Pounding the Pavement: Taking a Look at Hanson Brothers’ Half-Marathon Training Plan

Chicago skyline nike free show

My upcoming months in a nutshell: running and Chicago.

So apparently sometime in the past few weeks I blacked out and decided it was a good idea to run two half marathons and a ten mile race in the span of three weeks. Never mind the fact that I haven’t run over eight consecutive miles yet this “spring,” or that I’ve only run one half marathon last summer. Nope, I’m not panicking. Not at all.

Okay, maybe I’m a little nervous. So to make myself feel better, I’ve decided to do the one thing I know I CAN do- plan a training schedule. Now that Kate’s PR Crew has finished (wonk wonk), I can be a little more independent/flexible in my workout schedule. One of the plans I’ve stumbled upon during my training research was the plan titled: Hansons Half-Marathon Method: Run Your Best Half-Marathon the Hansons Way.

Take a second to check it out and come back. I’ll be right here.

Nope, your eyes weren’t deceiving you, reader. That plan actually DOES have six days of running with one rest day and no cross-training per week. The Hansons swear by the idea of “cumulative fatigue”– training your body to perform even when it’s flat-out exhausted, hence the abundance of running. Lest you think these people are completely nuts, note that your “active recovery” runs (after long runs and tempo runs) are at any easy pace.Oh, what a relief.

Their training methods are used most in marathon training (no long run over 16 miles, hey-yo!), but they’ve adapted a half-marathon training plan for those of us who aren’t quite there yet. And after a lot of reading various reviews of their plans (most people who have followed the plan swear by it for marathons), I have to say, I’m pretty intrigued. Cumulative fatigue seems logical to me, and I understand the principle of “if you want to get really good at something, you should do it, a lot.” However, honestly, I’m a little nervous about incurring an injury by following such a high-volume running plan. Also, I absolutely love taking cross-training NTC, Spin, or Barre classes- I don’t know if I’m ready to give those up.

So, I’m looking for some feedback. Have any of you (or anyone you know) tried this marathon training plan? Do you see any other advantages or disadvantages? Any advice for me as I buckle down my training in the last six weeks before my first half marathon of the season (EEEEEK!). Send wisdom, y’all!

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About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

20 thoughts on “Pounding the Pavement: Taking a Look at Hanson Brothers’ Half-Marathon Training Plan

  1. For the past four half marathons I’ve trained for, I’ve never run two days in a row. It’s just my preference, but as long as you have at least two decent runs (5 miles is all you need) plus a long run (increasing by one mile at the most) each week, you should be fine. The longest I ran was 9 or 10 miles before a half marathon, and I still finished with a decent-ish time (2:13, depends what you consider decent!).

    And if I made one of those shorter runs an interval workout, I had even more endurance. Rest is just as essential as running, and I don’t think one or two rest days a week is enough. (“Rest” day in this case just means not running. You can bike, strength train, do yoga, etc.)

    I think I would definitely either fatigue or get an injury following the Hanson plan (I can’t stop thinking “Mmmbop!”). That is a lot of running on top of two half marathons and a 10-miler all within three weeks. How much have you been running per week now? If your instinct tells you that this is the plan for you, then do it. But if you’re doing it because you think running more will get you ready for … even more running, I think it might be a bad idea for your body. Just my two cents!

    1. Hi Vanessa!
      Thanks for all this info- it’s really helpful! My mileage per week has been pretty casual- probably somewhere from 15-20? And I think you’re right that I might be attracted to this plan just because I think running will get you ready for even more running! My knee gets twinges every now and then, so i think your suggestion of two decent runs and one lung run is a great one! Sometimes I think rest days are even more difficult as long run days- I like staying really active. Thanks again for your comment!

  2. First, you CAN do it!! I think it’ll be lots of running BUT nothing you can’t handle!! You got it!! Just keep up with your stretches and rolling and such and you will be good to go! Can’t wait to hear about it all!

  3. I’ve been loving reading your blog! I tried running consecutive days for my last half and I ended up in a lot of pain. It didn’t work for me but I am also not an avid runner.

    1. Wow, so many Kristin’s! Thanks so much- congrats on running your most recent half! I love running (especially when the weather is nicer…) so we’ll see what happens! Playing it by ear for now 🙂

  4. I thought of doing Hansen training plan also. Right now I’m doing the Nike Coach plan which has me running 5 days a week. I’m doing a lot of yoga and stretching to help with the mileage buildup.

    1. Awesome, Rhoda! I’m so bad about stretching… is the Nike Coach plan on the Nike+ Running app? What else does your plan have you doing?

      1. Yes, Nike Coach is on the Nike+ Running app. It’s a relatively new feature. Depending on your level, it has you running 4-5 days a week. Then 1 day cross training and 1 rest day. Sometimes I end up doing double day workouts. I think you are fine just doing 4 days running and 2 days cross training if you think running 5 days a week is too much.

  5. Hi Kristen! As you probably saw from my review (The Runivore) I had great results training on Hansons Marathon Method. It was tough though, and I do struggle with whether I want to take it on again. I just finished reading the new Hansons Half Marathon method book and overall I think the half marathon plan is much more accessible to a broader group of runners. For example, they have a “Just Finish” plan that eliminate the intensity (speed work and tempo runs). However, it’s still 6 days of running, which for me was honestly the toughest part of the plan. You get REALLY used to running on tired legs. Which is the point – it’s all centered around the concept of cumulative fatigue – but I guess my advice would be to just be prepared for that. I also would say make sure you can commit to the 6 days. The book really discourages veering from the plan. I think if it is followed close to exactly as prescribed that one can see great results.

    1. Hey Gina!
      I actually did stumble upon your review of the Hansons’ plan. Your advice is incredibly helpful- and timely, because I just registered for the Chicago marathon! This will be my first marathon, so I’m still deciding how I want to approach training. I believe that the Nike Chicago community will offer a training crew like they did last year, so I’ll probably join that for social/support reasons, and I’m not sure how well that would fit with the Hansons plan. Any thoughts? Thanks so much for reaching out! Your blog is great 🙂

  6. I’m 41, started running about 6-7 years ago and have run 2 full marathons and 45 half marathons. Personally, I most I’ve EVER run is 3 times a week. When Runner’s World’s coach plan was free, I followed that which has 1 long run, an easy 2-3 mile run 2 days later and 1 run mid-week run that always has a purpose, like tempo, hills or speed work. The plan I’m on now is actually from Self Magazine, it’s 6 days a week but 3 of those days include cross training, strength training and yoga. http://www.active.com/running/articles/your-12-week-half-marathon-training-plan

    1. Hey Jill! Congrats on all your running accomplishments- that’s amazing! Thanks for passing along the Self Magazine plan, I’ll definitely check it out!

    2. Love the fact that it’s designed by Marie Purvis! I got a chance to work out with her in Oregon this weekend- she’s amazing!

  7. I agree with Gina. I started playing with the Hanson’s marathon method of cumulative fatigue/rule of specificity about three months ago. In the past, I could never run five days a week. I would run 4 days (T, R, S, S) tops (for a total of 25, 30 or 40 miles a week). BTW, I’m 51, so I go one week higher mileage, the next lower. My biggest problem with the method is that it was REALLY hard to get used to being tired and having to run 6 days a week. “Have to run”, that’s how I felt. Not a good “I have to run :)!” feeling, but a “oh, no, I have to run, yet again :(.” I got so profoundly bored with the routine that nothing (not even a new watch) would lift the funk I felt. For a week, all I did was complain about running. And I’ve been running since forever. I would get dressed to run and that’s it. Did Hansons kill my inner runner? My one week of inactivity and whining did nothing to help. I was feeling miserable. Took another week off and went scuba diving 3 times a day for 7 days. Didn’t feel guilty for not running because I was being active somehow. The only running I did was to the buffet, 3 times a day for 7 days. Came back 5 pounds fatter, but in a much better mood. Upon returning, I thought that the habit of running 6 days a week was dead in me, but NO. Curiously, somehow my legs and head had adjusted to the routine and I’ve been running 6 days a week ever since without either physical or metaphysical issues. I would run 7 days if I didn’t force myself to rest. In short: once/if you get over the boredom of having to run 6 days, it gets easier and you get faster.

    1. Hi Lucy! I think you’re completely right that a break from the routine can completely revamp your perspective- stay tuned for a post on that topic!

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