January 11, 2012

Hanson marathon training plan review

Inspired by an old article in Runner's World, I started the Hanson training plan about nine weeks ago to prep for the Ocala Marathon (next weekend!). While I didn't have time to complete the full plan, since I had recently raced the Savannah Marathon, I figured that rolling over that marathon training would make it fine to start somewhere in the middle of the Hanson plan. The original plan is laid out for 18 weeks. 

My race goal is an 8:20 pace, which I had to keep in mind for most of my runs which are based on your desired marathon pace. This is very different from my last Hal Higdon plan, which has no speed work and only one day a week running at your race pace, which I had no clue what would be that first time anyway. That worked ok for my first marathon. The downfall was that my legs were so sore and cramping at the end that it was very hard to keep my pace, and I lost a lot of time stopping to stretch my cramping muscles. 

The Hanson plan appealed to me because of the following paragraph, from the above Runner's World article:

The Hansons' marathon-training philosophy is simple: "Running a marathon is all about pace," says Kevin. "Our program teaches your body and mind how to run your goal pace, no matter how tired you are." They've designed their training, which they've used with both elites and midpackers, around a concept they call "cumulative fatigue"—high weekly mileage volume and a steady diet of hard workouts. Those workouts, dubbed "Something of Substance," or SOS, include a speed or strength day run slightly faster than goal marathon pace, a marathon-pace tempo run that gets progressively longer, and a long run done 45 to 60 seconds slower than goal pace.

10-4 milesSpeedOff3-60-63-64-8
30-6SpeedOffMP 64-74-65-10
40-6SpeedOffMP 63-65-85-8
50-6SpeedOffMP 65-74-66-12
64-6SpeedOffMP 5-74-68-108
74-6SpeedOffMP 5-74-76-810-14
86SpeedOffMP 5-75-66-1010
95-6SpeedOffMP 86-75-815
106-7SpeedOffMP 85-68-1010
115-8StrengthOffMP 86-7816
125-6StrengthOffMP 95-68-1010
137-8StrengthOffMP 96-76-816
145-6StrengthOffMP 95-68-1010
157-8StrengthOffMP 106-76-816
165-6StrengthOffMP 105-68-1010
177-8StrengthOffMP 106-76-88

I like to have my rest days on Sunday, so I moved Friday's runs to Wednesday, and then adjusted Saturday and Sunday accordingly. 

The idea of practicing cumulative fatigue appealed to me. The scary part is that there are no fresh legs to run on, which the Hansons assert will actually decrease injury. With only two marathon trainings by which to judge, I have had less injuries this time. Though I am tripping a lot more. Maybe the cumulative fatigue is to blame. 

Another big change is no long runs over 16 miles. All of the miles during the week fatigue your legs so that Saturday's 16 is like the last 16 miles of the race instead of the first 16. 

The jury is still out, but I have seen some slight increases in my speed and endurance. Although some days, I feel very sluggish (like today) and slower than before the training. Again, blame it on the fatigue. 

I will consider this plan successful next weekend if I am able to PR, get a sub-4 time, and don't have to stop running for cramping legs.

Delicious treat of the week.

Don't buy it unless you like being addicted to things.

We don't have a Trader Joe's locally, but we stop in Nashville on the way to and from the in-laws. This disappeared very quickly, and I will be buying a brown paper grocery sack full next time. 

What is your current training plan?

What do you do if you miss a day for illness/injury?

Just skip it. It's hard to do make-ups when you are already running six days a week.

What's your favorite treat this week?


  1. Hey I'm glad I found your blog! you'll have to let me know how that training pays off. I'm doing the exact opposite I think-- haha. It's based off of the runner's world book "run less, run faster." But I think I'll be ok. We'll see! Good luck next weekend!

    ps- how did you put those tabs on the top with your race reports and stuff? I want to add it but I can't figure it out.

    1. Have you updated your Blogger interface yet? I just did yesterday, and it made it so easy. If you go to your dashboard, there should be a prompt on the top right of the page to update. Once you update, you can use the Pages gadget to get started. After updating, everything seemed SO much easier.

  2. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I had to come by and visit here. I am really intrigued by this Hanson training plan. I'll be curious to here how it went when it is all said and done. Good luck!

  3. Shannon-So glad you stopped by! I will definitely let you guys know how things pan out.

    Mekelle-I really want to read that book. These 6-day running weeks are pretty exhausting, so I would be into seeing if I can make more from less.

  4. I followed the Hanson plan (a little different as it is the 40-60 mpw one that they sell). I have to say that I was very skeptical but that it was my best race EVER. I wish you luck with yours! I PR'd by 9 min. & hadn't been able to get close to my PR for a number of marathons. I'm following it now but will follow it for the full 20 weeks.

    I just skip it & don't worry about it if I miss it. That said, I never miss speed, tempo or long runs.

    Treat - reading a book just for fun!

    1. I'm a little late, but I'm just seeing this. That's a great endorsement for the plan. I decided to keep going with the plan for my next marathon too. Good luck continuing to build speed! Sounds like you are doing great!

      Also love reading a book for fun too! Just finished "Swamplandia" today. Great read.

  5. This is so interesting. I guess it makes sense though. My Run SMART plan also doesn't have a 20 miler and I think only one 18 miler. I just don't know how I feel about that. I want to trust the plan but I really like getting in a couple 20 milers. It does so much for my confidence too.

    Then again, you PRed on a plan like this. Hmmm... so much to think about!

    1. It's very hard because it goes against most every other plan I have seen (need to check out Run SMART though). I had to keep in mind that my long runs were supposed to be like the second half of my race, on already fatigued legs from a week of work. That kind of helped my perspective on race day. Can't wait to read about how it goes for you!

  6. I followed the Hal Higdon Novice plan on my first two Marathons, qualified for Boston first time and then ran Boston. Waited about 5 yrs and then did my third Marathon using Hal Higdon Intermediate plan at age 50. Brought my time down by 20 minutes and going back to Boston. I like his plans because during the week I have limited time and daylight with work. I ran my 20 mile runs at an 8:11 pace and ran my marathon at an 8:11 pace with pure confidence. Friends of mine are using the Hanson plan, they are experiencing injuries, and will run their marathon in 3 weeks. I have the book and it really makes since but the cumulative weekly miles are extremely high and not sure my old body could hold up. My next marathon is the Marine Corps marathon. I will have to make a decision soon. My husband says don't ruin a good thing and stick with what I know works! My point is that unless you are a seasoned marathon runner I think you usually see a your marathons get better the more you train and learn on any plan.

    1. I agree that as a beginner, you are probably going to see improvement no matter which training plan you follow. I would like to go back now and try this training plan again to see how my body responds. After this plan, I took a long rest because of what I thought was a stress fracture (no MRI to prove that, just my gut instinct), and I tried Run Less Run Faster after this. I really like having dedicated cross training days, which I still continue to have with my new coach. Another thing I like is changing things up. I get what your husband is saying about sticking with a good thing, but trying something new helps keep it fresh and exciting for me. Even if Hanson doesn't feel right for you, maybe switch things up for a round of marathon training just to give yourself something new to focus on during training.

    2. Yes I agree that change to some degree would put interest in the training. One of my struggles is I am running the Marine Corps end of October and then turn around and have Boston in April. I don't want to go hard at Marine Corps and perhaps jeopardize Boston. But then again I have almost 2 months of recovery before I have to start training again. I should be fine. Running Marine Corps with a friend to help her break the 4 hr barrier. Maybe try some of the Hanson ideas for Marine Corp and if it feels good go for it for Boston. I will keep you posted on how my friends do in 3 weeks using the Hanson Plan.


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