Over the course of my half marathon training this past winter, I got a number of question about the Hansons Method Training Plan that I was using. I shared some thoughts here and here, but wanted to share a few more now that I’ve finished my goal race. A few basics in case you are not familiar: the plan has you running six days a week. Out of those six days, three are easy days, one is speed work, one is a tempo run and one is your long run. The plan is based on the idea of cumulative fatigue – the idea that by running often (but not always at a hard pace), you are frequently running on tired legs. This is meant to simulate the last miles of a race so that you are prepared to push through the final miles. I highly recommend the book – it’s the only way you can get all the paces and the training plan and plus reading the science really makes sense (the link is to the marathon training plan but you can easily find the half marathon book from that link – it is an affiliate link).
You can see this in more detail if you go back and read some of my training recaps, but on a typical week, this is what my schedule looked like: Monday – easy 4, Tuesday – speed work (6 miles usually), Wednesday – REST, Thursday – tempo run (from 4-7 miles total), Friday – easy 3-5, Saturday – long run, Sunday – easy 3-5. This was my first time running six days a week and it was not easy, but the proof is in the pudding. I ran a 1:56:44 in terrible weather during Shamrock and feel more confident in my running than I ever have. This plan absolutely worked for me. I think there were a number of factors that contributed to my success on the plan that might be helpful for someone else.
- I committed to the plan. I’ve been asked how I stuck with the plan when it got tough, and that’s a great question because this plan gets tough and it stays tough for awhile. See my more detailed answer on this below.
- My mental confidence grew after each completed workout. Even when the workouts were crazy hard and I was near tears (this happened more than once), once I finished, I felt that much more confident in myself and my ability.
- The training on the plan is so hard that once you get to race day, you really feel prepared. Jennifer over at Dashing in Style was like my Hansons guru – she answered questions and was just an excellent support. She told me before my race that I’d be feeling strong and passing people in the later miles. She was right. I found this to be true both at Shamrock and at Cherry Blossom.
I received a bunch of great questions about the plan that I want to take the time to answer. In fact, I received so many good questions that I’m going to split this post into two parts. The first few questions are below and then come back later this week to read the remaining questions.
- How did you build up to running six days a week? This was not easy. I’d never run more than 3-4 days a week so I had no idea how I would do this. The good thing is that if you follow the plan straight out the book, you ease into 6 days. I only had 13 weeks before my race, so I cut out the first 5 weeks of the program. BUT – if you follow the program to the letter, you have a built in build up. As for me, I went from 3-4 days of running to a couple weeks of five days of running to six. Out of all the days I ran, I found adding on a run on Sundays was the hardest for me. I’ve almost always taken Sunday as a rest day (unless I’m racing) and I’m usually at church until mid-afternoon and so I have to wake up early to run before church which, honestly, was HARD. I tried to get my friend Caitlin to run with me on as many Sundays as I could to ease the pain. It’s not easy to build mileage but if you actually follow the gradual build up in the plan, I think you’ll be fine. I found adding a run on Sunday much harder than six days a week.
- How did you incorporate strength training into the plan? This won’t surprise you if you read this blog regularly, but Pure Barre. Pure Barre + running = all I did. Not all in a “oh that’s it” kind of way. Because running six days a week + Pure Barre two days a week is a lot of work. But I didn’t do Crossfit or lift heavy weights or do any other kind of strength training. I tried to go to Pure Barre twice a week. Some weeks I went more, and some weeks I went less. But I was pretty consistent and I know for a fact that Pure Barre as strength training works for me. So my advice on this front is to find a form of strength training you enjoy and shoot to do it twice a week.
- How did you stay focused when it got tough? I read a lot of motivating race recaps. I read my friend Tara’s Marathon Recap – she ran a huge PR and it was so motivating! I read all of Jennifer’s training recaps. I read everything positive I could find. I also would get motivation from my other running friends on Instagram. Before a hard tempo run (I was always terrified before my tempo runs – each and every week without fail), I’d check my Instagram feed and get inspired. You’ve got to figure out what motivates you. For me, it was reading positive things and seeing other people killing it in crazy wind/snow/etc. That made me feel like I could go out and at least attempt my workout. And then, without fail, once I was out there, it would click. That being said – there were many times (I can remember at least three very clearly) that I would be running a tempo run into the wind, with a tear (usually just one little pathetic tear – I’m so dramatic) streaming down my face because it was just so hard. In those moments, I told myself that I had to put in the work RIGHT THEN to reap the benefits on race day. I just kept envisioning crossing the finish line of Shamrock and seeing a 1:xx on the clock. Reminding myself of my ultimate end goal always helped.
Do you have other questions not addressed in this post? Leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them in part two!
*Please remember that I’m not a doctor, trainer, or any of that. I’m a self-coached, lawyer turned diversity professional who had some success with a training plan I purchased from a book. Please consult an actual expert before making any big changes in your running routine.