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Running For The Hansons: An Insider's Account of The Brooks-Sponsored Marathon Training Group Made Famous by Olympian Brian Sell Paperback – May 17, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sage Canaday grew up in the backwoods of Sheridan, Oregon, where he started running seriously in 6th grade because his soccer coach told him that he was better off without a ball! A part of the very deep Oregon high school class of 2004 (Galen Rupp, Ryan Vail, Stuart Eagon, Scott Wall), Canaday’s best cross-country finish was 13th at the Oregon State Cross Country meet (large-school division) his senior year of high school. Lacking natural foot speed, Sage was “just another 4:30 miler” who didn’t even make states in track and never got to race at Hayward Field in Eugene. At Cornell University, Canaday slowly developed as a distance runner under the guidance of LetsRun.com co-founder and Cornell distance coach Robert Johnson. After a disastrous freshman year of running sabotaged by iron-deficiency anemia and a poor diet involving the infamous “freshman 15,” Canaday slowly built his mileage up over 100 miles per week. A gradual, but steady progression of improvement eventually resulted in a trip to the DI NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual in the fall of 2007, and an Ivy League Conference individual title on the track for 10k in the spring of 2008. Also in college, Canaday convinced his coach Robert Johnson that he should try to qualify for the 2008 US Olympic Marathon Trials. After receiving permission from his coach, Canaday trained between cross country and track seasons and debuted in the 2007 Houston Marathon with a 2:22:21, missing the trials “B” standard at the time by a margin of only 21 seconds. Determined to qualify for the trials (his dream since his sophomore year of high school), Canaday tried his hand at the marathon 6 months later at the 2007 Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Despite racing in sunny temperatures over 70 degrees, Canaday succeeded in qualifying for the trials in his second marathon with a 2:21:43. He was the youngest participant in the 2008 US Men’s Olympic Marathon trials at the age of 21. Sage joined Hansons in August 2009 after graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelors of Science in Design and Environmental Analysis, and a concentration in Human Factors and Ergonomics. Most recently, Sage ran a 2:16:52 at the 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon and qualified for his 2nd Olympic Marathon Trials.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Vo2max Productions, LLC; first edition (May 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983294119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983294115
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #909,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Where Chris Lear's "Running with the Buffaloes" did an excellent job of painting the picture of what it's like to train with a top notch collegiate program, Sage Canaday's "Running For The Hansons" does the same for the post-collegiate elite level. The subtitle of the book is "An Insider's Account of The Brooks-Sponsored Marathon Training Group Made Famous By Olympian Brian Sell," and that is exactly what Canaday delivers in his debut. While giving an excellent account of what it is like to train at 140 miles per week, week in and week out, Canaday also delivers some excellent prose on the joys and shortcomings of a professional running career and some hilarious commentary about the different kinds of customers that come into the Hansons Running Shops. The book also includes 100+ pages of extras that include Drew Polley's entire 15-week training log leading up to his 2:16 at the 2010 Boston Marathon and references to many of Sage's popular Flotrack videos. Lots of great stuff here for any competitive runner.

When I heard that Sage was putting this book out, I couldn't wait to get a hold of it as it finally pulls back the curtain a bit on how the decade plus long and very successful Brooks Hansons Distance Project operates. Many of the rumors that can be found on the LetsRun's "World Famous" Message Boards are true, including instant expulsion for dating a teammate of the opposite sex and a six figure guarantee for running a sub-28:00 10k or sub-2:11 marathon (a feat only achieved by Olympian Brian Sell and Desi Davila for the womens equivalent). It also talks about the 26.2k "Marathon Simulator" run that the Hansons do about a month out from a major marathon. You can tell how serious about the sport Kevin and Keith are in regards to their attention to detail for these simulator runs.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Anyone who has considered himself or herself a competitive runner in Michigan over the past decade is well aware of the influence of the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project racing team. In a local race when you see the distinctive red, yellow and black singlet at the start line everyone knows they are running for second.* There have been several local races in which I thought I would have a good shot at winning only to see Luke Humphrey, Mike Morgan or Clint Verran stroll up to the start line a few minutes before the gun, intent on putting in a nice tempo run on a clear course.

I've jogged along side them at community runs, chatted with them at the stores, watched them make the Olympic team (Brian Sell) and come within seconds of winning the Boston Marathon (Desiree Davila). However I didn't know much about the inner workings of the team and the sacrifices that these smooth striding elites make on a daily basis in order to push American distance running as far as they can.

Sage Canaday's book provides an insightful glimpse into the Hansons program. It discusses the early years of the program, the formation of the team and the investment Keith and Kevin Hanson have made to improve American distance running. Published by Vo2max Productions, Running For The Hansons is written in a similar style to that of Running with the Buffaloes and Sub 4:00, both by Chris Lear. It includes journal type entries describing training interspersed with entries detailing the history of the program, races and other odds and ends.

The author, Sage Canaday, joined the Hansons program late in the summer of 2009. He packed his worldly possessions into his 1998 Chevy Prizm and drove from Ithaca, New York to Rochester Hills, Michigan.
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Format: Paperback
Although a quick read, this book is not well-written. It gives insights into the world of the sub-elite and guys who put everything on hold so they can chase their running dreams, even if, as here, the dream is to be able to run after college and not starve, and to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Perhaps I'm too old to appreciate the dormitory/frat house mentality that permeates the club. (He does not interview the Hansons for the book.)

The most annoying thing was the hero-worship of Brian Sell. Sell himself comes off quite well, but it got a bit old to read again and again that he was the epitome of the "blue collar runner" and that being a "blue collar runner" was inherently superior to the (unmentioned) soft-touches training in Mammoth or Flagstaff or the Rockies. And for someone who extols a blue collar for a runner he's elitist when it comes to the people in the Detroit-area generally and those who come into the Hanson's stores, although he does admit to stereotyping.

As far as training (I didn't get through the specific training-log that's at the end), it seemed to be lots and lots of miles and lots and lots of workout-racing. Lots of early morning efforts in the cold and resented community-outreach runs.

It's a quick read, as I say, and worth the time. He's not a professional writer, though, so don't expect "Running with the Buffaloes".
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Format: Paperback
Negatives: I found the book to be poorly written and rather hodge-podge in general. It seemed that Canaday took excerpts from a journal or a blog and patched them together with his current thoughts when he was writing the book. There were numerous typos and Canaday's abuse of the exclamation point and the ellipsis were quite annoying.

Also, there was not much information about the team outside of Canaday's training group (Chad Johnson and Drew Polley) and some background on the Hanson brothers. I was really hoping to gain more insight into the history and training of key runners such as Brian Sell, Nick Arcinaga, Pat Rizzo, etc. In defense of Sage, I am not sure that other members/coaches wanted him to write about them, so this could potentially be the reason why he limits the scope of his book.

Positives: Detailed training information about Canaday's group building up to the Boston marathon. Info about what other guys were doing was still limited, but the general training philosophy seems to be the same so there isn't too much information missing. A lot of what Canaday provides though was not new or original as the majority of the Hansons Team used to post their training on Athleticore, a training website which is open to the public if you sign up for a membership.
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