Hansons Marathon Method – My Thoughts.

When I wrote my recap on Space Coast Marathon 2013, I had said that I’d be reviewing my thoughts on the program, and here it is, more than a month later, and I still haven’t! Thanks to Carlee, though, I’m back, and here to share some jumbly thoughts with anyone who wants to read them 🙂

So…where to begin?

The plan.

July. Yes, that’s when it all began. The 18-week program (I did the “beginner’s version”) started with relatively low weekly mileage (I’m talking 10, 15, 21, 21, 24) for the first few weeks. This was perfect for me at the time, because we had recently moved to FL and I was getting reacclimatized to the heat. Those first five weeks didn’t feature any sort of fancy runs, either – it was ALL easy mileage, and I did my best to stay in my low range of paces (the plan/book outlines your goal paces to a “T” – which makes it nice and easy for you to manage).

Starting with Week 6, you transition to incorporate two new workouts: “Speed” sessions on Tuesdays, and “Tempo” runs on Thursdays. I had to tweak these workouts a little because I was in California between Week 5/6 for the Double Dumbo Dare and the Labor Day Half, but that wasn’t too rough. With Hansons, most “Speed” is done at 10 seconds under Goal Marathon Pace (GMP) – again, this is all listed out for you in the book – and “Tempo,” in this situation, is your GMP. Both “Speed” and “Tempo” runs start and end with easy miles (I did 2 miles warmup, 2 miles cooldown) which mean, basically, that before you know it, your midweek mileage trumps that traditional “Long Run” (LRs on this program: 10 to 16 miles, run about 40 seconds slower than GMP) on the weekends.

Weeks 11-17, then, signify a second turnover – the Tuesday “Speed” runs become “Strength” runs. These “Strength” runs are structured as Mile Repeats – 6×1, 4×1.5, 3×2, 2×3, etc…with recovery between each set (recovery shifts with different workouts). These last weeks, the lowest mileage week was 50 miles, the highest 61 – this was a HUGE contrast to past training cycles where I tapped out at 46 as an all-time high.


That was the number of miles I ran in 18 weeks, and I can say, with total confidence – I FELT READY for my marathon. Mentally and physically. The fact that no run had exceeded 16 miles in a session did not concern me on race morning, although it had creeped into my mind several times in my 10 day taper (another thing I totally loved about Hansons).

“…but you didn’t PR.”

No, I didn’t. But the fact that for 25 glorious miles, I hit a pace that I never imagined I could do for 5, let alone 5 times that amount of miles – that was what sold me. Was it disappointing? YES. Oh gosh, yes. There’s not much more soul-crushing than seeing the time tick by on your Garmin. Wait, yeah, seeing the number on the GIGANTIC reader board. That sucks, too. But as I sat at the Medic Tent, wrapped in my finisher’s towel, with a time that almost matched my mega PR from 2012, failure was the last thing I was thinking about.

The elements did me on that December morning, and yes, I have thought of the “What If’s.” Many, many times. What If…I had PR’d that day? What If…I had BQ’d? Where would I be right now? What would be my next move? How would I process those feelings? Well, friends, none of that matters, because, well, things happen and you have to deal. I didn’t make my goal – but that wasn’t my last chance. No, far from it.

What Hansons did for me…

Hansons Marathon Method showed me what MY BODY was capable of. You can’t control all the elements. Finishing strong, proving something to yourself…sometimes that’s the prize, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Of course, it wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows all the time, so here’s a quick breakdown:

Hansons Cons

  • It’s a lot of running.
  • It can be hard to get in all the runs if you have a busy schedule.
  • It prescribes 2 weeks off running afterward, no matter how you perform at the race.

Hansons Pros

  • It’s a lot of running.
  • You get out of it exactly what you put into it.
  • It prescribes 2 weeks off running afterward, no matter how you perform at the race.

Is Hansons for everyone? Simply: no. But, it worked for me. And that’s why I am using a slightly abbreviated version of it for DONNA training.

But didn’t you run 20 the other day?

Oh yeah, I sure did. But…that was just for fun…oh, and I kinda sorta registered for a 50K next month.

So, let’s review…

  1. Hansons = lots of running.
  2. If you are able to make the time to do it, and you dedicate yourself to training, you will see the results.
  3. Two weeks off of running sucked.
  4. Any questions? Please leave a comment!! 🙂

19 thoughts on “Hansons Marathon Method – My Thoughts.

  1. Really interesting – thanks for sharing. The one thing that really held me back from trying this plan was the time spent running…. but now that I’m LIVING THE DREAM of unemployment, maybe I’ll give it a shot.

  2. I’ve read through his plan but since I don’t have a big race to prep for I never really gave it much thought. Once I schedule another big race, all I want to do is feel prepared. The PR will come when it comes. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pre Hansons: 3:12, 3:05, 3:02, 3:06. Ocala ’09, Gasparilla ’09, Boston ’10, Disney ’11. All races finished in a painful crash at the end. I had run several “20 milers” before each and every one of these. The 3:12 and 3:06 involved a lot of walking and leg pain and near vomiting. ENTER THE HANSONS PLAN. Disney 2012 2:55 and Disney 2013 2:52. Both at even or negative splits. In 2012 I passed 55 people last last 13 miles, only being passed by one person (the 2nd overall Female). The thing that Hansons teaches above all other plans is MARATHON PACE. I can run 6:15 miles in my sleep now and often due. I am so excited about this week! DISNEY 2014!!

    • Incredible inspiration, Tommy! Thanks for your comment, I am excited for your race this week!!!

  4. haha can you tell i am catching up on my blog reading today? 🙂 i did the hanson marathon method (slightly modified) for my first full. it was a lot of mileage and i felt it was fairly successful. i failed only because i didn’t listen to my coach (as well as i should have) on the strength training and paid for it 19 miles in. but with that being said, i enjoyed your recap and look forward to your donna review. also, it was great to see you last weekend, no matter how briefly! 🙂

  5. […] (except for the soaked shoes – but hey, what can you do about that)? 16 miles, the longest in Hanson’s Marathon Method, cut short by .5 because of blistering (I never blister on my feet, so I thought it’d be best […]

    • Thanks, K! I am about to start a new cycle this week!! I mixed up tempos on a local trail (paved, flat) and treadmill.

      • I’m doing the program now and beginning on my s 11th week. This is my first time with the program but I LOVE it! Did you feel confident about the flat tempo training? Was your full flat? Sorry for all the questions but I’ve been trying to connect with someone who has been through the program. Thank you so much for your feedback!

    • My full was pretty flat, just a few rolling hills, so it was a good match for training. And no worries, I love chatting training!! Feel free to email me if you want to chat more! khiguchi at gmail dot com

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