Warning: I know this post is wordy and nerdy and sort of "free flowy" but that's all I got for ya today! Typos may abound. I just can't proofread it anymore!
The first thing I will tell you about the book is that it really made me feel like running a marathon! I was race searching before I was even done reading the book! (Harrisburg for the third time or Steamtown for the first time are at the top of my list!)
My biggest reservation about Hansons is the high mileage. It’s not that I disagree with the concept of having 50-60+ mile weeks. I am just wondering if my legs can handle it. I’m afraid of injury, you all know that. I fear my legs have a set amount of miles they are going to allow me to run in my life and that I need to be conservative with my training volume so that I can run forever.
The high mileage straight up scares the crap out of me. I know it’s marathon training, so obviously I am going to need some high mileage weeks. But the advanced plan calls for about 12 weeks in a row of 50+ miles weeks. That is quite a lot for this gal who likes to stick between 30-40 miles with two days off running each week. I know the training isn’t forever. It’s not like I have to run that high mileage for the rest of my life. It’s 18 weeks. That’s it. But the book even says the goal of the plan is to bring you right to that line of overtraining but not cross it. That scares me!!!
One thing that sometimes holds me back is worrying about my ITB. It is just a recurring problem for me and sometimes I have the attitude that I can’t train for something until it is completely better. Other times I am like, “Stop waiting until you feel PERFECT because you may never feel perfect.”
So there’s two things to consider. One, maybe marathon training is not what I want to be doing right now, or two, maybe this is not the right plan for me. Both thoughts are valid. But I would be lying if I said reading this book didn’t make me feel like training for a marathon. The book made me want to start marathon training TOMORROW! So I need to decide if this is the plan I would want to use. Or maybe some modification of the plan? Or maybe just train the way I trained for my last PR?
My last marathon PR brought me down from a 3:38 to a 3:28. This was huge for a runner like me. I know a lot of people say if you run MORE you will get faster, but to attain my current PR I actually ran less. I eliminated junk miles and added strength training. So running less brought me down to a 3:28… but would it get me down to a 3:25?? I don’t know.
Maybe it just boils down to Risk vs. Reward. I could injure myself on any training program. I could injure myself on my run tomorrow. Do I want to risk the wear and tear on my body to run another marathon and chase a PR? That is something I need to decide.
One of my biggest takeaways from the book is how important PACE is on each and every run. They give you a prescribed pace for every single type of run you do and the whole point is to stick to it. I really love this idea and if I do the plan, my goal will be to ALWAYS stick to the pace on the plan. This excerpt really spoke to me:
“Cumulative fatigue is designed to make you tired, but running paces faster than prescribed will put you beyond the point of being able to recover sufficiently. That really is junk mileage.”
And this one had me nodding my head…
“Leading up to the big day, you will finally allow your body to fully recover, giving you that fresh feeling as you toe the line. Our programs are designed this way to help you feel your best during the race, not during training. After all, you never want to execute your best performance in practice.”
That was totally me during BDR training! I hit a PR during one of my race pace runs and then SUCKED at the actual race.
One other downside is that Hansons offers one rest day per week. I like two. I really feel like I run my best when I give my legs time to recover. But the whole Hansons Method is based off of “cumulative fatigue”. The whole point is to be running on legs that are not fresh. Sure, I could add another rest day in there and make me weeks 8 days long instead of 7 days long… but again, that’s not what the method is about. The runner is not supposed to be well rested for every workout.
Surprisingly, it isn’t hard for me to wrap my head around the 16 mile long run. I understand the concept that those runs are supposed to feel like the last 16 miles of the marathon, not the first. And most of those runs are preceded by a longish run the day before. It’s sort of like splitting the long run into two different days. It reminds me of ultra training when we would run 20 miles on a Saturday and 12 miles on a Sunday. It made more sense than running 32 miles all on one day.
But I cannot figure out which program I want to use. According to the book, someone with my marathon experience and goals should using the advanced program. (I have run 8 marathons and a couple ultras. But my last marathon was in 2013… and the last marathon I raced was in 2012. That seems like forever ago.) The 3 months of 50-63 mile weeks in a ROW concerns me. This is the mileage I was running during ultra training! Would the beginner be better if I’m so worried about the mileage? Would the beginner program help me get better?
I can always start the advanced and if I feel injury or burnout, I can switch or modify as needed. It’s just the book really stresses sticking to the plan as closely as possible.
There is a chapter in Hansons about setting race goals. This one’s easy. I want to PR! This would be <3:28:08. As of this fall, I am up an age group to BQ. It makes me feel really old to type that! So even though I would need a <3:40:00 to BQ, I am all about bettering myself and hopefully not slowing down with age (at least not YET!). I feel like I have another marathon PR in me if I can get the work in without getting injured. According to the race predictor chart in the book, a 3:25-3:30 marathon isn’t out of the question for me. (I used my time from BDR. (Okay, honest: I shaved a couple minutes off due to the fact that my pace runs went so well but the race sucked for a myriad of reasons!)
It may seem like I have some serious reservations about the Hanson Method but I do REALLY want to try it. I love working hard and I love having a schedule. I guess I would love some reader input…
Do you think I should do the Beginner or Advanced Plan?
Is this even the right plan for me with my mileage reservations? The Beginner has a lot of high mileage as well!
Maybe I am just not a marathon runner anymore and should stick to halves…
Have you done Hansons? What did you think?
Did you read the book?
What is your favorite plan to follow?
Hm, this is really an interesting post!! Every friend I've spoken to who has used Hanson's LOVED it and swore by the results. I think the cumulative fatigue training worked very well for them. And for a runner with your abilities and paces, I feel like the plan would work well for you and could help you PR...the weekly mileage is high, but because it's broken up it might not exacerbate your IT band or other injuries. If I were you, I'd start with the beginner's plan just because the mileage is worrying you and the stress and concern could have a negative effect on your training. If you end up feeling super strong, you could bounce up to the advanced plan. If you had to move from the advanced to the beginner's that COULD play with you mentally and might create a mental block of some kind.ReplyDelete
I'm interested in Hanson's, but I wouldn't use it myself. I've read over and over that that kind of mileage for slower runners like me doesn't do any good and can be detrimental to training.
I can't believe you're thinking of running a marathon!!!
That is a good point that mentally going from beginner to advanced could have a negative mental affect! That is a good point.Delete
I agree that there is a point of diminishing returns as far as just LENGTH of time running. I mean don't they say that anything after about 3 hours does nothing?
I know two runners who have used Hanson's and PR'd. One is a slower runner like me and another is a faster runner. Both saw really good results and loved the plan, although by the end both were ready to be done training. I don't think the actual mileage bothered them because they were running most of the miles easy, but getting up SUPER early to get in all those miles took a toll by the end. I did a modified version of Hansons for Chicago and that didn't go well for me lol. I think I would have PR'd because my speedwork was steadily improving, but it still wasn't a plan I liked. When it comes to training I prefer one long run day and one recovery day on the weekends.ReplyDelete
I agree with Ali, if you decide to go with Hanson's maybe try the beginner plan and bump up to the advanced plan if you're feeling really strong/no injury coming on - or modify the plan to fit what's right for you. I know they stress sticking with the plan to a tee, but that's under ideal conditions. No one knows your body and running history like you do. Plus you're very knowledgable about this stuff. I'm sure you could create a custom blend of the two plan types in a smart way!
Ooh it would be so fun to blend the two together! But like you said, they really stress following it to a tee as much as possible. Getting up early would suuuuck but if I timed up the date of the marathon correctly, I could do most of the training in the summer when I have off work. That was one of my thoughts...Delete
Oh man you hit the nail on the head when you said it comes down to "Risk vs Reward"! I struggle with that concept during my last marathon training and in the end I didn't risk it and played it safe. I knew (and still know) I am capable of so much more than what I brought on marathon day but the thought of pushing too hard and potentially going back to the injury was not worth it to me.ReplyDelete
However, you are a much better runner than I am and I know you'll do great on this plan. I am excited to see which marathon you choose.
I don't think it has to do with a "better" runner or whatnot, but just knowing your body and how it responds to the stressors of training... and of course, that risk vs. reward! I want to run until I'm a little old lady! I just worry so much that my legs only have a finite set of miles they are going to take me and when I have used them up, I'm done. Isn't that dumb?Delete
Here's is my 2 cents worth...However, I have only run 2 marathons and am training for Boston now (poorly, I might add) AND all of my marathons have been when I am OVER 42 (dare I say, old!). Personally, I can't do the high mileage it would require for this method. About 48 is my max. My body (and mind) need the mental break. The training plan I have used successfully tops out at 48, but has "double run days" to simulate running on tired legs...It also has speed work one day per week. Personally, I increase the speed work (add reps), and it works well for me.ReplyDelete
I think that if you can tolerate the increased mileage, go for it. However, if you can't, find a plan that speaks to your strengths. Don't forget, I am SURE you could read a book about another method that would have you equally inspired and excited. It is important to know what kind of runner you are, what your body can tolerate. My sister in law has been kicking butt with her plan of training for a marathon, while doing training for a triathlon. Her cross training has kept her injury free, and SUPER STRONG and fit. I am jealous. I think I might try and incorporate that after I am finished with this plan (and I am taking a break from marathons for a while!!)
I agree with the other readers. It would be ok for me to "ramp up" the training, if I was killing the beginner plan, but devastating to drop down. It is kind of what has happened to me this cycle, and mentally, it is a challenge.
My take away from your post, "maybe I should read the book, to become excited about the marathon I am currently training for..." Ha!
Aw Cheryl I am sorry your training isn't going as well as you would like. You know what, maybe you should read a book that would inspire you!? Marathon training is tough. Especially if you're trying to better your time or something. It's definitely not something I could do yearly, that's for sure!Delete
You said: " I am SURE you could read a book about another method that would have you equally inspired and excited." <----------- YES! You are totally right Cheryl. And that has kind of been in the back of my mind that I need to take a breath and not make any rash decisions about a plan because you know sometimes I get all caught up in stuff. :)
Thank you for all your insights! I knew my readers would have some good stuff to say and sound advice to give!
Do you have to follow the plan to a T? As one of my blogger friends once said, "you are not a cookie cutter runner, so why follow a cookie cutter plan?" You're an experienced enough runner that I would think you could use the plan as a framework and tweak it to make it work better for you, no? Hell, I'm NOT an experienced runner and that's what I did. I found out about the method right when I began training for Grandma's, but I was too chicken to commit to it. I only ran 5 days a week (all in a row) and believe me, I had no problem racking up cumulative fatigue. I too have heard nothing but success stories from folks who used this plan. The key to surviving it is that you really have to keep the easy runs EASY. Desi Linden trains with the Hansons and look what a beast she is. I once read that she sometimes does her easy runs 2:00 min/mile slower than her goal pace.ReplyDelete
I agree with what's been said above: I would go with the beginner plan. I once read a review that said that the beginner plan is really not for beginners. You may be an advanced runner, but you're a beginner with this method of training. If you find it too easy, you could always move up to the advanced plan; but if you start with advanced you could overwhelm or burn yourself out. It's kind of like running a race: start out slow THEN pick up the pace :)
I have been "loosely" following some of the training philosophies and paces Hansons lays out for my 10 miler and half coming up and I have found that most of the time my easy runs are a lot easier than they would have been because I am simply so tired from the speed work AND race pace run each week. But I'm trying it and so far no injuries or niggles so that is good. It would definitely be an option to tweak the plan a bit and make it work for me, they just keep saying in the book that you are SUPPOSED to follow it to a tee. But yeah I suppose I could do whatever I wanted! Allison said I need to read the program modification chapter like 4 times! :) Thanks for all your insight and advice! I will be rereading all these comments as I choose a plan and inevitably tweak it to fit me better.Delete
Thanks for the shout out! I will try my hardest not to hijack your post :) Based on what you mentioned about the mileage, you should choose the beginner plan but read the program modifications chapter again. Then read it again. And again. I wanted to keep my mileage around the same as I did for Hartford, so I used the advanced plan and added mileage on the way they suggest.So what I'm saying and how it applies to you: choose beginner, but evaluate your needs each week and add miles. At least by choosing the beginner plan you are in your current comfort zone, and then you can add more if you feel good. You won't start feeling overwhelmed, which will help you a LOT in the later weeks.ReplyDelete
You hit the nail on the head with pace. It is SO IMPORTANT. KEEP THE EASY RUNS SLOW. Currently, my body is happy with the 8:20s for easy. My Hansons range is 8:01-8:36, but 9:11 for recovery runs. Let me tell you. if I need to do a 9:11 I gladly do it. In doing so, I have felt fresh and prepared for my speed workouts and long runs. It is amazing how the structure of this plan works. But if you don't honor the easy days, you will feel it on your hard workout days.
I am not going to say this plan has been easy by any means. I have turned my world upside down for the past 18 weeks. I have not allowed myself much slack on diet and sleep - I know in order to have the energy to sustain the track and tempo runs, I need to eat well (meaning enough calories and the right calories - don't worry, I have my what I ate post already started!!!!) and sleep a LOT. I have also been diligent about strength work. I started with that StrongBody streak but now I do 15 minutes per day of hips and core no matter what. I think the concern for potential injury is valid - this is a hard ass program - so it is important to be on top of all controllable variables.
And that brings me to another point you made. "This book stresses sticking to the plan as closely as possible". Yes. I really, really try to always do my track workouts on Tuesdays and tempos on Thursdays. Always a rest day Wednesday between those rough workouts. Long run Saturdays. There have been a few instances where life got in the way and I had to schedule things differently and let me tell you - the workouts FELT different. One time, I did my long run on a Saturday - just a day early - but I felt drained. It was to accommodate my work trip last week so I could do my track WO Monday, and even though I had the exact same recovery time between the long run and track workout, doing the track WO on a Monday was harder. So sticking to the schedule - important. They offer some insight on ways to structure your week to accommodate life, though. It was helpful.
Honestly, I don't think you should let the mileage scare you. I was much more intimidated of the high mileage in the fall, but I'm finding that it comes very naturally with this plan. What scared me most initially about this plan is how methodical and structured the workouts are. EVERY week track and tempos for the duration of the plan, which are the things that scare the fuck out of me. 18 whole weeks of scary shit was really hard for me to get behind.
But it's funny. In life, the things that scare me the most always end up being the things that have brought me the most joy. In terms of running, this plan and those scary workouts have gone from something I've feared to something I love and enjoy. They have made me a stronger, more confident runner. As I always say in my posts, I don't know if I will ever run a marathon PR again. I think I can, and I hope I do, but there are only so many variables you can control come race day. I can say with absolute certainty that this plan has prepared me better than anything I've ever done, and has made me feel better running than I've ever felt. And that to me is a way bigger win that a PR or an award :) Those are my thoughts. Whatever you decide, it will be the right choice for you - I know it!
I want to say thanks for this too, Allison!!! :)Delete
Long run SUNDAY not Saturday! Whoops!!!ReplyDelete
First of all, you can hijack this post as much as you want! I read the book, but you LIVED IT. ;) Second of all, I literally printed out your comment and highlighted things I wanted to keep in mind. :)Delete
I will tell you, I already sleep a lot and do lots of strength/core/stretching which I know is good for me and will *help* to keep me injury free. It sure adds TIME devoted to workouts though. I mean as it is I already spend at least 20 minutes post run walking and stretching. My thought is to hopefully time up whatever marathon I run so that I will be doing at least *some* of the training during the summer months.
Track and tempo workouts each week scare me too! I have only ever done one speed workout per week but the last couple weeks I have added a tempo run too- obviously inspired by reading the Hansons booK! I am anxious to see if it helps me in my 10 miler and half marathon coming up.
Thank you so much for all your advice and insights and taking the time to respond to this post! I really, really love reading your recaps and it truly inspired me to read the book! :)
You're welcome!!! I know what you mean about everything taking so much time! I don't walk post run but I do make it a point to do my abs and MYRTLs, which are time consuming. It's like, I just ran x amount of miles, isn't that enough? And workout wise, it is enough for me. But I fear injury and hope that those things will help!Delete
I'm interested in how your 10 miler goes too. I remember seeing the tempo runs on your training plan and loving it :) I am really starting to love those runs, it does get better with practice!!! Just yesterday I did my Thursday tempo. I didn't feel awesome but I hit my paces. All I could think about was how I couldn't believe that I was feeling just okay and doing 9 miles at MP. I could never have done that before Hansons - before, I had to be feeling 110% to do a workout like that. I think those boys know what's up!
And just think about all the cumulative fatigue too- you can hit those paces NOW and you are not even well rested!Delete
I think you should go for it! I think your heart is telling you it's time to take on this challenge and I know you are both physically and mentally strong enough to do it. Everyone has said to go w/ beginner plan but as I was reading this I was thinking you should go for advanced. You are not what I would consider a beginner runner at all. You have an amazingly strong and solid running base you hit week after week. I support you 100% but I do feel your heart is telling you it's time to cast your fears and doubts aside and take a leap of faith!ReplyDelete
Well thank you for that pep talk, Susan! I am so lucky to have all kinds of smart runners reading and commenting on this post and giving me all different perspectives! I knew you would all give me so much more to think about!Delete
My friends who have used Hansons have done really well with it. That said, they are higher mileage runners. The mileage is what has kept me away from this plan as I, like you, seem to do better on less running and more strength and cross training. If you were to try, I'd start with the beginner plan and just see how it goes. Ooooh Steamtown! I've wanted to run that since forever.ReplyDelete
It is almost a crime I haven't run it yet as Scranton is only like hmmmm 2 hours from me??? Thanks for the insight about your friends who have done well with Hansons. It seems like everyone does well with it!Delete
Interesting post topic! I was actually just wondering about the Hansons plan last night. Wondered what made it different, and why it made everyone so tired! 6 days of running is too many for me I think. I would probably get hurt. I had to giggle a little about the age group comment... my husband and I both cringed when we had to write "48" for our race age recently. UGH!! how can it be true?!ReplyDelete
Moving up in age group is really gut wrenching! I think you and I are a lot alike that we are not 6-7 day a week runners anymore! Now that's not to say I couldn't do it for a certain amount of time, I just need to decide if I WANT.Delete
Oh my gosh I totally replied to your comment thinking you were Lisa @ Running out of Wine, not Lisa @ Tech Chick Adventures and was sooooooooo confused at how she was 48 because I thought she was younger! LOL I need to read more carefully. :)Delete
Lisa's everywhere!! Such a great name. But I only like an occasional rose wine, so that's how to tell us apart! ;)Delete
Hahaha! I know you like beer, right?Delete
I've been running high mileage for YEARS, but the pacing stuff scares the crap out of me. All I used to do was run 80-100 mile weeks super slow, same pace, and I ended up with a 3:10 marathon PR. However, I decided to start (loosely) following the Hanson's plan (because of Allison!) and so I've been working SO HARD at these pace runs. SO HARD. My race is next Sunday (just a test half marathon to see if I've improved) so that will be what tells me if this is working or not. My current half PR is 1:28, but I've been training for a 1:26. We shall see.ReplyDelete
I think you will have a GREAT race, Suzy! And I can't wait to hear about it. I have *loosely* been following some of Hansons stuff for my half coming up as well!Delete
You know I'm a low mileage marathoner--but I've got a few years on these legs! I do a lot of cross training, and my coach believes in cumulative fatigue by working me hard in those sessions. I do all paced runs as well. There's a lot of different ways to get to the start line, you have to do what works for you.ReplyDelete
There sure are!Delete
I love paced runs. They're scary, but if I don't do them I don't feel confident that I can hit my goal.
Wow I feel like I could write a book in response to your post! I followed Hansons 2 years ago. Would I do it again? Maybe, but probably not. However, I would certainly incorporate parts of the plan into my training. I don't think I could handle the high mileage right now- and certainly not the weekday mileage! I have no idea how I pulled off 12 mile runs before work in the morning. It did help to not have really long runs over the weekend, so I wasn't recovering from those. I didnt run my goal time, but I did PR by about 5 minutes. It happened to be a really hot race day, so that was probably part of the problem. I have just found that individualized plans work better for me- especially when I can still incorporate strength training into my routine!ReplyDelete
Yes strength training is the one thing that I see most marathon plans lack. I mean, they suggest doing "light" stuff on rest days or after a run or something. That just doesn't work for me. I like to lift heavy. HOWEVER, I do see that to everything there is a season, and since I have a very strong strength foundation, it may not be the end of the world to focus on running more during marathon training time.Delete
I think a lot of people's problems (and I hope I don't get flack for saying this!!) is that when they decide to start training for something, they suddenly decide that they need to strength train too, and then they can't figure out how to fit it all in. I say, start regular strength training when you're NOT focusing on a running goal. That way you have a strong foundation and can better figure out how to fit it into your sked or alter it so that it is not totally neglected but takes a tiny bit of a back seat.
It's strange to me to see plans with not a whole lot of strength training in them because when I ADDED lifting to my regular routine, I PR'ed by 10 minutes!
The Hanson's plan sounds really great, but it sounds kind of hard and inflexible. I definitely think you should try it, if you think you can take that kind of inflexibility. I have not run a marathon, so I am not the best to give advice, but I do think that taking a small risk might be worth it. If you feel burn out or injury coming on, back off... but in reality, you'll never know how far you can go in your training unless you take a little risk. Reading your post made me want to try the plan for Chicago, but I don't know, it sounds pretty rough. Haha! Good luck choosing and I can't wait to hear what you decide.ReplyDelete
Aw thanks girl! It IS a tough plan and while there is a tiny bit of flexibility as far as mileage is concerned, they really don't want you messing with it too much. You are right, you never know what ya can do until you try! I mean, it never hurts to try something new, right? And if I am feeling injury or burnout, it is up to me to be in tune with my body and adjust accordingly.Delete
The problem with the cookie cutter plan is that it doesn't allow for any modifications. (You can always modify, but as a runner with specific goals you're more likely to follow the plan to a T.)ReplyDelete
The Hanson plan has helped a lot of people achieve big PRs so there's definitely something to be said about it over some of the other ones readily available.
Since you're on the fence, have you considered hiring a coach?
Good luck with whichever route you choose! You'll do great. :)
Yes that's the thing- I mean, I am OPEN to modifications but then am I going to reap the supposed benefits from the plan? Just so much to think about! I never even considered a running coach. I don't feel like I am "good" enough for one. Which sounds horrible to say.Delete
I've also been very intrigued about Hanson's because of Allison and Colby from It's a Marathon and a Sprint. You've pretty much wrote everything that I've been thinking, lol!! What's funny is that I go between Run Less Run Faster and Hanson--two very different programs, jaja! BUT, both have very specific time/pace goals for each run, something that scares me like you.ReplyDelete
I've also thought about hiring a coach--which YOU ARE good enough for!! I mean, they're for everyone right? I hope so b/c I'm not even close to as fast as you, lol!
I've been following Allison religiously (and I followed Colby when she did Hanson's) and I'm looking forward to following you with whatever training you decide :)
Wow they are two very different plans! I can see the appeal of both and I know people who have done very well on both plans. (Not one person doing well on both, but different people doing well on a different plan.)Delete
I wouldn't even know where to START as far as hiring a coach. I mean, I would want someone really, really REALLY good who knew their shit. Like maybe the Hansons could train me? haha!
I have also been intrigued about the Hanson's method but like you, the high mileage is terrifying! I don't usually go beyond 50-55 miles every third week when I'm marathon training. My body does not enjoy high mileage!!! I know you have a PR for a marathon in you. You are a very strong runner. I'm wondering is there an in between plan? Or can you substitute a day from advanced to do your lifting instead of a run?ReplyDelete
There are so many possibilities if I decide to modify the plan, which is what I will probably have to end up doing!Delete