The Hanson’s Marathon Method Chapter 1: Philosophy

Welcome everyone to my weekly series on The Hanson’s Method. Back in January I was preparing for my first Marathon. I was looking into training regimes and heard many great things about The Hanson’s Method. I ordered myself a copy and breezed through the book in a week. It was a very interesting read and I would recommend it to all those preparing for their first marathon.

In my entry, Week 0 Marathon Training, I mentioned I will be doing summaries of the chapters to help better learn the Hanson’s Method. To keep a long story short, it was difficult to do these summaries while also taking the time for work, school, and training. Not to mention the summaries were not always released weekly so it was difficult to refer back to them without doing a bit of digging. With that being said, I had chose to do a separate series on the Hanson’s Method.

Each week I’ll be posting a report on a chapter in the Hanson’s Method. These reports will act as a way for me to better learn the material, and to act as a better reference when I plan to run future marathons. These reports will not be a complete summary of the book, so for those who want to get the most out of the Hanson’s Method, I highly recommend picking yourself a copy of the book here.

Now, let’s dive right into the Hanson’s Method chapter 1.

The first chapter goes into the cumulative fatigue philosophy behind the Hanson’s Method. These ideas are what lay the groundwork for the Hanson’s Method. Knowing whether or not you should do the Hanson’s method is determined on if you agree with the philosophy behind it. The idea, thought up by famed coach Arthur Lydiard, is that your training should be made by cumulative fatigue. If you choose to adopt the Hanson’s Method you will be working on a repetitive training schedule that doesn’t allow for full recovery between training days.

The Hanson’s Method consists of five components. If you omit any one of these components you will limit yourself to having a successful marathon. These components consist of:



The biggest issue most marathon plans have is their design to tailor towards a runner’s wants versus their needs. Training plans will usually have most of the weekly mileage done on the weekend where a runner has more time available. This causes the higher intensity runs to be done on the weekdays, often making a runner both too tired and not properly recovered to do the easy runs. The end result is an inadequate weekly marathon mileage.
The Hanson’s Method aims to spreading out the weekly mileage throughout 6 days rather than the typical 3 day a week runs. The aim of this is not to increase intensity, rather increase the number of easy run days without overworking your body. The program starts off with a low mileage, only to increase gradually in mileage and intensity. The idea is to bring a runner up the mileage ladder one rung at a time.


Keith and Kevin Hanson emphasize the importance of keeping a pace when running. In order to follow along with the cumulative fatigue plan it’s vital not to overdo your workouts so you can reach your weekly mileage quota. For this reason, the majority of the suggested mileages should be run at a regular pace or slower. The Hanson brothers explain that you should not go over your pace as it’ll interfere with endurance training. They go on to explain that many great adaptions come from endurance training which is further explained in a later chapter. The overall point though is to assure you maintain your desired marathon pace. Easy run days make up a large percentage of your week’s training and overall physiological benefits.


The major issues a lot of training programs have is a lack of balance. Many training programs out there emphasize on long runs while the rest of the days are focused on recovering from that one workout. While long ones are a primary focus, a runner loses training, consistency, weekly volume, recovery, and intensity. This is why the Hanson’s Method presents two types of runs: easy and something of substance (SOS). By giving time and energy to not just the long run, but also the easy, tempo, strength, speed, and recovery days, you will result in being a stronger runner.


In order to retain all your physiological benefits gain from running, it’s important to stay consistent in your training. The Hanson’s describe how running 5 days a week will result in obvious improvement in fitness. However, if those days are followed by 2 weeks of running 2-3 days a week then those fitness gains will retreat. This will require two weeks of consistent training to get back on the fitness level you once were. In the end, 6-8 weeks of running is lost just to get back on the physical fitness level you were at in the third week
This is why the Hanson’s Method says do never skip a training day. If life intervenes, you should modify your training plan so you still achieve consistency. This consistency is aided by commitment. This is why you should schedule in your runs so you are much more willing to stick with it.


When it comes to cumulative fatigue, there is a fine line between training and overtraining. The Hanson’s Method’s goal is to not put you over the line, but rather as close to it as possible. The Hanson Brothers don’t employ hard work outs back to back; rather they focus on active recovery. They explain that in order for your body to deal with long-term discomfort and proper recovery it’s important to teach your muscles to adapt to training loads.
This is why a hard workout shouldn’t be followed by sitting on the couch all day. Rather it should be spent earning aerobic fitness gains. Doing so will result in burning fat and allowing your body to properly recover depleted glycogen stores. Cumulative fatigue also calls for partial recuperation. This is so your body can withstand a high running mileage while also being slightly sluggish. The Hanson’s Method’s overall goal is to teach you to handle the latter portion of the marathon by loading them with long runs. To put it simply, the training plan will stimulate you running the last 16 minutes of the marathon, not the first 16 miles.

The Hanson’s Method will get your body adapted to the stress of the program. Once you continue your progression upward the plan will increase in mileage and intensity. The last week allows your body to full recover so you are at peak performance on marathon day. Training for a marathon is not something that should be taken lightly. It will take a lot of time, and a high level of commitment. In the end though, it’ll be worth it when you cross that finishing line.

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