Adapting Hanson’s: Month One

I had a really good experience following the Hanson’s marathon method for Richmond marathon in September and I wanted to adapt the plan and take some of the parts of it that I liked for my training this Spring. So I am aiming for 6 runs a week, one speed session (either intervals or tempo), replacing one of the other speed sessions with a hill session, and doing longer back to back runs on the weekend with more focus on time on my feet than pace, as I’m not training for a Spring PB.

Training started in mid-December when I was finishing the Marcothon/Advent Running so for the first few weeks I didn’t take my scheduled rest day. I’ve also been incorporating my three weight sessions each week and one yoga class too, though I didn’t get to many in December as I was away quite a bit.

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Week 1: 41 Miles.
I did my first speed session in months which blew the cobwebs away, I was well off target pace but it was really icy so I let myself off a bit. I also did my first hill session in about 8 months which was hard work- I’m trying to run hilly routesĀ  across the week to try and get some elevation in as well as one dedicated session to running up and down and up and down. The long run this week was 10 miles and I went to Southwark parkrun in the middle of it but it was cancelled due to ice, I just jogged round the course anyway.

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Week 2: 46 miles.
I had a better speed session this week and managed to hit most of the 8 x 600m interval splits. I try to be a little flexible with my speed training as I don’t do it on a track, so it’s a little harder to control pace due to turning and elevation. I was in Wales over Christmas so made the most of living next to a mountain to get some good hill training in. This weeks back to backs were 12 and 8 miles, the 12 was a Cardiff parkrun sandwich. I love doing long runs like this as it just breaks it up a little bit- I try to get there as late as possible so I’m not hanging around and basically start straight away but I’ve missed the start of a few runs lately!

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Week 3: 50 miles.
Christmas week. I got in a pretty decent parkrun on Christmas day, so there is some speed still in the legs. More Welsh hill training followed, and I finally did a speed session where I hit every single split at target pace. This weeks back to back runs were 15 and 10 miles, the 15 included Cardiff parkrun, and the 10 was when I was coming down with lurgy so not feeling great at all, and I was really unwell that evening.

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Week 4:30 miles.
January started with my first rest day since the end of November as I was struck down with a terrible cold. I did get out the day after, but cut the run short as my chest was really tight, I took another rest day after that and called it a drop week so I could recover. I did a 10 mile run on the weekend including a Hilly Fields parkrun course PB which was surprising given I didn’t really feel like I was putting much effort in and was still recovering from the cold.

Some great base mileage built, decent sessions and hill training, I definitely needed that drop week to start the year. That’s the other adaption I’ve made to Hanson’s, taking a mileage drop week every 4 weeks, as though Hanson’s alternates between long run weeks, the mileage is always consistently high, and I feel with doing longer runs I need more recovery.

2017: My Year in Running

January: The year started with me getting back into training after an extended break from running, I got stuck into my training plan and built my base for the challenges ahead.

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February: I did my first race in almost a year at the Maverick race Sussex. I loved getting back on the trails and being part of a race environment again.

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March: Was an up and down month. I had to drop out after 17 miles of the Thames Meander marathon as I had severe period pain which was not ideal. I ran the Richmond half on my birthday and almost got a PB despite running 24 miles the day before! I also had a very enjoyable long run in Amsterdam along the river while on a short break.

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April: I missed quite a chunk of training due to a bad chest cold so this month was all focused on recovery and easing back in. I also got out to the North Downs Way for the first time ever, and did a recce of the second half of the NDW50 course and found the hills to be brutal.

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May: My goal race for the year the NDW50. It was a great day out, super challenging but I made loads of new running pals along the way and I got a PB for the 50 miles distance too.

June: I took a few weeks off post ultra and then decided I wanted to do an Autumn marathon, I hadn’t done a marathon for over 2 years, and started to follow the Hanson’s marathon plan in my quest for a sub 4 hour marathon.

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July: I now realised why I hadn’t done an autumn race in so long as summer training is so tough in the heat and humidity. I really enjoyed following the Hanson’s plan, and enjoyed the speed and tempo sessions though they were challenging. I also ventured back to the NDW for a half marathon on the worst section of the NDW between Reigate and Box hill and back.

August: I finally did my 50th parkrun- hoping to get close to 100 in 2018. My mileage and sessions really peaked in my Hanson’s marathon training. This was my highest ever running mileage month at 238 miles.

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September: I got struck down with an awful gastro bug the week before the marathon, but despite this I got a big marathon PB in Richmond though not quite the sub-4 I wanted

October: I took some time off post race and really focused on strength training again, hitting the gym 5-6 times a week to build my strength for next year. I somehow got a PB at Southwark parkrun 2 weeks after the marathon. I focused on short runs with lots of runs with my OH as he trained for his first ever race in Hawaii.

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November: We spent 3 weeks in the states and I kept up my strength training and some running too. We did the Honolulu half, which was the hottest race I’ve ever done, it started at 5.30am because of the humidity, it was so fun to run together in Hawaii, but it was brutal conditions and there were no medals! We also did a parkrun in San Francisco at Crissy Fields, great one to add to the tourism list.

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December: I focused on building my base for 2018, with my 4th year of Advent Running and 5th Marcothon, running at least 5k every day of the month for 182 miles to round out the year. I started my training plan for 2018 mid way through December, and so far it’s going pretty well and I ended the year in a really good place looking forward to the challenges 2018 has in store.

Victoria Park Half 2018: New PB.

If I had to name my worst races ever, then the Victoria Park half in March 2016 would definitely be up there. I was on antibiotics at the time for an infected blister on my toe and they had really messed up my gut. I thought I was going to have to drop out for the majority of the race, there were many toilet stops and many negative thoughts but I somehow got round- I think it’s my slowest ever half though not including trail ones.

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So when I found out my brother was signed up to do the race this weekend, I have no idea why I was so keen to join. The race has no big pull being 6.5 laps, but maybe I felt I had a little unfinished business. I got to the start super early and it was utterly freezing so I was delighted to get moving after about 40 minutes of standing in the cold. The first mile clicked over in just over 8.30 pace which I was surprised at as I felt we were moving much slower and I felt very comfortable.

The half marathon started about 30 minutes before the 5k and 10k, so it was never crazy busy on the course but there was always plenty of others around on each lap especially the middle few. Having done the race before I knew to keep track of how many laps as I had done as it can get quite confusing especially if you don’t have a GPS to know how many miles you have done.

I ran with my brother and we spent the whole time chatting, spotting dogs (4 dachshunds!!) and looking out for our cheering crew who deserve medals for standing in the cold for 2 hours. I warmed up very quickly once we got going, and although it got a bit windier later on in the race I would say it was perfect running conditions.

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The miles were ticking over, and my miles seemed to hover consistently between 8.30-8.40, again I was surprised at how comfortable this felt, especially as I had had a heavy training week and my legs had felt pretty shit since being ill over New Year.

I had a medjool date between miles 7-9 for a little energy boost, and I had my hydration pack so I felt well hydrated the whole way. As a side note the amount of plastic bottles used in races is appalling, even a small race like this produced a horrifying amount of plastic waste. I wish more races would follow CenturionĀ  and get rid of plastic bottles/cups. Bringing your own cup to fill up on route or carrying your own flasks or hydration pack should be the rule and not the exception. Rant over.

I was surprised by how good I felt around mile 9 and I felt I was running well within myself and that I had never felt that strong towards the end of a race before. Usually I go out too hard and then the wheels come off at the end, but not today, I had a lot left in the tank.

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We had started to slow slightly from mile 9 onwards, and at mile 12 I realised I was quite close to PB and my brother wanted to slow down a bit, so I went off ahead and told him to stick behind me. The last 2 miles were my fastest of the day- I can’t believe I ran a sub 8 minute mile for the last mile and a bit of a half- and for the first time I actually felt like I was working hard. I finished in 1.53.09 which was surprisingly a PB of over a minute, which I was really chuffed with considering how easy it had felt and how much talking we had done the whole way round. It was also a 10k PB as I haven’t done one in about 4 years. It will be interesting to do a half when I actually have trained for one as I feel I can go a lot quicker and I’m still very early on in my long distance training for the year.

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I hung around for a little bit to chat and then I headed off on the canal for my extra 4 miles of my training run. I didn’t want to do the miles before and stand around in the cold getting stiff and I’m kind of glad I didn’t as I don’t think it would have been a PB either. I took the wrong canal path and ended up totally lost in Stratford and Bow, but discovered a new running path and eventually got to where I was going.

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This race has gone way up in my estimation after 2016. Yes it is still 6.5 laps, but I think if you have someone to do it with it ticks by pretty quickly. It’s great mental training too, if you can do 6+ laps of a course I think it prepares you for other challenges ahead and makes you a stronger runner mentally. It’s a fairly small but well organised set up, there were ample portaloos, race pack pick up was quick and easy and you get a decent medal for 20 quid too.

A PB is always a good place to start the year, hopefully onwards and upwards.

December Streaking

2018 has not started with a bang as I’ve been struck down with a horrible cold- I was tucked up in bed by 8pm on NYE and recovering most of NYD. Bit of a sad way to end the festive period, but I’ve had a great December- I love the festive season, and have spent a few weeks in Wales with family and it’s been so nice and chilled.

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December is the time for my annual festive run streak. This was my fourth year of advent running and 5th Marcothon where I attempted to run at least 5k everyday and I am happy to report that I completed my goal. I always find it a really good way to get back base running fitness and head into the new year feeling fit and ready to hit training in a good place.

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Dec 1st-10th: I eased into the run streak with lots of runs around the 5k marker, to get my body used to daily running again. I did a long run over the weekend including a parkrun and I was so late for the start that everyone was running into the distance as I arrived at Southwark park, still it made for a fun run trying to chase people down throughout the run. I also had to do my only treadmill run of the challenge as it was way too icy/snowy to run outside. Most of December has just been very wet especially it Wales so it hasn’t been too challenging to get the runs in.

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Dec 11th-17th: I upped the mileage across this week as I started my “official” training program for 2018 races. I started to add back in speed sessions and hill sessions which I haven’t done in ages, I am loosely following Hanson’s marathon method again and adapting it a little for longer distance goals. I haven’t run hills in about 8 months so I was a little rusty! I ended up being on time for parkrun this weekend but didn’t realise it was cancelled until I got there- I jogged round it anyway and then home for another 10 miles in the bag to round out this week.

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Dec 18th-24th: I continued with the higher mileage and sessions in the pre-Christmas week. I was back in Wales so enjoyed running somewhere different and got in a pre-Christmas parkrun during my long run this week. I feel like so many runs were in the rain during my time in Wales, it was very very soggy.

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Dec 25th-31st: There was a brilliant turn out for festive parkrun in Cardiff with over 600 people there on Christmas morning, it’s always such a great way to kick off the festive season. More speed sessions and a killer hill session filled this week and I ended it with a long back to back session with a 15 miler including Cardiff parkrun, this was my longest run for over 3 months since the marathon. The streak ended with a heavy legged 10 miler the day after (New Years Eve) and then I fell sick that evening so the streak ended heading into 2018 but it was good while it lasted. I feel in a really good running place and looking forward to what 2018 will bring.

December 2017: 182 Miles in 31 days, 12 gym sessions and 2 yoga classes.

Val Nolasco Half Marathon O’ahu Hawaii 2017

I had arrived in San Francisco on the Thursday evening, spent two days there with the other half who had already been there for a few days for a work conference, and on Saturday we flew to O’ahu Hawaii. It seemed like a brilliant idea to sign up for a race which happened to be on while we there, and thankfully I was still jet lagged as hell and not on Pacific time as it made the 4am wake up call a lot less painful on our first full day in Hawaii.

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The night before we had arrived to an absolute monsoon, our mobiles kept getting emergency flash flood messages sent to them, which I’ve never experienced before. Anyway, it ruined our dinner plans, and we ended up in a ramen place where I can only describe the food as inedible- after picking at a bit of rice, we went to the supermarket and picked up some snacks for an in-room picnic, not the ideal half marathon prep.

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The start in Kapiolani park was about 15 mins walk from our hotel, so we set off in the dark to the start where we picked up our timing chips and waited for the race to get under way. Thank god the race started at 5.30am (an hour before sunrise) as it was already 23 degrees and extremely humid.

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This was Nick’s first race, and we ran it side by side, I let him set the pace and push when he felt good. It was completely dark for most of the first half, so we couldn’t actually see the ocean, or most of the scenic views. There were police officers marshaling and closing off the roads along the route. There were water stations every couple of miles, most of which we poured over our selves rather than drinking.

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There was a little more elevation than I expected as we wound round the outside of Diamond Head crater- thankfully not up it though. From about mile 3 onwards, Nick started to go a bit faster, and I was finding it really tough going but we stuck together. We maintained a steady pace as we headed into a long out and back on a highway between miles 5-9, this is where we ran past Zoe who I had no idea was in Hawaii, or running the same race as I had deleted social media for the trip- small world!

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This section was a bit of a soul sucker, though the occasional mizzle shower provided welcome relief and there was at least something to look at with the other runners heading the other way. It was light by this point, though the sights weren’t all that scenic most of the time. My personal highlight was seeing a wire-haired dachshund at mile 9, the same dog we have, they aren’t all that common so it made my day.

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We had to really start slowing down for the last 3 miles and just try and hold on for the finish. There was a little more incline and it was so hot by this point we just wanted to finish. We went past some very nice neighborhoods and properties and before long we were winding back round the park and towards the finish with a little kick at the end to make it in under 2.05. Not bad for a hot, hilly half and especially not for your first-and last-half marathon on your home island for Nick.

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Hawaii was an incredible trip, and this was a brilliant way to kick-start our holiday.