My thoughts on Hanson:
I've been hearing murmurings of this "training plan" that doesn't go above 16 miles for a long run. And hearing things like "Hanson doesn't believe in 20 milers" and "20 milers are excessive". Finally, one of my old high school assistant coaches started preaching the praises of the Hanson method, and I could no longer ignore all the hoopla. I went out last week and bought the Hanson Marathon Method book. .
I don't subscribe to any particular type of marathon training, but I will confess that 20 plus milers are my least favorite part of marathon training. Mostly because of the time requirement. When I have the opportunity to run with someone like AM, I find the actual run fun. But most of the time I'm relegated to running on my own, and being completely honest, I find it boring after 15-16 miles. The promise of only running 16 miles is appealing.
What's my problem with Hanson? First of all, Hanson believes that the 20 miler is an arbitrary distance chosen by many training plans with no evidence to support choosing that distance. The book points out that there is evidence to suggest that running longer than three hours doesn't provide additional physiological benefit to the long run (and it take many people longer than three hours to run 20 miles). The book also points out that when training for any other distances the general rule of thumb for a long run is 25-30% of a runner's total weekly mileage. So say you're running 40 miles a week, then a 20 miler is 50% of your weekly mileage...All of that sounds reasonable to me. And notice none of that focuses on only running a 16 mile long run. Except all I keep hearing about from other runners is how it's not necessary to run more than 16 miles for a long run! Of course, that could be because there are only two training plans in the book (beginner and advanced), and both only have three 16 mile long runs. The peak mileage for these plans is between 57 and 63 miles a week. It seems to me that there are enough runners out there that peak at 70-80 to miles a week that there could be another training plan in there, and THAT training plan would probably have 20 mile long runs, you know, because of that whole 25-30% of weekly mileage rule.
It could just be an issue of runners reading what they want out the book too. Hanson admits in the book that the elite runners in the Hanson project do run 20-22 milers, but they also run 100-130 miles a week, so it fits. I guess I'm more irritated that others have taken the program to mean that Hanson doesn't support runs longer than 16 miles, because it simply isn't true.
All that 16 miler business aside, I did like the book. The program focuses on cumulative fatigue. Basically when you run long the program is trying to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon. As a result, you generally run your long runs harder than traditional plans and on tired legs. I like the idea. Though, I might like it because a lot of my training has been focused on the same idea. He outlines a number of different, but simple workouts, and has a chart for each workout to let you figure out what your pace should be based on what your goal marathon time should be. It's done well enough that you can create your own plan, which is what I like to do.
The biggest downside to the book (for me), is that it's focused on runners who run 3-4 days a week, and trying to get those runners to run 6 days a week. Essentially getting people who are running 35-40 miles a week to run 55-60 miles a week. Now I completely agree that getting runners to run 6 days a week and upping their 35-40 miles a week to 55+ will greatly improve their marathon times, but I've already done that. Since my body seems to be handling the slightly higher mileage of 70-80 miles, I don't think that I would decrease my mileage to follow his lower mileage plan (especially when he's not suggesting that one's overall weekly mileage should decrease, but increase).
Moving beyond Hanson, and jumping down the rabbit hole:
Deviating from the Hanson topic, I did notice something interesting when reading the book. I've run a number of workouts mentioned in the book (like the 6x1 mile repeats), and my paces are faster than suggested for my marathon goal time. This got me to thinking about how I have to train harder than suggested in many training plans to meet my goals...I really don't think I'm doing anything wrong. My workout paces simply have to be faster than suggested, or I won't be able to run my goal time for my race. I've noted this in the past, and have changed my training accordingly.
A few weeks ago, my co-worker's husband ran a 3:11 marathon. It was a significant PR for him. He's a recreational runner, and he's been running for at least 10 years. His training peaked at maybe 50 miles. He ran his long runs at MP, but didn't really run any structured schedule. He didn't do tempo runs or interval runs. When I ran 3:11, I peaked at 76 miles, ran tempo, interval, and MP runs. I know, I know, guys run faster than girls, BUT now I'm wondering about all these training plans out there. If you have a guy and a girl who have the same time goal, would you give them the same training plan down to the same paces for the workouts? Are most of these training plans actually designed for men? Should it not matter? Obviously in this case it mattered. There's no way I would have run 3:11 on his plan, and if he had run my schedule he would have certainly run faster. Maybe it's not necessarily a difference between men and women, but a difference in running potential? In either case, it brings up some interesting questions about training. It seems to me that cookie cutter training plans are probably only good for your first few marathons when you're trying to figure out what works for you. After that, you probably need to create your own plan or get a coach...
Any thoughts? Am I completely crazy?
On the homestead:
We went sledding this weekend in our backyard. It's funny we have two sledding tubes. Kaylee sleds the whole time, and Emily fills her tube with snow. She's quite happy just filling it with snow. And there she is doing just that...two year olds...they're so weird. ;)