Tag Archives: training program

Hansons Marathon Method

I had a post back in June about marathon training programs. And since this blog is supposed to be about “running” and “paleo”, I thought I would do more on the running side of it. I’ve always been a huge supporter of the Hanson’s training methods. Back when I lived in Detroit and was first starting to run marathons I had attended one of the Hanson’s marathon clinics. This was when Luke Humphrey was taking over coaching the clinics and before he started the Hansons Coaching Service.

Luke wrote a book about the Hanson training program, and it was released in October. My copy shipped immediately.

Hansons Marathon Method – My Review

I’m not going to write a review along the lines of massive essays posted on Amazon. I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of running marathons or low-mileage vs high-mileage training philosophies. Why? Well, I’m already a marathoner so someone else’s opinion isn’t going to make me stop running them. And I was a believer in this training method from using it for several years. I didn’t buy it to read and wonder if it would work for me.

This review is more of a why buy the book when some of the information is online or in Running Times?

Back in 2005, before Brian Sell and Desi Davila were Olympians, Jim Gerweck wrote an article in Running Times magazine about the Hanson’s training plan. The article gave some background on the Hanson brothers and their unique training plan. Unique because unlike every other plan around back then, it did not have a single 20 mile run. In fat, the article was subtitled, “Smashing the myth of the 20 miler.” The article included the 18 week plans and some details on how to run some of the workouts.

With the success of Brian Sell, there was more interest in the plans and Jim Gerweck wrote a follow-up article. This one from 2007 discussed some of the changes the brothers made to the plan for the Hanson-Brooks elite team.

And finally in 2010, an article in Runners World by Adam Cohen documented his running of the Chicago Marathon following the “way of the renegades” as he called the Hanson plan. The article included the training plan at the end.

So Runners World and Running Times had articles about the training plans and included the plans and information on the workouts. The plans are available on the Hansons running store website, both the beginner and advanced version.

So if the information on the plans is out in the public domain, why buy the book?

Luke is an elite runner on the Hanson-Brooks team, so he’s used the plan himself. He’s lived it for years. He also coaches a lot of normal runners, so he knows what works for them and what questions they have. Reading a plan online isn’t the same as an experienced coach explaining why to run at a specific pace or distance. Luke uses all of his knowledge to explain the science behind marathon training in an understandable way. I’ve done some of these workouts for years myself, but know I really understand why I’m running them.

The plans as presented by Luke in the book are much more detailed. Instead of just saying “strength workout” on Tuesday, Luke lays out what intervals to run for each workout. In another section, Luke gives advice on how to modify the plans for adding miles or dealing with scheduling conflicts and missed workouts. These alone were worth the price of the book to me.

I’m not an elite marathoner. I’ll never be one (because I’m old), but it is nice to know how the plan I’m following in my pursuit of a Boston Qualifier is related to the plan that got Desi Davila to her amazing Boston Marathon finish and later on the 2012 Olympic team. Luke talks about the elite plans and his own training log for the 2011 Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon is included.

Simply put, if you have any interest in the Hansons Marathon Method, picking up this book is a no-brainer.

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Marathon Training Programs

Back when I first started running I was pointed to a training program by a colleague. It was Hal Higdon’s Beginner Marathon Plan. The plan was the equivalent to the ‘couch to 5k’ approach to a marathon. Start off easy and gradually increase the miles over an 18-week period. The goal of the plan was to get a beginner to the starting line prepared to finish a marathon. I’ll repeat that last part, prepared to finish a marathon. The focus of his plans are about finishing. His more advanced plans still focus on finish, albeit faster.

So what are your options if you want to finish a lot faster? What if you want to qualify for the Boston Marathon?

There are many training options available on the Internet, highlighted in running magazines, or outlined in books. It is hard to believe that people still get training guidance out of a book that was probably out of date by the time it went to print. Perhaps one of the best options available today is online coaching.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of different books and articles on training programs and approaches. Some, like Daniel’s Running Formula, is so filled with scientific data and charts, that I never really figured out what the proper plan was. In the end, this was not the approach for me.

At the other end is Brad Hudson’s Run Faster: How to be Your Own Best Coach. Brad Hudson is a great coach, but the book tries to explain how to adapt a running program based on your progress. I thought the ideas where sound, but in practice it didn’t work for me. I wanted something more structured (Brad says to write your plan in pencil so you can modify it daily). Since the book was published, Brad has moved to Boulder, CO and runs the Hudson Training Systems. Hudson offers both custom plans and a general plan. He also coaches an elite team and a friend of mine is a member. I think the elite team participates with the group training/coaching. I may check this out at some point.

What I always come back to though after looking at other training systems is the one that I used after moving on from Hal’s plan. Back then I was living in the Detroit, MI area and the Hansons Running Store is where I shopped at and they offered a free training program that follows the same principles that their elite Hanson-Brooks team follows. The team’s program is different, but the concepts are the same. The shop offered a marathon clinic that I attended that explained the theory behind their coaching philosophy. I think part of the reason I go back to that plan is it is what I understand and it works.

This is the training philosophy that produced Brian Sell (2008 Beijing Olympics) and now Desiree Davila (2012 London Olympics).

The training programs are available on the Hanson’s Running website (hansons-running.com) and information about the Hanson-Brooks elite team is there as well.

In addition to the standard training programs, Luke Humphrey, a team member, has a coaching service. Luke is a great coach and has many coaching options to choice from. If you are looking for a coach, I would check him out at hansonscoachingservies.com. Luke also has a training book coming out soon called The Hansons Marathon Method. The book will be released in October and I have mine on order.

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