What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Mountain at my Gates


I can’t remember who first introduced me to Foals, but it was somewhere around 2011. I know this because in 2011, I had a lot going on in my life and went to a lot of shows as a distraction. It was also the same year that I took a six month break from running, and music played a pretty big part in my life that year.

During that time, I saw Foals in concert. They were the headliner, but I was more interested in the opening acts that day. The openers were two of my absolute favorites at the time: Freelance Whales (hit song you might know is called Hannah), and The Naked & The Famous (check out Young Blood, I’m sure you’d know it). When Foals came on, I remember thinking that my friend and I were quite possibly the only sober people in the crowd. Pretty sure most people in that audience were on some sort of recreational drug, and it makes sense if you listen to their previous albums.

As far as the band goes, I don’t know too much about them because I haven’t listened to their albums extensively. I have most of their albums and they are all quite catchy, but until they dropped this single they were off my radar. I can’t get this song out of my head, and I figured it was time to share it! Hope you enjoy it!

What music are you listening to this week?

Recovery Week 2: 11/16-11/22

Another week of R&R in the books! My main goal was to do something everyday, and not to do anything that I didn’t feel like doing. Success!

Monday, 11/16: 1600 Meter Swim + Core + Pole Fitness

I felt much better in the pool on Monday, and even started my swim with a 500 meter warm up! I still didn’t get there early enough to do more, but I got in a mile and got to sit in the hot tub. After work, I did core and headed to pole. It was a pretty successful night and we worked on a lot of new combos, and I learned a move called an Iron Crucifix:


It was pretty tough but once I figured out where your legs need to hit your arms, I got it! I was able to lift right back up into my Ayesha from it. I was really excited!

Tuesday, 11/17: Core + PT + Strength

A rough day on Tuesday. After pole class on Monday one of my kitty cats, Zola, seemed a little off and not like her usual self. I woke up Tuesday and she just seemed worse. I took off of work and took my poor little girl to the vet. Turns out they think she has some sort of liver infection! How does that even happen? I let them do blood work, give her shots of vitamin B12 and vitamin K, and a round of sub cutaneous IV fluids to make sure she was hydrated. I took her home with two antibiotics but she just did not seem well. I spent the day feeding her baby food, water, and unflavored Pedialyte through a syringe. She is only three years old. She is not her usual perky self at all, and she is so mad at me because all I do is shove food and medicine into her mouth right now. Ugh!

She looks so angry at me!! Poor baby.

So, after feeding her I went to the gym and lifted my legs and did core. I needed to get out of the house and leave her alone to digest to see if she kept the food and meds down. She did, but no improvement. It was definitely a crappy day!

Wednesday, 11/18: 4 Mile Recovery RUN!!!! + Core + Pole Fitness + Vineyasa Yoga

I got up super early so I could get my run in before work. Yup, a run. I gave myself a 10 day time out from running post Indy to try to heal up my calf. I want this thing 100% HEALED for Boston training! I was so nervous to go because I was afraid I would make it a mile only to have my calf pain resurface. I reluctantly got dressed, grabbed my headlamp since it was before 5am, and headed out. Four miles! No pain! Now, I’m fairly certain that my legs already forgot that I used to be a runner just 10 days ago but other than that, I ran! Overall pace, 8:42. My legs were also wondering why I thought it would be a good day to start lifting legs again the day before my first run back. They were pretty sore and confused. It also felt like someone removed the stick up my ass. I get cranky when I can’t run.

I did some core when I got home, including a 6:40 plank. I headed to pole class and yoga. Both were fun but relatively uneventful.

Thursday, 11/19: 1600 Meter Swim + Core + Pole Fitness 

Between waking up just a little late and having to feed my poor sick kitty, I almost didn’t make it to the pool. I made it with enough time to get about a mile in, which was fine by me. I did some core after work before heading off to pole class.

Pole class was awesome – we learned something called an Icarus, which is done on spin pole and it’s so pretty!


Friday, 11/20: 5 Mile Recovery Run + Pole Fitness 

I wanted to run before work so I could go to pole after work, so that meant an early morning. I felt exhausted and tired but it was decent weather outside and knew I could wear shorts and a t-shirt. I don’t know how many more days we’ll have like that, so I took advantage of it and headed out. I felt much better running on Friday, and averaged 8:19 for the run.

I headed to pole class, and I finally got my Fleur Di Lis! I could do it on static and on spin pole, which was exciting because it looks so pretty on spin pole. This one took a few classes to master:


Saturday, 11/21: Pole Fitness

My body felt tired and beat up, so I slept in and met my sister in law for pole. We were both pretty beat up from the amount of classes we took all week so we worked on some different moves that we learned recently but never spent much time on. We both finally got this tricky leg hang spin (no idea what it’s really called) that we learned about two weeks ago but never had enough time to master. I had really good intentions of going out for a bike ride, but I just didn’t feel like it. I embraced laziness in the spirit of recovery and chose Nextflix and Thai food instead.

Sunday: 11/22: General Aerobic Run, 7 miles

I still felt pretty tired and lazy, so it took everything in my power to get out the door and run. Once I got out, I felt pretty good. I ended up doing my longest run of the week and my overall pace was 7:52. It felt nice to just go and run and not worry about pace – I just ran whatever felt comfortable and didn’t worry about it being too fast or too slow. I really didn’t need my watch, but I’m a nerd and like to upload my miles into my Garmin Connect so I wore it.

It was about 48 degrees and overcast, so I wore a t-shirt and shorts. I was perfectly comfortable and actually sweaty by the time I finished, but I went running at a local park and every single person I passed running was bundled up. Cold gear, hats, gloves, jackets. One guy was wearing shorts, but he had on a winter jacket, hat and gloves. I was so confused because I didn’t think it was that cold out! It was overcast and a bit breezy, but totally fine once you were moving.

I didn’t go back to yoga on Sunday morning, but mostly because I wanted to go to church and out for breakfast with my husband. We don’t get to do that often during marathon training. Normally, I’m running long really early on Sunday and go to a later mass instead. It was nice to just go with the flow. I was also more interested in getting out for a run and didn’t feel the need for a double workout. I was tired and I felt like spending the afternoon cooking dinner and being lazy, so I did!

Swim:  3200 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 16 miles

I still want to be doing 5-6 days of core work and at least two days of strength training, but I wasn’t really feeling it. My main goal right now is really just to do something everyday, so I’m not forcing myself to do things that I just don’t feel like doing right now. It’s a nice change of pace!

Ever deal with a sick pet? What do you wear running when it’s in the 40s? Am I the weirdo?

What I’m Working Out To Wednesday

Thank God For Girls

20131107-131103.jpgYes. Just…yes. WEEZER HAS A NEW SINGLE. As we were driving down to Indianapolis last weekend, we were listening to my favorite, Alt Nation. A few hours in, and suddenly…is that Weezer? How do I not know this song? What?

I can remember being in 6th grade when they dropped their debut album, the Blue Album. That was around the time I used to spend every weekend skiing at Jack Frost Mountain with my family. I can remember sitting on the chairlift with my brother and our friends from the mountain belting out “Buddy Holly” at the top of our lungs. The obsession continued, and I even had a hamster when I was in middle school named Weezer.

They have quite the discography, with some albums being better than others but they’ve always been a favorite of mine. Their sound, their lyrics, Rivers Cuomo’s voice (did you know he is a Harvard graduate?)…love. If I had to make a soundtrack that defined me, there would totally be a good dose of Weezer on it. I can go through all of their albums and pick out songs from each that were playing during many significant times in my life, both good and bad.  To me, they are like my preferred “comfort food” of music. Their new single is odd, but I love it. it’s like a perfect mix of old and new Weezer.

What music are you listening to this week? Any bands that you’ve followed throughout your whole life?

Ugly is Good.

Most Sunday mornings, I wake up and go for a long run. This past Sunday was very different. Instead, I woke up and headed to Lehigh Valley Yoga for a morning Mysore practice. There was a time when I followed the syllabus for second and third series, but I knew Sunday’s practice would mean going back to the beginning – to primary series:


Micheal Lear is an Ashtanga yoga instructor who is fairly well known in the Ashtanga world. He happens to be from my area, so when he isn’t teaching in Thailand or somewhere on the other side of the globe, he teaches at my home studio. While he was never my main teacher, I’ve practiced with him often over the years. He’s seen my practice when it’s been at it’s best, and when it’s been at it’s worst.

When I walked into the studio this past Sunday, I was greeted with many familiar faces and several new ones. I was also greeted by Micheal, who gave me a huge hug and a warm welcome. Micheal knows I’m a runner and with other interests besides yoga, and truly respects that. Most traditional Ashtangis think that daily practice is the solution to everything – physically, mentally, and spiritually – and everything else is just a distraction. Even in the height of my practice, I could never commit myself to just Ashtanga yoga.

As he hugged me and asked how I was feeling, I told him I’d abandoned a traditional practice. I told him that I’m not just stiff and tight from running, I’m stiff and tight from neglecting yoga. My practice was going to be ugly. His response stuck with me for the rest of my practice, and has resonated with me over the past few days.

“Ugly is good.”

As I stood in samastitihi and began to move through Surya Namaskar A and B (sun salutations), everything ached. My hamstrings were tight, especially the pesky right one. That was always the tighter of my two hamstrings, even in the height of my practice. It’s funny how some things never change. My muscles on the right side of my chest from pole class the day before were screaming at me. Why am I here? I don’t belong here. This isn’t who I am anymore. Everyone else looks so pretty. Comfortable. Smooth. And why in God’s name do I feel like bursting into tears? My practice looks so…ugly. Ugly is good.

I finished the sun salutations – five sets of Surya Namaskar A, five sets of Surya Namaskar B. I began moving through the standing sequence, modifying Padahastasana and Parivrtta Trikonasana. I notice a woman who was a beginner, someone I taught during her first days of Ashtanga, enter the room and begin her practice. She’s lost a significant amount of weight, and she moved fluidly through the postures. She looked graceful and beautiful. I remember when her practice was not as solid, not at steady, not as sure. When it was “ugly”. Ugly is good.

I moved into the seated sequence and I noticed my friends who encouraged me to come, Dina and Jen, to my right. In the height of my practice, I used to be on the same level as them. On Sunday, I started from the beginning, as they continued to move forward. They were gracefully moving through second series, a more challenging sequence that I somehow used to prefer but can’t imagine doing anymore.  Jen reminded me that I was the one who taught her how to jump into and out of a headstand to complete the “Seven Deadlies” at the end of second series (a sequence of seven different variations of headstands). She said she thinks of me everyday during that time in her practice, and tries to mimic the grace and control I had when I would do that. I would have never described my practice as controlled and graceful. I always thought it looked choppy and ugly. Ugly is good.


Even though Jen, Dina and I were all in very different places on Sunday morning, something about the whole thing reminded me about the first time we all practiced with Micheal – when we were all on the same level. All of our practices were pretty “ugly” that day, too. Over time, it evolved and blossomed into something beautiful. Ugly is good.

As I reached a posture that I knew I would struggle with – Supta Kurmasana, which requires you to put your legs behind your head – I saw one of the new faces directly across from me. She was also working on second series, and she was entering Eka Pada Sirsasana. It’s the beginning of the extensive second series sequence that requires you to put your legs over your head. She reminded me a lot of myself when I used to have a traditional practice. The way her leg hit the back of her neck and the way she folded into the posture was very familiar. Since that pose was a challenge for me, I only ever saw my flaws when I would be in it. I used to think that pose looked ugly on me, but with patience and practice it became beautiful. Ugly is good.

During my second series days – eka pada sirsasana is the bottom center picture.

As I laid in Savasana, I closed my eyes and listened the Ujai breath of those still practicing. I tried to clear my head, relax, and focus on my own breath. Instead, I started thinking about why I came to yoga that day. I think part of me wanted to see if I wanted my practice back, especially after what happened in Indianapolis. It was heartbreaking to train for 19 weeks to have it end the way it did, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little lost.

But I know that starting Ashtanga again would mean I would need to stop running. For me, an Ashtanga practice isn’t something I can just drop in and do once or twice a week. If I chose that path, it is a commitment to a lifestyle. Did I want that? Was that why I was there? It certainly stirred up a lot of emotions. A bit of nostalgia, because part of me misses being able to move through the challenging postures with ease. A bit of sadness that I let my practice go to the wayside. A sense of peace because watching everyone practice, I knew that with hard work I could practice the way they all were. I’ve done it before, and I know I am capable of that.

But there was also a sense of relief that I didn’t have that daily obligation to get on my mat. Because towards the end, that’s what it became – an obligation. A chore. So I stopped. Ultimately, Sunday reminded me of that and opened my eyes to something else entirely. That anything challenging I’ve ever wanted started out ugly. It had to be ugly, before it could be beautiful. Ugly is, in fact, good.

20130722-081827.jpgI still want to run. I still want that sub-3 hour marathon. Maybe I sound foolish for having such a lofty goal, especially since I’ve never felt so far away from achieving it as I do right now.

Lately, running has been ugly for me – but this isn’t my first rodeo. There were many times where I chased goals and things got ugly. The first time I wanted to qualify for Boston. The countless attempts at breaking 3:30. Oh, did it ever get ugly. But here we are, five Boston marathons later and many sub-3:30 finishes under my belt and I’m staring down a goal of a sub-3 hour marathon. Things got ugly. Yet as ugly as it became, running was never a chore. It was never an obligation. Two days after my crash and burn at Indy, I found myself wanting to run. All week, I found myself wanting to run but refraining because I was letting my body heal. It’s my hope that the time away healed the strain. I’m sure my first run “back” will be ugly. Ugly is good.

I’ve had some really ugly days out running. Days where I go out for a training run and everything feels like crap. It might be on a day where I’m just supposed to run easy, or it might be on a day where I have a track workout or a tempo run planned. It’s ugly, but progress is still happening because I’m out there doing it. Ugly is good.

I’ve had some really ugly weeks. There are times in the middle of a training block where I have an entire week where every single run is ugly. No matter how much I stretch or foam roll, I feel stiff and awkward. No matter how many pounds of Epsom salts or ice I soak my body in, I ache. It feels ugly. But then, a new week begins and everything feels fresh and new. Ugly is good.

I’ve had some really ugly races. Days where I toe the starting line and start to run, and my legs want none of it. The days where simply finishing the race is the only goal I can accomplish. Those days are ugly. But then, I run a race and achieve a goal I never dreamed would be within my reach. Those ugly days make the successful races that much better. Ugly is good.

I’ve had some really ugly seasons. Ugly seasons where I’m fighting to keep my fitness through cross training and physical therapy appointments, and struggling to remember why I began running in the first place. Seasons where I laugh at myself for even considering that I could run a certain pace, or hit a certain time. Then I have a season where it all goes right, and ends with race times that blow my original goal out of the water. Ugly is good.

2015 was an ugly year. It began ugly, and it ended ugly. I don’t know what 2016 will bring, or if my luck will change anytime soon. I hope I can continue to get back up when I get knocked down, because I know that nothing good comes easy. In order to achieve big goals, it’s likely that there will be great struggle involved. It will be hard. It will hurt. It will break my heart. It will knock me down more times than I think I can get up. It will be ugly.

Ugly is good.

June 2014: PR at the Charlevoix Marathon, 3:06!

Recovery, Week 1: 11/9-11/15

Monday, 11/9: 16 Mile Bike Ride + Core + Pole Fitness

After traveling home from Indianapolis all day on Sunday, I got home early in the evening and decided to take a day off of work on Monday. I wanted to catch up on my rest and kick off my recovery period with some downtime. After spending the better part of the morning in my pajamas, on my couch and drinking coffee, I headed out. It was gorgeous and I really wanted to go for a run. I drove to my favorite area, but hopped on my road bike instead. My legs felt good, and I biked for an hour. I didn’t plan a route or know how long I was going to ride, I just left and came back when I felt like it. I haven’t had an unstructured workout like that in…I can’t remember. I didn’t know if I would feel like riding for even 10 minutes, but an hour later I was back at my car. It was a gorgeous day, and I missed my bike.

imageI came home and did some core work. I’d been slacking on it and I felt like doing it, so I did. That was my theme for the week – I was only going to do what I felt like doing. I headed to pole class since my sister in law was going, and I FINALLY got my leg straight in the Allegra!

imageWe also learned something called a Glamour, which is a variation of a move called a Teddy. I don’t love the actual pose called the Teddy because the grip is somewhere near your armpit and it hurts your skin pretty badly. The variation we learned still kind of hurts, but not quite so bad (again trying to smile so I don’t look like I’m being tortured…or constipated):
Tuesday, 11/10: 1500 Meter Swim + Core

My body was sore from the pole class on Monday, and I was just tired in general. I got up and headed to the pool and made it 1500 meters before soaking in the hot tub. It’s 400 more meters than I swam last time! I wasn’t too fatigued from swimming, just bored. I get really bored with swimming, which is a problem because it is such good cross training. I had really good intentions of doing something like 2000 meters, but I didn’t want to. So, in the spirit of enjoying the lack of structure, I sat in the hot tub instead! I did about 20 minutes of core work later that night, including a plank for 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

Wednesday, 11/11: Yoga/Core + Pole Fitness

I came home from work and spent some time on my yoga mat doing core and some very basic Ashtanga stuff. I just did some sun salutations, and the standing sequence and it felt great. I went right to pole class and we learned so many new things again. The last four classes I took we learned a LOT. I have some videos of some combos we learned, but nothing looked super solid. It was a really fun class, though!

Thursday, 11/12: 1400 Meter AM Swim + 2.5 Mile Walk 

I felt MUCH better swimming on Thursday, even though my workout was 100 m shorter. I got up a little later than I should have to get to the pool and I was doing a “sprint” workout, so lots of shorter distances in the workout. I was bummed that I didn’t get my butt there earlier. I only had about a half an hour to swim. Based on the way I felt on Tuesday, I figured that would be plenty of time . I actually felt really good and didn’t finish the whole workout because of the time crunch!

I started with 3 x [100 meters easy, 4×50 meters]. I started super easy for the 50s. I decided for the first set, I would do my 50s on 1:15 since I haven’t been in the pool in forever. That means I have 1:15 to swim 50 meters and if I have anytime leftover, I rest until the next interval. I felt awesome, and I was consistently hitting the wall in 45 seconds so I felt like I didn’t lose much.  On the second set, I did them on 1:10, and then on 1:05 for the third set. The main set was supposed to be 3x [200 meter pull, 3×50 meters] – “pull” means to use a pull buoy that goes in between your legs so you can’t kick, just use your arms. I did the 200 pull, and did the 3×50 meters on 55 seconds. I was able to do them in just under 40 seconds so I had a little rest with each one. At that point, it was 5:55am and I have to be in the shower at 6 so I can walk out the door by 6:25, so I did a 150 meter pull and called it a day. I had just enough time to sit in the hot tub for two minutes before I absolutely had to get ready.

We had parent teacher conferences at night, so my friends from work and I went for out a walk after school. It felt good to be outside and moving, and then we all went out for dinner before we needed to return for conferences.

Friday, 11/13: Pole Fitness

After work, I headed to pole class. The studio owner has open studio time before the 4pm class, and got there by 3:30 so we got to play around before class started. It was perfect because we got to do our warm up early and were able to use the rest of the class time to finally work on the many new thing we learned. Before this one, the past few classes I went to were so hard because we kept learning new moves but didn’t have time to keep working on them. Since this class was more low key, we kind of just made a list of everything we wanted to work on and went for it. I took some really fun videos of some combos I played around with. We learned a pose on Wednesday called “Dragonfly” and I couldn’t get it that night. I realized it was because I needed to position the pole near the back of my armpit, not my back. As soon as I figured that out, I got it:


It’s kind of painful because you are being held on the pole by your armpit and the outside of your thigh. Once I figured out the grip, it didn’t hurt as badly as I originally thought.

Saturday, 11/14: Pole Fitness

I woke up early and headed to pole class. It was just me in class and I worked on some new things and a few old poses that I still had yet to master. I was working on one pose that I still haven’t quite gotten, the machine gun. While working on it, I sort of tweaked something in my chest! Pole injures? Oh dear. I was able to finish the class and be somewhat productive, which was good.

Sunday: 11/15: Yoga + Hike

Micheal Lear was in town teaching Mysore at the studio where I used to teach. While I have practiced yoga over the past year, it’s been mostly yin yoga. I’ve not done full primary series in over a year. My yoga friends, who still have very advanced practices, urged me to come to class. I almost didn’t, but at the last minute I hopped in my car and headed to the studio. It was a grueling, tough practice – both physically and emotionally. I have a post coming about that.

In the afternoon, I hiked the game preserve with Emily and Brooke. It’s the extremely hilly trail I was running in the spring, and I hadn’t been out there in a long time. We didn’t run, but we hiked and it didn’t hurt my calf. I know it’s not the same strain as running, but if it were going to hurt, I feel like those climbs and descents would have aggravated it.

image image image image image image image image imageThese two do a great job of showing how steep the trail really is, I’m so glad we took this shot:
imageimage imageIt felt so nice to kind of “go with the flow” and do whatever I felt like doing. My goal for next week is to get back to the gym and back to doing some physical therapy exercises, and to do a few more days of core work. I’d really slacked on it so my goal was to do it more than once this week, and I did it three times. I just kind of let myself go with the flow this week and just do what I felt like doing. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went out for a workout without some sort of goal – whether it be a certain distance, pace, or time spent doing the activity. I gave myself this week to just enjoy being active and remind myself why I began all of this in the first place, and it was wonderful.

Swim:  2900 meters ♥ Bike: 16 miles ♥  Run: 0 miles

Do you like unstructured weeks?

Photoshop Friday: Photoshop Hacks, Part 3

Hack #6: Get free frames for your photos ad learn how to convert your images into shapes.


This might be my favorite hack yet! I should use it more in my own blog posts. I love when people enhance their photos by adding borders or creating a shape from their pictures. Or maybe I’m just a huge nerd (likely). You can really do this with any shape, not just the ones included in this tutorial. If you know how to use the drawing tools in Photoshop, the possibilities are endless.frameex3

The tutorial came from the Buzzfeed article I’ve been playing with from a few weeks back. The link to the actual tutorial (including a ZIP file with the frames I used, plus some additional shapes) can be found here. Again, you can always design or locate your own and get really creative with this (Christmas Tree shaped images at Christmas? Pumpkins and ghosts at Halloween? The possibilities for geeking out are endless)!

If you know Photoshop and don’t feel like reading through all of the tutorials, this is the basic gist of it:

  1. Open your picture in Photoshop and save it as a PNG (to allow for transparency).
  2. Duplicate the background layer, and hide the original background layer (just in case you mess up!)
  3. Make a new layer, draw or import a shape (I suggest using something with just a stroke – no fill!).
  4. Use the Magic Wand tool to select the inside border of your shape and hide the shape layer. All you should see is the marching ants around the border of the shape (but not the actual shape you drew), and your picture.
  5. Click the image layer, select the inverse and hit delete on your keyboard. Voila!frameex2


The Plan

So, I bought another running book. hansons

I spent all summer whining about how I lost my base and I wanted it back. Success. I topped out at 75 miles per week and sort of survived! My main goal wasn’t necessarily a marathon PR (although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hopeful), but I just wanted to feel like the old me – physically and mentally. I got closer to my PR than I’d been all year at Hartford and built my base back up. The result was a very full race season and feeling like I got my legs back, despite the anticlimactic ending it had at Indianapolis. I’m going to take a little recovery period now. I’m following my trusty old Pfitzy’s five week marathon recovery plan before I begin again.

I mentioned before that since I’ve gotten some of my base back, I want to sustain the same sort of weekly volume and ramp up the intensity during the spring. I’ve always passed over Hansons because its “only a 16 mile long run”. Until I started following Colby and her journey to her fall marathon. Each week, she posted updates on what she was doing. And each week, I grew more and more intrigued. The speed work. The tempo runs. The overall weekly mileage. Am I missing something here? I thought the absence of a long run meant this was the slacker training plan. Every week, her cray cray training updates proved me so wrong.

I stopped into Barnes and Nobles after work one day. I needed instant gratification, and I also needed a hard copy of “the book”. While I love the Kindle app on my iPad, I need a hard copy of my running books. I geek out over that stuff and read them with a highlighter – like I’m going to take a test or something. I flipped right to “the plan” and right to the weekly mileage totals. 63 mile peak week? Hmm. I just worked so hard to get above that 70 mile mark. But the more I read, the more I liked. There were so many aspects of this program that I was already talking about trying to incorporate. But 16 miles? I made a little pros/cons list.


At this point, I was already giving serious consideration to the Advanced Plan. When I got to Chapter 5, it talked about program modifications. That’s where it really got my attention. The very first topic it covered? Increasing weekly mileage. Okay, Luke, Keith and Kevin. I’m listening.

“…the faster a runner wants to complete the marathon, the more training he or she will have to put in (to a point).”

I always say if you want to get faster, run more miles. It’s the one thing that has always helped me. I didn’t PR this fall, but I regained a lot of what I lost early in the year. I wanted to keep my peak weeks in the 70 mile range, but the Hansons advanced plan seemed to peak around 63 miles. I say “around” 63 miles, because they give you some distance options for warming up and cooling down with the “Something of Substance (SOS)” workouts. The program modifications chapter discusses how to add more miles and how to account for those who run faster paces. Okay, I’m almost on board. But what about that 16 miler? Are you really telling me that the Hansons elite athletes run 2:14 marathons on a 16 miler? I’m just not buying it.

Their other theory is that a 16 mile long run generally falls in the 2-2:30 range for a wide range of runners. They go through a whole bunch of sciencey VO2 max anerobic aerobic threshold muscle fibers glycogen depletion my head hurts from science terminology thingys, but I got the gist of what they were saying. You only reap workout benefits for a certain amount of time before it either has no benefit or can be harmful. I get it and I buy into it. Here’s where I got confused: At my prescribed Hansons marathon pace, I would be able to cover 20 miles in 2:30. I regularly would cover that in 2:30 during other training blocks. So do I increase the long run to 20 miles? At the end of the book, they offer a sample elite program for someone who regularly runs 100+ miles per week and peaks in the 130s. No, I am not crazy enough to consider that particular plan yet, but I did look at the long run distances. They did 20 milers, but they were broken into AM and PM runs (AM run was 14 miles, PM run was 6 miles). So clearly, I should not be doing what someone who is running 130 miles per week is doing if I want this plan to work.

I did a little research on this. I read book reviews, I read forum posts about people who followed this plan, but rarely did anyone talk about how they tweaked the long run to fit their weekly volume needs. I flipped back to the beginning of the book to re-read some of the concepts and found this chart that I somehow glossed over the first time through:


I’m not going to be shooting for a 21 miler because I want to follow this program as closely as possible while adding on just a bit of extra volume. I’m thinking is my long run will peak at 18 miles, since that ends up being around 25% of my weekly volume in my highest volume weeks. This will be very interesting and different for me. Personally, I love the mental benefit of a 3 hour long run. In my last training build, a 3 hour run was equivalent to a 23 miler.

I’ve run 38 marathons. I’ve run marathons with one 20 miler in the build, and with countless 20 milers in the build. I’ve run marathons with marathons in the build. But I’ve also run marathons where I topped out between 15-18 miles – usually, those were instances where I was nursing an injury. Before my first marathon, all I did was one 18 mile run. I am confident that I’ll have the fitness to finish the race by successfully executing this plan. Will it be enough for a PR? I don’t know, but I’m all about changing it up and I like the structure of a training plan. I always have.

The real selling point for me is that I said myself that I need to do more speed work, and I want to do it twice per week. I struggled with that during this build and didn’t do many marathon paced miles. It’s something I want to incorporate moving forward, and that’s what initially drew me to this plan. With the SOS workouts, you get a speed (or in the later weeks, “strength”) day and a tempo day. If you do the maximum prescribed warm up and cool down, the tempo runs end up being 16 miles. Hello, hatred for the mid-week long run. We are about to really go head to head this time – and during the winter months, no less.

I’m going to go through my five week recovery period as planned. If my calf is cooperating, this is the route I am going to take. Especially knowing what happened at the end of the cycle with Colby’s race. She broke a six year PR and qualified for Boston. If you don’t follow her, you should! But it wasn’t the time on the clock that was the overall selling point. At the end of her training block and right before the marathon, we had a conversation about her plan and something she said really stuck with me:

“I mean it when I say that no matter how my marathon goes, I have definitely become a stronger, faster, more confident runner. In my head I really feel like I’ve won.”

That. Just that.

Have you ever tried (or considered) the Hansons method? What’s your go-to training plan?