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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hansons Marathon Plan Review 2016

I’ve been keeping track of my miles since 2010.  I told myself that I would not train for a marathon until I had run 1500 miles the previous year.  Year after year I got close (I almost did it in 2012), but I didn’t manage 1500 miles until 2015.  With the mileage goal completed, I signed up for a Spring marathon.

I had a clear goal.  I wanted to qualify for Boston.  I wasn't convinced that I wanted to run Boston, but I definitely wanted to qualify.  I did a lot of research and decided on the Hansons plan, because I bought into the theory of cumulative fatigue.

I think that the actual plan started in February.  However, when I looked at the plan, I concluded that there was no way that I could jump into (12) 400, so I started doing one speed day a week starting with (2) 400s.  I landed on (12) 400s on the day it was called for in the plan.  I made a couple of other changes as well.  I ran the 400s at McMillian’s pace, rather than Hanson’s slower pace, and, at some point, I stopped doing the recovery jog and rested 60 seconds instead.  This worked out perfectly, and I ended up doing all of my speed days at McMillian paces, rather than Hanson paces.  I extended speed work one week in hopes of a sub 22 on a 5K in April, but the sub 22 did not happen.  There was a course change that I didn’t know about that made the course too difficult for me to sub 22.  I held out hope for a sub 22, so my only other purposeful training adjustment was taking an RD before a final 5K sub 22 attempt.  The preceding 200+ mile month must have done the trick because on May 14th, I did sub 22 which something I have been trying to do again for almost two years.

Upon reflection, I really think that I would have gotten better marathon training by running my speed work at a slower pace.  However, I don’t think that if I could go back, I would have done it differently.  I really wanted to sub 22 in a 5K, and I did sub 22.

Although I didn’t get running injuries, I did get sick a couple of times which impacted my training.  Near the middle of the training cycle, I suffered from some intestinal problem.  My doctor forbid me to run, at all.  I had to take a solid week off.  Also, in the last three weeks, I got strep throat.  I took antibiotics, so I assume the strep throat went away, but the illness lingered until I took another antibiotic.  Hanson calls for a very moderate taper, but, in the last three weeks, I only did my SOS runs, and I tapered dramatically.  I did not sustain any cumulative fatigue in the last few weeks of training.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish the plan strong, but I was coughing and having asthma symptoms when I ran.  For the last week, I started taking and asthma pill and a Claritin to combat the symptoms.

Despite the problems that I encountered the three weeks before the race, I have never felt better about training.  I knew that I had given everything I could possibly give of myself during the training.  I ran more than I ever thought possible, even throwing in a 70 mile week.  I had a sense of accomplishment for having stuck it out.  I ran every run that my doctor would allow and some against orders.  I ran in the rain, in the wind, in the cold, in the morning, at night, when I felt like it and when I didn’t feel like it.    I actually felt like I had already won, no matter what happened.  That is really not like me at all.  I felt so good before the race, not because I thought I would qualify, but because it didn’t matter that much if I did or didn’t.  I couldn’t lose.

Maybe my new and improved attitude made a difference.  My first marathon was an amazing experience.  I ran Mountains 2 the Beach from Ojai, CA to Ventura, CA on May 29, 2016. The course consists of a 3 mile elevation climb in the beginning and rolling hills with a general declining grade until the 24 mile mark.  At mile 24, there is a moderate climb for about 1 mile, and it is flat for the last mile.  I felt fantastic for the first 20 miles.  At about mile 20, I felt like it was very difficult.  When I hit the last hill, I hit the wall.  My pace slowed tremendously; I felt a dull pain in every part of my lower body, and my body seemed to refuse to obey my commands.  I had a fantastic race, but my finish was very weak.  My overall time was 3:33, which subs my Boston qualifying time by over 20 minutes.  After the race was over, I was in bad shape.  I could drink, but I couldn’t eat.  I could hardly move.  My entire body was in pain.  I really couldn’t enjoy the after party, because I just had to get back to the hotel.  I was extremely sore for a couple of days, but, on Wednesday, the soreness completely subsided.

I am a first time, middle age marathoner who qualified for Boston with a time that almost guarantees entry.  It is surreal, and I give all the credit to the Hansons plan.  I was remarkably prepared for the first 20 miles of the race.  I was less prepared for the last (6), but had enough training to hold on.  This plan, however, is not for the faint of heart.  You have to run 6 days a week, or there is no cumulative fatigue.  Your SOS runs have to sandwich your day off.  That took a mental toll.  For me, at least, the Hanson brothers had a way of taking the fun out of running.  I enjoyed my easy days, but I dreaded my SOS runs.  Every single one was difficult, and the prospect of having to run two a week was always weighing on me.  I wouldn’t recommend this plan for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it to a runner who is goal oriented.

I’m signed up for a fall half that I want to train seriously for, but I want to enjoy the training more.  I live about an hour away from a community that has weekly 5Ks during the summer.  I am going to race, instead of one of my SOS days for the first month or so.  Also, I have several trail-halfs that I am signing up for to take the place of a few of the long runs.  Hopefully, I will always have something to look forward to. 

I have decided to run Boston in April of 2017, and I intend to use a Hansons plan.  Maybe I'll try coaching, but if I use the advanced, I think that will try to add a little more overall mileage and increase the length of the last two long runs.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!! Congrats on qualifying on your first try! That is amazing! NYC in November will be my first time using Hanson's. Training starts next month and I'm looking forward to the torture, lol!