Dressing for winter running

Winter running can have a wide range of effects on people. For some it might mean actually having to wear a shirt on those chilly 65 degree mornings. For others it might mean growing a glorious beard to protect against the snow and wind (at least that’s what I tell myself). I get a lot of questions about winter running, but one of the main ones is, how do I dress for this stuff? To me that’s a loaded question because there’s a lot of variables going into it. In November if it’s 32 degrees I’ll be wearing tights because it’s so cold! If it’s 32 in January? Shoot, I’m breaking out the half tights and debating wearing a shirt (ok, I’ll put a shirt on), but will probably be wearing half tights on a day that warm in January!

In all seriousness, how we need to dress depends on our exposure to the elements. For instance, today was 11 degrees with a pretty brisk wind. However, despite it being that cold, it was actually the warmest it’s been in a while. I actually felt a little over dressed!  On the flip side, today it snowed in Florida! The folks who live there probably thought it was the end of the world today. They probably couldn’t put enough layers on. In fact, I would bet there were people dressed with more clothes on in Florida today, than the Hanson’s Brooks team had on our wind chill advisory morning here in Michigan. Given all that, I still think there are a few truths that we can all use, regardless if winter is a few days a year for you, or if you feel like you’re in the arctic circle with no sun for six months.

  1. The wind is worse than the cold.

    If you can block the wind, I feel like you can take away a lot of the  discomfort in cold weather running. These days there are a lot of wind resistant shirts and lightweight jackets that don’t add a lot of weight, but block out that bone chilling cold. Also, consider something for the legs, or at least the most sensitive region below the waist… Seriously. Find good briefs/undies to run in, especially ones with a wind panel in front.

  2. Focus on extremities like the head/face, hands, and feet.

    Your head loses most of your heat and your face takes a beating in the wind. Offering up protection to your noggin is crucial for those cold and windy days. When I run, my hands are always the first to feel the effects. For others it is there feet. Investing in really good gloves and mittens is a must if you want to brave the elements for any length of time. Even a good glove with a mitten shell will work wonders for blocking the wind and keeping the body heat in around the fingers. As for the feet, you need to be careful. As some teammates found out, you can’t just put a bunch of socks on and shove your foot in your shoe. They did this for a few days, but found their shoes were now too tight and hurt! Get some good light wool running socks.

  3. Dress in layers.

    I recommend your base layer be pretty form fitting. This pulls your sweat away from the body right away and can be dissipated better through the second (or third) layer. The second layer should be fairly loose to allow your body heat to be trapped and be a natural insulator. If wearing a third layer, then this should be your wind breaking layer. For the legs, you will probably be wearing tights. If you find your legs still getting cold, then go ahead and put a wind pant on over the top. They are lightweight, will trap body heat towards legs, but still allow sweat to evaporate. Plus, you’ll get that ever important wind block.

  4. Dress like it’s warmer.

    The rule of thumb is dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is. Now, I understand that if it’s 5 degrees F, then does it really matter if I’m dressed for 25? Well, no, it’s still cold! But if it’s 20 degrees out and you dress like it’s 40 degrees, that’s a big difference. So, take it relative to what the air temp is. The colder is, the less this will matter, but can really make a difference when you are in that grey area. You might be a little chilly the first mile, but your body heat (see above) will take care of you.

  5. Is it the shoes?

    Going back to the socks and feet a little bit. Shoe companies have all developed a couple shoes that are great for winter running. For instance, every winter I get a pair of Brooks Adrenaline ASR (All Season Running). These babies have a more aggressive tread and a water resistant upper. Having these definitely allow me to keep the needed socks minimal with a much better fit. Shoes like these are something to consider if you are dealing with months of treacherous running!

Now, I don’t think anything I just wrote was earth flattening for anyone, but a necessary discussion. I think the real question is “How should I dress for different days?” Like anything, we have to look at what we are trying to accomplish for the day. In essence, the faster you are trying to run, the more we have to think about it.

Easy Days

On a nasty day, an easy run really does become a matter of putting the time in. These are the days I am going to have the most time to let my mind focus on being cold, so I want to be as comfortable as possible. I’m willing to overdress on these days!

Long runs

During the winter, or if it falls on a nasty day for you, the long run is an extended easy day. However, many of us want to run a little faster on the easy days. We also are talking about putting A LOT more time on our feet. While I want to be comfortable, I don’t want to be overheated. I try to keep my regular shoes, unless it’s just completely snow covered. I focus mostly on keeping my feet and hands warm. I will wear a fairly heavy tight with the appropriate, er protection. And then I will usually wear the standard base layer and a warmer jacket or a middle weight shirt and a very lightweight windbreaker.

The faster stuff…

Marathon or faster work does require a delicate balance of how much I’m willing to be uncomfortable, but avoid hypothermia. Up top, I’m less worried about it. I can get by with the base layer, and the thicker warm layer. The tights is where things can get tricky. The thicker the tight, the less range of motion (or the less I feel I can get a full stride). I tend to dress down a level of warmth. When you are running fast, you’ll notice it less.

 


 

Given that, there are a couple points I’d like to make with the clothing and workouts. You may have heard the saying that one pound of fat equals losing two seconds per mile. Now, what that really means is that for every pound of weight that is not involved in the propulsion of your body forward, you lose two seconds per mile. So, think about that when you are dressed in your extra layers and even more when the sweat that left your body is now frozen to your outer layer. It’s there and it slows you down. So, when you are working hard to run slow, keep this in mind and focus on effort over pace.

The second point is more about when you are done running. When you are running hard, you’ll notice the cold less. You’ll really be feeling that difference between what the actual temp is and how warm you feel. Now, once you stop, you are a lot more susceptible to getting the bone rattling chill. While I know many of you go straight through your warm up to workout to cool down. If you have the opportunity, I say warm up like you are doing an easy run. Then, adjust your layers accordingly for the workout. Finally, if you can, take off your wet top layers, replace with warm, dry layers, and then do a cool down. If not, then I urge you to get warm and dry clothes on as soon as you possibly can.

With that, you can see how I approach winter running in dress and with specific days. I hope you find soe use of this as it guides you through the tough winter running we endure. Feel free to keep the discussion rolling!

Here’s some other good reads on dressing for winter runnning

LATE ADD ON:

Of course, I had this written last night and ready to be published this morning when @sweatscience publishes something to Outside Magazine. Here is another great read on winter running and wear you want to keep your body warmth levels. 

Hansons Marathon Method: should I reduce my mileage at the beginning?

Many times a runner is already running the weekly volume that the training plans start out at. This prompts the question, “do I need to lower my mileage at the start of the training plan, or can I keep going at my current mileage?” Anyone who knows me at this point, knows what my immediate response will be, “it depends.” There really are cases to be made for keeping on with current mileage, as well as, reducing down to match what the plan is asking you to start at.

When you should reduce back:

  • If you have looked at the plan in entirety and realize it’s going to be the hardest training plan you’ve ever followed. This can be a combination of weekly mileage, workouts, and workout volume.
  • You are already doing workouts. By this I mean, speed, strength, tempo, anything of intensity.
  • You have been running for more than 2-3 weeks already and are at 85% of your weekly mileage.
  • You never took significant down time after your last major race.
  • You have a nick, a trouble spot, or are actually injured.

The reason these are important factors boils down to two things. The first is the length of time you will then make the training plan. With the two main Hansons Marathon Method plans, you are looking at 18 weeks of structure. This is already a long time. If you now turn it into a 22-26 week training plan, then you are asking for trouble late into the training plan and will turn cumulative fatigue into plain old overtraining. The second is that not only are you making the training segment loner, you are making it longer at a higher level. This is a combination that more often, than not, leads to injury, staleness, and overcooking. It’s by design that the plans start out a little easier, especially the beginner.

Consider reducing the mileage as hitting a refresh button to the plan. I know many of you are worried about losing fitness, but I can assure you that you won’t lose much at all. With two weeks completely off, you’d lose about 5% in performance. All I’m asking is to reduce your mileage. It’s all about getting you to peak fitness for race day, not the 4 weeks prior to your peak race. If you haven’t already, check out my blog post on Getting too fit too fast.

I would take a step back if you have any one of the above scenarios that apply to you.

When you should keep on keeping on

Despite what I just said, I do see a couple scenarios where it might be best to just keep on with what you are doing until the training plan keeps up with you.

  • You are currently injury free, but have come off a long layoff (4+ weeks of no running). The biggest issue here is that you have already had a lot of time off and you really want to make sure that you are ready to get into a long training plan. So, where before you might be starting a plan with an already fitness that’s high enough, you might be trying to get your to a decent starting point. It wouldn’t do you any good to cut back when you already cut back for several weeks.
  • You are currently NOT doing any SOS days. To me, the mileage is secondary to intensity. What I mean is that usually the mileage is fine as long as the intensity is low. It’s usually the higher intensity for extended periods of time that will overcook the runner. So, if you are running, but just keeping it easy, then I don’t usually see problems later on.
  • Your weekly mileage is 40-60% of what your peak mileage will be. While intensity might be the bigger factor in overtraining, if your mileage is continually near peak, you go back to making that segment too long. If you’ve been running at say 30 miles per week, with no SOS, and the training plan starts at 20 miles a week, then I don’t see a need to scale back to reach the prescribed early mileage.

At the end of the day, you just don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’ll be regretting your decision six weeks out from your marathon. With beginners and first time Hansons Marathon Method users I tend to be more cautious. With these runners, I know the training is going to be hard for them, but they might think it’s too easy at the start. If they have never been through cumulative fatigue before, it’s my job to make sure they don’t overdo it too early in the program and then go straight through CF and into injury, illness, and overtraining. Hopefully, these scenarios can help guide you in making the decision that best meets you where you are at! If you take anything away, I want you to recognize that you should start a plan fresh, recharged, and not already too close to peak fitness. You want to reach that peak fitness in the last 4 weeks, not the last 8 weeks!

 

4-6 Weeks out from marathon? Your top 5 things you need to know.

The last 4-6 weeks of your marathon training means a lot is going on. You are tired, you are hungry, and the training is at its most grueling. So many times one of two things happen. One, the training gets scaled back because that always seems to be the easiest to blame. The truth is that is the source of your dilemma, but also necessary. The second thing that can happen is a runner can push through or neglect certain things and become overlooked or injured. You can see our dilemma here. There is a delicate balance between following the plan versus crossing the fine line of cumulative fatigue and overtraining. The truth is, that we focus all our success and our failure on the numbers of the calendar when there’s so much more to this jigsaw puzzle of marathon success. So, what I have done is compiled my top 5 list of things that need to be done during these last weeks of training to make your marathon as successful as possible.

  1. Check your shoes.

    Anyone who follows the Hansons Marathon Method (HMM) knows, you put in a lot of mileage. Let’s say you averaged 35 miles per week for the first 12 weeks of the program. That means you’ve put in 410 miles by the time you reach the hardest part of the training! Given that info, you’ll easy put on another 300 miles over the remaining 6 weeks, plus the marathon itself. Many of the athletes in our groups get to the meat and potatoes and start feeling their body beginning to break down. New shoes will help in a big way!

  2. Practice your fuel plan!

    I cannot stress this enough. By now you should have decided what you are using, especially if you are just going with what the race is offering. You should be practicing fueling on tempo runs and long runs. You should be trying at the intervals you are going to be taking in nourishment during the race. So, if you are taking gels at 45 minute intervals, practice at those intervals. If you are taking cups every two miles, maybe invest in a handheld and practice at those intervals. Missed our talk on GI distress? View Here

  3. Make your day to day recovery a top priority.

    I’m not talking about dropping $1500 on compression boots or $90 on a cryotherapy three pack. I am talking about the simplest forms of recovery that are most often overlooked.

    1. Adequate protein intake. What is training? It is the purposeful breakdown of tissue in order for that tissue to adapt to higher workloads. If you don’t provide the muscles with the ingredients you need, you just continually break down tissue. Then you are broken down. 20 grams of high quality protein for every meal, after exercise, and before bed.
    2. Replenishing glycogen: You don’t have to carboload every day, but if you did a workout, you need to replenish those glycogen stores. SOS days and Long runs at this point of the schedule? You should aim for 5-7 gram of quality carbohydrate per kilogram (weight in pounds and divide by 2.2) of bodyweight.
    3. Rehydrating: Know your sweat rate. Weigh yoursell (butt naked) before and after your runs. Know how much you are sweating and replace that fluid throughout the day. Don’t be surprised if you are drinking 2-3 liters of fluid a day. Set an alarm at 15 minute intervals to remind yourself if you forget to drink.
    4. Rest: High quality sleep. That protein before bed will help. Lay off the tablets, smart phones, and tv in bed. Make it cool and dark. If you can’t get 8-10 hours a night, make sure the 5-8 hours you get are quality!
  4. Race strategy finalized.

    This means goal pace settled on for the most part. It also means how you are going to break the race up. How are you going to approach the hilly sections? How are you going to approach the flats? Where are you going to try and make a move? How long are you going to hold back for? Finalize and visualize the rest of the way in. Look for course videos on the race website or YouTube to help you picture the race as it is unfolding.

  5. Understand the difference between cumulative fatigue/aches and pains versus a developing injury.

    This is number 5, but it should probably be number one. Cumulative fatigue is when you are tired, something is sore, but not sure if it is one thing or everything. You step out the door and wonder if you’ll make it through the run. You finish the run and you are surprised that you were actually on the faster end of your easy pace range. Huh, how did that happen? On the other hand, over training is when you feel all those things, but you are slower. In fact every run gets slower and slower. If that’s the case, you’ve crossed over and need to talk to a coach about what to do. Third, an approaching injury is when one specific thing hurts. Or maybe it takes it longer and longer to warm up on a run. It continually worsens over a few days. If that’s where you are at- see a physician who runs and let them treat you. Don’t just accept the idea of taking time off as that only heals symptoms, not the cause.

If you can abide by these five items, you can survive your last 4-6 weeks of marathon preparation. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming training runs on lack of attention to detail. Finally, take these last few weeks on a day to day basis. It is hard, that I fully understand, but it will all be worth it in the end!

GI Distress and Running Performance

PlayPlay

Gastrointestinal Distress is seemingly increasing problem for marathon runners. In fact, up to 90% of runners complain of at least one GI distress symptom during a race. That can be anything from heart burn to diarrhea. It’s not a good situation to be in, but does it have to be that way? There’s a lot of reasons that GI distress will occur. In this podcast though, I want to discuss the easy things we can do (or not do) to help us ourselves out on big workout days and race day. We will talk about the most common causes and the easiest solutions. Races like the half marathon and marathon are demanding mentally and physically. We don’t want our performance to be determined by stomach issues- especially after all the hard work, time, money, and effort into getting to race day healthy and ready to rock.

Want to learn more about the products I use? Check ’em out!

Thoughts on warming up for Boston

While I write this specific for the Boston Marathon, what I write here is really applicable to any marathon where you have a starting line that is not anywhere near your finish line. In October of 2016, I wrote the post Marathon Race Strategy: A few thoughts which gave race strategies for all pace ranges. The post also included a few thoughts on what I felt were important for warming up before a marathon. I recommend all of you reading that for what you should consider in a general marathon warm up.

However, Boston is different, because the starting line is 26 miles away from the finish line. Here’s a few unique challenges thrown into an already tough day

 

  • Getting bussed out
  •  Leaving our gear at the finish line
  • Waiting in an athlete village
  • Waiting in our corrals
  • Running from inland to coast

 

Getting to Start:

I think we are all mostly familiar with the idea of getting bussed out, so I won’t spend too much time on this. The main idea I’d like to express here is to leave as late as you can. You want to spend the least amount of time in Hopkinton as possible. If you know you are one of the last corrals in your wave, get on the bus that makes the most sense. Again, limit the time you spend in Hopkinton.

http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/transportation-to-start-line.aspx

 

Leaving your gear at finish line:

This one was a surprise to me, as I am used to taking a bag with me and digging for it at the finish line. So, as you leave your nicer stuff at the finish line, make sure what you wear to Hopkinton are things you are willing to part with. The only problem with this, is that what we will discuss below. Waiting, more waiting, and waiting in the weather…

http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/participant-information/gear-check-and-baggage-policy.aspx

 

Waiting, more waiting, and waiting in the weather:

Since you’ll have time on your hands, what you wear to the start line can be significant. As I said, you want it too be clothing that you are willing to part with, but you also don’t want to be skimpy on the clothes. So dress in layers and adjust to what the weather is in hopkinton. In 2016, it was a perfect example of how different weather can be 26 miles from where you started. In Hopkinton, the temps were in the high 60’s to low 70’s, while the announcers at the finish line wore light winter jackets. Check what that weather is in Hopkinton and dress for the starting line before heading out.

As I mentioned, you want to be at the village for the least amount of time. Being there longer just gives you more time to be antsy, pace around, and let your nerves get the best of you. Get there only when you need to, try to find a place to stay dry and comfortable, and get off your feet. Stay on whatever nutrition and hydration schedule you’ve set up for yourself.
My Boston Warm Up Protocol

  1. Use the bathroom right before leaving athlete village
  2. Take whatever you need to the starting line
    1. Water bottle
    2. A gel/calories
    3. Clothes you are going to leave/toss
  3. It seems like the faster you are in your wave, the longer you have to be in the corral. Make use of this time accordingly
    1. Sub 3:30 runners use the 0.7 miles from the Athlete Village as your warm up jog.
    2. Over 3:30 runners, walk the distance. This will be fine to loosen your legs up.
  4. Once in your corral
    1. Focus on yourself, visualize your first four miles and how that will set the tone for the race
    2. You will be limited on space, but want to stay loose. Consider doing simple movements that don’t take up a lot of room. Maybe 5-10 minutes before the gun goes off, do something like 10-15 squats, march in place, and shake your arms up. This won’t be perfect, but it will start priming the pump and tell the body that it’s about time to go to work.
    3. Have your first gel in that 5-15 minutes before the start.
  5. Once you cross that line, just stay calm. You’ll have a lot of people thinking that they are going to catch the race leaders. Keep to your plan and enjoy the moment, but don’t get caught up in the nonsense. Even with the first few miles downhill, you might not feel super great. We weren’t able to do a perfect warm up and you might feel sluggish. Stay calm and let the race come to you.

Boston has many unique challenges, but that’s part of what makes it Boston! Keep things simple and you can conquer the pre race warm up. It might not be perfect, but it will get the job done! Good luck to everyone running Boston!

 

Marathon Training Bundles

A lot of times, runners like our training schedules, but don’t want to full-on coaching. What we’ve come up with is a bundle package to give you all the tools you need, without the need to get coaching. Currently, we offer 20+ marathon training plans with the bundle option. I’ll add more marathon plans as I create them.

What makes the bundle your perfect solution to marathon training?

  • Your choice of marathon schedule that best fits your needs ($30 value)
    • 20+ marathon programs
    • broken into Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Elite
  • Placement in Luke’s coaching roster by level of training
  • “Team” message board
  • Access to training resource library ($14.95/month value)
    • videos
    • podcasts
    • important blog posts
    • calculators
    • meal plans
  • Access to the HCS Coaching closed Facebook group ($10/month value)

Get all of the above for $75/bundle (valued at $105 + access to coaches (priceless!))

Check out all the training plan options HERE and let HCS take your training to the next level!

 

2017 Summer Camp!

At the time I’m writing this, we are less than three weeks from the Boston Marathon. Where has the first quarter of 2017 gone? Before we know it, our downtime from our spring marathons will be nothing but a fond memory and we’ll have to start getting ready for our fall marathon!

If you are using the Hansons Marathon Method, or are just interested in a fun (but educational) getaway, then I encourage you to consider the Hanson’s Coaching Fall Marathon Kick-Off Camp. The camp will be held in Rochester, Michigan- the home of Hanson’s Coaching Services and the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project.

What you get:

  • Go beyond the book and learn directly from HCS Head Coach, Luke Humphrey, as well as meet our other coaching staff.
  • Meet and greet Hanson’s-Brooks ODP runners (many whom are our coaches)
  • Nearly every meal taken care of (expect your dinner on Thursday night)
  • Hanson’s Coaching Schwag bag
  • Dozens of training clinics including
  • Strength for runners session
  • Customizing your training
  • Marathon physiology
  • Nutrition
  • Go for runs and do some workouts where the nation’s best marathoners have
  • Transportation to and from Detroit Metro Airport
  • Discount on lodging at the beautiful Royal Park Hotel. This is where all clinics will be held and you can hit either the Paint Creek or the Clinton River Trail from the front door. (Or hit up downtown Rochester)

TENTATIVE CAMP ITINERARY

Thursday

Athletes arrive mid afternoon. HCS will pick up groups from airport.
Optional group run/ Hanson’s Thursday night group run at Royal Oak?
Dinner (athlete’s responsibility)

Friday

  • 7:00 AM- Leave from hotel. Drive to Stony Creek Metropark
  • 7:30 Group Dynamic Warm Up/1-2 miles warm up
  • 8:00-9:30: Progression Run/cool down
  • 10:30- 12:00: Lecture (Food provided in conference room)
  • Marathon Philosophy/Understanding cumulative fatigue
  • 12:00-1:00- wrap up/free time
  • 1:00-3:00: Lecture/lunch in conference room
  • Marathon Physiology
  • Metabolic Efficiency
  • Training Components and physiological impact
  • 3:30-4:30: Strength for runners with Nikki
  • 5:30-6:30: Lecture: Avoiding early training pitfalls
  • 7:00: Group dinner @ Antonios pizza
  • Recovery strategies/periodization
  • Meet and greet

Saturday

  • 7:45-9:15 AM: Easy run from hotel (Paint Creek Trail)
  • 9:45-11:00: Lecture: Goal Setting/Realistic expectations, new runner vs. veteran
  • Breakfast provided
  • 11:15-:00:
    • Understanding what kind of runner you are
    • Modifying to fit/stay in philosophy
  • 1:15-3:00:
    • General Nutrition
    • Supplements
    • Taper week/race day nutrition
  • (Lunch in conference room)
  • 12:00- modifying schedules/staying within the philosophy
  • 12:15-1:00- understanding the taper
  • 1:15-3:00- Supplemental training, what why and how to add.
  • Self Running analysis
  • Gadgets/testing?
  • 3:00-5:00- Free time (nap?)
  • 5:00-6:45-Lecture
  • Keeping logs
  • Analyzing training
  • Long term planning
  • 7:00- Dinner- Rochester Mills Brewery
  • Developing mental strength
  • Approaching your race
  • Meet and greet

Sunday

  • 7:30 AM: Leave Hotel for run
  • 8:00 AM-10:00: Group Run at Lake Orion (Long Run)
  • 10:00-11:00: Brunch @ CJ’s or Lockharts
  • Meet and greet
  • 12:30- Leave for airport

 

 

 

Having a coach without the full time coaching price tag.

If you have read HMM and thought about the idea of coaching, but aren’t sure you are ready for that kind of investment, then the Facebook Training Room is for you. We know you have specific training questions about your own training. We also know that you have the book and don’t necessarily need a new training plan. However, do you really need to hire a personal coach for the few questions you might have along the way? No, and that’s why I have created the Hanson’s Coaching Training Room.

The HCS Training Room is a closed Facebook group designed for a couple purposes. First, build community among the athletes who trust us with their training. In an online world this helps us put names to faces and learn more about what needs you have as a runner. The second is that we know the plan works- many of you believe that too. However, taking a general plan and tweaking it to fit your specific needs requires a little more than a FAQ page. With this group you have direct access to me, Luke, and I can help you with your specific questions.

The Training Room is perfect for those who don’t have a coach, want to test the waters of having coaches, or just want be around those who are coached individually by HCS. We take your running serious and we know you do too. The HCS Training Room is here to help you maximize your training based on YOU!

Sign up for the Training Room for a sweet low rate of $9.97/month. With that you’ll get:

  • Access to Luke with your specific training questions
  • Access to all of our training resources- calculators and videos
  • Facebook lives/webinars
  • Discounts on any of our other 40+ training plans or custom training plans
  • A great group of runners using HCS and the Marathon Method to offer up support and advice.

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When do I know I’m ready?

Recently, an athlete in one of our groups asked a great question, “When do I know that I’m ready to reach my race goal?” I got to thinking about it and I realized a couple things. The first is that, we don’t particularly talk about that much. Sure, you can consult your favorite search engine and find pages of blog posts regarding the workouts we should do. We can read countless paragraphs from our favorite coaches about the importance of choosing the right goal pace to train for. However, when it comes down to it, how do we know when we are really ready to hit that goal pace. That is what I want to discuss in this post.

A few things we are assuming:

  • That you have been following the majority of whatever your training plan has laid out for you- say 90% + of the schedule
  • That you are generally healthy, not nursing an injury that could easily become a source of unplanned time off.
  • This is a planned race and not a situation where you were training for a half marathon and then switching over to a full marathon with 6 weeks to go (or something to that effect).

I put these caveats in here because if you are experiencing one of these scenarios then you really should work with a coach who knows you better than just some internet talking head (me). However, if you are generally healthy and have hit the majority of your training then I can give you an idea of when you, “just know.”

First thing first!

I’ve kinda given you part of the answer already. If you have struggled with training, mainly being consistent, then reaching your goal race pace may be a stretch. This I have learned the hard way. I have had nagging little things where I’ve scaled back on easy days just so I can hit workouts. Ultimately, what I did was simply make sure I was fresh for workouts all the time and I never came close to that feeling of cumulative fatigue. When it got hard in a race I just hadn’t put myself in a situation in training where I dealt with that feeling and it overwhelmed me.

That got me to thinking, I have had some complete disasters when I was crushing every workout and running all the mileage on my schedule.

When did I really have my breakthroughs?

So after thinking about all of my real breakthroughs, I put together a list of precursors leading up to breakthrough races.

Don’t force it

One, I didn’t force workouts. That’s not to say that all the workouts were easy. It’s also not saying that I didn’t have a complete “what the hell was that” workouts either. Basically, I stayed pretty even keeled. I didn’t let my high’s get too high and I didn’t dwell on the lows.

Be confident

Second, I never got to the point where the race pace completely scared me. Was I still a little intimidated? Of course! However, I wasn’t like, I don’t even know how I am going to run 10 miles at this pace. For instance, I got to point where I thought, “Ok, I can run at least 20 miles at this pace. I’m 100% confident in that. Now, the last 6 are going to be tough, but we will deal with that when we get there.” Let’s use a 10 mile tempo run as an example. We all know that these are occurring at the toughest point in the schedule. The mileage is at the highest. The workouts are the biggest volume, and we’ve got a ton of fatigue in our legs.

If you go through that 10 mile tempo and are noticeably concentrating on what you are doing, but not forcing yourself into goal pace, then I would say that you are pretty darn close to where you want to be.

If you are really grinding and even trying to go faster than goal pace, then I am more concerned. That’s why I put less stock in long slow runs. We know you can run a long ways slowly. Can you do it fast and not miss training before and after that day?

Hard stuff = yes it is!

Third, much like the workouts, I approached the same way- this is going to be hard. It’s going to take my complete focus to accomplish this. Whenever I was over confident, I blew it. Whenever workouts were easy I got over confident and maybe didn’t put as much into the details as I should have. However, whenever I knew I was fit, but completely convinced myself that this was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done, I was much more successful. Maybe that was just mindset, but it made me focus on all the details because I felt if I made mistakes, I was going to have to make it up somewhere. Those were slim margins for error. That’s really not to scare you, but rather, recognize the task you are about to undertake. It deserves respect and most definitely, our full attention.

All about the routine

Lastly, I was not obsessed with the outcome. I never obsessed with running a certain time. I thought about it, for sure. However, I focused more on the process of training and learning to train at a new level much more than training for the certain pace. When I was all about the outcome, I put way too much pressure on myself. If I didn’t hit that pace I was a failure and all that work was for naught. In reality, the hard work we are doing will carry over if things don’t workout immediately. When I was truly proud of running a great race based on race plan execution, the times typically came with that. When I freaked out because I few splits were off in a workout, that carried over to the race and typically ended in extreme disappointment.

To wrap this up

So that’s really about it. I was able to keep a steady approach to training. I didn’t crush everything, but I didn’t have to force myself to hit a workout every single time out. I was able to have consistent training. I wasn’t skipping easy days just so I would be able to do a workout. My big workouts were tough (10 mile tempos, 2×3’s for example) but I found myself settling into the right paces- which is not the same thing as saying it was easy. They were tough, but not forced. I recognized that what I wanted to do would be very hard, but not impossible. All of those things combined really brought me a sense of quiet confidence. This actually helped me relax. It let me focus on the process of training at a level I hadn’t before. I was able to race with racing on my mind, not a set time. More times than not, when I was in this “zone,” the time I was looking for was usually there waiting for me at the finish line.

My observations from fall marathon training 2016.

This year I have taken a much bigger effort to connect with the thousands of people that have used the Hansons Marathon Method over the last few years. Not because I was unsure if it would work, but rather to make sure I was doing a good job of communicating the main idea of the philosophy: cumulative fatigue.  What I learned was well, it is a mixed bag. Some of it is I think people buy the book but just follow the program and wonder why it’s so hard. This is a small group, but there isn’t much more I can personally do if they don’t want to explore why we do what we do. Then there’s the group who do everything by the book (literally) and see success. Then there’s the group that I need to do better job of coaching. With that, my aim is to pull out all the stops with the idea of cumulative fatigue.

Hansons Cumulative Fatigue

The result of a successful marathon!

What is cumulative fatigue?

Our goal with marathon training and half marathon training is to build a certain amount of cumulative fatigue that develops the strength and preparedness for the marathon.

What exactly is the definition of cumulative fatigue?

Here’s my version of the idea: When fatigue is coming from the culmination of training and not from one specific aspect. The athlete is fatigued, but still able to run strong, and not dip past the point of no return. The end result is that the runner becomes very strong, fit, and able to withstand the physical and mental demands of the marathon distance.

So, what do we do to achieve this end result? To me it’s really about 4 components for the marathon. Balance, Moderate to High Mileage, Consistency, and Active recovery.

Hansons Cumulative Fatigue

Trust the process!

What are the components of CF?

As you can see in figure 1, there are four “pillars” I use in reaching a person to reaching cumulative fatigue. We’ve talked about these a lot, so I’ll just link to those discussions.

What I will say here though is that these components all work as part of the entire system.

When you pull one piece out it’s like a giant Jenga tower spilling all over the dining room table.

Then what? You’re just left to pick up the prices and start over.

For instance, let me share with you a common scenario I will see in our Facebook groups. A person starts the program but doesn’t completely by into part of the program. Seemingly, it always has something to do with the idea of a 16 mile long run (insert shocked voice). I feel like one of two things happen. The most popular is that the person doesn’t really think that 16 miles is long enough and make their long runs the typical 20+ miles in a 40 to 50 mile week. However, in order to have enough energy, the rest of the week suffers somehow. A skipped workout here and a shortened tempo run there. Before long, the original training plan is a shadow of its former self, but the runner still feels like they are “following the method.” The second is that the runner believes too much in the 16 mile long run and develop a belief that the program is centered around the long run. They feel like even if they skimp on the rest of the training the 16 miler is all they need.

The bottom line is that the 16 miler alone won’t get the job done. Like any training, or cumulative fatigue component, it’s the sum of parts that makes it successful.

Past discussion on CF

Hansons Cumulative Fatigue

Know the difference between Over training and CF

What is the difference between CF and just overtraining?

This is an area where many of you need help fully understanding and I need a better job teaching. I will admit that it’s a very thin line between the two technical stages of training we are discussing. That’s functional overreaching and non functional overreaching.

Common symptoms:

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO:

When you are in a functional overreaching, you will be tired but your performances in workouts will not suffer.

When you start feeling like crap and your performances are getting worse, you have likely crossed that line into functional overreaching.

Now, there’s always a caveat to these things. Let’s say you were running too fast to begin with and through training hard you’ve slowed down to what you were supposed to be running? If so, I don’t think it’s non functional, rather a correction. Where you will get into trouble is if you continue to try to hit the paces that were too fast. Rather, settle into the proper paces and let your fitness and body come back around. You’ll still feel tired, but as long as performance is stable, you’re ok.

How do I reach CF without going too far?

And here we go. The meat and taters, if you will. There’s a number of things we should do 1) before we even begin training and 2) during the early stages of a training plan that will help immensely with our goal of cumulative fatigue and not over training. From there, we can discuss the things we need to do during training that will help safeguard us while in the hardest sections of the training.

Before we even start:

  1. At least have a discussion about what your goal is or should be. Many of the folks using the plan for the first time are people who have at least raced before, so choosing a goal makes it a bit easier for them. For those who have no clue as to what they should run should consult a coach or respected runners who will give them a no BS answer. If you recall a discussion we had about Strava data, we should that something like 60-70% of people are running a 4-5 hour marathon and training about 30 miles per week. An hour difference is a big gap, but it at least gives you a starting point to evaluate yourself. A brand new runner who is building from scratch will probably be looking more at the 4.5-5 hour range. A newer runner with a little bit of running underneath them might be looking at the 4-4.5 hour range.
  2. Look at your schedule outside of running. Do you know of vacations and other gatherings that you know will make training difficult? Big business trips on the horizon? A baby on the way (I don’t think my daughter slept more than an hour or two a night for the first 6 months of her life). I know there’s a lot of unexpected events that pop up, but at least plan for what you know is going to occur. Preparing for these things in advance will not only help you set a more reasonable training goal, but also allow you to absorb the unexpected a little better.

Early in the training:

I made a post about this a bit ago and I think is a must read for everyone new to the idea of cumulative fatigue: Avoiding the early pitfalls of marathon training.

A few keys to take away:

  1. Let your fitness build, don’t try to force the issue. I see this all the time where people think if fast is good, faster is better. No, running the right pace for what we are trying to accomplish is better. For instance, if your goal is 3:45 and it’s already an attempt at a big PR, then why make it harder on yourself and try to run faster than what is prescribed? I want you at peak fitness for your goal race, not the local school fundraiser 5k.
  2. Don’t rely on running alone. This one has always been a problem for me. As much as we feel strapped for time, we need to carve more out if we truly want to prepare. I am talking about things like flexibility, dynamic warm ups, core training, and general strength. I know I know. I hear ya and I have fought it forever, too.
  3. Sleep and proper nutrition are your best friends during a heavy training cycle. This is for your life, aw well. Should be non negotiable.
  4. Adjust for environment. The summer is a perfect example of this. For an October marathon, you’ll start training in June. This means that a lot of your training will be during the dog days of summer. So many times my athletes will overdo it trying to hit paces that aren’t reasonable given the temperature and humidity. Is it ideal? No, but that’s why we don’t be a ourselves up that we were 15 seconds slow per mile when it was 80 degrees with a dew point of 65 degrees and we’ve only been training for 6 weeks.

If you can do these things, you’ll set yourself up to be able to not only tolerate training, but also maximize your training adaptations during the last 6-8 weeks of the marathon segment (when it really counts). You’ll put yourself in the zone of cumulative fatigue without crossing the threshold into overt training.

Love the Sport!

Love the Sport!

What do I do if I take it too far?

The end result of what I saw many folks doing was taking cumulative fatigue into nonfunctional overreaching by the time they got to the strength segment of the marathon plans. If you find yourself in that zone or rapidly approaching it, here’s what I would do.

  1. Immediately start doing the things we just talked about. Consider vitamins/supplements.
  2. Spread workouts further apart (Modifying Schedule)
    1. Tuesday-Friday-Sunday
    2. Wednesday-Sunday w alternating weekend
  3. Within a month of race? Start taper now. If you are fried and performance has gone by the wayside, we have to bring you back and quickly. Reducing both volume and intensity is the easiest way to do it.
    1. Scale back to 2b.
    2. Focus on lower intensity SOS
    3. Don’t scale back so much you lose fitness

End Goal

The end goal is two fold. The first is to teach you how to train, regardless of system you use. We want to take you from guessing to knowing the how, what, and why if becoming a runner (regardless of pace, as pace is irrelevant). This is an ongoing process and hopefully incorporated into everything we provide. The second is what you are immediately concerned with- getting to the starting line healthy. I realize that things rarely go perfectly as planned. If you find yourself in such a situation let’s cut our losses, minimize the damage, and get to the starting line in one piece. This will at least allow you to run your race and you still might even just surprise yourself with what you can still accomplish. It certainly doesn’t have to mean throwing in the towel on a training segment!

 

Listen to our PODCAST on Cumulative Fatigue

Introducing the HCS Online Run Club!

When I started HCS in May of 2006, our goal was to simply be there for the people who were using Kevin and Keith’s marathon training plans..

Reader’s Question: Master’s Running, adjusting the program.

PlayPlay

Check out our Video / Podcast we made from this post!

Below is a question from our Hanson’s Coaching Community Page on Facebook. This week’s question asks about Masters running and ways to adjust the schedule.

Don S: How can non-elite-runners in their late fifties adapt the beginner program in the book to a five day a week marathon program after training with a three day week marathon program for several years. Also can you reduce some of the tempo run mileage if you’re just trying to complete the marathon in 4:30?

Let’s tackle the first part of this, which is going from 3 days to five days per week of running. Personally, I think that’s great! Ordinarily, I’d like to see you try to get to that 6th day of running but I won’t push on that right now.

After reading the questions, my takeaway is that the primary concern is the amount of recovery with the increase in volume.What will propose below can accommodate both of your questions. As I mentioned, I think we can “spread” things out a little bit without sacrificing performance. There’s a couple of ways to spread the schedule out and I discuss in Hansons Marathon Method in the “modifying the schedule” section, but will discuss another approach that I took this spring.

The Alternator:

The basic premise of this schedule is to alternate your major weekend run with either a straight up long run or with a longer tempo. I typically do it with a 6 day per week program but I think you could easily adjust to a 5 day program.

Early Segment
MondayEasy
TuesdaySOS
WednesdayOff
ThursdayLonger easy ( 6- 10 miles )
FridayEasy
SaturdayLong or Tempo
SundayOff / Easy
Later Segment
Monday – WedsSame as above
ThursdayMedium Long: 10-12 miles
FridayEasy
SaturdayLong or Long Tempo
SundayOff / Easy

 

Check out our Video of this post below!