Listener Q&A: October 2020

Trick or treat!

Hopefully October has been a good month for you, and that Halloween in 2020 isn’t much scarier than Halloween in a less chaotic year!

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

What is the best part of shorter daylight days?

In theory, it means that the endless summer heat/humidity combo will be coming to an end soon-ish.

Other than that?

If I understand the benefits of lower intensity efforts correctly, would it make more sense to focus on activities like biking/swimming to help build the aerobic base?


Your suggestion is a sound one, and from a physiological perspective it’s pretty well spot on.

The tricky part is that nothing quite builds your base running fitness like running.

So while you can build your general base of cardio fitness with other activities, there is still going to be a bit of an adjustment period when you start focusing again on your running.

That said, if your overall fitness is in a better place, it won’t take as long for your body to adjust to the demands of running.

Or, to put another way, your HR won’t spike nearly as high when you start running again if you focus on building up your aerobic base.

What has been your favorite part of being a coach?

Celebrating the wins with my athletes.

Knowing the work they put in and then seeing it all come together? That’s pretty awesome!

What is your favorite flavor of candy corn?

What are the differences between the different types of foam rollers?

It is a bit crazy how many different variations of foam rollers are available, isn’t it?

The big thing that I consider when it comes to foam rollers is the density.

A denser roller is going to last longer and get in a bit deeper than a less dense option.

It’s also going to hurt a bit more.

I have the longer roller, pretty sure mine is three feet, simply because it provides a bit more in terms of functional flexibility than the shorter rollers.

The downside of this, however, is that it’s a lot easier to travel with a shorter roller.

All the knobs and extra bits?

They provide a bit more tactile sensation while you’re rolling, but from a physiological sense, I’m not sure they provide much additional benefit.

What would be the beginner’s definition of being fat adapted as a runner?

When I talk about being fat adapted, what I’m saying is that I’ve trained my body to be better able to burn stored body fat for fuel as opposed to relying on glucose/glycogen.

Glycogen is a quicker/easier source of energy for our bodies to tap into, but we don’t have the ability to store as much of it within our bodies. That’s why fueling for longer distance races is so important.

But by becoming fat adapted, I’m able to utilize my body fat to provide a much greater percentage of my energy needs. And I have enough stored body fat to fuel activity for days on end, instead of an hour or two.

So, in theory, by working to become fat adapted I’m trying to move closer to bonk-proof on race day.

Do you double up on your socks when you run?


Double up on the socks, double up on the odds of blister issues.

How are you doing with your 2020 mileage goal?

Honestly, it’s going better than I thought it would go!

By the end of this month, I’ll have covered just over 1800 miles, leaving me with about 220 miles and 2 full months to finish off the year.

My October mileage is going to wind up at about 220 miles on it’s own, so I should be good to wrap the challenge up right about the start of December.

Why is my beagle obsessed with squeaky toys when we are about to watch TV?


To piggyback off of Michaela’s question, how long should one foam roll for?

There really isn’t a set answer.

Some is good. More is better.

Until, at some point, more ceases to be better.

If you can get about a minute on each body part, that would be great.

And in total, we are looking at like 10 minutes total.

Who has been your worst coaching client ever?

You can only eat one thing for 30 days and have to choose between apple pie or morel mushrooms. Which do you choose.

Morels. 100%.

What is your coaching strategy for someone that hates to be told what to do?

I don’t think that I’m a big “you do what I tell you to do” kind of coach.

Sure, I put numbers on the training plan but nothing is ever set in stone.

With each person I coach, the key is the two of us working together.

So someone that hate’s being told what to do?

No worries. As long as we can figure out a way to stay on the same page and work together, we are good to go.

When training for longer races, do you prefer to do slightly shorter long runs on tired legs or to really push the distance a bit?

Both options can work.

So it depends on what you feel like you need the most.

Do you need the mental boost of knowing that you’ve covered most of the distance recently, and therefore you know you can do it on race day?

Or are you ok overall cumulative fatigue helping you grind out the last several miles on race day?

Either option is fine, as long as it gives you confidence in your ability to finish your race.

Do you think virtual options will now be a permanent option in the running world?

Depends on what you mean by virtual options.

I mean, virtual races aren’t a new thing, right?

There have been virtual races for years, they just haven’t been as front and center as they are this year for obvious reasons.

So, yeah, I think virtual races will continue to be a thing.

But I don’t think that races will continue to offer virtual options in addition to in person races once racing in person is a thing again.

Book/guitar updates?

What is an easy to run in costume for a Halloween Race/Turkey Trot/Jingle Bell Jog?

I mean, I don’t do costumes so I’m not entirely sure what an easy to run in costume would be.

I think the trick is to go with the least amount of costume possible to fit the theme, right?

So the clear answer is a Santa hat for your December race, right?

Why do some dogs react when a runner or cyclist passes them and what could be done to prevent an attack?

Every situation is different, right?

I think some dogs get startled, and when they are scared they get aggressive. Fight or flight, right?

Some dogs are territorial, so when you are invading their territory they are defending what is theirs.

And then there are the dogs that are bored. When you pass by them, reacting simply gives them something to do.

How can you prevent something from happening?

Again, it’s going to be situation dependant.

But in most cases, being situationally aware is the best thing you can do to stay safe while running.

Do you have any plans for some type of virtual race?

Not doing one of those again any time soon.

Pretty sure that there is some serious virtual race fatigue going on right now.

But down the road will there be another Diz Days of Summer type of thing?

Are there any known differences between runners in America, Europe, and/or Africa?

Not that I know of.

Is playing mulitple sports helpful to us as runners?

Yeah, I definitely think so.

Being a well-rounded athlete is a good thing in my view.

Yes, regular running is an important component of reaching our running goals.

But doing some things that work different body systems and stress the body in different ways is going to help as well.

When you mention 5k or 10k on the podcast, you’re talking about kilometers, right?

When you run multiple marathons each year, what is the best way to determine which one you focus on really racing hard?

There are definitely a few things to keep in mind when it comes to trying to put yourself in the best position to go after a PR in the marathon.

The first thing is the course profile, right?

Can you PR in a race with a lot of ups and downs in terms of elevation? Of course.

But lots of hills don’t exactly make it easy, so there’s that.

Another thing that people focus on is expected race day weather, but there are no guarantees of good weather on race day.

That said, typical race day weather conditions shouldn’t be ignored.

One thing I think a lot of people overlook when identifying goal races is the weather they are going to be training in and how that may impact their training.

Fall races mean you’re going to be training in the summer. Spring races mean you’re going to need to log a lot of winter miles.

Depending on where you live and what your preferences are in terms of running in the hot or the cold, that is something you’d be wise to consider when picking which race to really focus on.

I just bought a headlamp. Any suggestions for how to use it?

I’m not a big headlamp fan. If I need to light my way, I definitely prefer my knucklelights.

That said, it’s not like headlamps are incredibly complicated pieces of equipment.

Make sure you know where the on/off switch is and how to adjust the strap, and you should be good to go.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of looped courses for elite races?

For the runners, I don’t think there are a lot of real advantages/disadvantages.

They are racing each other as much, if not more, than the distance, so a 4 or 6 mile loop isn’t dramatically different than a 26 mile shot.

The reason these races are run on loops is that logistically they are much easier to pull off than either using one big loop or a point to point situation.

Fewer road closures. One or two drink stations. Easier to televise.

What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Reese’s cups, obvi.

For slower runners, what’s your take on training for a certain mileage or getting a set amount of time on your feet?

Both can work, just kind of depends on what works for each person.

As a coach, sometimes I’ll give my runners a set distance because I really want them to cover a certain number of miles.

Sometimes I’ll give them a time goal because I know they tend to run too hard if they have a mileage target in order to finish their run and get on with their day quicker.

You can be well trained with either option. You can be under or overtrained with either option.


When your nose runs during a run, do you let keep wiping it or let it run?

Two words:

Snot. Rocket.

Do you take any supplements?

I do, though nothing too crazy.

I mix vitamin C powder in my water bottle and take at least one D3 supplement per day.

When I remember I also take a multivitamin and I try to take a handful of algae pills most days.

How do you practice proper foot striking?

First of all, when it comes to your gait I’m a pretty strong believer in if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

When you start trying to overhaul how you run, you can end up with all manner of problems as a result.

But if you feel like a change is required, you just have to be focused on what changes you are trying to make until they become ingrained.

Eventually, and we are talking months from now, your body will adopt the new gait and you won’t have to be as focused on it with each stride.

But until that happens, it’s all about paying attention to what you are doing.

Do you dress up for Halloween?

Get Off My Lawn

Any tips for doing long runs while in a fasted state?

If you’re new to intermittent fasting, remember that it takes a little while for your body to adjust to starting your runs with an empty tank.

One way to make the process a bit easier is to maybe run a bit shorter and/or at an easier effort.

Then, as you’re able to finish the runs without breaking your fast while still feeling good, you can start stretching out the distance and/or increasing your effort a bit as you go.

Any tips for improving my posture?

Oof, I wish!

Similar to the question earlier about changing your gate, improving your posture requires a lot of conscious effort to simply improve your current posture at first.

Maybe it’s having a reminder pop up on your computer at regular intervals to remind you to sit up.

Or every time you send an email you train yourself to check in on your posture and make any necessary tweaks.

And I know there are gimmicks available that are purported to help you improve your posture throughout the day, though I have never tried any of these things.

While you’re running, maybe you do a quick “posture check” every time your watch buzzes at the end of each mile.

To combat poor posture form another angle, you can work on strengthening the muscles in your upper back while stretching out your chest muscles.

This can help make it a bit easier for your body to keep your chest up and shoulders back, which is an area many of us, myself included, struggle with.

When it comes to heart rate training, what do you expect your heart rate to do on race day?

On race day, assuming your plan is to push yourself a bit, your HR is going to be higher than where it is during your training.

And that’s fine!

My advice is to not even worry about your HR on race day, as in don’t even have it on the display of your watch.

Just run a smart race, push yourself to the approrpriate level of effort based on the distance of the race, and let your heart rate do what it does.

Want to check it in your stats after the race? Nothing wrong with that.

But no need to track it or worry about the fact that it’s beating 20+ bpm higher during your race than it usually is while training.

As the cooler fall weather is approaching, am I overdoing it if I increase my “easy pace” by a minute or so?

I totally get what you’re saying, but you’re looking at this completely wrong.

Remember, “easy” is not a pace, it’s an effort.

And I know that I say easy pace a lot, which is something that I probably need to work correcting in order to help avoid the confusion.

As the summer heat/humidity becomes a thing of the past, you’re going to notice your pace improving while running at the same effort.

That’s just biology.

So, yeah, you should be running a bit faster at the same level of effort now than you did in August.

But try to stop thinking of “easy” as a certain pace, because based on a variety of factors actually running “easy” can vary by quite a bit from one day to the next.

Any suggestions for keeping my running fresh while I’m stuck on the treadmill for much of the winter?

Oh man, treadmill season is approaching isn’t it?

As always, the key is finding the right motivation to keep you going while stuck on the treadmill this year.

Maybe that’s a certain TV show that you only watch while on the treadmill. Or an audiobook. Or certain music.

If there is a form of entertainment that will help you pass the time and mute the monotony of the treadmill, definitely lean into it over the winter months!

In terms of workouts, that can be another way to break up the boredom a bit.

Mix in speed workouts or some hill repeats here and there to keep things from getting too stale.

My hunch is that you may need to kind of do some “all of the above” to stay on track until the spring.

Good luck!

And with 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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