I titled my blog "Mile 20 Running" for many reasons. So, what did I do this go around for marathon training after talking about how much I think mile 20 is an iconic mile in training and racing?
I selected a marathon training plan that has me running zero 20-milers in preparation for Chicago.
Yep, not one.
I'll say at the outset that there are lots of ways to run a good marathon and plenty of plans out there to help you do just that. A lot just depends on your fitness level, injury history, and how much you're willing to run in terms of mileage and days per week.
Point being, I'm not advocating that the way I do things is right for everyone, just blogging some thoughts on the process so far. What you're currently doing is probably right for you!
Anyway, my goals for this season are getting tougher, and even writing them down makes me nervous: A PR in the 3:05-3:10 range either in Chicago/Houston or both (a girl can dream right?), or at least notch my current 3:17 down enough to make the first wave cutoff for Boston 2015, which will likely need to be near a 3:10 anyway.
To do this, I felt like I needed to step up two things in particular: 1) overall weekly mileage, and 2) more marathon goal pace running. Not every plan calls for marathon pace running, and that's ok, but here's my real life example of even pacing from lots of practice:
|2013 Houston Marathon splits (first BQ): an example of what practicing marathon pace did for me (no other speed work) and maxing out around 40 miles/week:|
So, I was looking for higher mileage and more marathon pace running....enter Hansons:
The premise of Hansons, like many other plans, is the idea of cumulative fatigue, but they go about it a much different way.
One of those ways is to max out your longest run of the training cycle at 16 miles so that you can recover enough to do more higher quality workouts during the week. They call them SOS or "something of substance" workouts.
I call them beastly workouts, especially if you are training in the summer months. They are deceptively tough.
Anyway, why top out at 16 miles?
The general idea is that running 20 miles, except for the fastest and most conditioned of runners out there, breaks down your body fairly substantially and requires a lot of recovery time for most folks. The fitter you are, the less recovery you need, but most of us feel a 20 mile run the next day, no doubt about it. That means there is less time for "quality" workouts during the week because you're waiting for your body to heal.
The book goes into a more detailed explanation behind the 16 mile cap:
1) Explosion in popularity of the marathon since the 1970s: It used to be a fringe activity that only seasoned (i.e. very fast) runners tackled. Now, the masses go after that distance as well, but what amounts to a moderate workout for very conditioned runners (i.e. runs of 20 miles) is much tougher and requires more recovery for the rest of us slower runners. In other words, the foundation 20 mile runs are a remnant from more elite training plans and may not be the best idea for the masses.
2) Renowned running coach Dr. Jack Daniel's belief that no more than 25-30% of your overall mileage should be done in the long run:
|Weekly mileage versus the long run|
|How long a 16 or 20 mile runs takes versus your pace|
Taking all of that into consideration, in a nutshell, the Hansons' method says a 16-mile run fits the bill for the vast majority of folks doing marathon training. It stimulates the metabolic changes you need without leaving you so beat down that you can't do other quality workouts during the week, which in turn lets you up the overall intensity of your training cycle.
For a girl who loves her long runs (especially conquering 20 miles), this was a very different and intriguing notion to me.
So, for the last 13 weeks now, I've been totally immersed in this plan. It's been tough, but while I'm tired, I feel strangely strong, too. Most importantly, I have never felt on the verge of injury.
Anyway, this post has already gotten long enough...more on the positives/negatives I've experienced so far in another post.
The real test will be Chicago in about 4 weeks.
For the past 12 weeks, I've been taking a less-conventional approach to marathon training developed by the Hansons Brothers out of Michigan