Active Travel



The Chicago Plan: Project BQ

Jun 24, 2015 | Uncategorized | 7 comments

barrecore 4

It’s no secret that I have a rather large goal for the Chicago marathon in October. Project BQ (or as close as I can possibly get to a BQ). For those of you unfamiliar with the term BQ, it means Boston Qualifier, and is the qualifying time that you need to achieve for your age group to get into the Boston Marathon. For my current age group that means I need to run a sub 3.35 or more importantly, knock nearly 15 minutes off my current marathon time.

Is it possible?


Will I achieve it this year?

I don’t know.

Will I give it a damn good go?

Hell, yes.

After a nutritious dinner of burger and courgette fries with my ‘coach’ last week, I feel fired up and ready to train. The next 16 weeks will involve a lot of hard work, early mornings, hard runs, long runs and a few sacrifices. I’ll be running 3 times a week, like I did for my Berlin training plan, with a speed workout, a long run and a tempo/mid distance run.

I am really excited to be trying out something new in this training cycle, and am using Barre classes as my main method of crosstraining. I’m really thrilled to be working with Barrecore for this project, where I’ll be attending 3-4 classes a week over the next few months.

I’ve written before about why Barre is so great for runners, it focuses on isometric strength training, involving exercises with a small range of motion but a high number of reps, targeting specific muscles for maximum burn.

barrecore 2

Barrecore 1

These low impact workouts centre around strengthening and toning muscles, although there’s usually elements of cardio too. As well as core work, barre work requires a lot of balance, which improve stability as well as strength in feet, ankles and toes, which could lead to better gait and foot mobility. Paola di Lanzo, founder of Paola’s Body Barre, explains that ‘barre is ideal for runners who need to lengthen their hamstrings, open their hips and increase shoulder mobility’.

Pure Barre devotee and fellow runner Jamie Wells has taken her marathon time from 3.51 to a 3.18 with the help of regular barre classes, crediting the stretching in each session for keeping her injury free, whilst a Pure barre instructor Jolene has seen her shin splints disappear along with her IT band issues thanks to improved leg muscle balance and strength.



barrecore 3

I’m in good company with this whole ‘barre for marathon training’ thing- American distance runner Tere Zacher, who’s currently training for the 2016 Olympic marathon, uses barre to tone muscles without creating bulk. She likened the focus it takes to stick with sections at the barre, and the determination to finish long runs. ‘When you’re at the barre, after 40 seconds it hurts like crazy, it’s the same kind of pain as when you’re racing.’ It pushes you out of your comfort zone and tests your mental strength. I totally agree with this!

I’ll be posting weekly roundups of my training here on the blog, as well as most workouts on instagram. Now that Barrecore is on Classpass feel free to join me for a barre workout too-I’ll be the runner with the poor flexibility in the corner!


  1. Alexandra

    Looking forward to following along! I’m running my first half marathon on Oct 11 and just set up my plan today for barre and training runs 3-4 times a week.

  2. Jane

    You’ve inspired me to give barre another go! I am training for Chicago too, so perhaps it will be the perfect cross training for me to add in as well!

  3. Cathryn

    Yippee, I’m so excited for you. I’d love to BQ. How does your bike ride (100 miles?) fit into this training?

  4. Zoe at Splodz Blogz

    Wow a 3:35 marathon sounds so fast! It sounds like you’re starting on a pretty strenuous training plan. Enjoy it… especially the variety that barre will provide.

  5. breathedeeplyandsmile

    Awesome! I really want to BQ at Chicago this year too. I ran 3:36 last year so I’m SO freaking close. I am not good at barre but have tried taking multiple classes and am signed up for one tomorrow. Good to know it complements running well 🙂

  6. Gus

    A little scared about trying Barre classes as a male but heck maybe the girlfriend might drag me to one. Yoga has been an amazing help the last four months in getting my hip and IT band issues in order, so I can only assume more cross training might be the key to injury free!

  7. kyntuckyrunner

    Good luck – I cut 45 minutes off my time last year for a BQ – so you got it! So much of it is mental. Stay positive throughout training. Can’t wait to read all about it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *