As many of you may know, I used the Hansons Marathon Method as my training plan leading up to the ING New York City Marathon. I was really apprehensive about using this training plan, but really wanted to have a good race this year, as opposed to 2011.
I honestly don’t even remember where I found out about this training plan, but once I read reviews about it online, I immediately bought the book through Kindle.
After reading it, I was seriously so nervous about training. It would be way more than I have ever ran…but I knew that would help me get faster and fitter as well. The book comes with a “Beginner” plan and an “Advanced” plan…though even with the beginner plan, you should probably have a good base before starting it.
One of the main principles of Hansons Marathon Method is cumulative fatigue. Cumulative fatigue is, “the accumulation of fatigue over days, weeks, and even months of consistent training.” It doesn’t allow for full recovery between hard runs, though that doesn’t mean you wont’ have recovery days…more on that later.
The Hansons have 5 components that will result in this cumulative fatigue:
The difference with this plan and many others is that the bulk of your weekly mileage will not be on the weekends. They say many plans have you running only 3-4x per week, and then running your long run on the weekends. That means 50% of your weekly mileage is done within the span of 2 days. That can lead to overtraining and injury. You will be running 6 days a week. They state that this could freak some runners out in the beginning…I didn’t think I could do it, or run around 50 miles per week like they asked me too…but as they say, have confidence, and you will slowly build up to it. The great thing is that in the first few weeks, you get 2 rest days per week.
This plan includes tempo runs, track workouts, and your usual long run. But most of your days will be easy run. While many runners think easy runs are junk miles with no real benefit, according to the Hansons, they are the runs that will really help you in the marathon. Why? Because you are running on tired legs. Do you know how many days after a tempo or track workout I really did NOT want to go out for an easy 5-6 miles? But I did because I knew running on tired legs would help me succeed in the marathon. Also, they stress that in those tempo and track workouts, proper pacing is KEY. If you go out faster than you are told, your body will take even longer to recover from a hard workout.
As I mentioned above, this training plan emphasize balance in all runs. Your long run shouldn’t be the bulk of your weekly mileage. Instead, all of your SOS (Something of Substance) workouts should be equally as important. Which is why during the week you could be running anywhere from 8-12 miles in your SOS workouts. That also helped me not be so nervous before long runs, because I was already running a decent amount during the week! The good thing about it too is if you must miss a run, all of the workouts are balanced and equal, so missing 1 long run will not totally ruin your entire plan. BUT, you really should try not to miss runs because it will throw your training off and put you behind. I think I only missed about 2-3 runs before I got injured (and had to miss a whole week).
“When it comes to cumulative fatigue, you walk a thin line between training enough and overtraining.” Incomplete recovery allows you to perform well, even when you’re not feeling 100%. SOS runs are followed by easy runs. You will not go into a long run with fresh legs…because what’s the point? At mile 20 of the marathon, you won’t have fresh legs. The Hansons want you to get used to that feeling. The good thing about their recovery is that you can run 1-2 minutes slower per mile than your goal pace. It should truly be an easy pace. Enjoy these runs as leisurely runs where you don’t have to worry about time.
Other Key Points
If you look up Hansons Marathon Method, you will find the first thing you read about it is that you will not run 20 miles in training before the marathon. What?!?! Yup.
Not gonna lie…it’s awesome. I loved it. I did not feel like running 20 miles in training before the race. It takes up so much time, and they argue that it also requires a lot of recovery time too.
They are not saying, however, that everyone should not run 20 miles in training. Their rule of thumb is that your long run shouldn’t be 50% of your weekly mileage and that a long run shouldn’t take longer than about 3 hours to complete. After 3 hours, you’re hurting yourself more than benefiting yourself. Your body will need a lot more recovery time, which may lead to missing a run because you’re not feeling recovered.
I actually ran 18 miles in training, as opposed to 16, because I would finish right around 3 hours. If you need longer mileage for mental confidence, then go for the 18. Generally speaking, this plan has you running one 15 miler, and 3 16 milers before the race. And a bunch of double digit weekday runs.
What I Liked:
- Very structured…took the guess work out of my training plan. Everything you do is explained by science and facts, which makes you feel more confident.
- Tempo runs (though I also didn’t like them at times haha). They really help build your confidence since you are running at goal pace.
- Not having to run 20 miles. Maybe once my average pace is faster, I will run longer…I hope one day I can run 20 miles in around 3 hours but that is a long time away!
What I didn’t like:
- Honestly, there isn’t much I didn’t like. Running 6 days a week is tough. But you’re training for a marathon, it’s going to be tough.
- Some days, getting in those easy, recovery runs is harder than the SOS workouts. 1) Running 5-6 miles after a hard workout is hard. Your legs feel like logs. 2) Running 8 miles before a long run the next day can be intimidating, but you know it will definitely help you in the marathon.
- That’s really it!
Overall, I would highly suggest this plan to someone looking for one before their next marathon. It makes sense, has good information, and outlines everything you need to know, along with paces for each workout. They also include nutrition tips, taper tips, strength workouts, and more.
I ran NYCM and got a 33 min. PR! I really attribute this to the plan. Honestly, I never hit “the wall.” My energy never waned. Yes, my hips got tight around mile 24…but I ran 24 miles with ZERO problems, and was able to finish a marathon with only 1 walk break to stretch. It felt amazing to be passing people at the end, instead of being passed.
As I was finishing the race, this Hansons phrase stuck out to me, “We are training you for the last 16 miles of the race, not the first 16.” The cumulative fatigue aspect of this plan is what really helped me.
Would I use it again? Definitely! I already am trying to figure out a way to modify the plan in order to use it for half marathon training. If I run a marathon again next year, I will stick to the beginner plan again, since I couldn’t complete all the runs towards the end. If I can stay healthy, I wonder if I can get another huge PR!
You can order the book on Amazon, or order it to be sent right to your Kindle (or Kindle app on an iPad).
Have you used Hansons Marathon Method?
Would you consider it?
If you use it, please let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’m open to any questions you may have!
**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission if you order through Amazon…hey, it’ll help me save up for my next marathon entry
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