2015 Pittsburgh Marathon – my training plan

A runner must run with dreams in his heart.” – Emil Zatopek

2015 Pittsburgh Marathon


I never knew I would be running my second marathon so soon. I always thought I would be taking 6 months or a year off before I started training for a big race. But when your race registration fee is sponsored (paid for), you just go for it!


I enter alot of giveaways online to win things for free. As you know or don’t know, depending on whether you follow me on twitter or Instagram, I won a free race entry into the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon (the race is on May 3rd). I did so by entering a twitter competition where Shannon Hunter asked her twitter followers to tell her their favourite part of the race course. Since I have never being to Pittsburgh or ran the Pittsburgh marathon before, I answered by saying that I was looking forward to running across the 5 bridges on marathon day.

When Shannon (a runner) announced on her twitter page that I had won, I couldn’t believe it πŸ™‚ She picked my entry out of the others.

While May 2015 is 5 months away, I am starting to realise how soon that is. 2015 is almost here. I will have to start training for my 2nd marathon soon.

Here are my training options:

Who I will run with
1) run diligently on my own; and/or
2) find some friends to run with such as with running stores like Columbus Running Company or Fleet Feet Sports Columbus.
***I’m still thinking of signing up with Run Fit Running Club b/c they have certified running coaches and in 2015 they will be partnering with sports medicine professionals for events like physical therapy and injury prevention workshops. TheirΒ marathon training plan for 2015 (Jan. – May) is Β $90 and they provide a training schedule. If I decide to run with them, I would still use my Hanson’s Marathon method plan. But,it would still be great to train with this Columbus group as a way to keep myself accountable.

How I will train
3) Hire a running coach
4) Find a training plan online or run with the Nike+ training app
5) Join a gym for cross training or continue using the NTC phone app for free workouts

I choose option number 4 (find a training plan) by buying the Hanson’s method book. I’ll also incorporate running with other people and by myself (options 1 and 2 above). I’ll also incorporate option 5 by using the Nike Training Club (NTC) app for strength training workouts.

I choose not to use the Nike+ (plus) running app because I don’t like running with my phone and that’s the only way I can track my runs with Nike+. Also, the Nike+ training program (which is free) was too difficult for me when I used it this summer.

I don’t own a Nike GPS Sportswatch so that’s why I have to run with my phone. Next year, I will no longer have to run with my iPhone. I will finally start wearing a heart rate monitor sports watch that doesn’t require a heart rate chest strap. I will be using the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Sports Watch. Ray at DC RainMaker blog wrote a review about this heart rate monitor watch. Read it here. I just realized that the Mio sports watch unfortunately does not track mileage so I will just start writing down how many miles I run or maybe I’ll save money to buy a Garmin, TomTom, or Nike Sports Watch.

I’m super excited to start using a sports watch (heart rate monitor) and the good news is, I got the watch for free (more on this later). Okay, I got sidetracked there. Back to my marathon training plan for Pittsburgh….

I ordered the Hanson’s Marathon Method book this past weekend, on Saturday. My book arrived today thanks to 2-day shipping (I have the free 30 day Amazon trial membership).


I was super excited to receive my book πŸ™‚ I’ll probably stay up late reading it this whole week. The book is decided into 3 parts:
Part 1 – The Approach (training philosophy)
Part 2 – The Program (program components, training plans, modifications)
Part 3 – The Strategy (nutrition and hydration, race tactics, marathon gear, etc)


Hansons Marathon Method has a beginner and advanced plan. Both plans are 18 weeks long. Week one is this week but there is no running until Thursday, New Year’s Day (January 1st, 2015).


I choose the Hanson training plan because I was intrigued when I read online that the marathon training program has a max long run of 16 miles. Meaning, you only run 16 miles as the highest training run whereas most marathon runners run 20 miles or 30km when training. I also haphazardly choose the Hanson plan because I needed a plan soon and I didn’t want to wait until 2015.

I agree with running less miles during training to prevent the body from getting injured. Even though a marathon is 26.2 miles doesn’t mean you have to run 20 miles one day when training.

I’ll most likely change this training program to suit my needs and I may end up just training 16 weeks instead of 18 weeks. I will have to really delve into my schedule in the next week to figure everything out. Running this week will be a bit tough since I’m traveling to Chicago for a friend’s wedding on January 3rd.

I’m excited to focus more on speed workouts, strength workouts, & and tempo runs during my marathon training next year. My goal in 2015 is to do more speed and hill training workouts in order to become a faster distance runner.

What training plan do you follow when training for a half or full marathon?

Have you ran with Hanson’s Marathon Method before? If so, how did you like it?



14 thoughts on “2015 Pittsburgh Marathon – my training plan

  1. I’m interested in the Hanson Method too Aggie! I am doing my first marathon in April 2015, and am very nervous. I’ve done tons of halfs,and running up to 12 miles makes me confident of my ability to do the entire 13 (even thought I’ve done 15 halfs, I still run up to 12 in my training). I feel that way about the marathon – I have to run at least 22-23 miles so my mind can accept that it can run the full 26.2. But the Hanson method seems so appealing because it prevents injury. Ugh I’m torn! I look forward to following your journey. Good luck!!!!

    1. Hi, I had no idea you too were interested in the Hanson Method. Some people don’t like it because of how difficult it is. Others want to run more than 16 miles if they are training for a marathon. I’ve been analyzing the beginner marathon training plan and it is tough. Heck, the last 3 weeks before the marathon have you running 57, 50, 49 miles total for the week (as in week 15 is 57 miles, week 16 is 50 miles, and week 17 has a total of 49 miles). Who wants to run 49 miles the WEEK BEFORE a marathon. Is that even tapering? Anyway, I bought the book for a reason so I’ll continue to read the reason behind this Hanson plan. As for you, it is normal to be nervous before running your first marathon. Everyone trains differently and for me, I normally end up tweaking a plan to meet my needs. You are the only one who knows what your body can and cannot take during training. I think you should go ahead and order the Hanson’s book and read more about it. You can still totally run one LONG RUN (20-22 miles) because that will give you peace of mind. Yes, less running probably means less injury but not necessarily. Let me know what you decide πŸ™‚

      1. Yes! I’ve seen people who’ve improved their times tremendously with it!

        I’ve been doing so much research on how to go about training for this, but I know I have to incorporate speed training and hills. I’m doing Big Sur in April, and there are tons of hills. I’m trying to cross train too to strengthen my core, back and legs outside of just running. It’s overwhelming because of how much time it will take to train for a marathon in general (as opposed to a half). I’m leaning toward a traditional plan this time to see what I’ve gotten myself into before I try Hanson’s plan. But I do think I’ll order the book to look into it. I’ll be following your journey with it and am excited to see your feedback on it. Thanks!!!

      2. I forget to mention that you have a lot more running experience than me and you can probably handle the Hanson plan. You’ve ran so many half-marathons and I haven’t ran that many races. I mean, I ran a lot in high school because I was on the track and field team and then in college, I ran only 5k’s. I dis continue exercising in college. I only started distance running this year.

        I’ve heard a lot about the Big Sur race. What state is that in again? I didn’t realize that the Pittsburgh marathon that I’m running next uear has hills so it will be tough for me (apparently, crossing those 5 bridges in Pittsburgh will require me going uphill…lol).

        Good luck for the remaining 3 months training. I’m excited for you to run your first marathon. The feeling of crossing that finish line is amazing! I know you’ll do great.

    1. OMG, this is Luke Humphrey from Hansons Coaching. Thanks for your comment. I’m looking forward to delving more into the Hansons Marathon Method book tonight. Happy coaching in 2015.

  2. Wahoo! Glad you’re running another 26.2! They get addictive πŸ™‚ hope the Hanson method works for you- I usually do a hybrid of it. The allure of 16 mile long runs is tempting, but the mid week long runs + cumulative fatigue from the hard runs prior to The weekend long run keep me from going all in on this plan. Look forward to following you on your 2nd marathon journey!

    1. Thanks πŸ™‚ I super excited to run another marathon next year. I’m definitely tweaking the Hanson’s plan to suit my needs. I just don’t know how yet. Those speed workouts and tempo runs sound tough. I’ll take 16 mile long runs any day. I feel like if you can run at least 3 hours for a long run then you should be good to go come marathon day. Not everyone HAS to run 18-22 miles for a long run to succeed on marathon day.

      1. Ah good to hear you’re tweaking it too! πŸ™‚ the mileage also scares me a bit. I doubt I’ve ever broken 50 miles in a week before. And I couldn’t agree more with you- if you can run 3 hours, you can finish a marathon. I see no benefit for us non elite folk to be out there longer than 3 hours. It just takes way too long to recover! Leave that for the marathon!

    2. I’ve also never ran 50 miles in a week. The Hanson’s program (beginner plan) lists 49 miles as the total number of miles that should be ran the week before the marathon. I don’t know about you, but I like to taper down on my mileage the week before…lol.

    1. I know, right? I can’t believe I won. Thanks πŸ™‚ I entered that twitter giveaway just for fun (not even thinking that I would possibly have to train for a second marathon). Then boom! I win the twitter giveaway and here I am on my journey to marathon #2.

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