Listener Q&A July 2016

The end of the month only means one thing around these parts: it’s time for me to answer some questions!

July 2016

Somewhere around the middle of each month, I throw out a post in our Facebook group asking for questions, and this month I’ve got more questions than I know what to do with!

If you haven’t joined our Facebook group yet, what are you waiting for? Try it, and if you don’t like us you can leave.

But I’m pretty sure you’ll find us amazing!

Now for this month’s questions…

What Do Inquiring Minds Want to Know?

How much time do you spend foam rolling?

Not a ton, really. A few minutes a day minimum, but not often a whole lot more than that. The biggest way to see improvement with both stretching and foam rolling is consistency. Five minutes per day (35 minutes total per week) will give you a far greater return than 10-15 minutes 2-3 times per week. Occasionally I’ll spend 10+ minutes on the roller, but that’s definitely the exception and not the rule.

What’s your take on branched chain amino acids for muscle recovery?

I honestly don’t have one. I’ve never looked into them, and really have no desire. I’m not a supplement guy, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

What’s the best way to return to running after a long-term injury induced absence?

Slowly. Very slowly. If you’ve been unable to run for several months, the last thing you want to do is dive back into the deep end once you get the green light from your doctor to get back to running.

Instead, stick to the kiddie pool.

Ease back in, one or two days per week max, for maybe 10-15 minutes of run/walking. This is especially important to remember if you’ve been cross training rather aggressively during your injury. Your cardio fitness may be pretty good, but your body isn’t used to the pounding of running. No matter what your injury was, if you haven’t been pounding you need to allow your body to gradually get used to the impact forces of running or the odds of re-injury (or developing a new injury) will go up dramatically.

Pair the best styles of beer to different types of running workouts. No wrong answers.

IPAs go well with repeats of 400m or less. Terrible workout, terrible beer. If possible, I’ll never partake in either again. Pretty much every other running workout pairs well with a dark lager or a good pilsner. But I’ll take a hot cup of coffee over a cold beer pretty much any day. Or some vodka. Or some gin.

I’m volunteering to help lead an introductory 5k training group in my town. Should I think about becoming certified as a running coach if this turns into a “thing”?

If you want to, but I don’t think it is really required.

If this is truly a group for beginners, I think the biggest thing you need to worry about is motivating the participants to keep going when they are struggling. I’m pretty sure we can all remember how daunting the 5k seemed when we started running, and while that distance may not strike fear into us now it most likely will to those in your group.

I don’t think you need to worry about getting overly “coachy” with beginners. Just make it fun and if you see something dramatic that needs correcting, do your best to point them in the right direction.

What’s the deal with fueling primarily with fat as opposed to fueling with carbs?

Fueling with fat absolutely works for endurance training. Research is starting to show pretty clearly that our bodies function a lot better when we are burning fat for fuel than when we are relying on carbs, but carbs are a quicker source of fuel. (Physiology lesson, our bodies actually have to process fats into glycogen (sugar) in order to burn fat for fuel, so in a sense we are always running on sugar.)

Switching for a carb based fueling strategy, which is what most runners stick with, to a fat fueling strategy is a process. And a difficult one at that. You really need to avoid a lot of carbs and force your body to get used to burning fat all of the time, not just when you’re running.

And our bodies don’t like the transition.

Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you and go with it. Either option works.

I’ve got a case of Olympic Trials fever, but those guys and girls are so fast it’s almost discouraging.

I know. And wait until you see Bolt run in Rio. That guy is a freak.

And Radish from Kenya in the 800? Forget about it.

And the Kenyans and Ethiopians in the longer distances… Yeah, I’m looking forward to the Olympics (and being in complete awe) myself.

Am I a “bad runner” for relaxing my training a bit in the summer? The heat is killing me!

I get it, believe me! Training in the summer heat is my life 7-8 months per year.

There’s nothing wrong with relaxing your training intensity/frequency a bit in the summer, just make it a point to try and engage in some other activities as well. Get in the pool, play in the sprinklers with your kids, or ride the bike–just do something! Don’t sacrifice the progress you made in your fitness during the winter and the spring because it’s too hot for you to train in the summer.

And if that means heading inside for some treadmill miles, go for it. I’d rather suffer in the heat than suffer on the treadmill, but that’s just me…

I’m not much of a race girl. What are some other ideas to stay motivated/measure progress as a runner besides training for a race?

I think the best way to measure progress/stay motivated is to keep track of where you were and compare that with where you are now. Did you struggle to run a mile without stopping but now you can complete a 10k without a walk break? That’s huge progress, and for me would be a huge motivator to keep on keeping on.

Another suggestion would be to really think about why you find joy in running in the first place. If you like the peace and quite you get while running, that time for yourself could be a great motivator. If you run with friends, prioritizing the social aspects of running may be important.

At the end of the day, the things that truly motivate us to run (or to do anything) are deeply personal. If you can tap into those motivations, you’ll never struggle to find the motivation to run again.

How are you coming with your goals for this year?

Overall, I’m not going to complain at all.

At the start of the year, I was well behind the pace I’d need to hold for my mileage goals, but as I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into this marathon training cycle I’ve pretty gotten caught up to where I “need” to be to hit 1500 miles for 2016. So as long as I don’t slack off after my race next month, I should be able to hit that target.

I haven’t been perfect when it comes to keeping my running journal, but I haven’t missed that many days. As I talked about recently, the way I’m documenting my runs in my running journal has evolved over the year so far, and I think I’m finally on the right track in terms of what info to make note of and how frequently to do so.

In the business, I’m a little bit behind on my goals and that is a bit worrisome. I would like to have a few more folks (at least) in the Coterie and I need to find a few sponsors for the show. I’m not in a terrible place with the business goals, but I need to make up some ground sooner rather than later.

When I run in town and sometimes car traffic disrupts my run. Any tips to help avoid loosing my “rhythm”?

Just keep going. If you’re waiting for the light to change to cross the street, instead of standing there (or worse, running in place) head down the block a little bit and turn and come back. Hopefully you’ll get back when the light changes and you can cross the street and be on your way. If not, run another mini-loop.

Also try planning routes that avoid the busier streets if at all possible. Staying on the side streets and in the quiet neighborhoods give you a better chance at avoiding traffic and running uninterrupted.

What vitamins/supplements do you take?

Now’s my chance to somewhat contradict myself after saying I’m not much of a supplement guy.

After hearing a podcast episode of the Fat Burning Man, I started taking Vitamin C regularly. I’m up to taking about 7,000-10,000 mg daily. Listen to the episode, as the guest does a better job explaining the benefits of Vitamin C than I could hope to, but I’d definitely encourage mass consumption.

I also take a NooTroo daily, which is supposedly a great supplement for brain health. I’m not sure that I notice a big difference, but I lost two grandparents to Alzheimer’s disease so anything I can do to try and maintain the health of my brain I’m going to do.

And that’s it for me.

I’m still pretty new to running. How many days should I run in a row without taking a day off?

Welcome to team running! That’s awesome that you’ve taken up the sport, now good luck not going off the deep end and becoming a running addict!

I wouldn’t go much more than 2-3 days without mixing in a rest day. Even if you’re not sore, your body is still adapting to the demands of running and you need to give it enough rest so you don’t wind up injured.

I’d encourage you to find a bit of a schedule now, and then plan to stick with it once running really starts taking over your life! Meaning, if you really get serious about running and training for a longer race it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking more is better.

More days. More miles.

More injuries?

But if you pretty much have it set in stone now that you take Sundays and Wednesdays off of running (those are my off days, FYI) that habit/routine will carry over when you’re tempted to add extra running to your calendar.

Remember, rest is just as important to your training as the miles that you run.

I enjoy a cold beer or 7 from time to time. I don’t need to drink like a fish, but I enjoy some beers on occasion. How can I limit the amount of suds I consume?

I’ll be the first to say there’s nothing wrong with an adult beverage or two from time to time.

That said, it’s hard to call beer a legitimate health food. So if you’re running to try and improve your health, polishing off a sixer after every run probably isn’t doing you any favors.

One way you can cut back on your beer drinking, if that’s something you think would be good for you, is only keep a couple of beers in the fridge at a time. Every time you take one out, put one in. If you only have one or two beers in the fridge, you’ll never drink more than one or two at a time because the new ones won’t be cold when you’re ready for them.

Another suggestion would be to make sure you have a bottle of water after every beer. Enjoy that cold beer after you mow the lawn, but if you want a second one you have to polish off a bottle of water as well.

And if you think you’ll struggle holding yourself to that rule, have your wife or kids hold you accountable. But if you alternate beer with water, you’ll have a hard time drinking too many beers too quickly because of all of the water in your stomach as well.

When it comes to setting goals, is it better to set the bar a little low, a little high, or right down the middle?

I think it depends on what kind of person you are.

If you know you’ll get frustrated if you find yourself falling behind on your goal, don’t set your goal on the high side because the odds of falling behind (and potentially giving up) will be higher.

But if you get off on achieving goals, then the bigger the better!

If you had to write your running biography today, what would the title be?

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’ve got some big things planned for my running future, and so far I haven’t even scratched the surface. So buckle up folks, cause the next few years are going to be one hell of a ride, I promise you that!

What’s the deal with all of this talk I’ve been hearing about running at a target heart rate instead of pace?

There is a quote that I love that says something to the effect of most runners do their easy runs too fast and their hard runs too slow, and I think there is a lot of truth to that statement. Lord know’s it’s true of me more often than not.

With that quote in mind, monitoring your heart rate while training will give you a truer sense of the amount of effort you are putting into that particular workout.

It’s not perfect, but it’s typically going to paint a more accurate picture of your training intensity than aiming to hit a specific pace, especially when it comes to keeping your easy runs easy.

I often drive to various locations to do my runs, and my car is starting to smell a little funky due to sitting in the car on the ride home. Any suggestions for de-funking the car?

I have the worst sense of smell in the world, so I’m not sure how much help I can be on this subject!

Setting a towel over your seat is a great start, but depending on how sweaty you are and how long you’re in the car you could easily sweat through that. Getting a removable seat cover that you could wash might not be a bad idea. You can always go the febreeze route, and see if that helps.

And if all else fails, rent a carpet cleaner/rug doctor and see if that does the trick.

I think I’ve got a bit of a tick problem. Any suggestions with preventing bites/dealing with a bit after the fact?

Brother Stephen shared some great suggestions on keeping some baby wipes and lint roller in the car to use after any/all trail runs where ticks could be lurking.

Remember, ticks like the dark/damp places, so they are going to try to get into your shorts/under your clothes if at all possible.

Use the wipes to try get them out of your “unmentionable” places, and run the lint roller over your clothes/hair/shoes/hat to make sure you get all of them before they have a chance to literally sink their teeth in you. And if that means stripping down at the trail head, do it.

If ticks are a problem in your area, I promise you won’t be the first doing following a stripping down de-ticking procedure.

As for dealing with bites, I don’t have any suggestions. Sorry.

Might want to review the signs/symptoms of lyme disease though, just to be safe.

Any suggestions for electrolyte drinks that aren’t chock full of sugar/dyes?

I’ve been using Enduropacks this summer, and it seems to be working for me. I just add several squirts to my water bottle, and sip it as I go. It’s basically flavorless, so taste really isn’t an issue.

You can also try some salt tabs. Just keep a couple in your pocket/belt, and pop one every so often during your run to help keep your salt levels where they need to be.

Balancing your electrolytes is more art than science, but remember the saltier your sweat is the more you need to replace during and after your run.

As for real food options, which are definitely my preferred refueling/resalting method of choice, stashing a cooler with some pickles in it somewhere along your route could help. Or do the same thing with a banana.

And salted watermelon is amazing, or so I’ve been told.


Great questions this month y’all! Remember, these are just the abridged version of my answers, so make sure you tune into the full episode to get a bit more thorough/rambling attempt at answering the questions.

And if you want to make sure to get your questions answered next month, just head over to our Facebook group and make yourself at home with the rest of us nut jobs!

What Was Your Favorite Question and/or Answer this Month? Let Me Know in the Comments Below!

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4 replies
  1. Russ
    Russ says:

    You are correct – there is never a good time to “enjoy” or even “tolerate” an IPA….except maybe, just possibly…. after **sprinting** the BadWater.- hey, I’m willing to let someone drink one, single IPA after sprinting 135 miles in the desert heat. I’m not a total buzz-kill…


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