you can meet many on your way to qualifying for Boston
  • Winning – you might aim to win or place well overall in the race or in your age category
  • Fame – you would like to be famous and telling people you ran the Boston Marathon brings its own fame
  • Money or fortune – you might be of a caliber that you can place high enough to earn money in Boston, or maybe you are sponsored
  • Accomplishment – competing in the Boston Marathon is an accomplished that you will cherish for the rest of your life
  • Build self-esteem – qualifying for the Boston Marathon increases your self-worth and sense of esteem; not everyone can qualify for Boston
  • Appearance – training to qualify for the Boston Marathon will help in increasing your fitness and controlling your weigh which will help with your overall appearance
  • Enjoying the outdoors – training on the roads to qualify for Boston can take you to some enchanting outdoor locations
  • Prove yourself – by qualifying for Boston you can prove to yourself that you have what it takes as an accomplished runner
  • Reach your potential – in attempting to qualify for Boston, you will push your limits
  • Meet a partner – through training, you can join others and possibly meet a life partner
  • Join a friend – a friend might already have qualified for Boston and you would like to join them
  • Freedom – training for the marathon can give you a sense of freedom from everyday demands
  • Sense of belonging – being part of a training group or even part of the people who qualified for Boston will increase your sense of belonging
  • Recognition – you want to be recognized for all the effort you have put into your running, and qualifying for Boston is a badge of honour


Personally, here are my reasons for trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon:

  • Weight control – I found that when I run more than 40 km per week, it is easier for me to control my weight.
  • Travel – I have been to Boston many times (I even lived there for a few months), so it would be great to go back now, 20 years later, with my kids who have never been.
  • Health and well-being – I feel more energized and alert when I train hard for a race.
  • Relaxation – Training for the marathon brings me a sense of peace.
  • Fame – I like when people recognize the accomplishment of having run the Boston Marathon.
  • Accomplishment – I ran the Boston Marathon over 20 years ago and the sense of accomplishment was terrific; I would like to feel that sense of accomplishment again.
  • Build self-esteem – I feel that much more special knowing that I qualified for Boston with its challenging standards.
  • Appearance – I am slimmer when I run the necessary distances to qualify for Boston.
  • Prove myself – Now that I am getting older, I again feel the need to prove to myself that I can do this.
  • Join a friend – My spouse qualified for Boston last year; I would love to run Boston with her again.
  • Freedom – When I train, I tend to forget the everyday demands.
  • Recognition – Now that I am older, qualifying for Boston would be recognized even more than my first time around.


To determine which of the multitude of reasons are more important, the list must be pared down. To achieve this, I pare the list down to my top five reasons, then to my top two or three. From these key reasons, I attempt to create a purpose for trying to qualify for Boston. The exercise resulted in the following:

Top 5 Reasons:

  • Accomplishment
  • Build self-esteem
  • Prove myself
  • Join my spouse
  • Recognition


Top 2 Reasons:

  • Prove myself
  • Join my spouse


From my top reasons, I determined that my purpose for qualifying for the Boston Marathon is to once again share the wonderful experience of running the Boston Marathon with my spouse, this time with my children as witnesses. The statement that would clearly reaffirm my purpose would be:
“I qualify for the Boston Marathon to be able to run Boston with my spouse again.”

The 5 Whys
Another exercise that can also be used to identify the core reason for trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon is to ask the 5 Whys. You start by asking “Why?” until you come up with the root reason. Five Whys is a good number, but it could be more or less.

By using the 5 Whys, here is what I come up with. In this case, it only took four Whys.

  • Why do I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Because I would like to run the Boston Marathon again with my spouse.
  • Why do I want to run it again with my spouse? Because it was such a great experience.
  • Why was it such a great experience? Because we supported each other and shared a common experience.
  • Why do I want to support my spouse and share a common experience? Because I love my spouse and participating in events together makes me happy.


Whatever your purpose for qualifying for the Boston Marathon, it will direct your goals and ensure you spend your resources appropriately to achieve the goals that matter to you.

Monday, January 7, 2019

I Dream of Boston

I started running in 1987. Although initially my training was to compete in triathlons, I immediately started considering Boston as a marathon to run in the future. It took me 10 years and 10 attempts before I succeeded, as you can read in my running memoir, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon.

Over the last 20 years, my focus has been on running, although not so much on racing. I have only been competing in one or two races per year. As my wife has re-invigorated her running lately, it was time for me to be more serious with my own running. This is where I decided to use the DREAMS Cycle ™ to help me. The start of the DREAMS Cycle ™ is D for “Dreams and Desires” as mentioned in a previous blog. This step allows you to determine what are your dreams and desires, what you really want, what makes you happy.

The difference between dreams and desires is that dreams are the things you would really like to achieve if you had all the money, time, energy, talent, opportunity and support you needed. For example, a dream for me is to win the Boston Marathon. Desires, on the other hand, are more concrete and immediate. For example, I wish I could run in the Boston Marathon. The difference is subtle, and in the end, it does not matter that much as long as you identify what will make you happy.

The beginning of the year is often a great time to start dreaming. To identify your Dreams and Desires, you need to be in the right frame of mind and in the right setting. A calm soothing environment is more conducive to letting your mind wander and to dream. This could be lying on a hammock by the sea. It could be in a quiet reclining chair in a family room. For me, the kitchen table at the cottage creates a great atmosphere.

While pondering your dreams, the distractions of everyday life must be kept to a minimum. Your mind must be free of work concerns; family obligations must be put aside; paying bills must be postponed. Early mornings or late night can often work better for people. You will need to find about 30 minutes, two or three times over the course of a week. In my case, obligations are lessened at the cottage once the children have gone to bed. I pour myself a soothing drink: sometimes a soft drink, sometimes a sparkling juice, on the rare occasions, a cooler.

Not only do you need to think of your dreams and desires, but you also need to record them as you will need to reflect on them further on. Any piece of paper would do, but I prefer a notepad. If you have the right technology, you could use a computer or a tablet with an app. For example, you could use OneNote or Evernote.

Once you have your ideal location and some quiet time, simply close your eyes or stare into space and let your mind wander. Ask yourself: what do I really want out of running? What would really make me happy? What would excite me so much that I would dance spontaneously? There are no bad dreams or desires. Dreams can be as outlandish as you want; there are no dreams too silly to consider. Dreams don’t have to be realistic; reality will come later when you set your goals. Remember, these are your dreams and you most likely will never share these with another human soul, lest you be put away or laughed out of this world. Capture every idea that pops into your head, even if it repeats itself in a different shape. This is brainstorming at its crudest. Don’t analyze and determine if your dreams are feasible or not; just write them down.

As I have been running for so long, and have made these dreams lists so often, I have a good idea of what I want to achieve with my running so I can go directly to my desire which is to qualify for the Boston Marathon again.


In the next post, we will explore the dreams and desires so as to determine the reasons you want to run, or in my case to qualify for Boston.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Qualify for the Boston Marathon the DREAMS Cycle ™ Way


The last and only time I qualified for the Boston Marathon was in 1996 at the Toronto Marathon. There, I ran my first and only sub-3-hour marathon. I then competed in Boston in the spring of 1997. I captured this monumental achievement in a memoir, Take 10 and Reach the Boston Marathon.

Since then, I’ve had my ups and downs in terms or running, from running a couple of 50K ultramarathons, to having some health issues and injuries that curtailed my running dramatically. Lately, with my wife starting to run again, I feel more invigorated and ready to challenge myself again with the goal of qualifying for Boston.

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is no simple endeavor. It requires commitment, dedication and a solid plan. This is where the DREAMS Cycle ™ comes in. When I qualified for Boston 20 years ago, I was studying at the University of Ottawa for a Master’s degree in Educational Counseling. One of the courses I completed as part of my degree was on counseling approaches. The major assignment for the course consisted of developing your own personal counseling model.

After much soul-searching, I created the DREAM cycle approach. DREAM was an acronym for Dreams, Reality, Explore options, Action plan, and Monitor. The visual that I associated with the DREAM cycle was of a bicycle, which was appropriate at the time as I was heavily involved in triathlons. The spoke on the wheels of the bicycle represented the letters of the acronym, while the wheel represented a continuous cycle. The bicycle also meant to indicate that the person on the bicycle was in the driver seat. The professor gave me an A for that elaborate model.

I translated the DREAM cycle into a guide for running, Plan on Running Your Best. This has been available for free for quite a few years. It is a little technical in certain areas and is now quite dated as it is paper-based. Over the next two decades, I used the DREAM cycle and the guide, while refining the model which evolved into the DREAMS Cycle ™. This time the acronym stands for:

D for Dreams and Desires

R for Reasons and Reality

E for Explore possibilities and Establish SMART goals

A for Acquire knowledge and Action plan

M for Move forward and Monitor progress

S for Stay motivated/focused and Seek support

C for Celebrate and Cycle back

 

The DREAMS Cycle ™ is a systematic approach to helping people reach their dreams.

 

Explaining the DREAMS Cycle ™ can be rather dry, and grasping the concept and the process can be challenging. You need pertinent and interesting practical examples to facilitate comprehension. Describing the DREAMS Cycle ™ through my experiences of attempting to qualify for the Boston marathon will allow me to reach my objective of qualifying for Boston while providing a great example of how to use the DREAMS Cycle ™. Thus, the creation of this blog, Qualify for the Boston Marathon the DREAMS Cycle ™ Way!