Here it is! My honest and unbiased review of the Hanson's Marathon Method. I've always followed a training plan for marathons (not so much for half marathons) and this was my first time trying HMM. I've followed the Runner's World Training Plans twice before and did the Jeff Galloway's plan once. The most miles I had run prior to beginning this training plan (which peaks at 63 miles) was 38. I was honestly pretty nervous to follow this plan because it didn't peak at a 20 mile long run (my first training plan where that wasn't part of peak week) and it had me running SO much. I had only ever done double digit runs on the weekends (part of my long runs) and only sporadically did speed work on the treadmill mainly (I did one workout on the track once before). I had heard of goal-paced runs, but never done one (in the Jeff Galloway method I did a few 4 x 1 mile repeats, but that always included a lengthy walking break in between sets).
I think you could totally consider me "newbie" in regards to running anything but long runs or daily runs. I also never really paid too much attention to what my "easy" paced runs were and most definitely always did them way too fast in past training plans. Additionally, I was the runner who tried to take my long runs SO slow that my legs actually ended up feeling exhausted.
This was also the first marathon training plan where I was post-anemia diagnosis (and am now in a healthy iron range again! Wohoo...), so I think that also should be considered with how my training runs and race felt overall.
I never felt drained at any point during this training cycle. Yes, I was tired (working 40+ hour weeks does that to you), but never did I feel "sick" of running or "not into it". I always craved more. Sure, I didn't always have a GREAT run everyday, but almost everyday I was thankful for being out there and trying.
My mental strength has IMPROVED so much. It's difficult to even compare my mental stamina and strength before and afterwards because I have become much more confident in my running/ myself/ my life than ever before. Prior to this training cycle I remember almost always starting a long run and thinking that I will probably fail at it. I was inadvertently setting myself up for failure. I really believe that those long goal-paced runs built up my mental stability and was the reason why I NEVER gave up and remained positive the entire 26.2 miles in my race.
My fitness is the best it's ever been. I felt strong and powerful after runs and I definitely believe this helped me push through the tough parts of those later miles (miles 18-21).
I never got injured, but strength training and proper recovery really saved me. If it weren't for my compression socks, epsom salt baths, foam rolling, easy-paced recovery runs, and regular strength training/ pilates/ barre classes I feel like I would have gotten injured and/ or burnt out. These items are SO important and they really made a HUGE difference for me. Do NOT be a slacker!
The high-mileage weeks were my secret weapon. If it weren't for those high mileage peak weeks, I don't think I would have felt as good during mile 25 and be able to pick up my pace that final 3/4 of a mile. I also believe that my recovery post-marathon would have felt VERY different. While I was still sore after the race, I was NOWHERE NEAR the pain I normally feel after running 26.2 miles. Less than two days after the race, I was able to go downstairs pretty easily (I would have normally needed an elevator).
Overall, I LOVED this training plan. I am definitely going to be following it again! While I didn't meet the ultimate time goal that I was training for, I knew that it was a long-shot and I like to set really high goals for myself and even if I don't obtain it, I know that the close-second to obtaining it will make me stronger.
Would I do anything differently? I'd probably try to use more body glide (I lost mine and found it a few days before I left for the race) and fit in more yoga, but overall I think I did pretty good. Nutrition is always something I struggle with (I love sweets and chips), but I'm getting better (so I'll want to improve on that too for the future).
Favorite race training plan?
Ever followed Hanson's Marathon Method or Half Marathon Method? What were your thoughts?