Posts

Podcast Episode: Metabolic Efficiency Pt 1

PlayPlay

I’ve been doing metabolic testing and VO2max testing for a fair amount of time now, but mostly with predictable results. Not until recently, have we been testing for than one type of runner, and boy have results not been quite so “textbook.” These results have led me to explore more into the topic of metabolic efficiency.

This led to some personal revelations as to why certain runners struggle so much with not only training, but losing weight, and being able to progress from a health standpoint. I hope you find this info interesting and can put some of this towards your own training or coaching!

Choosing a Race Goal

PlayPlay

Whether you are a newbie or a veteran runner, choosing a race goal can sometimes be tricky. In this episode I discuss a few different scenerios and several aspects to consider when choosing a race goal. Hopefully, this can help you set a goal that’s ambitious, but still attainable. Included in the discussion is also the topic of how to potentially handle the pitfalls of going after that “home run” instead of just putting the ball in play. Sorry, for the baseball analagy, but it fits in my little mind.

 

For the PDF of the presentation download Choosing Race Goal

Running and strength training

Get strong!If I were to go back and change one thing about my running career, it would be to change how I approached I approached strength training and “core” training. It’s not that none of my coaches had me avoid strength training, in fact, I think all of them knew it would be beneficial. The problem was, that I don’t think any of them truly understood how to approach the idea with an endurance runner. Really, you can’t say it was their fault, as the idea at the time I started running is that endurance runners purely needed to be skinny. At that point, I’d say looking frail was a precursor to how well you would run!

Now, as a coach, and as an athlete trying to preserve my career, I can see the benefits. Being strong and light are exponentially better than just being light. Being strong allows you to handle higher training loads and be more resilient. This allows us to be more consistent and continue to progress at steady rates.

Getting strong takes a commitment, but I certainly don’t think the time commitment that many of us feel is necessary. Since experimenting with this myself, I have it down to an efficient set of exercises. IF we do a little bit every day, in some capacity, we barely notice that time commitment. We don’t need to sacrifice our mileage or our desirable weight. Nor, do we need to sacrifice our hard earned performance.

Alright, give me stuff!

At our camp last weekend, I presented a few slides on the subject: Running & Strength Training

My notes are on there too, so hopefully it makes senses. For our Training Supplements members, I have added pdf’s of two specific routines that I have made.

[jetpack_subscription_form]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Days

When we talk about developing distance runners, we talk about long runs, speed work, tempos and the sort. We talk about the difficult things , but rarely do we really emphasize development through easy running. Easy running has different levels and meanings, all of which are important. However, instead of describing these things positively, we end up referring to it as junk mileage as if it were detrimental to developing your running ability. So runners are told that all they need to do is the difficult things and they will improve. They may, I’m sure many will for a while and that’s what makes it popular. Admittedly this theory has always confused me. Maybe because I see us as a society trending towards doing the least but gaining the most. Perhaps it’s because getting better can’t possibly be as easy as running at a comfortable pace every couple days, right? Or, maybe it’s simply because the majority of runners out there don’t even think about long term development. Whatever the situation is, easy running has, undeservedly so, gotten a bad wrap. In the wake of this, we complain that we can’t run mileage or we plateau but the answer is right here- the easy run.

Easy Running: A lot of bang for your buck

Easy running is the foundation in which all other training can be built from. By itself, easy running will directly contribute to:

  • tendon development
  • specific muscle fiber adaptation
  • bone development
  • mitochondrial growth/distribution
  • glycogen storage/fat utilization
  • general endurance
  • improved running economy
  • improved VO2max
  • Capillary density

For full breakdown on the physiology of easy running: HMM

Think about when people get hurt with running, especially newer runners or those running low mileage but emphasize hard workouts. It’s some sort of tissue breakdown. Maybe it’s in the bone (stress fracture) or tendon (tendonitis- achilles, tibial). These are all pretty common, right? Why do these occur? Without getting into debate about shoes or biomechanics, let’s break this down to the simplest mechanism. Our cardiovascular system will adapt to exercise very quickly, much faster than the skeletalmuscular system. So many times, we feel much more fit after a couple weeks, so we keep increasing our paces. However, the bones and tendons haven’t had enough time to catch up to the cardiovascular system. So, bone and tendon break down faster than it can be repaired and injury occurs. This frustrates runners and they believe that they simply can’t run very far or they’ll end up injured. This a big reason people shy away from running more. To be honest, a lot of this is our fault as coaches because we don’t show these folks how to do it, or to emphasize patience. When a person tells me they can’t run mileage, the first thing I look at is their easy days compared to their racing ability.

It was hard to choose a place to start with these discussions, since it seems intertwined and dependent on each other. Of course, the first thing I tell you is to run easy and slow down to get better. So, it’s only natural that I tell you that this is not always the case! Ok, this is definitely going to require more explanation! I guess the best way to define “easy” is easier than your SOS days (Something of Substance), but not necessarily slow. Remember that I said easy running has different levels and meanings? This is another area where we as runners tend to do it, but not because they run different paces, but rather they run the same pace (often too hard) for all of their easy runs. Let me put it this way, when I prescribe a runner a range of 7 to 8 minutes per mile for their easy days, what do you think they are going to try to run? Exactly, they are going to think that is 8 minute pace is good, then 7 minute pace is even better. So, every run is to try and run their fast end of the range. Yes, technically is appropriate, but what if they are tired? What if they are getting sick? Let’s take a closer look at some “easy” running levels.

Types of easy runs

  • Recovery Running: The slowest end of the range. This is 2.5+ minutes slower than marathon pace. For a lot of runners, they have to work to run this slow. I don’t prescribe a ton, but rather like to show that if you are feeling really rough, you can still gain benefit from this running. Where you would probably see it is during a cool down after a tough workout, or a run the day following a tough workout.

  • Easy Running: This and the next range of running is the bread and butter of easy running. It’s a comfortable pace. Let’s say this range is roughly 1.5-2.5 minutes slower than marathon pace. It’s a pace range that allows you to run theoretically as far as you want and uninterrupted time is probably the greatest factor in easy running adaptations. The key here is to not force it and just let yourself fall in this range. If you struggle in this range, it may be wise to look at what the race goal time is. Most scheduled easy runs will be in this pace.

  • Moderate Running: This may be 30 seconds to a minute per mile slower than your marathon goal pace. I’ll prescribe this to my more fit runners, or runners who are already running higher mileage. While easy, it does start creeping up on the scale of energy usage. The faster you run, the more glycogen, or stored carbohydrate, is used. The goal with endurance training is to become more efficient at burning fat at higher intensities. Moderate paced easy running puts you a little closer to a threshold and while you burn a little bit more carbohydrate, aren’t in danger of running out of fuel (unless you run for hours on end). However, you do start to tell the body that it should begin to adapt. I like putting longer runs at the moderate pace to really put the body in the position to run the glycogen stores low enough to the point where the body says “Hey, let’s start storing more glycogen” And, you become pretty darn efficient at burning fat.

  • High Aerobic: This is getting really close to goal marathon pace and I don’t prescribe as much overall. Again, I’ll use this for some long runs or for some early season hard runs for some runners. These shouldn’t be added much though until the runner is at a mileage level that isn’t going to change drastically. What you might see is a long run with a section run at this pace with the amount of time spent increases every few weeks. Your better marathoners can do this up to a couple hours, or most of their long run, when nearing peak fitness.

Now we have a lot of info here and I discussed two of the main ways we tend to mess it up. Let’s talk about how we can use easy runs to build our training volumes higher than we ever thought possible.

Using easy running to build volume

  1. Focus on completing the duration, not running hard. Even if you are on a run/walk program. The fastest way to actually decrease the time needed to run for 30 minutes straight is to slow down and increase the time jogging between walks. This applies to beginners, those starting back up after an extended break, and those attempting to reach new training volumes.
  2. Break up your days/runs. Basically, don’t run every run faster than need be. If you feel tired, you still get benefit from a slower run. If you can trust that faster isn’t always better you can save yourself a lot if frustration in the long term. Use recovery pace for those days that you just aren’t feeling the best. Use easy pace as your average run. Moderate is fine for long runs and days you feel really good.
  3. Allow your body time to adapt. What may take your heart two weeks to adapt to, may take your tibia four weeks. Just be careful in ramping the training up. Maybe it’s very small increments weekly or a larger increase every six weeks. Old veterans may be able to jump much quicker. It’s individual but the newer you are to the sport, the longer I would give yourself.

I try to be open minded with different methods of training, but one thing I cannot stand is the term junk mileage. I think it’s a way to get around telling people that they are doing it wrong. This may be harsh, but as a coach, it’s our responsibility to be honest. Otherwise, you jeopardize the athletes potential and that is not fair to anyone. Easy mileage is the foundation of training and the gateway to faster training and better training. We simply need to get over the idea that their are shortcuts to long term success.

-My 2 Cents, Luke

 

Marathon Strength Workouts

Marathon Strength   Hanson’s Coaching Services   When we talk about strength, usually we are referring to weight rooms, or one arm pushups. In the case of the Hanson’s Marathon Method, we aren’t talking about that. Have you ever heard the term “Strength equals speed” That’s more in line with what we are talking about. Strength in our system is referring to a type of SOS workout. It is usually used when talking about training for a half or full marathon and is really about doing an extended amount of work at a fairly high intensity (but slower than speed work) to develop the runner’s ability to deal with lactic acid.   If you aren’t familiar with our system, you may have heard the term “cruise intervals” which are essentially the same thing. These are coined by Dr. Jack Daniels’ and are a common part of his training. Our strength intervals aren’t necessarily true Lactate threshold runs per say, as we tend to keep you just under that lactate threshold. Remember, we are really looking at building your fitness from the bottom up. In the popular sense of the word “threshold run” you are probably thinking about a 20 minute run at lactate threshold pace. In our strength workouts, you’ll spend much longer than 20 minutes of hard running, just at a slightly slower pace. Daniels cruise intervals are often something like 2×1.5 miles @ LT or 3×1600 @ LT, so still pretty close to that 20 minute range, but with a short rest in there. For overall fitness, these are great, but as Lydiard describes in his writings, “You have to be careful about going over the edge.” That edge is LT. Do too much work above LT and you really limit your growth of the aerobic system. It escalates the chance of injury and burnout, too.

Figure 1: Please note that MP is somewhere in Zone 2, not necessarily AeT

Figure 1: Please note that MP is somewhere in Zone 2, not necessarily AeT

    Keep in mind that we are talking about long races here. So what we do for a 5k and 10k is going to be different than what we are doing for these races. It also makes it important to do this type of training between marathons so that you can maintain balance and not get stale! My point is thought, that you have to look at what we are trying to accomplish with the marathon (or any race over 2 hours). That is to be able to burn fat at the highest intensity possible. In a nutshell, the byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism (running hard) is the production of lactate. Once we get past the LT lactate can’t be recycled by the body at the same rate it is being produced. The body reacts by forcing you to slow down before things get out of control! So the solution is to maximize the mitochondrial component- the place where aerobic metabolism occurs. This happens by growing more mitochondria, making them bigger, and increasing the enzyme activity within the mitochondria. The result is that more fat can be processed because the network in place can process more fat (not faster, it’s just because the network is bigger) This means that less lactate is given off at higher intensities and you , my friend, can run faster in the marathon- or at least go farther before hitting the wall.   With all of this said, the purpose of the speed work is to

  1. Reduce the risk of injury by slightly lowering the intensity (which is also more marathon specific) and
  2. Increasing the volume to prepare your body physiologically AND mentally to deal with general discomfort for extended periods of time.
  3. The lactate threshold is improved by “pushing from the bottom up” By increasing all of this mitochondrial activity, the LT naturally increases because it is more efficient at processing fat as a fuel source!
  4. Lastly , hopefully this provides you a buffer between training hard and going over the edge! HOWEVER, this means that the runner has to stick to the right paces. If you cheat this workout to a faster pace and make it closer to LT, then you increase the chance of jumping right off that ledge. In this case, faster really is not better.

When do I use half marathon pace vs MP-10 secs?

If you have read most of the literature about the Hansons Marathon Method, you’ll see that the strength work is, by definition, MP-10 seconds per mile. If you have been coached by us, sometimes you’ll see half marathon pace. What we choose really depends on the person. Early season work will always be MP-10, where if an advanced runner I may crank it down to half marathon pace. Also, the faster you are, the closer half marathon pace comes to being quite similar to MP-10 seconds. For instance, my marathon pace is 5:08 and my ½ marathon pace is 4:54, a 14 second difference.

Where do you do these?

Track or roads? Personally, I like these workouts done AWAY from the track. That’s a lot of volume to do on that surface and I fear injury. This is done with purely anecdotal evidence from my personal experience and observation of athletes. Ideally, you can get on a rail to trail type path or dirt roads. Since these are more marathon specific workouts, I like keeping these on roads or bike paths. However, if the track is the best option available, then you have to go with what’s available.   A note about the recovery: At the very minimum, the recoveries are jogging. As you become more fit, the faster the recovery jogs should try to become (to a point). So, instead covering the recoveries at the slow end of your recovery pace range, try to keep it in the easy portion of your pace range. This will keep heart rate higher and maximizing the time you are spending in the appropriate range for LT development. However, don’t force this. Ultimately, I am happy as long as you are jogging the recoveries. I would rather that then the actual pace of the workout suffer.  

Marathon Strength Variations Read more

Marathon Long Run

PlayPlay

In this episode, we discuss the long run, as it pertains to the marathon. We touch upon why the long run for the general schedules is 16 miles and how to adjust accordingly to your own training level.

If you’d like to follow along, I have the presentation in PDF form: Marathon Long Run

Thanks for listening! Please email us with any training topics that you’d like discussed at [email protected]

Marathon Tempo Runs

Marathon Tempo

There are a lot of different definitions for tempo runs. For marathon training, a tempo run is a run at goal marathon pace.

There is not a lot to adjust for most marathoners. For most people I would continue to build from 5 miles to 10 miles at pace for their progression. However, there are a few tweaks that could be made for certain populations.

Under 30 miles/week:

Introduce tempo’s early in the segment.

Start with 3 miles and build to 4 miles after a few weeks. From there, continue with normal progression of 5-10 miles of tempo.

High Mileage: 80+ miles/week

With you folks, you can consider starting at 6 mile tempos and progressing to 10 mile tempos, especially if your training block is in the 12-14 weeks range.

There is the possibility of running a longer tempo run, say 11-12 miles. However, I would not do them in consecutive weeks like the other tempo run distances. These are something that can be done once every few weeks. I don’t prescribe a ton of these because of the time factor. Many people are already barely squeezing in a 10 mile tempo (plus warm up/and cool down). One option is to do a longer tempo in place of a Sunday run. It can be on a weekend when you aren’t doing a true long run. This then makes your Thursday and open day. I would do a medium long run in this case. Something in the range of 14 miles (at least 90 minutes) and then do your long tempo on Saturday or Sunday.

At this mileage, you can also consider doing a cutdown. This is best suited early in a training block when just starting to do some harder workouts and/or later in a segment if you are truly fatigued but still need a solid workout to get in. For instance, the Hanson’s-Brooks Distance Project do a 10 mile cutdown. I’ll give you the guys’ version because I know the paces off the top of my head. Here’s what the mile splits look like in a traditional cutdown: 6:00, 6:00, 5:50, 5:50, 5:40, 5:30, 5:20, 5:10, 5:00, 4:50 (Sometimes we’ll stay at 5:00). From a pace standpoint, we are starting at about 40-50 seconds slower than marathon pace and getting down to about half marathon pace with these runs. I do like these workouts because they start out pretty easy, and then it sneaks up on you and all of a sudden it’s hard the last few miles. This is a great representation of the marathon. These can be 6-10 miles in length. The end pace should always be about the same, but the beginning pace can become faster as the length of the cutdown shortens.

Implementing the cutdown is key. I like these as a first workout back from a running break. They are also good to do as a last workout before a race (say a tune up race during marathon training), and if you are really on the verge of going over that training edge, but don’t want complete rest.

 

The tempo fartlek: This something that I have only implanted recently, but it is great for a couple of different running groups- those who are terrible at running marathon pace tempos and those who struggle with wrapping their head around their marathon pace.

So, instead of a traditional tempo run, start with something like 20×1 minute at your goal marathon pace with 30 seconds to 1 minute jog in between. With a 1-2 mile warm up and then an additional 1-2 mile cool down, you have a nice little run with some intensity. Each week, increase the time, but leave the recovery the same. Here’s a sample progression:

Week 1 20×1 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 2 15×2 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 3 10×3 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 4 8×4 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 5 6×5 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 6 5×6 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 7 4×8 min w/ 1 min jog
Week 8 3×10 min w/ 1 min jog

If you are doing a marathon and think this is what you would like to try first, then start ASAP, even if it is before you are actually training for your marathon. The goal later is to be running full traditional marathon tempo runs.

If you still have trouble and need to break up the runs, then consider these variations:

Weeks 1-2 5×1 mile (@ goal MP) with 2 minute jog
Weeks 3-4 3×2 mile (@ goal MP) with 2 minute jog
Weeks 4-5 2×3 miles (@ goal MP) with 2 minute jog
Weeks 5-6 2×4 miles (@ goal MP) with 2 minute jog
Weeks 7-8 2×5 miles (@ goal MP) with 2 minute jog

Don’t pay too much attention to how the weeks are numbered. You may do the first 8 weeks of your training using the first chart and then follow a modified structure of the second chart. As a coach, I’d like to see you be running longer tempos without a break during the last 4-6 weeks of your training block. That may mean doing some of the first column before they even begin training for their goal marathon just so that they can get used to running marathon pace.

High Mileage Runners:

For this group, I am referring to those at 80 plus miles per week. I have looked over a lot of the higher level plans of legendary coaches like Joe Vigil, Jack Daniels, and Renato Canova. All three incorporate runs at marathon pace (they don’t call them tempos) up to 18-20 miles. That’s a huge run at marathon pace. Granted, these higher numbers are for their elite runners, but there should be a bridge to those runners who are putting in 80-110 miles per week. I don’t see why they shouldn’t engage in some runs that are 12-16 miles at goal marathon pace.

Sample Progression:

Week Tempo
Week 10 10-12 mile tempo
Week 11 10-12 mile tempo
Week 12 12-14 tempo OR Tempo during week and a fast finish long run.
Week 13 14-16 miles @ pace. 20-22 miles total (depending on mileage and warm up and cool down)Should be a continual run.For most people, this would take the place of a long run
Week 14 10 mile tempo
Week 15 6 mile tempo OR a 2×3 or 2×4 @ pace early in week
Week 16 RACE

With our program we already spend a lot of time doing work at goal marathon pace, so I feel like some of these things are optional. You may be better off by simply adjusting your long runs to incorporate more marathon pace work, rather than trying to force more marathon pace work during the week. This is especially true if you aren’t looking to increase your mileage, just break up your traditional routine.

Feel free to download this article in PDF form: Marathon Tempo

 

Hanson’s Philosophy

PlayPlay

This consists of what I would describe as the pillars of the Hanson philosophy. While we do certainly go into length in our books, it is so important for anyone that is using the system, or even thinking about the system to have a full understanding of why the training is the way it is. Ok, so let’s just jump right in!

What is our goal with marathon training? Well, yes, it is to finish as strongly as possible. Thanks to all the smarties out there 🙂 Let me rephrase, what is our end goal from a training standpoint? From the Hanson view it is to develop a high level of marathon readiness through the concept of cumulative fatigue.

Cumulative Fatigue: The development of fatigue through the long term effects of training which results in in a profound increase in running strength. In other words, it’s not one workout that makes you tired. Not one sticks out as being “the one” but rather you are fatigued/tired from the daily grind. The important aspect here is that you aren’t training too hard so that you are in a hole that you can’t get out of. And there it is, how do we train hard, but avoid overtraining. Well, Charlie, let’s find that golden ticket!

Hanson’s Philosophy- Part II

Yesterday, I wrote the first part of this series of blogs. I promised that I would get the second part out as soon I as I could, so here goes:

The third component of the marathon philosophy is consistency. You cannot have consistency without balancing your paces/training out. As well, you can’t run higher mileage without consistency. It really is such a tangled web we weave. To me, consistency is not just running most days of the week. That’s a great start, but now extned that to weeks, then a month, then months, and finally to years of just steady conistent training. I personally feel that being consistent will show a great deal of improvment by itself, even if it means slowing down some of your workout paces to tolerate the increase in days/volumes.

In my own running, I can tell you what consistancy meant to me. Looking at my training and when I had my biggest breakthroughs it was pretty clear when I had success. It wasn’t when I was hitting these monster workouts. That was great, but all I did was overtrain. I left my race on the bike path of Stony Creek Metropark. When I had my biggest breakthroughs it was when I had just hummed along through months of healthy and steadily progressing training. I was trained completely, but not completely overtrained. The trick is to recognize this as it is happening so you can copy it all the time. However, that’s the really hard part!

To finish up on constency, all of this ties together. We already showed how the first three components tie into each other, but what really brings these things together is the ability to run at your appropriate paces. By training at the paces appropriate for you then 1) you keep your training in balance because you are getting the desired benefits of the workouts. Training too fast can turn a speed workout into a repeat, or maximal effort workout. A marathon tempo can be turned into a strength workout. You are always missing out on what the workout is trying to accomplish. As far as higher mileage is concerened, when the paces are not right (usually too fast) then what happens? Right, we start shortening workouts because we ran too hard for what we were trying to do and we take days off because we are too fatigued from running too hard for several days in a row. By keeping paces in check, you allow yourself to run on the days that could be offdays. Easy running, when kept easy allows you to build mileage, recover from workouts, and does give you a tone of aerobci benefit. You know what that sounds like to me? Bingo, now you are being consistent with your training! You have now set yourself up for success within the current training block, but for long term training, too. It’s such a gorgeous thing.

What this all feels like during training is that feeling of cumulative fatigue. You are tired, but incredibly strong, fit, and able to do what is asked of you day after day. You aren’t so tired that you can’t bounce back, but you feel that fatigue of training hard. It’s heaven and hell, all at the same time. However, that fatigue is exactly how you are going to feel the last 10k of the marathon. The difference between you and the other guy, is that you have taken yourself to that place and and made it back intact. Having that confidence when the going gets tough is how the tough get going!

So there you have it, the philosophy of the Hanson’s marathon method. The very basic of basic concepts that pull the whole thing together- the amino acids of the training organism. While I know that many of you already use the syetem, I know that some of you may never buy in- that’s totally fine. I do hope that some of this can help you when you set forth on your own path.

As always, thanks for reading. Good running-

Luke

Hanson’s Philosophy

A few days ago, I put together a Youtube video pertaining to the cornerstone of our marathon training philosophy (and hopefully a podcast shortly). It consists of what I would describe as the pillars of the Hanson philosophy. While we do certainly go into length in our books, it is so important for anyone that is using the system, or even thinking about the system to have a full understanding of why the training is the way it is. Ok, so let’s just jump right in!

What is our goal with marathon training? Well, yes, it is to finish as strongly as possible. Thanks to all the smarties out there 🙂 Let me rephrase, what is our end goal from a training standpoint? From the Hanson view it is to develop a high level of marathon readiness through the concept of cumulative fatigue.

Cumulative Fatigue: The development of fatigue through the long term effects of training which results in in a profound increase in running strength. In other words, it’s not one workout that makes you tired. Not one sticks out as being “the one” but rather you are fatigued/tired from the daily grind. The important aspect here is that you aren’t training too hard so that you are in a hole that you can’t get out of. And there it is, how do we train hard, but avoid overtraining. Well, Charlie, let’s find that golden ticket!

What makes cumulative fatigue work are four components, including balance, weekly mileage, consistency, and appropriate paces. Our first component is balance and balance alone has different meanings to runners. For our discussion, balance is referring to our balance of training paces, or workouts that we do. For Hanson followers, this is the SOS days. When we abandon a certain training pace, or load up on a certain workout, several things happen.

  • Running the same paces all the time, or better yet, running hard (or easy) just makes you stale over time.
  • Excuse to skip out of certain training components. The biggest example here is only running hard days and leaving out easy days. this can be by choise or necessity because we ran too hard on the workout day!
  • Miss out on valuable training adaptations that occur throughout the spectrum of paces.
  • Cut ourselves short of developing “balanced” over the long term. Say you only do certain things during the marathon training. That’s great, you’ll probably be ok for that training block. However, now you want to run a series of 5k’s and 10k’s over the summer, but you can’t race yourbest because now you have to focus on building what you neglected during the marathon training. Keeping that balance can shorten your time needed for training blocks because you never skip out on one thing to make more room for another. 

So, in making these points, I realize that so many things I talked about in this section overlap into the following sections. Without one pillar, the structure starts to collapse. In starting with balance, I think it naturally leads into the next component, which is moderate to high weekly mileage.

Without a doubt, I firmly believe in running moderate to high mileage, especially for the marathon. There are many people who will read this and scoff at it because they have had success with 3 days/week programs. That is great and there is certainly more than one way to accomplish your goal, but our program just believes that with what we are trying to get you accomplish, appropriate mileage is a necessity. Think of it this way, say yourun 20 miles/week for 5k training. This is 4x the distance you are going to race. Running 30 miles per week is barely 1x greater than your race distance. Further the workouts youdo for a 5k can fit in that amount of mileage and be appropriate for what you are racing. When you move from a 5k to a marathon, or a race that is 8x longer, you quickly run out of mileage to fit everything in that you need. With that said:

  • when you keep the balance in your training, you automatically will run more mileage, especially as the race distance increases
  • Moderate mileage, rather, I guess I should say appropriate mileage, is part of cumulative fatigue and this means running nearly every day. Without it, recovery is nearly complete before the next workout. This directly dictates with cumulative fatigue.

Now, it certainly takes time to develop the ability to handle more mileage. When trying to build up your mileage, the first thing to do is look at all the variables. From my experience, it’s the cliche, too much too soon. Problems usually arise when runners try to run too hard on every run, or they try to jump their mileage before their structural system is ready to handle. In short, usually it’s not the mileage that’s the culprit to injury, but how we got to that mileage.

Ok, so this is getting pretty long, so let’s pick it up another day with the last two components of the Hanson marathon philosophy.

My winter marathon experience: near debacle to salvation

I’ve been running marathons for some time now, for about a decade. However, since 2011, running has been tough. I broke my foot and femur, dropped out of the US Olympic Trials, and just struggled overall to get my own running back on track.

My femoral stress fracture was in June of 2013, just when I thought I had figured out what my problem was. It just shows that sometimes you gotta ride out the storm, even if it seems like it will never end! Long story short, it healed and we (my coaches and I ) started to try again. However, in order to move forward, I had to accept my diminished capacity and basically start over. So the plan was to build my mileage, do reduced workouts, and stay healthy! The Chicago marathon ended up being my goal focus for the fall, not to race rather pace my teammate mike Morgan as far as possible. I was able to take him through 14 miles at 5:05-5:06 pace so it was a success. There was improvement, consistent training, and I was healthy!

After a lot of thought and discussion with my coaches, we decided to continue to build on the momentum and train for the next marathon that made sense- Houston in January. We thought we’d be ok, because December is usually still pretty decent here in southeast Michigan. Of course, this would be the winter of the Polar Vortex.

Training for Houston went really well, until December 23. Then the “avalanche” opened up. I remember the day because it was the day of my Simulator workout (26.2 km at goal MP). We drove to the course where I was going to run, only to find it a sheet of black ice. For those of you who don’t know what black ice is, it’s basically asphalt that is frozen, but it looks like it’s just the road. Talk about a work hazard. So throwing up a Hail Mary, we drove to a parking lot loop about 20 minutes away. Luckily the loop was clear and the biggest workout of my segment could take place. It was cold and windy, but it had to be done. There really wasn’t any wiggle room on this one with Christmas and the travel to different places coming up. So, we did it and for about 18km, it went really quite well. The last 8km though, was a completely different story. Everything caught up to me and I am pretty sure I ran 6:00 miles for the last few km’s. However, I finished it and thought I would shake it off.

From that afternoon, of December 23, all the way to the afternoon of the 29th, I felt off. Not really too sick, but off. When my family and I got home from my parents house on the 29th, it was like somebody flipped a switch. I was down for the count. Over the next three days I thought it was all over. I lost nearly 10 pounds, was malnourished and dehydrated. To add to the scenario, it was the coldest air temperatures I had ever been in (below zero before the windchill) and the snowiest/iciest since I have lived in the Detroit area. “Great” I thought. Here we go again.

So, December was finally over and January blew in with a direct northerly wind, straight from Santa’s workshop. After regaining some strength, I decided I was sticking to the treadmill for the few days before I left to finally get to Florida. When I got to the Sunshine State, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders- literally, because I didn’t have to run in my snowmobile suit! Seriously though, it was a game changer. My mood lifted and runs were instantly easier. I was convinced that I could now at least have a same day finish at Houston.

When I got to Houston I was in a precarious position. I was really fit at the beginning of December, but with everything that had happened, who knew anymore. Kevin and I talked for about 5 minutes at 5:30 AM on Sunday. The basic conclusion was to err on the side of caution. To the athlete’s I coach- I followed my own advice I always give you. I was at a point where if I were going to have a successful day (which at this point meant to a) finish and b) get an Olympic Trials standard out of the way) then I had to put myself in a good position at half way. What I mean by that is to a) be fast enough to even have a chance at a Trials standard and b) to be slow enough to have the opportunity to at least maintain my pace.

The morning was perfect- about 50 degrees, some sun, and barely a breeze. The course is very nice. Pretty flat, but a few little rollers in the second half. I actually prefer this because it breaks it up a little and they aren’t significant enough to really take anything out of you! I was lucky enough to find myself immediately in a small pack. Fortunately,one was a former Hanson’s-Brooks teammate and an athlete I coach, Tim Young. It was the perfect scenario for me!

The first half was low key and uneventful. I was completely able just zone out and wait until I absolutely needed to focus on the race. My 5k splits were 16:08 (5k) 16:12 (10k) 15:58 (15k) and 1:07:56 at the halfway mark. Tim and I came through the halfway mark and I said, “Well Tim, the good news is that we can run 1:10 for the next half and still qualify!” He laughed, and said, “Thanks, boss.” By then our group was down to 3 guys and the group ahead of us was feeling the consequences of going out way too hard for where they were at, fitness wise. Again, it was a perfect scenario.

Tim and I continued on, though I had to keep calming Tim down. He was really fit and itching to make a go for it. I held him back because I had ruined a lot of my own potentially amazing races between miles 14 and 20. We kept right at pace with 16:05 and 16:08 5k splits.

At this point, between 35 and 40 kilometers, I slowed down. It was my slowest split of 16:28 for that 5k. I’m not really sure what happened. I was feeling it, for sure. There’s no real way to completely avoid that feeling of, “oh man, I still have a ways to go.” However, I didn’t crumble. Mentally, I was still making coherent thoughts to myself, but I panicked a little bit. It had been so long since I had run a marathon that I just forgot how that feeling is.

What really surprised me is how I reacted. I really thought I would have caved in a little bit, but  I didn’t! I saw some of those guys coming back that had went too hard. I was catching them still and I used that to regroup. Looking at my splits, the last half mile was under 5:00 pace! I knew I was a little slow, but I knew I still had a good one going. I just had to keep it together and finish as strong as possible.

I crossed the line and sae 2:16:3x. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it was a race I could be proud of! It was a testament to just staying the course and doing what you can. It was a time that qualified me for my 3rd US Olympic Trials and a time that motivated me. It convinced me that I am still at a high level and there’s so much room for improvment. This race made me so excited for the next few years. I can’t wait to be in LA in February of 2016!

 

Calories and the marathon

Over the past few years, I have made an effort to get at the heart of some of the finer details of marathon running. Training always can take you a long way, but from a physiological standpoint, we simply have a hard time making it the full distance feeling strong. The calories we take in (or lack of) during the race make a huge difference in our performance. Here a quick video I made regarding part of this complicated discussion: http://youtu.be/NUKekOgLROQ