How Dirk Wilcox took 17 minutes off his marathon PB to qualify for Boston

How Dirk Wilcox took 17 minutes off his marathon PB to qualify for Boston

This is a particularly special #FastFriday for me to write for two reasons. 

 

Firstly, I am very biased because the Boston Marathon is one of my 2 favourite races in the world.

 

I love the fact that in order to toe the line you need to run a specific time. And the race weekend experience, in my opinion, is only rivalled by South Africa’s very own Comrades Marathon

 

And secondly, Dirk was one of the very first 1-on-1 calls we offered as part of the joining specials on our Faster Beyond Fifty masterclass.

 

Dirk was a part runner who enjoyed running and had “trained” for a marathon 8 years ago by just running and building miles, with 3 long runs to give him the confidence to go the distance.

 

He ran a 3:40, which at 42 years old and for his first marathon with no specific training, is a rather impressive effort.

 

From there he kept running sporadically, doing some strength training and staying generally fit. Dirk ran the odd race with colleagues, most notably a 1hr50 Half Marathon.

 

However, he always harboured a feeling that he would like to take running seriously and look to qualify for Boston Marathon one day...

 

The Pandemic presented an opportunity...

 

The Pandemic arrived and with extra time on his hands, Dirk decided now is the time.

 

He started “training” in earnest, but again with no specific plan. Building volume and trying to run faster just about every day.

 

In Dirks own words:

“From the start of quarantine until July, I just ran - quite a bit. I started with Coach Parry in July and it really changed everything for me.”

 

I asked Dirk, what did he feel made the biggest difference and because he had never followed any type of structure, it was difficult to distil it down into one or two key concepts.

 

Essentially though it boils down to consistency and programme balance, Dirk explains better than I ever could:

 

“I sat in on the intro call and everything resonated with me.  The whole, “weekend warrior” running mentality is where I was.

 

I basically was just running every run hard. Not training, really - just trying to run a little bit faster every day.

 

I had my one on one call with Lindsey and he loaded a Sub20min 5km plan. 

 

I had never done any speed work in my life. I had never run hill repeats or intervals or considered a recovery run pace or a 5k pace vs a half marathon... nothing. 

 

I had never really trained. I wasn’t at all new to strength training, so no real transition there, but everything else was brand new. 

 

I have not missed a session since I started. I’ve completed a 5k and 21k plan. I was almost finished with a 10k plan when a live marathon opened up. I consulted with the  Coach Parry team, who gave me the green light to run it. 

 

Even though I didn’t have the perfect build-up for the distance, we thought I could run at a conservative pace and give it a go. 

 

I was thinking 3:15 - Coach Parry said 3:12.

 

I finished at 3:12:50 and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2022 by 12+ minutes, which I’m guessing will be plenty.”

 

This is what Dirk posted in the forum on the Coach Parry app after his incredible run...

Dirk Wilcox Forum Post

So what was the key to Dirk's success?

 

Dirk simply followed the Coach Parry Faster Beyond 50 Training Framework...

 

...He focussed on consistency and kept turning those blocks green. Dirk ran easy enough on easy days (and admits this part was not easy) and kept pushing himself on hard days.

 

What jumps out at me again is that our obsession with volume is unfounded, Dirk achieved this feat on a half marathon plan! 

 

Let that sink in...

 

...Dirk's success was the result of 24 weeks of very consistent training at a volume that allowed him to push himself, yet maintain freshness, stay injury free.

 

AND with that, the sheer impact of 24 weeks of consistency allowed him to get within 53sec of the predicted marathon time from his 21km time.

 

Dirk Wilcox

 

Another aspect of Dirk’s journey with us that I love is that he has been able to do some of it with his daughter.

 

For me personally, having run with my Dad since the age of 5, this resonates. 

 

She ran the half marathon he had trained for and ran 1hr50 as a senior in high school.

 

Dirk, there is no better way to spend time with your child/children than to share the open road/trails with them☺.

 

So what is next for Dirk?

 

“I’m on a 10k plan right now. I hope to go sub 39”

 

And of course Boston 2022! Where I hope to be writing about Dirk's sub 3hr marathon. No Pressure! 😉

 

If you'd like to discover how you can run faster beyond 50, then be sure to register for our upcoming Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass below.

Running Couple
Running Couple

Join us for a free live online presentation of the...

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

...and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you're training harder than ever but not running the paces you'd like to be running or if you're constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

11am Los Angeles | 2pm New York | 7pm London

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