Listener Q&A May 2016

I really do love the monthly Q&A episodes!

Listener Q&A May 2016

Listener Q&A May 2016

If you’re new around here, the process is simple.

At the end of each month, I dedicate an entire episode of the podcast to answering your questions.

If you’d like to get your questioned answered in a future Q&A episode, your best bet is to join our Facebook group and wait for the post asking for questions. I usually ask for questions between the 15th and 20th of the month, and then I answer them on the show!

If you’re not on Facebook, you can still submit your questions via email, Twitter, Instagram, or smoke signal and I’ll do my best to include them as well, but there is a chance they will get lost in the shuffle if they aren’t on that Facebook thread.

But enough logistics, let’s get down to the questions!

Kat asked, via Instagram, for my take on the TrueForm treadmill.

You all know where I stand when it comes to running on a treadmill, but I get that some people need to run on the treadmill (and may even enjoy it?) from time to time.

When it comes to the TrueForm treadmill, I’ve honestly never even heard of it. From the looks of things, it’s a treadmill without a motor, meaning that it probably does a better job of mimicking running on the roads or trails because you have to power your movement as opposed to getting an assist from the motor of a regular treadmill.

I suppose that would make this treadmill slightly better, but for me it’s still a treadmill which means I’m still stuck inside and not going anywhere while I’m running.

So I’ll pass.

Ben asked about cadence, specifically what makes 180 steps per minute the magic number and does the height of a runner make a difference in what would be considered “ideal”.

I’m definitely not a cadence expert, but I subscribe to the ideal that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all in anything, and I think I’ll stick with that here.

Finding a cadence that your comfortable running is important, but I wouldn’t stress over the number of steps per minute. And that same logic would apply no matter how tall you are.

Scott threw down a question trifecta: Achilles pain at the insertion, mental benefits of morning running, & tips for convincing a non-running to try running.

When it comes to pain at the insertion of your Achilles, which would actually be felt on the heel of your foot, make sure you’re stretching your calf regularly. A tight muscle can put extra strain on the tendon, and lengthening that muscle may help to relieve your pain. But pain in that area could also be the start of some plantar fasciitis, so you might try getting on the golf ball to loosen that tissue. And in more of a “worse case scenario”, it could also be a heel spur that is forming. I’d definitely try the stretching and the golf ball massage first, but if neither of those seem to help you might want to get it looked at to at least rule out a heel spur.

I’m not sure that running in the morning provides any greater mental benefits than running any other time of day, other than the fact that it’s a great way to start your day. But if you’re not a morning person, don’t try to force yourself to get up earlier for some perceived additional boost from running early.

And if you have a friend that hates running, I’m not sure that it makes sense to try and “convince” them to try running. I’d advise you to go about your business and let them warm to the idea of running organically. Then, and only then, you might try to invite them to a run with the promise that you’ll run with them the entire time, no matter what the pace or the distance.

Ozzy is looking for suggestions for exercises to do at the gym to complement his running.

You know I’m a big fan of regular strength training Ozzy, and that a gym isn’t necessary to get a great workout that will definitely help your running.

That said, having access to a gym provided many more options for exercises that you can do beyond the standard squats, lunges, and pushups. (That said, those are some of the best exercises you can do, so don’t neglect them even though you have other options now available!)

My biggest piece of advice is to remember to strengthen your whole body, not just your legs. So pull ups, rows, push ups, lunges, planks, and bridges should all be regular components of your routine.

And feel free to check out any of my strength training videos for examples of great body weight exercises for runners, and then you can up the intensity with weights at the gym.

Jenn asked me to chime in on the old “one day off for every mile raced” philosophy.

Point blank, I’m not a fan. I think it’s a bit excessive, especially if you come out of the race feeling pretty good.

Now, most of us don’t get enough rest after a race to fully allow our bodies to recover (and I’m guilty here too), but saying you should take 26 days off after a marathon is a bit much.

Maybe a half of a day for each mile would be a better rule of thumb, and something that runners might be better at sticking too.

Stephanie asks another rule of thumb question, this one focused on “only” adding 10% to your weekly long run at a time.

Since many runners, especially newer runners, tend to lack patience with slow progress this is something of a good rule as it prevents anyone from going too far too fast.

That said, I don’t consider it a hard and fast rule.

I’ve ignored it plenty of times myself, but that is because I know my body and I know what my training has been like. If you’re consistently logging 40+ miles per week, but your long run is only at 10+ miles, you can probably ramp that up more aggressively than just one mile at a time.

Don’t go overboard, but bumping it up a couple of miles isn’t going to be more than you can handle.

That said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So if you’re unsure, keeping your increases to 10% or less isn’t a bad idea at all.

Stephen asks the 3rd straight rule of thumb question: how much should you decrease your training volume between cycles?

I have no good answer for this one other than it is 100% dependent upon the person, your goals, and how long you have between training cycles.

I wouldn’t recommend no running at all, I’ve made that mistake before, but cutting way back and doing some other training is fine. And staying pretty high to try and build a higher base is fine too.

It really depends how you feel after the first race and what your goals are for the next 6 months and beyond.

Jill has been dealing with a hammy issue for over a month now, and is ready to start running again!

Muscle injuries are tricky to say the least.

What takes one person 2 weeks to fully bounce back from may take another person 2 months (or longer!) to get past.

The biggest key is staying patient, which is clearly difficult, and not pushing too hard once things start feeling better. I’ve seen muscle injuries linger for entire seasons because the athlete felt good, tested it, re-aggrivated the injury and had to start over from square one.

As difficult as it may be, giving yourself a couple of extra weeks to recover when you think you’re healed can be one of the best things you can do to minimize the chance of reinjury.

And when you do come back to running, keep it VERY easy for the first couple of weeks as well.

Kelly is looking for some suggestions for dynamic warm ups/cool downs.

The biggest tip I can give when it comes to warming up is to make sure it is dynamic!

Please, for the love, no static stretching pre-race!

I’m a big fan of running a mile or two, and adding a few short bursts near the end of the warm up. Then a couple of squats and/or lunges to make sure my joints are loosened up and I’m good to go.

As for a cool down, keep walking for a bit. And once your heart rate has slowed down, then you can go ahead and do your static stretching.

Sarah is, once again, trying to get me to commit to a marathon for later this year.

Beyond Running with the Bears, I’m still open.

I’m not in a rush to commit to anything because I’m trying to line up a speaking gig at a race instead of just picking a race and signing up for it.

Funds are tight at the moment, so if I can get my costs covered by speaking (and possibly make a few bucks as well) that is the way I need to go at this point.

That said, I’m kicking the tires on a truly EPIC adventure for 2017. Nothing I can announce at the moment, but if it works out it’ll pretty much mean that I’m good to go for the next 18 months or so.

Kimberly is asking for tips/advice when it comes to running with a stroller.

There’s no question that stroller running is a bit more difficult, beyond just the fact that you’re pushing the weight of the baby plus the stroller.

Your gait and arm swing are both impacted, and your overall form changes as well.

I think you can definitely benefit in terms of getting stronger from pushing the stroller, which is something I talked with Lindsey Hein about recently on the show.

But if you don’t like it, or your feel like the gait/form changes are causing you problems (which they very well could be), you don’t need to “force” yourself to run with the stroller.

If you’re like me and you NEED the runs for your sanity, then pushing the stroller is the price you’ll have to pay. If not, no worries at all.

Allen is running 4 5ks in 4 hours. Tips for a race like that?

My biggest piece of advice is to keep moving between races.

The natural urge will be to try and rest and conserve energy between those events, but in my experience in a similar type of race, continuing to run/jog/walk between events was critical to keeping my muscles warm and loose.

If you sit around for 20-30 minutes and stiffen up, you’ll have a really hard time being able to run the next race. So stay on your feet, walk around a little bit, and hope for the best by the time the 4th 5k rolls around!

Stephen wants to know when I’m finally going to cave into the pressure and run an ultra.

Probably soon, but nothing concrete yet my friend.

It’ll definitely depend on what happens with the EPIC 2017 adventure I mentioned in response to Sarah’s questions. If that happens, odds of a 2017 ultra go way down, though I wouldn’t rule it out completely…

Beatriz is holding me accountable by asking where I am in regards to my 2016 mileage goal of 1500 miles.

This answer might sound a little tricky, but I’d say I’m right where I need to be.

If you do the math, I’m slightly behind pace (about 25-30 miles). I need to average 125 miles per month to hit 1500 for the year, but in January I simply wasn’t in good enough shape to hit those numbers without putting myself at risk of injury.

So I started off a little slower, but will be at or above 130 miles for the 3rd month in a row this month.

As long as I keep that pace up, and I’m actually planning on hitting some higher totals later this year, I should cruise to 1500 miles.

Biggest key will be staying healthy, obviously.

Stephanie is wondering if there is an “optimal” number of weeks for a training plan leading up to a marathon.

Again with the “rule of thumb” type of question Stephanie!

Rule of the Wrist

Boondocks Saints Anyone?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it definitely depends.

It depends on what your goals for the race are. It depends on what your training looks like coming into the race. It depends to how long you’ve been running and what your base looks like.

I think we tend to default on 16 weeks because it’s long enough to bring most runners safely to marathon fitness, but I don’t think there’s anything magical about it.

I think that 10-12 weeks can be enough time (depending on the runner, obviously), and that 20+ weeks can be required in some cases as well.

It really just depends.

Andy is planning some track work for this summer. Does he need track shoes?

In a word, no.

A lighter pair of shoes will likely help you shave off a few fractions of a second, but you’re not racing on the track so your time isn’t as important as your effort.

Go hard during those track workouts to see the benefits, whether you’re wearing your regular shoes or something fancy.

Ben is curious about when runners reach their peak, especially if they don’t start out running as kids.

It depends on a lot of factors, but I’ve heard it said that it often takes 5-7 years for you to reach your peak fitness in an endurance sport like running.

Whether that number is perfectly accurate or not, I think it’s safe to say that it’ll be a few years of consistent training at least before you even come close to your peak as a distance runner.

Last question is from Stephanie, and it pertains to diet/nutrition, specifically protein intake shortly after a run.

Honestly, that’s about the last thing I worry about for myself.

I firmly believe that if you’re eating well most of the time, focusing your diet primarily around real foods, worrying about the timing that much is secondary at best.

Would you muscles benefit from an infusion of protein within an hour of activity, perhaps.

But my life isn’t such that I can always make that happen.

In fact, I typically follow the intermittent fasting approach to food, only eating between about 1 pm and 9 pm, and I do most of my runs before the sun comes up.

So any calories I consume between the run and my first meal of the day are of the calorie form, and I’m more focused on making sure I’m getting some fats into my system than I am about protein.

Am I hamstringing myself? Maybe. But I feel better than I think I ever have and I’m running more than I ever have. So I think it’s working…

Great Questions


Whew! Great questions this month y’all!

Seriously, this might have been the best block of questions yet!

Hopefully you’ll find my answers to be on par with the questions, but I make no promises!

Several #running rules of thumb, peak #cardio fitness, future plans, & more in this month's Q&A! #runchat Share on X

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4 replies
  1. Russ
    Russ says:

    Regarding the question (from Scott?) about trying to get someone interested in running. I’ve successfully used (for people at least interested in running) Couch-to-5K and Galloway’s run-walk-run to help introduce people to running.

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      Great suggestions Russ! I think once there is interest, those are GREAT resources. The way I read the question, and I could easily have misinterpreted, was if they AREN’T interested in running, how can we get them interested. So that was the angle that I was basing my answer on.


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