Hanson Marathon Method: Yes or No?

I’ve started exploring popular marathon training programs and trying to decide which one I’d like to use for my training. One of the method’s I’ve been really curious about is the Hanson’s Method. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this method, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on it and see if maybe someone has had some real world experience with it that can tell me how it went for them. Linking up with Erika, Patty and Marcia for Tuesday’s on the Run!

The first thing I noticed about the plan is that it calls for 6 days of running and little to no cross training. Everyone seems to be split 50/50 on what works and what doesn’t concerning cross training- some people say it helps you become a better runner and others say it has little to no effect on your running performance.

The Hanson’s marathon method operates under the idea that by running in a fatigued state you will build more mental and physical endurance by running on tired legs. Some of the key concepts I’ve found in my research of this plan are:

  • High mileage
  • 6 days of running
  • Speed emphasis early on
  • No cross training
  • Fatigued legs
  • 3 SOS (“Something of Substance”) workouts per week- speed, tempo and long run
  • Longest run is 16 miles

I’m going to break down the pros and cons of this plan as I see it based on my research and for me personally. However, if anyone has actual feedback on using it, I’d love to hear it!


I can see both pros and cons of the high mileage aspect for myself personally. When I was training for Gasparilla, I think the back to back long runs really worked in my favor and I felt really strong and very good for all three races. Running on tired legs is hard but it does offer benefits. However, I feel like the Hanson’s high mileage method may be more beneficial than some of the other plans I’ve seen where you only run 3 days a week…for example, the Galloway program recommends running 30-45 minutes (for me that would be 3-4 miles) two days a week and then up to 26 miles on the weekend. While I love Galloway’s method, I feel like going from running 6-8 miles during the week to 20-26 on weekends is a bit of a jump.


This has been one of the points of contention for me of this plan. Do I really need to run 6 days a week? I already work out 5 days a week, which is typically 4 days of running and 2 days of cross training (one day is a double workout day). So adding in another day of running wouldn’t be that much of a stretch, but I do worry about the ‘lack’ of recovery days. However, I’ve done run streaks before (where you run at least a mile every day) and I’ve felt that it definitely helped me improve my speed and running economy, so maybe there is a benefit to it.

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This is one of the components that I am a fan of. I love speed work and I love to run ‘fast’ (for me). It’s another of the reasons that I’m not a fan of Galloway’s training plan for marathons- because he doesn’t really emphasize speedwork. While I’m definitely not shooting for a time goal for my first marathon, I do know that I want to maintain the speed I’ve gained so far and I don’t want to lose any of it. I think speed training is definitely beneficial, no matter what distance you are training for.


Having no cross training is kind of an issue for me. While I am an off/on cross trainer (I’ll go months without doing it and then be gung ho about it for a few months), I really feel like cross training has benefitted me. Plus it gives me a break from doing the same thing over and over and mixes up the types of workouts I can do.


As I said before, I learned that I respond well to running back to back on weekends come race day. This worked very well for me during Gasparilla and I felt extremely strong and well trained. So despite the fact that it might be a difficult thing to maintain, I think overall there would be a true benefit to me physiologically with this component of the plan.


I like to mix up my workouts, whether that means including cross training in the mix or doing a good mix of speed and tempo and long slow distance runs. This plan incorporates all of those. Plus with my schedule being the way it is with working in retail, I do have time for mid week longer runs now, whereas before I wouldn’t have.


I’ll admit this is the part of the plan that intrigues me the most. While I don’t find the idea of running 20 or 22 miles in one shot outside my capability, I’ve always wondered how the concept of running 16 miles as the longest run actually works in real life. However, one thing that appeals greatly to me about this type of training is that it lessens the amount of time I’m running in one setting. Particularly during the summer in Florida heat, that definitely sounds appealing. As well as the fact that most weekends I have to work, so that means I would have to wake up extra early to get in a 20 + miler. 16 seems more doable with my current work schedule, and would most likely allow me to work afterwards with less pain and fatigue in my legs.

Right now I’m basically trying to analyze the different running plans and see which one would be best for me. The traditional marathon training plan is 18-20 weeks, which means I still have about a month to a month and a half of base building before I actually get in the thick of my training. I’m hoping that by then I can decide which plan I want to use! In the meantime, I think I may try to run the first few weeks of the Hanson’s plan and see how I like it. I ordered the book and I’m planning on reading about it, so we’ll see how I feel once I’ve read it.

What are your thoughts on the Hanson’s training method? Have you used the plan before? How do you determine what marathon training plan to use? 


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13 thoughts on “Hanson Marathon Method: Yes or No?”

  1. Turns out I used the Galloway method unintentionally LOL. I can’t seem to fit all three of my weekday runs in. Our running club supplies a marathon training plan but it does have more mileage than the one I used for my first one – Hal Hidgon. I went back to Hal’s instead of our club plan because I’m a slower runner and just can’t do that much mileage during the week. Hal’s longest run is 20, whereas our club’s is 22. I think there is a big mental advantage of running that long ahead of the race, because it doesn’t seem like it’s “that” much more to go 26. I will probably go back to our club’s plan once my first marathon is done because it is so much nicer to train with others who are on the same plan training for the same race. Long runs alone are so hard!
    Wendy Hammond recently posted…Celebrating #NationalWalkingDay +Marathon Training UpdateMy Profile

    1. That’s what I was thinking- the mental advantage of running longer would be beneficial. I’ll be spending this month testing out training plans and seeing how I feel on them.

  2. I have not personally used the Hanson’s plan because I know myself well enough to know high mileage is not right for me. I’ve had many friends who’ve trained with Hansons. In my experience, my faster friends with more experience did better on it. I have a couple of slower, intermediate runner friends who used it and got injured. I think it is an advanced plan one definitely must be ready for.
    Marcia recently posted…In Search of a Hydration SolutionMy Profile

    1. I wouldn’t consider myself an “advanced” runner, but I have been running for almost four years, so I know what works and what doesn’t for me. I always feel stronger going into a race when I run more during the week. The plans with only 3 days a week of running aren’t enough for me to feel super confident.

    1. I’ll have to check her blog and see how it’s going for her! I really like running more than I like other forms of working out lol.

    1. I go back and forth over cross training- sometimes I love it, other days I prefer just to run. I figure I can still keep my OTF classes in the mix since they incorporate running as well as weights.

  3. I’ve never successfully completed a Hansons plan, but the amount that I’ve done has led to some good races. I’ve run two marathons with max mileage at 15 for one and 17 for the other using Hansons as closely as I could (summer training with 2 kids means missed runs). Both times I was strong for the full marathon.

    For me, the hardest thing about Hansons is that there’s not a lot of leeway for life. It’s hard to move runs around and having 6+ mile runs 6 days a week can be hard. But, even with my missed runs, I’ve had success with the program, so I’d say go for it. (I will warn you that you will be tired all the time while you are doing it.)
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Staying Hydrated on the Run | Tuesdays on the RunMy Profile

    1. I figured I would be tired all the time anyway while marathon training lol! I already warned my boyfriend not to expect too many late nights out of me 😉

  4. That is a dilemma! Personally, I know I need a couple rest days (even if I’m not completely “resting”), I would get burnt out if I had a plan making me run that often. I over-pronate and have hip issues sometimes…if I try to run in an already-exhausted state, my form goes south and all of my issues explode on me LOL
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…My Take on VictoryMy Profile

    1. I’ve always thought I needed some rest days, but lately with my training this year, I’ve been responding better to higher mileage schedules. I got several PR’s at my last few races using a schedule where I run 5 days a week. This would only be adding one more day to that…

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