Hanson Brothers Training Plan

Hi I am about to start training for a Marathon/Ultra Marathon and have heard the Hanson Bros training plan mentioned in quite a few places. I hope to run the Wall in a day as my first ultra http://www.thewallrun.com/ Living in the North East it such an iconic symbol that I just have to try this image

 I itend to follow this plan and will be starting my first speed session today. Even going to go run it on a track! I have never run a 10km in under 40 minutes since starting running again a couple of years ago. Getting faster at shorter distances has not been that important in my last training plan, so the initial part of my plan is to try and smash the 40 minute barrier for 10km and then work up from there.

Would love to know other peoples views on this plan in relation to training for an Ultra/Marathons

Also been working on converting an excel version of the Hanson Brothers plan created by John Rankin to Google Docs. A draft version of the advanced Hanson Bros plan can be found here. It is has a week added at the beginning and has some of John's base data in the plan still.  Would anyone else be interested in using the google docs version of this?

Happy Running,



  • Interesting. Saw the article in RW and it appeals. Think I'm probably going to try this for a spring marathon. I have run marathons so far using almost exclusively volume based training and think this might be a good way to improve my speed.

    I suspect the benefit of the longest runs is mainly psychological, and maybe don't add so much assuming your overall distance is sufficient.

    Given the wear and tear of speed sessions I'd be inclined to spend a few months getting my body used to tempos/intervals before embarking on this.
  • Well I am about to start second week. The speed sessions on the track have been a shock but enjoyable. Running on track surface helps cushion the joints, but agree need to be careful with this as it would be easy to get an injury. The back to back runs definitely fatigue the legs very well as I am now 3 days into my 4 day spell. Today's run felt like the end of a marathon. Going to ride my bike to work tomorrow rather than run though image

    A friend and I have decided to enter an 50 mile ultra at the end of January so we are using this plan as a base for training. We will follow the plan again to try and run a PB marathon in the spring.
  • If you are going to use the Hanson's marathon plan lined to above, make sure that you check the calculations for the total mileage target and actual for the last few weeks (double click and make sure the cell surround reaches the Sunday mileage), as it seems to be excluding Sunday.

    Right with that off my chest. I'm a relatively newbie to running and I'm just in the process of building up my core running strength. The aim is to get me to the starting point for a proper training plan such as Hanson's to prepare me for the London Marathon in April. Are there any other newbies who have followed the Hanson's training plan for a marathon - what was good, bad or ugly ? Easy, medium or hard ?

  • Hi Shawn,
    Thanks for the feedback I have tidied up the totals columns, seems to have got broken slightly when exporting to Google docs. I have also fixed the date issues in that some of date columns were set to number. So UK dates are now working properly in the tables and graphs.

    I am enjoying following this plan and I am on week 7 of the plan. I did not get chance to start the speed work until about 3 week, but I am enjoying doing some work on the track more than I thought I would image

    I would say that in relation to the weekend runs, my legs do feel very fatigued when doing so many back to back runs. I would say it does feel tougher than having one long run over a weekend. Not having a long run also lets me keep my average pace slightly higher as well on easy runs.

    Still hoping to get some feedback from people that have seen the plan through to the end and see if they think it helped.
  • I'd be interested to hear from people who have followed this plan to see how they got on with the marathon.  I can't help thinking that 16 miles just really isn't enough to get you prepared to run 26.2 as strongly as possible.  I know in the blurb they tackle this objection by saying that there is a cumulative fatigue effect of doing back to back "sort-of" long runs, but IMO unless you're running many more miles in one go, I don't think you're doing enough to teach the body to burn fat efficiently.  (No doubt glycogen reserves will be slightly depleted when you go out for your Sunday run, but I'm sure between Saturday's run and Sunday's run you will have consumed a fair amount of calories and hopefully had a good night's sleep.)

    I do think the back-to-back "Something of Substance" (their terminology, not mine) sessions are a very useful practice to get into, especially if in the long term you're thinking of doing an ultra, but I don't think 10 + 16 miles over a weekend is really enough.  Something like the Hal Higdon plans do something similar, i.e. towards the end of his Intermediate II schedule you'll do 10 miles on Saturday including MP, then 20 miles on Sunday.  (I pushed it to 22 on my first marathon and topped out at 23/24 since then.) 

    As well as getting more physically prepared, I also think that getting more miles done in one go will give you more confidence that you can complete the full distance.  On the other hand, if you have complete faith in the schedule and know that it has worked for other people, then fair enough.  I wouldn't mind seeing the evidence though!  image

  • BTW, thanks very much.  I've now got "Mmmbop" stuck in my head!


  • I read the artice with great interest in RW this month, as i've just entered my 1st marathon - the Edinburgh in May.

     This plan really appeals as I get bored easily and think this will keep my focus. I'm worried it won't be suitable for newbies as how will I know if I can actually run 26 miles if I don't get anywhere near in training?? I'm worried about putting in all this work and dying at 18 miles.

     Also, could anybody advise if I could substitute any of the runs for MTB'ing as I really don't want to give this up.


  • Phil - I am relatively new to ultra running but have done long distance runs on trails before in terms of time rather than distance they may has well have been ultras! The reason I am looking at Hanson Brothers plan is that I have heard this plan referenced by several more experienced ultra runners. They seem to talk more about heart rate than pace, and that this plan seems to really help with that with so many longish back to back runs. Also seen that a few people have used this plan to run PB marathons. But I think sticking to a almost any plan would help with a PB as long as it challenging.

    Stephanie - I followed a runners world intermediate plan for my first marathon ,and my longest run was 21 miles. The psychological benefit of doing that long run did help with my confidence for my first one I must admit. By the end of the plan though I had changed more to thinking more about how I paced the run in relation to heart rate.

    I often switch a 6 mile easy run for a mountain bide as I still like to get out on my bike. Going out for long bike rides is also a good way to build up stamina, so I sometimes switch my long ride for even longer bike ride in terms of time.

    I would also recommend doing one day a week of speed/strength work as it helps mix up the training.

    I am a relative newbie myself, but for me enjoying what I am doing is just as important so I also like to mix up training to keep it interesting.
  • Thanks for the advice Tim. It's good to know I can keep biking, as too much pavement pounding agrevates an old injury.

    I hate running with my heart rate monitor on, but will do for the next few months until I get to know what target % HR feels like.

    Thanks again.

  • I read that article with interest. My first reaction was that it seemed a great way to get injured or burn out. The idea of running so hard throughout the week that the 16 miles long run is simulating the final 16 of a marathon seems great in practice. But how easy would it be to over cook your week and then have to smash your long run, and end up dead on your feet?

    Having said that I do like their ideals, I just think it's very risky. I train in a similar way but my long runs are as easy as they need to be to ensure the subsequent week is productive.

  • Hi Tim,
    You must be pretty well on with the programme by now. How have you found it? I'm just finishing week 6 and really enjoying it. I do have a 20 miler booked in during the plan as it's a local race and would seem silly not to do it just for the confidence factor. Otherwise I'm not planning to go above 16. Best wishes Mark
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