In my weekly recap I said I was quitting the Hansons’ half marathon plan and replacing it with my own modified version. The Hansons’ method has been such a great fit for me previously that it’s with a very sad heart that I’m choosing to do something else. This was my fourth time using the Hansons’ method (used it twice for half marathon training and once for full marathon training) and the only time I was unable to complete workouts and struggled so much in general. I think part of the reason is that I used the advanced plan and jumped into workouts without a good base. The other part is that I’ve gained weight, which has made me slower and all the runs harder. This is the time training really ramps up in terms of both intensity and mileage. With my new job and losing weight now a priority and my body struggling like it has been, I know I can’t continue even the current plan, much less ramp up.
I’m basing my new training plan on the Hansons’ structure with the following modifications. I hate to even call it a Hansons-light training plan because the whole point of Hansons is cumulative fatigue and completing workouts on tired legs to mimic race day. This plan will not get me to any of that. But I hope it will build general fitness and get me in shape to completing a strong half marathon, even if it’s not a PR.
Runs 5 Days a Week Instead of 6
I’ve always liked running 6 days a week and have felt like a day without running is like not brushing my teeth in the morning–I just feel off for the day. But with my new job it will be nice to have to wake up really early to run only 3 work days instead of 4. With the extra day off running I’ll be better able to fit in strength training, which has always been a key to weight loss for me. Plus, the extra day off will help with recovery so I’ll better be able to handle the training.
I started this training cycle expecting my body to be able to run paces I’ve run in previous training cycles and was sad and disappointed when I couldn’t do it. But I will still get the benefits of training if I can run at the same goal effort level of the workouts, no matter the pace. It will also be less mentally tough for me to continue to not hit my paces. So I’ll be running at what feels like 5K effort for speed workouts and half marathon effort for tempo runs. For the long runs, I’ll be running at a slightly harder pace than for my easy runs–somewhere between easy and moderate pace.
Workouts Spaced More Apart or Reduced
There are three SOS (something of substance) workouts in the Hansons’ week: a speed workout of intervals, replaced by slower but longer intervals later in the cycle; a tempo run at goal pace; and the long run. Hansons’ Method author and head coach Luke Humphrey has said the first modification he’d make for those struggling is to move the speed and tempo workouts farther apart to allow for more recovery in between. I’m planning on doing my workouts Tuesday and Friday instead of Tuesday and Thursday for more recovery. And if I’m really struggling, I’m going to do only one of those workouts a week. That’s what the Hansons’ base-building plan calls for–either a speed or tempo run each week that alternates so that you do a speed workout one week and a tempo the next week.
Running one less day a week will obviously result in lower mileage, but I’ll be running less mileage overall. The speed workout is usually 8 or more miles–3 miles total of speed, 3 miles of recovery, plus warm-up and cool-down. To get to my new job on time, I won’t be able to run that long before work. So I’ll be modifying the weekday runs to be less mileage. I’m going to try to keep the weekend mileage as it is.
I’ll see how these modifications work; maybe I’ll end up doing more or less of what I’m planning. But I’m feeling good that with this plan I’ll still be able to have a decent training cycle while juggling a new job and weight loss. Onward!