I was pretty excited about trying the Hanson plan for my recent marathon. It’s basically more midweek running, faster midweek running, and less emphasis on the long runs. Here’s my take on how it worked:
I broke several rules. The Hansons are very against the 20 mile run. They say it’s too much for recreational runners. I just couldn’t feel confident without one, so I did just one.
The Hansons also say not to shuffle the days in the plan too much. I shuffled a lot. They take an off day mid week, and I prefer and end of the week off day. Running throughout the week really helps keep my stress level down and early to midweek, I’d rather run and take some rest before the weekend.
I made my longest midweek run 9 miles, instead of 10, and make some of the mile repeats just a straight tempo run.
What I kept from the plan was upping my midweek runs in quality and miles. I definitely felt less tired by not doing multiple 20 mile runs. I basically added one extra run to what I used to do when you added the extra weekday miles up. I did succeed in taking my overall pace down. I raced a 10 miler faster than I had done in almost two years, and brought everyday pace almost 30 seconds down just by doing a little speed work .
Would I do the plan again? Well, I can’t really say I did it this time. I broke their main philosophical rule and did a 20 miler. I think I will rely on their mid week schedules but continue with 1-2 20 milers. No more though. I like their speed sessions. They are simple and the book gives you all the prescribed paces, and I plan to use them. I think for most people it’s best to cut and paste from a few plans into what fits into your life and experience level. I would not recommend this plan to anyone who already feels spread thin during the week. Running 8-9 miles before work was was no joke and required getting up even earlier which isn’t easy. Plus you do this for weeks on end on the Hason plan. I already ran 6 days a week, but for people who run 3-4 days a week that’s a huge jump, as the plan is adamant you need 6 days a week.
I also didn’t have a stellar race, but I don’t think it was lack of fitness, more like lack of being realistic about what I could do. I’ll use the plan in the future and just modify some. It’s a great book for taking your marathon to the next level and I recommend it.