MCM 13: Week 6 Training with the Hansons Marathon Method

Co-owner, Metro Run & Walk, Certified Pedorthist, and Runner

Co-owner, Metro Run & Walk, Certified Pedorthist, and Runner

This week starts the SOS component of the training program.  SOS meaning “something of substance.” The SOS component includes speed, strength, tempo, and long runs.  Thankfully, Hansons only introduces two aspects of the SOS workouts this week — speed and tempo.  Strength workouts start in week 11 and long runs start next week in week 7.

I must admit, I feel a little bit like a nervous school girl.  I’ve never really done a speed workout nor an official tempo run.  In the past, my version of tempo runs were going out and running a little bit faster.  And I’ve certainly never gone to the track for a speed workout.

With speed workouts, marathon training begins to get more interesting.  Speed workouts require you to run multiple bouts of certain distances at high intensities with recovery between each.  This type of training prompts some of the physiological changes needed but also teaches your mind to handle harder work.

Yeah… no kidding.

(In case you’re interested, I finished listening to The Handmaid Tale by Margaret Atwood and read by Claire Danes and have started Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.)

The physiological changes they refer to are the muscles which include slow-twitch (Type I) and fast-twitch (Type II) fibers.  I think I’m genetically disposed to having more slow-twitch fibers.  These slow-twitch fibers allow endurance runners to just keep on going at a steady pace.  They are smaller, but more plentiful muscle fibers that use oxygen from the many capillaries in the legs to transfer energy.

Fast-twitch muscles, on the other hand, are bigger and faster and don’t use oxygen to transfer energy and they fatigue more rapidly.  These muscle fibers use large amounts of a high-energy muscle (ATP).  Within the fast-twitch muscles there are two subgroups — Type IIa which are similar to the  Type I fibers in that they use oxygen and Type IIb do not.  Speed training is designed to transition some of the fast-switch Type IIb muscle fibers to Type IIa.

The benefits of speed work include:

– maximal development of muscle fiber

– running economy improvement

– increased myoglobin (which helps transport oxygen to the muscles and then to the mitochondria)

– improved anaerobic threshold

– triggering of increased glycogen storage

Now to tempo workouts.  Hansons defines tempo runs as marathon pace runs.

Over time, it is the tempo run that will dictate whether or not you have selected the right marathon goal.  It will take a good number of tempo workouts before you fully internalize the pace and can regulate your runs based on feel.  The benefits of tempo work include:

– helps you to internalize marathon goal pace

– teaches you to control and maintain pace

– chance to experiment with nutrition, hydration and gear

– improved running economy at goal pace

– improved endurance

Well, let’s see how I do with this.

Week 6 Plan vs Actual

Monday 7/29:  Headed out for an easy 4 with Mark and the dog.  Mark mapped out an easy 2 mile circuit which drove me crazy.  Little bit of running, then a turn, little bit of running, then another turn, etc.  After 2 miles we separated.  I continued on for my final 2 miles with the dog.  Mark went and run a total of 13 of his 2 mile laps.  Yes, that’s right.  Mark ran (nearly) a marathon on Monday.

Tuesday 7/30:  My first track workout. I drove to the local high school and parked.  Did a one mile warm-up — not on the track but on the sidewalk — 1/2 mile out and 1/2 mile back.  Then got my supplies and entered the track.  I had:  12 pennies, 2 dixie cups, water with Nuun electrolyte, and sweat towel.  I figured that I would have trouble remembering (or would kid myself) on the number of laps, so I used the pennies and Dixie cups to count.  After each set of speed and recovery lap, I moved a penny from one cup to the other.  After six sets, I switched directions on the track.  I was really surprised.  It wasn’t as hard as I feared and I was able to keep my laps between 1:50 and 1:56.  For my marathon goal, Hanson says that my 400 pace should have been 1:58, so I was a little faster.  I then did the one mile recovery off the track.

I know that I can’t use this one speed workout as affirmation that I’ve selected the right marathon goal.  I’ll just keep training towards my 4:00 marathon.

Wednesday 7/31:  Off from running.  Walked 1 mile with Mark and the dog.  I did enjoy a 90 minute massage.

Thursday 8/1:  My first official tempo run.  In an ideal world, I like to like to have 1 hour between the time I get up and the time I start a run.  That gives me time for a cup of milk and 2 cups of tea.  I am continuing to read Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan and last night I was reading about how many carbs you want to consume before your workout.  If there is an hour, Ms. Ryan recommends that you consume 50 grams of carbs.

I didn’t sleep well last night and overslept by 45 minutes this morning, so I compressed the time before my run to 45 minutes, instead of 60.  Since I started tracking my intake this week, I knew that my tea and milk totals about 30 grams of carbs, so I knoshed on some leftover sweet potato gnocci with my second cup of tea.  I was feeling so full that I didn’t finish my second cup of tea.   Even though I was a bit uncomfortable, I knew that I would benefit from the carbs during my run.

So off I went… Warmed up for a mile at about a 10:15 pace.  Then reset my Garmin 210 and started my 5 mile run.  I only glanced at my Garmin enough to ensure that I was on pace throughout the run.  Everything felt pretty good until the last 1/2 mile when I really felt tired.  It was at that point that I figured out what SOS workouts really mean.  Its not “something of substance.”   SOS really means that when you feel bad cause in the last 1/2 mile of your run, it feels bad enough that you want to send out a distress call, an “SOS”, or “mayday”.  I learned from The Handmaids Tale that the origin of the distress call “mayday” in 1923 was apparently an Englished spelling of French m’aider, shortening of venez m’aider “come help me!”  But, I digress…

Of course, I choose a hillier course than I probably should have.  But, I did my 5 miles in 44:23 — an 8:52 pace!  Walked for a few minutes after my Tempo 5 and then started running my 1 mile recovery run on the W&OD.   I was at mile mark 18.5 headed towards Reston.  I was going to turn around at marker 18 but somehow I missed it and ran longer than I needed to.  So all in all, I ran 1 + 5 + 2 = 8.

According to Hanson, my tempo run pace should be 9:09.  Mine was 8:52 but again, I know that I can’t use this first Tempo run as affirmation of my marathon pace, but it sure felt good,

Friday 8/2: 

What is this?  This pain? In my right knee.  Where did this come from?  I didn’t hit it, I don’t feel like I stressed it on my run.  Hmmm.  I’ll ice it during my morning cup of tea and then go for my easy 4 and see how it feels.

I go pretty slow today since yesterday was my tempo run.  Knee feels fine while running.  But, I ice it after anyway and will do a little foamrolling later today.  Could be the start of an IT (iliotibial) band problem.  The IT band is the fascia that runs from the glutes down the lateral thigh and knee and inserts just below the knee.  That would be a killer.  So, I know that I need to start stretching, foamrolling, and icing.

Another digression… I’m listening to Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck and am at the part where Mac and the boys are trespassing on the land owned by the Cap’n while collecting frogs for Doc.  Mac notices the tick bite on the pointer and instructs the Cap’n to get some Epsom salts which he’ll use to remove the tick and heal the wound.  That made me think of an article I wrote last August for our newsletter about Epsom Salts.  So while icing my knee, I do a little research.  Sure enough, I find “Removing ticks with a minimum of stress and strife” by PetMD where he describes using Epsom Salts for tick extraction.

Saturday 8/3:

My knee feels fine.  I did ice and foamroll yesterday and will make that a daily regimen.  We’re leaving for vacation today — going to Smith Mountain Lake for a relaxing week of running, reading, boating, and being with my family.

We were all set to leave on time but my daughter lost her cell phone at the Staples store last night while taking advantage of the tax-free school supply shopping weekend.  The store manager called after they closed and said they found it and it would be available for pick-up at 8:30am.  I had planned to get up at 5am, start running at 6am, pack and leave the house by 8:30.  Now, thanks to having to pick up the cell phone, I have to change the schedule.

Something is always better than nothing.  If you don’t have time to get in the full workout, the other option is to consider abbreviating the workout, getting in what you can.

Since I wasn’t going to get up earlier than 5am, and can only accelerate my morning routine so much, I had to abbreviate my run.  Got in 6.8 miles, so not too bad.

Sunday 8/4

Settled in the rental house at Smith Mountain Lake.  The local roads are very, very hilly and I do not want to chew up my legs on an 8 mile run, so Mark and I search for an alternative.  The local high school is about 10 miles away, so we’ll drive to that and create a run there.

It’s a terrible course!  The track is locked and closed. So we invent a 1.5 mile loop around the school, through the parking lot, around the baseball field (thankfully the groundskeeper opened a gate just for me), up 3 sets of stairs, beside the track, and back through the parking lot to the start.  We didn’t start until just after 10am since Mark had to pick-up the boat early.  It was sunny, hot, and boring.  Nonetheless, have to get the run done.

Tomorrow we’re headed out to the State Park.  The Sheriff who was parked in the high school parking lot recommended it.


In Week 7, the speed workout increases in length, the tempo run stays the same, and the “long” run is introduced.  I’ve decided to write a separate article on my nutrition learnings and findings from this week because I’ve so much to share.  Look for that in the next day or so.

Until next week’s post on my training, best wishes for your training and running.  Stay healthy!



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13 Responses to MCM 13: Week 6 Training with the Hansons Marathon Method

  1. Pingback: MCM13: My training ends… | Run, Walk, Live in Springfield, Virginia

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  4. jblairlane says:

    I just started week six yesterday and have been looking for posts on the hanson method. Looks like you’re doing great!

    • Thanks! I’m working the plan, that’s for sure. While I still have about 6 1/2 weeks before the marathon, I’m feeling pretty optimistic. How’s your training going? Any big surprises?

      • jblairlane says:

        I hope to be optimistic by that point 🙂 I guess the biggest surprise so far has been how much I like running that many days in a row. I always thought I needed more time off between runs, but I seem to be thriving with fewer rest days. I just wish I were faster. I’m overweight and it’s slowing me down.

      • I agree completely on the enjoyment of back-to-back running days. Its a new way of thinking about running for me as well. I’ve always done the traditional marathon training — 3 or 4 days a week with one being the long run. I think with Hansons because there are so few days where the run is the same either in terms of distance or intensity, that’s what keeps it fresh.

        Do you have a time trial in your recent past that has influenced your decision making on what your marathon goal is? As long as you have a realistic marathon goal finish time, just work the plan according to the time goals. Don’t worry about being faster than the plan calls for. In fact, you don’t want to be much faster than the plan — it will unnecessarily fatigue and stress your legs. Starting at about week 10, I bet you’ll really start to see your weight come down. Pay attention to your nutrition though! You’ll need the right blend of carbs, protein, and fats to nourish, energize, and recover.

  5. Pingback: MCM13: Week 11 Training with Hansons Marathon Method | Run, Walk, Live in Springfield, Virginia

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  9. callum says:

    Man.. I am not significantly into reading through, but somehow I got you just read lots of content on your website. Its remarkable how intriguing it is will visit anyone very often. :

  10. Pingback: MCM13: Week 7 Training with Hansons Marathon Method | Run, Walk, Live in Springfield, Virginia

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