Hansons Marathon Method

This Training thread about The Hanson Marathon Method is for anyone using, considering, or interested in the Hanson approach to marathon training. Please use to report how it worked for you, how it is working for you, or if you want to know more.

If I am the only one using it, then I am quite capable of amusing myself image



  • While looking into this approach earlier in the year there wasn't much online discussion or explanation on what the method is (on UK sites); all discussion seemed to revolve around the long run mileage in the plan and little else. Lots of poliarised view abound on the US sites.

    I've been looking to shake up my marathon training for VLM, and this method seems like the anthithesis to how I have gone about things to date. Well, I'm an easy sell. For me it is one big running experiment that I'm going to commit to. I'm interested in comments from those who have used the approach, those who are using it, and of course anyone with an opinion.

    I will put some more detail on this thread in time, but for some detailed background the best source is the book "Hansons Marathon Method" by Luke Humphrey which includes the method, beginner and advanced plans, and also some details on the training components of the elite program used by Hansons-Brooks Distance Project athletes. There are some really clear explanations on physiology and for example, explanations on the benefits of Easy Runs - a recurring question on RW.

    More specific plans based on mileage/ target times etc are available at www.hansonscoachingservices.com  Custom plans and coaching are available online too.

    There are a couple of old articles from Runners World / Running Times which slightly mislead, and get hung up on 16 miles being the longest Long Run (not actually the case - it's dependent on the runner). See the following link (if you must!)



  • A quick mark in the ground to provide my background:

    • 25yr couch potato, age 44, been running from Jan 2012 to present.
    • Half Marathon pb 1:20:24, Marathon 2:47:51
    • Average Weekly Mileage 52 mpw
    • Average weekly run sessions 4 - 5
    • Strengths: endurance / long runs
    • Weakness: speed work (pathetic) pacing (pathetic but getting better)
    • 2013 LSR addiction developing 35 x 20+ milers
    • 2013 4 Road Marathons (2:47, 2:50, 2:52, 2:54)
    • Indoor rowing on top adds a bit more aerobic work to the week

    My running has been characterised by


    • An inability to follow and use a plan - no structure
    • Making training sessions up on the fly - often inappropriate, sometime bonkers
    • No consistency
    • Tendancy to hijack training with trail marathons, treadmill marathons, or overdistance runs (I wonder why there is no consistency)
    • Not training with a goal pace in mind, and not standing on the start line with a pace in mind


    None of this has done any harm other than that I was feeling a little jaded with the long runs and that was impacting on the midweek training. I was going to skip a Spring marathon and focus on shorter races, but at heart I love racing the marathon distance, and decided to revisit the Hanson book, to see if that might make a break from my current imbalanced running. It certainly seems that way


    I am following a 20 week plan which has accounted for one Half Marathon that will be raced, and one Half Marathon that is being paced largely at Goal Marathon Pace. I will provide some details on goals, paces ,sessions etc once I get into the plan. Initially I have a couple of weeks of easy running getting into the routine of 6 run days per week

  • AR, I look forward to reading this thread with great interest. I've read the book and whilst there is lots there I liked I decided it's not for me (just yet). 

    Am thinking you should quell that LSR addiction though am sure your Marathon times are proof it's doable. What is your goal Half time from these 20 weeks and is there a Marathon on the back of it?

  • I will also be following this thread with interest, I seriously considered using the Hanson marathon method for my spring marathon but in the end opted for Daniels, maybe next time.

    I have just ordered Sage Canady's book 'Running for the Hansons', which is meant to be a good insight into the training philosophies etc and gives an idea of what their elite athletes have to go through.

    Good luck with it and as I say I'll be following with interest.

  • Hi Andi

    A lot of the posts I've read on Hansons go along the line of  "I've used it, but  did a couple of 20s for confidence".  I'll do my best to stick purely to the method and fight that addiction!

    I'll be running Bath Half and would love to break 1:20 as I keep missing by a few seconds. This will be run untapered as with all my HMs

    VLM in the A goal. Initially I wasn't going to pin a time on it, but the plan needs training paces to hit that sweet spot of cumulative fatigue the book details.

    Initially I took my 2013 VLM time (2:47:51) and thought 2:45:xx sounds nice. Putting this to Luke Humphrey, he came back with 2:43, and has provided training paces for this. image 

  • Cheers Tommy. There are lots references to Daniels, and a bit of Lydiard, Noakes etc forming the ground rules for Hansons. I will look out for how you get on. Good luck

  • Cheers. I was just having a look at the first link in your post above and it has Luke Humphrey's Twitter feed scrolling down the right hand side, this one caught my eye

    'Just want to thank for making today's workout puke and poop caliber. That's not something u get everyday.'

    Not sure I'm ready for a workout like that image.  

  • Lurking P&D aficionadoimage

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    In really interested in finding out how this works for you having previously been a big fan of the loads of 20 milers method.

    I'm not targeting a fast road marathon next year so thinking about what sort of approach to take for VLM 2015.

    Good luck with it.
  • Well since I've got another ten months to work out how the hell I'm going to PB again at my next marathon I suppose I might as well keep tabs on this as well.

    Also, see you at Bath.


  • Cheers all. Will flesh out and share some detail in time.

    But for now, a bloody great start. Managed a 5 mile easy run, within pace, and didn't veer off down any footpaths that looked inviting, turning the run into a medium long run as is my want. One day down with the running brain in chains.image

  • I'm interested in this thread too, in fact always interested in anything that challenges conventional wisdom. Hopefully, got my first marathon in April and will probably use the Furman FIRST programme but curious to know how you get on using Hanson.

    Almost 46 now, 44 when I started running, so similar age profile to you, although your (excellent) times are somewhat better than mine (HM pb 1:37:04).

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    AR - with speed/strength intervals, frequent blocks of MP running that builds to 9M (and I assume a couple of easy miles each end too), 6 to 10M easy on the other running days, its only the long run that folks will look at. It always annoys me when folks say that PnD doesnt have enough long runs, its a plan that has other workouts and MrP and Mr D wrote it as a plan. So I guess that the same applies to this plan too.
    longer than 20M runs seems to have become fashionable, but I'm not convinced on them. 20M (or more) just seems to be a target number at times that some folks think they must run. Some Eurpoeans target 30k instead apparantly.

  • Hi TR, that is a good summary on Hansons  and plans in general. As you know (and you may have told me on one or more occassionimage), one of the big things missing from my training which I'll hopefully  benefit from  is consistency. A balanced plan is a decent starting place. 

    One week I'm running 90 miles and doing some doubles, the next week it's 40 miles with 50% of that thrown at the long run.  I'll get more balance and consistency by following a plan such as P&D, Daniels, Hanson's etc. I've known that for some time but haven't yet got my head around to actually using one. I'm a big fan of P&D and have been guilty of picking out the sessions I wanted and changing  their well considered, well balanced plan into a dogs dinner.

    This time around Hanson's struck a chord as I was looking to take some focus off the long run. I was also keen on doing a lot more MP work

    One of the rules from Hanson's that I'll be following, is that if I feel up to extra weekly mileage,  it is to be added as longer easy runs, warm ups / cool downs, or an extra easy run on the day off, and not tacking on extra miles to the long run. If a few extra miles turned into a lot of extra miles, then I'm screwing up the balance again.


  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Sounds good, what also mustn't be underestimated is the massive saving of mental energy and worry over what to do or what not to do. You know what you are doing for the next 20 weeks and when you are going to do it. It'll be an exercise in ticking boxes at times.

  • MsEMsE ✭✭✭

    Excellent introduction, AR. Hansons is very popular here in California and I find the idea of more MRP miles appealing. I shall lurk with pleasure (even if that does sound a bit shady!)

  • I shall be watching with interest AR. The Hansons stuff is interesting, and as you rightly point out the distance of the long run depends on the individual's total training load.

    I used to be of the opinion that you had to do 23m+ in training for long runs, but as TR has said, a lot of those who run metrically might stop at 30km instead of 20m. For my last marathon I followed Bill Squires' approach (no emphasis on MP, but a lot on LT, which is what I, personally, seem to need), which had the long runs capped at 20m (and, looking at logs of the elite guys he trained, a lot of them never went past 21m either). As TR may remember. this gave me a bit of a wibble and I put two long runs back to back for reassurance, but I don't think it was necessary.

    As both you and TR have said, it's a plan and will be balanced and, as such, provide consistency. Good luck.

    P.S. This link provides an interesting comparison between Hansons and P&D.

  • macemace ✭✭✭

    A-r - It's arguable that the number of 20's you've got in will see you through another 5 campaigns image but topping out at 16 will be a test for you i'd imagine. Let's hope you can stick to the schedule as the result will be interesting. All the best.

  • My cunning plan is coming together nicely - the more people with half on eye on this the better - I might actually stick with it!

    That is an excellent link TT.  This year I did a lot more LT work than in both P&D and Hansons, and as part of the 'Frankenstein' sessions I concocted, I often stuck a few miles at my LT pace at the beginning of a LSR.

    I'm entering this fairly dispassionately with the view, "lets see what happens", using something more balanced, and something that opposes my early thoughts on how to train for a marathon.

    Mace I'm doing well on the LR front so far - November the 3rd was the last over 20, and the shakes are starting to subside.image



  • mace wrote (see)

    A-r - It's arguable that the number of 20's you've got in will see you through another 5 campaigns image

    The more I'm understanding about the method, the more it seems that it could work well for someone who has baked a very big cake already (copyright Barnsleyrunner...), more so than for someone who is a relative newbie and still needs to get the miles in their legs.  Is that part of your thinking A-r? 

    I think from my point of view, it would make sense to limit the amount of long, plodding mileage on the long runs in order to have a little more energy for the MP and long tempo sessions in the week, at least once you're getting to the couple of months' (or so) specific phase before the taper. 

  • I'd like to say it was because of some running intelligence that I have PP, but it came about inbetween two marathons when I got a bit fed up on one LR, and announced to my wife that New York marathon which was approaching, was my last for 12 months. I was back cap in hand 20 mins later after unearthing the Hansons book, telling her that actually, I'll try a different approach, and to scrub my last comments.  I received knowing looks that told me she'd not believed a word I'd said anyway.

    I like the cake theory on a Tuesday in lieu of GB Bake  Off.

    I had a look through the beginner plan today out of interest, and it seems very light on the sort of base mileage they would be expecting. The book / method is aimed at quite a range of runners.

    Maybe I need to add another dimension to this 'experiment'.  I've performed fairly well on marathons 1 week apart, 2 weeks  apart, and 5 weeks apart. I put a lot of that down to recovering quickly from long runs. I have a free entry to Milton Keynes marathon 3 weeks after VLM (after getting sent the wrong way this year) - wonder how well I would cope?  Anyway, that is me going off piste again, and I'd better refocus quickly.

    I have my plan finalised now so will have a good look at it and provide some highlights

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I like the cake analogy. Im doing a few trail ultras this year so I'm hoping to bake a very big cake by November 2014.

    If this works for you AR I might have to "borrow" the idea for 2015.
  • Cumulative Fatigue

    I was looking through the final version of the plan this evening, and the negative thought fairy visited, to question how this plan trains you for a 26.2 mile race. So it was a good time to refresh myself on the principles behind the plan if I really am going to follow this.

    While digging around on the web looking for some background, I saw one runner raise the question along the lines of “is it OK to swap my rest day from Wednesday to the Saturday leaving the other runs unchanged; that’s what I do now due to work”. No answer was given online, but I quickly came to the conclusion that no, this would ‘break’ the plan:

    A typical week on the Beginner and Advanced Plan is:

    MON  Easy
    TUE   Quality (Speed or Threshold)
    WED  Rest
    THU   Tempo (incl 5 - 10 miles @ MP)
    FRI    Easy
    SAT   Easy
    SUN   Long Run

    Fundamental to the plan is the concept of cumulative fatigue which goes back to Lydiard’s teachings. Hansons’ define it as “repetitive training that doesn’t allow for full recovery between training days” (obviously avoiding overtraining).  TT has shared some good links to Lydiard in the past

    So the runner wanting to shift their rest day to Saturday is effectively pulling the rug from under their own feet; they will be running the Long Run fresh. That’s exactly my background; Saturdays were always kept as my rest day, I ‘hit’ the long run on Sunday, and then did minimal on a Monday. By Wednesday I was ready for some quality work.

    Both Beginner and Advanced plans are built around five components that need to be balanced in order to hit the level of cumulative fatigue needed for the marathon which are the Weekly mileage, Intensity level, Balance of Training, Consistency of Training, and sufficient Recovery

    So, the negative thought fairy is at bay for now, and I have "cumulative fatigue" burnt into memory.

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    AR - should be fine, you have two easy days before your long run, just make sure that you do run easy. I've done Friday doubles the day before an early morning Saturday long run and been fine.

  • Week 1 of 20 complete, which is simply getting me into the swing of 6 days  running per week instead of the usual 4 or 5.  Mission complete, and repeat next week. Whilst there is little to mention here, I'll add some high level info on the standard plans available.


    Two published plans are provided with the Hanson Marathon Method book:

    Beginner Plan:

    Aimed at the ‘new’ marathoner or someone who has previously trained with a low mileage plan

    An 18 week plan, taking mileage from 15 miles per week (mpw) and peaking at 57mpw. Begins with 5 weeks of base building  to increase mileage, and then speed and tempo workouts are added in. Speed workouts give way to strength workouts a few weeks later.  The long run is meanwhile progressed to a maximum of 16 miles

    Advanced Plan:

    Aimed at someone who has previously completed a marathon or a new marathoner who’s previous running experience includes 50mpw in training. Those who completed a marathon on a low volume plan are recommended to consider the Beginner Plan

    The 18 week plan’s mileage starts in the low 40’s pw and peaks at the mid 60’s pw. Quality workouts begin early in the plan, and the long run peaks at 16 miles


    Running Days

    Both plans are based on 6 days running per week, with the workouts spaced to push the cumulative fatigue  appropraitely

    Adding in additional mileage

    Adding in extra mileage can be done through an extra run on the rest day, adding additional miles to warm ups and warm downs, or extending easy runs. Doubles are only recommended where you are approaching 100 mpw

    The authors recommend against adding in additional quality miles, or putting in 20 - 22 milers.  If you are starting to hit 90 – 100 miles, then some rebalancing  would be recommended. Long run details will be mentioned later on.


    Online Plans

    These are available online from Hanson Coaching in 12, 16 and 20 week versions, with mileage / target versions. E.g. for the 16 week plans:

    30-40 miles/week / novice runner / 4:00-5:00 range

    45-60 miles/week / intermediate runner / 3:45-4:00 range

    65-80 miles/week / Int/advanced runner  / 3:00-3:45 range

    85-100 miles/week / Advanced runner / 2:40-3:00 range

    100+ miles/week / Highly advanced / sub 2:30


    Some plans such as P&D include a few opportunities for tune up races. Hansons don't seem big on racing mid training, but they do provide clear advice on how to swap the plan around to add in races where necessary.

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Do you have a time in mind yet? Or will you see how everything goes?
  • MsEMsE ✭✭✭

    Well done, AR. Don't spend too much mental time on this will you? Knowing you, you will not have left any stone left unturned and this plan seems to need you to rest as much as you can while you can.  From my experience, being mentally drained has the same effect as being physically drained and can have a negative effect on a training run when you don't really intend it to/allow for it. 

  • Very true MSEimage

    Millsy - initially I thought lets see how I go. However, I decided to go for a custom plan, which included goal and pace setting by Hanson's. They came up with 2:43. withmy plan  peaking in the mid 60s. My initial thoughts are that I would need more mileage to get close to that. I will see how I go and add in easy mileage where they suggest if I'm up for more. 

  • Also-ran, so have I read it right that you've opted to be coached by the Hansons rather than following the plan from the book?

    On the mileage front it's hard to know. I'm sure peaking in the mid-60s would do for some, and equally others would need more. Everybody has got a sweet spot. Mine is certainly less than I would have thought. I ran my pb whilst averaging 91 over the last 9 weeks, whereas my previous pb before that averaged 117 over the same period.

    I think it's important to find a mileage range that you feel you can repeat week on week with a sufficient amount of quality, but it has to be an amount that is not too easy at the same time.

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