Hansons Marathon Method

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24/11/2013 at 23:24

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

24/11/2013 at 23:28

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!)



24/11/2013 at 23:33

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

Edited: 24/11/2013 at 23:36
25/11/2013 at 00:26

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?

25/11/2013 at 08:00

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.

25/11/2013 at 08:11

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.  

25/11/2013 at 08:15

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

25/11/2013 at 08:29

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 .  

25/11/2013 at 08:32

Lurking P&D aficionado

25/11/2013 at 08:41
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.
25/11/2013 at 10:25

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.

25/11/2013 at 10:33

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.

25/11/2013 at 11:09

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).

25/11/2013 at 18:18

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.

25/11/2013 at 19:27

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 occassion), 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.


25/11/2013 at 19:35

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.

25/11/2013 at 23:49

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!)

26/11/2013 at 09:13

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.

26/11/2013 at 09:43

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

26/11/2013 at 13:20

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.



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