Listener Q&A: January 2020


How have you found the first month of 2020?

Off to a cracking start?

A little stumble out of the gate?

Less than inspiring?

Whatever the case, there is still plenty of time left to have a fantastic 2020!

If all is going well? Keep on keeping on!

But if you had a bit of a false start?

Reset, and start again!

And with a little luck, one of my answers to this month’s set of questions will either help you keep going or give you the boost you need to get back on track!

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

Any advice for someone a little scared about trying longer distance races?

The cheeky advice: hire me and I’ll coach you up so you’ll have no issues going longer!

Apparently, This Guy

The less cheeky advice: if you want to do it you totally can.

For the record, don’t feel like you HAVE to continue to climb the distance ladder.

If you enjoy the races you’re running and don’t want to race longer, then keep doing your thing at the “shorter” distances. (And I say “shorter” because I guarantee that to some, the distances you’re currently running are plenty long!)

But if you decide that you’d like to take on the challenge of going longer, go for it!

Put in the time to train. Increase your distances totally. (Maybe get a copy of Be Ready on Race Day to help with that!)

And on race day? You’ll be just fine, I promise!

I need a pep talk for my upcoming 50k.

You Can Do It

Seriously lady, you’ve got this!

All those miles you’ve been putting in the several months? That base you’ve been building?

It’s there.

Trust in your training. Take it one step at a time. And enjoy the day!

Based on my pace, can you help me identify an easy pace for my different training runs?

Nope

Too often, we associate pace with easy or hard.

But that’s missing the point.

Easy and hard are measures of effort. Pace is related to effort, of course, but it’s not a constant.

Some days, a certain pace may be very easy. Others? The same pace is hard AF.

So my advice when it comes to easy/hard is to forget about pace completely.

Focus instead on effort, ideally with HR but there are other ways to judge effort, and let the pace do what it does.

If you really want a pace guideline, easy pace will pretty much always be slower than race pace.

How much slower? Who knows. Could be one minute, could be 3-4 (or more!) minutes. But odds are, if you’re not running slower than race pace you’re not running easy.

What is the difference between strides and fartleks?

Strides are just a few very short increases in speed.

So you’re picking up your pace and holding a higher intensity for 20-30 seconds before settling back into your regular easy pace.

The goal with strides is to get some of the benefits of a speed workout without taxing your body by doing a proper speed workout.

Fartleks, on the other hand, are definitely a proper speed workout!

They just are a bit more “free-flowing” than the traditional interval/repeats style of speed work.

For a good fartlek workout, the intervals and recovery segments vary.

Some efforts will be hard and short. Others will be hard-ish and longer.

And the recovery segments are adjusted accordingly as well.

Any idea why one pair of shoes feels great while running on the treadmill but meh on the roads, and another pair of shoes is exactly the opposite?

Shrug.

Not really.

Any advice on transitioning from a 12mm drop shoe to a 4mm and, eventually, to a zero-drop?

Start working on eccentric heel drops immediately!

Your calves and Achilles tendons are going to be a bit tight/sore as you transition, and the heel drops can definitely help minimize that discomfort.

Other than that, you kind of just have to go with the flow.

You may want to pull back slightly on your mileage, especially when you’re adjusting form the 12mm to the 4mm, as that could be a pretty big shock to the system.

But otherwise, listen to your body and just be smart with how quickly (or slowly) you progress.

Do you wear orthotics for your running shoes? Do you recommend any insoles for your shoes?

When it comes to insoles/inserts/orthotics, I think there are certainly instances where they are very necessary.

I also think, without question, that the majority of people using them would be better off without them.

Our bodies are pretty incredible. The things they are able to do, much of which we still don’t fully understand, is beyond comprehension.

Using some form of insert or orthotic when not absolutely necessary prevents our body, specifically our feet, from functioning as designed.

The better option, in most cases, is to let your foot do what it does.

When one is running a road marathon in trail shoes, does one have to fight the urge to veer off course at times?

No.

But, when one has trail shoes on and course is crowded AF, one definitely doesn’t hesitate to jump into the grass to pass some people.

What are the benefits of waiting until you get to the race to put on your shoes?

There’s no major benefit, obviously.

For me, it’s all about comfort.

I want to be relaxed as possible leading up to the race, and I hate wearing shoes!

So for me to be relaxed, I’m wearing my flip flops until I have to start heading toward the starting line at which point the running shoes come on.

I’ve done this for every race I’ve run, I think, and I have no plans of changing up the routine.

Though I may start making sure my shoes are in the car instead of bringing them into the hotel with me, since I literally have no need for them in the room.

What is the best piece of running advice you’ve been given?

Hmm

I can’t think of anything that I’ve received in person, though there’s little doubt I’ve learned a lot from other runners over the years.

But probably the advice that has changed me the most, both with my personal running and as a coach, is the idea that slowing down and running easy (most of the time) is the best thing you can do for your running career.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Or that the only way to get faster is to run faster.

And as I may have mentioned once or twice, that is not true.

How do I become a faster runner?

Slowing Down Helps Speed Up Recovery

You want to get faster? Slow down and learn to run easy?

The fact of the matter is, if you want a “better” time at the end of your next race you don’t need to get any faster.

You need to improve your endurance so that you can slow down more slowly over the course of the race.

Build your endurance, which in most cases is best done by running easy and improving your aerobic base, is the most effective way to be faster on race day.

It’s not flashy or sexy, but damn is it effective.

Any tips for addressing tight hip flexors?

Stretch your quads and hip flexors more.

Strengthen/engage your glutes.

And best bet, hands down, is to not sit as much. Easier said than done, I know.

But sitting for long periods of time shortens your hip flexors like nothing else.

So if you can find ways to stand more throughout your day, that is the best thing you can do!

Thoughts on the “right” amount of upper body movement?

Probably a case of less is more?

The big thing is your arm swing.

Focus on swinging straight forward/straight back from the shoulder and try not to swing your arms across your body.

But for the most part, try not to overthink it.

Any suggestions for quality lower body infographics?

I got nothing, sorry…

What’s the best way to handle muscle cramps out on a run?

Without question, prevention is better than cure.

Once your muscles really start cramping, you’re not going to solve the problem until after the race.

As for handling them?

Take in some salt? Maybe some pickles/pickle juice? Walk a bit more?

Whatever you do, it’s not going to be pleasant.

Can you explain lactate threshold so I can actually understand it?

When you’re working hard, your body produces lactate or lactic acid as part of the energy production process.

Our bodies have the ability to process lactate, to avoid it from building up to a high enough concentration that it impacts our ability to keep running.

That point where lactate is building up quicker than your body can process it is the lactate threshold.

If we can improve our body’s ability/effeciency to process lactate, we are able to maintain that higher intensity effort for an extended period of time.

Hope that makes sense!

I don’t do well racing in the heat. If I lived in a warmer climate, would I adapt? Or am I just predisposed?

There is no doubt that the body does adapt/adjust to being able to race in warmer temperatures.

That said, I promise that warm temperatures impact everyone!

I think the biggest difference between those that can “handle” the heat and those that can’t is mostly mental.

If you let the warmer temps defeat you before your race even starts, it almost becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy.

How do you know when your shoes are ready to be replaced?

I'm Dying

I just wait for my body to tell me.

When I start feeling more aches/pains than usual, that’s my signal to get some new kicks.

If you could have one do-over race, which would it be and why?

This is probably a case of recency bias, but I’d say either the Cannonball Marathon or the Sweat, Swat, and Swear 50k.

In both races, I got a bit too cocky early and pushed the pace earlier than I should have.

And in both cases, I ended up walking (a lot!) over the last third of the race.

I’d love to have another crack at either of those races and try to be a bit smarter in terms of my pacing.

What is your favorite part of being a coach?

There’s so many things that I enjoy about my job!

My favorite?

Probably the relationships.

Having worked with some folks for multiple years, I really get to know them beyond just their running lives.

Learning about their jobs. Their families. Their likes/dislikes.

That’s pretty awesome.

How often/when do you recommend taking a cutback week?

This is one of those questions where a one-size-fits-all answer is absolutely impossible.

It depends on so many variables.

One week per month is a good start, but some need them more frequently and some less.

Did you stick to your race plan for the Goofy Challenge?

Saturday? No. Sunday? Yes.

I got a little pissy on Saturday, and I ended up skipping a few photo ups because the lines were just too long.

Sunday I was in a better place mentally, and was able to stop for a photo with every character I saw out on the course.

What are some tips at surviving the pain cave on race day and finishing strong?

One thing that I try to do is save my music until I really need a little boost.

Like when I’m in the pain cave.

Typically, I’ll start a race with no audio going on. Hopefully I can find someone to talk to out on the course, but if not I’ll just take in the sights/sounds of the day.

But when things start to get tough? I’ll pull the headphones out of a pocket and cue up some music.

Another strategy is to have a mantra that you can rely on when things get tough.

I went so far as to tattoo my mantra on my arm, but you don’t have to be quite that extreme if you don’t want to be.

Another option? Smile more.

There’s something about smiling that reduces your sensitivity to pain/discomfort.

So when in doubt, and everything hurts, go ahead and try to force a smile. Because it really will help.

What is your opinion of post-race supplements?

Too. Much. Sugar.

Give me some real food over those garbage “recovery drinks” any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

And coffee. Definitely give me some coffee.

Who should get a running coach? And how do you find the right “fit”?

I’m not sure I can say with a straight face that anyone “should” get a running coach.

I certainly believe that a good coach can help just about any runner, but at the end of the day a coach is a luxury item.

That said, here are some reasons you might want to consider splurging on coach:

  • If you’re a newer runner, a coach can help minimize the number of “stupid mistakes” that you make along the way.
  • A coach can take the guess work out of your training. Instead of wondering whether you should do X or Y, the coach decides and you just do!
  • If you struggle with doing your workouts, a coach can provide that extra little bit of accountability that keeps you on track with your training.
  • A good coach provides some objective feedback with what you’re doing, since they have a bit of a different perspective than you do.

These are just a few of the benefits of working with a coach, but maybe some of the biggest.

As for finding the right coach, that can be a bit trickier.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to “get to know” the coach as much as possible before you make any decisions.

Follow them on social media. Read their blog/listen to their podcast/watch their YouTube videos. Subscribe to their email list.

Then ask questions.

Ask the coach questions before you sign up.

And if possible, ask current/former athletes the coach has worked with about their experience.

You still will probably not know for sure if the coach is the right fit until you start working with the coach, but if you do some due diligence before you get started you’ll probably at least be able to figure out if a certain coach is definitely not a good fit for you.


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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