Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hansons Marathon Method

Last night I went to my first meeting of the South Jersey Athletic Club.  The club had invited Jen Miller, local freelance journalist and high school friend of mine, to speak about her experience training with the Hansons Marathon Method.  Jen also wrote an article for the New York Times last spring on the same topic.

I was only passingly familiar with this training plan, having heard about it through other bloggers and a few articles here and there.  The method was developed by the brothers Hanson several years ago:


Nailed it.

Turns out there are some striking similarities between the Hansons Method and my own, which I've stitched together over the course of 10 marathons.  

  • Running six days a week.  I've done this for just about every marathon and had no idea it wasn't normal.
  • No crosstraining.  In the Hansons Method, they stress that the only way to get better at running is to run.  Screw all the other stuff.  In my plan, this wasn't exactly by design.  I was just usually too tired and lacked the resources to train another way.
  • Running while tired.  The Hansons Method specifically wants you to run tired.  Again, this wasn't by design in my plan.  I usually ran after work after I'd been on my feet most of the day, and was running six days a week anyway so there was little time for recovery.

The biggest differences are the long run, and the amount of speedwork done.  Hansons has you topping out at 16 miles (I topped out at 22), but the miles you do put in are frequently done at race pace.  There's a reason nearly everyone I've known who has done Hansons has used the word "grueling" to describe it.

The reason why I'll continue to stick to my own plan, even as I strive for a sub 3:00 marathon, is because I believe that experience counts for a lot.  After having covered 26.2 ten times over the years, my mind and body have come to understand what that distance requires in terms of strength and tenacity.

The club members, incidentally, were very nice and welcoming, though I was by far the youngest person there.  I plan to keep going to events in the future and become a dues-paying member and hopefully make some new running friends along the way.

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