Hanson Marathon Training

ClagClag ✭✭✭
I'm looking for advice on marathon training. I’ll be running my 10th marathon this spring and am trying to decide on a plan. My first few marathons followed Shades plan. In 2013 I followed the P & D 12/55 plan and took my PB from 3:59 to 3:45. A couple of years off the marathon saw my times improve across distances using Pfitzinger & Latter plans, then getting 3:42 something on a tougher course following 9 weeks of P & D. 

Last year I returned to the same course having done the P & D 18/55 course to complete in 3:45, really feeling that I struggled the last couple of miles where previously with the shorter plans I’d felt strong. I’d struggled during the last few weeks and race times in tune up races were going backwards - I wondered if this was due to the heat thus summer. 

Now needing to start training and wondering whether to go with P & D 12/55 again or try something radical such as Hanson, probably the Beginners plan if I do as the mileage is consistently high. 

Any advice? I’m female and 45 if that helps. Running since 2007 consistently. 


  • Hi Clag. Ran my 10th marathon in New York last month having followed Hansons 18 week advanced plan for the first time. It got me a 3 minute pb (3:39:20). My previous best was 3:42:30 on a pancake flat Valencia so it was probably worth more than 3 minutes as NY is tougher in comparison. Also followed P&D for 3 years and it got me down from 4:07 to 3:48 but then I put in several performances around that mark. Definitely gave me good endurance with a negative split on a tough second half (I do pace my runs with this as an aim). Big difference I found is that running 6 days was actually less tiring than fitting the mileage into 5 days as with P&D. Didnt miss the second rest day at all. Plenty of faster runs too, which makes a big difference for me. I did do two 20 mile runs but kept within the Hansons rules on this as I added a few extra easy miles elsewhere in the week. I can definitely recommend it.

    I am male 62 years and will repeat again for London 2019 but upping the paces for a 3:30 target.
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    What P & D plan had you used previously bobdidmadrid
    That’s a good improvement and great times too. I’ve also found P & D has let me finish well and given negative splits which sometimes makes me wonder if I should have gone faster! 
  • I did the 18 week up to 55 miles P&D. I found both P&D and Hanson's excellent for strength and strong finishing but Hanson's allowed me for the first time to pick up and maintain, the pace from about mile 16 where I went from av pace of about 8:25 a mile to 8:12. 

    I know what you mean about wondering if you could have gone faster and possibly so. However, I think it is more an indication that you got the pacing close to spot on.
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Sounds promising. Having read a few blogs and reviews I’m thinking Hanson could be worth a bash. The one outstanding concern is the taper, or rather lack of. Previously I’ve cut back from peak mileage to way less than specified, only running around 5 miles on Tuesday for a Sunday marathon. 

    Did you follow it religiously to the end? I think for me it’d have to be the Beginner plan as I’ve only ever gone up to 57 miles in a week. 
  • I had similar concerns about both the taper and mileage. However, the taper, or lack of it, really worked for me. In the past I've found the three week taper quite frustrating and feel that I lost some 'sharpness'. This was probably psychological, as much of this game is!  Keeping the intensity up to the last week certainly avoided those feelings of lethargy and, for me, had no negative affect on performance. The extra mileage was fairly nominal between both P&D and the Beginner plan and between the two Hansons schedules.

    Good luck with whichever plan you decide to go for! Which marathon are you training for?
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Training for London. First big city race in a while and probably the biggest I’ll ever do. Have done Amsterdam and Paris but tend to opt for smaller events. 
  • Hi Clag. I’d agree with everything Bob has said about Hansons. Some of it may appear to be counter -intuitive to ‘conventional’ marathon wisdom, ie the lack of 20 milers but it has really worked for me in my last three marathons. I followed the 55 to 70 mile 12 week plan and, like Bob, felt that it allowed me to finish my races much stronger, either accelerating in the last 10k or maintaining when beginning to feel it. More than anything, I feel that it has made me a stronger runner, able to maintain marathon pace more easily and for longer.

    On the plan I did there’s a 7 week phase of running every day but it spreads the mileage out nicely and as long as you do you easy runs easy, it’s ok, active recovery takes place and you get through the harder runs. Also, the plan is designed so that the legs are semi - fatigued for the weekly long run. The idea is that it prepares body and mind for the back end of a marathon, not the start. The plan I did has 2 x 20 milers and 4 x 18 milers off the top of my head.

    I also did P&D before and think it’s a good plan but I would say that Hansons has improved me more as a marathon runner.
  • ClagClag ✭✭✭
    Thanks for that Little Theodor. I’ve decided to bite the bullet and go for it. If nothing else it’ll give me a very strong start to the year on which to build. Just going to follow the plan from the book. My only concern now is finding the time to work, eat and sleep in addition to running; unfortunately I don’t have a job that enables a lunchtime run so all running will have to be either very early or in the evening. Sure I can cope with this for 16 weeks though! 
  • It’ll definitely give you a strong start to the year Clag. I definitely think you should just go with the plan and have faith in their expertise, especially as it’s the first time. I think most marathon training plans present issues with fitting it in around other commitments. Let us know how it goes if you have the inclination. Good luck!
  • GipfelGipfel ✭✭✭
    Clag, I would be very interested to know how you find the plan! I'm aiming to use the beginner plan for a marathon later in the year (race itself yet to be decided, but likely to be either in October or December). At the moment, I'm semi-training for a couple of halves in February/March, but am mainly concentrating on gradually increasing my average mileage over the next few months, ready for when I do start the plan in the summer. I got the Hansons book for Christmas and have been avidly reading it since - lots of interesting details in there and it all really seems to make sense. (I love the mention of Kevin Hanson's wife religiously following the plan just to prove that it wouldn't work, then doing really well!) In many ways, it is the complete opposite of the plan I followed for my last marathon, which included a low number of weekly runs but 5x 20 milers. 

    LT, Happy New Year to you! Would be great to hear how your next marathon goes.
  • Gipfel - Happy New Year to you too!

    Good to read you’ve been mugging up on the Hansons method. Yes, the complete opposite of FIRST. Good luck for your half marathons February and March. Are you following a training plan? If not, Hansons also have a half plan. You could probably find a pdf online.

    I’ve got a half and 15k race in March and probably another half at the beginning of April. I’m looking at doing the Vitoria Marathon in northern Spain on May 9th but haven’t entered yet. 
  • I am following the "from scratch" plan in the Hansons' First Marathon book. I'm a bit confused by the last week which looks like there is a 17 mile run on the tuesday before the race. I presume this can't be right and I think maybe it's supposed to be around 8 miles. The others that week are 6 miles, 4 miles and 3 miles, does this amount of mileage in the week before the race seem reasonable? I haven't done a marathon before, but this is higher in the final week than I had been expecting.
  • Hi Mishka. Haven't got that book, but in the original beginners plan week 18 is 5, 5, rest, 6, 5, 3, race. Hanson's taper is a lot more intense than other plans, as I said above this suited me and I felt good on the starting line. 17 miles is obviously a mistake though!
  • GipfelGipfel ✭✭✭
    Mishka, although I don't have that book, there was a reprint of the training plan from it in Runner's World magazine the other month - have just looked it up, and the Tuesday before the race is down as '6 miles easy', so similar to the original plan that Bob quotes above That 17 miles is a bit of a crucial mistake - hope they spot it for future reprints! 

    LT, I haven't been using a plan properly for my two upcoming halves - the first in particular was entered on a whim, without nearly enough time to follow any sort of plan - but I also got the Pfitzinger and Latter 5k to half book for Christmas (I know - I'm a sad case!) and have been doing a few sessions out of that. Have just heard this week (while away skiing doing no running whatsoever) that I have won our club London Marathon place, so I'm going to have to start training properly for that straight away. As there are only 14 weeks, I'm going to use FIRST again - and Hansons shall be for the next one later in the year! Hope your training is going well.  
  • Gipfel, congratulations on winning your London place. That’s excellent news. Yes, you´ll have to get at it straight away now. You could always follow one of the Hansons 12 week plans. They work for me and, with all due respect to FIRST, I think you’d really notice the difference. 

    I like the P&L book. I’ve used it for a 10k and a couple of HMs and I was pleased with the results. I like the book as a whole too.

    Hope you enjoyed the skiing. Was it Alpine or Cross - country? The latter would be excellent cross - training for running.

    Training is going ok. Just base building with a bit of speedwork from the Hansons half plan thrown in before the next marathon cycle starts next month. Congratulations again for VLM.
  • GipfelGipfel ✭✭✭
    Hello all, just adding to this old thread for anyone who may be interested in a recent and very positive experience of Hansons: I've just completed a virtual marathon, having used the 18-week, 6 days a week Hansons Beginner plan from the book for the first time. NB: there is also an Advanced plan in the book (which is broadly similar but with higher mileage) - there is also a Just Finish plan available, as well as several other different plans (such as over 12 weeks or with 5 days of running rather than 6) available to purchase online.

    This was my fifth marathon, and the Hansons plan I used (6 days of running a week with 3 days being easy, max 16 miles for the long run if you stick to the mileage in the book) is a very different plan from the previous one I'd used (FIRST, with 3 days of hard running a week, 5x 20 milers). I wasn't sure how I'd find running 6 days a week (being used to an average of 3, max 4 days, and being someone who had sometimes struggled with niggles when running on consecutive days), but the easy runs made it absolutely manageable. The feeling that came to mind the most with this plan was 'strong'. My legs were obviously tired at times, but it never felt like too much - instead, it seamlessly seemed to build up my endurance, and before I knew it, I'd reached the peak mileage of 57 miles, so much more than I'd ever run before, and still I was feeling fine! The paces of the speed sessions and the tempo sessions were not as harsh as in the FIRST plan, and it was nice being able to fit in the easy runs around pleasant local trails without having to worry about my pace being slow. I have to say that it was also a relief not having to fit in so many ridiculously long Sunday runs! It never felt like a grind. I followed the plan almost exactly to the letter, with the exception of repeating one week (as I'd foolishly managed to work out the weeks wrong and got a week ahead of myself) and cutting out a few miles in the week before the race, as I was nervous that the taper mileage seemed a little high for me and decided it would be better to do too little than too much in this week. I'm mentioning all of this for anyone who might be daunted by the higher mileage and 6 days a week commitment - both of these were a lot more than I was used to, but the training seems to build you up to it gradually and sensibly.

    Lockdown was announced a couple of days after the taper had started, meaning that my small target marathon had to be cancelled - seeing as I'd done all the training, I decided to run my own virtual marathon, and it went far better than any previous one. I had picked what seemed like an ambitious but achievable target of 3:50, which would knock a decent chunk off my PB of 3:57:27. This meant that I'd trained for an 8:46 minute/mile pace - which was exactly the average pace that I achieved in the end! I'd had the usual 'how will I maintain this pace for an entire marathon?' feeling when running my last 10-mile training 'tempo' at marathon pace - but I started the race, and it felt ok - and carried on feeling ok. To my amazement, I passed mile 19, then mile 20 - and it still felt ok! This is the stage where I've really struggled in previous marathons and started feeling quite dodgy - but this just didn't happen here. I did start to slow a bit at miles 23/24 - but managed to up the pace again towards the end, and finished feeling relatively strong, plus didn't feel bad afterwards (again, unusual for me). The difference was really very noticeable, and it made the whole marathon experience better.

    I'd definitely recommend reading the book for anyone who is curious about Hansons - it explains the methodology and rationale very clearly. There's also an excellent Facebook group run by the author of the book, which is very inspiring, being full of people's crazy success stories about knocking huge chunks off their marathon times, plus having lots of advice and lots of people to answer any questions that you might have.

    Little Theodor, not sure if you'll see this, but I have you to thank for first mentioning Hansons to me and making me interested enough to look it up after your own success with it - I'm honestly very grateful, as I can see myself using it a lot in the future. Hope you're well and that your running is going well still!
  • Thanks Gipfel, that is a great endorsement for the Hanson plan. I am highly tempted to use this one for the Brighton marathon in September.
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