Helly + Hanson’s = Marathon PR??

Welp, I’m getting on the Hanson’s Marathon Method train.

After reading Colby‘s success (and BQ!) and Allison‘s craziness towards a sub 3:05 (which she got!) using Hanson’s, I’ve decided to drink the kool-aid.

I’ll be using Hanson’s Marathon Method for New York City Marathon.


Reading about this crazy training, I didn’t think this would be a plan that would work for me. It’s SIX days of running. SIX. As in, only one day off. Both Colby and Allison used this training plan holding down jobs and still nailed each run like the freaking awesome people they are. Me though? I was already struggling with work and kids and knew there was no way I’d find time to schedule in 6 runs. Not with my already 4:30 a.m. wake time.

But hey, now I don’t have a job, lol! And I figure, now would be the perfect time to try this plan so I’m going for it.

Hanson’s calls for high mileage–40+ miles after week one. I had already planned to do some base marathon training to build up to Hanson’s higher mileage as I didn’t want to jump into the plan and go straight to 40 miles/week, something I’ve never done. And after doing a little more research, and reading Kristina’s blog post about it, I found that Hanson’s actually has 8 week base training plans that could help lead me into full blown marathon training; the plan starts next week and goes up to the start of official marathon training in July. I’ll be modifying the first couple of weeks because each week of the base plan is 40 miles (and I need to work myself up to that first). I was little bummed the plan itself didn’t do that going in, but it was easy for me to see where I could make adjustments.

Plus, there is an online Facebook group for people using Hanson’s plans where Luke Humphrey himself, the writer of the Hanson’s Marathon Method, has a very active presence. We’re able to ask specific questions and he, along with other Hanson’s plan veterans, offers up suggestions. I asked Luke about making modifications to the base training plan the first couple of weeks, and he totally agreed that it was a simple few changes to make it work.

In addition to the base training plan, I created an account on Final Surge, Luke’s site, which is a free training log website. (It seems to be similar to Training Peaks–which I’ve never used but have heard of.) One component of the site that is of interest is the Workout Intensity Calculator. This is where my quest for a PR comes in. You plug in your most recent 5k, 10k, or 1/2 time and it gives you a marathon finish estimate along with the paces you’d run your weekly runs.

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Yes, you read that right. According to this little calculator, I could be aiming for a 3:45 marathon.


The other distances shown–the 5k and 10k–align pretty closely with my current PRs in those distances: 23:46, 49:29. I even plugged those in to see what marathon time it gave me, lol!

All said 3:45.

When I look at the paces for each run at that goal, they seem challenging yet doable. Long runs at 9:20-9:40, Tempo runs at 8:35, Strength runs at 8:25, and Easy runs between 10:20-9:40.

I have to choose a goal if I’m using Hanson’s Marathon Method. It’s just crazy to me to think that this could be it. A part of me wants to go conservative and shoot for a 4:15. It would still be a massive PR. Another part of me says go for the sub 4. And then a little, teeny voice in my brains whispers just go big.


–How do you determine your race goal/pace? I definitely consider the course. NYC is said to have some hills?? (is that true NYC veterans??) and it’s a destination marathon, so I think about all of that.


63 responses


    Not but really. I didn’t know that. I’m about to get all up IN that. Seriously, you will love the Hanson’s Kool-Aid. It’s good stuff ❤ Can't wait to meet you in NY!

  2. I follow a plan very similar to Hanson’s and I really dig it. Six days a week after a nice base build can be great. Just listen to your body. Can’t wait to cheer you on in NYC!

  3. I am considering using the Hanson’s plan for Chicago. I have been able to maintain 40+ weeks through my training for Colfax, so that doesn’t really worry me, but the lack of a serious taper does. It’s like hardly a taper at all. I just don’t understand why it’s like that… I worry that I’ll walk into a marathon feeling fatigued.

    I also worry about what goal pace to choose. I am going to see how Colfax goes, but I might also pick 3:45 (which based on my other PRs, that should be very doable). I don’t know… I am still undecided, but I might be going for it with you!

    • The book talks in length about cumulative fatigue which is the explanation behind the pseudo taper, lol! I’ve seen Colby and Allison worry about that too but still met their race goals (Allison on the marathon 2 weeks after the initial goal race).

      Let’s be training buddies!!!! 😀

  4. Awesome!! I absolutely positively know you are going to crush it no matter what you decide to do, Helly!
    I’ve done NYC, but it was my first marathon so after mile 15, it was all a challenge and I don’t know if it was more due to the fact that it was my first marathon or due to NYC being a tough course…or some of both lol. What I will say is the second half is hilly. And by hilly I mean it’s a very deceptive course – after the Queensboro bridge at mile 15 it feels like it’s mostly a gradual incline – going up 1st Ave AND down 5th Ave. It’s crazy how that works, but it’s an amazing time nonetheless.
    With all that said, I’m a huge fan of enjoying the training process and not giving too much too soon. I have no doubt that you can run a 3:45 if you choose to train at that pace BUT make sure that you will be able to enjoy it. If it causes you more stress than it’s worth to think about the big goal and you will get more joy and fun out of a more conservative approach that will still get you a huge PR (but you BETTER at least go for that sub-4!), then do that!

    • Yes, I worry about over training and I think that’s why a part of me would want to go the more conservative route. I’ve seen (and studied obsessively) the course elevation chart and am worried about those long inclines. Here where I live, it’s flat road or hilly mountains. Not a whole in between, lol! I definitely think that I’m going to try the paces out and adjust if I feel like I’m working too hard for them. I looove training (sometimes more than the actual race, lol!) and I definitely want to enjoy the process.


  5. Ditto what Chrissa said.

    The “hills” of NYC are the inclines over the bridges, the long gradual incline up 1st Ave, and the rolling hills of Central Park. In my mind, it’s one of the harder major marathons. I still think you have PR because I think your marathon time is soft considering your PRs for the shorter distances. The pace calculator predictions need to be taken with a grain of salt. The longer the distance you give them, the more accurate the prediction. Also, people tend to either be better at the shorter or longer distances, so the pace calculator’s prediction will be off on one end (I’m relatively speaking better at the shorter distances, so I know to add time for marathon predictions for me). And you also need to consider the difficulty of the course.

    I’m super excited for you. I know I’ll enjoy reading about your training.

    • I know that the longer the distance you put in the calculator, the more accurate the prediction and that’s why I put in my half time (like in the picture). I put in my other times just for funsies to see what it gave and they were the same. I also tried out other calculators (the one in the picture is Luke Humphrey’s) and my half time yielded 3:45-3:50 in the others. I think taking into consideration the course, the fact it’s on the other side of the country, and just nerves, I’m probably more towards the sub 4 range than a legit 3:45 but I think if I can train using those numbers and sustain them, I’m gonna go for it.

  6. Oh, yeah, as for picking a time goal. . .

    Last year, I followed a training plan for 3:45 marathon time. By the time Wineglass rolled around, I knew I wasn’t in 3:45 shape. I knew I could pull off a 3:55 for sure (barring major disaster) and possibly a 3:50 if the stars aligned. I started off with the 3:55 pace group and a few miles in, I knew that if I wanted to go for the 3:50 goal, I had to leave them and slowly make up the time. I debated with myself. Do I go for it and risk blowing up or play it conservative and get a solid time. I decided to go for it, but gave myself permission to rapidly pull back if my body rebelled. I went for it for like 10+ miles, and then realized that it just wasn’t there that day, so I scaled back. I finished in 3:54 and absolutely thrilled to death.

    I have absolutely no regrets using a 3:45 training plan because that’s what got me my 3:54 time. If I used a training plan for a 3:55, I wouldn’t have been in 3:55 shape. I would have been in 4:05 shape. The training runs were hard, but doable, which is what I think a training plan should be. I wasn’t disappointed in myself because I know my body and myself well enough to know what is a realistic (or as my Benny would say a pessimistic) goal is. 😉

    Use whichever plan that challenges you, but be flexible to adjust your expectations.

    • I think you nailed it. I feel like yes, I might use the 3:45 time as my training guide, but I sure as heck won’t be disappointed if I don’t get that exact time. If I’m able to do the workouts using that as my marathon goal, great. I know enough to understand it won’t guarantee that exact finish time. I’m also realistic, like you 😉 xoxo!

  7. Whoo hoo! Hansons is a tough plan but I have no doubt you will find great success and nail a huge marathon PR. Excited to see how it goes!

    However, I will echo what others have said about prediction calculators. I’m sure you are capable of a 3:45, but you really have to take a lot of things into consideration when comparing times of different distances. The calculator assumes that the conditions, course profile and training are similar for each race. So for example, if your half marathon PR was on an easy or flat course, the prediction might not be as accurate for a hard/hilly marathon – or vice versa. Again, not to discourage you from shooting for a big goal – just make sure you’re taking everything into account and remember that calculators are estimates, not guarantees.

    My advice would be to start with a more fairly conservative goal and then adjust it if it feels to easy. I think you could easily nab a sub-4 even on a hilly course like NYC, so personally I would start there. I think it’s always easier to start with slower training and get faster, than it is to start with training that’s too fast and feel discouraged when you have to adjust backward, if that makes sense. GOOD LUCK!!!

    • Great advice!!! Yes, I totally get that calculators are not guarantees but I do like them as guides/reference points. I’ve also definitely thought about the course. Oh boy, have I, lol!! I think that with NYC, I’ll really be happy with any type of PR as I’m more inclined to be ambitious on a race where I have home-court advantage, like Phoenix Marathon (where my 1/2 marathon PR is from). But I figure I can train for it, and then like you said, adjust if need be. I’m not the type to get super bummed if I have to adjust backward. It is what it is, you know! 🙂 Phoenix marathon is next February and if I still feel like a 3:45 is something I want, I can try again there. That’s what’s nice about running/racing, lol

  8. I’m using Hanson for my Sept 11th marathon!! Yay! We will be twinsies training this summer. The race predictor says I can do a 3:24 marathon which is funny because I am aiming for a 3:25. Well, technically I just want a PR, which would be a sub 3:28, but looking at the training paces I feel fairly confident right now I can hit them. Now, I honestly don’t thing I have a 3:24 marathon in me, but hey who knows? Maybe in 18 weeks I will!

    So I guess this is my way of saying is shoot for the stars! If you think you can hit the training paces, go for it. You know your body. I have a feeling we will know pretty quickly if it’s too fast.

  9. Yay, I think this is going to be great for you, Helly! I know you’ve been working toward that marathon PR for a while now, so changing up your approach is probably a great place to start. And after Colby and Allison’s recent successes, it seems to me like Hanson’s works. Go get it!

    • You nailed it. I feel like I tried conservative training (when I tried Chicago) and I feel like this approach is just a big ‘ol LET’S GO FOR IT. Thank you so much for your support!! Can’t wait to hear/read about your marathon!!!!!


    *Raises glass of Cool-Aid*


    GO FOR IT!! I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED!!! And there’s a FACEBOOK GROUP?!? I can NOT wait to follow your journey! I have no dout- NONE- that if you follow the plan, conmit to that bitch, you will definitely PR. I’ve run NY twice. It’s hilly. And crowded. But I truly believe that if you are ready, and (makes sign of the cross) wake up feeling good, you will PR on Hanson’s. With regard to pace? Go for it. You have the chops for it. 🙂 According to the plan, if you have trouble hitting and maintaining your Tempo Run Pace for (double check but I think it’s 3) three consecutive runs, you may want to think about adjusting it. That plan was the hardest thing I have ever done. On paper all the pace times seemed reasonable. In practice, they definitely got difficult. (Read: Exhausting.) But that’s the point. Train your legs to run tired. And let me tell you- and our girl Allison can attest- when the last 6 miles roll around YOU WILL FEEL GOOD.

    I’m so excited I could scream. And I’m proud of you already. I can’t wait to see you in NY!!! Allison and I will be cheering you on. I have a feeling with beers in hand. xoxoxoxo

    • There are just so many things I’m excited for when it comes to training and running this race and a big part is meeting YOU GUYS!!! And Charissa, and Elle, and whoever else wants to join in on the fun!!!!

      I’m so ready to commit to this. A marathon PR is something I covet and I’m ready to put in the work. I like your idea of readjusting if I can’t hit the tempo runs after three times. I’ll keep that in mind when the real deal begins. Eeeeep!!! Hanson’s!!! Ermagherd!!!

      • Ermagherd is right!!! They definitely talk about adjusting your goal in the book. The SOS runs (something of substance) runs are your bread and butter. I dreaded the tempo run every damn week but it’s a game changer. You’ve been running so damn well I say go for it. If you need to adjust, do so. I trained for a 3:50 and came in at 3:51 ELATED. I can’t wait to see you soar!!! We definitely need a blogger meet up!!! 👌

  11. I’m so intrigued by Hanson’s. Maybe once I feel like a stronger and faster runner, I’ll try it…for my 2017 marathon. I love following people as they use it because it seems the method is pretty much guaranteed to work if you follow it closely!

    • I love following people’s training plans, too! I like seeing the process from starting at the beginning to accomplishing such a huge feat like a race–even if goal’s aren’t met. Crossing the finish line is winning 🙂

  12. For my upcoming half in June I am basing my time on my last half. I’m trying to avoid any more hamstring injury so I am aiming for 10-15 seconds faster per km. Good luck, sounds intense but right up your ally. You’ve got this!

    • I also consider my injury with this training and the Hanson’s book stresses how most injuries come from runners running too fast, not so much mileage. Their plan has a lot of “easy” runs and I’ll be making sure to keep them just that, lol! Thank you for your encouraging words!!! xoxo

  13. I LOVE it and am so excited to see what Hanson’s does for you! I think a 3:45 is definitely doable for you, even on NYC’s course. During my first marathon training McMillan’s Running gave me a predicted marathon time of 3:51 based off my half marathon time of 1:50 and I ended up running 3:47. You have so much going for you to be able to hit 3:45 in NYC – 1) you’ve run marathons before which I think is huge. It’s like labor – at some point your muscle memory kicks in and it helps 🙂 and 2) your fitness is going to improve over the next 6 months. So excited to follow you through your training!!

    • Thank you so much for the note of confidence! The NYC course definitely intimidates me a little and I’m more inclined to choose an ambitious goal like 3:45 on my flat downhill Phoenix course, lol!! BUT, I’m ready to put in the work and just see what happens. The good thing is that that 3:45 number isn’t something I like REALLY REALLY want you know? It’s really just about me running a marathon feeling like I ran it the way I know I can. 🙂

  14. I’m reading this right now!! I’m not using the method yet… I just want the info. I’m trying to build myself up to 40 miles a week and won’t let myself even think about a marathon until I prove to myself that I can do that consistently! The NYC marathon is a bucket list item for me even before I thought I could run LOL. I definitely look forward to your training and your Hanson’s experiences. Thanks for the FB info!

    • Good thinking! That’s why I bought the base plan b/c I haven’t done 40 consistently like ever. Eeeek!!! I’m going for though and we shall see. I figure if it proves to be too much, I can adjust. The new edition of the book also has a “Just Finish” training plan (it does go up to 47 on the highest week) but I like how Hanson’s caters to everyone.

  15. Yay for BIG GOALS and excellent social media support! I too followed Colby’s wild Hanson journey to her BQ and agree that Hanson’s sounds like a great (albeit intimidating) training method. Good luck to you!! It sounds like you have done your research and have a ton of resources at your disposal. And of course you should go big and aim for that 3:45!!! You have been on fire lately and you can do anything you put your mind (and Hanson’s plan) to!

  16. Yay Helly! I’m excited to see what you can do in this training cycle. After following Allison’s training I’m sure that this will get you your sub4 and a nice shiny PR. Based off my half times the predictors think that I should run a BQ but I’ve never been close to that. I would keep your time flexible and see how the summer treats you. Good luck!

    • Definitely flexible. 3:45 is just insane and I’m more inclined to go for a crazy time goal on a course I’m familiar with and have home-court advantage, lol! That way, if I bonk, I can just crawl into my own bed, LOL!!!

  17. I didn’t know about the Facebook group!! I just joined!

    I wish the base builder included a build up to 40mpw too!

    I’m so excited that you are doing Hansons for NYC! I think there are some hills and of course the bridges in NY that add elevation. My friend ran NYC last year and ran bridges down here on all of her long runs to prepare since we are at/below sea level and that got her through it. She finished within 30 seconds of her previous marathon in flat Florida! 🙂

    • I think Florida is similar to Arizona in that way. Phoenix is a valley and there are little to no hills unless you go outside of the city. I’ll def have to practice on some bridges. Those are what makes me nervous about NYC!

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