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 ūüėČ

About the Plan

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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.

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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 ūüėÄ

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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?¬†

Marathon Training Pre-season

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Last week and this upcoming week are serving¬†as pre-season to marathon training. A sort of trial¬†period before I move on to the big leagues–aka: the official marathon training plan. I don’t know, this is how I work things in my head ūüôā

Anyway, last Monday, my schedule had me running 6 miles, a warm up and cool down and 4 miles at medium tempo pace. But, ever since my 27k a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been nursing a sore right foot so I decided to take it easy and run a total of four miles, 1 warm up and 1 cool down with 2 miles at mid tempo pace.

That was the plan and I started out milking the warm-up going at a pace slower than I’d done in a long time. I was feeling the heat and was just having a case of the tired Mondays. After the first mile beeped, I picked it up knowing I “had” to make the next two miles at pace. While I increased my pace considerably from the warm up mile, I was still 20 seconds away from the tempo pace.

Same thing happened with mile two. I was at least glad that the middle two miles were close in pace and I milked the fourth cool down mile almost exactly as the first.

Mile 1- 10:26
Mile 2-9:07
Mile 3-8:54
Mile 4-10:27

At least I was consistent lol!

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This is what I was dealing with at 7:22 p.m.

Tuesday was supposed to be a cross training day according to my Run Less, Run Faster plan but I decided that I could bend the rules considering it was still pre-season. So I ran. (You’re doing it wrong, Helly!) Whatever.

I met up with my run club for the Tuesday evening run but I knew before it even started that it wasn’t going to go well. It was so freaking hot!

6:05 p.m.

6:05 p.m.

I wasn’t even thinking of going out fast, instead just focused¬†on maintaing a decent pace. I was doing okay the first 3 miles (of five) but the last two I was just so light headed and weak from the heat; I had to slow down. I’m honestly surprised at how I kept myself from walking.

Mile 1-9:57
Mile 2-9:54
Mile 3-10:01
Mile 4-10:37
Mile 5-10:37
Average-10:13/mile

Again, at least I was consistent jaja!!

Wednesday was speed work¬†at the track but my husband had a late day at work so I took it to the gym where I did¬†a 3.5 mile interval run finishing at an average 9:43/mile pace (def no speed work there!). It was a nice, relaxing run and doing the intervals helped pass the time on the treadmill. I don’t mind running on the ‘mill and with temps how they’ve been I think I’ll probably be on it more this summer.

Thursday was a cross training day so back to the gym I went and I hopped on the bike for a 10 mile ride. I loved sweating and the feeling of having just had a good workout. It puts me in such a good mood!

Friday was a rest day but I did squeeze in an ab video ūüôā

Saturday was my first crazy o’clock run of the summer. My alarm went off at 4:30 and by 4:45 I was out the door for my “long” run with my run club. My pre-season plan had me going 6 so that’s what I went out with the intention of doing.

I could definitely feel the difference in temperatures running at 5 in the morning versus at 6-7 in the evening. It was a cool 77 and it felt SO great.

I hooked up with a friend who runs at a pace I like. She was going 8 and I figured I’d stick with her until it was time for me to make my return. We chatted and went along and before I knew it, I was at mile 3 ready to head back. I debated sticking with her since I felt so good but decided to be conservative and think about my foot so I said good-bye and turned back.

I was glad I did this. Normally, I would’ve kept on going because a.) I felt so good and was going at a good pace and b.) I had great company but I reminded myself that I had a long training season ahead of me. I think that I’ve matured in this way since last/first marathon..

Mile 1- 9:23     Mile 4-9:14
Mile 2- 9:25     Mile 5-9:16
Mile 3- 9:27     Mile 6-9:07
Average-9:18/mile

Again, I was really happy to see consistency. I felt like my splits were always all over the place last marathon attempt and I wanted to really work on them this time around. I was also very pleased to see the second half of the run be faster than the first half.

Sunday on my plan has a rest day/optional cross train and yesterday I chose the former. I wanted badly to meet up with my buddy Jeremy who was hosting a Run Tweet Eat social on the trails but my foot was super achy and I decided to rest it (and sleep in). Of course I saw all of their fun pics on Instagram and Facebook and wished I’d gone lol! Oh well, next time ūüôā

Overall, it was a great week– 18.5 miles run and 10 miles on the track. I did an okay job with sticking to the training plan and like that I have next week to continue testing it out. After that, it’s game time!

–Did you have ¬†race this weekend?

–How was your running week last week?

–Are you good at keeping a consistent pace? (My splits are finally looking sorta normal!)

P.S. If you’re also training for a fall race or will start soon, check out my sole sister Salt’s Fall Race¬†Training¬†Directory¬†for training friends!

Marathon Training Preview–Run Less, Run Faster

Choosing a training plan for the Marine Corps Marathon this October took me some time. I used a Higdon plan for my last (first) marathon and I liked it but was curious and decided to explore what else was out there. I kept hearing a lot about Run Less, Run Faster.

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So I bought the book to see what it was all about and much of it intrigued me. Enough to use it as my plan? At first no, but after thinking long and hard, and researching other plans, I have decided to try RLRF out. Here’s my Pro/Con list that I made in coming to this decision.

PRO
* 3/2 system. The plan¬†has you only running three days which is definitely an appeal to me since I’ll be returning to work in the fall.

CON
*However, the plan insists on 2 cross training days so it’s really not like you’re only running 3 days and then doing nothing the rest of the week. I’ll still be very busy 5 out of 7 days (as I would be with any plan).

PRO
*It’s very structured. This is a plus for me because I like being told what to do when it comes to plans–if a plan says I need to do it then I just do it. The three days of running are structured so that you run one tempo run, one speed work day, and one long run each with specific paces (that vary each week).

CON
*It’s very structured. I’m worried this might take some fun out of running. There will be no “easy” days (a major goal of this system is to eliminate “junk” miles) so each run will be very intense.

PRO
*It’s very tailored to your goal time. I’m not a big numbers girl so this took me a while to “get” but the way you figure out what paces to run your 3 days is by determining your 5k time. That time lays out the foundation for what will ultimately become the¬†plan for your marathon goal. (I did not choose my 5k PR time because that would result in a ridiculously, unrealistic marathon goal.)

CON
*I’m worried that because the plan is very goal oriented,¬†I’ll become super disappointed if I’m not able to maintain the paces needed in training to reach my¬†goal.

PRO
*When I reached out to running friends who had tried RLRF, all of them had good things to say about it.

CON
*When I googled RLRF Reviews, yeah, not so much lol!

OTHER NOTES:
*As I compared this plan to others I’d reviewed, I noted that the total mileage was very close to the total mileage of other plans. So even though I would be running “less”, it’s less in the sense of days per week.

*It’s a 16 week plan. Higdon’s is 18 and I believe Hanson’s is 18 as well. RLRF would have me starting two weeks from today but I’ve decided to add a two week ease-into-training period testing out the paces.

*They have two marathon plans–one for novices and one for experienced runners. I’m going with the former as it has one 20 mile long run. The latter has 3 (no, thank you).

*The book has a section for post workout stretches that I really like. I”m looking forward to incorporating them in my training.

Ultimately, I’m very curious to see how this plan works for me. I’m always¬†up¬†for trying something new and different and at the same time, if I’m not feeling it, I’m totally okay with re-evaluating the game plan.

We’ll see how it goes! Cheers to the beginning of marathon training!! ūüėÄ

–Have you heard of/tried Run Less, Run Faster?

–Do you put a lot of time in to creating a training plan? (Was my pro/con list overkill? lol!)

–What are important factors for you in choosing a training plan?