I’ve used the Hanson method for the first time to train for the Broadway marathon this weekend, clearly I need to wait and see what the result is in the race but from a training perspective it has felt awesome and really clicked for me. But it is a plan aimed at road marathons given how the pacing’s work for the various sessions so I wanted to share a few thoughts about how I’ve adapted the plan for a trail marathon.
What is the Hanson method?
If you haven’t come across the Hanson method before I do recommend buying the book on Amazon and having a read. At the very least it’ll get you thinking about your approach to training even if you don’t follow one of their plans. In essence their approach is all about building fatigue in your legs so that when it comes to your long run you are tired. The longest run you do is 16 miles but it should feel like the final 16 miles of the marathon given the running you’ve done in the days before it. There is also a big emphasis on different paces with easy runs truly being easy and then strength and tempo work done around marathon pace.
3 years ago today I did my first ‘proper’ endurance challenge, the Scotland Coast to Coast, which feels like a lifetime ago. But good to remind myself that I really haven’t been doing this running thing for very long, before that race I’d run 3 half marathons, a couple of 10k’s, a little dabble in adventure racing and that was pretty much it. But I loved the idea of taking on a challenge and where better to do it than the Scottish Highlands? I roped my little brother into joining me and that was the beginning of both of our journeys into the wonderful world of endurance sport. Since then I’ve run 9 marathons (with no. 10 in November), 2 ultra marathons and 2 half ironman’s. Plus of course multiple shorter races and lots of training adventures.
I ran over 500km in the first 2 months of this year as I trained for the quadzilla, then after a short break picked it up again training for the Milton Keynes marathon. Significantly higher than last year and an awful lot of running to fit in around work and family. Plus marathon training can all get a little bit intense can’t it? You focus on every run and how it contributes towards achieving that big time goal, so right now I’m trying to have a little fun.
I’m triathlon training, something which I think I’m going to try and do every year at some point having enjoyed it so much last year. I’m doing another half ironman which I know is a little crazy seeing as my objective is to have some fun but I genuinely enjoy the longer races. I like the challenge of endurance and actually the longer you race the more relaxed the event gets in my experience.
Any race with a name like THE QUADZILLA (said in the style of the xfactor announcer) is clearly not going to be a walk in the park, although technically it is in a park, and in this case it involves 4 marathons in 4 days. If you say that quickly it doesn’t sound too bad, at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. I’ve been trying to not to think about running a marathon with the DOMS from 3 marathons in my legs. I remember after my first marathon being able to barely walk down the stairs the next day let alone think about going out and running another one.
But what I love about running is that these challenges exist, that if you so desire you don’t have to ‘just’ run a marathon. You can do one off road, on an island, in the jungle, in the desert, multiple in one day, multiple days in a row the list goes on. At the moment I can’t see myself settling down and doing the same time of races each year, I need the variety to keep me mentally challenged as much as anything. I also like to get out of my comfort zone, the same reason I did a triathlon last year, challenge myself in a different way.
If you want to progress with your running then you have to make yourself uncomfortable every so often to push your body that little bit further. For me uncomfortable means running fast, I know I need to do it if I have any hope of improving my marathon time but I’m sure my legs aren’t designed to move quickly. Either that or 10 years of sitting in an office has screwed my hips permanently. But we all know that learning to run fast will mean that marathon pace feels easier so I’m trying to be disciplined and push myself once a week.
With that in mind I was quite excited to discover that the company next to my office have a running club and they do a monthly 3km time trial. It’s run in a handicap style with the slowest person heading off first and then the rest at intervals depending on their target time with the goal being for everyone to finish roughly together. Such a great concept and the perfect way to get some faster running into my week.
I rarely run hard efforts longer than a mile so didn’t really know what target time to set so guesstimated at 12 minutes and duly set off at my allotted time. The course is a loop with a decent enough hill on the way out and then back down the other side of the hill on the way back. This of course makes pacing an interesting decision, how hard do you go at the start knowing you need to climb the hill? The organisers advice was ‘go hard at the start, push up the hill then pick it up on the way back down’ or in other words run until your eyeballs pop out.
I have to say despite some apprehension of doing such a short sharp race I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I loved trying to hunt down the runners in front of me and knowing people were behind me doing the same certainly gave some motivation to push up the hill. I loved being completely focused on just running fast and not thinking about splits or mile markers. I loved trying to push myself to run faster than I ever have (Strava tells me I did!). It also turns out I may have been sandbagging a little with my time estimate as I finished in 11 mins and 7 seconds. Pretty darn happy with that and a great marker to put down as I think about an attempt at a marathon PB next year.
I’m going to make this time trial a regular part of my training now, a monthly test of my pace and fitness that could give some interesting insight into how I’m progressing. If I could take 30 seconds off my time before my Spring marathon that would be a real confidence boost. Having done this race I also have a better idea of what pace I can run my speed sessions at now also.
What do you do to get out of your comfort zone?
Parenthood is the perfect training for ultra running