Interview with Hal Gabriel

Please note: This interview is not endorsing any specific type of training. Rather its’ to show how passion, openmindness and perservearance are timeless traits we all can develop.  Its not about completing the race, its about the experience you gain before, during and after the event.  Develop your own style, be non-traditional and have fun on the way to the finish line.

FF: Let’s start from the beginning with the usual routine. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hal is a dedicated family man with a wife and 2 children. A local Bostonian, who grew up in Dorchester/Roxbury.  Hal got into fitness early in his adolescence and enjoyed the after burn energy of the activities. In high school he was a cross country and long distance runner.  After High School he went to the Army and was number 1 in the arduous Army Physical Testing Protocols.  Hal began to turn his passion of fitness into a ‘lifestyle’   and transferred the energy from exercising to all aspects of his life.

This energy was put to use in over 100 marathons (22 Boston Marathons), countless Triathlons competitions (Rank #17 in Hawaii 1979 Iron Man) plus numerous road races.

His intensity and perseverance is legendary and was documented in a 1979 PBS Documentary called ‘The Pursuit of Excellence.  Hal has also been on the front cover and written about in Boston Runner Magazine, Boston Globe and numerous health & fitness circulars.

Solid competition experience and having a magnetic personality draws many high profiles runners e.g. Bill Rodgers, athletes, coaches and sport nutritionist e.g. Nancy Clark… towards Hal for training advice.

More importantly, regardless if you are a Boston Marathon Champion or a YMCA youth member Hal always has time to converse about living a healthy lifestyle.

FF: What got you into Triathlons and how long have you been competing? Which triathlon is your favorite and why?  

Triathlons were a vehicle Hal used to live this ‘lifestyle’ of fitness. Endorsement provided necessary income for his family and the training time allowed him to pursue his passion.  It was a perfect match.  Hal has been competing in Triathlons for over 30 years.  His favorite Triathlon is the Hawaii event for which he trained 6 months and 5 hours a day.  By the way, during his training Hal also attended to his full time job, family and obligations.

FF: What do you think about when you are in an important event?

Hal explained when he is in the throes of an event he thinks about errands and what is next on his schedule!!

FF: One thing I really respect about you is the fact that you are approachable and modest. Do you have many people ask you about training or weight loss?  How have you managed to achieve humility?

Many people ask Hal for advice and his reply is based on his sole experience. He explicitly tells people ‘what worked for him’.  One of his favorite suggestions to people is to seek out the ‘source’. In other words, ask those who have practical experience in the relative field.

Hal is a very humble individual.  His suggestion regarding humility are simple…1) Never rest on your laurels.  2) Be mindful of time and live in the present. 3) Do not forget your roots.

FF: Let’s get to business – what’s something you consistently see people doing wrong in the gym?

Improper form- That’s it.

 FF:  Do you believe a large percentage of your performance is based on nutrition? Please digress on what are the main points that people are missing with regards to their nutrition? 

Hal answer is sincere and honest.  He enjoys eating but explains it needs to reflect the lifestyle.  Hal has a non-traditional method and is contrary to what main stream nutritionist advocate.

Hal’s body awareness is very keen and with this connection he is able to adjust his nutrition and training accordingly.   Throughout the years he fine tuned his food selection and intake, resulting in optimal performance for the events.

This is a man who states with a smile that ‘eating and sleeping is over rated’.

FF:   How have you been able to overcome physical and mental plateaus?   What is your source of inspiration?

Hal’s perseverance, hunger and sense of ‘urgency’ fueled him during these plateaus.   One source of inspiration is visualizing the crossing of the finish line.

FF:  What is the funniest thing you have seen at an event?

Once, a man completed a road race in a woman’s dress.

FF: Last question – if you could only give people one piece of advice to help them achieve their goals, what might that be?

Have long range goals, accountability, and keep it simple.

FF: Odelay, thanks so much for the interview!