Go Big or Go Home

And don't even THINK about going home!
And don’t even THINK about going home!

They say, “Go big or go home.” Four days out from my goal marathon – the one I hope to go from a solid mid-packer to a sub-three marathoner, the one for which I ran multiple 80 mile weeks and way too many miles at 6:52 pace – it’s too late to go home. So, all I can do is go big. 

Of course, when you go big, even when you do everything right, you might not meet your goals. But that’s ok. It’s scary to go for a big goal, especially when you announce to the entire internet what your goal is. But the fun and the learning all take place in the going big part, not in the briefest of moments when you cross the finish line.

I use to meet Dawn Patrol twice a week to go biking at 6am.
I mostly gave up biking to go big with my running. 

This was the year I said I was going to take running seriously. I didn’t exactly know what that meant in terms of race times or anything. I just wanted to see what would happen if I immersed my self in running.  Before this 2014, I spent several years splitting my time between running and road biking. I had no structured workouts and no real goals except to be in the 1:40 half marathon territory at the end of the season and beat my friend Daniela up a beastly local hill on Strava. That’s when I realized the fun is in the pursuit, not the race, so I had a good time even though I never made those two goals when my season ended.

It was fun to do two sports, but running has always been my favorite. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because it is a deceptively simple, yet very hard, sport. As many miles as I put on my road bike, I’d say, “I’m always a runner first.” It was time to act like it. “This is the year I’m going to be a better runner,” I said. Not knowing what that meant at the time, it didn’t stop me from building back to 20, then 30, then jumping all the way to 50 mile weeks on a treadmill during the coldest longest winter I can remember.

Yes, sailing is a sport, and I used up all my interesting running pictures.
I should have said I enjoy 3 sports, since I enjoy sailing, which I still do whenever I can since it doesn’t seem to interfere with my running goals.

Then the little running voice said, “Go big or go home. This is the year to try Hanson’s Marathon Method.” Hanson’s Marathon Method is a training plan that has a reputation for being relatively high mileage of 50 and sometimes over 60 miles per week and, well to the novice I was, a grueling nearly daily schedule. When you’re looking at the Hanson’s plan as a runner whose first rule is no running on the weekends, it is intimidating.  Maybe at one point you’ve also wondered, ‘normal non-pro people can actually run a 70 mile week, week after week, and not get injured?’ The voice didn’t have an answer for that, but I decided to try it and see what happened! Go big!

This summer, I attempted 10 miles a day for a week. Seven days and 70 (difficult) miles later, I realized I could hack it; it was time to start the Hanson’s plan. While I was at it, I figured I might as well train above the advanced plan and stay at 70+ miles per week. I know, right. What was I thinking?

The crazy thing is that this going big thing started to work! Amazing things happened. I jumped several lines on the pace tables within a few weeks and changed training philosophy several times. I ran a sub 3:00 target Yasso 800. Before I knew it, the old crazy big goal of a low-ish-3-hour time seemed like sandbagging. Going big in Columbus now seemed to mean to attempt a sub-3. In one season with some hard work and thousands of miles on my feet, I went from wherever the heck I was in the running pecking order to being a 3-hour marathon contender. Crazy!

The story doesn’t have an end yet. Anything can happen in Columbus. Regardless of the outcome, I worked really hard to get here and enjoyed the process. They say, “Go big or go home.” At 31, I’m too old to go home. Not to mention those whole weeks of crazy training and telling everyone my big goals thing. Nope, on Sunday, I’ll be going big and hopefully along the way I’ll inspire you to go big too. Because as Ginger reminded us in one of my favorite Salty posts, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land on a star.

How do you feel about going big? All about it? Does fear of failure hold you back? 


I'm a subelite marathon runner, but I didn't come from a collegiate running background. Instead I'm trying to break into competitive running in my thirties. I write about chasing the dream of running with the elite girls and tell stories of adventures along the way. Watch me chase the next big thing.

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  1. Agree with Mint. I’m on Team Go Big all they way! You’ve put in a solid block of training and have the right attitude. Do your best and see where it takes you on Sunday! Gooooooooooo Jasmine!

  2. Go big!! I’ve enjoyed reading your training logs – you’ve put in a lot of work and pace miles and I’m excited to see you crush it on race day! As a fellow runner who is chasing her sub-3, I’d love to know your thoughts on the Hanson plan as a whole. I’ve done Pfitzinger in the past and felt like my body tolerated the higher mileage and lower intensity okay (Pftizinger’s schedules only have two real key workouts each week – one intensity and one very long run. The other runs are longer, but easy or recovery paced), but I’d be nervous about adding too much more intensity. How did you find Hanson’s plan? GOOD LUCK this weekend, Jasmine – you will do great!!

    1. Hey thanks.

      Hanson is a reasonable and simple base plan, but by itself incomplete. I don’t like the pace charts in Hanson’s. I think it is set up with too high an expectation of a quantum leap on race day.

      These questions deserve their own article, and that’s coming. I have a backlog of self coach articles to start working on (building up to how assemble your training from the training plans in these books). It is different from the girls here who like that their coach tells them what to do every day.

      You know what you’re doing. You were on the right track in August. Your August 10 and August 24th should be standard training weeks.

      I think the big question we all think but can never seem to get answered is “How hard do I have to train to run a ___? …. Roughly how hard?” we’re all individuals and we all respond to training differently. None of us have answers, but we study each other’s training logs to gleam a hint as we try to guess an answer to that question and take a stab at figuring out what we do right and wrong. Next week, I’ll break down my season’s training in detail so there is ore more broken-down example out there. In the end, we need to learn from each others stories.

      1. Not sure why we’re discussing the purpose of tempos, but … No one needs to do a tempo on a track if they don’t want to. There are multiple reasons to do tempos and multiple ways to intelligently incorporate them into a training plan. Some runners benefit from slower tempos, some faster. Some do better longer and some need intervals. It depends on the runner and the other things they are doing in that plan. If you like to do your tempos at the exact VDOT pace on the track, go for it, but there are other equally valid and effective ways to incorporate tempos. Same goes for marathon pace. I know plenty of successful marathoners who do a little gmp work here and a little there and it works well for them.

        1. Thanks so much for the detailed reply, Jasmine. I felt like the weeks of Aug 10 and 24th were pretty typical of my (successful) training last season. I’m just bummed that I got injured and now am having to claw my way back. 🙂 But I’ll get there! I have Hanson’s book and took a look at the paces last night and agree with you. But it’s so tough to know which to use to answer your question – “How hard do I have to train to run a certain time?” Looking forward to reading your future blog post too. And Salty – I agree! There’s such a variety of paces and ways to do tempos. I’ve always preferred to do as much as I can on the road. In part because I don’t have easy access to a track, but also because I like getting a feel for running that tempo pace on undulating terrain.

          1. It all comes down to training philosophy. Right now mine is Hanson’s with lots more miles and Daniel’s pacing, so that is where my opinions come from. Hanson’s plan stresses accurate pacing.

            In the context of your 60-70 mile weeks, the two hard workouts are the marathon pace run and the interval/strength runs. In previous races you held consistent accurate pacing with strong finishes. That is exactly what you would be working on achieving in the Hanson plan. The marathon pace runs are far more intense than the strength runs. How intense you find it really sort of depends on what you think the purpose of the runs you call “tempo” currently is. If three miles at marathon pace beats you up, it’s intense. If three miles at threshold is hard and you can do it again twenty minutes later, it won’t be any more intense than you are use to on a 70 mile week. The catch is that you need to string 70 mile weeks together for several months. That is what’s intense. 70 miles per week is intense no matter how you spend it.

            Hey, how’s the accuracy of pacing on your garmin 220/620? the pacing on my 210 stinks. Pacing on the 310xt is alright, but besides my parents street, I don’t have a mile of flat road to do threshold runs. Track is a good solution for me because I need pacing checks every 200m. You can always measure out and use flat road or an accurate GPS just as productively.

            I ran in Harrisburg in August when I was stuck at the FedEX Ground warehouse for two days (work travel). It’s a beautiful little city. I think I ran on about half that course — really nice running: Waterfront, City Island, Capital area. Front street — really nice place.