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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Questioning Hal

Far be it from me to pretend I know more than the revered Hal Higdon.
Yet there are some parts of this half-marathon plan I'm using that I just don't understand.
For example:
- Every single week, from week one on up, there is a day with 3 to 5 miles at goal half-marathon pace, either stand alone or at the end of a long run. Yet speed work on week 8 and week 10 includes 3x1600 and 4x1600 at race pace. Makes no sense to me at all. I can see 3 or 4x1600 at race pace the final week (week 12) as a way to get a feel for the pace, but otherwise? That's not very impressive speed work when the very same week you have to run 5 miles straight at that pace.
- Every single week includes two easy 3 mile runs. I don't know what these are supposed to do. I don't understand their function. I wouldn't even be running 3 miles easy if I was training for a mile race.
- Most of the speed work seems too short to me: 6x400, 5x800, etc.
- The overall mileage, as the plan is written, is in the low to mid 30's. If I were faster, I could get more miles in the timed long runs (they are either 1:30, 1:45 or 2:00 long), but even then, it's not a lot of miles. I really wonder if this is enough miles...but not as much as I wonder why I have all these easy 3 milers.

Of course, I modified the plan. I would much rather run an easy five to seven miles than an easy three. So some of those I've lengthened. That bumps my weekly mileage up, too, although I still think I won't get over 40 for the duration of the plan. Or maybe once or twice.
Other than the occasional increase on easy runs, I've stuck to the plan, since I do still think Hal Higdon must know more than I do! My half marathon is on Halloween weekend, so I will know soon enough if it worked. So far I'm not feeling especially strong or fast, but part of that could be because I reduced intensity / miles slightly due to my hamstring strain (poor timing). It is still bothering me a little, but it gets a smidge better each day.

Besides those tiny modifications, I've been pretty good about following directions. I'm going to stick to the plan for the duration, and we'll see how it goes.


  1. I don't like Hal's Marathon training programs. But, I used his Advanced Half marathon training program twice. And it helped me run two half marathons that I was really pleased with.
    For the 800 meter intervals I was doing those at 10k race pace. For the 1600 meter intervals I was aiming for 10-15 seconds below HM race pace.

    I think the lower mileage helped me not feel too burnt out. The speed work catches up with you.

    On the days that you only run three miles, you strength train. Are you lifting weights or doing other strength training? This will keep your hips, core, and upper body healthy. I say strength train first then go run three easy miles as a cool down. If you are doing lunges and squats you won't feel like going for a 5-7 mile run after.

    Also if you run first you are more likely to stretch out your run longer and blow off strength training.

  2. You should check out Meb's book. It sounds like you have the flexibility to do a 10-day plan. Didn't you post something about that a while ago? The overall design of his training sounds smart, and then you could substitute in your desired speed sessions/tempos/hills/whatnot with ample recovery time worked into the 10-day schedule. The Hal plan sounds goofy.