Listener Q&A: November 2018

Can you believe there is only one month and a few days left to 2018?

I hate to break it to you, but it’s true!

Thanksgiving (here in the States) has come and gone, and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun!

But first…

Listener Q&A: November 2018

In case you’re new to these parts, let me bring you up to speed.

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 the questions, shall we?

How can I make the treadmill a little more bearable?

Ummm… Push it off a cliff? Smash it with a sledgehammer? Throw it in the ocean?

While running on the dreadmill isn’t exactly my thing, there are some things you can do to make it more bearable if you’re forced to run on that manmade torture device.

  • Netflix and run.
  • Break up the monotony.
  • Work on pace control.

I’m not sure that any of those options will make treadmill running actually enjoyable. But hopefully they will at least make it tolerable until you’re able to get back outside.

What cross-training activities are best for runners?

The Rock Says It Doesn't Matter

When it comes to cross-training, it’s really hard to go wrong.

Some would argue that the closer the cross-training activity is to running, the more beneficial it is.

I understand what that line of logic is trying to get at, but I think you can look at it from another angle as well.

Exercise that is nothing like running, swimming as an example, is giving you an opportunity to work other parts of your body and maintain better balance in your overall fitness.

Ultimately, I think the most important thing for your cross-training is to do something that you enjoy.

If you want to get outside and go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? That’s awesome!

And if you want to stay inside on the spin bike, the rowing machine, or the pool, that’s fine too!

As long as you’re moving and working, you’ll be improving your overall fitness while minimizing the wear and tear associated with running.

In my book, that is a win-win.

Post-run, should I foam roll or stretch first?

I Don't Know

I’m sure that there is some physiologic rationale for choosing one activity over the other, but I really don’t think it matters.

If you’re doing both, you’re doing more than I am!

But if you really want an answer, I’d say foam roll first.

That way, you’re breaking up the adhesions in the muscles and then lengthening them during the stretch.

Seriously though, it’s six of one and half-dozen of the other.

How did you fuel for your last marathon?

Pretty sure I broke all of the rules!

Pre-race, I had a couple of bites of fruit and some coffee.

Then, for the first 18-ish miles, I fueled with water laced with salt and vitamin C powder.

At about 18-miles, I mixed some tailwind in my water bottle and grabbed a handful of potato chips from the aid station.

#ProTip: Never say no to potato chips on race day.

Just saying

I grabbed a small bit of banana shortly after I got my tailwind infusion, and that was it.

All told, maybe 150 calories during the race? And maybe 50 before the race?

So much for that whole formula that says you need to take in 200 cal/hr, eh?

Anything I can do to reduce/eliminate shin pain during ultras?


Depending on where exactly you’re experiencing the pain, the answer might be to look at your feet.

Specifically, your arches.

The anterior tibialis muscle runs from your shin to the arch of your foot, and when your arch collapses it stretches/puts tension on that muscles.

During these longer runs, that repeated stress could be leading to the pain/discomfort that you’re feeling.

If you can better strengthen the muscles in your feet, that can help your arch hold its form after hours on your feet which will reduce the stress on that muscle and, in theory, eliminate the pain.

No guarantees, but it may be worth a shot!

Two weeks out from my first marathon and I have strep throat. Do I need to readjust my goals?
Taking a Break from Running

Taking a Break from Running

Hopefully, with two weeks and some antibiotics, you’ll be fine on race day.

Remember, at this point, the work has been done to prepare you for the race.

If you can keep the strep and show up at the starting line well-rested, you still have a very good chance of hitting your original goals.

Today’s Episode of the Show is Sponsored By: DKMS

How often should I be doing speedwork?

There are lots of factors at play, so this is kind of a tough one to answer.

But in general, I would say no more than once a week.

And if you’re only running a few times a week, then I’d recommend dropping back to (at most) once every other week.

Speedwork is a lot like salt.

A little bit of salt makes your meal better. Too much completely ruins it.

And just like with salt, it’s better to err on the side of too little than too much.

How do you incorporate speed work with heart rate training?

Just because you’re committed to heart rate training doesn’t mean you can’t blow it out once in a while!

There are many physiological benefits of running hard once in a while, so when you decide to do a speed workout you need to go all in.

Don’t half-ass it.

If you’re going to go hard, go fricking hard!

And the rest of the time, stick to the HR limits you’ve set for yourself.

What is the deal with the Altra Paradigm? Is it a stability shoe or not?

I don't know

It seems like the Paradigm has gone back and forth from neutral to stability and back a few times!

Talk about frustrating, eh?

In my opinion, most people are better off in a neutral shoe than in a stability shoe.

Even most of the people that have been told that they “need” a stability shoe.

Our bodies know what they are doing, and trying to force a neutral footstrike can be asking for problems.

That said, I’ve worn Paradigms before, that were classed as stability shoes, and had absolutely no issues with them.

So if you’ve tried them on and they feel good, I say go for it!

And remember, Altra has a firm 30-day return policy so you can wear them for a month and if you start to feel like the stability features of the shoe are causing issues you can return them.

If you decide to look for a different option, check out the Torin Knits. They are pretty awesome!

Yasso 800s: what are your thoughts?

As a workout, 800s are a great workout!

It’s a great blend of speed and endurance, and when you stack them up one after the other it’s brutal!

But as a tried and true predictor of your marathon finish time?

Even Bart doesn’t think that the 800s are an accurate predictor across the board.

He said they are a good predictor for him of his fitness going into a marathon, but not some truth handed down by the Gods like many runners seem to believe that they are.

A good workout is a good workout. And 800s are a good workout.

And if the results happen to corroborate with your marathon results? Great. But it’s not because there’s a direct relationship between the two as much as it’s simply a happy coincidence.

How much turkey should I factor into my training plan?

Thanksgiving Feast

Eat whatever you want girl!

How come my 5ks are getting slower as I stretch out my long runs? Is my body forgetting how to run fast?

Take it Easy after a Sprained Ankle

Our bodies don’t just “forget” how to run fast.

That’s not how it works.

As you’re adding miles to your long runs, you should actually be able to run faster in the 5k because your endurance should be improving.

If it’s not, that says to me that you’re running your long runs (and probably your recovery runs) too fast.

So when you get to your 5k races or higher intensity workouts, you’re showing up fatigued and therefore unable to go fast when you want to.

It’s not that your body has forgotten how to go fast, it simply can’t because it’s too fatigued to crank it up.

Try running your long runs slow for the next few weeks. Like, almost painfully slow.

And if you really want to up the ante, do pretty much all of your runs slow for a few weeks.

Then try a hard workout or a 5k race and see what happens.

My guess? Your body will “remember” how to run fast!

Talk to me about post-run fueling. What do you eat after a run? I know you “have” to eat some protein within 30 minutes of a run, but is that for every run or just the longer runs/hard workouts?

Outside of grabbing a bite to eat after a race, I don’t think I’ve eaten within 30 minutes after a run in years!

Apparently I’m doing it wrong, eh?

From where I sit, post-race fueling “science” is much ado about nothing.

Does it help your body and your recovery to give your body some quality fuel to do the necessary repairs after a hard workout or long run?

Yeah, probably.

Is it vital? No.

Our bodies have been working hard and covering long distances for thousands of years, and guess what? There were no fancy recovery drinks available to our ancestors thousands of years ago, and somehow they survived enough for our species to still be here!

If you’re hungry after a hard run or race, eat something. Preferably, something that is healthy.

If you’re not hungry, don’t feel like you need to eat or you’ll be in trouble.

You’ll be fine, I promise.

After my first half, my quads were trashed for several days. How can I avoid that happening again?

Obviously, the better your training goes the less likely you are to be incredibly sore after your next race.

That said, if you actually race your races you will be sore after a race.

So if you really don’t want to be sore after your next half, just run it casually and you’ll feel like a million bucks the next day!

If you want to race your next race without being too sore, you probably need to ramp up your training so that the difference between the stress you put on your body in training and the stress you put on your body on race day aren’t dramatically different.

Please note, that doesn’t mean simply run all of your training runs at a higher intensity to more closely match your race day pace!

Instead, add training stress in other ways.

Maybe do training runs longer than 13 miles leading up to the race. Or increase your overall weekly volume. Make an effort to do consistent strength training.

None of those things, even in combination, will guarantee that you won’t be sore after your next hard half.

But, they should definitely make the recovery process a lot easier, as well as making stairs and trips to the bathroom much less painful!

How long do I need to be ready for my first marathon? I’m running my first 13.1 in December, can I possibly be ready for a spring full?

If you’re already fit for 13.1 miles, you’re halfway there!

Seriously, if you keep going after your half it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to be ready for a full marathon in another 12 weeks or so.

And depending on how your fitness is going into the race and how you feel on the other end of it, I’d even say that 8 weeks could be enough time.

Seeing as this is your first half and will be your first full, give yourself a little extra time.

But if you can find a March/April full marathon, you have plenty of time to be ready for it!

Any suggestions for quelling knee pain going into a marathon?

Are Runners Stupid?

This is a tough one to answer, not because I don’t have any suggestions but because there are so many possibilities!

Without knowing exactly what is going on with your knee and where it is bothering you, it’s hard to give specific advice.

That said, two of the most common issues are IT band issues and patellar tendonitis.

So, does it hurt on the upper/outer part of your kneecap? If so, probably IT band related.

Does it hurt below your kneecap, directly in the front of your knee? If so, likely patellar tendonitis.

If it’s IT Band: strengthen your core and foam roll your quads (front of thigh) and IT band area (outside of thigh). This won’t be fun, but it’ll help.

If it’s Patellar Tendonitis: stretch your quads and massage the tendon with your thumb.

In either of these cases, using a sleeve or KT tape is nothing more than a band-aid. They may help with the symptoms short-term, but they will never solve the issue.

Use those tactics to help you get through your next race, but then address the cause of the problem so you don’t have to worry about knee pain moving forward.

(And if it doesn’t seem like either of those two options are your issue, it might be worth seeing someone to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.)

If you were training two runners with similar goals and fitness levels, but one was 40 and one was 60, would you train the 60-year-old differently?

Of Course

If I had two athletes with similar goals and similar levels of fitness that were both 40 years old, I’d train them differently!

No two runners are the same, even if their goals and their paces are pretty much the same.

Ergo, there is no reason that I can think of to train two runners the same.

Unless you’re just lazy AF as a coach…

There we have it, folks.

Another month, another Q&A episode of the show.

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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