How We Helped Brand New Runner Colleen Balling BQ in Her First Ever Marathon

Many runners think you have to start young. Let us show you how we helped Colleen - who didn’t start running until her late 50’s - run her first marathon and exceed her expectations with a Boston Qualifier. 


Not too long before joining, Colleen could barely run down the street. Now that she caught the running bug, she wanted to run her first marathon and qualify for Boston.  



Being new to running, Colleen wasn’t sure of what was attainable. She also runs in the Florida heat and humidity without any sort of training group.  



Colleen ran 4:15 in the Marine Corps marathon, securing her spot on the start line in Boston!  


"No matter what I'm struggling with, the coaches seem to always hit the nail on the head with the answer"

The Problems Colleen Faced

Colleen Balling  

Age: 59 Hometown: Land O Lakes, FL, US

Previous PR’s  

None - running her first marathon

Being new to running  Though Colleen enjoyed running, she wasn’t quite sure how to structure training. When she first started she couldn't run to the first stop light on her street. As such, there was so much unknown about proper training - workouts, mileage, paces, nutrition, strength work - it was all overwhelming.

Training in tough conditions Colleen was having a tough time training in the hot and humid conditions of Florida. This made harder workouts significantly more challenging to complete and recover from. Still wanting to hit her goal, she didn't know how to properly adjust the paces or workouts.

Fear of the unknown Colleen was unsure about how to prevent things like bonking in the marathon, how to fuel during the race itself, and the plethora of other questions that all first-time marathoners face. 

Unsure about progress It was hard for Colleen to gauge whether she was making progress in training. Was that workout supposed to be hard? Are my easy days too easy? This made it hard to stick to a plannd feel confident she was on her way towards a succesful first marathon.

How did RunnersConnect Help?

#1: Structured training and consistent feedback  

Our coaches helped keep Colleen on track through the ups and downs of marathon training.

"Whenever I had a question about how I was feeling or the number of miles I was running, the coaches always had the answer and when I listened things always went right for me."

We also helped continually adjust Colleen's training volume and paces. As a newer runner, progress can come quickly so the schedule needed to constantly adapt to keep up with her progress. It's safe to say Colleen was a completely different runner 18 weeks after she started her plan - and her schedule reflected that.

#2: Adjusted training for weather conditions

Knowing Colleen trains in tough conditions, we prescribed more manageable workouts. 

She also made use of our temperature adjustment tool when conditions were really bad. This prevented her from getting too exhausted from workouts intended for better weather.

#3: Confidence to stick to the plan 

We made sure Colleen was ready for her marathon, both in terms of training and race strategy. 

Colleen had previously questioned her training with the generic plans she used because it wasn't designed specifically for her. 

With the confidence of a tailored plan, whenever she got nervous about a workout or "how I was going to run 26 miles when I couldn't yet run 15 miles at goal pace" she just reminded herself to "trust the process".

#4: Resources and community  

Colleen took advantage of our resources we have on nutrition, strength training, and race planning so she was able to dramatically speed up the learning curve for her first marathon. This took the most feared elements of the marathon (bonking and cramping) out of the picture.

Plus, she used our supportive community to motivate her to get out the door on lazy days and so she knew she wasn't alone when a workout or long run was more difficult that she thought it would be.

What Were the Results?

After just 7 months of training with us, Colleen ran her first marathon at Marine Corps and secured a BQ.  

Now she’s aiming toward the 2019 Boston marathon and on her way to bigger and better results in the future.  

Listen to Colleen Get In-depth About Her Training and Results

Ready to Finally Achieve Your Goals?