Listener Q&A: December 2019

Don’t look now, but in just a few days 2019 will be going the way of the dinosaurs!

What did you say

It’s true.

But before we close the book on 2019 and get cracking on 2020, it’s time for some Listener 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 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?

Your Questions

Can you explain strides?

Strides are kind of a pseudo workout without the wear and tear of a proper workout.

And as a heart rate training kind of guy, strides are something I should probably do more of…

I Digress

So the process is simple.

During an easy run, you pick up your pace to about 85-90% effort and hold it for somewhere between 20 and 60 seconds.

Then you dial it back to easy pace for awhile, fully recover, and pick it up again. Repeat this a handful of times, and call it a day.


The goal of strides is to get some of the benefits of a harder workout without the wear and tear associated with a longer and more strenuous workout.

By pushing the pace for a short period of time, you’re going to (typically) reinforce good running form and biomechanics while also working on foot speed/turnover rate.

I’m struggling with a lack of motivation after a recent marathon but I have a 50k coming up soon. I need some help shaking out of my funk!

The fact that you just ran a marathon means your fitness is in a good place.

That’s a good thing, as it means that a little break isn’t going to be an issue for you from a training perspective.

Give your body, and more importantly your mind, a chance to breathe is probably more important than continuing to grind out those miles. At least in the short-term after the marathon.

Yes, you’ll need to log some miles and a couple of good long runs in the build up to the 50k.

But if you’re really struggling to get out the door for a run or few right now, give yourself a pass.

Because this is one of those cases where you will probably be better off not running.

I want to have an epic 2020, but I’m also struggling with motivation right now. Any advice?

Similar to the above, but it sounds like a little break would do you wonders.

Instead of trying to force the issue, cut yourself some slack and step back from your training for a few weeks (or longer).

I’m sure you want to get off to a good start for the new year, and I get that.

But bear in mind that a year is a long period of time.

And you can still have an epic 2020 even if you don’t run much (or at all!) in January.

Which version of Santa Baby is best?

Eartha Kitt.

No contest.

How can I get back into Altras after an ankle sprain?

I’m not sure the exact relationship between the sprained ankle and the issues with Altras when you’ve been able to wear other zero-drop shoes, so this is a little bit of a head scrather for me.

So let’s just focus on some tips for coming back from a sprained ankle.

Because depending on what you did (or didn’t do) for rehab after your injury, that could be the issue.

After a sprained ankle, most runners are going to experience a decrease in either/both range of motion and stability.

Stretching your feet/ankles, specifically stretching your calf/achilles, is certainly a good idea and will help with the ROM. And doing some simple balance exercises should help improve the stability of the joint.

Hopefully a little focus on some of these rehab-type exercises will help with feeling comfortable in your Altras again soon!

After a January marathon (my first), I don’t have any big races planned until the fall. How should I spend my spring/summer?

You have a lot of options to choose from, and that is a very good thing!

I would say that pulling back a bit after the marathon next month would be a good first step.

A little break, mentally and physically, will be a good thing for you after going 26.2.

But after that?

Whatever you want to do is what you should do.

  • Want to hit the trails? Hit the trails!
  • Feeling the need for speed? Run/race some shorter stuff!
  • Have a desire to keep doing the longer stuff? Find a spring race.

Your base of fitness will be stronger than ever.

And with a strong base, your options are wide open.

If I only have 15 minutes and a few pieces of equipment, what kind of strength training exercises can/should I do?

Focus on multi-muscle, multi-joint movements.

And with a kettle bell, a couple of dumbbells, and some bands, you have a lot of options!

Swings. Squats. Lunges. Deadlifts.

Don’t forget to work your upper body either, as the whole body works together.

Rows. Presses. Flies.

Also, don’t overlook the value of body weight exercises just becaue you have some equipment.

Push ups. Planks. Bird dogs. Clamshells. Burpees. Pull ups/arm hangs.

You’ve got everything you need, just have to do it!

What is the best way to help non-runners that have expressed interest in running get started?

In general, I’d say some type of run/walk interval is probably the best option.

Easing into running gradually is a great way to minimize the risk of injury as the body gets used to the demands of running, and a program like C25k and/or the Galloway method can really help bring the new runner along slowly.

Another suggestion you can float out there is the idea of working with a coach.

At a water stop, do you grab and go or walk while you drink?

I stop running and drink while I’m walking.

I’d rather not splash water/gatorade all over my face and then start choking on it to simply try and save 2-4 seconds.

How much fitness will I lose by not running for a month?


Will you lose some? Obviously.

But will it be a substantial amount? Absolutely not.

Get some extra rest. Maybe do a bit of cross-training.

And when your body is ready to get back to running, you’ll make up any lost ground in virtually no time.

Any tips for training for a trail race with some sandy sections when I don’t live anywhere near lots of sand?

Running in sand is not a lot of fun.

I’m not sure there are any great ways to simulate running in sand, but if you seek out some trail options you may find that there are some sandier sections of the trail that will be helpful for you at your race.

Also, doing some balance/stability exercises will be good for you.

It may not make the race itself any easier, but if your feet/ankles are ready for the unstable surface of the sand it’ll help you get through those sandy sections on race day.

Does a training plan for a 50k need to be substantially different than a training plan for a marathon?

No, it really doesn’t.

That said, there may be some benefits to running a bit longer in training for your 50k than you do when training for a marathon.

The longer runs can help you feel stronger on the mental side of things. And having some really long runs can also help you hone in your fueling strategy, which becomes more important for the longer races.

Another option, that is beneficial, are more “back to back” style long runs.

You don’t need to do the epic back to backs like those doing longer options, but something like a 10-miler followed by some 15 or 20-milers will help you feel stronger when running on tired legs.

I’ve been doing HR training for a year now, and my MAF tests are going in the wrong direction (10:30 pace to 12:30 pace). Should I be doing more speed work? Something else? 

Are Runners Stupid?

Something isn’t adding up in all of this.

For your average MAF pace to have slowed down by 2 minutes per mile, that’s a red flag for me.

If you’re sticking to your HR limits during training and doing the MAF tests correctly, and everything else is fairly consistent, your final pace really shouldn’t vary that much.

How far in advance do you actually pay/register for races?

For the most part, I’m a pretty last minute kind of guy.

The obvious exception to this rule is if I’m planning to do a race that is likely to sell out, then I’ll get in as soon as registration opens.

Otherwise, I’ll probably only register for a race a month or so before hand.

But that’s simply due to a failure to plan far enough ahead to pay/register any earlier than that.

What would be a good warm up/cool down for someone doing HR training?

Typically, we think of the warm up/cool down as the first and last bits of our runs.

But in an ideal world, a good warm up happens before you step outside to begin and a proper cool down continues after you’re back inside post-run.

My warm up includes jumping jacks, lunges, and leg swings.

Then I head out the door and try to start out slow for the first mile and gradually pick up the pace before settling in.

As for my cool down, the last half mile or so I try to slow down a bit to begin lowering my HR before I stop my run and go through my foam rolling/stretching routine.

Any suggestions for helping relieve plantar fasciitis?

One of the best things you can do to help calm down some PF is to stretch your calves.

It may sound excessive, but holding the stretch in each calf for 3-5 minutes a couple of times a day should work wonders.

Also, look at what kind of shoes you’re wearing on a regular basis. (AKA when you’re not running.)

High Heels are the Devil

Shoes with a heel, even a low, can lead to some serious PF issues.

And fellas, this includes you if you’re often wearing dress shoes or work boots with a heel.

Is there a way to calculate your potential?

I have no idea how you could accurately try to do this.

There are so many variables at play, that trying to nail down your maximum potential seems virtually impossible.

That said, I think most of us are capable of much more than we think.

So set your sights high, train intelligently, be diligent with the little things, and there’s no telling what’s possible.

How does alcohol consumption impact running performance the next day?

I mean, alcohol is not exactly a performance enhancer.

So there’s that.

It really depends on how much you drink.

If you have a beer the night before a run/race, it probably won’t have much/any impact.

If you’re shit faced and wake up hungover? You might not enjoy your morning run very much.

What is your position on fruit cake? What is your favorite Chirstmas cookie?

Fruitcake: hard pass.

Cookie: either the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s kiss in the middle or buckeyes.

Egg nog or hot apple cider?

Cider, obvs.

How many Christmas cookies should I take to fuel my long run?

What is the best way to stretch/strengthen the SI joint?

The SI joint ideally has basically no ROM, so technically the answer to your question is that you don’t.

Assuming you’re talking about the muscles in that area, a couple of options for stretches are the things focused on stretching your glutes and lower back.

So pulling a knee to your chest. Figure four. Forward fold. Various twists.

And for strengthening exercises, pretty much the same idea. Focus on core strength (specifically lower back) and glutes.

Birddogs. Planks. Deadlifts. Donkey kicks.

Depending on what is going on, your best bet might be massage to help loosen that tissue up.

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.

Or better yet, open up your podcast app of choice, subscribe to Diz Runs Radio, and listen to this episode (and all future episodes) on the go/at your convenience.

What Was Your Favorite Question and/or Answer this Month? Let Me Know in the Comments Below!

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2 replies
  1. Eileen Olewinski
    Eileen Olewinski says:

    Hey Denny….the answer you gave to the question about the MAF tests going the wrong way made PERFECT sense when I heard it in your podcast.

    But I wanted to share a thought……..I’m getting serious about the HR training and started reading “The Big Book” by Maffetone. On pg. 82, Phil Maffetone says that if your MAF tests worsen it could indicate a problem with your training, diet, stress management or another factor impairing your aerobic system. He goes on to say it could be a warning sign. I thought that was interesting. AND he mentions (on the same page) that an incorrect maximum aerobic training rate (as little as 3 beats too high) could cause the aerobic system not progress. WOW……we really have to be accurate for this to work. (smile)

    Thank you for letting me share my thought. eileen


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