Listener Q&A: March 2020


What. A. Month.

Is it just me, or has March been on hell of a year?

Before we put this abysmal month to bed, let’s try to have a little fun and do some Q&A, eh?

You Ask, I Answer!

In case you’re new to these parts, here’s what’s going on.

At the end of every month, I do an episode dedicated to you and your questions.

Want to get a question answered in future Q&A episode? Come join our FB group, watch for the post asking for Qs, and put your query in the comments.

Basically, whatever you ask I try to answer!

Sometimes, the answers aren’t worth a whole lot. But every once in a while I like to think (or at least hope!) that I hit the nail on the head!

When it comes to free advice, there are no guarantees that you won’t get any more than what you paid for it.

That said, I promise to do my best!

And if nothing else, there are usually at least a few decent memes/GIFs to make it worth your while.

Let’s get into this month’s questions, shall we?

This Month’s Questions

What are your impressions of the Oura ring so far?

So far, so good.

No real complaints, other than the fact that they don’t come in half sizes.

I’m wearing mine as my wedding ring, as I have no desire to have rings on multiple fingers, and I had to go up a half size which causes occasional issues with the connection/data collection.

I’m sure if I would have sized to another finger I could have gotten a better fit, but I’m a one ring only kind of guy.

But other than that, no issues.

The battery life is good. No need to worry about it getting wet and causing issues.

Now it’s all about continuing to collect data and then start looking for trends.

Follow up: how’s life without peanut butter?

I miss peanut butter.

In case you missed my email on the subject, one of the preliminary findings from my Oura ring is that peanut butter is causing me all manner of inflammation/body stress.

Which, to be fair, I’d heard that PB causes issues in the majority of people for years but simply refused to believe it could be true.

But, according to the data, my body functions a lot better without copious amounts of peanut butter per day than it does when I’m taking it down by the spoonful.

So, in the name of improved health and performance, I’m pretty much peanut butter free right now.

Not ideal, but I suppose it’s worth it.

How has all of the COVID-19 race cancellations impacted you and how are you adjusting your plans?

For me personally, race cancellations have basically been a non-factor.

I wasn’t registered for any races this spring, though I was eyeballing a trail race or two over the next few months.

Obviously, it’s impacted me professionally since many of the athletes I coach have had their race schedules impacted/completely blown up.

But we are just adjusting the best we can, taking it one day at a time to maintain fitness and be in a good place to get after it whenever life starts to return to normal and races are happening again.

Is there any benefit to wearing compression socks on the way to a race if you’ll be in a car for an extended period of time?

Shrug.

Maybe?

I suppose if you have poor circulation it could help.

But the better bet, in my view, would be to get to the race early enough that you can get out of the car and get your normal warm-up in before the race begins.

Now, for sitting in the car after the race, the compression socks are definitely helpful.

So my advice would be to save them for the ride home.

With all of my races for the foreseeable future cancelled, how should I structure my training right now?

While it’s definitely not adviseable to try and maintain peak race fitness for months on end, I think now is a great time to work on raising your floor to raise your ceiling.

Continue building your base. Take care of the little things. Do some extra stregnth training. Get more/better sleep.

Anything you can do right now to improve any/all areas of your fitness are going to help you be better able to shift gears into race mode once we are back to racing again at some point (hopefull!) sooner than later.

How do we keep from eating all the carbs in the house while we are stuck at home?

Thanksgiving Feast

For Thanksgiving, go carb crazy.

But COVID-19 quarantine is not Thanksgiving.

Best bet? Don’t keep a bunch of carbs in the house!

If they aren’t there, you can’t crush them. #justsaying

After my first marathon, it took me a week and a half to feel like all the soreness was gone. Is that an unusually long recovery time?

Not at all.

There is no “usual” amount of time required for marathon recovery anyway.

How much recovery time you need varies based on how your training went leading up to the race, how hard you pushed it on race day, the course, the weather, and a half dozen other factors that are not only different from one person but they are also different from one race to the next for the same runners!

You just ran 26.2 miles for the first time, which means you probably pushed your body to an extreme that it’s never been to before.

As such, the recovery process is going to be a little longer.

If you end up running more marathons in your career, odds are the recovery time will get shorter because it won’t be quite the shock to your system that the first one was.

What are some ways to find joy in running when there are no races on the horizon to be training for?

Great Questions

For those of us that are really motivated to train by the pursuit of races, this is a tough time.

So how do you enjoy running/training with no races to prepare for?

There are no shortage of virtual races/challenges going on right now. So maybe sign up for one of those?

Fire up your own S&G event?

Maybe just find joy in getting out of the house for an hour or so to get some fresh air and sunshine?

I think for all of us as we continue to grow in the sport, the ideal is getting to the point where we really enjoy running for what it does for us phsyically/mentally/emotionally without worrying about racing.

I’m not saying that racing isn’t fun or that racing is bad or anything like that.

I’m just saying if we can get to where we love running whether we are racing or not, the races become part of the journey and not the destination.

I made this change in perspective for myself a few years ago, and it’s really been a game changer for me.

So maybe right now, with racing ceasing to be an option, it’s a shift in perspective that you might be able to work on and see if it helps you as well.

What is the best way to deal with the stress of “life” right now while trying to keep my HR down?

There is only so much you can do.

When life is upside down and you’re stressed left, right, and center, your HR is going to be elevated.

How to bring it back down?

Meditation. Yoga. Sleeping. Unplugging from social media. Netflix and chill.

Basically, whatever things you do to chill out and relax? Do those things.

Is it going to bring your HR back down to pre-COVID-19 levels?

Probably not.

Will it help?

Hopefully.

Can you elaborate on this whole “no peanut butter” thing? 

Kind of covered this one already, but here’s a bit more depth and some of the alterations I have/haven’t made.

As you’re probably aware, peanuts aren’t technically nuts. They are legumes.

And while I don’t pretend to understand all of the digestive differences between a proper nut and a quasi-nut, apprantly that process causes some dietary inflammation/irritation.

I can’t confirm this as 100% factual in my case, but my Oura ring data shows that I’m better rested and recovered when I’m not eating the copious amounts of PB daily.

Which leads me to think that eliminating the PB has done me good.

As far as substitutions, I’ve done nothing on that front.

No proper nut butters. No quasi-nut butters. The only butter this guy is taking in these days is the kind that comes from cows.

Point blank, almond butter (or any other kind of nut/seed butter) isn’t going to scratch the itch for me like peanut butter does.

As much as I hate to give up peanut butter, and I really do, if it helps me feel better, recover better, and just be more healthy all around, it’s a trade I’m fine with making.

Which is basically the same thought process I went through when I gave up wheat a few years back.

What’s the deal with blood blisters? I seem to be getting them a lot lately and I’m not sure why.

Outside of the fact that there’s a red tinge to the fluid in your blood blister, there really isn’t much of a difference between the types of blisters.

As a reminder, blisters form due to friction caused by something rubbing on your skin.

The blister is actaully a defense mecanism to prevent more serious tissue damage. The goal of the blister is to provide a bit of cushion between the source of the irritation and our body.

The reason that a blood blister is red is simple: the friction caused a capilary or two to break and some blood cells leaked into the blister in addition to the clear fluid you would expect to find.

So, long winded way of saying, no need to be more worried about a blood blister vs a “regular” blister.

If you’re getting more blisters than usual, it’s pretty much a sign that your foot (in this particular case) is rubbing more than usual.

Could be a new show issue. Could be due to running on different terrain. Change in stride/gait pattern.

Could have come from a good pedicure that shaved off some callouses, and now you need to “rebuild” that tougher skin to prevent the rub.

Just have to keep working backward to figure out what is rubbing and address that.

How should I go about increasing my base building toward my first marathon when my schedule is very fluid?

Can you have a fairly regular/routine running schedule even though your life schedule is a bit more fluid?

Either way, there is no exact formula or one-size-fits-all formula for increasing your mileage.

Adjust your training based on your schedule while listening to your body in an attempt to avoid trying to do too much too quickly.

Remember, the 10% rule isn’t gospel, but it is a good guideline.

So if you keep your weekly increases in volume in that range, you will most likely be ok.

When is it appropriate to add doubles to the mix?

Double days, or running twice in a day, is something that you can do to increase your overall volume.

But as for the question, it’s tough to nail down when it’s actually an appropriate course of action.

If you’re already maxed out in terms of days per week you can run and you can’t run for longer on any of those days, then doubles may be a viable option.

But just remember that running twice in a day is putting extra stress on your body while also reducing your body’s recovery time.

So keep my law of accumulated fatigue in mind, and make sure you’re putting a bit of extra emphasis on recovery to reduce your risk of sustaining an injury.

Can runners focused on HR training ever leave their watches at home and run sans tech?

Yes

For those that are still new to HR training and struggling to keep their HR under wraps, it’s probably a good idea to keep wearing your watch/strap in order to make sure you keep your HR below the prescribed limits.

But once you’re able to do most runs without your HR ever getting too high, basically once you get a feel for what is easy/hard and can self-regulate, it’s cool to run naked as much as you’d like!

The one caveat to this is that if monitoring your HR constantly is really sapping the joy from your runs and maybe increasing your stress levels, that’s another good time to just run without the HR feedback and just enjoy your miles without any beeps or buzzes.

What are your thoughts on using running power data in training?

Honestly, I haven’t hardly thought about it at all.

If you increase your power, you’re going to run faster.

But do we really need to monitor how much power we are generating with each step?

Or is this just going to lead to more useless data that really doesn’t help us at all?

For the data nerds, it could be fun to track. For me? I could care less.

If you want the data, go for it. But I can’t see it really making any difference, big picture, for most of us.

What are your thoughts on ROMWOD?

Huh?

I don’t speak CrossFit, so forgive me if I’m missing something here.

That said, anything that works to improve/maintain range of motion in us as runners is a good thing in my book.

So if doing some ROMWOD helps you get on the yoga mat or the foam roller a bit more consistently, I say go for it.

How do I factor in the effects of the summer heat/humidity into my HR training?

In short, you don’t.

Your heart rate is your heart rate, and when the temps are high it will be higher.

Your max aerobic heart rate? It stays the same.

So that means you are probably going to have to slow down, possibly considerably, to keep you HR in check this summer.

Sorry

If you were writing a nutrition plan, how would it differ between regular training/maintenance phase vs a marathon build?

Honestly, it wouldn’t change that much.

Healthy food is healthy food.

And that’s what you want to eat most of the time.

During marathon training you might increase your total calories a bit, but unless your total training volume is significantly different you’re not going to need to be eating that much more.

Just focus on quality foods, real foods as much as possible, and try to get some variety on your plate.

I know that may not be the answer you want, but I live in a “keep it simple” world as much as possible.

And for me, nutrition planning can get really complicated really quickly if we aren’t careful.

Any tricks for helping me to stay motivated enough to run at the end of a long work day?

Yeah, this is a tough one.

To me, the best option to make sure you get a run in is to do it early.

If you’re working long hours in a physically demanding job, if at all possible run before work.

If that’s not possible, then the next best thing is to get your run in ASAP at the end of the work day.

Meaning, don’t wait unitl you’re home to try to find the motivation to go for a run.

Run right after work.

Find a trail head you can stop at between where you work and home.

If you wait to come home, then come inside to change clothes before your run, you’re stacking the odds against yourself.

My 14 year old trained up for a half last year, but her knee prevented her from finishing the race. Any suggestions to help strengthen the area so she can finish her first half this year?

In terms of strength exercises, nothing crazy to recommend here.

Body weight work is great. Squats. Lunges. Etc.

Other than that, just make sure she’s training intelligently and building her mileage up over time.

I hope she has a better race this year!

What advice would you give to prevent the dreaded “11th mile” stomach issues during a run?

Lots of factors at play here, which makes this a bit of a tricky question to answer.

Do you have stomach issues with every run? Only with longer runs? Every run, or only once in awhile?

The causes are usually related to dietary intake, so that’s the first place to start.

Keep a food journal and see if you can start to link certain foods that you eat with GI issues that impact you on your runs.

Also note if there is a timing issue, menaing if you eat a certain amount of time before your run you don’t have issues but if you eat right before you do. Or vice versa.

There are a lot of moving parts to this situation, but the more you can collect data over time the more likely you are to see a pattern emerge.

But if you’re only having issues very sporadically? I honestly wouldn’t waste much time worrying about it.

In the spirit of Easter, what are your thoughts on peeps?


Another month, another Q&A episode in the books!

As always, the answers in this post are the abridged versions. For a bit more, make sure you press play at the top of this post.

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


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