The Hanson’s 40 mile per week (mpw) base builder plan is 8 weeks long and I am just over 2 weeks in which means I am 25% done already! Before we get into my thoughts so far let’s rewind back to the beginning.
My Baseline Stats:
The Hansons base building plan isn’t meant to make you faster. It’s written to help you maintain a base, hence it’s name. However, the Hansons book says you can improve your times simply by running more mileage. Since I wasn’t running 40 mpw at the start of this plan I am hopeful to see (at least marginal) time improvements by the end.
Additionally, even though the plan doesn’t incorporate “speed work” like 400s, 800s, mile repeats, etc. it does include at least one tempo or progression run along with strides each week which will serve to make me a stronger runner at my goal marathon pace of 13:41.
When I started the plan these were my current bests:
- 5K – 41:03 or 13:13/mi pace
- 1 Mile – 12:15
These numbers aren’t anywhere near my actual personal bests for the 5K or mile set in 2014, but what I’ve done in the past doesn’t matter.
At the end of this plan I’ll run another 5K and 1 miler to see if there is any improvement simply from increasing my mileage and doing increasingly longer tempo and progression runs.
Building My Mileage:
Since I wasn’t already running 40 mpw when I started, I needed to use the beginning weeks of the plan to build up to 40. I guess you could say that I’m not technically starting the plan until I reach 40 mpw but I am currently following the schedule for the plan exactly, I just remove a mile or two from each run so I can safely build to 40. I consider this a soft start to the plan. I’m still running six days a week, building cumulative fatigue and incorporating the tempo and progression runs as prescribed.
The week before I started I had run 24 miles over the course of 5 out of 7 days. The plan calls for running 6 days per week and I hadn’t done that in quite a few months so I decided to actually scale my mileage down the first week of the plan to see how my body would respond to less rest.
Basically, I was taking two full rest days prior, but on the Hansons plan I assumed I would take no full rest days. Instead on my day off from running I planned to do easy cross training since the prescribed rest day is a Thursday. I don’t like to take a full rest day in the middle of the week because it throws me out of my weekday routine. Previously I was taking my rest days on Mondays and Fridays; Mondays to recover from my long run and Fridays because I never feel super motivated on Fridays.
The first week following the plan I ran 19 miles over the course of six days which felt extremely easy, no surprise there. I did light cross training on Thursday and felt good about it! The second week I increased up to 25 miles over the course of six days and that felt easy as well. Once again I didn’t take a full rest day but instead did light cross training on Thursday.
This week is my third week of the plan and will be the first time I hit 30 mpw in a while — so far I am feeling great!
I decided to switch my rest/cross training day to Monday instead of Thursday. It just felt really weird to not run on a Thursday, and I think once my mileage gets higher than 35 miles per week I am going to want a day that I can use as a full rest day (no cross training at all).
I’ve always used Monday as a rest day from running and not doing so felt a little bit like swimming upstream. No matter what, I come home feeling drained on Mondays after work and getting motivated to run is difficult.
It doesn’t mess up the plan to move the rest day to Monday, so I figured why not? The Hansons book says the key is consistency so if you want to move your rest day you can as long as you take the same rest day every week.
I’m excited to approach 30mpw this week because I was running 30-35 mpw over the course of six days back when I set my current PRs. This used to be a sweet spot for me and I am hopeful that it continues to treat me well as I make my climb up to 40!
Figuring out where to place my weightlifting days is my current biggest challenge. When I was working with a coach last year she gave me the advice to always do weightlifting on speedwork or tempo days. She said to make my hard days hard and allow recovery to happen on easy days. That’s a philosophy that makes sense to me, but it’s really flipping hard to be motived to lift weights after a hard run.
Currently I’m doing one lower body day per week and one upper body day per week. I’m doing lower body after my tempo runs, following my former coach’s philosophy of keeping hard days hard. However, I am doing upper body day on Saturdays following a medium length run of about six miles, give or take a mile here or there depending on the week.
I’m struggling with the Saturday upper body lifts a bit because they leave me feeling tired/sore for my long run on Sundays. I can shake off the fatigue during the early miles, but the soreness in my shoulders and chest definitely weighs on me as the run goes on.
I could lift lighter and that would probably help, but I’m at a point where I don’t really want to. If I was in the middle of my real marathon training plan I would definitely allow weightlifting to take a back seat to running, but since this is just a dress rehearsal to see how my body feels following the Hansons method, I don’t want to back down. Now is the time when I should maximize my weight lifting since I know I’ll have to dial it back come June.
Basically, that’s the one piece of the puzzle I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe there’s a better place to put my upper body day, but I don’t know when. It also helps that not a lot of people use my gym on Saturdays so I get the bench, dumbbells and pull-up machine to myself without having to work in which is really nice.
So far everything is going as well as I hoped it would. Getting back into running six days a week just feels right for me. It’s nice to be in a routine and to know today I run, because every day I run (or close to it).
My body hasn’t been pushed outside of its comfort zone yet, but in two weeks time I’ll have reached 40 mpw and will likely have a lot to comment on. I’ve only run 40 mpw a couple of times in the past and never in back-to-back weeks let alone back-to-back-to-back weeks.
Approaching 30 mpw and feeling really good has me optimistic about how I’ll feel at 40mpw though! There’s definitely something to be said about keeping your easy days easy.
The Hansons book says that injury usually comes from too much intensity not too much mileage. That’s something I’m keeping at the forefront of my mind because the last thing I need is for my hips or anything else to get out of whack. Having spent so many months last year sidelined or rehabbing has made me extra mindful of why it’s important to follow a smart training plan to a tee.
If you have any specific questions about the base building plan leave me a comment below or shoot me an email!
Which days do you incorporate weight lifting into your schedule?