This past week I started the next training segment, focused on speed. Tuesdays will be devoted to speedwork at either 5K or 10K pace, starting at 400-meter repeats and increasing in distance. The primary purpose of these workouts is to improve V02 max, the measure of the maximum amount of oxygen consumed by exercising muscles; increase anaerobic threshold; improve the working muscles (specifically, the slow-twitch fibers and intermediate fibers), which thus improves running economy; and increase the production of myoglobin, which helps transport oxygen to the muscles and then to the mitochondria. In addition to the physiological benefits, speed training teaches your mind to handle hard work. As the book says,
“Every speed workout you complete is like money in the bank when it comes to resources on which you can draw during the most difficult moments of the race.”
I wrote more about the benefits of speed workouts and how the Hanson’s Method treats them in an earlier post.
One thing I love about the Hanson’s Method is that it’s all based on science. I love understanding how the different workouts yield specific benefits that will prepare me for the race. One thing stressed over and over in the book, on the website, and in podcasts is to run the speed workouts at the prescribed pace. Hanson’s Method author Luke Humphrey has said the biggest mistake people make is running workouts too fast, which can lead to injury and burnout later in training. Basically, just because you can run the repeats faster doesn’t mean you should!
This past week also began the Thursday tempo runs, which are a segment of miles at goal marathon pace sandwiched between warm-up and cool-down miles. I wrote previously about the importance of these runs, but the key benefits are that they help you internalize your pace and develop control to get practice with maintaining your race pace. They provide another psychological benefit for me because they really build my confidence.
Easy running increased this past week with an addition of a sixth day of running. Easy running is the bread-and-butter of the plan since it yields so many physiological benefits (that I wrote about earlier) and allows for higher mileage while reducing the risk of injury and burnout. Everyone’s risk of injury is very different and depends on so many factors, and I know that for some higher mileage invites injury. But I’ve done the Hanson’s method twice before for half marathons, getting up to a 47-mile peak week, and have never been injured. Because most of that mileage is easy running I can verify that, at least of for me, easy running does reduce the chance of injury.
So that’s some of the science and reasoning behind the three types of runs I’m doing now: speed, tempo, and easy. I have not yet started long runs (that is, at a more moderate long run pace), and the fifth type of workout, strength, will be in the next training segment.
Let’s look at how the week went down.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for small, local, rails-to-trails Indiana Veteran’s Marathon near Pittsburgh on November 6 using a version of the Hanson’s Marathon Method beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach
- Days running: 6
- Miles this week: 30
- Time running this week: 6:17
- Miles this training cycle: 120
- Miles this month: 53
- Miles this year: 838.04
- Strength training sessions: 3
Easy run: 3 miles (68 degrees)
This was a very easy 3-miler to start the week and ended up being my typical accidental progression run.
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 35 minutes
The goal of this week’s strength training I’m doing through my Hanson’s Coaching Services subscription was to continue building overall strength while improving my core and stabilization muscles. Coach Melissa told me that in addition to reducing injuries and making me a stronger runner, the goal of this strength training routine is to improve my form. She said, “I’m sure you’ve seen someone who’s really tired at the end of the race and their arms are crossing over each other and they have the head tilt and back hunch going on! We’re going to get you strong so you’re ready to attack 26.2 miles!” Well, I can already feel this working. Even in my longer workouts when I’m tired at the end, my form is still really strong. In the past I’ve slacked on strength training while training, but already I can see the benefits, which makes me motivated to stick with it.
Speedwork: 7 miles (68 degrees)
My first speed workout was 10 x 400-meter repeats with 1 mile warm-up and cool-down. The 400s have been my least favorite workout in the plan. It’s so short that it’s hard to get into a groove. The Hanson’s plan has 12 of these repeats, and I’ve previously complained about doing 12 of them. I thought that was appropriate for more advanced runners but thought it was too much for me. Good that my coach agrees! Actually, she wanted to see how I handle the first few workouts, which is likely the reason it’s a little shorter than the plan in the book.
Goal pace for these repeats was 10K pace. Like I said above, Hanson’s is really big on running the prescribed pace, so I was determined to hit my pace. Easier said than done! I didn’t hit my pace once. I was either going to fast or too slow, and there’s just not enough time in a 400 to even out the pace. So, unfortunately, I ran every single one of the first 5 too fast. Melissa did tell me I could push a few of the last 5 to 5K pace, and that was much easier. I think my body just feels like it should go faster the shorter the interval. Overall, this was a pretty easy workout. I never felt like I really had to push to hit my pace; instead, I had to hold back. And only in the very last interval did my legs feel a bit tired. Overall, I felt great during this workout.
Later in the day I felt a bit tired, but that’s to be expected when you add intensity. I tried hard not to think about having 2.5 more months of workouts like this!
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 48 minutes
Tempo run: 6 miles (77 degrees)
With 93% humidity, this was the first day of the miserable, steamy, hot, humid weather that’s still here. I had plans to meet Joanna for 4 miles at goal marathon pace. While running my warm-up mile before meeting her, I didn’t have high hopes for this run. I wrote on Friday how I’d asked Coach Melissa how to handle the weather, and she suggested starting 15 seconds slower than goal pace and picking it up if I felt good. I was so grateful to have Joanna with me for this run. It’s been a while since we ran together so we had a lot to catch up on, which made the miles go pretty fast. The strategy to start slower really helped make it a pretty good run given the weather, and we were able to pick it up to finish the last mile just 5 seconds slower than goal pace. Overall I felt really good about this run and enjoyed my cool-down mile after.
Easy run: 4 miles (80 degrees)
Another super humid, steamy run. This weather is so gross! I took it easy, though, and felt surprisingly good.
Recovery run: 3 miles (79 degrees)
The miserably humid weather continued, so I was very happy to have a short run to shake out my legs before Sunday’s trail 10K. This day was also the day of the Pittsburgh Triathlon, which became a duathlon after the swimming portion was canceled due to the river not being safe after all the heavy rains and storms we’ve had. I felt bad that the participants didn’t get to cool off in the water.
Strength training, foam rolling, and stretching: 45 minutes
After I got home I did my strength training. Still really loving that each of these workouts is a different routine, so there’s always something new to try, which motivates me to do them.
Easy run: 7 miles (77 degrees)
I was supposed to do the Two Face Trail 10K at North Park with a 1-mile warm-up. I didn’t. I was hoping for a break in the weather, but it was just as hot and humid and miserable as it’s been the past few days. I’d been worried going into the race that I’d do too much walking given that it’s a hard course. It has been storming daily for the past few days because of the humidity, so I also really didn’t want to run up and down muddy hills in the woods when it was so hot and humid. But really, I just didn’t want to run at all. This was the first day of this training cycle that I had zero motivation to run. I wasn’t feeling tired or fatigued, just blah. I decided to get the 7 miles in on the river trail near my house but wasn’t at all sure that I could and thought about cutting the run short about a hundred times. It was a mental struggle the whole run, but I got it done with the help of a few walk breaks and a few times dousing myself with water from a water fountain. It was mostly cloudy, which helped. I guess I should feel worse that I took a DNS just because I didn’t want to do the race, but I don’t. It was a rough run, and I think I would have been miserable if I added a hilly course to the mix. After my run, I was so excited to watch the end of the Olympic Women’s Marathon that I sat around shivering in the AC in my sweaty clothes because I didn’t want to miss a minute by changing. So excited that Desi, Shalane, and Amy all finished in the top ten!
I’m putting today’s bad run behind me and looking forward to the upcoming week!