Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hanson Method and a Hike

Workout: short walk with Bailey on Hemlock, 45 minutes

It's a typical, lazy "I swear I'm going to study for multiple hours today but it'll actually be more like one" kind of Sunday here at JJ-o headquarters. I kicked it off with a short walk with the derg. Here's some photographic evidence!

I realized why I like sutro so much-it makes mountains look less washed-out

I spy a dog

It would be nice to be up IN those mountains again. For now I must be content with viewing them from afar

It was the perfect way to start off the day and also a nice peace offering after leaving Bailey home during yesterday's run.


I think I miiiiight just jump on the Hanson Method wagon for the marathon I plan to do this summer but haven't talked about yet. I was intrigued enough to buy the book a few days ago and have flipped through it some. I plan to give it a thorough read soon.

My immediate thought  upon reading the first chapter was "16 miles is the longest LR? Sign me up!", followed immediately by "Wait a second, it's 16 miles following a very high-mileage week. I guess this isn't some magical plan that will allow me to run a 2-hour marathon on little to no mileage. Ugh."

I don't know anything about running so I'm not endorsing this plan or anything, but the author has a very valid point about the weaknesses he sees in typical training plans. He says that many plans have the trainee running incredibly low mileage during the week and killing themselves during their LR on the weekend. The length of these long runs breaks the body down enough that the runner is forced to spend an entire week recovering from it and gearing up for the next LR. He also argues that running only 3 or 4 times a week to allow full recovery between runs isn't ideal because it is running without being fully recovered that forces the desired physiological changes to occur.

The last thing that really resonated with me was his comment that "Our programs are designed this way to help you feel your best during the race, not during training. After all, you never want to execute your best performance in practice" (I'd cite a page number but I've got it on Kindle and Kindle just doesn't roll that way. First Chapter in the "Recovery: Partial Rest" section). Whereas traditional plans try to make training easy and force you to half kill yourself on race day, Hansons' (they're brothers, I guess?) plan makes training difficult in order to allow you to run a successful marathon. At least that's their spiel. Who knows whether it's true.

I was initially intimidated by this plan because I had read that the weekly mileage is very high. I assumed their first week would involve 40+ miles and given that I'm hovering right around 20 right now, I thought that sounded like a disaster for me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see that the first five weeks are well within my current abilities. My main reservation is transitioning from running four days a week to six days a week (even if some of those days are very easy recovery miles), and the seemingly ridiculous, sudden 15-mile bump-up in weekly mileage between weeks 5 and 6 (24 to 39 miles). I'll have to read more to see if they provide an explanation for that, but to me it seems like a recipe for broken body parts.

I used Hal's plan last year with success (that is, until I randomly stress fractured my foot during an easy half marathon two weeks before the marathon) so when I decided to train for another marathon, I automatically assumed I would use that plan again. However, I remember being frustrated with the low mileage during the week and LRs really took it out of me, plus I realized I wasn't that excited about doing the exact same thing again. Running 20 miles didn't suddenly made me feel like I could run a marathon; I think that actually running 26.2 is the only way to know for certain that I can do it. So the idea of having my longest run be a full ten miles short of the actual distance I aim to run doesn't worry me as much as I thought it would.

Once I've had a chance to read the book, I'll report back on my plans (because I know you're on the edge of your seat right now).


Oh yeah, it was really cold again today.

Written on frost accumulating inside the window, NBD

Question time:
  • Tell me about the Hanson Method. Tell me it's the best plan ever and helped you run your marathon PR, or tell me why it'll just cause me to injure myself.
  • Any students out there who can relate to "Ugh, homework" Sundays?
  • Anyone do anything awesome today? Let me live through you.


  1. Oh hey, thanks for the link up! I just fake-finished week 11...but I am actually about to drop out of the program (for now). It's not the programs fault - I'm starting a new job and just don't want to be stressed about finding the time to fit everything in, so I'm dropping down to a half instead of a full marathon. But when I DO finally train for a full..I will definitely use this plan again. The 16 mile LR's totally threw me off, too, but it's one of the reasons I liked it more than other plans. I can tell you that on my first long run, my legs were SOOO exhausted and it was only 10 or 12 miles, I think. I believe that the higher weekly mileage works and I also really liked the structured speed/tempo work in the plan. I definitely felt myself getting faster, which was incredibly motivating!! I can't wait to hear how you like it!! I have actually found that all of my normal "injuries" (super duper tight calves, knee problems) have not flared up at all during the plan so far...and I think a huge part of it is the regular running and consistency of the program.

    I finished my Masters in March, but I definitely always had those days where I realized I had planned do spread stuff out throughout the week and failed, so I had to get it all in on one day instead. Procrastination definitely made me extremely efficient.

    Nothing awesome today, but I start a new job tomorrow! Yay!

  2. Side note - I'm debating doing the Mayors Marathon (or half marathon) in Anchorage this summer - is that the one you are training for?

  3. No way, it is indeed! There are only two options for a summer marathon, that one and Humpy's Marathon (Humpy as in salmon, not as in... Humping. It's the name of a popular restaurant here) in August, and I figure it's better to do the June marathon so I can take advantage of prime hiking weather the rest of the summer.

    I actually ran the half a few years ago, which was a terrible experience (it started with me realizing right as the race started that I had accidentally signed up for the marathon and ended with tons of walking because I was so undertrained) but it's a pretty scenic course (most of it is along the Coastal Trail-I've written quite a few posts on that trail so you can get a feel for it). The marathon course is totally different (I don't think any of it is on the Coastal Trail and it starts across town from the half), but it looks really cool because it spends about nine miles on land that I think is usually restricted to official military use (and is allegedly a "trail" as opposed to a paved path). Anyway, yes, unless something goes horribly wrong with my training I am almost positive that's the one I'll end up doing.

    I'm not 100% committed to the Hanson Method yet but I'm WAY more excited at the prospect of following that plan than Higdon's. I'd be doing the beginner plan (it seems like you were using the advanced?) but it's definitely a step-up in intensity from what I tried last year.

    1. How awesome. Well...maybe I'll see you there!

      I mean..I started on advanced...and then went to a self-formed "intermediate" (I'm sure the Hanson Brothers are cringing right now...).

      You can always feel it out and switch later, but definitely give it like 3 weeks into when you are doing all your hard workouts (long, tempo and speed).

      It's a step up from absolutely no training plan for me...perhaps I aimed too high? ha

    2. Yeah, let me know if you end up doing it (actually, I'll probably just see it on your blog...) and we can have an awkward blogger meet-up!

      Ahaha, "intermediate." I seem to remember a lot of "Make sure you do exactly what we tell you because everything's related and if you change one thing it'll mess everything up." But I find it hard to believe that's actually the case.

  4. oooh to be running/walking and to see that view..beautiful.

    I am VERY interested to hear your thoughts on the book/plan and see if you chose to follow it! Very interested!
    I'm on no plan right now simply because I seem to get pretty overwhelmed with a set guideline of miles for each specific day. I've been roaming around and reading a few of the popular plans to get an idea though!

    1. I haven't decided for sure to use it, but I'll definitely be talking about it a lot if I do! I'm trying to find blogs of people who have used it for past marathons but have come up short so far. I guess I'll be the guinea pig!