A Change in My Spring Training Plans (Flirting with the Hansons and Here’s Why…)

After officially signing up for Chicago about a week ago I’ve been thinking about the marathon nonstop. Or rather I should say I’ve been thinking about my training plan for the marathon nonstop.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.47.41 PM

I know last year I said that I didn’t think Hanson’s was right for me. I didn’t enjoy the back-to-back long runs and I felt like I had more success the previous year following a more traditional marathon plan. However, every blog I’ve read that has used Hanson’s has found success with it – from very experienced marathoners to those who are more on my level.

In the back of my mind I’ve been wondering, should I give Hanson’s another try? 

When Megan said she was contemplating Hanson’s after reading their book I decided to give it a read too. Many of you know I am a big fan of Sage Canaday and he used to run for the Hansons. He wrote a book that I’ve listed in my faves for a couple of years now called Running for the Hansons: An Insider’s Account of the Brooks Sponsored Marathon Training Group Made Famous by Olympian Brian Sell.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.49.42 PMI looked up the Hanson’s book on Amazon and found they just came out with a new edition that includes information for true marathon beginners. Even though I have one marathon finish to my name already I still consider myself a true beginner. I downloaded the book right away and have been making my way through it, although I think after just two chapters I was sold.

I think it was this line that got me, “Our programs are designed to help you feel your best during the race, not during training.” 

That’s what I want. I probably won’t like the back-to-back long runs this summer any more than I liked them last summer, but I want to feel as well oiled as possible on race day.

I like that the new edition of the book takes true beginners into mind because what they used to consider a beginner was not my definition of a beginner! The book is putting me at ease though and making me think that this style of training actually could be right for me.

In fact a few days ago I started browsing the Hanson’s Coaching Services website which has a ton of useful free information along with previews of training plans that are available for purchase. I noticed they have a section of plans called Base Work specifically for blocks of time you spend between training plans.

That’s what I need! 

The starter Base Work plan is made for runners who are comfortable covering 40 miles per week. I used to be comfortable running 30-35 miles per week, but these days I’m only running about 25 miles per week. My goal has always been to get back to the 30-35 mpw range, although as I was reading the Hanson’s book I was reminded that I would need to bump that up even higher this summer.

I purchased the Beginner 40mpw Base Work plan to see what it was all about. I then contacted a Hanson’s coach to discuss how I could modify it for my current abilities with the goal in mind of using one of the Hanson’s plans for Chicago come June.

The coach basically worked with me to modify the plan so that I safely build up to 40mpw over the next month-ish. After that I’ll follow the plan as prescribed for about 3 weeks and then possibly extend it another week or so to see how I feel. I really want to evaluate my progress to be 100% sure I want to commit to Hanson’s for Chicago.

While the back-to-back long runs aren’t nearly as demanding as they are for the marathon plan, it’ll still get me used to doing them again. The speedwork I’ll be doing is geared towards getting me back into the 13:45/mi range for the half marathon distance since that’s the fitness level I want to be at when I start marathon training (my old easy pace!).

We’ll see how it all pans out. I’m glad that I have a couple of months of freedom to experiment with some ideas before I have to commit to anything. Sometimes having a lull in between training plans can be frustrating for a person like me who craves structure, but I’m trying to use this time as wisely as possible to learn more about my preferences as a runner.

Ultimately I just want to run the best possible race at Chicago which means I need to find a plan that I love and will be committed to 100 percent!

(This post includes affiliate links for the Hanson’s books. If you purchase through one of my links I’ll make a small commission that will go towards the hosting of this site.)

What’s your favorite marathon training methodology?
Best training book / blog / piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 



  1. March 24, 2016 / 8:01 am

    I have actually been going back and forth on my training for this fall also. I have a couple things lined up and was really looking into training plans. Last week I received my copies of both Hansons half and full marathon methods. I am loving everything I am reading so far. I want to run my best and maybe for me, running 2 long runs instead of one really long run will work better. I am going between this and a plan I have from Lora.
    It’s a hard decision to make. I am right there with you! I am sure you will do great, I am anxious to see how the next few months go for you! I am sure they will be amazing!

  2. March 24, 2016 / 8:20 am

    Doesn’t that book make you want to run a marathon!!??? 🙂 I was like, dang I want to run one TOMORROW. I will have to check out their website for some more free information. If we both decide to do Hansons we’ll be doing it at the same time! I will prob be a few weeks behind you because I think I am going to go with the Nov. Harrisburg race.

    • March 24, 2016 / 9:52 am

      Curious what made you change your mind on this, since you were dead set on not having to train during the school year!

      • March 25, 2016 / 1:09 am

        The fact that it is so close, I can sleep in my own bed, and follow my normal routine as much as possible in the days leading up to the race and race morning.

  3. March 24, 2016 / 9:51 am

    I think it’s a really good idea to essentially do the base building plan and use it as a “trial run” for the full plan. You’ll have a lot less anxiety about whether or not to commit to it in June, and you won’t have the experience of getting 2 months into a plan only to realize you hate it.

    I’ve heard only good things about the plan and it has certainly inspired my own training, but I’m kind of turned off by how inflexible it is. I think for my next marathon in the fall (which, if I actually end up doing, I will only loosely train for), I want to try something new and out of my comfort zone. I’ve been really intrigued lately by plans that emphasize less mileage and balancing running with cross training. Not sure if it would work for me but lately I have been feeling like I really need to try something new!

  4. March 24, 2016 / 9:59 am

    You and Megan are making me want to look at that plan. I haven’t really decided what I am going to use for Chicago… honestly, I haven’t thought too much about Chicago. I still have Colfax to contend with. A lot of people talk about how great the plan is and how much it has helped them get faster. The too books I like are Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 and The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition (there are training plans in that book) and Pete Pfitzinger’s Advanced Marathoning.

    • March 24, 2016 / 10:42 am

      Also…I just reread my comment. Two is spelled T-W-O…and I listed three books. Uh… not sure what happened there.

  5. March 24, 2016 / 10:02 am

    I’ve totally been thinking of looking into the Hansons method (I only tolerate back-to-back long runs when training for Goofy or Dopey, haha). But sounds like it could be a great plan! My methodology for marathon training is always to choose a plan that I think will get me to the starting line in one piece, haha. 😉 Super excited that you made it official and are taking on Chicago — you’ll CRUSH IT this year!! 😀

  6. March 24, 2016 / 10:13 am

    With all of this Hansons talk, I am going to have to go get that book! I am in the stage right now of marathon training that I’m getting pretty burned out with the long runs and I need some motivation to make me want to get out and run the race! I love training, but I also give up pretty easy when the going gets tough during a race, so I could use all the help I can get.
    That’s very exciting that you have a coach to help you out. Sounds like a great idea!! I’m glad you included that link to the training plan. I’ve never been to that website before. You had tried Hansons in the past and it didn’t work out for you?

  7. March 24, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed having a coach tell me what to do, even when I was in the off-season. Kind of the same concept as having structure during your low-pressure pre-season training you’re going into now. I can’t wait to see how this goes for you!

  8. March 24, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    This sounds great! I am excited to see how your training goals with following these plans!

  9. March 24, 2016 / 10:27 pm

    I purchased that book earlier this week (should arrive tomorrow!) I understand the logic behind their training & also have heard of a lot of successes. I’ll be running a November marathon, so I have a few more months until I get started!

  10. March 27, 2016 / 8:39 am

    Excited to see how it works for you! I know Jennifer and Courtney (others) have found much success with it.

  11. March 27, 2016 / 2:58 pm

    I love the line about feeling your best during the race, not training. I completely agree with this mindset. Training should be hard, at times. It should feel uncomfortable. It should push you and make you grow as an athlete. The only way to have your “best” race is to train in a way that will make that happen. I think this goes for both the mental AND physical side of training and racing. I will be really curious to see how you like this plan and book.

    I have never developed a schedule based on a book, as I have had a coach or just developed my own plan based on what I know works for me. My coach has been a game changer for me and I couldn’t imagine racing the way I am these days without him. I love the accountability.