My Chicago Marathon Training Plan
After reading the Hansons Marathon Method book and testing out their Base Builder program I was 100% sure I wanted to use a Hansons training plan for Chicago. I was mostly interested in the Classic Beginner Plan which tops out at 57 miles per week.
I did the 40 miles per week base program as a test and surprised myself with how good my body felt at the higher mileage. However, the time commitment was a completely different story. A seven mile easy run on a week night would take me over 90 minutes, and the Classic Beginner Plan calls for several 90-ish minute runs placed within a week. Managing that for a couple of weeks is okay, but managing that over the lifespan of a marathon training cycle feels unrealistic.
I know marathon training requires serious dedication and commitment, but it also requires choosing a plan that fits your life. I can definitely do 40 miles per week, but the Hanson’s Beginner Plan includes several weeks in the mid-50s range, peaking at 57 miles in a single week. If I ran in the 10 minute per mile range, or even the 12 minute per mile range, this would feel more realistic, but I need to be honest and SMART about who I am and what my capabilities are.
After many back-and-forth conversations with myself, I finally came to the conclusion that the Classic Beginner Plan just isn’t for me. I want it to be for me, and I think someday it will be, but that day is not today.
Because of that I looked through all of the official Hansons marathon training plans and decided to go with their 30-40 mile per week marathon plan. This will be a step above their “Just Finish It” plan but a step down from the Classic Beginner plan in terms of mileage.
Instead of including six and seven mile runs during the week, this plan includes mostly five mile runs for the week. During peak weeks it throws in a couple of easy mid-week six milers and three 8 mile tempo runs. That will be very challenging but I can do that for three weeks. I just don’t think I could do that for eight weeks like the Classic Beginner plan calls for.
When I trained for the Portland Marathon I ran in the 30-40 mile per week range, but my training was structured very differently than Hansons structures their plan so this will feel new to me.
Over the weekend I downloaded the 30-40 miles per week plan for $29 and set up my training log. Hansons gives you access to the Final Surge platform (which is similar to Training Peaks), but I have an excel spreadsheet system that I prefer to use to log data. I also use a Believe training journal, but I write my “feelings” in there as opposed to the splits I track in my excel sheet.
The plan I chose is 20 weeks long which means I start on MAY 23rd – very soon!
Initially I thought I would do a 16 or 18 week training plan, but I like that this plan starts off really slow. The first couple of weeks are actually under 20 miles per week.
Normally I would consider that way too light but since I’m going right into the plan coming off of the Hansons Base Builder I think it will give me a little bit of time to breathe. I don’t feel like I need the down weeks now but I also don’t want to feel burnt out in the middle of the plan either.
As a rule, I don’t ever really include weekly recaps on this blog. They’re my least favorite type of post to read and my least favorite type of post to write. However, I know many of us will be marathon training this summer together and many of us are using a Hansons plan. Because of that a reader suggested that I consider including a screenshot of my training log in my Monday posts once training starts. That seems easy enough to do, so I’ll begin doing that once training starts!
I’m looking forward to getting started!
Who else is starting their marathon training cycle this month or next?
How do you track your runs? Garmin Connect? Excel? Training Peaks?