Thoughts on Hansons Base Builder So Far (25% Done)

The Hanson’s 40 mile per week (mpw) base builder plan is 8 weeks long and I am just over 2 weeks in which means I am 25% done already! Before we get into my thoughts so far let’s rewind back to the beginning.

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My Baseline Stats:

The Hansons base building plan isn’t meant to make you faster. It’s written to help you maintain a base, hence it’s name. However, the Hansons book says you can improve your times simply by running more mileage. Since I wasn’t running 40 mpw at the start of this plan I am hopeful to see (at least marginal) time improvements by the end.

Additionally, even though the plan doesn’t incorporate “speed work” like 400s, 800s, mile repeats, etc. it does include at least one tempo or progression run along with strides each week which will serve to make me a stronger runner at my goal marathon pace of 13:41.

When I started the plan these were my current bests:

  • 5K – 41:03 or 13:13/mi pace
  • 1 Mile – 12:15

These numbers aren’t anywhere near my actual personal bests for the 5K or mile set in 2014, but what I’ve done in the past doesn’t matter.

At the end of this plan I’ll run another 5K and 1 miler to see if there is any improvement simply from increasing my mileage and doing increasingly longer tempo and progression runs.

Building My Mileage:

Since I wasn’t already running 40 mpw when I started, I needed to use the beginning weeks of the plan to build up to 40. I guess you could say that I’m not technically starting the plan until I reach 40 mpw but I am currently following the schedule for the plan exactly, I just remove a mile or two from each run so I can safely build to 40. I consider this a soft start to the plan. I’m still running six days a week, building cumulative fatigue and incorporating the tempo and progression runs as prescribed.

The week before I started I had run 24 miles over the course of 5 out of 7 days. The plan calls for running 6 days per week and I hadn’t done that in quite a few months so I decided to actually scale my mileage down the first week of the plan to see how my body would respond to less rest.

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Basically, I was taking two full rest days prior, but on the Hansons plan I assumed I would take no full rest days. Instead on my day off from running I planned to do easy cross training since the prescribed rest day is a Thursday. I don’t like to take a full rest day in the middle of the week because it throws me out of my weekday routine. Previously I was taking my rest days on Mondays and Fridays; Mondays to recover from my long run and Fridays because I never feel super motivated on Fridays.

The first week following the plan I ran 19 miles over the course of six days which felt extremely easy, no surprise there. I did light cross training on Thursday and felt good about it! The second week I increased up to 25 miles over the course of six days and that felt easy as well. Once again I didn’t take a full rest day but instead did light cross training on Thursday.

This week is my third week of the plan and will be the first time I hit 30 mpw in a while — so far I am feeling great!

I decided to switch my rest/cross training day to Monday instead of Thursday. It just felt really weird to not run on a Thursday, and I think once my mileage gets higher than 35 miles per week I am going to want a day that I can use as a full rest day (no cross training at all).

I’ve always used Monday as a rest day from running and not doing so felt a little bit like swimming upstream. No matter what, I come home feeling drained on Mondays after work and getting motivated to run is difficult.

It doesn’t mess up the plan to move the rest day to Monday, so I figured why not? The Hansons book says the key is consistency so if you want to move your rest day you can as long as you take the same rest day every week.

I’m excited to approach 30mpw this week because I was running 30-35 mpw over the course of six days back when I set my current PRs. This used to be a sweet spot for me and I am hopeful that it continues to treat me well as I make my climb up to 40!

Incorporating Weightlifting:

Figuring out where to place my weightlifting days is my current biggest challenge. When I was working with a coach last year she gave me the advice to always do weightlifting on speedwork or tempo days. She said to make my hard days hard and allow recovery to happen on easy days. That’s a philosophy that makes sense to me, but it’s really flipping hard to be motived to lift weights after a hard run.

Currently I’m doing one lower body day per week and one upper body day per week. I’m doing lower body after my tempo runs, following my former coach’s philosophy of keeping hard days hard. However, I am doing upper body day on Saturdays following a medium length run of about six miles, give or take a mile here or there depending on the week.

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I’m struggling with the Saturday upper body lifts a bit because they leave me feeling tired/sore for my long run on Sundays. I can shake off the fatigue during the early miles, but the soreness in my shoulders and chest definitely weighs on me as the run goes on.

could lift lighter and that would probably help, but I’m at a point where I don’t really want to. If I was in the middle of my real marathon training plan I would definitely allow weightlifting to take a back seat to running, but since this is just a dress rehearsal to see how my body feels following the Hansons method, I don’t want to back down. Now is the time when I should maximize my weight lifting since I know I’ll have to dial it back come June.

Basically, that’s the one piece of the puzzle I’m still trying to figure out. Maybe there’s a better place to put my upper body day, but I don’t know when. It also helps that not a lot of people use my gym on Saturdays so I get the bench, dumbbells and pull-up machine to myself without having to work in which is really nice.

Overall Thoughts:

So far everything is going as well as I hoped it would. Getting back into running six days a week just feels right for me. It’s nice to be in a routine and to know today I run, because every day I run (or close to it).

My body hasn’t been pushed outside of its comfort zone yet, but in two weeks time I’ll have reached 40 mpw and will likely have a lot to comment on. I’ve only run 40 mpw a couple of times in the past and never in back-to-back weeks let alone back-to-back-to-back weeks.

Approaching 30 mpw and feeling really good has me optimistic about how I’ll feel at 40mpw though! There’s definitely something to be said about keeping your easy days easy.

The Hansons book says that injury usually comes from too much intensity not too much mileage. That’s something I’m keeping at the forefront of my mind because the last thing I need is for my hips or anything else to get out of whack. Having spent so many months last year sidelined or rehabbing has made me extra mindful of why it’s important to follow a smart training plan to a tee.

If you have any specific questions about the base building plan leave me a comment below or shoot me an email!
Which days do you incorporate weight lifting into your schedule?



  1. Miranda
    April 7, 2016 / 5:40 am

    SOunds like a good sensible plan Kristina. Hope it all goes well!

    • Kristina
      April 7, 2016 / 8:08 am

      Thanks Miranda! Trying very hard to balance wanting to get my mileage up and make improvements before Chicago training starts while not burning out!

  2. April 7, 2016 / 9:03 am

    This sounds like a great plan. I’m super glad that you got a handle on your injury and the tightness isn’t bothering you anymore. I’ve started the Hanson’s book, but I’m not too far in. I might use their plan for Chicago, but I’m not sure. I hated the 20-miler from this plan and I feel like I was falling apart a little by the end. It really took the wind out of my sales heading into this week, so I don’t think they are wrong. I’m going to reassess after Colfax.

  3. April 7, 2016 / 10:46 am

    You and others have encouraged me to research the Hansons plan and I was excited that my library had the book. Hopefully with my taper happening now I can find some time to actually read it 🙂 I was thinking I needed something that will get me excited about racing my upcoming marathon! Sometimes you need that little boost.
    It will be interesting to see your thoughts on the program, so keep sharing them!
    I have been struggling to fit strength training into my schedule. I do it on hard days, but I still feel so sore even after a rest day that I just had to cut back on it. It’s a puzzle that still needs to be solved for me!

    • Kristina
      April 7, 2016 / 2:38 pm

      That’s so great that your library has running books like Hansons! The book will definitely get you excited about training!

      I definitely know what you mean about feeling sore even after a rest day. I think the answer to our shared puzzle about lifting is to a) lift lighter or b.) accept that we’ll be super sore! I will keep searching for an option C though, haha!

  4. April 7, 2016 / 11:03 am

    I love how you are easing into the 40mpw thing. I was hovering in the low 30s for WEEKS and I slowly worked up to 40 because I didn’t want to do too much too soon. Like you, my body responded well to gradually increasing mileage.

    When I lifted lower body (I don’t right now due to ITB troubles and it is very, very sad) I did it twice a week and I did NOT run on those days. For me, I like running days to be for running and lifting days for lifting. I really can’t imagine having the energy to lift after a run, or run after a lift. I feel like I would be forced to lift lighter weights. And I don’t want to! (we are the same in that regard!)

    • Kristina
      April 7, 2016 / 2:42 pm

      Prior to last summer I was the same way, wanting to keep lifting days lifting only and running days running only. Unfortunately with Hansons that pretty much impossible since they require the six day a week thing and I don’t want to cram my entire lifting workout into one day!

      It’s not easy to do leg day after a hard run that’s for damn sure. I definitely take an extended hydration and bathroom break in between to try and let my body cool down a little bit… but I still end up lifting with tons of sweat pouring into my eyes even if I’m wearing a visor or a hat which is annoying. Plus, the people who only lift and didn’t see me run before hand are probably thinking “omg why is she sweating so much?!” I’m super self conscious about the sweating situation lol.

  5. April 7, 2016 / 11:18 am

    I wish you could have posted this a few months ago, haha. When I was getting back into training after a few months of reduced running I tried to increase my mileage while at the same time increase from 5 days to 6 days per week. It just did not work. It would have been much more sensible to try to increase one or the other like you did. You’re such a smarty! Keep up the good work!

  6. April 7, 2016 / 11:30 am

    Keep up the good work! I’m glad your new plan is working so well for you and that you’re finding your groove. It’s really smart to focus on gradual increases, even if that means altering the plan a bit.

    I have to commend you – I don’t think I could have zero days off in a week. That’s intense. BTW I also use Monday as my day off every week – woo hoo Team Monday!

    I’m sure 40 won’t feel as bad as you think. Remember, it’s just a number. There’s nothing magical that happens – your body doesn’t notice the difference between that and 38 or 42. You’ve been building up, you got this!

    • Kristina
      April 10, 2016 / 9:34 pm

      Thanks Hanna! I actually thought about this: ” There’s nothing magical that happens – your body doesn’t notice the difference between that and 38 or 42″ several times over the weekend. It’s definitely going to be something I want to remind myself over and over again over the next few months!

  7. Susan
    April 7, 2016 / 5:10 pm

    You are awesome! Excited to follow along w/ you. I run a lot less than 99.9% of the people here but I lift on the days I run like your coach suggested. Running is the most challenging sport I do, so then I lift afterward and on the other days I am swimming or cycling (which, to me, is much easier to do w/ sore muscles). My runs are only 3-4 miles long so I can’t say I would be thrilled to lift after running longer, but this is the plan that works for me.

  8. April 7, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    Sounds like you made some good adjustments to the plan. Looking forward to following you along + Hansons.

  9. April 10, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    I lift four days a week now. My schedule is Sun-Tues (no run on Monday), Wednesday is no gym but I have a semi long run, Thursday I lift and run. Friday is typically a total rest day and Saturday is LONG run day. I get up early and go to the gym to lift in the morning before work and run in the evenings unless it’s a weekend.

    BCAAs are a supplement that helps a lot with post lifting muscle soreness and it might help with your upper body aches. And it’s very good for recovery anyway.

    I appreciate your review of this method… not because I have any interest in the method itself, but because your current state of working out is similar to mine and I like following your process.

    • Kristina
      April 10, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      Hi Angie! Thanks for the tip on BCAAs. I bet Adam has some that I could try, he has a cabinet full of things that I should probably try at some point! 🙂

  10. April 11, 2016 / 11:56 am

    I will enjoy following this and see how it works our for you. That is so much mileage! The idea is to keep it much slower paced though right?
    I have seen from others around me that higher mileage does translate into faster shorter runs for sure, so I believe it can work for sure.
    I think switching your rest day to a you feel like you need it, is very smart. It will probably be helpful too as our long run increases.
    I would lift as much as you can right now and when real training starts take a break if you need too. The amount of time has got to be a challenge and you don’t want to be feeling fatigued trying to train for Chicago 🙂
    I am glad it is starting off well for ya!

    • Kristina
      April 11, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      Thank you! Yes, the idea is to keep all of the easy runs 1-2 minutes per mile slower than goal pace. The philosophy is that if you’ve selected an appropriate goal, two miles slower than goal pace will feel exceptionally easy and keep you injury free despite the increased mileage! One of the Hansons sound bites is that injury tends to come from too much intensity, not too much mileage, which seems logical.

      I am pressing forward with the lifting and just dealing with the soreness for now. I may move the upper body day to Sunday just so I don’t have to run my long run feeling sore… although lifting after a long run once they get longer will not be a walk in the park!