Imagine my excitement, after PR’ing last year in my marathon thanks in large part to training on Hansons Marathon Method (HMM) when I heard VeloPress was publishing a book on their Half Marathon Method (HHMM)!   Until a couple months ago I never really thought about using HMM to train for a half, and I actually didn’t even realize they had plans tailored to that distance.

Well, the folks at VeloPress were nice enough to send me a copy of Hansons Half Marathon Method to review, and also a copy to give away to one of you!   But first, my review….

Hansons Half Marathon Method book

What is HHMM all about?

If you’re only somewhat familiar with HMM, you probably know it for its 16 mile long run, or the fact that it requires 6 days a week of running.   And these are definitely two factors that make it different from many training plans.   But the training philosophy behind the approach is what really makes it unique, and the same philosophy forms the basis of the Hansons Half Marathon Method (HHMM) as well.  The plan is developed around the concept of cumulative fatigue – a slow build-up of fatigue from the days, weeks, and months of consistent training.  It’s challenging the body without reaching the point of no return, or crossing the line into overtraining.   The book starts by laying out in detail the five key components of cumulative fatigue:

  1. Mileage: This program requires 6 days of running a week.   The program doesn’t add more intense mileage on those extra days.  It adds more easy mileage.
  2. Intensity:  The program includes speed, strength, and tempo workouts that are focused tightly on goal pace.  Yet the majority of the mileage is easy runs at 1-2 minutes slower than goal pace.  These easy runs are a critical component of the plan and cause certain physiological adaptations to take place.
  3. Balance:  The long run is not the primary focus of this plan.  This method does not support having a large % of weekly mileage (e.g. 30%) in a long run.   They feel that training consistency, volume, recovery, and intensity are lost when that is done.   The program emphasizes instead a balanced approach to training consisting of easy runs and SOS (something of substance) runs.  SOS runs include speed work, tempo runs, long runs, and strength workouts.
  4. Consistency:  Planning is required to hit the workouts consistently week to week.  This is a pretty regimented approach.
  5. Recovery:  This plan definitely doesn’t subscribe to the idea that you should be ‘fresh’ for hard workouts.   It emphasizes active recovery (through easy runs).

Another thing that permeates throughout is the idea that to get better at running, you need to run.   As I read the book this kept surfacing again and again, and it’s really a foundational principle underlying this plan.

Overall Thoughts on the Book

My overall feeling about this book is that it’s accessible to a much broader group of runners than the HMM book is.   I would never recommend that an inexperienced runner who’s not committed to attaining a specific goal train on Hansons Marathon Method.   That is just a personal opinion, and others may disagree, but I do feel that the approach is quite rigorous and may not be best suited to a first-timer.  This book, on the other hand, lays out an approach that can work for anyone from a runner who’s doing a charity run with the goal of just finishing, to a highly competitive running trying to PR.

The book is authored by Luke Humphrey, a Hansons athlete and coach. Luke discusses the difference between the HHMM and other training methods and then lays out the program very clearly.   This book would be a great reference for someone training on the plan.   When I followed HMM I found myself referencing the book almost daily, but at a minimum weekly.

The first chapter of the book lays out the philosophy, and I would encourage and almost say you NEED to read this before taking on the plan.   In my opinion this is reason enough to pick up a copy of this book or borrow one from a friend.   If you don’t understand the philosophy I guarantee you it’s going to be really easy to just give up about 10 weeks into this when your legs feel dead tired much of the time from the cumulative fatigue : )   Understanding what’s behind the plan will help you get through the touch patches for sure.

I like how in addition to the philosophy and the program the book also provides advice on finding the best shoes as well as tips on avoiding common issues during race week, at the expo, at the start line, and after the race.   They also have advice on hydration and nutrition.   I think that particularly newer runners will benefit from these chapters.

The book also has a great section of FAQs on things like what to do if you want to incorporate races into your training, or need to switch days around, or get injured and have to take some days off.   They also include a chapter on selecting a goal.   This is awesome, as this can be a pretty tough task!   I’ve actually had quite a few people comment on this blog asking for help on picking a goal for a half marathon or marathon.   It’s not easy but they provide some sound advice to help.

The HHMM Program

Unlike HMM, which offers just a Beginner or Advance Program (and I’d argue the Beginner is still really hard – I did that one!), this book lays out three half marathon programs.

  • Just Finish – for runners who simply want to complete the race and have no specific time goal.
  • Beginner – for runners who are either new to half-marathon distance, have raced shorter distances, or have a lower mileage base.   This plan builds up to mileage in the upper 40’s, and includes four 12 mile long runs.
  • Advanced – for experienced half-marathon runners, competitive racers, or runners with a higher mileage base.  This plan builds up to 51 miles and includes three 14 mile long runs

The Just Finish program is part of the reason I mentioned earlier that this book will have a broader appeal than the HMM book.  Luke indicates that the Just Finish program was inspired by the charity runners he has worked with over the years.   The focus is on building a runner’s endurance to the point where the distance can be covered safely and with confidence.  In this plan they remove the intensity, to avoid increasing the risk of injury.   The highest mileage week is only 32 miles, and there is no speed work or tempo runs.   All this being said, even this plan is still six days a week of running so I’d advise someone to make sure they’re up for that before taking it on.

The book includes over 10 different pace charts with prescribed paces based on your half marathon goal, so it’s very easy to know exactly what to do for each run if you’re training on either the Beginner or Advanced version of the plan.

Comparison to the Marathon Method

As someone who has trained on the HMM I was curious how the HHMM compared.   The answer – it’s very similar.

Same weekly layout

The most important thing to mention is that the layout of each week is the same:

  • Easy runs on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
  • Speed/Strength workouts on Tuesdays and Tempo runs on Thursdays (they call these SOS – “something of substance” – runs)
  • Long runs on Sundays.

Same number of days of running

Like with HMM, the HHMM plans require six days a week of running.   Which, like HMM, leaves little if any time for cross-training so that is just something to keep in mind before deciding whether to train on this plan.

Lower mileage, but not much lower

I was kind of surprised that the weekly mileage is not too much lower than the marathon method plan, but given the type of plan it is I probably shouldn’t be.  I have a feeling the half marathon plans I have followed in the past are just a lot easier than this :)  The long runs are shorter, as you’d expect for a half plan, topping out at 12 miles for the Beginner plan, 14 for the Advanced plan, and 10 for the Just Finish plan.

Same philosophy

As I mentioned earlier, the philosophy behind this plan really makes it unique, and that is consistent across both the half and full marathon plans.   If you’ve trained on the marathon method I think you’ll find this approach very ‘familiar’ and comfortable.   And if you’ve survived HMM you should be able to survive this one as well, or at least be more prepared as far as what to expect and where the tough patches are.

Final Thoughts

This is a great book that clearly lays out HHMM training program and prepares the reader to embark on the plan armed with all of the ‘why’ behind it.  I recommend this book if you plan to or are considering training on HHMM. If you already have a copy of the HMM book like me you’ll find a lot of it repetitive, but I still learned some new things.   I definitely plan to give this approach a try for one of my half marathons.   Which one?   I’m not sure yet.   But if it sets me up for success the way HMM did then I’m all for giving it a shot.


At less than $15 on Amazon, there’s no reason not to pick up a copy of this book!   I guarantee you it’s worth it.   Great news though – VeloPress has also been kind enough to offer a free copy of the book to one of you!   Entering the giveaway is easy – just use the rafflecopter widget below.   Giveaway will be open until 12:00am on Saturday May 10th.   I’ll post the winner on my blog on the 11th and then contact the winner to get an address so I can have VeloPress send you your book.  Good luck!

Please note:  If you’re commenting on my blog for the first time your comment will come to me for approval, so don’t be worried if it doesn’t show up right away.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have to end by saying one of my favorite lines in this book is in the forward. This pretty much sums up exactly why I run, and why I loved HMM, since it requires a LOT of running.

“In your hands you have the ultimate self-help book. Thumb through the pages and you may not see exercises on self-esteem building or the keys to happiness. But I dare you to head out the door, log some miles, and not feel like you made you a better you.”

–  from Hansons Half Marathon Method


Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of Hansons Half Marathon Method to review and give away on my blog.   I was not compensated for doing so.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I am not a running coach or fitness trainer.  I’m simply a running enthusiast who enjoys sharing information, experiences and ideas. Views expressed on this blog are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult your doctor  before beginning a training program.


35 Responses to Hansons Half Marathon Method Book Review & Giveaway!

  1. You know I love the Hansons! I plan on doing a half marathon in the fall so I totally want to check out this book. Haven’t ran that much since NYCM so a good plan is what I need to get back on track :)
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…4 Minute HIIT WorkoutMy Profile

    • Gina says:

      I am sooo with you, Patty. I need to pick my next plan, and next big race, to get back on track. I’ve been stuck at just 10-20 miles a week for awhile and need to change that! Thanks for entering the giveaway.

  2. Amie Fletcher says:

    I haven’t read the book yet but found the plan online. I think reading the book would be beneficial as I bonked using the plan a few weeks ago (granted there were external factors beyond my control). But it was a huge disappointment for me.

    • Gina says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Amie. I definitely have had races like that. I hope things go better next time if you do give the plan another try!

  3. patrick voo says:

    i’ve not read the HMM but have used the plans available online of their marathon method to great success last spring! looking forward to taking a look at the HMMM model!
    patrick voo recently posted…road review – skechers GOrun ultraMy Profile

    • Gina says:

      What marathon did you use HMM for last spring, Patrick? So glad to hear you had great success with it! Thanks for entering the giveaway.

  4. Teresa M. says:

    I’d like to read this book because I’ve read positive reviews of the hansens method and I like to study different plans. I’ve never trained with their plans before.

    • Gina says:

      Thanks for entering Teresa, and good luck! The plan is definitely unique, and reading the book would give you a good idea of how it differs from other plans out there.

  5. Madison says:

    I have considered training on one of their plans before, but I have never done it. This would be perfect for my half in December!
    Madison recently posted…Running for BeginnersMy Profile

  6. Amy says:

    I would love to read the Hansons’ Half Marathon method! I love picking up and reading their Marathon method when I am bored and thinking about running!
    Amy recently posted…Saturday and a New JobMy Profile

  7. David Smith says:

    I’m running a marathon this weekend after training with the Hanson’s method. We’ll see how it goes but I feel really prepared. I’d love to read the new book and use it to train for a future half.

  8. Steph says:

    I am planning on using Hansons Marathon Method for my fall marathon this year and I’m super excited! I would love to have the half book as well to try that out.

    • Gina says:

      Which fall marathon are you doing, Steph? The approach is very similar for both the full and the half. I had a lot of success on the full so I am excited to give the half plan a try at some point as well!

  9. jill conyers says:

    I would love to I’ve been following your experience with the Hanson Method and have read a lot about others’ experience as well. I would love to learn more.
    jill conyers recently posted…Vega Bars ReviewMy Profile

    • Gina says:

      It’s definitely an interesting plan! Most people I’ve come across who have used it have seen success if they stick with it.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    I would really like to read their perspective on training and hopefully be able to snag a marathon PR. I’ve mostly used Hal Higdon or a personal modification of his training plans.

    • Gina says:

      Hi Jeffrey! I primarily used Hal Higdon plans in the past as well. Hansons is definitely a different approach, and I was able to hit my goal in my marathon using it. Thanks for entering the giveaway, and good luck!

  11. Kristen M says:

    I’ve never trained with this method. But as a 5x half-marathon runner, I am curious as to how this method can help me become a better runner.

    • Gina says:

      I’m similar to you, Kristen. I’ve done a ton of halfs, but never trained for one on a plan like this. I’m really curious to try it out, especially after having a lot of success on their marathon plan. Thanks for entering the giveaway!

  12. Kim says:

    I’m debating trying Hansons Method for my next marathon, most likely in the fall. Would love to have this book!

    • Gina says:

      Reading the book is a great start for sure – it should help you figure out if it’s the right fit for you. I used Hansons for the Chicago marathon last fall and had a lot of success on it!

  13. sebastien says:

    Hi. I wrote you a few weeks ago. I was beginning my Hanson Marathon plan. I found answers on your blog and that helped me a lot. Now I’m starting week 15… My marathon is on may 25. I’m confident. I’ve never run so well before. My goal is 4hours. This will be my first marathon.
    I sometimes feel very sore and very tired. But that’s part of the deal. What’s most difficult for me is to train everyday. It’s not always easy to find enough time with the kids, the family life, work… I’ve done my best, I didn’t skip too many trainings, I had to rethink the hanson scheddule so it could fit in mine because i can never run on tuesdays and i wanted to keep the long run on sundays. Well, all in all I’m getting ready but I’m not sure I will try another marathon training in the future. Because of the time it takes. So I’ll probably go back to half marathons “only”. I was glad to see they released a book on half marathon trainings. I have to read it ! And so I thought I could visit your blog and see if you had something to say about it !! I’m happy you do !! Your opinions matter to me. Keep bloging ! And keep running !
    Sébastien, from France, getting ready for
    Take care

    • Gina says:

      Hi Sebastian, thanks for stopping by again! I’m so glad to hear my blog has given you some helpful information. I can’t wait to hear how your marathon goes in a few weeks. Definitely come back and let us know. It sounds like your training has been good and you are well prepared.

      Yes, I found that feeling sore and tired was part of the deal. Also I found the Hansons method took more time than some of the other marathon plans I’ve done, though any marathon training plan is a pretty serious commitment. I have actually been struggling these last few weeks with whether I want to run a full marathon this fall or try to PR in a half marathon. I can’t decide, but need to soon!

      Good luck Sebastien – I am rooting for you and hoping you hit your goal!!

  14. Stacey says:

    I would love to read the book and use the plan to lower my race time!

  15. Holly says:

    I’m using the marathon method now and would love to try the half!

  16. Michael says:

    Do you know how it differs from the plans you can purchase on their website? I’m currently using the half advanced and curious if it is worth purchasing the book.


    • Gina says:

      Hi Mike! Sorry for just now responding – this didn’t show up in my comment feed for some reason. From what I understand it is the same. However, the book has lots of great info on the philosophy behind the plan, faqs about things like what to do if you miss runs, etc. I found that content both helpful and necessary before I decided to take on the plan. If you’re just needing the schedule though the book is probably not necessary.

  17. Mariann says:

    I’ve been training with HMM for my 26.2 in less than 2 weeks (eek!). I’ve been reading and re-reading all posts about your experience along the way — so helpful and reassuring that the plan works! I’d love to follow HHMM for a fall half.

    • Gina says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mariann! I am so glad to hear my posts were helpful. I am sorry for taking so long to respond. Your race must have happened by now – how did it go?!

  18. Teresa R. says:

    I have the HMM book and was going to train with it last summer til I was derailed by a back injury. I wound up completing my marathon but could only run for 15 miles of it. I’m recovered, back on track and just finished week 1; I’m also almost 200 days into a running streak. I like the Hanson philosophy and methods but boy, it isn’t easy, and I’m just starting. I think adding a “Just Finish” plan was a great idea.

    • Gina says:

      Wow, a 200 day running streak?! That is amazing! My longest running streak is 6 days and that was while training on HMM :). Yea, I agree HMM is definitely not easy and also not for everyone. I think the Just Finish plan does make the half method more broadly accessible. Thank you for the comment and best of luck with your training! What race are you training for?

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