Hal Higdon is the 90-Year-Old King of Training Plans

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 U.S.A. Track & Field Olympic Trials and a private finest marathon time of 2:21:55.

Now, his title has develop into a model, one which is synonymous with coaching plans for each sort of runner, from learners 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 at the prime of Google search outcomes. His free coaching plans have remained some of the most regularly used — a rarity in a world the place most plans and coaches cater to runners who’re keen to shell out tons of of for personalised schedules.

His distinctive mix of enthusiasm, a deep understanding of the sport and a giant, supportive household have saved him prime of thoughts for superior and novice runners alike. But this wasn’t his plan, not precisely, in line with Higdon and his household.

Higdon began working in highschool, and commenced researching other ways to coach for races whereas a student-athlete at Carleton College in 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 in the youth and grasp divisions, taking his household together with him for the experience.

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

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

In these days, Higdon made a dwelling from freelance writing on a spread of topics. But the by 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 enthusiasm 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 known 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 function, earlier than slicing himself off, apprehensive he wouldn’t give everybody equal credit score in 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 just lately, the web site added two applications — TrainingPeaks and a RunwithHal app — which can be subscription primarily based. But, Jake added, it was a complete non-starter to ever pull any applications 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 just lately (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 did not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics at the U.S. observe and discipline trials final month.Credit…Alexandra Garcia/The New York Times


Jordan Gray is the U.S. record-holder in the ladies’s decathlon. But she and her friends are capable of compete for Olympic berths solely in 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 in the title of gender equality in observe and discipline, and it is gaining the help 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 completely 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 together with her standing at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., having finished sufficient to make that occur.


Do the methods 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 desires will be hampered by controversial drug checks. 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 stairs of her Brooklyn residence, now carries an inhaler as a precaution.Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

Post-Covid syndrome is nonetheless 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.