Hal Higdon: A Year of Tips--2018

This 52-week interactive program is exactly what the title says, A Year of Tips. Each morning for an entire year, I will sent you an email offering some comment or suggestion about the sport of long distance running. Check the Plan Preview for an example of tips you will receive.

And you don't have to begin on January 1. You can sign up for the program now, and I will be coming to your email box for the next 52 weeks. You can also sign up for this program while following any other of my interactive training programs and get a double dose of wisdom.

Sample Day 1

What is the limit on miles devoted to speedwork per week. One rule claims no more than 10 percent. I don't know which coach came up with that number or why it would be valid. Different runners can absorb different amounts of speedwork. For some, one day a week is enough. Others, two. Or three. But what counts as speedwork? Is a run at race pace speedwork? Is a tempo run speedwork, when only the middle miles might be run hard? Or do you count all the miles you run during that tempo run?

Sample Day 2

For runners seeking to improve their times, I often recommend doing at least one workout a week at race pace. But you don't have to get it right in Week 1. Doing pace runs is a learning experience. Some runners who are more fit and who like to run each mile at perfect pace warm up briefly before starting. Or you can include the warm-up in the run itself: doing the first mile of a 5-mile pace run at a slower pace, then 3 miles at pace, then 1 mile at the end to cool down. Not every mile in a pace run will be exactly on pace either. Weather can confound your efforts, as can difficulty of course.

Sample Day 3

There are three ways to improve as a runner: 1) run more miles; 2) run what miles you run faster; or 3) continue to run the same number of miles at the same pace, assuming consistency will allow you some improvement. It will, but the other two routes maybe offer a more effective way to achieve your performance goals.

Sample Day 4

Many new runners train while wearing iPods and feel that without this musical diversion they could not, or would not, run. But many major races have begun to ban iPods, because of safety considerations. I ride my bike wearing an iPod, but somehow have never taken to wearing it while running. Maybe it is because I love the act of running and do not want to be distracted by music.

Sample Day 5

The more time you can devote to your marathon training--30 weeks, for example, instead of a mere 18--the greater your chances for success. The extra time allows for a more gradual approach, hopefully lessening the possibility of injuries.

Sample Day 6

Dietitian Nancy Clark says: Eat at least three kinds of nutrient-dense food at each meal. Don't eat just one food per meal, such as a bagel for breakfast. Add two more foods: peanut butter and lowfat milk. Don't choose just a salad for lunch. Add grilled chicken and a crusty whole grain roll. For dinner, enjoy pasta with tomato sauce and ground turkey. Two-thirds of the meal should be whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and one-third lowfat meats, dairy, beans or other protein-rich foods. Too many athletes, Nancy claims, eat a repetitive menu with the same 10 to 15 foods each week. Repetitive eating keeps life simple, minimizes decisions, and simplifies shopping, but it can result in an inadequate diet and chronic fatigue. The more different foods you eat, the more different types of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you consume. A good target is 35 different foods per week. Start counting!

Sample Day 7

Training must be specific to provide maximum results, exercise scientists claim. It's one reason why cross-training offers runners limited success. You can acquire and maintain cardiovascular fitness with many activities, writes Gina Kolata in the New York Times, but if you want to keep your ability to row, or run, or swim, you have to do that exact activity.

Hal Higdon
Hal Higdon Communications

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner's World, that magazine's longest lasting writer, Hal's having contributed an article to RW's second issue in 1966. He also is the author of more than three dozen books, including Marathon: The Utimate Training Guide and the recently published Hal Higdon's Half Marathon Training and Run Fast (3rd edition).