Hal Higdon Has Trained Millions of Runners. At 90, He’s Not Slowing Down.

Hal Higdon is the 90-year-old web king of working plans.

His model has transcended his working profession, a storied résumé that features eight appearances at the usA. Track & Field Olympic Trials and a private finest marathon time of 2:21:55.

Now, his identify has change into a model, one that’s synonymous with coaching plans for each sort of runner, from novices to Boston Marathoners.

“He’s all about the democratization of running,” his daughter, Laura Sandall, stated. “He was all about making sure that anyone who wanted to get out and run could have a training program at their fingertips.”

At their fingertips, and on the high of Google search outcomes. His free coaching plans have remained some of essentially the most continuously used — a rarity in a world the place most plans and coaches cater to runners who’re prepared to shell out lots of of dollars for customized schedules.

His distinctive mix of enthusiasm, a deep understanding of the game and an enormous, supportive household have saved him high of thoughts for superior and novice runners alike. But this wasn’t his plan, not precisely, in response to Higdon and his household.

Higdon began working in highschool, and commenced researching alternative ways to coach for races whereas a student-athlete at Carleton College within the late 1940s. “I was a perky little freshman and sophomore who came up with training ideas of my own,” he stated in a phone interview. He honed his experience as an elite runner each within the youth and grasp divisions, taking his household together with him for the trip.

Before races had water stations, his household would stand on the aspect of programs with cups of water. His youngsters fondly bear in mind spaghetti dinners earlier than marathons. So, too, do they bear in mind having marathon greats like Bill Rodgers cease by the household dwelling for a meal or two.

Running turned a household affair for the Higdons.Credit…Courtesy of Laura Higdon

In these days, Higdon made a residing from freelance writing on a spread of topics. But the by way of line remained working with athletes and writing for runners. It wasn’t till 1990, when a highschool buddy recruited him to design plans for Chicago Marathon runners, that he started crafting coaching plans for a bigger viewers.

“I don’t think I could have predicted my life at any point,” he stated, talking with the passion of somebody who has by no means come down from a runner’s excessive. “I went with the flow. I had the intelligence I absorbed over decades of time, particularly for the kind of person who had no idea that he or she would become a runner.”

In 1993, he wrote “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide,” now in its fifth version. He registered for a web site in 1994, the identical yr Oprah Winfrey famously ran the Marine Corps Marathon. Running had hit a brand new mainstream fever pitch.

The Higdon household — three youngsters and 9 grandchildren — had been coaching for what was to return. Higdon started naming some of his relations: Jake (or, as Higdon referred to as him, grandchild No. 5) and Jake’s father, David, helped get the web site updated. His granddaughter Sophie dove into Instagram. He began speaking about his son Kevin’s position, earlier than reducing himself off, nervous he wouldn’t give everybody equal credit score within the household enterprise.

“Without leaving anybody out, all the family is involved,” he stated. “It may as well be called the Hal Higdon team legacy.”

Jake estimated that about 2 million folks used the coaching plans on-line yearly. More not too long ago, the location added two packages — TrainingPeaks and a RunwithHal app — which can be subscription primarily based. But, Jake added, it was a complete non-starter to ever pull any packages off the web site. More than 90 % of runners solely use the free plans.

“He has never been in it to make a ton of money,” he stated. “Putting that barrier up would really fly in the face of trying to reach runners of all levels.”

And attain them he does. Sure, it’s a household affair. But every member of the family I spoke with was adamant about one factor: It’s all Hal speaking to runners on Facebook and Twitter. He was an early social media adopter, his daughter Laura Sandall stated, and the household arrange a system to permit him to do what he does finest.

“Grandpa Hal is the one that is still interacting with users,” stated Kyle, a proud Higdon grandson. “He treats all the users the same way he’s treated me. It’s kind of like they are his grandchildren or children, his Hal Higdon running community. And I think that comes across in the way he answers each person’s questions and makes sure they are enjoying their training.”

Higdon has slowed his personal tempo not too long ago (properly, he did run seven marathons in seven months for his 70th birthday) and now opts for lower-impact exercises. He bikes two and a half miles to his favourite espresso store, Al’s Supermarket, along with his spouse, Rose. That, he stated, “is what has allowed me to live to a jolly old age.”

His household doesn’t argue that, however they are saying his on-line neighborhood has saved him engaged too.

“He gets up early every morning,” Sandall stated. “I get alerts for his tweets.”

Post-Run Refuel: What We’re Consuming

Competing as a heptathlete, Jordan Gray didn’t qualify for the Tokyo Olympics on the U.S. observe and subject trials final month.Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times


Jordan Gray is the U.S. record-holder within the girls’s decathlon. But she and her friends are capable of compete for Olympic berths solely within the seven-event heptathlon. The decathlon is restricted to males.

That doesn’t sit properly with many observe athletes and followers. Gray’s motion — Let Women Decathlon — is nearing 20,000 petition signatures in favor of including the ladies’s occasion to the Olympic Games within the identify of gender equality in observe and subject, and it’s gaining the assist of Olympic icons who broke related limitations a long time in the past.


On June 26, lengthy jumper Quanesha Burks certified for her first Olympic Games. The 26-year-old jumped a private finest 6.96 meters to complete in third place.

Two days later, she uploaded what amounted to a “told you so” compilation to TikTok. The video cuts between totally different takes of the athlete saying the identical factor. “I’m going to be an Olympian,” she stated, “I’m going to the Olympics.”

The video ends along with her standing at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., having carried out sufficient to make that occur.


Do the techniques designed to catch cheaters actually shield Olympic athletes? Lindsay Crouse, a author and producer for The New York Times Opinion part, spoke with Mary Harris, the host of Slate’s “What’s Next” podcast about how athletes’ Olympic goals may be hampered by controversial drug exams. Listen right here.

One Last Rep

Nia Raquelle Smith, 36, has had Covid-19 signs since contracting the coronavirus final March. The former marathon runner, pictured on the steps of her Brooklyn dwelling, now carries an inhaler as a precaution.Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Post-Covid syndrome remains to be not properly understood. So medical doctors are throwing the kitchen sink at serving to these sufferers get higher — and get again to sport.

They are adapting therapies used for different diseases, and — with permission — drawing information from athletes’ private health trackers, like Apple Watches, Garmins and Fitbits, which endurance athletes use to inform them how briskly and much they went, Jen Miller writes.