Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hansons Half-Marathon Training Review

The stats:

  • 18 weeks
  • 739.5 miles (738.1 miles scheduled)
  • 20 rest days (20 scheduled)
  • 41.08 miles/week average
  • strength workouts: 2 failed and 1 canceled
  • pace runs: 1 failed and 1 canceled
I followed the Hansons program for the Columbus Half-Marathon, and my intent was to follow it as closely as possible. My mileage was on point for most weeks (averaged .08 miles more than scheduled), which counts the deliberately shorter mileage during my two-week taper. I skipped only one run completely during the 18 weeks (but I had an extra run during the first week, which is why my scheduled and actual rest days are the same), and I hit 48-50 miles/week four times.

I hit 94% of my long runs, 80% of my speed/strength runs and 80% of my pace runs. That's counting a canceled speed workout and a canceled pace run after two failed strength workouts in a row.

Hitting my long runs was easy because the pace range was so broad (10:10 to 11:52). The long run pace range for the full Hansons program is tighter. Roughly, my long runs averaged 10:19 (I'm not going to go through and actually figure out based on the mileage each week), and generally they got faster as the program went on (meaning as the runs got longer, I was a little quicker). Two were close to 11-minute pace, and the one was on a hot run during my breakdown at the end of September.

Coaching services:
I liked having a neutral party to plan my workouts and to listen to my rants. While I would like to use those services all of the time, It's not really in the budget. I would recommend doing it though, especially if it's your first time doing Hansons.

Other thoughts:
I'm not sure I would follow the Hansons plan for a full marathon, just because of the time commitment. (This is coming from someone who has no plans to do another full any time soon.) However, having said that, a friend roughly followed Hansons for her full, and a lot of the mileage is very similar. The speed workouts are the same; the pace runs get up to 10 or 11 miles at pace. The long runs top out at 16. Easy runs are a little longer, but not more than 8 or so (if I recall correctly).

Point is, Hansons works. If you follow the program -- which is probably the case for most programs! I like that the long run isn't the bulk of your training. It definitely helps your aerobic base, and those workouts help both your physical and mental game.

Overall, this program worked for me, and I would do it again. I like the higher mileage and several easy runs. I might switch some things around, such as moving some of those pace runs to Saturday mornings, replacing some strength work with hill runs and adding back in trail runs regularly. I will try to tighten up my pace for long runs that are not also pace runs (I think 11-minute pace should be the very top end).

Also, I think I will build in a little more rest (but probably not more rest days - 6 days/week works for me). Hansons builds in cutback weeks, but I think I need more. My breakdown at the end of September was too close to race day. I think building in a week without any speed or pace runs, maybe halfway through might work nicely for me. A little reset if you will. Lowering the taper mileage worked for me, and I would do that again.

I would also like to NOT abandon the gym during my next session,so I might shorten speedwork and do it on the treadmill before strength-training, for example. We'll see. No plan right now, but I might put together a short plan for the Home Run for the Homeless.

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