Now that I’ve completed a full marathon training cycle using the Hanson Marathon Method, I’m ready to share my thoughts on the plan. The Hanson Marathon Method is a training plan that is built around the concept of cumulative fatigue – the idea that running on tired legs day after day, week after week over the course of training helps prepare you for the end of the race. I utilized the half marathon version of the Hanson Method to train for the Shamrock Half and had a wildly successful race – an 8 minute PR and my first sub-2 half marathon. I knew I wanted to use the Hanson Marathon Method to train for the Chicago Marathon and so I set about reading the book (which I highly recommend doing if you decide to try this plan – the book is gold and I think necessary to understanding the method behind the madness – this is an affiliate link) and getting started.
Again, a few basics in case you are not familiar: the plan has you running six days a week. Out of those six days, three are easy days, one is speed work, one is a tempo run and one is your long run. The plan is based on the idea of cumulative fatigue – the idea that by running often (but not always at a hard pace), you are frequently running on tired legs. This is meant to simulate the last miles of a race so that you are prepared to push through the final miles. I wrote a bit about some differences between training on this plan and my prior marathon training plans – you can read that here. A week after finishing Chicago with a 21+ minute marathon PR, here is what I think:
- You have to want to do the work. The Hanson Marathon Method does not mess around. The plan is not easy and if you read the book, this is made clear more than once. I would recommend this training plan for someone who is ready to do the work. This includes reading the book to understand the process. I do not think a successful strategy for following the Hanson Marathon Method would involve just taking the plan from someone and running with it. The reason I think this is because the plan is so challenging, that if you don’t truly understand the why behind the hard workouts, I have difficulty believing that you will stick with them. Honestly, while I never thought of quitting the plan, it is challenging enough to stick with it when you DO know the why.
- Finding time (and energy) for strength training is a challenge. I was doing pretty well with this up until the last month of training. Then, I was simply too tired too often to make it work. I know that this is a mistake and in the future I will commit to at least weekly Pure Barre classes. I just had honestly never been that tired before in training. It was not easy. When I was running 8-12 miles in the morning before work and then working a full day, going to Pure Barre after work was the last thing I wanted to do – and I love Pure Barre. I was just tired.
- If you put in the work, you will probably be a much stronger, more confident runner. Here’s the thing – when you run six days a week for multiple months, you are going to have some bad runs. Even a few terrible runs. But completing those runs makes you so much stronger. I knew going into Chicago that no matter what happened, I was a much fitter, smarter and stronger runner than I had been just a year ago.
So, is this plan right for you? Maybe. Are you at a stage in your life, and your running where you are ready to work really hard? Are you ready for your running to be a pretty significant priority in your life? Then this plan might be right for you. However…there are NO guarantees with racing, especially with the marathon. You can follow the plan to a t, do everything right and still have a bad day. Having said that, I will say that after training using the Hanson Method, I honestly can’t imagine ever training for a goal race without using a high mileage plan.
Leave any questions you have about the plan in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer!