Listener Q&A March 2017

It’s time for the monthly Listener Q&A episode, and with a little luck, I might actually be able to give some good advice this go round.

Though, as per usual, I make no promises…

If you’re new around here, the rules a simple: you ask a question related to running, life, or anything in between.

I answer.

Pretty straight forward, yes?


This Month’s Qs

Lots of great questions this month, so let’s dive in eh?

I’m unfamiliar with the greatness that is Dave Matthews Band. Where should I start?

I’m just going to go out and say it. This may be the hardest question I’ve ever been asked for a Q&A episode.

Where do I even begin?

You can start with the songs that are the staples:

  • Crash
  • Satellite
  • Lie In Our Graves
  • Stay

Or you could start with some of my favorites:

  • Ants Marching
  • Proudest Monkey
  • Everyday
  • Cornbread

Honestly, you can’t go wrong wherever you start.

Want to go full emersion method? Check out Chester Copperpot’s YouTube Channel. Just play the full shows and enjoy.

How does strength training improve running performance? Add on, what exercises give the best bang for the buck for runners that are pressed for time?

Strength training helps to build muscular endurance. Core stability. Upper body stability.

It helps prevent injuries by limiting/preventing muscular imbalances that will develop over time.

It helps to improve your form.

It can help you improve your speed if that’s a goal.

There is certainly no shortage of benefits for regular strength training for runners.

As for what exercises will help you get the most of out the time you spend strength training, I’ve found myself drawn to pilates since chatting with Tracy Green a few weeks ago.

If that isn’t your thing, stick to exercises that work multiple joints instead of the machines that isolate one specific muscle or group.

So no leg extensions. No seated hamstring curls.

Instead, squats. Lunges. Kettlebell swings. Push ups. Pull ups. Rows.

And definitely make sure you’re hitting the core as well, which is why I think I’m such a fan of pilates.

Planks. Bridges. Hip extensions. Clams.

Honestly, a good strength training routine for runners can be knocked out in 20 minutes or so. You can do more if you want, but 20 good minutes is plenty.

Can I send another audio question?

I’m still waiting Mr. Lee….

Should I set my goal pace before the race or decide on my race goal based on how training went?

I feel like I have to plug my book here because this is definitely something I talk a lot about in Be Ready on Race Day.

It’s ok to have a target in mind before your training cycle begins but make sure it’s realistic.

Take some time to audit what your training has been like for the past couple of months to give yourself an idea of what might be possible for you after a few months of focused training. The last thing you want to do is set a goal that is too much for you right now, as that could result in injury as you push yourself to achieve it.

That said, I think it’s wise to reflect on your training in the week or two before the race and determine if you need to reposition your goals.

Training may have gone better than expected, and perhaps a new (more ambitious) goal is in order. And if life seemed to catch up to you during the training, then maybe you should scale your expectations back slightly.

I would definitely say that your final goal should be heavily influenced by how your training cycle has gone.

If I run two marathons a month apart, is it ok to treat the first as more of a training run than a race?


I actually love that idea, provided your base is solid enough to handle running a marathon and then recovering from it before you race one.

I’ve done it in the past to great success, and have had clients do so as well.

The key is making sure you don’t race the first one. You need to be disciplined enough to truly treat it as a training run and not a race.

Is “run by feel” good advice for someone practicing 80/20 Running?

Sort of.

The book talks about the fact that most runners do their easy runs too hard/fast and their hard runs too easy/slow.

And because of that, we’ve conditioned ourselves to think that it “feels good” to run too fast on an easy day.

So if you haven’t gotten comfortable with running easy yet, then running by feel is probably not the best piece of advice.

If, however, you’ve got a good feeling for what proper slow/easy running feels like, then running by feel is fine.

Does 80/20 Running apply to cross-training too?

The 80/20 ratio applies to total training volume.

So if you’re running a few days a week and cycling a few days a week, your total volume of training effort (running and cycling combined) is where we pull our ratios for 80/20.

That said, there is no magic way for how to get to your 80/20 ratios. And there is also nothing magical about 80/20. You may find that 75/25 works for you. Or 90/10. Whatever.

Just make sure that you’re working on making your easy days legitimately easy and your hard days really hard so you’re not getting into that gray area of not easy but not hard either.

How do I ease back from a 5th metatarsal fracture?

Very carefully…

Seriously, though, there is no magic bullet for this one.

You spend some time just walking. Then you add in some segments where you run for 20-30 seconds and then walk again.

And that process of getting back to where you were before the injury takes time, but the last thing you want to do is rush it and wind up injured again.

Take your time, try the best you can to be patient, and hopefully, you’ll be back to “normal” soon!

Should I carry my own hydration on race day or rely on the water stops?

There’s no right answer to this one Mary.

I’ve done both in the past and could see myself doing both in the future.

Carrying your own is nice because you can avoid the chaos that is big marathon water stops. You can also drink when you want to instead of being forced to drink only when the race makes it available.

Also, whatever you’ve been using for hydration, you can use that on race day instead of relying on whatever they have available.

That said, it is one more thing to worry about, and carrying enough for an entire race may be a bit much depending on what you’re using to carry your fluids and how long the race is.

Yes, you can probably refill it at a water stop, but that can be a bit of a pain.

Either way works, you just have to do whatever you think will work best for YOU!

We know you want to run Boston, but what about the World Majors outside of the USA? Any interest in running those?


Right now, the finances are the biggest thing holding me back from seriously thinking about any of those races.

I have a lot of friends in the UK, so London would probably be my first choice so I could hopefully meet up with some of those folks.

But I’d run Berlin and/or Tokyo at the drop of the hat if the right opportunity presented itself.

How do I relax and enjoy my first marathon without worrying about a time goal?

This is a tough one for sure.

It sounds like you know what you “should” do. Not worry about what others think and simply run the race.

But that can definitely be easier said than done.

When it comes to the internal pressure, you have to come to terms with that on your own.

What I’ve tried to do for myself is to make my first goal simply finishing. As long as I get across the finish line, it’s been a good day.

Once you’ve really accepted that in your own mind, you can find different degrees of good.

  • So 4:30 might be a super good day.
  • 5:00 might be a moderately good day.

But either way, as long as you finish, it’s been a good day.

When it comes to the outside pressure, especially from non-runners, here’s a little secret: they have no clue what fast or slow is.

You tell someone that doesn’t run that you finished a marathon, and they are going to say something along the lines of “I could never do that” or “How far is that?”.

And if they happen to ask for a time, they likely won’t have any frame of reference. You tell them your finishing time, and they won’t laugh or care at all.

If you tell a runner your finishing time? Unless that runner is a complete ass, which I hope he or she is not, they won’t judge either. I promise.

You tell me you ran your first marathon, and I don’t care how long it took you I’m going to offer you very sincere congratulations. And most runners will do likewise.

Is it ok to run a half two weeks before a full?


Scheduling a half a couple of weeks before your full can be a great dress rehearsal and confidence builder for your race.

I’d probably recommend not racing the half all out, and maybe even using it for your last long run by doing 5+ miles BEFORE the half and then running your 13.1, but you’ll be fine.

And honestly, depending on your fitness, you might even be able to get away with racing the half as well.

Though as a general rule, I’d say run the half, race the full.

How can I improve my ankle dorsiflexion/mobility?

Interesting question and I’d be curious as to why you’re worried about ankle dorsiflexion…

My gut answer is simple: stretch your calves.

But if your calves are fairly flexible, there may not be much else you can do because of your bony anatomy. There is only so far you can dorsiflex your foot before your talus runs into your tibia. And at that point, you can’t flex it further.

At what point in a training cycle should you wake up to reality?

If your training isn’t going well, you’ll know it.

I don’t know that there is a point of no return per se, but if you’re not progressing steadily that’s probably a pretty bad sign.

If things don’t seem to be coming together pretty well with a month or so to go, it’s definitely time to reassess the goals for the race.

How do you maintain a budget when it comes to running races?

That’s the million dollar question if ever there was one!

Look for the smaller/less publicized races, as those tend to be a bit cheaper. But even then, they are expensive no doubt.

Honestly, entry fees are the price you have to pay for running races.


If you want the streets closed, a nice piece of bling, a decent spread after the race, water/Gatorade, and whatever other perks/benefits, you’ve gotta pay the price.

And here’s a hunch, the prices aren’t coming down anytime soon.

One alternative, run trail races. No streets to close means lower costs (usually).

What is the best kind of foam roller?

I like the high-density ones, as they will dig in a bit more than the lower density ones.

I know some people really like the ones with knobs and whatnot all over them, but that’s just a tactile difference and not something that makes much difference physiologically.

Here’s a link to the one I have, but as long as the one you’re using is fairly high density you should be good.

My Garmin isn’t syncing with my phone anymore. Is it time for a new one?

Talk about a first world problem, eh?

Does it still sync to your computer? Is not syncing with your phone really that big of a deal?

If so, I guess it might be time for a new one.

Are you sure there isn’t a software update that you can do, either on your phone or your Garmin, that would fix the issue?

My experience with Garmin is that the watches will work until they literally fall apart. When that happens, it’s time for a new one.

Until then, if it seems to be working, just plug it into your computer to sync it…


And I’m Spent…

Questions on DMB, marathon training logistics, 80/20 Running and more! #running #runchat Click To Tweet

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

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