Workout of the Week: The Hansons’ Simulator


Be ready for race day this fall with this marathon-specific workout. 

Summer is officially upon us, which means the fall marathon season is fast approaching! With 10-16 weeks until you toe the starting line of your next attempt at a 26.2-mile personal best, now’s the time to start dialing in the key marathon-specific workouts you want to hit before race day.

A popular option for the members of the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, a Rochester, Mich.-based training group which includes Olympian Desiree Linden, 2:11 marathoner Bobby Curtis and numerous other Olympic Trials and world championships qualifiers, is called The Simulator. Competitive age-group runners can adapt this workout to suit their own needs, but the basic principle is simple and solid: simulate the effort and terrain of your next marathon over 26.2 kilometers, or 62 percent of the marathon distance.

MORE: “The Simulator”

Here’s how it works:

What: A 26.2K or roughly 16.3-mile run at your goal marathon pace on a route that simulates the terrain of your next marathon.

Why: To simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon. “The idea is that you are fatigued going into it,” says Luke Humphrey, author of the “Hansons Marathon Method” (VeloPress, 2012) and head coach of Hansons Coaching Services. “The body is fatigued and this workout simulates the later parts of a marathon.”

How: Wear the shoes and race kit you plan to race in as if it were marathon race day. Warm up with 1 to 2 miles of easy running, then run 26.2 kilometers at your goal marathon pace, focusing on form and rhythm and adhering to your race-day nutrition and hydration strategy. Cool down with 1 to 2 miles of easy running. Total mileage will be between 18 to 20 miles. Do this workout three to four weeks out from your goal marathon and be sure to recover adequately in the days that follow.

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