Explaining the Hanson’s Marathon Method

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Hanson’s method and why on earth I’m about to be running so much.  I realized that I started Marathon Monday’s without much background or information on the training method I’m using.  For any of you that are thinking about running a marathon for the first time, or have run a marathon before but would like a new training method..this is for you.

Not ready to tackle 26.2?  Never fear…the Hanson’s also have a book on the half marathon training method.  Find it on Amazon here.  This will give you an idea of what this method is all about.  Follow me as I put it to the test and know that I will give a full review after the Dallas Marathon this coming December.

I first spotted this little book on Instagram.  I follow a lot of amazingly talented athletes and many of them had mentioned the Hanson’s method.  I ordered mine from Amazon and immediately dove in.  I read the book cover to cover, which I highly recommend you do before diving into the training program.  I read the book about 4 weeks before I needed to start training.  This allowed me to make some changes to my schedule as I was used to only running 3-4 days a week.

Please note:  I am not a professional runner….or a scientist.  I’m going to try and break this book down into laymen’s terms but really these are my terms and how it makes sense to me.  The book is broken down into 3 parts: The Approach, The Program, and The Strategy.  Here are some fundamental points behind the strategy and what I feel it’s important to understand before diving into training:

* Cumulative Fatigue:  This concept is key.  It is defined in the book as “the accumulation of fatigue over days, weeks, and even months of consistent training.”  When I first read this it scared me a bit.  Do I really want to be cumulatively fatigued(is that even how you say that?) for months?!  I’m not so sure.  But I kept reading because I was intrigued.

I have a friend that just completed his first full Ironman this past month.  Here is what he had to say in regards to this type of training…

“One of the reoccurring themes of Ironman training is how one feels each day while training. In the seven months of training I may have had five days where I felt good. I will say after my taper on race day was definitely one of them. When one increases the frequency and distance always being tired and sore is a result. The trick is pushing through feeling badly without being too concerned about the performance. Because a marathon is an endurance activity I think the idea is to teach the body and mind to run through the training session even when feeling less than perfect.” ~Chris Brammer

Their goal is to make the runner a long term marathoner, not just a one timer who only seeks to finish the race and survive.  The point behind cumulative fatigue is to teach your body how to run on tired legs.  Not fresh ones as most of us are often used to.  I’ve always been a 3-4 days a week runner.  Even during my previous marathon training I was running a max of 4 days a week.  This meant only 3 runs plus a long run.  My body was always getting rest days which meant I was running on fresh rested legs most of the time.  Cumulative fatigue seeks to get you ready for the last 16 miles of the marathon when your body starts to get tired and your legs begin to wear down.

*Weekly Mileage:  Ok, so the weekly mileage in this program is high.  It goes against the typical marathon training flow because the longest “long” run is 16 miles.  This is quite a change compared to the typical marathon plan that takes you up to 20 miles and even sometimes 22.  Since this is my second full marathon I know I can cover the distance, so the thought of running “only” 16 miles for my long runs is like a shout from the heavens.  However, if this were my first I think that would totally freak me out.  But, there comes a point when you just have to trust your training..so that’s what I’m going to do.  Trust the method.

So, along with the long run you have 5 other runs during the week once you get to week 6 of the program.  The first 5 weeks are all easy running and teach your body to run a little more frequently but it’s a slow build up.  I’m mid way through week 5.  Starting in week 6 your mileage starts to increase pretty fast.  The weekly workouts are very strategic.  Starting in week 6 they are composed of easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, and speed sessions.  The thing I LOVE about this method is they lay all your paces out for each workout based on your perceived marathon goal pace.  This is awesome for me.  I have 3 kids and a busy life and having it all written out in front of my face is perfect.  I know exactly what pace each workout is supposed to be.

Because there is so much running they have structured the harder workouts around easy running days.  This allows your body to run at a slower pace, burn fat, and essentially “recover” without a complete rest day.   This seeks to keep you balanced without sending you into over training.  “When you cycle your workouts and stress each individual system, you stimulate a steady rate of physiological adaptation.  By giving time and energy not just to the long run but also to the easy, strength, speed, tempo and recovery days, you’ll be a stronger, more balanced marathoner.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  When you balance your training, you’ll be sure to get just the right amount of each of those things.”

For me, this is the quote that got me hooked.  I had to try this.  It made so much sense to me.  My weekly mileage had always been relatively low, even on a really long run week.  Say I ran 5, 4, 7 during the week then ran 18 on the weekend.  That means my long run was longer than my entire week’s runs combined.  That didn’t seem right to me.

The Hanson’s Method spaces out your weekly running strategically so that percentage wise, you are not putting all your eggs into your long run basket so to speak.

The Program:  This book is extremely organized.  You will find pace charts for every workout.  There is a beginner program and an advanced program in the book.  Even though I have done a full marathon already, I’m sticking to the beginner plan.  The reason for this is because I am new to high weekly running volume.  I’ve never done more than 36 miles in a week and this plan will take you up to 57 on your highest week.  So, this puts me in the beginner category for sure.  If you are used to really high weekly mileage then the Advanced program may be just the thing for you.  I love knowing each workout is specific and serves a purpose.  I’m not just heading out to get my miles in, I’m on a mission.

There is so much more I could cover in this book.  I will discuss different training strategies and different workouts such as the tempo and speed sessions as I review my workouts each week here on the blog.  Hopefully this gives you a taste of what this book and training method is all about.  I love questions so if you have any, please comment below in the comment section.  I’ll do my best to explain and to keep you updated as I progress each week in this plan.  Happy running today ya’ll!!!

You can find the book at Amazon by clicking here

To read my last week in training click here

4 comments on “Explaining the Hanson’s Marathon Method

  1. Heather..yes! I want to do the half marathon plan next. I don’t have any plans for spring marathons or any for that matter any time soon either haha. I think I’ll need a break after this one=)

  2. I am so intrigued by the Hanson method and I am dying to try it out…I am not sure I will be running another marathon any time soon…so I might have to check out the half-marathon training plan 🙂

  3. Amanda….I know the laundry will get out of control=) And yes, the cumulative fatigue is different than just the normal wear and tear of training I believe. I think what Chris was saying(at least this is my take having walked through two summer’s of half ironman training plan with Rob) is that it is so much training and so much volume. To cover that kind of distance in 3 different disciplines means a constant rotation of training. I know most days Rob comes home and I’ll ask him how it went and he’ll just shrug his shoulders. Some days he feels good but he’s had a lot of not so good days. But, last summer he went out there and absolutely crushed his goal. So, I think it just means you aren’t always feeling fresh. You are running tired because you just ran yesterday..and the day before or you just came off a tempo run, speed day, or long run. It’s day in and day out and it can get not only physically exhausting but mentally as well. Rob has been training 6 days a week since May. He’s tired. It’s just a different way of training your body to tolerate the demands of running so many miles. Hopefully that helped!!

  4. This is so interesting! You know what my first thought is when reading 5-6 days of running in a week?? LAUNDRY! haha!
    It does sound appealing to me, minus that work “cummulative fatigue, because that’s how I feel already! What mom doesn’t??
    Another thing is in reference to the quote by your ironman friend. I’d like to know more of why he said he mostly didn’t feel good while he trained those 7 months. I haven’t trained that extensively, so it may be different, but I usually feel really good when I’m working out more intensely, especially if I am eating well. I feel terrible when I get in a rut and don’t work out.

Comments are closed.