In the year I’ve used the Hansons method for two half marathons and one full marathon, I’ve improved overall as a runner. With each training cycle I’ve been able to handle more mileage and harder workouts, and each cycle has made me feel physically and mentally stronger. Yes, each cycle I complain about how hard it is, but I admit that I love the challenge. I also love the routine and structure. A live chat Hansons Head Coach Luke Humphrey did for the HCS Run Club on how to plan your running based on long-term goals got me to thinking about how to use the method year-round to continue improving. I also talked to Coach Melissa about my next goals. That led me to these long- and short-term running goals.
Coach Luke suggested thinking of a long-term goal that would be 2-5 years out. Then plan backwards so that you can set smaller goals each year based on where you currently are and how much you need to improve to reach your long-term goal. For my 5-year goal, I decided to dream big. I’ve set a marathon time goal that is so big, so far from where I am now, that it’s very far out of my comfort zone. And right now, where I’m at, it’s impossible. But if I work hard over the next years, maybe the impossible will become possible. And if not, I’ll still be improving as a runner. If nothing else, having a big goal motivates and excites me.
While you train hard with Hansons, you recover just as hard. For a full marathon they want you to take two full weeks off running. After two weeks of no running, you ease back into running with 20-40 minutes of easy running a few days a week for two weeks. I am almost at the end of my recovery plan and am ready to start transitioning to training again. In mid-December I’ll start the advanced half marathon plan to train for a mid-April race, the local Boston Trail Half Marathon.
You know that I’d love to do another marathon as soon as possible to try for redemption. But Coach Luke suggested that first-time marathoners not go right into another full marathon training cycle. He said that’s especially true if the first training cycle was really hard for you. He said if you go right into another full marathon training cycle, you could get really burned out and come to hate running. My first training cycle was really hard, and I can see the wisdom of not jumping into another training cycle.
While I like cold weather running much more than warm weather running, Hansons is harder in winter. You need many miles of a clear running route to do the long workouts, and that can be difficult to come by. This past winter was a mild one in Pittsburgh, but since I run in the coldest temperatures in the pre-dawn hours, it’s hard to find a clear, safe place to run. Last winter I wasn’t able to do many of my workouts because there just wasn’t a place to run.
So for those reasons, I’ve decided to do a fall marathon. My first choice is the Philadelphia Marathon. I think I’m ready to try a bigger race because I can see how more runners and crowds would be helpful in the later miles. I’d say that it also has a good chance for cooler weather, but I need to stop dreaming that any race will have perfect weather. It could be raining, it could be snowing, it could be blustery, it could be warm. I just need to take my chances. Another benefit of Philly is that I’d have more training in the cooler months of September, October, and November. So running Philly will be my big goal for 2017. I’m tremendously excited about it, particularly because I’ll be running with a friend, and another friend also plans to run it. I’m keeping it vague because I don’t want to spill the beans if they haven’t made it public yet. BUT, it’s going to be awesome! And I only have to wait 50 weeks for it. 😉
That leaves spring. Coach Melissa has told me that many runners make the mistake of training for marathon after marathon. She thinks that mixing up training and throwing in training for shorter distances helps you improve overall as a runner because you’re training in different ways and working your body differently. So based on her advice, I’ll be doing 5K and half marathon training.
I really debated how to order them. I typically don’t do well in spring races since I struggle with warm spring temperatures after months of running outside, since I don’t use a treadmill. Initially, I was thinking of just doing base work through the worst of winter then start training to run 5Ks in April and an early June half marathon. It will likely be hot and humid in June, but it would be good for me to get practice racing in warm weather since I struggle with it so much.
But I decided to switch it. Yes, I’ll benefit by racing in hot weather, but I think I need to make those shorter distances. So the half marathon will be in mid-April and 5Ks in May and June.
One thing I’ll be doing differently for this half marathon training is using a treadmill when it’s too icy or snowy outside. Do you know that I’ve run on a treadmill maybe twice in the past 4 years? Part of the reason is that being outside is one of the things I love most about running. The other reason is that the gym I can use through work had so few treadmills that there was a 30-minute time limit. Now I have access to a new gym with lots of treadmills and no time limit. I still don’t like the idea of using a treadmill, but I think it will be a necessary evil.
Here’s a month-by-month view of 2017 based on all of this.
December-April: Hansons advanced half marathon training
April: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in DC if I get into the lottery!
April: Boston Trail Half Marathon
April-June: Hansons 5K training
May/June: 5K races
June-August: Recovery and Hansons base work to maintain fitness
August-November: Hansons full marathon training
November: Philadelphia Marathon
I’m really excited! I’ll be setting some pretty big goals for both the half and full marathon next year, and I’m motivated to try my best to meet them. I think 2017 is going to be a great year!
What about you–do you have big goals for next year or are you just going with the flow (which sounds equally awesome, just in a different way)?