I’m Setting a Marathon PR with Hanson Marathon Method

July 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

About a week before I was scheduled to start the training plan I created for my third marathon I made a switch to an entire different plan.

I’m hoping to PR at the Pensacola Marathon this November by using the Hanson Method.


As I was resting up waiting for the training cycle to begin I started seeing a few friends of mine post runs they were doing with the Hanson method. Intrigued, I decided to look more into what that method was.

From the Amazon description: Hansons Marathon Method does away with mega long runs and high mileage weekends—two outdated traditions that make most runners miserable. Instead, runners using the Hansons method will gradually build up to the moderate-high mileage required for marathon success, spreading those miles more sensibly throughout the week. Running easy days mixed with precisely paced speed, strength, and tempo workouts, runners will steel their bodies and minds to run the hardest miles of the marathon.

Basically, they focus to get you ready for the last 16 miles of the marathon (where people typically fall apart.) You run 6 days a week, with three workout being pretty high intensity, and three workouts done at an easy pace. The general schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: Easy run
  • Tuesday: Speed work
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Tempo run
  • Friday: Easy Run
  • Saturday: Easy Run
  • Sunday: Long Run

Am I nervous about running SIX DAYS in a row without a break each week? YES. I ran high mileage weeks when training for my first marathon and I was exhausted. I was also working 60+ hours a week outside the home so I’m hoping now that my schedule is a little more flexible, and I’ve been running for another year, that the miles won’t be so hard on my body.

I’m also apprehensive about not maintaining any strength training doing this plan. My first full week of training the only strength I did was 20 minutes of core work after a run on Thursday. My goal is to do core/upper body work for at least 20 minutes 2-3 times a week. It’s certainly not as much as I’ve been doing – but it’s better than nothing. Yesterday I came home after a 6 miler and went straight to plank and 10 minutes of upper body/core work. If that’s all I can fit in on top of the running schedule I’ll be happy with that!

I’m so nervous/excited about committing to this plan. I’m following the advanced plan but on days I’m really not feeling it I may go down and do the run from the beginners program that day (or meet in the middle somewhere.) From every review I read people have loved it, and set major PR’s with it. I thought a while about sharing publicly what my goal is because I don’t want to feel like an idiot if I don’t hit it (again.) But – I ain’t no chicken so here goes.

I’m GOING to sub 4:30 at the Pensacola Marathon.

pensacola marathon

To do so means cutting 15 minutes off my time from last year. I trained with the 4:30 group and just couldn’t keep the pace after mile 17. This year I’m more prepared mentally having run two marathons, I feel stronger with 8 more months of running behind me, and I have the best unofficial coach/cheerleading squad with Travis, Salem and my family. All the tools are there for me to succeed.  I just need to make it happen.

Achieving my marathon goal time happens every day when my alarm goes off, not at the finish line in 4 months. Wish me luck!

Have you followed a formal training plan for a race before?

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51 Responses

  • In the past I would alter my plan throughout so I never stuck to just one. For philly in nov I’ll create my own and hopefully be able to stick to it. Looks like a good plan although tough!

  • briwifruit says:

    Can’t wait to see how it goes! What distance is your longest long run? This is the first time I’ve stuck to a plan, the other times I never hit high mileage nor all my planned runs I went 4:35, 4:07 then 3:41! You’ll do great! For me, that last 10 km is all mental. Definitely something I need to work on for this year!

    • Erica House says:

      The longest run in this plan is 16 miles. I’ll do that 3x’s, each time on a Sunday, and every Saturday before I’ll be running 8. I hope my marathon times follow the course of yours!

  • Way to put it out there! You’re setting yourself up to make it happen. :)

    • Erica House says:

      To be honest I’m still only 80%ish certain I’ll hit my goal, but declaring it publicly is helping me stick to my training plan!

  • Linz says:

    good luck! when i used to run half marathons, i always followed a training plan! (not sure which one – but it worked for me! haha) i found that i NEEDED a plan when training for longer races

    • Erica House says:

      I couldn’t imagine just ‘winging it’ for a half or full. A plan helps keep me motivated! It also helps not having to think about pace/distance at 5 a.m. when it’s all scheduled for you.

  • Erin M. says:

    Awesome! Good luck!!

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you! I’m still super nervous about hitting my goal, but I figure the nerves could work in my favor. Adrenaline is my favorite drug! Well, behind caffeine :)

  • I am really curious to see how you like this method – I will definitely stay tuned! I know you’ll make it work really well for you!

    • Erica House says:

      So far I’m TIRED, but already noticing my legs getting stronger. At the end of my speed work today I thought I was going to die, but I was able to bust out a super quick final mile which is crazy talk for me.

  • Tiffany says:

    Those mid-week speed, strength, and tempo workouts are brutal! My husband and I will run 16-miler #2 of 3 this weekend. It’s a relief to know that our long runs only take, at most, 2-2.5 hours out of our Saturdays. I try to incorporate some core and upper body strength on the rest day and one easy run day.

    • Erica House says:

      Is this your first time doing Hanson? How do you like it so far? I feel like it’s definitely making me stronger, but I’m worried about not running enough miles at, or close to MP, and that I’m going to be SO SO tired in the coming weeks!

      • Tiffany says:

        It is my first time using Hanson. You’ll get plenty of mileage close to (and faster than) MP with your speed, strength, and tempo workouts. If you add up the mileage of the speed workouts, most are about six miles. The strength workouts are six miles of hard running with two to three miles of recovery running. So in week 13, I’ll run 31 of my 54 miles at or near MP.

        And you will be tired. The main difference I’ve noticed with this training in terms of fatigue is that my legs don’t feel wrecked after the SOS workouts. They’re tired, but I can still function. I start those easy runs a little tired and tight, but things loosen up by mile two. The hardest part of training has been waking up at 4:30am to start running by 5am to beat the heat.

        • Erica House says:

          You’ve made me feel much better about the plan! I hadn’t thought of how many miles would actually be done at MP. Also, I should expect to be sore/fatigued on any plan, it’s freaking marathon training.

  • good for you for putting your goal out there! And this plan, although it doesn’t have long weekly runs does require a lot of time during mid week, but with your flexible schedule it should be doable.

  • You got this girl!! I’m so excited to read your race recap.

  • Jenny says:

    I followed Half Higdon’s loosely for my first half. But I don’t like feeling required to do anything. Lol (rebel without a cause) so i normally just shoot from the hip anymore.

    • Erica House says:

      I did a hybrid plan for #2 that was a little Higdon, and a little what I did for marathon #1, and it was okay. I mainly trained for hills since I knew Nashville was going to be rough. I’m not surprised your a running renegade rebel ;)

  • I swear by formal plans created by experts. I used one when I trained for my first 10k and I couldn’t believe how well I performed, better than any 5k I had ever done.

    • Erica House says:

      I’ve never actually used a plan for a 5k or 10k and I’d love to once I get over these next two marathons/ultra. The only two 5k’s I’ve done were about a year apart and I went from 31 minutes to 25:30, so I want to see how much lower I can go!

  • barif0815 says:

    One of my BRFs took an hour off his marathon time using Hansons. He’s a total convert, but he’s also able to run 6x a week. I’m terrified of injury with that many consecutive days so my SmartCoach plan is 3 or 4 days a week with many long runs. Just really pay attention to your body and if it’s telling you to take a rest day, take one.

    • Erica House says:

      I think the small injuries I had with marathon 1 training 5x a week were mostly due to the fact that was the first time in my running life I ran more than 3x a week. I’m hoping my body will handle it better this time but I’m also hoping I’ll be SMARTER and take a break if I need it!

  • Good luck. Be careful not to overtrain.

  • Erin says:

    Can’t wait to read your review with this new program, I know you’re going to crush 4:30! For my first marathon I did a tradition training group (similar to your first experience, long runs, starting several months out) for my second marathon I made up my own schedule 10 weeks out and beat my previous time for almost 45 minutes, 4:29. I’m thinking about doing a 3rd, I’d love to hear what you think about the Hanson method!

    • Erica House says:

      I’ve read a few criticisms of it (mostly the 6 days a week of running and absence of a run over 16 miles) but 90% of the reviews were extremely positive and helped runners set a huge PR. I’m confident in the plan as long as I can stick with it! Do you have a date for a 3rd marathon lined up?

  • slimsanity says:

    I roughly followed a Hal Higdon plan for my half marathon. I got really busy toward the end and just did some random long runs with a few shorter runs. I just about hit my goal for the race, and i felt good until mile 11!

    Good luck with training!

    • Erica House says:

      Mile 11 is always my worst in a half! At mile 10 I’m all like “Only a 5k left – I got this!” and by mile 11 I’m like “I CAN’T DO 2.1 MORE MILES.”

  • I’m currently doing the FIRST Training program for my marathon in December. You only run 3 times a week: interval training – tempo run – long run and then supplement with cross training two other days a week. I couldn’t possibly run 6 days in a row without getting shin splints, so this plan works perfectly for me. AND it leaves time for me to do strength training, which I think is really important if you want to get faster.

    • Erica House says:

      I had horrrrrible shin splint issues with my first marathon but I solved them by doing trigger point on my soleus muscle before each run. Tight calves were causing my shin splints (and not replacing my shoes quickly enough when they are reaching the end of their lifetime.) I did something like the FIRST method for marathon #2 and it was nice to be able to maintain my favorite barre/strength workouts.

  • Katrina says:

    You’ve got this girlie- I’ll be interested to see how this training method works for you! haha I’ll be there maybe in 2016

  • Sam says:

    “Achieving my marathon goal time happens every day when my alarm goes off, not at the finish line in 4 months.” <—– Love this. All about the journey :)

    • Erica House says:

      It’s so true for me! The marathon itself is the REWARD for the 4 months of work. It’s so much fun and a total honor to even be there.

  • Helen says:

    You got this,Erica! You can do it. =)
    And, I never followed a formal training plan for any races I’ve been in. I did follow somewhat of a plan for my first half but I just winged it. lol.

  • tara says:

    I have followed Galloway method for running which is run/walk intervals and my time has improved as well as the length i can run (more length than time. i recently ran 7 miles which is a lot for me in 1 hr 15 mins doing run 4 mins/walk 1 min. i am sorta following his plan for a possible 1/2 in october though i’m not committing now because i am very injury prone with running. i think i would rather die than run 6x a week. i just dont like it that much but good for you ! as in life my guess is the best plan for a race is one that can be flexible when you need it to be. best of luck !

    • Erica House says:

      Lol – right now I feel like I’d rather die then run the next 5 days in a row (Just did a brutal tempo run this morning.) I’ve never don the Galloway method but I LOVE him and his attitude toward running. He’s inspired so many people to train for races that probably otherwise wouldn’t! 7 miles in 75 minutes is amazing. I may try a 5/1 ratio on one of my LR’s coming up.

  • Good luck, Erica! I’m excited to follow your training and watch you CRUSH your sub 4:30 goal! :D

  • Julie Scheppard says:

    Just came across your blog and I feel like it was so meant to be. I’m training for a 4:30 full as well. Doing St. George in Oct and I’m using the Hanson program for the first time. My PR is 4:54 so I’m going big. I actually started in June and am currently on week 10. That means 10 mile (total) runs on Thursday before work. Brutal! I’d love to follow you along your journey and kind of compare notes. This program really scares me and knowing someone else is doing it give a bit of comfort. Are you on FB? Friend me if you’d like and lets do this together!

    • Erica House says:

      I did a 10 mile run last Thursday (6 at tempo pace and 2 mile each warm up and cool down) and it was rough! Especially in this summer heat. I talk about my marathon training every Friday on here so please be sure to comment and let me know how yours is going! How confident are you now of hitting 4:30?

  • Julie Scheppard says:

    So are you doing the advanced program? I’m taking the easy(er) way out and doing the beginners. Even that one is no joke. Tomorrow is my second attempt with the 8 mile (10 total) tempo run. I’m really hoping it goes better. Last week temps in Vegas were high even at 4am and the humidity has been a nasty addition as well. Combine that with the ongoing fatigue and that may be why I struggled so much.

    I feel really confident about PRing with this program. 4:30? That’s my goal and I keep telling myself it’s that far out of reach.

    Happy to hear you are also doing Shakeology. I use it every morning after my run as my recovery drink. And I too had to put my crosstraining on hold when I started this program. After running, working and life demands I just don’t have time to do any extra. I was a Les Mills Pump junkie and I really miss it.

    • Erica House says:

      Yep – almost done with week 5 of the advanced program! I have the beginners program printed out as well in case I hit a day where I’m REALLY not feeling like doing what’s on the advanced schedule, but so far that hasn’t happened. Last week I killed my 6 mile tempo run, this week it killed me! I hate how much the humidity can affect your running. I’m just doing the best I can until Fall gets here!
      My shakeology should be arriving today! I can’t wait to start having one every day. When I get done with the PiYo program I’m going to do T25 (bf just bought it) and then they have an at home Body Pump that I may try. Everyone I know who has tried it loves it.