The 22 Hal Higdon´s best running tips

Do you want the best running tips from one of the best running coaches of all time? Here you will have access to Hal Higdon advice for runners.


Hal Higdon is a runner, coach, contribuitor of Runner’s World  and the writer of books on many subjects and for different age groups.

He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships.

We are followers of Hal Higdon work on facebook (his Fan Page:  https://www.facebook.com/higdonmarathon) and we curated the best running tips he shares in there.

Learn with one of the best running coaches of all time:


Keep your long runs aerobic. 65% to 75% of max. Conversational.

Try not to push too hard in workouts or get out of breath, particularly in the early miles of long runs.

You’ll be able to finish stronger if you start slow. And in a race, you’ll pass a lot of people in the closing miles.


When crossing a street or highway, either at the corner or in the middle of the block, be very cautious.

Look both ways for approaching cars and maybe pause to wait for the light to change from red to green, even though it’s going to make your split for that mile somewhat slower.

Jay-running can be dangerous. It hurts to get hit by a car. Or hit by a bicycle on run/bike paths where you share space.


Do you like to cross-train? Not all runners do, particularly the more experienced runners who think it may get in the way of what they love to do best: run.

But for many of us, cross-training is a handy way of getting an aerobic buzz on days when running more miles might lead to injury. If you substitute cross-training for running, don’t overdo it.

Cross-training in most of my schedules for runners is not meant to build muscles. (You may build the wrong muscles.)

Its purpose is more to offer a relaxing workout between hard runs to both build and maintain your aerobic capacity. Easy swimming, or cycling is sufficient for most cross-training days.

Do these exercises too hard and you may be too fatigued to train properly on the days you do run.


Most running injuries respond to RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Icing the injury along with anti-inflammatory medicine such as Ibuprofen can help reduce swelling.

A good massage therapist (or physical therapist) may be able to assist you with your treatment.

But if seriously injured, don’t fool around. See a sportsmedicine pro. By that I mean a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon, who not only can diagnose your injury, but also suggest treatment or refer you to a specialist who can offer the most help.



You can drink more if you walk through aid stations during your races, and you won’t lose that much time.

The slower you are as a runner, the less time you will lose between your running and walking pace. That’s one of the advantages of not being a non-elite athlete.


To loosen up, do some easy stretches before your workouts, although the experts tell us stretching is best practiced after you run (after your muscles have warmed up).

While entire books have been written about the art of stretching, you can learn to stretch simply by using common sense and observing what other runners do.

Never stretch to the point of pain; stop before you reach that point.


Strength training is good for runners, but what do you do? You could do push-ups or pull-ups, use free weights, or work out with various machines at a Fitness Center.

Runners generally benefit if they combine light weights with a high number of repetitions, rather than pumping very heavy iron, where you really need to know what you are doing or have a personal trainer standing by your side.

I suggest you do some strength training at least twice a week, preferably after a short and easy run, although you can strength train on any days convenient for your business and personal schedule.


Theoretically, the longer your stride, the faster you should be able to run.

A stride 4 feet long covers more ground than one 3 feet long. But everybody has a stride length that is perfect for his or her size and strength.

A long stride causes the runner to lose momentum and waste energy attempting to push too far ahead of his or her center of gravity.

If you overstride, you may lose efficiency and find yourself running slower rather than faster. But understriding can also limit your efficiency and speed. Yes, is a puzzlement.


Running offers a series of peaks and valleys. You train hard for a period of time to achieve a peak of performance.

Once at that peak, you may be able to race at or near your best for a while, but eventually it is time to rest and slide back down into the valley. Nevertheless, there is always another peak to climb.


Speedwork is generally classified as training done faster than race pace. Different forms of speedwork include interval training on the track, fast repeats done on the road or track and tempo runs or fartlek, often done on forest trails.

This form of training can help you run faster, but it can also increase your risk of injury if you overdo it. Unless you are an advanced runner, save your speed training for periods outside the 18-week marathon buildup.


Thinking back on my running career, if there is one product I wish I had way back then, something guaranteed to make me a better runner, it would not be fancy shoes or a GPS watch.

My vote would go for sports gels. Roughly 100 calories a pack, they would have gotten me those extra few miles I needed to bridge the gap between the wall and the finish line in a marathon. Taking a sports gel once every 4th or 5th mile works well for me now.

flickr photo by John Rees http://flickr.com/photos/jrees/3377614129 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


How do you breathe as a runner? I always loved the answer offered by New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard: Breathe through the mouth, breathe through the nose, suck it in through the ears if you can.

Breathing is something we do naturally. If you have to think to breathe, you’re expending too much psychic energy on what should be an intuitive reaction to stress.

If you can train yourself to breathe better by focusing on it, then forgetting it, fine. Otherwise, don’t worry.


Be aware of your heart rate, particularly if you are a beginning runner. Pay attention not only during workouts, but also at times when you are not running.

As you become more fit, your resting heart rate should begin to decline. This is because of improvements in your cardiovascular system, your heart’s ability to push oxygen toward the muscles.

When I was an elite runner, my resting heart rate was measured as low as 29 beats a minute.

Now that I am training less, my resting heart rate is probably 10-20 beats higher, but it still is a healthy heart, well conditioned by exercise over the years.


Few sports cost as little as running. Our main item of equipment is a pair of running shoes, costing somewhere around $100.

Fashionable clothing and fancy watches definitely are icing on the cake. Don’t scrimp on footwear.

Acquire shoes that are appropriate for your biomechanics. And when the shoes begin to show wear, throw them away. Most running injuries can be traced to the point where the shoe touches the ground.

running on the streets


Running shoes are expensive, but they are the only item of equipment in our sport that is essential for our success and comfort.

If you’re a beginner running only a dozen or so miles a week, you can get away with a single pair of shoes, but once you become serious about the sport, you probably need two or three minimum:

1) An old pair that you use mostly for shorter distances;

2) a comfortable somewhat older pair that you use for your most serious training;

3) a new pair, recently purchased so they will be fresh (and clean) for your next race. Continue to rotate shoes regularly to minimize your chances of injury.


Prepare for your races by training smart. This will guarantee your success.

There is no substitute for intelligent training and arriving at the starting line with the attitude that this is going to be fun, and I’m going to give this race my best shot. Success will then be guaranteed.


Planning is where time and goal come together. If you have a specific period of time in which to achieve a specific goal, you can plan accordingly–to a point, of course.

You cannot predict whether the wind will be in your face or the weather will be too warm.

But you can plan almost every other aspect of your training so you will reach the starting line ready to perform to the best of your ability.

If you can plan to achieve that goal, it won’t matter how fast you run or whom you beat.


If you are preparing for a big race, avoid stress in the days leading up to that race. One poster to my Facebook page planned a week’s vacation to work with Habitat for Humanity.

Good idea, except she was planning to run a half marathon soon after returning and found that she still was sore because of all the labor.

Studying for a bar or CPA exam? Probably not the best time to also schedule your first marathon. In planning for any race minimize your chances of failure by looking ahead.



Some runners judge performance by whether they won or lost. Others define success or failure by how fast they ran, whether or not they matched their time expectations.

Still others judge performance by how good they felt running, focusing on the experience. Only you can judge your performance. Avoid letting others sit in judgment of you.


If you are planning to run a hilly road race, you need to do at least some of your training on hilly courses.

Even if you live in the flattest of flatlands, hills can be found if you search hard enough and are willing to climb in a car.

The city of Chicago is flat, but several suburbs offer rolling hills. Runners in Jacksonville, Florida train over a 2-mile loop course that crosses two high bridges over the St. Johns River.

Increasing the angle of your treadmill to simulate uphill running is another option.


Over a period of weeks and months as you train for a race, whether 5-K or half marathon, you can expect to improve fitness.

You may have struggled to run 10:00 pace at the start of a training cycle, only to find that you can float through 8:00 and 9:00 miles at the end.

How much the improvement curve rises may depend partly on your level of fitness at the beginning and partly on how well you train–actually how well your body can absorb training.

You would expect a low-fit person to make more improvement than a high-fit person, who may already be at peak, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way.


One of the most difficult aspects of tapering for a race, particularly a marathon, is that you are forced to run fewer miles.

When that happens, what do you do with all the extra time on your hands? Frustration over not being able to run creates what I call “taper madness.”

But you do not want to use any other exercise to substitute for the running you otherwise might do.

That’s the whole point of the taper period, to rest and get ready to race. If you continue to exercise at the same level by doing substitute activities, you will not be rested before the race.


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