A Bad Case of the Winter Blues/Blahs…..Or Maybe I’m Tired

A few people have asked me about Phoenix Marathon training and what plan I’m using. Yeah…..about that….

I’m not using Hanson’s.

I’m actually not using anything.

Phoenix was my back up race in case I didn’t get my sub 4 in NYC and we all know that that was a success. So Phoenix became my “fun” marathon–no goals, no expectations. Up to this point, I’ve never gone into a marathon like that. Each marathon I’ve done has been to reach a goal/time.

I’m lucky in a way, that I got my sub 4 in NYC because holy moly am I struggling to run right now. Once I’m out there, I’m fine–my paces are good. But actually getting out there is a monumental struggle.

So what’s going on??

The Goal Has Been Met

Training for New York City found me waking up at crazy o’clock several times. I never faltered. The discipline was there. I think a reason why I can’t lace up now is because I don’t have that carrot. I don’t have that goal.

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4:34 a.m. WHO WAS I????

I haven’t seen my 5 o’clock crew in a long time.

Go Away Winter

You all know I don’t do cold very well. I don’t like wearing layers. I don’t like not seeing the sun. I don’t like being cold. And while it hasn’t been the worst winter in Arizona by any means, the weather keeps me under the covers. The alarm goes off, but the bed always wins.

You know you guys wanna move here...

Summer: You know you guys wanna move here…

The Calm Before The Storm

The biggie after Phoenix Marathon, is Boston Qualifying. My first attempt will be at St. George this fall. I’m ready to go big in training for that, more so than NYC. The difficulty of the training excites me and since right now I’m not “having” to do that type of training, I’m essentially coasting. Maybe I should be doing some prep or pre-training (which I plan to closer to the start of BQ training), but right now I don’t see an urgent need.

I’m Tired

I ran a shitton training for NYC. More mileage than I’d ever done in my life. It’s not a surprise that my body is tired and not wanting to run as much as before. I’ve been trying to get in an adequate amount of mileage for Phoenix, but if you look at my weekly totals, they’re pretty abysmal. I figure I’m giving my body a little rest while still running some/enough to finish a marathon, lol!

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So the goal for Phoenix is to finish. If my fitness from NYC can get me another sub 4, that would be awesome. That’s the pace I’ll be looking to run at and we’ll just see how it goes. All I really want is to finish the race happy as my last memory of Phoenix Marathon wasn’t.

And after Phoenix comes some legit rest. I plan on taking a few weeks off from running completely and then limiting my running before I began training to Boston Qualify.

So there you have it! A little Helly update 🙂

–Do you get the winter blues/blahs? Suz @Suzlyfe shared some really good pointers on beating the blahs today. Check it out!

–Are you excited for summer? 😀

–How do you motivate yourself to get out there when you don’t really wanna?

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Elephant Mountain 12k Race Recap

I haven’t been on the trails….well…let’s just say for a loooong time. But I decided to sign up for this race because a ton of my friends were doing it and FOMO (fear of missing out) hit me like a wrecking ball.

It was also a race on trails I’d never been before and I love exploring my little big state. It was an hour drive and I rode up there solo. Luckily, Aravaipa races do race day bib pick-up. Got there early because that’s how I roll.

I’d done my research and saw that it was going to be a glorious day at 80 degrees (you read that right) but the morning was going to be a freeze fest at 45-50. I parked and then ran into some friends at the potty and then we all huddled in a car together to wait for the start. The race started at 8:30 (there were two other distances starting before ours) so when we began, it was warming up and my shorts and tank weren’t crazy pants.

Post potty pre race pic

Post potty pre race pic

At the start!

At the start!

It was a big group of us and we all started together but fizzled out as we ran. I was near the front of our pack with my friend T$ who is a super strong trail runner. The first mile was all uphill and she lead the way. When we reached the apex, I let myself roll with the downhill, and then I was by myself.

It was up and down after that and on the down I was pretty reckless running faster than I probably should have.

holy rollers

holy rollers

On the uphill, I would take it easy but managed to still do a sort of run. This was HUGE for me because I’ve always struggled with hills, road or trail. To see that I was running up them, big ones too, made me feel so strong and like I’ve come a long way from the scared-of-hills runner I used to be.

I finally reached the lone water station that served as a turn around for the 12k. It was a short way back on the same trail as I’d just come on so it was cool to see my friends as I began my way to the finish.

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More up and down, and on the down (as you can see from my splits) it was WHHHEEEEEEEE!!!!! I totally got caught up in my surroundings–the desert does that to me. It was so darn beautiful out. Everything was so perfect. The sun on my face, the weather, the cacti and nature around me, the difficulty of the trail–I was in my own little heaven for 8 and half miles.

Oh yeah, a 12k is around seven miles. When I reached that point, I thought I was close to the finish but then it never came. I kept running and then I saw two girls up ahead. I caught up to one to ask if we were on the right trail– she said we were. I passed her and then made it my mission to catch the next girl. By the time I did, it was well past 8 miles. At a quarter after, I finally saw the finish, and I was glad as my spunky energy was beginning to diminish, lol!

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I ended up averaging a 9:46 pace which for me is hella fast for trails. When I was recounting the race to my husband, I just said that I ran happy and that’s really what it was. I had an absolute blast and enjoyed myself the entire way. 26th overall and 6th female. I don’t know how many people raced but I was pretty proud with the results as I don’t consider myself a strong trail runner. I never run trail races with an expectation to win anything–we have a super strong trail running community–but I know that this race was a good one for me, in many ways, and more so than a placing.

I needed this. Phoenix Marathon training hasn’t been as exciting as NYC since I don’t have an actual goal I’m going for. Running has felt more like something I’ve had to do, and not so much in a fun way. But this trail race reignited me. I had fun. Sooo much fun. 🙂

–Do you like trail running/racing?

–Are you a cautious downhill runner or reckless like I am? (I need to get better about that, lol)

–Are hills your thing? I’m starting to not be afraid of them, finally!

Hanson’s Marathon Method–Personal Review

It’s been a long time coming, this review, lol!! I want to preface this post saying that my personal experience using this training plan is just that, my personal experience. And like with any plan, what works for me, might not work for others. I’m also no expert, so be aware of that going in to this post 😉

About the Plan

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High Mileage

That’s the premise behind Hanson’s Marathon Method–higher mileage so that the runner practices running on cumulative fatigue, similar to the end of the marathon. It’s six days of running with one rest day in the middle of the week, Wednesday. Regardless of whether you choose the Just Finish Plan (which maxes at round 50 miles/week), the Beginner Plan (which maxes at around 60 miles/week), or the Advanced Plan (which maxes out at around 70), it’s a lot of running. So unless you’ve already been training at that mileage, it will take some getting used to. I used a full month as pre-season training to transition to the start of the plan–that way, I wasn’t going from 0-to-60.

Specific Workouts

You are running 6 days a week and each day you are running has a purpose and prescribed pace–Easy Run, Speed/Strength Run, Tempo Run, Long Run. (Speed/Strength Run and Tempo Run are the Something of Substance (SOS) runs.) The book has paces for each run depending on your marathon goal. I liked having a set pace for each run and I liked knowing what each day was “supposed” to be. Some people do not like having such a structured plan, but I’m a rule follower by nature so this was perfect for me, lol. This is not to say that you cannot modify the plan, you can, and there’s a section in the book that talks about how. You can also hire a coach through Hanson’s website and they can create a plan specific to your life schedule.

The Plan.

My husband made this pretty chart for me.

Warm-up/Cool-down

The Speed/Strength and Tempo Runs come with a  1.5-2 mile warm-up and cool-down that are really essential to the success of the plan. So while the schedule would say 6 Miles Tempo, it was really more than that with the addition of the WU and CD. I mostly stuck to a mile for each and felt that it was super helpful as I began and finished each workout. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Supplemental Training

Running so much leaves little time for cross training and there’s a section in the book that discusses why they don’t suggest it. There’s also a section that include stretches and strength training exercises which they encourage you to include in your training. I did, and I felt that it was a big reason I was able to make it the whole way through without injury. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Okay, so there’s some basic stuff about the plan. What I want to share with you next are some more personal feelings/thoughts about it. 

Train Your Brain

It’s a lot of running. You know that going in because you’ve looked at the plan. But when you’re in the midst of it all, it can get to be a little crazy. I couldn’t believe I was doing double digit mid-week runs. I couldn’t believe I was running back to back to back to back days. I couldn’t believe a lot of things. I really had to focus on each day/workout and not look too far into the future/week so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed. It can be daunting to look at your plan and see you have a 10 mile Tempo Run (that’s really like 12 miles total) and then see a 16 mile Long Run a few days later. I think if you accept the mileage going in, you’ll make your life a whole lot easier. Accept that it’s a lot of running. Trust that all that running is going to help you reach your goal. This also helped me throughout the training.

Train Your Brain: Part II

The SOS (Something of Substance) runs are hard but they are the bread and butter of the plan. You’re essentially running at or faster than your goal pace. As each week passed, and the mileage increased for those runs, I would sometimes doubt that I’d be able to nail the paces. I’d have to remind myself that I’d done it before, that’s it’s just ‘x’ amount more miles. It’s hard, but I would try to not sabotage my run before I even started. Positive thoughts. Accept the challenge, and just do it.

I found that these runs really built my confidence about my goal pace and also helped me internalize the pace. What I mean is that as each week passed, my body just did the pace. I didn’t have to rely on my watch to guide me.

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The 8:45 pace became home.

The 8:45 pace became home.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average...five seconds from goal pace.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average…five seconds from goal pace.

Read The Book (and join the club)

I know that sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people who’ve asked questions about the plan (from the Facebook group which you should join if you’re going to use this plan), simply didn’t read the book. I also followed a lot blogs from people who used the plan and one thing I often saw was they re-adjusted their goals once they grew into the paces/workouts. When I would see/read them do that, I would recall page 151 of the book: “Ask yourself if, when you first began training, you would have been happy with your original time goal. If the answer is “yes,” then why jeopardize training…?”

The book is sooooo thorough and explains everything. Anytime I had a question/doubt about anything, I would go back to the book. At the beginning, I was running the Easy Runs too fast and then in re-reading the book,I saw how it stressed these be done at easy pace. Once I modified, I felt the difference. Easy means easy.

I mentioned the Facebook group above. It was very helpful having a forum to go to with people who were using or have used the plan. Luke Humphrey, co-writer, is very active in it and answers a lot of runner questions. I was also congratulated by Keith Hanson himself 😀

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Reconsider Racing During Training

Unless you’re going to use the race as a training run, like legit follow the prescribed pace for the workout, I wouldn’t recommend to “race race” during the plan. My reasoning is that if you run a race and go all out, you’ll need recovery time afterward which means you’ll miss a few days of the plan. And because it’s a tough plan, going back after a fast race, to me, is risky. I did not race throughout the entire time I was using Hanson’s.

Eyes on the prize.

Be Ready to Make Sacrifices

I wrote about how not working helped me in being able to follow this plan and be successful. And even without that work commitment, I had to make some major adjustments to get each run in. A lot of these runs were done at crazy o’clock in the morning before my husband went to work. Some of these runs were done in the afternoon Arizona heat, as that was the only time I could get it in. When I went to visit my sister in Ohio, I planned in advanced when I would run (and ran in the rain on a few occasions, lol). I had to do what I had to do to make it work.

Many people who do have jobs have used this plan and have made it work. It just requires you to plan ahead, be disciplined, and stay committed. Hard, I know, but you already know going in that it’s 6 days of running. You gotta get it in somehow.

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

June: 101 pre-season miles, 176 July miles, 152 August miles

198 miles, 184 miles

198 September miles, 184 October miles

But Don’t Sweat a Missed Workout

As you can see from the pictures, I did pretty good following the plan, especially at the beginning lol, and didn’t miss a whole lot of days. When I did take an extra rest day, I tried to have it be on an Easy Run day. The SOS runs are the biggies and I didn’t like missing those. That being said, if you have to miss a run, just pick up where you left off. I wouldn’t try to “make up” the miles. When I visited my sister in Ohio, I missed an SOS Tempo Run. So on my 16 mile Long Run day later that week, I did 5 miles at Long Run pace, 6 miles at Tempo pace, 5 miles Long Run pace. Bam, done.

Final Thoughts

Never once did I feel like I needed to do a 20 miler. I know that a lot of runners feel like they need to get to that major distance at least once in their training, but with Hanson’s, the three 16ers, the tempo runs at race pace, and the high weekly mileage was enough to make me feel like I was ready.

I absolutely love this plan. I felt that it put me in the best running shape of my life and I had never felt as confident going in to a race as I did at the start line of the New York City Marathon. I knew I had trained well.

And I met my sub 4 hour marathon goal.

3:58:40

3:58:40

–Have you used Hanson’s Marathon Method? What advice would you give to someone wanting to try the plan?

–Do you have a favorite training plan? 

–Are you a good plan follower?