Listener Q&A: October 2018
Halloween is one of those holidays that I can pretty much take or leave these days.
And now that I don’t really eat much for sugar and candy, there is even less reason for me to care about Halloween.
But I’m not here to rain on your parade.
I’m here to answer your questions!
And with a little luck, my answers will be a little more treat than trick!
Listener Q&A: October 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?
On average, how much faster do you try to run your marathon than your training runs?
This is a tricky one to answer because I really try to avoid running by pace any more.
When it comes to my training, it’s all HR based.
As long as my HR stays below my MAF maximum, that’s all I’m worried about.
If it starts to creep up, I slow down. If I need to walk, I do exactly that.
And then on race day, I change my data display so I can’t see anything other than total distance and total time. Then I try to simply run my race by feel.
If I’m feeling good later in the race, I’ll push a little harder.
If I’m struggling, I’ll do my best to hold on.
Either way, my pace tends to worry about itself.
I’m fully aware that not every runner is willing to completely eschew paces in both training and on race day, however.
While I’m not really convinced that simply picking numbers/pace targets at random is quite the best way to go about things, I’d say at least a minute slower in training than on race day would be the minimum.
That said, going even slower isn’t a bad thing either! You’ll still be building fitness and you’ll be minimizing the amount of stress that you place on your body.
Both of those, in case you were wondering, are good things that will allow you to race much faster than you’ve trained.
And correct me if I’m wrong, but that is the goal right?
How long should I wait to run after a race?
My personal rule of thumb is to wait until you’re “pain free + 3” at a minimum.
The last thing we need is more garbage that basically boils down to one-size-fits-all advice.
As I’ve said before and I’m sure I’ll say again, we are not one-size-fits-all runners so why would we believe that one-size-fits-all advice is what we need to follow?
That’s why I came up with the “Pain Free + 3” philosophy.
Basically, wait until you’re completely pain/achiness/soreness free from your race.
No issues going up or down steps. No problem sitting down on the toilet.
Quite simply, no running until you feel as well physically after the race than you did before it.
Then, wait three more days.
Most runners have a tendency to rush back too quickly after a hard race.
As a runner, I totally understand the desire to get back to training ASAP.
But as an athletic trainer and someone that has studied exercise physiology extensively, the fact of the matter is that most of us don’t give our bodies enough of a break to be fully recovered before we start training again.
And that increases our risk of injury.
Is “Pain Free + 3” some sort of Holy Grail that ensures you are fully recovered before you start training again?
But it at least makes sure that you give your body a bit of a break, which after a good training cycle is well earned.
How important is it to cool down/stretch after a long run?
I mean, it’s important.
That said, I’m not very good at doing what I know I should!
What do you do with worn out running shoes?
I usually make sure to hold on to a pair or two to use for yard work or other things where the odds of ruining a pair of good shoes is high.
Other than that, I donate them.
Even if they don’t have much life left in them for running, my shoes tend to still be in pretty decent shape and have plenty of life left in them for daily use shoes.
I’ve also heard of running stores taking in old shoes and recycling them. So perhaps that is an option?
Should marathoners train/race other distances in order to improve their performance at 26.2 miles?
If they want to, absolutely.
Is it necessary?
Physiologically, good training philosophies and principals are pretty much universal.
So whether you’re gearing up for blasting your fastest 5k or running your first marathon, the way you train really shouldn’t be much different.
Sure, you don’t need as much volume to train for a 5k as you do for a marathon, but I’ve had guests on the show that say that super heavy weekly mileage is what helped them blow their 5k out of the water.
The area where I think taking a marathon training cycle off would be between your ears.
Sometimes chasing the same goal (a BQ, perhaps?) for years on end can wear you down mentally. If you decide to focus on the half or the 5k or the 50k or something else for 6-12 months, that can help you reset your mind and lead to a big jump in performance when you get back to marathon racing.
But was it because you trained differently for the shorter distances? It shouldn’t be.
Strides? What are your thoughts? Do you think they make a difference?
I’ve literally never done strides.
I don’t think they are bad per se, but I don’t see any reason to need to include them.
If you want to do some, knock yourself out. But I’m still trying to figure out why they are so revered.
Favorite Halloween costume?
For myself or for others?
When I was in elementary school, Sarah Cote was a cereal killer. She had a bunch of flattened cereal boxes that she wore with plastic knives in them. I thought that was pretty good.
My friend Holly and her husband dressed up as the Wet Bandits this year. And their son was Kevin. That was pretty good.
And Carlee Daub‘s kids have taken the running internet by storm with their Shalane costumes this year.
I never really had anything good for myself.
I did the bum thing once or twice. The scary mask guy a few times. Went as a mime once.
But nothing truly creative.
I guess I’ve pretty much been straight up curmudgeon from an early age, eh?
Running form. I thought I was improving until I saw photos from a recent race. Any suggestions?
Stop looking at still photos!
Also, stop worrying too much about your form.
Unless you’re having serious injury issues that you are pretty sure are form related, let your body do what it does.
Are there some tweaks you can make that may make things better? Probably.
But you’re going to see more improvement from consistent training, cleaning up your diet, strength training, getting enough sleep, foam rolling, yoga, and addressing the other little things than you will from trying to force yourself into some one-size-fits-all definition of perfect form.
Tempo runs: what are they and how should I do them?
Tempo runs are designed to help you improve your lactate threshold.
So the idea is to run just a touch slower than what would put you over the top, and hold that effort for a slightly extended period of time.
This will, in theory, help you get better at ridding your body of lactic acid on race day so you can keep the pedal to the medal for a bit longer.
I’ve always been told that tempo pace should be about 10-15 seconds per mile slower than your 5k pace. And then when you do a tempo run, you hold that pace for 4-5 miles instead of going a touch faster for 3.1 miles.
How do you adjust your training when life gets super busy?
You gotta just dial it back.
I wish there was a better option, but you only have so many hours in the day and your body can only handle so much.
If you have a bunch of other things going on, something has to give.
And if that means you can only run on occasion or don’t have time to train for longer events, that’s ok.
Once life calms back down, no matter how long that takes, you can always come back to longer distances.
But for now, you gotta do what you gotta do at this point in your life. And if that means nothing longer than 10k, so be it.
Should you scale back your training in the off season?
Yes and no.
Yes, you need to give your body (and your mind) a break from time to time.
So dialing back is a good thing.
But when you’re pulling back on how many miles you’re running, what do you do with the extra time?
If it’s a busy time of life and you need those extra few hours for something else, that’s fine.
But if you’re just going to scroll through FB/IG and watch Netflix in your extra time, I’d argue that continuing to do some supplemental training would be a good use of time.
In that case, your running volume may be down but your total time training may remain pretty much constant.
Get on a bike. Get in the pool. Do some yoga. Lift weights.
All of those things are going to help you be stronger, fitter, and less prone to injury when you start dialing up your running again for the next training cycle.
I want to start preparing for my first marathon. I want to run more than 3x per week, but I’m not sure how to get there…
Who says you need to run more than 3x per week to train for a marathon?
I mean, there is something to be said about logging more miles when you’re gearing up for a marathon. And you probably aren’t going to reach your maximum potential by only training 3x per week. But no one says that you have to run a certain number of days per week in order to experience a marathon for the first time.
If you’re dead set on adding more days to your weekly training routine, keep everything pretty easy for a few weeks.
As your body is adjusting to the increased number of days that you train, you don’t want to puch the intensity or you’re really running the risk of injury.
And one thing I can saw with some certainty: the worst way to train for a marathon is being injured.
My last marathon almost broke me. How can I keep going without burning out?
As I said earlier, switching your focus after several marathon cycles will likely do more for you mentally than anything else.
If the last marathon really broke you down, then switch your focus.
Run some halfs. Or some 5ks. Or some OCRs.
What you do doesn’t really matter, just do something a bit different.
Then come back to the marathon in a year or so, with a different perspective, and hopefully that will make all the difference.
Today’s Episode is Sponsored By:
What is the best way to train young runners?
Simple: make sure they are having fun!
What’s the best way to pick a race to run?
Not sure there is a best way.
Instead, knowing yourself and what you like in a race, use those as criteria to help you narrow it down.
Do you like smaller races or those with several thousand other runners?
Big city races or small town racing?
Local or destinations?
Once you narrow things down a bit, then you can go about picking.
And if you need a resource, FindMyMarathon.com is a pretty good repository of races.
Do you invite your non-running friends/family to watch your races?
Beks pretty much comes whenever she has a chance, but I always tell her she doesn’t need to.
Is it nice to see her or Adi? Of course.
But I’m going to see them for a few seconds while they are standing around for a few hours waiting for the race to be over?
To me, that doesn’t make sense.
That said, I kind of got in trouble for not telling my parents about a small race I was doing last year that they could have come to. So I guess the best bet is to mention the races and if they want to come watch/support/spectate, more power to them?
I’m thinking about running another marathon, a year from now, and am hoping to avoid the “Mile 20 Meltdown” that got me the first time. Any advice?
Two shameless plugs for the book in one Q&A episode? Either y’all are helping me promote myself by teeing these things up or I’m not doing a good enough job of mentioning the book!
Honestly, it’s probably a blend of both.
Anyway, I absolutely believe that the more times you stress your body to 20 miles and beyond, the “easier” it is for your body to keep going on race day.
I know that not every coach/exercise scientist agrees with me about the value of doing long runs longer than 20 miles before a race day, but I think they are vital.
The key, of course, is to keep the pace easy on those long runs.
But if you have a year to train for your race, and you want to mitigate the risk of really struggling before you reach the finish line, then I’d say build up to where you can do several 20+ milers between now and race day.
Those solo training runs aren’t a lot of fun, but they can be invaluable come race day.
I’m thinking about doing the Blue Ridge Marathon. How can I train for those hills living in a pretty flat area of the country?
I’m not sure that you really can properly prepare for Blue Ridge if you don’t have proper hills to run on regularly.
That said, you can absolutely still show up to the race prepared (well, prepared enough) and have a good run.
The keys: be creative and alter expectations.
You may be able to find some man-made hills to run on if you look carefully and get a bit creative.
Hill repeats in a parking garage? Not ideal and not something you probably want to do during rush hour, but that could be an option.
Maybe you do more bleacher running at the local high school football stadium.
And take advantage of any little hill you can find and run them every chance you get.
Will the small hills be enough? Probably not. But they are better than nothing.
And then the key is to adjust your expectations.
Blue Ridge isn’t exactly a PR race. But it’s a lot of run and Roanoke is a beautiful part of the country.
So instead of worrying about racing it, just enjoy it!
And for what it’s worth, if the lady is still handing out mimosas at mile 7-ish, take one!
Have you ever DNFd? How do you cope with the disappointment?
I have never DNFd.
That said, there were a couple of instances when I probably should have pulled the plug early.
I don’t believe in the whole “death before DNF” thing, but I will admit to being a bit stubborn on race day.
If/when I have my first DNF, no doubt I’ll be disappointed.
But I think that the way to cope is to recognize why you DNFd.
Was it because you simply didn’t want to be out there?
But if there was in injury or danger and you recognize that continuing to push is/was a poor choice, then dropping out of the race is the right thing to do.
And as much as that may sting, I’d hope that after a few days I’d be able to see the bigger picture and be at peace with my decision.
I’m taking a long break from training due to injury. When I come back, how should I proceed?
Easy back in slowly, and err on the side of caution.
Last thing you want to do is reinjure yourself because you were a bit overzealous.
When is your usual cutoff time for the Q&A episodes?
The plan is simple: the Q&A episode goes out on the last Monday or Wednesday of the month.
Friday’s are reserved for QT episodes, so the Q&As replace an interview.
As for the cutoff for the questions, it depends.
If the episode is going to air on a Wednesday, like this month, I’ll do the recording the day before.
But if the episode is going on out on Monday, I’ll probably record on the Friday before.
I’m not ready to embrace HR training yet, but… What’s a good HR monitor? Any books I should read? And non-HR related: what’s your take on the new Boston times?
When it comes to the best way to measure HR accurately, without question a strap is necessary.
Don’t try to tell me that wrist measurements are just as good, becasue they aren’t!
And not for nothing, but those don’t even measure your HR. They simply just attempt to measure the amount of blood flowing through the veins/arteries in your wrist.
So get a strap!
I have a replacement strap that I use with a wahoo transmitter.
As for books, there are no shortage of options.
80/20 Running was the first book I read that really made me think about slowing down most of the time in order to get faster.
Primal Endurance is the book that got me to fully embrace not only HR training but also fat adaption and low-carb training.
Both of those books do a pretty good job of breaking things down to the point where you don’t need a dictionary and an exercise science degree to understand what is going on.
If you want a little more science and have time/a desire to dive deep, check out The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.
And when it comes to the new BQ times, I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it sucks that thousands of runners will no longer be able to say that they BQd.
But on the other, it means that if you BQ you have a very strong likelihood that you’ll be able to actually run the race.
I’m not sure what would be worse, just missing the qualifying time or making it but not qualifying enough to actually be able to run the race?
Hopefully, now, those that qualify by seconds/minutes won’t have to worry about whether or not they qualified enough.
And if that proves to be true, I’m ok with the change.
Do you take requests for podcast guests?
If there ever anyone you’d like me to interview, let me know!
And if you’re willing/able to make an introduction for me, that makes it even easier for the interview to happen.
(And not for nothing, but if there are other podcasts that you think I’d be good to be a guest on, feel free to help make that happen!)
What do you think should be available, food-wise, post race?
This is a tough one because the odds of making everyone happy are slim and none.
I think the key is variety.
Have some real food options. Have some sweets. Maybe some savory.
I don’t care how hot it is, it’s never too hot for a cup of coffee after a run.
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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