Hanson’s Marathon Method–Personal Review

It’s been a long time coming, this review, lol!! I want to preface this post saying that my personal experience using this training plan is just that, my personal experience. And like with any plan, what works for me, might not work for others. I’m also no expert, so be aware of that going in to this post 😉

About the Plan

13161486_10106214825322131_32799714_o

High Mileage

That’s the premise behind Hanson’s Marathon Method–higher mileage so that the runner practices running on cumulative fatigue, similar to the end of the marathon. It’s six days of running with one rest day in the middle of the week, Wednesday. Regardless of whether you choose the Just Finish Plan (which maxes at round 50 miles/week), the Beginner Plan (which maxes at around 60 miles/week), or the Advanced Plan (which maxes out at around 70), it’s a lot of running. So unless you’ve already been training at that mileage, it will take some getting used to. I used a full month as pre-season training to transition to the start of the plan–that way, I wasn’t going from 0-to-60.

Specific Workouts

You are running 6 days a week and each day you are running has a purpose and prescribed pace–Easy Run, Speed/Strength Run, Tempo Run, Long Run. (Speed/Strength Run and Tempo Run are the Something of Substance (SOS) runs.) The book has paces for each run depending on your marathon goal. I liked having a set pace for each run and I liked knowing what each day was “supposed” to be. Some people do not like having such a structured plan, but I’m a rule follower by nature so this was perfect for me, lol. This is not to say that you cannot modify the plan, you can, and there’s a section in the book that talks about how. You can also hire a coach through Hanson’s website and they can create a plan specific to your life schedule.

The Plan.

My husband made this pretty chart for me.

Warm-up/Cool-down

The Speed/Strength and Tempo Runs come with a  1.5-2 mile warm-up and cool-down that are really essential to the success of the plan. So while the schedule would say 6 Miles Tempo, it was really more than that with the addition of the WU and CD. I mostly stuck to a mile for each and felt that it was super helpful as I began and finished each workout. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Supplemental Training

Running so much leaves little time for cross training and there’s a section in the book that discusses why they don’t suggest it. There’s also a section that include stretches and strength training exercises which they encourage you to include in your training. I did, and I felt that it was a big reason I was able to make it the whole way through without injury. I don’t recommend skipping it.

Okay, so there’s some basic stuff about the plan. What I want to share with you next are some more personal feelings/thoughts about it. 

Train Your Brain

It’s a lot of running. You know that going in because you’ve looked at the plan. But when you’re in the midst of it all, it can get to be a little crazy. I couldn’t believe I was doing double digit mid-week runs. I couldn’t believe I was running back to back to back to back days. I couldn’t believe a lot of things. I really had to focus on each day/workout and not look too far into the future/week so that I wouldn’t become overwhelmed. It can be daunting to look at your plan and see you have a 10 mile Tempo Run (that’s really like 12 miles total) and then see a 16 mile Long Run a few days later. I think if you accept the mileage going in, you’ll make your life a whole lot easier. Accept that it’s a lot of running. Trust that all that running is going to help you reach your goal. This also helped me throughout the training.

Train Your Brain: Part II

The SOS (Something of Substance) runs are hard but they are the bread and butter of the plan. You’re essentially running at or faster than your goal pace. As each week passed, and the mileage increased for those runs, I would sometimes doubt that I’d be able to nail the paces. I’d have to remind myself that I’d done it before, that’s it’s just ‘x’ amount more miles. It’s hard, but I would try to not sabotage my run before I even started. Positive thoughts. Accept the challenge, and just do it.

I found that these runs really built my confidence about my goal pace and also helped me internalize the pace. What I mean is that as each week passed, my body just did the pace. I didn’t have to rely on my watch to guide me.

14212130_1178169522247347_1861840455330632762_n

The 8:45 pace became home.

The 8:45 pace became home.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average...five seconds from goal pace.

Garmin stats from NYC Marathon. 8:50 average…five seconds from goal pace.

Read The Book (and join the club)

I know that sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people who’ve asked questions about the plan (from the Facebook group which you should join if you’re going to use this plan), simply didn’t read the book. I also followed a lot blogs from people who used the plan and one thing I often saw was they re-adjusted their goals once they grew into the paces/workouts. When I would see/read them do that, I would recall page 151 of the book: “Ask yourself if, when you first began training, you would have been happy with your original time goal. If the answer is “yes,” then why jeopardize training…?”

The book is sooooo thorough and explains everything. Anytime I had a question/doubt about anything, I would go back to the book. At the beginning, I was running the Easy Runs too fast and then in re-reading the book,I saw how it stressed these be done at easy pace. Once I modified, I felt the difference. Easy means easy.

I mentioned the Facebook group above. It was very helpful having a forum to go to with people who were using or have used the plan. Luke Humphrey, co-writer, is very active in it and answers a lot of runner questions. I was also congratulated by Keith Hanson himself 😀

16492436_10107432301535041_1318645468_o

Reconsider Racing During Training

Unless you’re going to use the race as a training run, like legit follow the prescribed pace for the workout, I wouldn’t recommend to “race race” during the plan. My reasoning is that if you run a race and go all out, you’ll need recovery time afterward which means you’ll miss a few days of the plan. And because it’s a tough plan, going back after a fast race, to me, is risky. I did not race throughout the entire time I was using Hanson’s.

Eyes on the prize.

Be Ready to Make Sacrifices

I wrote about how not working helped me in being able to follow this plan and be successful. And even without that work commitment, I had to make some major adjustments to get each run in. A lot of these runs were done at crazy o’clock in the morning before my husband went to work. Some of these runs were done in the afternoon Arizona heat, as that was the only time I could get it in. When I went to visit my sister in Ohio, I planned in advanced when I would run (and ran in the rain on a few occasions, lol). I had to do what I had to do to make it work.

Many people who do have jobs have used this plan and have made it work. It just requires you to plan ahead, be disciplined, and stay committed. Hard, I know, but you already know going in that it’s 6 days of running. You gotta get it in somehow.

101 miles, 176, miles, 152 miles

June: 101 pre-season miles, 176 July miles, 152 August miles

198 miles, 184 miles

198 September miles, 184 October miles

But Don’t Sweat a Missed Workout

As you can see from the pictures, I did pretty good following the plan, especially at the beginning lol, and didn’t miss a whole lot of days. When I did take an extra rest day, I tried to have it be on an Easy Run day. The SOS runs are the biggies and I didn’t like missing those. That being said, if you have to miss a run, just pick up where you left off. I wouldn’t try to “make up” the miles. When I visited my sister in Ohio, I missed an SOS Tempo Run. So on my 16 mile Long Run day later that week, I did 5 miles at Long Run pace, 6 miles at Tempo pace, 5 miles Long Run pace. Bam, done.

Final Thoughts

Never once did I feel like I needed to do a 20 miler. I know that a lot of runners feel like they need to get to that major distance at least once in their training, but with Hanson’s, the three 16ers, the tempo runs at race pace, and the high weekly mileage was enough to make me feel like I was ready.

I absolutely love this plan. I felt that it put me in the best running shape of my life and I had never felt as confident going in to a race as I did at the start line of the New York City Marathon. I knew I had trained well.

And I met my sub 4 hour marathon goal.

3:58:40

3:58:40

–Have you used Hanson’s Marathon Method? What advice would you give to someone wanting to try the plan?

–Do you have a favorite training plan? 

–Are you a good plan follower? 

RnR Arizona 1/2 Marathon: You Never Forget Your First

I remember my very first 1/2 marathon in 2010–I was “sweatin’ for the wedding” and really had absolutely zero clue about racing. I didn’t know what training plans were, or fueling, or anything at all. I think the longest I’d run up to the race was 6 or 7 miles.

In high school, I ran cross country and in college I ran sporadically, so when I ran RnR AZ that year, I really was a newbie runner.

chillin before the race--you know, in my cotton yoga pants and race day shirt. How many rule could I break in one day?? LOL

chillin before the race–you know, in my cotton yoga pants and race day shirt. How many rules could I break in one day?? LOL

Not surprisingly, it was a tough race for me but I wasn’t upset by my results then because honestly, I didn’t know what was a “good” finish time. To me, finishing at all was an accomplishment. (Isn’t that funny? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be always but as you learn more, that mindset shifts as you get more competitive?)

19740_858224399361_7695867_n

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-1-38-01-pm

Seven year later, I was back for another first but this time, it was my cousin’s. Back in July, he’d sent me a message asking about half marathons. Since he lives in California, I sent him a few suggestions to do out there. But, I also threw in RnRAZ and told him that I do it every year and that I’d run it with him if he decided to come out.

He signed up as soon as I said that.

On Sunday, my cousin was going to his first ever expo picking up his first ever bib. He’d never done a 5k or a 10k, this would be his very first race.

15965394_10107328084861091_7989409316108441139_n

15977453_10107328085340131_9028856231745456010_n

 

I could see the excitement on his face as we got in our corral. My bib may have said 2 this time around but I was him in 11 (a better corral than my first, 15, lol!).

16107665_10107342282034841_1970875952_o-1

We had a goal of finishing sub 3 hours but most of all, we had a goal of having fun.

16144977_10107342283995911_1141805435_o

The first five miles went by smoothly, but I could tell my cousin was beginning to struggle. We began taking walk breaks and then as we reached the big hill of the course (there are little ones to prep you lol) I could tell he was sick. We pulled off to the side so he could, you know, do what he needed to do.

At mile 9, I promised him that as soon as we got up the hill, it would downhill the rest of the way. By then though, he was completely checked out and only concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

We reached mile 11, finally, and I turned to him and said, “We are right on schedule. We have 30 minutes for two miles. We can get this sub 3!!

Except he was done. So done. He had his headphones so I couldn’t give him words of encouragement. I only hoped whoever he was listening to was doing a good job for me.

When we reached the last mile, I knew we’d be cutting it close. I nudged him and pointed to my watch. ONE MORE MILE.

Finally, we made our last right turn and we could see the finish. I yelled, c’mon let’s run it in!!! He shook his head.

Um, sorry dude, but we ARE running it in.

I pulled his arm and put my other arm on his back.

Let’s go!!

And at just a couple of minutes over 3 hours, he was a half marathoner 😀

16144882_10107342283327251_1335735014_o

Our stats :)

Our (my) stats 🙂

He was tired. He was sick. But he was oh, so proud!

16129347_10107342285557781_137070849_o

And you know what, he was ready for more ❤

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-1-27-30-pm

yesssssss

–Do you remember your first race? What comes to mind when you look back to it?

Phoenix Marathon Course Preview and a Race Entry GIVEAWAY!!!

This past weekend I ventured out to the start of the Phoenix Marathon course to get a “feel” for the first part of the race.

As you can see, the beginning part of it is a nice downhill followed by a not-so-nice uphill, lol. I have no “real” goal for this race, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope to PR. I’m hoping with my NYC Marathon fitness, the downhillish course, and home court advantage will help me lower my sub 4 marathon time. 😀

Okay, fine #realtalk Whenever I think of Phoenix Marathon, I don’t remember my very first ever marathon. Instead, I remember that cold February morning back in 2015 dropping out a little past mile 12 😦  My DNF that year is not how I want to remember this race.  So that’s the biggest reason I want to do well. REVENGE.

I was able to have a running buddy venture out to the start with me (the race is a point to point that begins far out in Mesa in the middle of the beautiful desert, lol) and he joined me for the first 6 miles of the course. My plan was to do the downhill part and the hill–loop around a circle doing the hill a few times for 16 miles total (my first Hanson’s 20 of this cycle).

Unfortunately, I took an early turn and ended up doing a lot of little loops and the Phoenix hill a few more times than planned, jaja!!! I chalked it up to more training for the course, lol!

I should've kept on going to Eaglecrest instead of turning left....oh wells..

I should’ve kept on going to Eaglecrest instead of turning left….oh wells..

Doooown, and then up, and then down, and then up and then down

Doooown, and then up, and then down, and then up and then down

Anyway, it was a good, hard run that left me confident about next month’s race. I’m actually excited. I think because I have a sub 4 already, I don’t have the major pressure of that goal hovering over me. Also, I have a nice, long break awaiting after this race that I’m very much looking forward to 😀

And because I’m a Phoenix Marathon Ambassador, I get “rewarded” with extra entries the more times people use my code (Helly10 for $10 off the half or full). Because everyone is awesome and using it, I’ve managed to snag an entry to giveaway for any distance the race offers–10k, 1/2, or full!! YAY!!

This giveaway is on my Instagram so make sure you check out the deets there to enter. Doesn’t a spontaneous trip to warmer weather sound amazing??? 😀 ❤

–Have you ever won a race entry?

–Do you ever practice/train on the course you will race? (this was actually the first time I’ve done that)