Monday, February 8, 2016

2 Weeks of Hansons Half-Marathon Training

I've just finished the first two weeks of the Hansons Method half-marathon training program. (Their book describes the full program in extreme detail.) Actually, the program has 4 weeks of build-up without long runs or speed work, but I basically skipped that part and jumped in when the program began speed sessions. I'm doing the "beginner" program which is pretty intense. It caps out at 48 miles/week! That's what I run for marathons and ultras (if I'm serious)...and this program is intended for a beginner doing a half-marathon race.

After just two weeks, I've learned a few things. First, I'm already settling into a rhythm of six runs per week with Wednesdays as an off day. Part of the cycle is the Tuesday/Thursday speed sessions. I like the structure. I know Tuesday's short and fast repeats will challenge me. And it's nice knowing the next day is not just an easy day, but a full day off from all training. When that rest day is over, I know the next step is a steady tempo run. That hard-off-hard sequence in the middle of the week is comforting.

Another comfort is knowing I have three hard runs (Tuesday speed, Thursday tempo, Sunday long) plus two recovery days, one easy run, and one day free from running. Those recovery runs come on Monday and Friday (after tempo and long runs). They are truly easy. They are meant to be active recovery. Saturday is a "regular easy" run. Slightly faster than full recovery. Kind of a "go as you please" type of effort. This is a nice mix of hard, easy, and recovery. Right now I like it. Later, I'll really need it.

One thing I really enjoy, even after just two weeks, is the variety of runs. Not just the purpose of each run, but the diversity within each type. The speed sessions change every week. First 400m repeats, then 600m, then 800m, finally reaching 3-mile repeats. They are intentional and build from speed to stamina. Never the same workout. Always a different challenge. Tempo runs stay at race pace, but lengthen each week. That builds endurance and stamina, plus confidence in maintaining race pace. And, of course, the long runs simply extend in time and distance.

One complaint about the program is that you really jump into speed abruptly. The first week had 12 x 400m repeats. Unless you were accustomed to some kind of speed work, that would be brutal. I transitioned these first two weeks by cutting back the number of repeats and the pace. If nothing else, with age comes wisdom. I'm not going to injure myself. Push, yes. But always within reason. This 50-year old body doesn't recover as quickly as when I was 30...or 40.

I'll keep reflecting on the Hansons Method as I progress through the program. If it gets me to a new personal best on April 30, uninjured, I'll sing its praises. For now, I just need to keep calm and follow this darn training plan.

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