Hanson’s Marathon Method plans

I have a charity place in the London Marathon next year. (I’m running for Cancer Research UK)

The fundraising target I have set for myself is to raise £3000+ by the time I run London on the 28th April.  The charity asked for a minimum pledge of £2000 but I hope to raise more.  I will post details on the blog as I have them in the New Year, but the two main events I will be holding are:

1) An evening presentation led by a race director.
2) A pub quiz based entirely around running questions.

I’m really looking forward to finalising arrangements and for these fundraisers to unfold.

I read a BBC news article online the other evening entitled Fraudulent charity runners condemned.  I was horrified to read that ‘following a BBC investigation, 1278 people who accepted places paid for by charities in 2017 were recorded as raising nothing.’  It goes on to mention that in regards to the 2017 Great North Run ‘The highest proportion [of people raising no money] was reported by Cancer Research UK which also had the largest number of runners.  Of the 758 people who took its charity places, 318 (42%) raised nothing.’

That’s awful, really.  I know that I have been asked to raise a minimum of £2000 in order to run London next year.  If each of those 758 runners raised even half that amount, £758,000 would make such a huge difference for the charity.  The article goes on to say that although some runners just simply do not show for race day, often a large number of runners still go on to complete the event.

Not only do I want to raise at least £3000 as part of my fundraising, but I want to train for a time that I will personally feel proud of achieving.

I want to aim for at least a sub 4:30 marathon.

This would mean taking more than 20 minutes off from my current marathon PB (4:54 – achieved at Chelmsford marathon in 2015, pre-Oscar).

Chelmsford marathon 2015I have never completed a full training cycle successfully.  I always get sidetracked by interesting ultras, or trail marathons or long runs with friends along the way.  This time though, I am determined to remain on task and focused, with no other races booked in until at least May 2019!  (Although I have two cross country races within the next couple of weeks, but both under 6miles in distance).  I even successfully resisted entering the Country to Capital 45m and the brand new Rose of the Shires 50m ultra in April – agreeing instead, to marshal at both events.

I’ve read a lot about the Hanson’s Marathon Method over the past few years and noticed the difference to my times and endurance as I began to adopt some of the key principles of the plan into my training week.

Hansons Marathon Method bookI had particular success following the tempo sessions.  They allowed me to have belief in my ability to run continuously at a tempo pace over longer distances.

The speedwork sessions were also so useful, as I am unable to attend speedwork sessions on a running club night (Dan doesn’t return home from work in time for me to get there) and I never really know how to structure the sessions myself.

Running 5-6 days a week does really work for me and I definitely notice the gains to be had from more frequent running.  Having organised set workouts on a plan encourages me to get out and run on those days.

My main concern with the plan that my rest day has to fall on a Monday.  (I work through the night on a Sunday until 6am Monday morning.  I then only get a maximum of an hour of sleep before Dan leaves for work and I have Oscar on my own until Dan returns at 9pm.  By that point I’m absolutely exhausted having had just one hour of sleep from the previous night and it would be an impossible ask to head out for a run on Dan’s return.)  This then means that I can’t really be very flexible if something crops up later in the week where I would normally be able to swap my rest day around.

I’ve written out the plan in full as written in the book, but there will be tweaks on the days I run.  Mainly Monday and Wednesday runs will be swapped (as mentioned above) and Friday and Sunday runs (as Sunday has become our family day at home and I work Sunday evenings).

Hanson's Marathon Method plan

So, first run on the plan starts tomorrow (although the first week is filled with easy runs)…wish me luck!

Which training plans do you use for your marathons?
How many times per week do you prefer to run?

Summer has finally arrived and changes to my race plans

The hundred miler I entered last year is now seven weeks away…Seven weeks!

But first, how absolutely lovely is it to finally have full on sunshine after so many weeks of doom and gloom and all that heavy snow in March?!

Oscar and I had a day out planned at a sand and water outdoor area a few miles away today but my car wouldn’t start this morning so I had to check it in at the garage – crushing our plans for the morning.  Although we couldn’t make it to the water park we did still make time to get outside in the garden this morning where Oscar happily held my hand for a good twenty minutes whilst stirring various sticks through the weed in our garden pond!

Oscar by the pondOscar by the pondWe have big plans for our garden this year.  When we bought our house three years ago we didn’t have a child, but our garden is definitely not one I would describe as child friendly at the moment.  (See picture below.)

New house garden(Picture taken just before we moved in to the house – long before the garden became overgrown with weeds and the bushes grew out of control!)

Our pond definitely needs a cover on it now that Oscar is toddling around and we hope to remove the monkey puzzle tree which has grown out of control at the back of the garden, putting everything to the right of the path to grass for Oscar to play on.  Wish me luck.  It’s going to be a big job over the next few months whilst trying to keep a very active toddler busy!

Bella joined us outside earlier and rolled around in the sunny patches on the brickwork most of the morning!

Bella in the garden

I can’t wait to get some sunshine trail miles in and Dan has promised that when he gets home from work this evening the three of us can head out on a family run with Oscar in the running buggy.

Dan, Oscar and I on a buggy run togetherDan said that he would like to get some more running in the other week and now that the nights are lighter again as long as we head straight out as soon as he returns home from work (6:20pm-ish) we can fit 5-6 miles in before getting Oscar ready for bed.  We went for our first family evening run together the week before I ran SDW50 and it was so nice to spend time together as a family whilst I was getting some miles in my legs.  Oscar loves being out in the buggy with both of us and you can hear him constantly singing away and pointing things out that he can see along his ride!

I did have my alarm set for another 5am wakeup call this morning, but a late night last night and backlog of lack of sleep over the past six months meant that my miles this morning needed to be replaced by an extra hour of sleep, so snoozed my alarm and rolled over for another hour instead.

I have arranged to meet up with a few other ladies from the Run Mummy Run Facebook group for some early morning runs over the coming weeks and I’m hoping this will help to encourage me to get out for some of my miles first thing in the day.  I much prefer running in the mornings and feel so much better for it for the rest of the day then.  The poor weather and dark nights has meant that my early morning runs have been mainly on the treadmill this Winter, and there’s nothing more depressing than a solo treadmill run in a silent, dark house when you’re feeling tired!  I’m looking forward to being able to chat running once more!

Dan has also promised that he will ask at work if he can adjust his hours for a Thursday – meaning that he will start and finish earlier, giving him time to get home and take over Oscar from me, allowing me to get out on a club run in time.  I’ve really missed running with other club runners since Dan has been at this job and I would love to be able to get back out there again.

So, back at the end of last year when I sat down with my race calendar for 2018, achieving a marathon PB and completing a 100 mile ultra were the two big goals right at the very top of my list.

Fast forward a few months and I am now less than three weeks away from running the Milton Keynes Marathon and less than eight weeks away from the South Downs Way 100.

Following my performance at the SDW50 a fortnight ago I feel fully prepared for the 100.  It was a real confidence boost that I achieved a time I hadn’t thought I was capable of, even though I didn’t actually ‘race’ the 50 event, slowing in places as I was concerned my calf injury might reappear.  Touch wood, all being well, I am feeling fairly confident of completing the 100 at the start of June, provided no outsider issues ruin the day – heat, nutritional, etc.  I’ve been talking tactics and times with some of the guys from my club who have finished the SDW100 in the past and every time it’s mentioned I can feel my excitement about the event continue to grow!

The marathon is a different ball game though.
Ultramarathons are all about tactics – getting your nutrition right and keeping moving, knowing which sections to walk and where to pick up the pace.  Road marathons are a more pressured environment and can be time-driven.  My continuous runs haven’t been very continuous and I haven’t completed as many longer runs as I would have liked throughout this training cycle.  The plan I roughly put together for this training cycle was based very loosely on the Hanson’s Marathon Method and I am certain that this is a plan I would do well using when training solely for a marathon, – I just haven’t had the full opportunity to do so yet!  Last year I ended up traveling back to Norfolk to visit my Mum several times during each week and this time round the plan could never have my full focus as the bigger goal has always been about running 100 miles.

I want a sub 4h 30m marathon this year, but I don’t think I will achieve that at Milton Keynes next month, and I don’t want to break myself by trying.  I no longer plan on tapering for the marathon and instead plan to treat it as a long training run (with other people, and a shiny new medal!).  I have been running strongly on my runs, and so, (with a current marathon PB I am aware doesn’t do my running justice) know that a new PB is perhaps possible even if I don’t ‘race’ the event as such.  But if not, that’s OK too.  My new target for the sub 4h 30m marathon is going to be a marathon at the end of September/start of October (still to decide which one) meaning I will be able to focus on solid training purely for the marathon over the Summer months when I won’t be persuaded to run other races (as it will be out of race season) and when I will be able to run outside rather than on the treadmill for the majority of my runs as it is already light by 6am in the mornings.

Have you changed your goal races for the season before?
Do you prefer Summer or Winter running?
How is your garden currently looking after such a rough Winter?

Ugh, a new PB and cake

dsfI’m pretty sure that the three of us came away with food poisoning last weekend. We’d taken Oscar out to a large indoor play area on Sunday afternoon. He was having so much fun, and we were having so much fun watching him enjoy himself that we completely didn’t realise how quickly the afternoon had flown by until Oscar started to whine that he was hungry, and we realised restaurant feeding options were minimal in the area.
It was a quick trip to the nearest one we could find, where Oscar sleepily, but thoroughly enjoyed chicken skewers with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. Dan also went for chicken, and I demolished a mushroom burger.
Oscar with cornBecause Oscar was so tired he left quite a bit of his meal, which is unheard of for him, so we got it boxed up to take home for his lunch the following day.

The next morning, Dan groggily appeared downstairs for breakfast. By that point Oscar had already been through two nappies, and was about to fill his third. Dan managed to force some cereal down but Oscar just moved his breakfast around his tray looking rather sorry for himself.
Fast forward to lunch and, having not yet sussed out the link between the meal from the previous night and our poorly household, I pulled out the remainder of Oscar’s meal for him to have for lunch. When he once again, did not seem too fussed about eating any of it, I placed it onto my plate instead. Sweet potato fries are my favourite!

Ugh.

They are not my favourite any more. And neither is chicken.  :(

I spent the start of last week feeling rough, with a painful crampy stomach and zero energy. I sensibly decided to take a few days off from running until I fully recovered.  It was frustrating not getting out to run during the first week of the Summer holidays, but I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to hit any of my training paces, and would feel rubbish for attempting to do so in the first place.

The Thursday before had been our club’s annual Pre-Welly 5 BBQ run.  Always held 10 days before our club 5 mile road race, the idea is to check over the course, practice our marshaling and to give everybody a chance to run the event who might not be able to on the day if they were marshaling instead.

After a couple of rubbish BBQ runs in previous years I had a great run last year and set a new 5 mile PB of 45:55.  Although it’s not an official race – but instead more of a social event for our club, it is run on the race route, so I’m counting it as a PB!

Having run really strongly since starting my training using the Hanson’s Marathon Method, and having already achieved PBs in 6 mile and 10k events over recent weeks, I was hoping for another PB this year.

It didn’t start well when I arrived feeling knackered and hungry though.  I instantly had doubts for the run and began to talk myself out of it.

When we first set off I looked around and instantly felt like I had placed myself way too far forward, with runners usually much faster than me.  But my heart rate monitor told me that I could run faster, so I carried on.

Pre Welly 5 BBQ run

I chatted to a couple of people early on in the first mile.  Again, projecting my doubts about a decent time to them.  Kev came alongside me and commented on how well I had been running just lately.  I told him that I was hoping for a good time again that day – perhaps something around 9 minute mile pace.  I could see him trying to work out the math!  We spent several minutes talking before he nipped into a bush following the pre-run pint of Guinness he’d enjoyed in the bar before setting off!

I had sat behind the same people for the whole run until we hit the slight hill at mile 3.5.  Here, still feeling strong, I managed to gradually pull past other runners one by one.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold a full on conversation any more, and this ended up being my slowest mile at 9:07.  (So happy that I can say a mile at this pace was my slowest mile now!)

In fact, I ran really consistently for the whole run.  My mile splits were 9:01, 9:06, 8:49, 9:07, 8:50 and then 7:20mm pace for the final 0.09 recorded on my Garmin.

I overtook a couple more runners who I never would have been able to overtake normally in the final mile and then opened up my stride to power through to the finish.  As I headed towards the finish line I struggled to remember my exact PB time, but knew I was in with a shot of hitting it, and so commented to the Group 4 running coach as I came alongside him, who then insisted we run through the finish holding hands.

Pre Welly 5 finish line pic

Watch stopped, 45:33.  A full 24 seconds faster than my previous best!

Despite not really looking it in this pic, I was completely comfortable and was barely breathing heavily at all, able to chat and laugh with other runners whilst heading down the finishing chute.  I guess this picture must have been taken literally as I pulled back from a run to a walk.  You can see the official finish line drawn on the floor just behind me.

Although initially disappointed that I didn’t come very close to 45 minutes, having set myself a rough target of 9 minute miling, I soon cheered up when I checked my watch to discover that with the slight over-distance run I had actually ran an average of 8:57 minute miling!  Hanson’s is definitely doing me some good!

For the first time since the BBQ run has been taking place, we didn’t actually have any BBQs.  Instead, a pizza van.  So I waited in line for my turn to demolish a hot, veggie pizza and sit nursing a drink at the bar.  Very satisfying mid-week and with just one day left of the school term.

So that was last week – poorly sick following a good 5 mile race.  This weekend was a little different again.

I started off this weekend by running Kettering parkrun with Laura whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy.

Kettering parkrun start(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

This was parkrun #87 for me and I completed it in 34:25.  I should really count the amount of parkruns Oscar has been to.  He must be coming up to 20 now?
{Position: 196/255 Gender position: 67/108 Age category position: 10/12 }

Kettering parkrun midrun

(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

Having come right from the very back of the run and Kettering being a very difficult course to overtake with a buggy, I’m fine with that.  Oscar stayed wide awake for the whole run, gripping onto his Sophie giraffe toy.  Good job, because I didn’t really want to have to keep stopping to pick her up along the way!

I’m hoping that at some point during August I will be able to run a parkrun hard and see what time I am currently capable of.  It’s been a while since I raced a parkrun and I’d like to think I’m a little quicker now.

In the afternoon I headed over to The Garden Deli with Laura and Steph for cake and a catch up.  The cake there is a good.  I went for this lemon and ginger sponge.  I don’t even really like lemon flavoured things.  I can’t stand it when bartenders add a lemon slice in your drink when you go out, but this looked too good not to try.

Lemon and ginger sponge cake

The drinks are also amazing!  I went for a strawberry and vanilla fruit crush and was not disappointed!

Strawberry and vanilla fruit crush

Then yesterday was the actual Wellingborough 5 race.

For the last few years my role at the race has been to direct cars down the driveway and onto the car park before the race begins.  I then take photos of the runners along the first 100 metres of the race, again in the final 200m as well as ensure runners turn safely into the final section along the field at the very end of the race.  There were a couple of other marshals with me at the end this year, which meant that I could take pictures without worrying about where runners were headed.

I love taking photos of the event.

Last year a runner suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and was air lifted to hospital, so it was a sigh of relief when all runners were back safe and sound this year.  The club invited Tom, the runner who had been hospitalised following the race last year to our BBQ run the other week, and he finished at a run/walk along with his wife and one of our members who happened to be a doctor who had stopped and helped him on the day.  He finally got the chance to finish the race route!

Wellingborough 5 trophies

This year I also took pictures of all of the prize winners.  Prize giving always seems to go on for ages.  I couldn’t even dream of ever being good enough to receive a prize at a race.

Welly 5 winnersHow did you spend your weekend?

Weeks 3 and 4 of the Hanson’s Marathon Method

Last week was my fourth week following the Hanson’s Marathon Method* training plan.  Although I’m trying to slot in my runs as best as possible I haven’t stuck strictly to the plan, tweaking it in a few places from time to time as required.  My return to work with a young baby and house improvements still to be made has meant that these first few weeks of the plan needed to be fairly flexible to fit around my schedule.  Once school finishes for me at the end of July then training should become a little easier to slot in though.  (Hopefully!)

The main structure of my training week comes from the book, and I try to follow all advice given from within the pages, with all my paces based on a 4h 15m marathon finish time.  (I am aiming for a sub 4h 30m marathon in October.)

Week 3 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as racing the following day)
Tuesday – Weedon 10k (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – 6m trail run with friends
Thursday – 6x 800m with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 8m easy (10:50-11:40mm)

Week 3 actual: (3 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Weedon 10k
I accidentally picked up my old heart rate monitor as I madly rushed out of the door.  Old, as in it no longer sends my heart rate data to my watch and so, despite planning to run to heart rate for the race I ended up needing to run on feel once again.  Weedon 10k is a ridiculously hilly course, with two particularly big hills at miles 2.5 and 4.5.  Luckily the race finishes with a long downhill, but the first proper hill of the event really took it out of me for the rest of the run!
Total time: 61:22, which I was happy with on such a hilly course!

Weedon 10k(Photo by Barry Cornelius of Oxon Races.)

Wednesday – 6.19m trail run (12:43mm)
Pace includes all stops and stile climbs!
Thursday – Off
I just did not have the energy or drive to get out for speedwork on Thursday evening.  I replaced speedwork with a two hour nap once Dan returned home from work.  That nap did me wonders.
Friday – Off
Saturday – 2.07m easy (10:45mm), followed by parkrun (28m 53s), then 0.69m easy (10:59mm)
I headed to Huntingdon parkrun on the Saturday, slotted in a warmup and then a cooldown to try and get in some extra miles.
I really want to continue attending parkrun throughout marathon training, but I really struggle to keep the pace consistently easy at parkrun at the moment unless I have somebody to chat to.  I feel like I am constantly battling with myself to not end up racing against previous times I’ve run.  This week I ran parkrun at 9:10mm pace, which is way too fast for my prescribed easy pace of 10:50-11:40mm, and definitely wouldn’t have done my legs any favours.
Sunday – Off
On Sunday I headed to Norfolk for the day with Dan and Oscar to see my parents.  We ended up setting off from Norfolk to return home again a little later than originally planned.  That, combined with a diversion on the way home meant that we didn’t arrive back in Northamptonshire until fairly late, with washing still to be washed and bags still to be packed for the following day.  I felt like I’d already had a fairly rubbish week of training, and so skipped the workout.  (Which I obviously immediately regretted as soon as I got into bed.)
Next week is another week…

Week 4 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as targeting a race the following day)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 165bpm)
Wednesday – 7m trail run with friends
Thursday – 5x 1k with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 12m long (10:29mm)

Week 4 actual: (5 runs)
Monday – 5.19m (11:24mm)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 163bpm average)
PB, PB, PB!!!  I didn’t want to all out announce it beforehand, but I was fairly confident that I would be capable of PBing at Milton Keynes on the Tuesday night.  All the recent extra runs I’ve been fitting in and base building at slower paces has seen my running improve.  My running was set at 8:xx pace for quite a lot of the time that I stuck to my 165bpm goal.  I would never have believed how easy 8:30-9mm pace could feel over a 10k distance this time last year!  My previous 10k PB had also been set at Milton Keynes 10k, two years earlier.  That time I had PBd by 8 seconds, and was ecstatic on the night.  So – imagine my beaming smile last Tuesday evening when I crossed the line in 56m 40s – giving me a PB of nearly two minutes!

MK 10k with Margaret Wednesday – 6.93m trail run (11:48mm)
Thursday – Off
I start off with such good intentions at the beginning of the week, but by the time Thursday rolls round often all I want to do is curl up on the couch and sleep.  This Thursday involved housework until 11pm though.  Boo. :(
Friday – Off
Saturday – Off – we headed to Dan’s parents in Wolverhampton on the Saturday and so it ended up being a rush in the morning to get round in time.  Dan had left his car in Northampton following a work night out on the Friday, so I had to load Oscar up and drop Dan off to pick his car back up again before we headed to the Midlands.  Had Northampton parkrun been on in the morning, all would be fine and I could have slotted my run in, but as it was, the Racecourse where Northampton parkrun is held was being used for something else, so no run was had. :(
Sunday – 5.86m with Oscar in the buggy (12:46mm) AM, 8.05m (11:02mm) PM
The AM run was a substitute for missing the Saturday run, and the PM run was a shortened version of Sunday’s run.  Although annoyingly, heading out in a rush I didn’t check my training plan properly and missed that it was supposed to be run as a ‘long run’ rather than an ‘easy run’, and I should have run at a pace 30 seconds quicker per mile than I did.  Never mind, – can’t win them all!

How was it this sunny already at 7:30am on my run this morning?! #buggyrunning #stanwicklakes #10k

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So weeks 3 and 4 complete now.  My biggest challenge is keeping the momentum going by a Thursday evening, especially as that is a speedwork night and one that I should not really be missing.  I have been racing for the past few weeks though which luckily does keep my legs ticking over, but the East Midlands Grand Prix series has finished now, with Milton Keynes being the last race of the series, so I am on my own again!

My second biggest challenge is keeping the pace slow and steady at parkruns.  It is so, so easy to get carried away and drawn along by everybody else at parkrun.  I can easily zone out and happily run my easy runs at 10:50-11:40mm on my own back at home, but when there are people around, it instantly becomes so much more difficult to do and I end up running too hard on what should be an easy run day.  I plan on getting some parkrun tourism in over the Summer and hopefully I will feel less pressured to run hard on unknown courses with people around who I do not know.

My easy runs are definitely paying off, and are absolutely not ‘junk miles’ as proven by this week’s PB!  Whenever I think about how much effort it is to get out late at night (when my runs so often are nowadays – seriously, if you follow me on Strava you will see that the majority of my runs are 9-10pm!) I look at how much my running has improved and how much easier it is to hit faster paces than it initially was and it gives me that extra little bit of incentive to get out there.

Do you find it difficult to run ‘easy’ runs as slowly as prescribed?
What time of day do you tend to head out for a run?