Hansons vs. Pfitzinger (Read 2511 times)


I'm back!

    I've just finished reading the new Hansons Marathon Method book. As a long-time user of Pfitzinger plans, I was most interested to contrast the two approaches. (There is already a thread discussing Hansons training, but I thought it would be appropriate to break this topic out separately.)

     

    I'm no expert on training methodologies, so rather than make judgments here, I'm just going to note what I see as the major differences. Hopefully the experts will speak up on how to interpret them. Also for the most part I'm only interested here in comparing the plans, not the books, although I will say that I slightly prefer Pfitzinger's presentation. The Hansons book (written by Luke Humphrey) seems a trifle dumbed down, and is a bit unclear or inconsistent in places. On the whole, however, I think each book can serve pretty well as a standalone training resource. The Hansons book does seem more oriented towards the beginning marathoner (and after all, Pfitz's book is called "Advanced Marathoning").

     

    On to the plans. To get specific, I'm looking primarily at the Hansons' Advanced Program (18 weeks), vs. Pfitzinger's 18-week, 55-70 mpw plan. Hansons Advanced tops out at 62 miles, but I think these two plans come the closest in being comparable. (Personally, I am interested in higher mileage than 62, something more like Pfitz's 70-85, but fortunately the Hansons book tells you how to add miles to the Advanced Program.)

     

    Terminology

     

    First, there are terminology differences in the two books. For those looking to translate, here are what the respective books call different types of workouts / paces:

     

    Hansons Pfitzinger
    speed VO2max
    strength Lactate threshold / tempo
    tempo marathon pace

     

    The biggest confusion here is the word "tempo". I guess most commonly tempo refers to the structure of the workout, rather than a specific pace -- a medium-distance run with some continuous miles at a hardish effort. The difference is that in Pfitzinger plans this effort is at LT (or slightly faster); in Hansons plans it's at goal marathon pace. In Hansons plans the LT workouts (actually a bit slower than LT: they recommend MP - 10 sec) is done as 6 miles broken up various ways with recoveries. The Pfitzinger plans have you going up to 7 continuous miles at LT (or faster), which is a brutal workout. And in Pfitzinger plans, the marathon-pace runs are done as part of the long run, making them tougher as well.

     

    Long Run

     

    The big thing about the Hansons plans, as anyone who knows anything about them no doubt knows, is the de-emphasis of the long run. They invoke Jack Daniels in recommending that the long run not exceed 25 - 30% of weekly mileage. Their Advanced plan tops out at 16 miles for the long run -- and they only schedule long runs every other week. (The idea here is that two long runs and one MP workout in eight days is too stressful.) Most marathon plans (including Pfitzinger) go up to or over 20 miles, with a long run every week. However, Pfitzinger's longest run is 22, during a 70-mile week, which at 31% seems within the error bars.

     

    I mentioned that the Hansons book has recommendations on how to add miles -- they say the last place you should add it is to the long run. If you add miles here and there as they recommend, you can get up to 80 mpw, still with a maximum long run of 16, or only 20% of weekly volume. (They also don't add miles to the speedwork, unlike Pfitzinger's higher-mileage plans.)

     

    Periodization

     

    Hansons plans have a uniform weekly structure: speed or strength workout on Tuesday, "tempo" (remember, this means MP) on Thursday (building gradually from 5 to 10 miles), long run every other Sunday (topping out at 16), Wednesday off, everything else "easy". Long runs (and Saturday runs) are at the faster end of easy. There are no scheduled tune-up races. (You're advised against racing, but they tell you how to adjust the schedule if you want to.) "Speed" workouts are always about 3 miles of quality; "strength" workouts always 6.

     

    The Pfitzinger plans don't have quite this uniformity. However, a typical week will feature some sort of speedwork on Tuesday, a medium-long run (11-15) on Wednesday, and a long run on Sunday (topping out at 22). Sometimes the long runs feature several miles (up to 12) at MP. Some weekends have a Saturday tune-up race instead of a Sunday long run. Pfitzinger has you running every day, and includes doubles on Mondays in the higher-mileage weeks. Pfitzinger distinguishes "recovery" runs (Hansons "easy" pace) from "general aerobic" (faster end of Hanson's "easy"). The total amount of quality in any given speed workout is highly variable.

     

    On a macro scale, the most striking periodization difference is that Pfitzinger begins with LT work early and transitions to VO2max work late; in Hansons plans, it's the other way around -- the first half of the cycle you have "speed" on Tuesday; the second half you have "strength" instead. This seems like a quite substantial difference in training philosophy, and is one of the things I hope the experts here will weigh in on.

     

    Numbers

     

    One of the things I most wanted to compare was total mileage of the various kinds of speedwork. Here it is.

     

      Hansons Pfitzinger
    VO2max  28 17.25
    race (8-15k)  0 ~18
    LT  42 31
    MP  120 44

     

    I didn't tabulate total mileage on the two plans, but I assume the Pfitzinger plan is higher. I also didn't count number of long runs, or long-run mileage, because I don't see a sharp definition there.

     

    If we count race miles as similar to VO2max, then the two plans are roughly comparable on total speedwork mileage -- except for the huge, glaring difference in number of miles run at marathon pace. This has got to make a difference, and is one of the reasons I'm interested in trying a Hansons plan. The clear tradeoff is far less long-run mileage. How does this tradeoff work out?

     

    Summary

     

    These are the biggest differences I see between Hansons Advanced and Pfitzinger 18/55-70:

     

    1. Hansons has fewer and shorter long runs.

    2. Pfitzinger begins with LT workouts and transitions to VO2max workouts; Hansons does the reverse.

    3. Hansons has much greater total mileage run at marathon pace.

    4. Pfitzinger includes three tuneup races; Hansons has none.

    5. Hansons is a 6-day plan; Pfitzinger is 7 days, with some doubles.

     

    Comments and corrections appreciated.

      Why do you say you're not an expert?

      Runners run.

      xor


        Sweet Jesus, 120 at MP.  At the end of the plan, you know what that pace feels like.

         

        Does Hanson (sorry, "Does Hansons" just looks weird) offer up any tea/ti leaf guidance on how best to guesstimate this pace?  Tables a la Daniels? 

         


        I'm back!

          Why do you say you're not an expert?

           

          I will say I'm a student of the physiology of training. But there are plenty of people here far more knowledgeable. 


          I'm back!

            Sweet Jesus, 120 at MP.  At the end of the plan, you know what that pace feels like.

             

            Does Hanson (sorry, "Does Hansons" just looks weird) offer up any tea/ti leaf guidance on how best to guesstimate this pace?  Tables a la Daniels? 

             

            Yes, the standard sort of race equivalency chart. Spot inspections show that it's very close to McMillan.

            xor


              Thanks for the comparison, btw.  I'd like someone (not named Robert... oh wait...) to do something similar w/ Hudson.

               


              rebuilding r2th v2.0

                I read both books and it is a great comparison/synthesis of the differences between plans.

                xor


                  I read both books and it is a great comparison/synthesis of the differences between plans.

                   

                  Bonjour et bienvenue, Monsieur Hills.

                   

                    That was the most informative, well-written post I have ever seen on RA. Thanks, Bhearn.

                    I changed this, and you noticed. Hurray for us!


                    rebuilding r2th v2.0

                      Bonjour et bienvenue, Monsieur Hills.

                       See, that's one problem of Running Ahead. I can't thumb up your post.

                      xor


                         See, that's one problem of Running Ahead. I can't thumb up your post.

                         

                        You can, however, tell me to put my thumb up my ass without fear of a cuss filter not allowing it.  (though the one over there always allowed ass).

                         

                          I will say I'm a student of the physiology of training. But there are plenty of people here far more knowledgeable. 

                           

                          Fair enough.

                           

                          I'm no expert on training plans--I used Pfitz for my first couple of marathons but ever since then rolled my own.

                           

                          That was a good comparison though. FWIW, I'd put the race miles from Pfitz in the LT bucket.

                          Runners run.

                            Thanks for that. You made me curious enough buy the book. 

                             

                            When you go to claim your commission from the sale please remind them to make it available on Kindle.

                             

                              Hansons Pfitzinger
                            Kindle  No Yes
                                 


                            Feeling the growl again

                              Wow, thanks for the analysis.  I've never seen it laid out that way.  Very clear.

                               

                              As for the ordering of the LT/strength vs VO2 work....

                               

                              I have to go with Hansons on this one.  Honestly I thought it was pretty accepted that with shorter races you did LT first then peaked into VO2 to prepare for races....but reversed this for the marathon and developed your speed first, then added the ability to extend that over distance via marathon-specific training.

                               

                              So, I'm kind of surprised that Hansons and Pfitz are at odds in the first place.  But it has been a long time since I really analyzed these plans since like Mikey I've been rolling my own for so long.

                               

                              I would say the way I was most successful mirrored Hansons.  For a spring marathon, I'd start track work in December and carry indoor track work through February.  This was 400s up to 1 mile repeats (800s and 1000s being most frequent) at 3000m-8000m race pace, depending on the workout design.  Straight VO2max stuff.  Then starting in late February/early March I'd be doing 2000m or 3000m repeats, or dropping track intervals altogether in favor of longer fartleks (8-15min fast sections) or addtional tempo run designs.  This sounds pretty close to Hansons to me.

                               

                              I just don't see the point in focusing on 400/800m intervals just a few weeks before you are going to do a marathon.  I believe in multi-pace training but I would not be focusing on such short/fast work so close to a goal marathon.  VO2max just isn't that vital in the marathon, making a relatively quick pace feel easy (a la strength/LT running) is.

                               

                              MTA:  The total mileage at MP or faster strikes a cord with me.  The more I view logs of the faster marathoners on here, as well as my own historical log, the more I believe that this is a core indicator of performance.

                               

                              MMTA:  The more I think about it the more I agree with this position.  I mean, if your race is at or faster than VO2max then that is more important, the more your race pace is related to LT the more that should be important.  MP is slower than LT.  Seems intuitive to me?

                              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                               

                              xor


                                Unless they fixed things, Pftiz on a kindle, like Hudson on a kindle, is suboptimal because the tables are all wonky.

                                 

                                Muuuuuuch prefer the hardcopy.