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“Am I crazy for wanting to run a marathon?”
This was a question recently raised in our Facebook group, LHR Running Community, which currently has over 10,000 members from across the globe. The simple answer is “no” in regards to the physically running of the distance. Where the craziness usually lies is in the planning, or lack thereof. It was this question that really inspired me to write Hansons First Marathon: Stepping up to 26.2 the Hansons Way. You aren’t crazy and you have the ability. You just need a plan and I know how to make one for you.
In Chapter One, Establishing a starting point, we start establishing a baseline. Before we can make a plan, we need you to take a look at yourself so that you know what you are getting yourself into. Now, don’t worry, I am not asking you to dig deep into the depths of your soul, rather just looking at your history of running, exercise, and injury. We ask a series of 5 questions to help you think about where your strengths and weaknesses.
Am I running now?
Have I run a race recently?
What is my goal for the marathon?
How much time can I dedicate to training?
Am I injury prone?
Answering these questions a certain way will not dictate whether or not you can run a marathon. There’s a million ways to get to the same finish line. However, what it will do is force you to take a look at yourself and go into this thing with eyes wide open. For instance, answer question number one with a no, then we need to start with the very basics of running. Learning how to start by doing the right amount at the right intensity, then building on top of that without getting you hurt is going to be critical. It also means that if you are looking at a marathon and it’s only 8 weeks away, that it might not be a good fit for where you are at. You are going to need to allow yourself a lot longer to build to the point where you are ready to tackle the distance. So, every answer you give here helps establish the baseline, a timeline, and a checklist of things you will need to make sure you focus on as you take on this journey.
These questions aren’t meant for just the person who’s never run before or even the new runner. They are meant for anyone looking to take on the marathon distance. This includes the novice/recreational runner all the way to the age group ace who’s looking for a new challenge. The thing is, even those who have raced/run the half marathon distance are just that- hallway there. A 5k runner has only raced 1/8th the distance. Whatever you struggle with at 10, 20, 30 miles per week are going to be really exposed when training to cover 26.2 miles as fast as you can. The things you never even thought about while training for your local festival 5k is going to be a major factor in your ability to be successful at the marathon. This isn’t meant to scare you, rather prepare you. The better prepared you are, the less intimidating it can be.
Where to go from here, depends on where you are at. For the brand new runner, I suggest taking the next three steps:
Make running a habit.
Find a C25k plan that’s 6-10 weeks long. In HFM, I offer up an 8 week plan that takes you from zero to handling 30 minutes of jogging without stopping.
Establishing a starting point.
This is mainly for a time goal or even just establishing some running paces. Run a 5k. Time yourself on a known loop. Whatever you are comfortable with. Use that to establish some sort of basis for training.
Pick a race and start training.
For this group, after completing a C25k type plan, I recommend something 18-20 weeks from where you are currently at.
For the recreational runner, you know a little more about yourself. These questions will help you decide on a plan that’s best suited for you, but it will also help you focus on some detail work. Strength and mobility will probably be something to think about adding. However, adding this may need you need to change your approach to the mileage and/or length of schedule you were planning on using. For most of you folks, an 18 week training plan is plenty of time to be ready.
For the competitor, you may need less time, in terms of weeks, but make sure you can tolerate the volume necessary for your goals. If you are training at a pretty high level for most of the year, 12-18 weeks should be plenty of time to be ready. I would say closer to 12 weeks for higher mileage and coming off a racing segment and closer to 18 weeks for lower mileage.
Take a few minutes to look at these questions. There are other assessments I think are important, but we’ll save those for next time. If you are curious to see this discussion in full, to view our plans for first time marathoners, or just to read more about training, I encourage you to check out my book Hansons First Marathon: Step up to 26.2 the Hansons way. You can also follow me on Instagram @lukehumphreyhmm and our Facebook group LHR Running Community. For information on coaching, custom plans, and instant access training plans, visit www.lukehumphreyrunning.com
I have created a trilogy bundle of all three of my books. Use the code Trilogy at checkout for 30% off the three books. Your purchase from THIS STORE directly supports LHR. Thanks! The code is good through 8/5/2019
This is a typical graph of an blood lactate vs work intensity chart looks like, but I recognize that their is a lot going on here. While I believe most people have the general idea here, but I think if we take an in depth breakdown of this graph, you’ll be able to understand the makeup of our “strength” workouts.
Let’s start with the solid line with data collection points. The line represents blood lactate levels compare to intensity. It is no surprise that as we run faster, the amount of lactate produced is greater. Remember back to our physiology discussions and lactate is a by product of glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose). At lower intensities it can be “recycled” at rates close to production. The faster we run, the less the recycling can keep up. Now, it’s important to note here that lactate or lactic acid in itself isn’t our cause of fatigue, but fatigue and lactic acid amounts are closely associated with each other.
Then, you see the two vertical dashed lines. The first, labeled “Aerobic Threshold’ and represents where lactic acid is first rising above baseline levels. Typically, this signifies when carbohydrate becomes the majority fuel source over fat. For beginner and poorly aerobically developed runners, as well as those who are carbohydrate dominant with their diets, this will occur at pretty easy paces. Regardless of population, marathon pace will be beyond this point, it just might be a matter of how far beyond.
The second dashed line is labeled MLSS, or in this particular graph, anaerobic threshold. MLSS stands for Maximal Lactate Steady State and aptly, is the last point at which lactic acid levels will stay steady per a given pace. Essentially, once you are at a pace beyond that point, your lactic acid levels will continue to rise, even if you stay at a given pace. Regardless of running population, marathon pace will be below this. In fact this point typically represents a pace that you can maintain for about an hour. So for most people this is about 10k to 15k pace. For elite and world class athletes, this pace might represent 20k to half marathon pace.
Along the top of this chart you see “zones” labeled. The zone on the far left is your easy and regeneration (or recovery) running. The middle is your moderate to high aerobic running. This would include harder long runs, tempo runs (marathon pace), strength, and half marathon pace work at increasingly harder paces approaching MLSS. The third zone is your fastest running and would include 10k and faster paces.
Knowing what these points represents is crucial to understanding how and why workouts are set at the intensities they are. Knowing that increases the likelihood of a runner not going overboard on paces when knowing that faster doesn’t necessarily stimulate the desired training adaptation.
For this discussion, I want to focus on strength and why it’s important to adhere to specified paces. First, let’s discuss the terminology of the strength workout. We describe strength as MP-10 in shorthand. Reading that would be Marathon Pace minus 10 seconds per mile. Or if your goal marathon pace is 9:00 per mile, your strength pace would be 8:50 per mile.
Now, some of you can see already where you get into trouble- you are running your tempos at your strength pace. I’ll admit, lines can become blurry.
Over the last few years, I have come to conclusion that the four hour marathon is where these lines may not be a perfect fit.
However, that is not a go ahead to go full throttle, either. There has to be some sort of guidelines to adhere to.
In nearly all of our marathon training programs, you won’t be engaging in the strength workout phase until you’ve started doing longer tempos. I consider longer tempos anything that is taking you over an hour. Now, given that definition, you’ll naturally settle into a pace that’s going to be slower than your MLSS deflection point. So, clearly the pace you are running for the tempo is slower than MLSS pace. If not, then you are just blatantly running too fast and need to either dial it back or evaluate what your goals are. This isn’t to say that you are faster than what what your marathon pace is, but we can fix that too.
How you ask?
Well, let’s go back to our 9:00/mile example. Let’s say that’s your goal marathon pace, but you’ve been cheating down most of your tempo runs to 8:50. Ok, fast, but at that pace not crazy (the faster you get the less room for error you will have though). So, you get to where you are starting your strength workouts and since you’ve been averaging 8:50 pace, you settle on doing your strength at 8:40 pace.
That’s fine, I don’t necessarily see a problem with it, BUT here is what you have to pay attention to.
- Don’t lose sight of what the goal of the strength work is. Refer back to HMM
- Does this pace now go beyond where your MLSS pace would be? If so, then that’s faster than the desired pace or effect of the workout. If you know right away, that 8:40 pace is right around your 10k pace, then it’s too fast. We just did that segment during the speed work! However, many of you don’t know what your other race paces are, so the next two questions will be more practical.
- Does this now affect your ability to complete the strength workouts? This may be measured in a couple different ways. One, if you progressively get slower throughout the workout then your strength is too fast. Two, if your recovery jogs become recovery walks or get extended in length/time, then your strength pace is too fast. Your strength repeats and rest jogs should be about equal pace throughout the entirety of the workout (not necessarily effort though)
- Does this affect the pace at which you can complete your tempo runs? Let’s say you willed your way through a strength workout and kept it fairly even, but now you are really dreading that tempo run a couple days later. You may be able to power your way through for a couple weeks, but if your strength is too fast, then over time you will lose the ability to recover enough to maintain those tempo runs.
How should strength workouts feel?
The simple answer would be, “harder than your tempo runs, but easier than your speed.” To expand on that, you will often hear marathon pace runs described as comfortably hard, but I think that depends on ability and what your definition of “comfortably hard” is. To me, 8-10 mile tempos (which is about where you’ll be once you start the strength) should be a significant effort, but one that you feel you could extend a few miles if you really had to. Speed work is a much more anaerobic effort, in which you’ll get the “lactic burn.” So, you may be feeling in your legs or even like your lungs are going to catch on fire. Strength should feel like your balancing a fine line between being a sustainable effort vs. crashing and burning.
Granted this might take a couple times to get down, but that’s why I try to always start people out with 6×1 miles or even 800’s at strength pace. The biggest mistake I see people make on the first strength workout is that they overestimate their fitness and underestimate the recovery. They are coming off doing a bunch of speed work that’s way faster (but a lot more relative recovery) and see that they are doing repeats and a pace only slightly faster than marathon pace. So, usually through a combination of running too fast and not maximizing the recovery jog, they get to the 3rd or 4th one and realize they’ve dug a hole they can’t get out of. Remember, speed work usually brings acute discomfort. It’s usually an eye opener from the get go. Strength workouts should sneak up on you. The same effort for the last few should feel fairly hard compared to the first one or two. That’s when you’ve done it right- think slow cooker. You are slowly building that lactic feeling. Never fully recovering from the repeat prior and letting the discomfort slowly add to each successive repeat.
Strength workouts are probably the hardest to adjust too. With speed, you know you need to run hard. With tempos you know that you need to know what marathon pace feels like and you spend the most amount of time practicing it. With strength, you’re really in a tweener zone. Somewhere between really hard and kinda hard. The biggest thing is to learn from mistakes quickly and try to follow the guidelines I have provided. If you can do that, you’ll get it down, not to mention, find out what your abilities may be.
If you aren’t aware, we have a very active Facebook group. There are lots of posts or sharing of workouts- usually of when they are crushed. On one the other day, I was mentioned in one of the comments, so I started thumbing through and was caught by one comment on particular. The gentleman wants to run a 3:20 and his comments centered around creating a buffer and not expecting to see a certain pace at any point (or that certain paces have no place in a 3:20 plan).
In another life, I would have been like, “whoah, hold on brotato chip!” Eh, who am I kidding, I still am a little bit. I was definitely taken aback a little bit, because I immediately thought, “what’s going to happen to this guy the first split he sees at that pace that shouldn’t be anywhere in his splits?”
There are two main points I want to discuss in this post. The first is in regards to what I interpret when a person is trying to create a “buffer.” The second is how the runner is going to react when they see splits during the race when they “had no room” for them in training.
What trying to create a “buffer” tells me
You don’t believe in your plan or coach.
I see this a lot in people when they post about their training in our group. The biggest example of this is the 16 mile long runs in most of our marathon plans. For a lot of people they can’t get past the 16 mile long run being enough because it has been instilled in them that everything in marathon training revolves around the 20 mile long run. Unfortunately, these folks will keep running in circles (literally) for years trying to do things the same unsuccessful ways they’ve been doing them.
You don’t believe in yourself.
The best example of this is a person who is trying to run a BQ or break a time barrier. Everything about what they are doing or have done in the past indicates that they should be able to run the time they are seeking. However, their own self doubt creeps in and they push the pace faster than necessary because they feel like it will mean they can fade back to their goal pace and even slower, but have enough time in the bank to stagger in under their goal. However, it usually just sets them up for failure during training or the race.
You aren’t putting enough time on the other stuff.
This is a position I have really changed my thinking on over the last few years. This is thanks to all the interaction with our online run club and the athletes in there. I have always been a high mileage guy and I still am. I truly think that if you want to reach your highest potential, you need to be able to handle mileage. However, now that is with a caveat. Now I would say, train at the highest amount of volume you can that still allows you to incorporate the other aspects of well rounded training- strength and flexibility/mobility. Too many times I see athletes who don’t reach a goal, but instead of reflecting back to what their true training needs are, they just assume that they need to up the mileage the next time. I sometimes seeing runners trying to break four hours in the marathon and putting in 70 miles a week! What I am saying is back that down to 50 miles a week and use the time they would have spent on that other 20 miles per week and address the issues I mentioned. Hint: all runners have something strength related that needs help!
If you aren’t sure where to begin, I suggest reading up on our self tests or getting a gait analysis from an expert.
What makes me worry when someone is preparing for no split to be faster or slower than a certain pace. The thing is, no race goes perfect. Even our best races have moments where we say “if I just woulda.” You really do have to ask yourself the question, “how am I going to handle x or y situation?” When a person is setting themselves up to run the perfect race by trying to force everything in training, I tend to assume that their race is going to end in disappointment. Why? Because most of the time these runners panic when the inevitable split that’s way too slow shows up. This may be due to an improperly placed mile marker, a hilly mile, a turn into a headwind, a drop in concentration, an off Garmin split, or whatever. Instead of assessing the situation mentally, or rolling with the punches, they panic. By panic, I mean they usually either throw in the towel prematurely or they try to push even harder and only fall further behind.
I’m not saying that you should have a “whatever it is is meant to be” type of attitude, but splits will be off. See what the next mile or two brings before getting drastic. The next mile might be fast and you’re right back on average pace. Go through your mental queues- is my jaw relaxed? How’s my arm carriage? Am I on track with my nutrition? Is there a group I can tuck in with to block some of this wind?
Don’t panic- assess, observe, and adjust if necessary.
The best way to do that is to experience these things in training. Be cognitive of how you handle adverse situations during training and apply a system that works for you for race day.
You hear me say often that your training has to resemble how you want to race. If you train in a matter where you push the envelope in training (on a daily or regular basis) that chances are that’s how you’ll race. Training is so much more than running a workout. It’s learning how to deal with a variety of situations. Learning how certain conditions affect you and how to adjust for those conditions. Give yourself a little bit of flexibility on splits with the goal of learning the pace and narrowing the standard of deviation.
Races rarely go perfect and it’s the person who can handle the deviations form those plans best that will be the most successful.
Recently, I received an interesting question from one our coached athletes in the Online Run Club. Essentially, they were following one of our plans for a shorter distance- a 5/10k plan, I believe.
What they asked was:
“Why is there a marathon pace workout during a speed segment?”
Ah! So, think waaay back to reading the Hansons Marathon Method, or our blog on training philosophy. I will respond to your question with my own question: “what is one of the pillars of hansons training?” Insert Final Jeopardy music. That’s right, it’s balance! We never stray too far from any one aspect of training.
So, during a marathon segment, one can ask why we are doing repeats at 10k pace when we are training. In this case, why are we doing marathon pace work during a segment for a much shorter race? As I mentioned, it’s all about maintaining balance, but why? How?
The Mental Part:
The physiological reasons we give a runner marathon pace work is simple. These are a great way to improve overall stamina, or ability to cover distance at a given pace. It also helps improve general endurance, which is simply being able to cover a set amount of distance. This might not seem like a big deal, but while a marathon is 97% aerobic, even going down to a 1 mile run all out, 80% of your energy contribution is coming via aerobic sources. Simply, regardless of distance, having a high revving aerobic cardiovascular engine is going to be vital for your success. Now, that doesn’t mean that we need do 10 mile tempos every week, it does mean we can’t completely abandon that source of training stimulus simply because we aren’t racing that distance- much like we don’t with speedwork during a marathon segment.
Now, as to the “how,” there a number of places that a marathon pace workout can be inserted into your training that’s not a marathon segment. The first is during a general fitness, base building, or a regeneration phase of running. In any of these situations, marathon pace work, mainly in form of repeats, tend to be a great way to add more structure into a program. It can help subside the urge to get into faster work too fast and avoid burnout before you are ready to race.
The second area is actually during a tough stretch of really fast work. We always talk about speed being the top of the roof. Referring to the percentages above, even at 5k racing, only 20% of your fueling needs come from anaerobic sources. However, when we are in a race specific stage, we are doing a lot of workouts in a row that are focusing on the top end (Faster than 10k pace) of our capacities. If you are like me, you struggle after doing a bunch of these fast workouts in a row. So, what I will do is swing back around with a marathon pace repeat workout that hits on the aerobic component, but gives us a break from the constant barrage of lung burning “get down” speed.
Now, as I mentioned, the marathon work I am talking about isn’t necessarily a 10 mile tempo run every few weeks. In fact, I rarely even go further than six miles total of marathon work.
Most of the time I prescribe something like 6-8 x 800 meters or 4-6x 1 mile at MP. Rest will be pretty short. 1 minute to 800 meters depending on where it’s placed in the segment. Early segment will have longer recovery because the purpose is more about getting back into routine, than anything. Later in a segment, you should be more fit, so the rest should be shorter.
Long Run Options:
Another favorite is mixing up a long run in place of a workout. For instance, if someone has been doing a bit of speed and has had some extra days off during the week, I might take that long run and mix it up on a person. One thing I like to do is a cutdown of 6-10 miles. The runner would warm up 1-2 miles, then do a progressively faster run over a set distance. I might start at a minute per mile slower than current marathon pace and work down to marathon pace or slightly faster. Then cool down another 1-2 miles.
It’s a good way to get a quality long run in without finding a day to add another workout.
Another one of my favorites is a moderate distance long run of 12-14 miles, but in the middle I will add 4-8x 2-3 minutes at marathon effort with the same time recovery jog. Again, it’s a great way to not miss a long run, but really stress some of the aerobic components we sometimes miss out on during a speed segment.
So there you have it! The why and the how of putting marathon pace work in your non marathon segments. It’s a way to offer up the balance in training that we stress, provide an opportunity to see how marathon pace feels after some progression, and even offer up non marathon runners a way to practice patience. It may even be a nice transition for those who are on the fence about a marathon to help build confidence in moving forward with that goal. The main reason though is that it does provide a great physiological stimulus, builds specific endurance, and helps break up a string of really tough 10k and faster workouts to help bring us back from burnout. Like most workouts, to make this work, you have to use restraint. Faster is not better here or we defeat the purpose of the workout. Hopefully, this helps answer some questions or gives you some ideas for your own training!
A number of loyal HMM followers have posted an interesting question that is not entirely addressed in the book. When approaching speed work, should I use my equivalent speed work or my actual speed work? This is a very relevant question to consider. Since our speed is in the beginning of the training plan, we don’t want it to be too fast or we will overcook ourselves before making it to the starting line. On the other hand, we don’t want to train too slow and not add get enough training stimulus.
What will happen most of the time is a person may have some shorter races under their belt, maybe even some marathons. For their next race, they have a set goal- say qualify for Boston or break four hours. So, what they will do is plug that goal time into a calculator and then just take down the training paces based on that time. What will happen from time to time is that the paces for the speed work won’t line up with what they have actually run. What should they do?
Like I said above, you really need to balance training too hard with not training hard enough. You also have to be consider what the goal of the speed work is for a marathon training segment. Our goal during the marathon is getting in work that’s faster than marathon pace, not necessarily getting faster in the 5k/10k distances. Along with that, you should really consider if running the faster of the paces may feel fine now, but will it dig a hole that’s too deep to get out of when the training gets into higher volume, longer tempos, and longer long runs? What’s unfortunate is you may not find that answer out until it’s too late.
When should I use the faster of the two paces?
Ok to use:
- You have one through a marathon training segment before
- You recover well
- Aren’t taking big jump in training
If you can check two of the three off from this list, then I think you will be ok going with the faster of the two pace options (actual versus equivalent). For the most part, I feel like this will fit more advanced runners who can be a little more aggressive. However, don’t be afraid to dial back if you get a few weeks in and aren’t responding well. It’s better to adjust now and avoid burnout.
- You have struggled with overtraining in the past
- Don’t recover well from speed
- Are trying to make a big jump in training
If this is describing you, I say take the conservative approach and give yourself a better chance at success. This is especially true if you are a beginner at the marathon and venturing into uncharted territory.
The best thing to do, is look at your numbers and then look at your schedule. If the schedule is already looking daunting to you, then don’t make it harder than it already is. If you’ve been through a few before, and know what your body needs, then be a little more aggressive. As with all things, monitor how you are feeling and make sure your general recovery strategies are in place. Set yourself up for the best possible opportunity for success when it matters- race day!
Actually, the question was originally about what paces their long run should be at, but it quickly escalated into, “what about warmups?” “What about cool downs?” “What if I’m slow?” “What should my recovery jog be (between intervals)?” So in an effort to clarify, I put together this 15ish minute explanation. Hope it can help you out, too!
In our open Facebook group we have about 3,000 members (at the time of this) and so thanks to them I have a nearly unlimited source of blog topics. A right now, a frequent question we are getting is in regards to modifying the training plan in order to fit a race in. I always chuckle at responses people give. Some are so hardcore that they feel like the schedule is the Written Word and will “scold” a person for even thinking about racing during the marathon segment! Others live for racing and would race every weekend if budget and relationships were not an issue. Their responses are the complete opposite. The truth is, well, it depends on the situation. Like anything in life there is a time and a place for everything. So let’s take a look at what our options.
My General Feelings on racing during the marathon segment
There are a lot of people who become discouraged with me when I discourage them from racing very much during a marathon training segment. For me, every race (during the marathon segment) should serve a purpose. If a person is just running the local 5k to beat a rival, but then still want to have lofty goals for the marathon, then I always have to ask them what their big picture goals are. For one, racing a 5k in the middle of a marathon segment won’t do too much for your confidence. You’re not 5k sharp, you shouldn’t have the ability to run your best 5k while training for 26 miles. If you do, then I would be concerned. If you are a new runner who’s never raced any distance very much, then you’ll see improvement, but for any seasoned runner that shouldn’t be the case.
I see two, maybe three cases, for running a race during the marathon segment. Even in these scenarios, it should be at specific times during the segment. This we will discuss later on, but for now let’s discuss the three scenarios. One is if you are trying to establish a baseline for training. Let’s say you haven’t raced anything in the last few months, and aren’t really sure what kind of marathon time you should be training for. At specific times during the segment, a race can be beneficial to get a baseline for your marathon training goals. The second scenario is performing a dress rehearsal for the marathon. The purpose here is not trying to test fitness, but rather to go through every detail that you will on your big race day. If done right, the race is not set up for the person to race all out, so they have to go in not expecting a personal best. The last scenario is if the race falls into a time when a long tempo can be replaced. Every segment runners will complain that they struggle doing the tempo’s by themselves, and there’s a race that would be a perfect substitution. While I understand the desire to have a little extra motivation to perform well on a long tempo run, I also know human tendencies. I know that more times, than not, that runners will not heed speed limits and then dig themselves a hole that takes away from other training and sets us back. I am always a lot less likely to give full on green lights for this option.
So now that we know how I feel about racing during a marathon segment, let’s discuss what to do with that training plan of yours once the rage registration is paid for.
For short races (5k or 10k)
Since the speed is done in the beginning part of the training segment, the urge is to run these short races during this block of training. Honestly, the logic here is sound, if you can race responsibility. These are races I typically see as beginners using to establish their baselines for marathon training, rather than setting personal bests. Advanced runners may have races they run every year and they fit in fairly well with being able to do their speed workouts and substitute for shorter tempo runs.
For those with no race experience:
Below shows Weeks 5 and 6 of the classic marathon plan. This is a great time to establish a baseline for not only your goal marathon effort, but also the workouts leading up to it.
|Week 5||Off||5 Easy||Off||4 Easy||5 Easy||4 Easy||6 Easy|
|Week 6||4 Easy||12×400||Off||5 Tempo||4 Easy||8 Easy||8 Easy|
Here’s how I’d adjust with a race on week 5:
|Week 5||Off||5 Easy||Off||5 Easy||4 Easy||5k Race||4 Easy|
|Week 6||4 Easy||12×400||Off||5 Tempo||4 Easy||8 Easy||8 Easy|
If you can’t find a race specifically on week 5 of your plan, then you set up a time trial for 3.1 miles and use that data, but even being in Michigan, I feel like I can find a 5k race almost any weekend. This way, you can take your race time, establish a marathon goal time and now put all the correct paces into the plan.
For Advanced Marathon Plans:
Here is what weeks 5 and 6 look like in the Advanced Plan.
|Week 5||6 Easy||5x1k||Off||6 Tempo||7 Easy||8 Easy||12 Long|
|Week 6||6 Easy||4×1200||Off||7 Tempo||6 Easy||8 Easy||10 Easy|
When and how I would adjust
|Week 5||6 Easy||5x1k||Off||6 Tempo||7 Easy||8 Easy||12 Long|
|Week 6||6 Easy||4×1200||Off||8 Easy||6 Easy||5k/10k||8 Easy|
|Week 7||6 Easy||3x1M||Off||7 Tempo||7 Easy||8 Easy||14 Long|
When you race on Saturday of week 6, make sure your warm up is at least 2 miles. Then make your cool down long enough to get the 10 miles in that were scheduled for Saturday. Essentially, this will still give you an extra recovery day with Sunday being a shorter easy day. This should allow you to pick right back up with the schedule on Tuesday. Make sure you focus on recovery as soon as race is over (3R’s Rehydrate, Refuel, Rest).
Overall, your best bet to race short is early in the segment. Nothing longer than a 5k for beginners and 10k for advanced. With the right timing, you won’t miss much training- one Tempo that’s sandwiched between two similar distances and no long runs will be missed. After Week 7, the Tempo runs become 8 miles and doesn’t make sense to compromise these with a shorter race.
For Longer Races (15k to 25k):
Once we get past the speed workouts and into the strength, I always feel like it’s time to be all in for marathon training. This is when our training is solely focused on running a good marathon. So, if you do have to race, it has to be something that makes sense from a marathon performance standpoint. In all honesty I am talking about an opportunity to replace a long tempo run with a long race, but with speed limits.
What the Beginner plan looks like
|Week 11||5 Easy||Strength||Off||Tempo 8||6 Easy||8 Easy||16 Long|
|Week 12||5 Easy||Strength||Off||Tempo 9||5 Easy||8 Easy||10 E/L|
|Week 13||7 Easy||Strength||Off||Tempo 10||6 Easy||6 Easy||16 Long|
Weeks 11-13 are common times people get the urge to race and it’s probably when it makes the most sense for longer races as you’ve no progressed from speed to strength workouts. The structure of the Advanced plan will look the same, just different easy day mileage.
How to adjust under different scenarios.
Saturday race on non long run weekend (16 miler):
In our example, let’s stick with weeks 11 through 13 of the Beginner schedule. Week 11 would require no adjustments.Week 12 would be the race week and will be your week of adjustments. First, scratch the 9 mile tempo on Thursday and replace it with Saturday’s 8 Easy. Friday would stay the same. Saturday would be your race and would take place of your tempo. Sunday should be a day to focus on recovery, but still get in 6-8 easy miles. With this, overall mileage for race week will actually be pretty close to what was scheduled. The few extra easy days between the strength on Tuesday and the race on Saturday can be a nice respite without taking time off or cutting mileage, too. The following week shouldn’t need adjustment as long as you really put your emphasis in recovering after the race through Monday.
Saturday race on a long run weekend:
First off, try to avoid this. I recognize that race dates will not care when your 16 mile long runs are, but if you can, avoid this. With that said, I attempt to live in reality. With that said, you have a couple options. Let’s say there’s a 10 mile race on week 13 of your training plan. Your best option would be to take Sunday’s long run to Thursday and shorten the distance up to 10-12 miles, depending on your experience level. Then keep Friday the same and “race” on Saturday. If you make the warmup and cool down longer your total mileage for the day will be close to what the long run would be. Just make sure that Sunday and Monday you run very easy and put a recovering high on your priority list.
Sunday “dress rehearsal” race:
Your best opportunity for this is 3 weeks out, or week 16 of the schedules. All your long runs are completed by now and you will have amassed about all the fitness you can by then. You’ll have only 2 SOS days left after this week is completed. Let’s look at weeks 16 and 17 of the Advanced plan to see how this shakes out.
|16||6 Easy||Strength||Off||10 Tempo||6 Easy||10 Easy||10 Easy|
|17||8 Easy||Strength||Off||10 Tempo||7 Easy||8 Easy||8 Easy|
An adjusted plan:
|16||6 Easy||Strength||Off||10 Easy||10 Easy||6 Easy||Race|
|17||8 Easy||Off||Strength||7 Easy||10 Tempo||8 Easy||8 Easy|
The biggest thing people will point out to me is that the tempo on week 17 has been moved to Friday, which would give you 9 days out. My first response would be that if you were that concerned about doing things by the schedule then I wouldn’t even be writing this! More seriously though, I would say that this is your last SOS day and still have 9 days to be recovered. Also, the two days is important after a big effort on the Sunday of week 16. I feel that if you did a half marathon and then came back and did a strength workout after one day recovery then you’d put yourself at a bigger risk for injury. Staying healthy that last two weeks is top priority.
I didn’t cover every scenario, but this gives you an idea of what you should be looking to do as a far as a race distance, when to do it, and how to approach. If done correctly, you can scratch that itch to race, but not hurt the big picture goal of the marathon for the current training segment.
If you’ve read much of anything that I have put out into the internet universe, you’ll know that my position on heart rate training is one of,
“when they start handing out BQs based on heart rate, I will start training people by heart rate.”
I actually stole that line from a conversation I had with Keith at one point. It still rings true to this day! However, the topic is still brought up, along with new fads- eh hem- power meters, lactate threshold detectors, and activity monitors.
What I mean by that is people already use GPS devices as if it’s the holy grail
It comes down to one of those things where I didn’t like using heart rate because to me it was just another variable in making training more complicated. What I mean by that is people already use GPS devices as if it’s the holy grail. Being a slave to another parameter is just another way to limit yourself in a workout. I don’t want them to now be limited in a workout because of their heart rate monitors telling them they are working to hard.
I’ve written a blog post previously on my stance on relying on heart rate that includes the reasons why I’m not a fan for day to day training. You can find that here.
Many of you still use heart rate, and I’m not going to fight anyone on it anymore. What I am going to do is give you my thoughts on what I would observe and how I would practically approach using heart rate in your training.
A great approach to blending gps/hr/learning feel. I came across a great piece referencing legendary Coach Bobby McGee and his use of blending these variables. You can find the piece in The Runners Edge. Essentially, what he does is allows athletes to go by heart rate in the early buildup of their training. There are a couple nice things about this. For instance, think about when you start training for a fall marathon- it’s in the peak of summer, right! You’re just starting training and it’s hot, humid, and difficult to get a bearing on pace. Coach McGee would have runners run a pretty short run (2-3 miles) at goal marathon pace and see what the corresponding heart rate was. He would then set early season workouts to that heart rate, but begin increasing the length of the workouts By monitoring your heart rate you can go by effort and keep yourself in check (see our 5 early pitfalls of training post)
The trick is to not look at it during your run.
The key with what Coach says is that you transition away from focusing on heart rate. As you get into your meat and taters section of training, you go to what matters most-pace. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to abandon tracking your heart rate completely. The trick is to not look at it during your run. Instead, when you log your data, just observe. Track how you ran for workouts, especially under similar conditions, and the corresponding heart rate. The goal would be that the distance would increase while the pace stayed the same and the heart rate decreased. The key though, is that HR wasn’t looked at until AFTER the workout was over. I think one thing to keep in mind too would to try and keep variables similar- like do your workouts that you are comparing on similar loops. Ideally, the weather would be similar to what you will be racing in the closer you approach the race, as well.
Using Heart Rate to determine over training
Besides monitoring effort during a workout, runners use heart rate to determine if they are recovering, or overtraining. The idea is that one, resting heart rate will lower with fitness and increase with over training. The second is that an athlete who is getting fit will have lower heart rates at the same intensity, while an overtrained athlete may have a higher heart rate at the same intensity.
In the first scenario, that appears to be more and more a myth. Most studies appear to show now differences in resting heart rate between fit and overtrained people. What does seem to be of value is a person’s sleeping heart rate. And with all of the new technology out there, this is probably easier to monitor than ever before. If you monitor your sleep, keep an eye on this parameter. An increasing sleeping HR over a period of time may be a good indicator of your training status.
The second observation point is with training heart rates. Most people think that as they gain fitness, their heart rate for a given workout will decrease. While some studies have shown this, others have not. Using this method to dictate if your fitness is on track just isn’t that clear and might not be a reliable observation.
A couple great sources:
Latest Buzzword: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the variance in beats of the heart. So, someone with a low HRV might have a heartbeat that goes Beat 1 2 3 Beat 1 2 3 Beat 1 2 3 Beat. Someone with a high HRV might go Beat 1 2 3 Beat 1 2 Beat 1 2 3 4 Beat 1 2 3 Beat 1 2 3 Beat 1 2 and on and on. They don’t have a heartbeat that is like clockwork. I remember in a physiology lab and the student freaked out. They thought I had a messed up heart!
A trend downwards can indicate the approach to becoming overtrained.
The idea though is that a person with a high HRV is very fit and people will use it to monitor their recovery or if they are gaining fitness. This isn’t a measure that is a one and done type of process. In fact, it’s something that you really need a lot of data points to find anything useful with. You’d really monitor several times a week and graph the trends. In general, a trend upwards is good. A trend downwards can indicate the approach to becoming overtrained. The only problem is, that these trends don’t always indicate one or the other.
Monitoring your HRV has been shown to dictate what kind of training will suit you better…
To me it’s simply an observation point that you use to piece together what your entire training looks like and then use all those pieces to help forge a decision in your training. Some information I did find interesting. Monitoring your HRV has been shown to dictate what kind of training will suit you better (high volume or high intensity) A person with a high HRV may be better suited for high intensity training, while a low HRV person may respond well to a high volume training program.
HOWEVER, nothing was said about how much they improved and in what distance. What I mean is, will that work for a 5k through a marathon training plan or just shorter racing distances. Also, does it work with new runners through elite runners, as this study just looked at recreational runners. (Article). It is all interesting, but I think there’s a long way to go. And again, I think it’s something you look at over a long period of time and use it as one piece of information, not the only information.
In the end though, they still only hand out BQ’s based on running a certain pace and not keeping your heart rate in a certain zone.
Measuring your HRV is getting easier and easier as a quick app store search reveals several different applications. I recommend in bed right when you get up. If you monitor your sleep, you might already have that data. To me, that’s even better. While I am still not a heart rate using coach, I am slowly believing there’s a place for both worlds to exist. In the end though, they still only hand out BQ’s based on running a certain pace and not keeping your heart rate in a certain zone.
Recently, we had a live chat with our athletes and members of the Online Run Club regarding a very basic question, “what do I do now?” Most of our runners were coming off from fall marathons and many of them had simply followed the plans from Hansons Marathon Method where it was a very intensive training block. So what we did, was lay out a few things that people could do based on where they were with their running. I have discussed this topic before (Moving beyond the basics), but this will be offer a few different takes. Below I laid out what I would do given a specific circumstance.
Between now and training for Boston
This is a very specific schedule problem, but can also work for someone who runs a late spring marathon, but has a number of weeks to fill before you actually need to begin training for a marathon you know you are going to be training for in the fall. Since I am writing this after fall marathon season and people were specifically concerned about Boston, I will stick to this example. You can use the idea for whenever you find yourself in a similar situation.
Our main problem is, even if you run a late fall marathon, say New York, you still have at least a month before you need to begin training for Boston. With that, what do I do? (panicked voice).
- Don’t get too excited. What I found was people got into Boston and they were instantly motivated to run up every hill that they could find. The problem with that is I want you to be in peak fitness in April, not February! Getting too fit too soon is very common.
- How to utilize your 4-8 weeks of stagnicity? For many it is a perfect opportunity to ensure that you are fully recovered from a hard training segment. I’m not saying to just blow two months off, but rather focus on keeping mileage at a reasonable level- say 60-70% of your marathon peak. Do workouts that will maintain general fitness and allow an easy transition into marathon training. It’s a great opportunity to also add a component that you know you need work on, whether it’s strides, general strength, core, whatever you know you need to begin work on.
- The other option is based around the idea of whether you need 18 weeks to get ready for the marathon. Since you just came off a marathon training block and are going to go into another one, I don’t think there is always a need for the 18 week training block. What a lot of my athletes are doing is either a base building segment, a speed segment, or a half marathon segment that will end in early January, do a week of recovery (light running), and then jump into a dedicated marathon segment. It’s a great way to break up the winter, get different work in, but then still be in a position to go right into a 12 week marathon specific training block. Now what, we would do would depend on what the runner needed, but also a lot of it was where they were living. Trying to do a dedicated speed segment in a tough winter location is difficult and might not yield the results we are looking for.
We offer a Boston Marathon group that begins in December and is an 18 week program. However, it is set up so that we are building into that 18 weeks where the we spend several weeks gradually building fitness. This also makes it very easy for a person who is doing #3 above to jump into the group after an early January race.
Just ran your first marathon:
If you are in this group and used Hanson’s, there’s a decent chance you hated me for a little bit. Who knows, you still might. I know the program is a tough program, especially if it’s your first exposure to this type of structured training. Knowing that, I feel how you move forward from here is really important.
- Make sure you are recovered! Take the two weeks off. Take your time coming back. Here’s a super simple 4 Week Plan to help you return to running after your two weeks off. That now puts you 6 weeks post race and ready to go in whatever direction you think is best.
- Here’s what I would not do: Run another marathon right away. This is especially true if the training was particularly tough on you. Now that you’ve run the marathon, let’s focus on getting our threshold mileage (or general mileage we feel comfortable up), implementing things like general strength and core, running faster shorter races, and then return to the marathon. This will give us about 6 months of increasing our training abilities before coming back to the marathon (and crushing it)!
- Option one is to build our base mileage. Take all the pressure off of racing again for a while. Do a 6-8 week base building program to help you tolerate your running fitness. Then follow a plan for another race. Here’s a list of all our Base Building Plans
- If you’ve been bit by the racing bug, or want to return back to where you usually train and race, then by all means, follow a 5k-10k plan, or even a half marathon plan. Either way, you can get faster at shorter distances, which will ultimately help you run a faster marathon when you do return. By that time, the marathon training will be much more tolerable.
This one has come up a lot on our Facebook group and in the ORC. When someone crushes a PR, the desire is often to keep the train rolling and just keep. Chasing big times. This is where I think you really take a step back and assess where you are at and where you ultimately want to be. Here’s a perfect example: An athlete of mine had a huge breakthrough this fall in Milwaukee and ran 2:40. His ultimate goal is to run 2:30 and the first thought that came to mind was that we should just go after a 2:30 something this spring. The problem with that? When we looked at his splits, we realized he PR’d in the half, twice! Guess what we are going to do now? Right, we are going to get his half marathon time down first. Then we will come back and get after a 2:35 marathon.
- The marathon makes you very strong. Your aerobic abilities will be through the roof and you’ll be strong. That’s not going away, even after your recovery time. It makes for a perfect time to bounce back with either
- A dedicated 8-10 week speed session that will help improve your overall speed.
- Or a dedicated 10-12 week half marathon training segment.
- Either way, you’ll improve your fitness from another angle. This will ultimately take your overall fitness to a new level and this will only help you in whatever direction you go next.
- After your segment, you’ll have a choice to make. Doing another marathon segment is alright. As we talked about before, doing an 18 week segment may not be necessary. The beauty of training at a moderate mileage all the time is that you drastically cut the time you need to get ready for any race. Here’s a list of all our different marathon programs
While having a breakthrough is always better, we all suffer defeat in some fashion with the marathon. Some people will become defeated and need some time to regroup. That’s completely understandable and just fine. For these folks, just remember, that fitness you gained doesn’t just magically disappear. You can come back stronger than ever. You just have to focus on what went wrong and make adjustments. On the other hand, others will want to take revenge right away. That is tempting, and I admire wanting to keep fighting, but we have to be careful. I have had athletes attempt this and be quite successful. I have others who have suffered even greater defeats. If you attempt to bounce back right away you have to be willing to accept whatever the outcome- the good, the bad, and the ugly. The one prerequisite I would give you that is you had to have handled the training well and just fell apart or the weather didn’t allow, or whatever. If you struggled with the training and got injured or were just so completely fatigued that you fell apart, then we have to figure that out first. It will do no good to put yourself in the exact same position without figuring out what went wrong first.
How long before you race again depends on a few things.
- If you ran the whole race, you’re in the toughest spot. Despite not having the performance you wanted, you still ran 26.2 miles. You still did a fair amount of damage to your legs and need to recover from that. If you are in this boat, you’ll need to still take some down time. I would say cross train to keep your aerobic fitness high, but still allow your legs to recover. From there you will need to spend about 6 weeks of building your fitness. Your mileage may not need to be as high and you can probably get by with simply doing marathon specific work- emphasis on tempo runs and long runs. Taper for 10 days and race again. I say about 8 weeks after your first race would be a good time frame.
- Did not finish. If something happened and you just couldn’t finish, then you can follow the above, but probably scale back the recovery time to 5-7 days and then be ready to race in 4-6 weeks post first attempt.
- Did not start. This is a tough situation to be in. All that time and effort only to not even get a chance. This happened to someone in our Facebook group a few weeks ago. Their training had gone great and then, boom! They got sick two days before their race. What I recommend in this case is to try and find another race within a couple weeks. You are already super fit and all we really need to do is get your legs back underneath you. You don’t have to build your mileage. You can do a short tempo run, maybe a medium long run and then just make sure you are fresh. My optimal window here is 2-3 weeks. If you can do this, I believe you can still run a great race! If you have to extend that window much more than that, I fear you’ll end up stagnant and in no man’s land with training. The longer you have to wait, the less chance you have of running well.
There are certainly other scenarios that we could cover, like approaching a marathon after a speed segment. We have talked about these a little bit, and the biggest problem people might have is how long they should mark of for their following marathon segments. That can be highly individual and probably should be saved for another day. This is a great start!
This year I have taken a much bigger effort to connect with the thousands of people that have used the Hansons Marathon Method over the last few years. Not because I was unsure if it would work, but rather to make sure I was doing a good job of communicating the main idea of the philosophy: cumulative fatigue. What I learned was well, it is a mixed bag. Some of it is I think people buy the book but just follow the program and wonder why it’s so hard. This is a small group, but there isn’t much more I can personally do if they don’t want to explore why we do what we do. Then there’s the group who do everything by the book (literally) and see success. Then there’s the group that I need to do better job of coaching. With that, my aim is to pull out all the stops with the idea of cumulative fatigue.
What is cumulative fatigue?
Our goal with marathon training and half marathon training is to build a certain amount of cumulative fatigue that develops the strength and preparedness for the marathon.
What exactly is the definition of cumulative fatigue?
Here’s my version of the idea: When fatigue is coming from the culmination of training and not from one specific aspect. The athlete is fatigued, but still able to run strong, and not dip past the point of no return. The end result is that the runner becomes very strong, fit, and able to withstand the physical and mental demands of the marathon distance.
So, what do we do to achieve this end result? To me it’s really about 4 components for the marathon. Balance, Moderate to High Mileage, Consistency, and Active recovery.
What are the components of CF?
As you can see in figure 1, there are four “pillars” I use in reaching a person to reaching cumulative fatigue. We’ve talked about these a lot, so I’ll just link to those discussions.
What I will say here though is that these components all work as part of the entire system.
When you pull one piece out it’s like a giant Jenga tower spilling all over the dining room table.
Then what? You’re just left to pick up the prices and start over.
For instance, let me share with you a common scenario I will see in our Facebook groups. A person starts the program but doesn’t completely by into part of the program. Seemingly, it always has something to do with the idea of a 16 mile long run (insert shocked voice). I feel like one of two things happen. The most popular is that the person doesn’t really think that 16 miles is long enough and make their long runs the typical 20+ miles in a 40 to 50 mile week. However, in order to have enough energy, the rest of the week suffers somehow. A skipped workout here and a shortened tempo run there. Before long, the original training plan is a shadow of its former self, but the runner still feels like they are “following the method.” The second is that the runner believes too much in the 16 mile long run and develop a belief that the program is centered around the long run. They feel like even if they skimp on the rest of the training the 16 miler is all they need.
The bottom line is that the 16 miler alone won’t get the job done. Like any training, or cumulative fatigue component, it’s the sum of parts that makes it successful.
What is the difference between CF and just overtraining?
This is an area where many of you need help fully understanding and I need a better job teaching. I will admit that it’s a very thin line between the two technical stages of training we are discussing. That’s functional overreaching and non functional overreaching.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO:
When you are in a functional overreaching, you will be tired but your performances in workouts will not suffer.
When you start feeling like crap and your performances are getting worse, you have likely crossed that line into functional overreaching.
Now, there’s always a caveat to these things. Let’s say you were running too fast to begin with and through training hard you’ve slowed down to what you were supposed to be running? If so, I don’t think it’s non functional, rather a correction. Where you will get into trouble is if you continue to try to hit the paces that were too fast. Rather, settle into the proper paces and let your fitness and body come back around. You’ll still feel tired, but as long as performance is stable, you’re ok.
How do I reach CF without going too far?
And here we go. The meat and taters, if you will. There’s a number of things we should do 1) before we even begin training and 2) during the early stages of a training plan that will help immensely with our goal of cumulative fatigue and not over training. From there, we can discuss the things we need to do during training that will help safeguard us while in the hardest sections of the training.
Before we even start:
- At least have a discussion about what your goal is or should be. Many of the folks using the plan for the first time are people who have at least raced before, so choosing a goal makes it a bit easier for them. For those who have no clue as to what they should run should consult a coach or respected runners who will give them a no BS answer. If you recall a discussion we had about Strava data, we should that something like 60-70% of people are running a 4-5 hour marathon and training about 30 miles per week. An hour difference is a big gap, but it at least gives you a starting point to evaluate yourself. A brand new runner who is building from scratch will probably be looking more at the 4.5-5 hour range. A newer runner with a little bit of running underneath them might be looking at the 4-4.5 hour range.
- Look at your schedule outside of running. Do you know of vacations and other gatherings that you know will make training difficult? Big business trips on the horizon? A baby on the way (I don’t think my daughter slept more than an hour or two a night for the first 6 months of her life). I know there’s a lot of unexpected events that pop up, but at least plan for what you know is going to occur. Preparing for these things in advance will not only help you set a more reasonable training goal, but also allow you to absorb the unexpected a little better.
Early in the training:
I made a post about this a bit ago and I think is a must read for everyone new to the idea of cumulative fatigue: Avoiding the early pitfalls of marathon training.
A few keys to take away:
- Let your fitness build, don’t try to force the issue. I see this all the time where people think if fast is good, faster is better. No, running the right pace for what we are trying to accomplish is better. For instance, if your goal is 3:45 and it’s already an attempt at a big PR, then why make it harder on yourself and try to run faster than what is prescribed? I want you at peak fitness for your goal race, not the local school fundraiser 5k.
- Don’t rely on running alone. This one has always been a problem for me. As much as we feel strapped for time, we need to carve more out if we truly want to prepare. I am talking about things like flexibility, dynamic warm ups, core training, and general strength. I know I know. I hear ya and I have fought it forever, too.
- Sleep and proper nutrition are your best friends during a heavy training cycle. This is for your life, aw well. Should be non negotiable.
- Adjust for environment. The summer is a perfect example of this. For an October marathon, you’ll start training in June. This means that a lot of your training will be during the dog days of summer. So many times my athletes will overdo it trying to hit paces that aren’t reasonable given the temperature and humidity. Is it ideal? No, but that’s why we don’t be a ourselves up that we were 15 seconds slow per mile when it was 80 degrees with a dew point of 65 degrees and we’ve only been training for 6 weeks.
If you can do these things, you’ll set yourself up to be able to not only tolerate training, but also maximize your training adaptations during the last 6-8 weeks of the marathon segment (when it really counts). You’ll put yourself in the zone of cumulative fatigue without crossing the threshold into overt training.
What do I do if I take it too far?
The end result of what I saw many folks doing was taking cumulative fatigue into nonfunctional overreaching by the time they got to the strength segment of the marathon plans. If you find yourself in that zone or rapidly approaching it, here’s what I would do.
- Immediately start doing the things we just talked about. Consider vitamins/supplements.
- Spread workouts further apart (Modifying Schedule)
- Wednesday-Sunday w alternating weekend
- Within a month of race? Start taper now. If you are fried and performance has gone by the wayside, we have to bring you back and quickly. Reducing both volume and intensity is the easiest way to do it.
- Scale back to 2b.
- Focus on lower intensity SOS
- Don’t scale back so much you lose fitness
The end goal is two fold. The first is to teach you how to train, regardless of system you use. We want to take you from guessing to knowing the how, what, and why if becoming a runner (regardless of pace, as pace is irrelevant). This is an ongoing process and hopefully incorporated into everything we provide. The second is what you are immediately concerned with- getting to the starting line healthy. I realize that things rarely go perfectly as planned. If you find yourself in such a situation let’s cut our losses, minimize the damage, and get to the starting line in one piece. This will at least allow you to run your race and you still might even just surprise yourself with what you can still accomplish. It certainly doesn’t have to mean throwing in the towel on a training segment!
Listen to our PODCAST on Cumulative Fatigue
First off, let me thank the tens of thousands of folks who have utilized the Hansons Marathon Method. One of the greatest compliments I receive is being at a function and someone asks me to sign a copy of a dogeared, note filled, and more than gently used book. While the book is the foundation for everything we do, there is often the question of what to do once you’ve been through the schedules a couple times. This post is for you!
Structuring for the long term?
Many of you have read the book and then simply put the training plan on repeat. While many of you have had success doing that, it certainly doesn’t leave much for variety. While the book is the foundation, I admittedly lack discussing how to grow as a runner after you have completed the advanced training plan. There’s a lot to figuring what’s best for you, so I’ve come up with a list of questions to ask yourself. It’s a little bit of work, but trust me, we take care of the rest!
What are my primary goals for the a) next training segment b) the next year and c) the next 3-5 years?
When a person comes to us for coaching we ask them about what their long term goals are. It gives a glimpse into the big picture but it also helps us organize our priorities. Even if you are new runner, or at least a new marathoner, we should have an idea what our big goals are so that we can create a road map. We can address immediate training problems. Let’s say you want to have a segment where we build your milage and just maintain fitness. Maybe we want to learn how to incorporate some general strength training into a running regimen. No problem, we can give you one of our base programs and then a 6 week strength for runners program. From there we can then go after working getting our overall speed up before going after another marathon or half marathon.
Do I need to follow an 18 week program all the time?
No! That’s the beauty of training at a moderate level. When people first start either the Beginner or Advanced program we are making some general assumptions. We are trying to fit the bulk of the population into a program that will work for everyone. Once we get through that, we can then start helping you get specific. Here’s a great example of moving beyond the classic schedules that we did with folks running Boston:
- Runners started in December training with an 18 week Hanson’s schedule.
- Completed Boston and took about 2 weeks of down time.
Here’s where it got tricky. With a marathon ending in mid April, we now had a ton of time before we needed to worry about a fall marathon. So what do we do? We definitely didn’t want to just sit idly by and watch! We had a couple otions.
Option 1: For those who were really just rocked from Boston or were at a point where they wanted to try and get mileage to a new level. For these folks we gave them a 8-12 week base building plan that allowed them to get their mileage up without a ton of intensity. Some of them started their strength and core routines here (which is a great time to begin). It also opened the door to another marathon, speed, or half marathon segment at the end. Leave the door open!
Option 2: Most of the rest of the folks wanted to attack some 5k and 10k races, which I was all on board with. So with theses runners, we gave a small buildup of about 4 weeks post time off. Then we went into a true speed segment where we attacked VO2max pace and true lactate threshold pace. Here it made sense because they already had such a huge aerobic base under their belt from the marathon training. We did that for 8-12 weeks, depending on the goal.
For either option we were able to fit a different training segment that would suit their needs and not put them into a training rut. With Option 1, these folks were at a new mileage level with a good general starting fitness point. With that said, they didn’t need to start over from scratch with the classic 18 week schedule. For whatever race they chose we could now put them into a 12-16 week training plan that wasn’t going to repeat what they had just done. For Option 2, these folks had already gone through several weeks of speed specific training so there was certainly no need to rehash a big block of speed again for a marathon. We could get them into a 12 week marathon specific plan and they’d be in great shape come fall.
As you can see, we can break up and take modified versions of the classic schedules (but still on point with the philosophy) and create a long term approach to fitness building and personal bet running.
Where do I fit a training segment for shorter races in? Or build my base?
A common question, which we began addressing above. I would further say that it depends a little bit on where you are from. We coach a lot of people in the midwest and down south. It might as well be above the arctic circle and at the equator as far as geography. What’s the point? Well, my midwest folks do well with a different running calendar than my friends in say, Florida. Here, while summer is warm, it’s not typically oppressive like it is down south. We can get away with starting our fall marathon training in June or July. Meanwhile, my southern athletes will typically just let summer be a base building period or maybe a shorter race segment. They typically don’t even want to start thinking about training for a marathon until late September.
What if I want to run more? What about less?
Absolutely. While I really want to get you to handle mileage and workouts, we have to be smart about it! We have versions of the classic plans that are written on the philosophy but scaled down to longer segments (up to 24 weeks) with less mileage (about 40 miles per week). We also have extrapolated to shorter segments that are 12-16 weeks long, but with mileage anywhere from 70 to 100+ miles per week at peak.
I really need more recovery between workouts, but want to keep a high level of training; what can I do?
Along the same lines as above, we’ve also created plans that provide more recovery days in between. Right now we have examples of the classic marathon plans that are built around a 9 day training cycle and include one day off. What that means is you have a schedule that looks something like this:
- Day 1: Long run
- Day 2: Easy
- Day 3: Easy
- Day 4: Workout
- Day 5: Off or Easy
- Day 6: Easy
- Day 7: Workout
- Day 8: Easy
- Day 9: Easy, reset the cycle
We are also currently devising plans that will still be on a traditional 7 day cycle, but with 2 SOS days per week, instead of three.
Do you have plans to help me with these?
Heck yes we do! We currently have over 40 training plans that can be downloaded right into a dynamic training plan. These plans notify you nightly of upcoming workouts. Easily move days around to fit your personal schedule with the drag and drop feature. Sync your Garmin to the training log so your training log is always updated. SEARCH THE PLANS
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- First Marathon Series Part 5: Understanding Marathon FatigueFebruary 19, 2019 - 5:00 am
- First Marathon Series: Part 4February 12, 2019 - 5:00 am
- Running your first marathon: Part 3February 5, 2019 - 5:00 am
- Running your first marathon: Part 2January 29, 2019 - 5:00 am
- First time marathon series: Part 1January 22, 2019 - 12:01 pm