Today's tip may not sound like a training tip at first, but it is. And it's very simple. In light of the new Boston Marathon registration process, which gives preference to those runners who finish fastest in their respective age/gender category, the qualifying standard is no longer going to be the same every year. Sure, the "official" cutoff for my category (M18-34) is now 3:05 and does not allow a fifty-nine second grace period as previous years have. The tricky part is not knowing how fast every other Boston Qualifier ran.
Look at my situation for this current year. I finished a marathon in 3:10:25, which technically qualified me for the Boston Marathon using the :59 grace period (my standard was 3:10:00). Since registration is no longer a first come/first served process and is done strictly on the amount of time that you beat your qualifying standard by, I'm at the bottom of the barrel. Nobody knows for sure how fast you have to run in order to be able to get in, but it seems that everyone who ran five minutes faster than their standard is going to get in with no problems. For me, that would mean that if I would have ran a 3:05:00, I would almost definitely get in. This actually is the fairest way that the Boston Athletic Association could do registration (I think), as it actually does reward the faster runners, not just those with the fastest internet connection.
So in short, today's tip is this: If you are looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon some day, there's two things to know. First, make sure you check the BAA website for current qualification standards prior to your race day. Second, if you want to be almost certain that you'll be able to register, you need to plan on beating your age/gender standard by at least five minutes. And in fact, the more you beat your standard by, the better off you'll be!