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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėÄ

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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?¬†

2016 NYC Marathon Race Recap

I did it.

I still can’t believe it, but I did it.

3:58:40

3:58:40

I had prepared for this race for such a¬†long time and was just so ready for it; I honestly was not nervous at all. I had never felt so calm at the start line for a race as I did at this one–the biggest marathon in the country and up to this point, the marathon with the highest expectations. The goal was to finish under four hours.

I hoped¬†to reach the halfway point in under 2 and try and keep the halves as close as I could time wise. I knew the second half was “harder” but I was¬†intent on giving it my best.

First half–1:57
Second half–2:01

Really, I couldn’t have asked for better. Considering the second half had the infamous Queensboro Bridge and the hills of Central Park, I am ridiculously happy with those half splits.

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Miles 1-6

I knew the first mile was going to be all uphill and I knew that it was going to be cold and windy. It was all of those things. I started off slowly and with no rush or concern for passing people. The first mile beeped right as I passed the marker at 9:49.¬†I knew I’d be picking it up and I did as the second mile alert came in in at 8:26–except it came a ways before I reached the mile marker. I was little bummed to see that already my watch was not matching the course. But luckily, I had a 4 hour¬†pace bracelet that at the last minute, my friend had given me before we started.¬† So I didn’t panic and instead told myself to just use the elapsed time to keep track.¬†

On I went. I wasn’t obsessing at my watch, only occasionally looking down to make sure I wasn’t going too fast. I took in the crowds–it was exactly as advertised. There were soooo many people on both sides screaming, cheering, dancing, laughing. You really couldn’t help but smile yourself. The best was seeing people find their runner and squeal with joy. Oh my god, I loved that so much.

I reached the 10k mark with so much happiness. I felt good, I felt strong.

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But I knew I still had a long ways to go.

Miles 6-15

I knew my friend Elle (A Fast Paced Life) would be at mile 8-9ish so I started to to look around for her when I approached the end of mile 7. The next three miles were a blur trying to find her and I was sad I didn’t, but I just pressed on.

With the exception of the first mile, miles 2-10 were all between 8:26-8:47. My watch kept beeping before the mile marks so I never really knew what the pace was exactly for each mile but I just kept glancing down at the pace bracelet and making sure I was under whatever it said for each mile.

I just concentrated on running by feel, and I truly felt great. Every now and then I’d do a body check and everything would¬†pass. My breathing was fantastic. I was seriously in disbelief with how great things were going. I’d never felt this way at this point in a marathon, lol!

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Miles 15-20

Up to mile 15, I had been running unplugged, but I had my little I-pod in case I needed some musical inspiration. When I approached Queensboro Bridge, I decided that was the time.

There are no spectators on the bridge and I knew that this was going to be a rough incline, so I put my earphones in and put my head down. I marched on completely oblivious to my surroundings. Even though my mile split for 16 was 10:09, I passed so many people.

When I made the turn onto First Ave, I unplugged so I could relish the cheer from the crowd. I had heard so many things about the “sound boom” runners get coming out of the bridge and boy did I welcome it.

However, at around mile 19 I started to feel a little ball grow where where my ankle meets my foot. A cramp! I re-plugged and kept going. I knew that if I could just make myself keep going, it would either go away or I’d forget about it. One could hope, right?

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Miles 20-24

Oh my gosh, these miles were tough. My breathing was absolutely perfect. There was no huffing or puffing or struggling on my part. But the cramps….oh, the cramps!!! My quads, my hamstrings, my calves, my toes–everything hurt and I was dying.

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But you know what? I didn’t panic. I didn’t stress. And most importantly, I didn’t stop. I would ask myself how I felt, and I honestly felt fine–my breathing was good and my body didn’t feel tired or sluggish. It was just the cramps.

So I isolated them. I set them apart from the rest of my body and pretended they didn’t exist. I was in such a zone, so completely immersed in the moment. I was in the middle of Central Park at this point but I couldn’t see or hear a thing. I was *in* the race.

The cramps would come and go, but I kept on running.

Miles 25–Finish

I was still cramping pretty badly but at this point, I knew I had my sub 4 marathon and I was so ridiculously happy.

I kept thinking about my husband and my kids and my brother and sister and all the people who mean so much to me and all the people who donated to my charity. I don’t think I’d ever been so happy during¬†a race in my entire life.

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I looked down at my watch to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but I’d done it!! I crossed the finish line in under 4 hours!

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I was absolutely giddy. And as soon as I stopped, the cramps dissipated and I looked and felt like I could’ve kept going.

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I wanted to jump, I wanted to scream with¬†joy!! I wanted to hug everyone. I wanted to kiss the final race photographer and the woman who put the race sheet around me. I wanted to find my husband and tell him that I had just finished¬†the race of my life…

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It was a long walk to the family meet-up where I knew my husband was waiting. I saw him before he saw me and my heart swelled. I was so happy that finally, finally, I was coming to him with good news.

His eyes locked mine, a nervous look as he searched for an answer…Choking back tears of joy,¬†I whispered:

I did it.

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************There’s so much more I have to say about this race and I’ll be doing so in the next couple of days/weeks, but first–oh my goodness guys, thank you SO much for your words of encouragement and love on here and Instagram. Many of you have been with me on this long, long journey and really, you have no idea what your support means to me. I will never forget it. ‚̧ , helly

 

 

Hanson’s/NYC Marathon Training: Week 17

Welp, the moment we’ve all¬†I’ve been waiting for–RACE WEEK!!!

Marathon Goal‚Äst3:50
Marathon Pace/Tempo Runs‚Äst8:45
Strength Runs‚Äď8:35

Easy Runs‚Äď9:40-10:40
Long Runs‚Äď9:30

But first, last week’s numbers…

Monday, October 24th–5 Easy Miles @9:41 avg. pace

A little faster than “easy pace” miles¬†with a friend. But like always, a good convo makes the run go by faster.

Tuesday, October 25th–8 miles: 1 mile WU, 5 miles @Strength Pace (w/400R), 1 mile CD

Strength pace is 8:35/mile and each mile of this workout was way faster than that. I have no idea how that happened. It was dark out when I started (at 4:45 in the morning) so I only saw my splits when the mile would beep. Each time, I would look in disbelief as I didn’t feel like I was pushing or working myself. I’d try to adjust, only to see the next mile be almost exactly the same.

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I was running with a buddy who is usually meticulous with pacing but even he was off. We were just chatting along. It was cool to see this be a sort of conversation pace for me as I’d had had an awful training week the week before. Nevertheless, I knew that I should be more disciplined with my pacing so close to marathon day.

Wednesday, October 26th–Rest Day

Milked it. I knew I had a hard run the next day.

Thursday, October 27th–12 miles: 1 mile WU, 10 miles at Tempo/Race pace, 1 mile CD

I was a little worried about this run, not gonna lie. Last week’s tempo run was awful so I was going into this one not very optimistic.

But it went GREAT.

It was crazy o’clock in the morning again (4:30 start time) and I got in 3 miles on my own before meeting up with my run club. Then I ran with my Tuesday pacing buddy and it was deja vu. Each mile was faster than what it should’ve been and again, it didn’t feel hard. We chatted the entire way and then he left me on my last two miles.

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This run was the confidence booster I needed. I was a little sad after last week’s struggles and this week’s two big runs (Strength & Tempo) had gone so well, it really helped ease some of the race anxiety I had already started to build up.

Friday, October 28th–Rest Day

This was an unexpected race day. I slept in with the intentions of running in the evening but then I remembered later that my book club had it’s monthly meet-up and that sounded so much better. I didn’t even feel guilty about missing a run.

Saturday, October 29th–8 Long Run¬†Miles @9:22 avg. pace

I met up with my NYC training buddies for this run and it was just so much fun. Relaxed, social, and it flew by before I knew it.

Sunday, October 30th–6.2 Easy Miles @9:53

It was my Moms Run This Town’s Halloween run and by buddy and I made our own little 10k out of it ūüôā

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six point two witchy miles

Which brought me to a grand total of 39.2 miles for the week. I seriously can’t believe that race week is NOW. I’ve already started packing and mentally preparing myself–trying my hardest to keep the nerves at bay. I keep thinking about the bridges and the hills and getting scared, but I know I’ve worked hard and what’s done is done. All I can do is show up confident with¬†my training.

I’ve never worked so hard in my life and I definitely know I’m a different runner than I was 5 months ago. Geeze…..5 months. FIVE¬†months of training.

Holy cow.

–How do you keep the racing nerves at bay?

–It’s been 90 degrees+ here. There’s no way I can prepare for NYC weather.
(I realize that ^ wasn’t a question, lol)

–I’ve been hydrating like a mad woman, carb loading smartly, resting as much as I can–what else should I be doing?