Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K Training Plan: What we’d do differently next time

I wound up having to work Saturday morning and missed the Loon Lake 5.5K. Between the Waterfall 5K flooding cancellation and a strained hamstring now on the mend, I still don’t really know how much Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K Training Plan may have helped my speed.

loonlakeMy sister Traci reportedly got a PR at Loon Lake, beating her previous best from two years ago by more than a minute – 32:09 (a 9:24 pace) vs. 33:19 (9:45 pace) in 2013. I haven’t got the full report from her yet, but I suspect she wasn’t happy. It sounds like she went out too fast on the hills and then ran out gas. (And Colleen, who had a sore leg, wound up walking most of the way.)

At any rate, it is possible to say what we liked and didn’t like about following this training program – and what we’d do differently in the future:


  • The progression of intervals (alternating between increasing sets of 200 meters one week and 400 the next) was a highlight. It took us a while to figure out how to systematize these, because we don’t really have access to a track. But it was a good yardstick and confidence builder .
  • Running for time instead of distance on long runs was a nice change of pace.
  • This was our first real experience with tempo runs and those seem really helpful, especially once we figure out how to do them better.

Things we’d like to change next time:

  • More distance. The “long runs” didn’t build up to 90 minutes until the last week, and because we took those pretty slow, we never ran more than 8 miles or so.
  • We never really got the hang of the “fast” 4-6 miles runs. We were never sure how to pace ourselves and felt like there wasn’t enough distance elsewhere in the program to improve on those much.
  • We’ll probably keep tinkering with the speed training. My sister would like to do 100s; I’d like to do mile repeats. So we’ll probably add some of both to what we do in the future.
  • This program doesn’t incorporate cross training, and we knew that going in. Given that we both prefer doing some riding and swimming along with running, we should either pick one that does or cobble one together on our own.

Up next: The Swiss Days Race (5K) in just under three weeks, though it’s unclear if I’ll be able to run that one either. My hamstring’s much better, but Colleen has travel softball tournaments every weekend this month. None are too far away, however, so we’ll see.

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