This was the week of the Hanson’s program that I was dreading. The reality check. The moment when all those self-doubts I was experiencing a couple of weeks ago were going to come to the fore.
What made this so daunting was not just the huge jump in mileage, from 24 to 39, but the frequency and variety of the workouts. Add that to the challenge of the cold, snowy weather we’ve been experiencing and I was feeling that this was going to be a defining week, not in the sense that it would make me quit but more in that I would learn whether I really would be able to follow the program religiously and run New Jersey faster, stronger, smarter and less painfully than Toronto.
I’m pleased to say I made it through relatively unscathed. There will be other more daunting hurdles, I am sure. But for now, everything is still moving forward better than I’d dared hope.
To give some sense of why I was so anxious about this week, consider this: total mileage for week 6 of Hanson’s is 39. In comparison, the Marathon Rookie program I followed for Toronto didn’t get to this kind of mileage until week 13 of a 16 week program!
|Hanson/6||4||12 x 400
Or to put it another way: the total mileage for Marathon Rookie is 420, which, over the 16 weeks of the program, comes out to an average of 26 miles a week. Contrast that with the 718 total mileage of the Hanson’s 18-week program–an average of 40 miles a week. If that isn’t paying your dues to the pavement gods, I don’t know what is.
As if that wasn’t enough, Hanson’s adds in speed and tempo runs this week. The speed runs are aerobic interval runs–run a distance at an intense speed, then recover, then back to intensity and so on. Tempo runs, on the other hand, have you maintain marathon pace as consistently as possible throughout the run.
In the end, both runs went well, despite the fact that I misread the program and did 4 fewer reps that I should have for the speed run. I ended up increasing the mileage later in the week so I wasn’t cheating the program too badly.
The Saturday long run, however, was a bear.
Due to the weather, I didn’t really have much choice but to do it in the gym on the treadmill. I hate treadmill running as a rule–the relentless, unchanging pace of the conveyor belt does not permit the kind of micro pace adjustments you make in real running situations, while the cushioning hardly resembles a real road surface. Consequently, the run ended up exhausting me. I could not keep any kind of intensity or focus, and I had to radically change paces and even stop a couple of times to bring my heart rate down. It just didn’t feel right, and I left the gym feeling like I had failed.
As it turns out, my erratic performance more than likely wasn’t due to the treadmill at all but due to my body feeling fatigued from the high-mileage week. The Hanson’s philosophy is to make the long weekend runs closely resemble the last 16 miles of the marathon by following an exhausting week of workouts. They call it “cumulative fatigue,” and offer the following as justification: “Suddenly that fairly easy longer run mimics the last 16 miles of the marathon. Rather than sending you into the long run feeling fresh [which the generous off days do in programs like Marathon Rookie], we try to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon, and there’s nothing like a tempo run to put a little fatigue in your legs” (Humphrey 76).
Knowing what I now know from Toronto, anything that will help me make it through those last 16 miles is a good thing.