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Marathon Strength Workouts

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Marathon Long Run

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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

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Hanson’s Philosophy

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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

Hanson Marathon Method- Book Preview

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

Enjoy!

-Luke

 

 

Beginning to understand the hanson philosophy

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?

Lydiard in a nutshell:

Ok, the VERY basic Lydiard philosophy:

Lydiard Training Pyramid

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!

Coaching Options Changes

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 Basic Level:

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.

The Intermediate Level:

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 Advanced Level

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