Now that I’m halfway through the training, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the Hanson’s Marathon Method. While I’ve used the half marathon method twice, this is my first time following the marathon training. I’m using the beginner plan customized by a Hanson’s coach.
The half marathon and marathon training plans are very similar. Many of the workouts are identical. The only difference is the marathon method has more mileage. Having done the half marathon training twice, I’m very familiar and comfortable with the workouts. I love the routine of running six days a week, I really like the different workouts, and I like the focus on easy running. I don’t like any other types of cardio like swimming or biking, so being able to run most days and not be required to bike or swim or something else really works for me. Those who like do crosstrain with other forms of aerobic exercise would probably not like the structure.
While I typically do strength training during training, it’s usually been only 1 or 2 days a week and my motivation for doing it wanes as training goes on. Through my coaching subscription, I get access to the 18-week strength training plan created to supplement the Hanson’s 18-week training plans. I’ve never enjoyed strength training so much! The plan is geared toward strengthening all the muscles important for running. It begins and ends with foam rolling and stretching, and the strength exercises include upper body, lower body, and core. The exercises are done 3 times a week and take 40-50 minutes. The best part is that there is a different routine every single day! I’ve learned so many new strength exercises, and even new ways to foam roll and stretch. Even exercises I know usually have a different take. Because of the variety, I’m never bored, and it’s been easy so far to devote the time for doing them.
Having a customized plan and a coach is the biggest change for me, and the best part of this training. When I did the half marathon plan for the first time, I had a few questions and submitted an inquiry through the Hanson’s Coaching Services website. Coach Melissa Johnson-White responded to me and helped me immensely–not just with the questions I had but with so much else. So when I decided to do my first full marathon, I knew I wanted to work with Melissa. The beginner plan in the book peaks at a 57-mile week, and I just wasn’t sure I could do that. So I opted for the customized plan option, where Melissa creates a custom plan for me. While my plan closely mirrors the plan in the book, it’s definitely customized to me. Anyone who would want to copy my plan would be foolish because it’s very much tailored to my abilities, weaknesses, preferences, and even the race course. For example, Melissa had me do some of the first speed sessions at different paces to gauge my fitness, then used that to plan my paces for additional sessions. You may have noticed that a lot of my runs have been negative splits; that’s to help prepare me for my race course of a 1% upgrade in the first half and 1% downgrade in the second half. I also appreciated having a customized schedule while I was on vacation. I felt confident I wasn’t losing fitness, plus it was what I could handle while on vacation.
The most surprising thing about working with a coach is how much she reigned me in in the beginning. Starting a new training plan is exciting, and I think if I’d done the plan on my own I’d have easily overdone it. Melissa really helped me ease into the plan and made sure I felt good before progressing. I think that really helped me get me to the halfway point feeling so good and still motivated.
The best thing about working with a coach, though, isn’t the training plan. It’s the daily, positive interaction from a professional runner who uses the Hanson’s method for her training. Hearing, “You can do it!” from other runners definitely boosts my spirits, but hearing it from the woman who placed 15 in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials is different. While it is just her opinion, just like it is for everyone else, I believe in myself much more because she believes in me.
Every day Melissa comments on my run in the Final Surge training log. She’s full of encouragement and positivity, and that’s helped me feel really good and confident about my training. The few times I’ve been a bit down or worried, she reminds me that no one run (good or bad) makes your training, that it’s the culmination of all the weeks and miles that will make me a better runner. She’s given me lots of tips on running in this summer’s awful heat and humidity and sends links to articles and videos. She follows up every few weeks with email when she gives me my schedule for the next two weeks, and we generally have a longer dialogue about how I’m feeling overall. She has also texted me before the races I’ve done for training to wish me luck and give me pointers. She also welcomes any questions or discussion whenever I want. With my coaching plan I get unlimited contact with my coach, which I love. I didn’t think I’d need it since I don’t seem to have many questions, but the daily, positive interaction has really kept me happy and motivated. I know for sure that if I were doing this training alone, I’d be much less confident because I usually doubt myself.
That brings me to where I am now–in a very good spot of being very confident in my training and being excited to put in two more months of hard work. I’m feeling very strong, very fit, and overall very happy! While I’m not injury prone, I should also note that I’m healthy with not even an ache or pain. Sure, I’m sore after long runs and hard workouts, but I think that just comes with the territory, and I don’t feel beaten down by it.
If you’re thinking of doing the Hanson’s method for either the full or the half, I highly recommend looking into either working with a Hanson’s coach or joining the new Hanson’s Coaching Services Run Club. There are varying levels of coaching, but the most inexpensive is if you want to use one of the existing training plans without customization. You get unlimited access to a personal coach and all the benefits of the Run Club. The Run Club is an online forum that has access to every single one of the Hanson’s plans, including the strength training. It’s based on community, with lots of ways to interact with others training with Hanson’s as well as all the coaches. It’s considered a group coaching option, and the coaches are very responsive and are there to help the runners. It’s also the most inexpensive option at $50 a month.