|Kinvara 4's for race day in Volte colors...Go Volte!|
Thought I would list some pros and cons of the plan, though I really hesitate to even use those terms because so much depends on your training background prior to starting Hansons. For example, a 60+ mile week may be a con for someone who has only done one prior marathon that topped out at 40 miles/week, but perfect for someone who had run multiple 50+ mile weeks the prior training cycle. 20 miles/week is a huge jump, 10 miles/week is more managable. You get the idea.
Prior to starting Hansons, my last few marathon training cycles were:
- Lake Tahoe 2013: Upper 40s a month before tapering
- Houston 2014: One month of low 50 mile weeks before tapering (pushed only one up to 60 miles just to test the waters....all extra mileage was easy running)
- Boston 2014: 3 weeks of upper 40 to low 50 miles before tapering
So, I knew going in to Hansons I was capable of stringing multiple 50+ mile weeks together without injury, which is good, because the Advanced plan in Hansons has you running that mileage for over two months!! More on this later.
Given my training background the last year, here is how I break out the pros and cons:
- Higher mileage plan-both the Beginner and Advanced plan are higher than most traditional training programs. I was ready for more mileage. Faster marathon times demand more mileage (in a balanced way of course).
- Lots of marathon pace work-I wanted practice weekly for race day
- Emphasis on speed at the beginning-Good mix of paces through the week, this plan doesn't neglect speed like so many programs do
- Balance of the big three: speed/strength work and marathon pace and the long run-it's a fine line to walk for sure, but all your bases are covered each week.
- Clear guidelines for pacing: Tables included in the book that are very clear with your prescribed paces to run for every workout.
- The "Beginner" plan-Don't let the title fool you, even the beginner plan will get you up over 50 miles in later weeks. It's a more advanced training program in my opinion. The mileage is not quite as high as their Advanced plan, but there is still the track work AND marathon pace work AND long run. For someone who has only done 1 or 2 marathons and not done much in terms of speedwork during those training cycles, the beginner plan would be quite taxing to jump into from my own experience.
- 18 week buildup-18 weeks is a LONG time, but may be needed depending on your background and what kind of time goal you have. If you're looking for major improvement (say 8-10%), you'll likely want a long training cycle. As marathoners, we also have to consider balancing training at a high level with injury risk. Marathon fitness takes a lot of time, and you want to build to peak fitness, but not too soon, and not at the expense of your body shutting down from overtraining or injury. In my case, I think 12-16 weeks is probably more my sweet spot. I feel like I could go run Chicago this weekend and have a good showing, but still have three more weeks to go in training. It's enough time for a little more improvement, but also more time for something to crop up...eeek.
- Running 6 days a week-You run a lot on this plan (This is absolutely not a con for me...I love running 6 days a week!), and that's what makes the cumulative fatigue work. If you start dropping run days, you lose a lot of what makes this plan great, so make sure you really have the time 6 days a week to devote to it or you'll shortchange your training.
- The 16-mile long run-You have to buy into the 16 mile cap folks, and this is going to be the single hardest thing for people to get past in going to Hansons. And while I have not yet run Chicago and been able to fully see the results of how this training works, I can you now that this is HUGELY important in maintaining the delicate balance that Hansons prescribes between track, marathon pace, and long run mileage. If you push through to 20 miles instead of 16, you will be sore and fatigued to the point you won't recover to do these other tough workouts during the week, unless you're already training at a pretty high level (70-80+ mile weeks). That being said, I totally understand the psychological benefit that is gained from seeing that 20 mile run on your Garmin before a marathon. If you are a newer marathoner, it is much easier to swallow the idea of only having to run 6.2 more miles on race day then 10.2 miles because you stop at 16. So, just know before you start that you will need some major discipline to keep your long run mileage in check.
If you want more info on why Hansons stops at 16 miles, here ya go:
Part 1: The Hansons Method: Mile 20 Running without the 20 miles