By Elizabeth Comeau
Reviewing: Hal Higdon Half Marathon Novice 1
Available on: Android, iPhone
Should you get it? Maybe
When I decided I was going to run a half-marathon, the first thing I did was research training plans. Having never run a half before, I needed something that would guide me through the process, help keep me motivated, and, most importantly, keep track of my workouts.
After speaking with several friends who have run marathons, I found the Hal Higdon running apps.
If you don't know who Higdon is, he has written more than 30 books (most on running), run in the Olympic Trials eight times, and finished 111 marathons (his first was Boston in 1959).
The app claims it will have you ready for a half marathon in just 12 weeks, taking you from running two to three miles all the way up to running 10 miles a week before your race.
In the plan, you run three days a week, cross train two days, and rest two days. There are two shorter runs and one long run each week (with long runs ranging from four to 10 miles).
For $9.99, I expected a lot from this app - and for the most part, it delivers. When running, your distance and pace are tracked with your phone’s GPS (which is standard on most running apps anyway) and your music plays through the app interface, which is nice because you can skip songs from inside the app and not have to stop or pause anything.
While you're running, Hal’s voice offers you encouragement every few miles, which, on a particularly long run, is nice (especially when he starts calling out, “you can do it, only 500 feet left!”). The app also tells you when you’re halfway through your run so that you can turn around and head back home.
You can share all of your runs via Facebook and Twitter (if you think your social network cares about the fact that you just ran 5 miles…) and the app syncs with a website called Training Peaks, which will help you track your workouts and food intake on a calendar that automatically syncs with the half marathon app.
The app not only recommends how far you should run on various days, but also suggests when you should compete in a 5K and 10K race in order to prepare for your big half-marathon.
There’s a journal function that allows you to record notes about your runs (for example, I picked a very hilly route the other day and made a note of that for days I feel like I need to run some more hills).
Overall, the app is easy to use, isn’t buggy, and has features most people expect training apps to have. My one problem with this app is that the price is a bit steep, considering that other run-tracking programs such as Nike+ integrate most of the features I listed above for free. However, most don’t lay out a specific training plan, so this app definitely has that as a leg up on the competition.
Unless you’re a hardcore runner, though, try downloading one of the free tracking programs instead and find a training plan – for free – in a book.