Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Metric Hanson Plan

Since my visit to London in spring 2015, I've been endeavoring to become metric literate.  When someone tells me its going to be 75F degrees outside, I have a solid idea of what the weather will feel like that day.  Tell me it's 15C, and I used to be befuddled.  A solid six months of setting my weather.com app to metric, and I intuitively know that 5-9C is a great day to race, 20 and above I need to reset my expectations.  35+, like it's been a few times over the past 10 days in Southern California, is scorching and no joy can come from running that day.

Running races, we casually slide between metric and imperial units.  5K, 10K, 10 miler, 13.1, 26.2, but pace calculations have traditionally been in minutes/mile.  A 9:09 minute mile will allow me to break the 4 hour mark at a marathon.  7 minute miles seem impossible for more than 3.1 miles.  Imperial pacing makes intrinsic sense to me and most runners in America.  When I talk pace with my friends, its in minutes/mile.

My outlook began to change by happenstance at the 2015 LA Marathon.  The course had timing mats and markers every 5K in addition to the grand, orange, inflatable archways that commemorated every mile.  I checked my watch at the first 5K marker, just under 28 minutes, and resolved to cover each 5K marker in the same amount of time.  28 plus 28 is 56, easy math.  56 + 28 is, ummm, 84, which is 1 hour and 24 minutes.  84 + 28 is.....dammit I'm too tired to do math right now.

The ad hoc attempt at "running metric" ended before the halfway mark, but it paved the way for a new mentality: run the marathon in eight 5K segments, then put whatever I had left into the final 2K.  Approaching the race this way has a couple of benefits: 5000 meters is a relatively small distance in the course of a 50 - 60 mile training week, so dividing the course into 8 checkpoints, instead of 26, makes the race feel shorter.  Additionally, aiming for pace markers less frequently smoothes out the variations in the course, allowing for more pace adjustments to the terrain.

I'm coming up on a year now that my Garmin default units are "km."  When I hit the strength workout portion of the Hanson plan training for LA 2016, I ran 2 x 5K instead of 2 x 3 mile intervals.  On an easy 6 mile day, I run 10K.  Rounding up to the nearest km is a sneaky way of adding more mileage.  Two tenths here and there, an additional 0.6 because I ran 17 km on a 10 mile day, it adds up to significant mileage over the course of 18 weeks.

Today was the first time I ran the speed pyramid workout, metric style.  The traditional Hanson plan calls for 400m-800m-1200m-1200m-800m-400m intervals with 400m recovery between each.  I made it a metric plan by making the base unit 500m.  So 500m-1000m-1500m-1500m-1000m-500m with 500m recovery.  And I did the workout on the trails near Peters Canyon instead of on a track, so a bit of hill work was added on top.  After all, when was the last marathon course that had more than a mile of zero elevation change.  My hope is these little tweaks will produce improved race day performance.  I'm going to go through the Hanson Plan and convert each workout to kilometers, and then post the result on my Training Plan tab.


Friday, June 17, 2016

A new beginning...

I started this blog 3.5 years ago to document my first attempt at marathon training using the Hanson Brothers plan.  I had a difficult time finding any information beyond the brief article in Runner's World.  In the subsequent years, a book has been published that lays out every bit of science and rationale behind the plan, and my friends and I have logged thousands of miles with the HB framework.

So what to do with this blog space now?  I hope to make it an outlet to capture the thoughts I have while I run.  An old thought occured to me this morning, "Runners are made, not born."  I would never have believed I was capable of running a 5K in 2007, and now, in the past 2 weeks, I've logged 9 training runs 10K or longer.  It's a testament to the focus and determination required to become an endurance runner.  These should be traits I can use in other aspects of my life.  I seek a new path in my professional life, which will require the creation of a resume, a document I've not attended to in nearly 18 years.  My hope is writing about running in this space will develop my skills as a storyteller so I can can create a compelling case history of my life as an employee that will lead to a new frontier.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Twas the night before LAM...

and I should be asleep, but of course, I'm not.  Everything is ready for tomorrow morning, running clothes set out, bib pinned on, Garmin and iPod and backup iPod charging.  Months ago, I thought this was going to be a training run as I prepared for the Eugene Marathon in late April.  But irrational confidence set in as I did my training runs in February.  I loosely followed the Hanson plan, but missed a number of runs because of illness, business travel, and just family stuff. 

Yet I've somehow managed to log over 400 miles since CIM, and in the two weeks leading up to tomorrow, I've logged the same 70 miles I did before CIM.  My best training runs were the past 3-4 Thursdays, pace run day.  I managed between 10-12 miles at a sub-9 pace, much faster than I plan to run tomorrow.  My one 16 miler came in at 9:11s.

Tested out a few new things on my 16 miler that will make their race debut tomorrow...CW-X Pro compression tights, Nuun sports drink, and eating a GU every 45 minutes.

So can I really PR tomorrow?  I'm am so anxious to find out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CIM 2012: Thoughts on the H-B Plan

I started this blog to document the quest to answer a simple question: is it possible to run a marathon using a training plan that calls for no runs longer than 16 miles?  At the finish line of Sunday’s 30th running of the California International Marathon in Sacramento, the answer is an unequivocal YES!  I crossed the line in 4:08:10, a PR of more than 13 minutes.  AMD finished in 4:09:58, a nearly 9 minute PR.  And another friend of ours who followed the HB plan BQ’d with a 3:38:42.  And this was on a day when Sacramento broke a 71-year-old rainfall record with 1.32 INCHES of rain by noon Sunday.

There’s lots of details about the race I’d like to share/document, but I’ll start by summarizing my thoughts about why I believe we succeeded with the H-B plan.  First off, I ran nearly 650 miles since July 17, 428 of them since Sep 24.  Never before have I logged a 50 mile week, yet in weeks 14-16, I ran 50, 51 and 53 miles.  Removing the stress/burden of the 20 mile runs enabled me to run more miles because I didn’t need the usual recovery time and I didn’t sustain any serious injuries.  I feel like the constant running also taught my body to be more resilient.  I did get a couple of minor tweaks along the way, but a bit of compression and some ice usually solved things within 24 hours.  During the last 6 miles of CIM, this resiliency manifested itself in my ability to work through and overcome the quad cramps that have debilitated me in almost every other marathon I’ve done. 

Finally, I think I came out of the H-B plan much stronger mentally than ever before.  Running 6 days in a row is hard and requires a lot of discipline and planning.  You have to run the proper mileage at the prescribed PACE, and you cannot succeed if you skip too many days.  The “no 20 milers” thing doesn’t come for free.  In the critical weeks 10-17 of the plan, I ran 47 of the 48 scheduled days (I missed a day so the family could go to Sea World, I told myself walking all over the park was just a REALLY easy recovery run.)  I ran early in the morning, during a long lunch, after work, after dinner, whenever I had to in order to get my run completed and still keep my job and my family.  When the quads started to tighten up in the last 10k, I went through many tactical options before settling on walking, where in past races I would have walked at the first sign of pain.  Ironically, I think it was the easy runs that helped me the most in the end.  I remembered how slow those days felt and yet the pace was always around 10-11 min miles.  I convinced myself in those last few miles that a running motion, no matter how slow, would be so much faster than walking.  The last 3 full miles, 11:05, 11:23, 11:08…hello sub-4:10 finish.

I was not as disciplined about my writing, but I did add a “Running Log” page to show the daily mileage and paces.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 19 to Day 24

Ok, so I'm clearly doing better at training than blogging.  I'm going to take the advice of my friend Madison and scale back to once or twice a week.  Tuesday nights are a good time since Wednesday is the one sacred rest day of the week.

The past week has been highlighted by a hard speed workout, an absolutely awful marathon pace run, the first back-to-back 8 mile runs of my life, and the first mile repeats of the plan.

Day 19: August 21, Speed Ladder
I realized I could make this workout harder by running the recovery lap faster.  Seems obvious but it feels counterintuitive to do anything but shuffle around the track after an interval.  The previous week, the recovery pace was in the 10:30-11 min range.  This week it started in the 9:45 range after the 400 and 800, and got slower after the two 1200s.  Even so, the pace for the entire workout was 8:25, well below goal pace.  I felt like this was a significant achievement, until...

Day 20: August 23, MP Run
I tried to run 8:45s for 7 miles after last week's rest day, and I knew I was in serious trouble when I could barely keep the pace running downhill for the first 3 miles.  When I turned around to come home, it was over by mile 4.5.  I had nothing left to run even 9:09s uphill.  I had to get back home, so I did the last 2 miles at a comfortable pace and lived to run another day.

Day 22: LSR
The first 8 mile run of last weekend was actually faster than the aborted MP run on Thursday.

Day 23: LSR
The second 8 mile run was even a bit faster than the first 8 miler.

I think the best part of this first ever back to back 8 mile weekend was using my new Garmin Forerunner 610!
I've been using my wife's 110 for the past few months after my trusty 305 USB charger stopped working.  However, she's about to begin her own training program for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, so I was feeling the pressure to find something new.  Fortunately, I came across, of all things, a Garmin rebate!  $50 off a new Garmin when you trade in your old one.  Combined with my $100 in REI gift cards (thanks mom) I got the 610 (w/o HR monitor) for $200!  If you want to grab this deal, you need to buy your new watch by Aug 31.

The 610 is noticeably heavier than the 110.  It took me a couple of miles on Saturday's LSR to get used to the weight.  It has the new Garmin touch screen versus the touch bezel that was featured on the 410.  After years of using Apple products, it takes a bit of adjustment to use the Garmin swipe feature. 

The main reason I bought the 610 is the ability to configure multiple data screens.  I had my 305 configured to show me pace/distance/time on the main screen, and lap pace/current lap/time on a second screen.  I used the screen almost exclusively for track workouts.  The 110 did not have the feature, forcing me to spend a lot of time doing math during a track workout. "Ok, I just finished my recovery lap and the watch says 4:19, so I need to do hit 8:19 on this 800 to make my 8 minute pace.  Or did the watch say 4:22?"  Today's workout was a return to normal, hit the lap button, the current lap count resets, no more math, just remember to hit the lap button after every interval.

The other feature I missed is the ability to scroll through the history of a run on your watch.  The 110 has basic functionality, meaning you can't see your splits or any other data until you download it to your computer, or upload it to Garmin Connect.  The 610 has this feature, and pretty much every other feature of the 305, in a nicer form factor, and as a bonus, it syncs a lot faster to the GPS satellites.  I'm a little concerned about the charging interface, and I'm not convinced that transferring data via the ANT WiFi dongle is the best thing, but it's comforting to know if I encounter any issue, I can always exchange/return it to REI.
Day 24: Mile Repeats
Can't say the 610 made the first mile repeat workout of the training plan easier, but it was comforting to see the 0:00 at the beginning of each interval.  We made the workout a little less daunting by walking the recovery lap between each mile.  The best thing about this workout is you know it will be over soon. 

On a final note, I want to mention that I skipped Monday's recovery run.  Maybe this is why the mile repeats weren't awful.  I woke up Monday morning and had a weird pain on the top of my foot.  It had not hurt at all after Sunday's LSR, so I figured I slept on it wrong, and figured it would go away after my day got going.  But as I was walking to the gym at lunch to get ready for an easy 4, it was still bugging me, so I reluctantly bailed on the run.  This was hard because I just hit 30+ miles last week and was excited to repeat the mileage this week.  Losing 4 miles on Monday was a bummer.  But I woke up this morning pain free, and had a very successful track workout.  One of the underlying tenets of the HB plan is to not worry about a missed workout.  I didn't and it was a great decision.  Of all the workouts, the recovery run is the most expendable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 15 to Day 18

Need a shortcut to get totally caught up with the blog, so I'm grouping the Friday-Monday runs since Friday and Monday were recovery run days, and Saturday and Sunday were LSRs.  Friday's recovery was notable because I woke up thinking I had to go 3 miles, and had mild panic attack when I checked the schedule and it said 5 miles!  Oops.  So much for being prepared the night before a run.

Sunday's LSR was the first time in this training cycle that we went beyond the 10k distance.  AMD and I feel like we can do more than the bare minimum we originally laid out, so we're looking over the plan to see where we can add miles.  Extending the long run seems like the most meaningful spot.  We choose a route where we ran up an incline for the first 2 miles, then felt like we were running downhill for the final 6.  Running a slight decline is a great confidence booster!


Day 14: Aug 16 MP Run

Two things of note on this MP.  1) This was the first step up in the MP distance, a solid 10k.  2) AMD and I had a conversation every set of running partners should have: how injured does your partner have to be for you to stop running?  We were cruising along at MP pace around mile 3 when AMD suddenly stopped.  I had the tunes cranking so when I turned to look at her, I couldn't hear what she said, but she didn't seem to be in distress, so I kept going.  I stopped and waited for her at the top of the second uphill section, and we devised the following rule for a MP/tempo run:

You need to stop if your partner:
1. Falls down
2. Gets bitten by an animal
3. Screams 

The last condition is a bit problematic when you're both running with music, so, just like scuba divers, we agreed on a massive waving of the arms signal to also indicate run stopping distress.  I'm glad we settled that.  The run was good too, 6.26 miles at an 8:37.