Trying the Hanson Method on a Recovery Run

Hansons Marathon Method
Hansons Marathon Method


Today was an off day after yesterday’s long run, but with the storm coming in tomorrow, I figured that I would just run 3.0 or so to clean the gunk out of the legs and get moving around a little more.

I have been reading and am about 3/4 of the way through the Hanson’s Marathon Method book. The biggest thing I have taken away from the book and the Hanson Method – is that on my recovery runs, I am running too fast.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not all that fast to begin with, my race pace is usually between 6:40 to 7:10 per mile for shorter races and 7:30 to 8:00 for longer (depending on weather and course).

My typical training pace is 8:00 to 8:30.

The thing is that when I run my recovery runs, I go more by feel, run “comfortably” and am in that same ballpark of 8:10 to 8:40 pace range for recovery runs, unless the road conditions are nasty.

My previous idea was to keep the majority of runs (even recovery) within 30 seconds of my goal marathon race pace (sub 3:30) to ensure that I was used to running at that speed even when tired.

After my 13.1 mile training run yesterday at an 8:14 pace (which is way too fast for the pace I want to accomplish – at least according to the Hanson Method), I figured that I would slow down my recovery run, to between a 9:00 to 10:00 minute per mile pace.

You know something, running that slow and maintaining a higher cadence is damn near impossible for me. Some people can do it, but right now I can’t, so I slowed down my cadence, to slow down my pace. However, I did continue to really work light feet and pulling up my feet quickly.

At first it felt uncomfortable going so slow, but after I warmed up a couple of miles, I went to go to the bottom of the hill and eventually decided to go into Pepin Way. Someplace I hadn’t completely explored before, it goes a lot further back than I expected and the best part is there is very little traffic compared to Shepard Road.

This turned out a lot longer than the 3 or so that I had planned on, but going at the slower speed, seemed to work. My legs didn’t feel bad, I had plenty of energy and even going back up Philbrick Hill, it didn’t feel too bad.

Garmin Stats 2/23/13
Garmin Stats 2/23/13


My overall pace of 9:23 is the slowest run I have had this year and I felt really good during it (the pressure was off having to maintain that faster pace). Now I don’t know if I am completely on the Hanson Method, LSD or MAF bandwagons, or what, but this run is going to make me think a lot more about how I do my recovery runs – maybe I should be purposely doing them slower, instead of at a “comfortable” pace, like I have been.

All I know is that I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to slow down to this pace. This experience has given me a lot to think about and I will need to experiment with it a little more to see how I feel after running recovery runs this way. Who knows maybe I will feel a little more rested for the quality runs if I continue do it this way?

Have you had any experience with the Hanson Marathon Training Method, what do you think of it? I will be doing a full review of it next week after I finish it.

RunLog 2/23/13
RunLog 2/23/13

12 thoughts on “Trying the Hanson Method on a Recovery Run

      1. I’d sure like a copy too. I’m also shooting for a sub-20 5K (at age 56) this year. Ran a 20:11 last week so I’m optimistic I’ll reach my goal soon.

  1. Finally something I know about… My wife and I have participated in the Hanson’s Marathon training program the last two summers and have been personally coached by Luke Humphrey, the author of the Hanson’s Marathon Method.
    In 2011 my wife decided she wanted to run her first marathon and wanted me to help her train for and run one too. It had been over 30 years since my last marathon and I really didn’t feel comfortable training her, especially since I really didn’t feel confident I could still finish one myself. 30 years ago I was self trained and a lot younger… the availability of good training plans was few and far between, so I pretty much just ran as fast as I could everyday, running 100 plus miles a weeks. Long story short, we have been Hanson Running Shop groupies for many years and decided to give Luke’s program a try.
    We both completed the 16 week program and credit it for our success in completing the marathon. I had run 8 previous marathons on my own and can’t remember any of them being as effortless as this one was.
    As far as I’m concerned the Hanson Method worked for me and my wife and I intend to sign up again this summer to train for a fall 1/2 marathon with Luke’s group! The program is a break from traditional marathon training philosophy and that’s whats good about it. It’s intense, but it doesn’t beat your body up the way traditional plans do.
    At the end of the training I felt better prepared to run a marathon than I ever had before.

    1. Hi Gordon

      Thanks for your words of wisdom, you have more experience as a marathoner than I do. It has been 30 years since I ran one and the only thing that I disagree/not sure of is the long run philosophy. I don’t mean for physiological reason – more psychological.

      The weekly mileage doesn’t bother/scare me, I know that I can do that, no I usually over-distance train, so it isn’t a question on race day of whether I can finish the distance, but more how fast I will be able to cover the distance. Right now I don’t have that confidence for the marathon, it has been too long since I last ran it.

      I have a lot to think about and a few more months to decide what I will do for my Marine Corps Marathon training.

      I will hit you up as I develop more questions when I review the book next week.

  2. This is something I have going on with my current full marathon training. Erin had me slow down quite a bit. I do have a tempo run in the week, but a lot of my runs I’m running at target paces much slower than I did with half marathon training. There is a rhyme and reason – I like to hear that Hansen also recommends something similar in this regard. I’m sure coaches will differ as to when/where … but the slowed down runs, we’re talking forced slow where you feel even strange, they have a purpose. So I’ve been told 🙂 I have found that at first they felt awkward, but now they don’t and I’m used to them. I’ve also noticed I have much better endurance now than I did all last year, yet I am running much more.

    1. Christina it is good hear that I am not the only one that felt weird slowing down. The more I am reading, the more I am thinking they might just be right. I am going to experiment with the Hanson and RW Marathon methods over the next few months and probably put together a plan to that makes sense for me.

      I imagine that I will have to get a coach someday, just so I can stop thinking about my training and just do it. 🙂

    2. The Kenyans are known for going really slowly on their recovery days. Two sayings I like about this subject are,”Make your hard days harder and your easy days easier,” and, “Gold medals are lost on the easy days.”

  3. Personally, I am not a believer in running unnaturally slow. I’ve run enough times at a 9+ minute pace to know what it feels like, and definitely appreciate the easy aspect of it, but at the end I realize that I only do it to accommodate the person I was running with. The conversation and knowing that I am helping out a friend are reasons enough, but If I was on my own I wouldn’t do it because that pace as a general rule would drive me nuts. It is like driving at an unnaturally slow speed.and a major pet peeve of mine that their are too many people these days taking up slots in races who have no desire or goal to actually push themselves to see what they can do. I am not going to be an active participant in that until my body tells me I have to (a day that is getting closer and closer unfortunately)

    I am out of the marathon game and have been for 6 years so I make that caveat up front. I can see the benefit after a long run of going much slower in your follow up runs, and looking at your pace, we are fairly close in age and speed. I could see perhaps adjusting to an 8:30-8:40 pace but I will save that 9:20 for the 5 or 6 times a year when I am running with others who are used to that. The rest of the efforts I would think I am wasting time and cheating myself.

    1. I was right there with you, until just recently.

      However, I am finding that my body is starting to break down more often than it used to and needs something different than what I have been doing. I am not sure that changing to a slower pace is the complete answer and it is difficult for me to run comfortably at above a 9:00, however the Hanson Method and others definition of easy, is different than what I have done in the past. I plan to give it a try and see if it helps me.

      I disagree with you on your statement about there are “too many people taking up slots in race who have no desire or goal to push themselves to see what they can do”. I believe there is room in running at races for all levels of runners, whether they are competitive or recreational. As long as someone is out there put one foot in front of the other and participating in running, it is a good thing.

      We are at different points in our running careers and how you will approach your training will be your approach.

      However, isn’t that what is really great about running – there is room for everyone to try and find what works best them and how they run, instead of one way of training to run is the only correct way or the one-size fits all approach.

      Personally, I like the way running allows us all to experiment and find what works best for us, don’t you. 🙂

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