Have you pre-ordered a copy of Hansons Marathon Method? Are you wondering what’s inside? Thinking about ordering a copy? Well, here is an awesome sample of what the book holds. Check it out: HMM Sample
Have you pre-ordered a copy of Hansons Marathon Method? Are you wondering what’s inside? Thinking about ordering a copy? Well, here is an awesome sample of what the book holds. Check it out: HMM Sample
I was recently reading another “coach” bio on the interwebs and it got me thinking a few things. The first was, “Dang. Everyone is a coach these days!” That’s a whole different story. What I was really thinking about was training philosophy. This young man had about 20 names listed as his coaching influences and for reasons we’ll discuss, puzzled/worried me. Why? Well, the thing is, the first response to this was, “Why so many?” Was he just name dropping to look smart? Maybe. But maybe there was more to it than that. I think there may have also been a big lack of understanding in what these coaches really stood for in their own coaching philosophies. For one, you could really divide the group he listed into three groups. The first group, well ok, person, would have been Arthur Lydiard. He is without a doubt the man with the plan when it comes to training. The second group would be the pupils of Mr. Lydiard. This was the majority of the names mentioned. The last group was smaller, but consisted of the non Lydiard lineage.
So, the second group I totally get. It’s the same ingredients, just different mixtures. Everyone has their own interpretation about what Lydiard would do in present day. I completely understand the slight differences. On a side note, I have been reading a lot of notes and articles lately involving many of these other good coaches. I found it funny that a lot of what they did differently wasn’t out of differences in thought, but rather, out of necessity. Some of it was due to climate or facilities. Some of it was geographical. These coaches did what they could to mimic the original based on what they had to work with!
What I don’t understand is how the third group of coaches played into this. You have on your left, one school of thought. On the other you have a completely opposite school of thought and now you are somehow supposed to integrate components from both. To me, it seems very counterproductive. I am all for being adaptive and growing as we find new theories, but you can’t play politician and flip sides when your crowd changes. Stick with what you believe and if you don’t know what to believe, find something!
Ok, so enough soap boxing ( I really wasn’t attempting a political theme here…) and let’s get to what matters with us! What is the Hanson Philosophy?
That’s a great question and until I began working on the book, I didn’t have an exact answer. This isn’t going to be a short answer, but it will be thorough. Overall, everything that involves Kevin and Keith Hanson (the elite distance project and the schedules for the masses) is Lydiard based in thought. So, let’s go over what exactly is the Lydiard thought process?
Ok, the VERY basic Lydiard philosophy:
Simple right? Don’t let it trick you. All it’s saying is that you the base of your training is easy aerobic running. After you build that you can move to the next level, then the next level, all the way until you are close to you your goal race. Each step is smaller in size, but higher in intensity. All year, you do things like hills and form drills.
Now, if you read in depth about Lydiard, what you find is interesting. This is the pyramid that is the staple for his training- but he wrote that you “climbed the ladder” to the point where you were racing. So, an 800/1500 meter specialist would climb that ladder all the way to the top. However, as Lydiard indicated that for a marathon runner, he wouldn’t get past the 5k intervals.
Where it gets complicated for marathon runners, to me anyway, is that Lydiard indicates two things what would leave room for discussion. 1) That training needs to be balanced. This means that all aspects of training are somehow incorporated into a training program. 2) That he wants the most race specific work to be done near the time of the goal race. However, in his writings he has the last few weeks of a marathoners program doing intervals at 10k and sometimes 5k pace. To me, the last thing I really want to do is to be on the track doing intervals two weeks before my marathon. This is where I can see some room for negotiation.By no means am I claiming to be smarter than Mr. Lydiard, only that I have trained for a few marathons and know what my body likes…
It is that second point where you will see the biggest discrepancy in the classic Hanson Marathon schedules and the Lydiard philosophy. In the classic schedules you will see the speed more in the beginning of the program. Why? It’s simple- the runner has a balance in training and no aspect is left out. Also, the last several weeks are completely devoted to marathon specific running. Some argue that the speed lowers the pH in the blood and this hurts aerobic development. However, the speed in the beginning acocunts for roughly 7% of the total weekly volume. 93% of the running over the rest of the week is marathon pace, or slower. From a practical standpoint, we don’t care if the intervals are truly at their best 5k or 10k times. If they are slower than their true 5/10k potential, that is fine. The work they do would then be closer to lactate threshold and still provide a great transition to the marathon specific work later in the segment!
Remember, the classic schedules are designed to fill a wide spectrum of runners and what is offered individually may be different. The book has an entire chapter devoted to the marathon philosophy that Kevin and Keith have developed over the years to fit those runners. For members, I am working on a complete detailed explanation of the training philosophies- so watch out for updates!
As some of you may have noticed, we have created some changes in coaching process, and are in the middle of (hopefully) simplifying some things around here!
The biggest change is in what coaching options are available now. The goal has always been with our business to provide some form of coaching to any level of runner out there. Before, we offered custom schedules and coaching based on how long a runner wanted to train for. Ultimately, I had two lingering problems with that. The first problem was that with a custom schedule, the runner was really limited to initial consulting and then sent on their way. For many runners, issues would arise along the way but were fairly stuck as to how much I could do for them, while being fair to the runners who had paid a premium price for actual coaching. Cost shouldn’t dictate getting help and that was something that i had struggled with ever since coaching! The second problem I had was that runners were penalized financially by staying short term, and not going with a long term coaching option. My philosophy with coaching was, and still is, that a system takes time. To reap the full benefits of coaching, their is an adjustment period and then a growth period. So, my intent was to make longer term coaching less per month to encourage the long term sign-ups. However, with the new system, you are really in our system as long as you want to be and having that freedom is important to most runners. I feel that ultimately, runners will continue on longer term if they aren’t reall “forced” too.
With that, we changed how we operate in an improved attempt to make coaching a better option for all of those runners who need help! What has been done is the custom schedule option has been infused with the coaching option and made a mid level coaching option. So, you have three options, the basic, intermediate, and advancd options. All coaching levels are month to month subscriptions. You have the control to say when you are done. I will help you as long as you want the help.
The simplest and least expensive option at $9.95/month.
What you recieve:
-Access to any of our pre-designed schedules from 5k-marathon. As long as you are a subscriber, you have free reign on these.
-Members only content
-Our own social media content- profiles, friends, groups, messaging, etc! All within our own site.
-Online chat- chat with other runners and chat with our coaches when they are online.
Where the old custom schedule option dissolved into. The cost is $74.95/month.
-Same stuff as the basic level, PLUS
-Free Training Peaks account. This is where we keep your training log/program and you can log all your workouts, gear, nutrition, resistance training, etc.
-MONTHLY schedule updates and feed back. So, if things come up, you aren’t left on your own. We’ll keep you on the right path.
The most extensive level of coaching at $129.95/month
You get everying above, PLUS:
-Upgrade to a premium Training Peaks account. If you were to subscribe through them, it would be a $20/month cost. We cover it for you! The premium account gives you much wider functionality uses and some perks for those who really want to in depth training analysis. (Plus you don’t have ads on the screen with a premium account)
-Nutrition Analysis- with the premium training account we have acces to perform a very detailed diet analysis and give you tips/ideas as to what you are doing well with and where you could use improvment.
-Annual Training Plans- We can map out your entire year, where you need to be, what you need to do, etc. Again, this is thanks to our premium Training Peaks account!
-Individual race planning- we’ll decide what and where you should race, as s well as how to approach each of these races.
-Unlimited contact/schedule changes
-Form analysis. We now have the ability to take video that you send us and use it in our software. From there we can tell you what needs work on making that form a little bit better!
Everything above for the Advanced is part of the monthly cost- nothing extra to pay for. This is where the value comes in. It’s an in depth full fledged coaching opportunity.
The overall benefits of the new system are numerous. Obviously it allows for at least some form of coaching for any level of runner. I believe this will further promote the idea of long term development. The goal for this site is to be a place of community and learning, so having as many members that we can, will only add to that community. Hopeful
This post is looong overdue (pun somewhat intended). There is a blog post from quite a ways back explaining why the traditional Hanson’s schedules used 16 miles as the longest long run. While, I don’t really want to revisit that debate at the moment, I do want to make good on a promise. That promise was to explain the paces that a runner should be looking to complete their long runs at.
We all have different needs in our training. A beginner may be simply looking to cover the ground and if they can do so without hitting the wall, then that is just a bonus. Meanwhile, someone who is competitive, may find themselves in a race and need to finish as strongly as possible. If our goals are different, then how we approach certain runs should probably be different as well. So, let’s look at what some of these variables may look like.
The beginner runner has very basic needs, and that is to improve endurance by covering ground. Their biggest obstacle will be the mileage itself, so with this group, my concerns are simple: As slow as you need to in order to run the entire distance. That may be two minutes per mile slower than marathon pace itself. That’s fine, I don’t care. I only care that you run conservatively enough that you can cover the distance. The more improved your fitness becomes, the faster these runs will naturally improve.
Don’t make the first couple long runs on your schedule more difficult than need be. I see so many newbies go out and just start running marathon pace for their long run and end up cutting the run short. The common rationale is that, “If I can’t run it on a regular long run, then how will I do it for the race.” Well, simply, you shouldn’t because you are already fatigued from the rest of the week’s training. Also, physically what you can’t accomplish now, doesn’t mean you can’t in 2-3 months. You just have to be patient!
This group is probably more concerned with performance, or know how much the late stages of a marathon can affect your overall time and want to avoid it! I work with many runners in this group and it can be tricky to balance the long run distance and paces. The mileage of the of the long runs in this group won’t vary much from the beginner, but the overall mileage is a little bit more and there is more structure. This group wants to improve, but is either still new to the event and/or limited in their amount of time to train.
So, if we can’t increase the volume they are training, then we must adjust a different variable in the equation to show positive results. That variable would then be intensity. While I might have a beginner run 2:00/mile slower than goal marathon pace, the next step would be to drop that pace down to 1:00/mile slower. Why does this help this group? Well, as we mentioned, they are already running about what they can handle for mileage, but their is still room for performance improvement. So, a long run at 1:00/mile slower than pace will provide a new stimulus to develop aerobic capacities. Before the stimulus was the actual mileage, now it is the intensity. The mitochondria and associated aerobic mechanisms are now stressed due to the pace- and they are at just enough of a rate where it is a struggle to keep up, but it is manageable. This means that fat metabolism improves, mitochondrial growth occurs, the density of the mitochondria and the enzymes improve. Also, neuromuscular connections improve, along with muscle fiber stimulation. The point here is that adaptation would occur if the runner could improve more, but if the mileage has to be limited (but still an experienced runner), then the adaptions must occur through a different mechanism and this is where pace provides that source of adaptation.
These two groups have similar issues with mileage, except they have spent years maximizing the mileage that they can safely handle. In these two groups, you have to consider that they have truly reached as high as they can on the VO2max scale. I use myself as an example- My VO2max has been between 75 and 77 ml/kg/O2 since I was about 20 or 21 years old. I am now almost 31, so that’s a long time of not improving. BUT I HAVE IMPROVED! Just because your ceiling has been put in place, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve. If the shear volume is maxed, then you maximize how fast you can run with those numbers. You are now asking, “What in the world is he talking about?” Well, we talk about lactate threshold and to a lesser extent, aerobic threshold in runners. Most of us have a fairly good idea of what the lactate threshold is, but the aerobic is the point at which fat/carb contributions for running is about 50/50. The faster you go, the more reliance you have on carbohydrates. Any marathon runner knows that carbohydrates are a precious commodity.
With these two groups I need to build those thresholds. I need to build their mental toughness and convince them that they can in fact run hard even though they are tired.
The fast finish is a long run that is done mostly at a comfortable easy pace (1-2 minutes/mile slower than goal marathon pace). The only difference is, that the last 2-4 miles are done pretty hard. For first timers, it can be as simple as faster than what you were running. So if you were doing your run at 7 min/mile, then finish the last few at 6:45’s. It’s just a harder effort than what you were putting in.
For more experienced runners, it can be the last 3 at goal marathon pace. Sometimes it can be the last two as hard as you can go (Not so hard you blow a hammie, but a few seconds under goal marathon pace is a good effort). The idea is to teach your body that it can maintain goal pace when things get hard. Your legs can react and you can get through the wall. I feel like this run has more to do with mental toughness than physiological gains. It also shouldn’t be done every week. It can really take a toll on your muscles. I would save it for a couple long runs in the middle to late stages of a training segment.
The depletion run is simple- you run depleted. No carbs before or during the long run. As with the fast finish, I wouldn’t do this all the time. I do it in two different places- the beginning of the segment and the last long run. I do it her because pace is not nearly important as building endurance is. Also, the distances of these long runs will be considerably shorter than the long runs in the heart of the schedule- making them less dangerous to putting us past the point of no return. Here, pace is not incredibly important, other than you will want to keep yourself in check and not run too fast.
Physiologically, what happens is that our glycogen stores will be put under serious distress. When we finish, there won’t be much left. The key here is the recovery part. As soon as you are done, your muscles want to replace, they want to replenish. So, you have to have the fuel ready. As soon as you are done, start taking in the carbs and a little bit of protein. I am talking recovery drinks, sports bars, fruit, whatever you can tolerate and get in. If you cna do this, your muscles will adapt and be aable to not only replace what was lost, but more than it could before. The advantage of this is more glycogen storage. This means you can run farther at a faster speed before hitting the wall. It may meant the difference from being on pace until 23 miles, and being on pace the whole way!
This run I save for few. It’s actually something that I have just adopted into my own training. The hard long run is something that is built into, like an increasing tempo run. I guess hard may be a little strong, but it is certainly a run that takes a conscious effort for an extended period of time. An example 20 miler that I have done would look like this: First 1-2 miles @ 6:00, then 5:50, 5:40, 5:30, and a steady diet of 5:20-5:35/mile for the rest of the run. Now, if my marathon pace is 5:00/mile, then I am spending 14-16 miles @ 15-25 seconds slower per mile than marathon pace. That may seem ridiculous, and it may as well be. However, here is the rationale behind it: We already talked about the aerobic threshold in above sections. Well, the more trained a person is, the higher this threshold becomes. A new runner may experience this at 50% of VO2max, while an elite marathoner may be closer to 60%. What I am saying is that the window of physiological adaptations becomes smaller and smaller. A new runner may run a 5k at 8 minute miles, but a marathon in 11 minute miles. An elite runner may run a 5k in 4:20/mile and a marathon at 5:00/mile. You see? Everything gets more bunched up as you get faster- you won’t have big differences between different paces anymore. So, for me to run a long run 20-30 secconds slower per mile than goal pace is fast, but it is necessary to keep improving these thresholds.
I wouldn’t start out at big percentage of the run being that fast. Again, I would slowly over not only one segment, but several increase your tolerance for these long runs. I reserve these for the middle of the training segment when my long run mileage is at it’s peak. A vital thing to keep in mind is that I train on a nine day cyccle so I have 2 easy days before my next quality run. I also have the ability to take a nap, access to massage and chiropractic care, as well. I would be very careful when attempting these things. I would certainly time my long runs as much as my other quality runs for the training segment.
Long run 1: nice and easy, 2:00/slower per mile, depletion
Long run 2: moderate: 1-2:00/slower per mile
Long run 3: moderate: 1:00/mile slower
Long run 4: “hard”, down to :30/mile slower for 6-8 miles
Long run 5: fast finish: last 3 miles at goal pace. Majority of run about 1:00/mile slower
Long run 6: :hard: 0:30/mile slower for 10-14
Long run 7: fast finish, last 3-4 hard
Long run 8: hard for most of run
Long run 9: depletion, just put time on my feet
The only other variance I might throw in would be for those running traditionally hilly courses- Boston, for example. Here I may alternate overly hilly loops with faster type runs.
Ok, so, hopefully, this will help you decide on your long run paces. As typical, I do not have an easy answer. If it were easy, then we’d all have it figured out! Best of luck with your training.