Listener Q&A: March 2021

Spring is in the air, yall!

Well, not everywhere.

Summer is legit in the air in Florida these days, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Speaking of getting worse, let’s do some Q&A!

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 a 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

Do I get a prize for asking the first question?

Strides. Break them down for me, please.

From what I can tell, the reason no one really knows what strides are is that everyone has a different definition of what strides are.

Are Runners Stupid?

I think most coaches can agree that strides are short bursts of speed, maybe 20-30 seconds and topping out at a little harder than 5k effort.

After that? It’s the wild, wild west.

Some coaches want you to do them at the end of an easy run. Others want you to do them during an easy run.

Some say once every week or two is enough. Others say every day.

Some say just a few will suffice, others feel you need a decent amount to get the benefit.

Speaking of benefit, what is the benefit?

The benefit of doing strides (however you define doing strides) is that it helps you improve your running form without as much wear and tear on the body as doing a “proper” hard workout.

Personally, I’m a fan of strides.

Also personally, I don’t do them very often.

Why do my back muscles tend to bother me more than my legs after a run?

Arm swing?

It’s easy to forget that the running motion is a full-body motion.

Sure, it’s nothing like swimming or rowing or things of that nature.

But when you’re running your arms are definitely swinging back and forth with every stride.

It could be form-related, especially if you feel like your form deteriorates as you fatigue.

But if you’re not doing some upper body strength training, I’d encourage you to start there and see if that doesn’t help.

I’m noticing tightness in my hips/quads developing during longer runs. Think it’s a lack of a pre-run stretch? Something I should stop and stretch mid-run? Other thoughts?

Bad Running Habits: The Pre-Run Static Stretch

Doing some sort of dynamic warmup may help, but the fact that the tightness really develops later in a run makes me think your pre-run routine probably isn’t much of an issue.

And when it comes to mid-run stretch breaks, your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve never had an issue improve by stopping during a run to stretch.

In fact, for me at least, that usually only makes things worse.

As our muscles fatigue, especially with a repetitive motion like running, things just kind of tighten up.

Working on your flexibility, in general, could help. Another thing that will likely help is simply by building up your base.

Part of building your base is your body adapting/adjusting to the demands of running for several hours.

I would imagine that as you get comfortable with the longer distances overall, the tightness issues will diminish.

What are your thoughts on abusing your body pre-surgery?

I could go either way on it.

With the assumption that continuing to run isn’t going to cause the surgery to become more complicated.

My initial thought was don’t do it, because if your form changes to try and compensate for the injury there’s a good chance that another niggle could develop.

But if you’re going to be out for months post-op anyway, odds are most niggles will have plenty of time to resolve.

I’m not going to tell you to throw caution to the wind, but I’m not going to tell you not to either.

What are your thoughts on the 10% rule?

Rule of the Wrist

The 10% rule is definitely not a hard and fast rule.

That said, I don’t think I’d call it some one-size-fits-all nonsense either.

I think it’s one of those things that’s a pretty good guideline for newer runners, because it helps prevent them from progressing too much too quickly.

But for more seasoned runners? That have a good base of fitness?

You can probably be a fair bit more aggressive than 10% when it comes to climbing the volume ladder.

My Achilles gets wicked tight going up hills. Is there something I can change with my foot strike to alleviate this?

Few things put more stress on your calf/achilles than running uphill.


Because of the slope of the ground and how that positions your foot/leg during the running motion.

Trying to change your foot strike isn’t going to do anything, because the problem isn’t the strike but the full gait cycle.

Shortening your stride, like really short, may help.

But if it’s that tight and the hill is that steep, just shift it into low gear and power hike up the hill.

Remember the sage words of Sage Canady back in the early days of the show, “if you can walk up a hill as quickly as you can run up it, you’re better off walking.”

Do you want to run a Spartan?

Not Gonna Happen

I’m looking for a hydration vest. Any suggestions?

Orange Mud.

Any suggestions for things to do while sidelined?

Obviously, the reason that you’re sidelined is going to matter quite a bit on this one.

From a fitness perspective, focus on what you can do vs what you can’t do.

I realize that if you can’t run, this isn’t easy because we tend to want to run.

But what can you do?

Can you walk? Ride the bike? Swim? Roller blade? Use the elliptical?

What about strength training? Yoga? Pilates?

Beyond the physical, what kind of things can you do to help pass the time?

Learn a language on Duolingo? Read some books? Paint? Knit? Home projects?

Kind of just depends on what things you’re interested in to help you pass the time until you can start running again.

Thoughts on running the virtual Boston this year?

Thoughts in general? I think it’s awesome and all the people complaining about not needing to qualify for the virtual should shut their damn mouths.

Thoughts about doing it myself?

It's a No

It’s just not for me, not necessarily because it’s Boston (though that probably does play a part) but just because I’m not really into running virtual marathons for the sake of running virtual marathons.

Could you talk a little bit about massage guns? How are they used for recovery?

To put it simply, they are just a form of deep tissue massage.

The recovery benefits of any type of massage are increased blood flow and breaking up adhesions within the muscle.

Book and guitar updates, please?

Do you have a favorite event at the track trials?


Here’s the deal, watching the track trials on TV sucks.

I get that they aren’t going to have the broadcast on NBC for the entire 10 hour event, but the way they cut and paste everything to cram it into an hour or two block takes a lot of the excitement away from the event.

And I don’t need all of those little vignettes and “feel good” stories that they mix in, either.

Just give me the events, raw and uncut.

When it comes to favorite events, that’s a tough question.

I really like the long jump and the triple jump, though those never get shown on TV save for one or two jumps.

The longer track events, at a race like the trials, are pretty boring because it’s just a sit and kick fest.

So I guess I’ll take the sprints: 100m, 200m, and 400m. And the hurdle events.

Any suggestions for runners returning from an extended break?

Running 80/20 Requires Patience

Too often when people come back to running after a bit of a layoff, they get frustrated based on how much fitness they’ve lost.

So as much as you can, erase all prior benchmarks from your mind in terms of pace or distance or both.

What used to feel easy will eventually feel easy again, but it’s going to take some time.

Don’t get caught up in the fact that you used to be able to run, as an example, 10 miles no problem but now you’re struggling to finish a mile without feeling like your heart is going to explode.

You can get back to running 10 miles again, it’s just going to take some time and consistent training.

What is your go to girl scout cookie variety?

Thin mints, and it’s not close.

What are your thoughts on running a marathon per month for a year?

Dude is Crazy

As you may remember, I did this back in 2019.

There were a few times over the course of the year where I really didn’t want to do that damn 26.2 miles because I was simply running through town on my own for something like 5 hours.

That said, it’s a great way to build your endurance and take some of the mystique away from the distance.

Like, at this point, I’m not even a little bit worried about running 26.2 miles.

And I think doing so 14 times in 2019 played a bit part in that increase in confidence.

Is there any truth to the idea that you should learn to run fast before working on endurance?

Brittany What?

I mean, this flies pretty much counter to everything I believe/understand about exercise physiology and how our bodies work.

So I’m not going to say you can’t make a reasoned argument for that way of thinking, but I can’t make a reasoned argument for it.

Our bodies know how to run fast (relatively speaking, of course).

Building your endurance simply allows you to run faster for longer.

What is your preferred way to determine HR zones?

I have two zones: too hard and good to go.

And the dividing line is 180 – age.

As long as I’m below that line, when I’m doing an easy run, I’m in the right zone.

Having a half dozen zones?

What is your strategy for running a course with a lot of turns?

All you can do is the best you can do.

Keep your head up so you can see what is coming up ahead and put yourself in the best position to run the tangents as closely as possible.

But no matter how much you try, odds are you’re going to go a little longer than the official race distance if the course is full of turns.

What is your favorite running shoe these days?

I basically go back and forth between two pairs of Altra Escalante 2s that are about 2 years old and have somewhere between 700-1200 miles on them.

I’ll be in the market for some new shoes eventually, but for now these are still serving me quite well.

Would you eat multiple Cadbury Eggs every day if you could play any DMB song perfectly?

Any tips for running in the rain?

Just embrace it?

I love a good run in the rain, provided certain variables are in my favor: namely that it’s not cold.

A cold rain is far from ideal. A warm rain? Kind of refreshing.

If you’re going to run in the rain, a hat or visor is an overlooked piece of equipment to help keep the rain out of your eyes.

Obviously, you’re still going to get some rain in your eyes. But it definitely helps.

You may also need to be a little more liberal with your anti-chafe “stuff” while running in the rain.

And those wet running shoes? Dry them in front of your refrigerator.

Should I stretch before a run? After?

Definitely not before.

A dynamic warm-up is definitely a good idea. But the stereotypical stretching pre-run is a bad idea.

After your run, when your muscles are warmed up, is a great time to add in a few stretches.

Says the guy who almost never stretches after a run…

Guilty as Charged

At the end of your interviews, you always wrap up your recap of the interview in perfect unison with the music. Is this from practices? Mere coincidence? Strange magic?

And by miracle, I mean editing.


Who are your favorite peloton instructors?

When it comes to the bike, I absolutely choose my rides based on the playlist.

So even the instructors that I like, if they are doing a ride with music I don’t like I’m not taking their ride.

That said, if you have a good playlist but then proceed to talk the entire damn ride so I can’t hear the music?

Yeah, I’m not taking those rides either.

There are a few instructors I simply won’t take, because they never shut up, but for the most part I’m open to any of them.

The ones that tend to play music I like?

Denis. Jenn Sherman. Christine. Emma. Jess King. Cody. Alex.

For strength, Jess Simms is always good for a tough workout.

On the yoga mat, I tend to stick with Anna, Kristin, Aditi, or Denis.

How do I convince my daughter to leave me on race day?

Just have to have the conversation before you get to the race and get on the same page.

If she wants to go, tell her you want her to go and don’t expect her to stick around your pace.

That said, if she wants to run the race with her old man, then that’s ok too.

Have you tried the cold showers yet?

I’ve done a couple, but it’s definitely not part of the routine yet.

What is the minimum distance or duration that I should do speed intervals for?

The Rock Says It Doesn't Matter

I like to play with different interval lengths sometimes, but honestly don’t overthink this one.

One minute is good. Two minutes is good. Five.

A quarter-mile. Half mile.

What matters is matching the appropriate effort to the distance/duration.

The goal is to push as hard as you can given the distance, so the longer the interval the more you’ll have to dial it back to ensure you can finish strong.

What are your thoughts on amino acids before/after workouts?

I’m skeptical, at best, about most of those kinds of performance/recovery enhancers.

Do they provide some marginal benefit? Probably.

But are they vital? Doubtful.

I’ve never gone out of my way to take any, and I can’t see myself ever really doing so.

The protein powder I use has some amino acids, but if I take any protein it’s usually at the end of the day as a dessert and never after a run as a recovery aid.

When is the best time to visit Disney World? Will you and Rebekah come to see us?

The best time of year to visit, in my view, is in November (with the exception of Thanksgiving week) or February/early March (with the exception of Princess Half Marathon weekend).

Those times aren’t peak vacation times because kids are in school and there aren’t as many major breaks. Also, the weather tends to be more comfortable in those windows than at other times of the year.

It’s busy year-round, so don’t think you can come any time and have it be dead, but those are the least crowded times if you can swing it.

Will we come for a visit? Of course! Any excuse to go to Mickey’s house is a good excuse as far as I’m concerned!

And if you want a running partner one morning, I’d be up for making something like that happen too.

How do you break out of a running funk?

I wish there was a silver bullet on how to get out of a running funk.

Some people need a change of scenery. Some benefit from signing up for some type of race/challenge.

And some? Just need to take a little break.

Full disclosure, that’s usually me.

When I feel like I’m really starting to get in a funk, taking a week or two off usually does the trick.

Does it suck? Of course.

But once not running really sucks, that’s when I know I’m ready to get back on track again.

3 weeks after a marathon I have a 24-hour event. How should I prepare after taking a recovery week post-26.2?

You’re not going to make any major fitness gains in these next couple of weeks, so don’t even bother trying.

If you just ran a marathon, your fitness is in a pretty good place.

Just do your regular running routine for 7-10 days, then taper for the 24-hour event and you’ll be as good to go as you can hope to be.

And that, as they say, is that.

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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