This past week I started training for the Indiana Veterans Marathon, a small, local, rails-to-trail race an hour away from Pittsburgh. I’m using a customized Hanson’s plan and working with Melissa from Hanson’s Coaching Services. I chose the Hanson’s method because I’ve used it twice for half marathons and really like it. Read more on my thoughts on the method.
The week was all about getting started. I had a great first session via phone with Melissa on Wednesday. First she showed me the online training system we’ll be using, Final Surge. Melissa will upload my plan so it shows up in my calendar. The program syncs to Garmin Connect, so all I have to do is sync my Garmin and my runs will automatically upload to the calendar. Melissa can then check on my runs and make comments, and we can start a chat about that workout. But there’s a lot more to Final Surge . Because I have a higher level coaching option, I get access to all the articles, podcasts, and resources that Hanson’s Coaching Services subscribers get. Another feature of the program is that Final Surge sends me a notification every night about the next two days of planned runs.
One thing I get as a subscriber is access to a 17-week strength training plan created for runners. I don’t have it set up yet, but when it is, the strength workouts will automatically upload to my calendar too. Sweet!
Melissa will create my schedule for about the next two weeks out, so I won’t have the full plan at once for two reasons. First, she said it’s nearly impossible to follow a plan 100%, and that you don’t have to be 100% to be successful. That’s right–what you have all said that I never truly believed is true! Ha! If adjustments need to be made, she can easily make them and I won’t even know that she made adjustments and won’t have mental anguish about not following the plan exactly. I love that! The second reason is that this plan will be truly customized for me. We talked about a target for peak weekly mileage, and she said it will really be based on how I feel. If I’m not feeling great, we can back off the miles. If I’m feeling great and want more, we can add. I love that too.
We talked about a lot of other topics, like training in the heat (don’t feel guilty going slower!), pacing, fueling, and races I’ll do to incorporate into my training (more on that this week). But the biggest thing was my time goal and race pace. As I’ve said before, the Hanson’s method is built around a goal time since all your training paces are based on that. While I don’t want to focus on time goals because doing so adds pressure, I also realize that I do need to practice the pace I’m going to shoot for in the race. We came up with a time goal and will see how my training goes. If that pace feels too easy to me, we may adjust the time goal.
I’ve decided to not share my time goal or paces in my training recaps. I’ve put a lot of thought into this. On one hand, I love hearing about training from those who run similar paces. On the other hand, I feel like regularly talking about my time goal and paces will put too much emphasis on time and may create the anxiety that I’ve been trying to get away from by not focusing on time goals. Running this marathon is all about personal fulfillment, not about hitting paces. For those who wanted me to share my paces, I hope you understand.
My time goal is based on race equivalency calculators, which Melissa felt was a pretty good estimate since my recent 5K and half marathon times are only off by seconds on the equivalency chart. When Melissa first told me we could be conservative with my time goal since it’s my first marathon, I was thinking knocking 30 minutes off whatever the race equivalency calculator said. Melissa’s definition of conservative was knocking off just 5 minutes! After I balked a bit, we backed that out to 10 minutes, but Melissa wants to see how I do in training and may want to increase it.
I spent the rest of the day chewing on those numbers. The time goal is pretty scary in itself. But what scares me more is knowing that the majority of people who run a marathon–at least for the first time–don’t meet their time goals. At least, that’s what it seems like to me from all the race reports I read. The typical experience is that they run at their race pace up until a certain point–15, 18, 20 miles–something goes wrong, and then they jog, walk, or limp to the finish line. The other scary thing is that Melissa is already talking about a negative split. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, since the whole Hanson’s method is about training you to run well so you can finish strong. But how many people–including the super experienced runners–run negative splits in a marathon at all, let alone their first? Essentially, Melissa wants me to do what very few people do–not just run a marathon, but run it really well. It seemed nearly impossible, and the doubt started creeping in.
It didn’t last long before I shut it down. As I thought about it, I thought, “Why not?” Why can’t I run it well? Many people don’t have the marathon experience they hoped for, but some do. My running buddy Jamie did in the Philly Marathon last year, as did many other fellow running bloggers. Why not me? I’ve spent the last two years putting in the work and preparing for running a marathon. And I’m about to invest a lot of time, sweat, and emotions–not to mention the money for coaching–to train for it. After all that, do I really want to show up at the start line content to give it a half-hearted attempt? No. I want to try my best.
So the day before training started, I decided I was going to believe. I’m going to believe I can run my first marathon well. Because if I don’t believe I can, why even bother?
While I’m going to train for and plan to run my goal pace, I’m not naive. I know that the marathon is a beast that can throw any number of obstacles my way on race day. My ultimate goal is to try my best. As long as I do that, I’ll consider this race a success no matter what time I finish. But from now until the race, I’m going to believe I can do it. Believe is going to be my mantra through this training cycle.
So, I entered training feeling incredibly positive and excited about my journey to 26.2. The first part of the Hanson’s method is base-building with short, easy miles. While they were nothing special or different from what I’ve already been doing, this week’s runs felt special because I was bursting with positivity and confidence. Here’s how the week broke down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon on November 6 using the Hanson’s Marathon Method
- Days running: 4
- Miles this week: 12
- Miles this month: 19.2
- Miles this year: 922.34
- Strength training sessions: 2
Monday – Wednesday
I was on a mini vacation in Virginia visiting Shenandoah National Park, which I talked about last week, and didn’t run.
Easy run: 3 miles (71 degrees)
First run of marathon training! It was hot and humid, but I was so excited. Of course that meant I woke up before 4 a.m. because I couldn’t wait to run. I know this won’t last!
In the evening I did the leg and core circuit strength training from the Hanson’s site.
Easy run: 2 miles (72 degrees)
Easy run: 4 miles (73 degrees)
I met Jamie and Anna on the river trail for a really hot run. We usually run at a faster pace, but I had to keep to my easy pace range. We ran on the fast end of that range, which was fast enough given how hot it was.
Afterward I did the same leg and core circuit from the Hanson’s website.
We took Django on a very short walk in Washington’s Landing in the afternoon since it was so hot and then went over to the Deutschtown Music Festival in my neighborhood, where 180 bands were playing in a bunch of different places around the neighborhood.
Recovery run: 3 miles (65 degrees)
I hit the trails around the North Park pool for this run. I planned to do the same route I did with the Pro Bike + Run group run a few weeks ago. The problem is that there are about a million trails in the park, and I got completely lost. I tried to keep the park road to my left but kept veering off, realizing I had no idea where I was, and then backtracking. Still, it was a wonderfully cool morning and nice to be out in the woods, so I can’t complain. While this was supposed to be a very easy recovery run, trails are always harder for me so I walked the steepest hills.
After my run I met Jamie and Anna at the OTB Bicycle Cafe in North Park for brunch. They had done their own longer run. It was cloudy, and as we sat outside by the lake in our sweaty clothes, we were actually chilly!
But the sun came out, it warmed up, and it ended up being a beautiful day. We took Django on a walk in Schenley Park in the afternoon.
This week will be more of the same–short, easy runs. I’m not complaining!
I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap. I appreciate all the work Holly and Tricia do for their linkup and am happy I’ve got to meet some great new bloggers through the linkup. Thank you, Holly and Tricia! Have a great week!