Book Recap // Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training

This summer brings the annual challenge of participating in the Columbus Library Summer Reading Club.  I used to take the challenge every summer, but for the last few years due to a busy life & time constraints, I’ve only signed up my little ones.  This summer, I’m back!  I signed up both kids, along with myself, and we are getting our reading on!  The first “adult” milestone prize was a BOGO from Chipotle, so why not?!

My latest book was Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training. I’m hoping to break two hours this fall, a feat that should be achievable, but its been a few years!  So I figured this could be a refresher on what I should (and shouldn’t) be doing to try and meet my goal.


I read through it quickly, and although it was mainly geared towards beginning runners new to the half, I still enjoyed it. While I did learn some new information & perspective, I felt like much of it was a review.  You know, stuff you already know, but just need to actually make yourself do!  I did make a few tweaks to my fall training plan, based on some of his advice.  I’ve used several of his plans for various races in the past, and will probably try one again after this September’s half.

Takeaway points from the book

Some of Higdon’s “Secrets of Success” include…

  • be consistent & commit yourself – stick to your training plan
  • train faster & farther – for intermediates, kick it up a notch!
  • SLOW down – enjoy those long slow runs & take your rest/recovery days!
  • hire a coach and/or partner up – seek advice & camaraderie from other runners

I love my running tribe!  Finding friends for conversational runs make the miles pass quickly.

Ashley Weingart, blogger @ Running With Skissors, was featured in Hal’s book & listed ten reasons she loves running.  I could resonate with almost all of them! Some of my favorites included enjoying the great outdoors, running as therapy & the joy of racing, which I personally use to keep motivated.

Ch 6 is dedicated to the concept of hard/easy.  Beginning & intermediate runners especially should avoid training hard more than a couple times per week, and hard days should always be followed by an easy day.  PUSH, but learn to also recover, rest and dare we say it… relax!  “Running hard one day and running easy the next will guide you safely through your training to race day” claims Higdon.  I agree!


Alternate hard & easy runs!  CRC Dublin offers “track Tuesday” workouts and Thursday tempo run homework… then you’d better rest up on Wednesdays and Fridays!

For the intermediate training plans, he has two options; one focuses on distance (more weekly miles) and the other focuses on speed (less weekly miles, but faster paced more intense runs).  I have tried both versions and had success both ways!

Ch 14 is called HM3 and a theory I’ve used in the past.  Running only three days per week and cross training the other days.  This “less is more” theory is what I’ve used in maintenance mode and when training for halfs “just for fun” vs racing to PR.  Higdon discusses various cross training options, those aerobic activities that actually get your heart rate up, including swimming, cycling, walking and even winter options like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  He suggests that yoga and strength training are good, but not “aerobic.”  I don’t think he’s ever been to Harbor Yoga. 🙂

Overall it was a good read.  Now, on to the next one!  Any good running books you’d recommend?

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