As another month draws to a close, that means it’s time for another episode of Listener Q&A!
Glad you’re excited because this month’s episode is a beast!
So get comfortable, cause this could take a while…
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 awhile 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
How many from the Tribe are doing the #GVRAT1000k this summer?
With so many races being canceled/postponed, are you following a plan or just winging it?
Honestly, I haven’t had any races canceled or postponed due to the virus since I didn’t have anything on the schedule.
So as far as my running goes, nothing really has changed.
I have a loose plan for how many miles I want/need to run in order to make sure I finish my goal of 2,020 miles this year, so I make sure I get those miles in.
Then each Sunday evening, I write down a loose plan for what I’ll run each day for the next week.
If something needs to change during the week? Then I change it. If not, I stick to the plan.
So am I winging it? Not really.
But do I have a strict plan? Not really.
How excited are you for school to be over?
Do strength training exercises lose their effectiveness over time?
The way our bodies work is that they adapt to the demands that we place upon them.
If we continue to place the same demands on our bodies, eventually we will stop adapting.
So from a strength training perspective, if you’re doing the same exercises with the same amount of resistance long enough, then eventually you will stop making strength gains.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that doing the same strength training exercises are no longer effective.
If the goal is to continue to build strength? Then, yeah, you’ll probably want to change things up a bit.
But if the goal is to maintain the strength that you’ve built? Then you’re good.
Can you replace a long run with more miles per run mid-week when not training for a particular race?
How you get your miles in is totally up to you and your schedule.
And when the goal is to maintain your base, the most important factor is getting the miles in.
The length of your long run doesn’t matter nearly as much as your total volume.
What is the bare minimum amount of time that I should be strength training each week?
I’m not sure I can really give a good “minimum” strength training recommendation.
What I will say is that if you’re currently doing none, that isn’t enough.
Trying to identify some “minimum requirement” in regards to strength training is, I think, the wrong perspective.
Strength training is good for us as humans. And it’s good for us as runners.
So instead of trying to get in the bare minimum, I’d suggest looking for ways to add in a bit of strength training here and there.
Maffetone calls this slow strength.
What does that mean?
Simply, it means that you do a few reps here and a few reps there throughout the day.
So instead of a workout taking, say, 20-30 minutes it might take 6+ hours.
I’m still wrapping my head around this philosophy, but I honestly like the idea of it.
So my advice would be to do some “slow strength” a couple of days per week. Eventually, as your strength builds, you can add another day or few.
Focus on squats and lunges and deadlifts and push-ups and rows and planks.
And if you do that, you’ll definitely reap the benefit without trying to carve out a chunk of time 2-3 times per week to do your strength training.
Hit me with your favorite tequilas/gins!
I’m definitely not fancy when it comes to my drinks.
On the tequila front, I’m more than content with some Cuervo or El Jimador.
For gin, Tanqueray is my favorite but it’s a bit too pricey for me to drink on the regular. My go-to, that’s pretty cheap but not bad at all, is New Amsterdam.
And when I’m home, my mom usually gets me some Iron Fish gin, which has a stronger “evergreen” flavor than other gins I’ve had.
Give me any of these in a rocks glass with 2 ice cubes, and I’m a happy man.
Do you subscribe to any monthly fitness boxes? What are your thoughts on them in general?
My only monthly subscription box is my Picky Bars, but I don’t think that is what you’re talking about.
I used to work with Run Locker a little bit and got a few of their boxes a couple of years ago.
In general, they are fine, but they definitely aren’t for me.
Too many of the products that came in the boxes were simply things I would never use.
If you like trying different things? Rock on.
For me, I know what I want. What I like. And I don’t tend to color outside the lines too often.
Can you overstretch?
What do you mean by overstretch?
If you stretch a muscle too far, beyond its current limits, you can certainly do some damage to the tissues.
If you’re just talking about stretching too frequently, it’s a little harder to overstretch.
For most runners, the idea of stretching too much/too frequently is almost laughable.
So go ahead and stretch as much as you’d like, just don’t stretch any muscles too far!
Do you have any good “have to stop to pee during a run” stories?
Is it better to run with your feet in a “straight rope line” or to have them in more of a “train track” scenario?
Definitely the “train track” situation.
You need to do what feels right for you, but if your feet are hugging/crossing the midline you’re asking for trouble with your IT bands.
Do you need to do speed workouts in order to get faster?
Yes and no.
It kind of depends on what you mean by getting faster.
If your goal is to improve your top-end speed, then a certain amount of speed workouts are a necessity.
But if you’re talking about having a faster finishing time in a race, then speedier runs aren’t as necessary.
By building your endurance, you won’t slow down as much in the later stages of a race. And as a result, you’ll finish faster.
How do I quit signing up for races?
Do you have any tips to improve downhill running aptitude?
Start with a downhill that has less of a grade, and then build up as you feel more comfortable.
The biggest key with running downhill, at least in my view, is not trying to put the brakes on while you’re running.
Learning to let gravity do the work, and trusting that you won’t end up ass over elbows at some point, just takes practice.
How do I survive not racing for 8+ months?
Did you ever buy your scraping tools? Do you use them a lot? How do you like them?
I ordered a set of scraping tools about a year ago and I definitely like them.
I don’t use them as much as I should though.
Not entirely sure why…
Breaking in new running shoes: a requirement or a myth?
I lean toward myth, but it depends on the shoes.
Most running shoes these days are constructed pretty well and don’t need much of a break-in period.
If you’re in a shoe that is maybe a bit bulkier or offers a bit more stability, then you might want to break it in with some shorter runs.
Likewise, if it’s a shoe that’s dramatically different in style to what you’ve been wearing, ie a zero drop when you aren’t used to zero drop.
But in both of these instances, I feel like it’s less about breaking in your shoes and more about acclimating your body to the new shoes before you really get after it in them.
You do what you’re comfortable with, but I personally don’t really tend to break in shoes anymore.
Are there any ways to legitimately “injury-proof” yourself as a runner?
Injuries are always a possibility in our sport.
There is always the chance you trip on a random stick or roll your ankle coming off a curb. So while those injuries are maybe more flukes than anything else, the risk is always there.
Likewise, the risk of overuse injuries can never completely be mitigated due to the repetitive motion of running.
That said, and like I talk about often, there are many things that you can do to reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
And if I may be so bold, I’d say you can take that risk almost all the way down to zero.
But to actually get it to zero? I think that’s a claim that would be irresponsible to make.
Do you have an educated guess on when international travel will be back to normal?
I’m trying to incorporate more strength training, but every time I do a workout I’m so sore that I can’t really run the next day. What am I doing wrong? Or is this just part of the process?
Sounds like you are just biting off a bit more than you can chew right now.
I mean, being sore after a good strength training session is definitely part of the process of getting stronger.
But if you’re sore that you can’t run, that tells me you’re pushing a bit too hard.
My suggestion is to either cut back on the length of your workouts, reduce the amount of resistance you’re doing, or both.
This should keep you from being so sore that you can’t run the next day. Then, as you get stronger, you can add a little more back to your plate.
When should I do my strength training workouts?
I’m a big fan of doing strength after doing a hard workout.
Definitely wouldn’t do the strength work before your speed sessions, nor the day before your long runs.
Before a non-running day isn’t a bad option either.
My Achilles tendon has been “bothering” me lately. Any advice about how I should try to handle it?
Hard to give too much good advice without knowing more specifics, but here goes nothing.
If it seems to loosen up with movement, then you might be able to keep on keeping on.
If it’s getting worse as you go? Pretty good sign to take it easy for a few more days.
As for as things to do? Stretching and foam rolling your calves should definitely be on the list. Doing some eccentric heel drops are another good idea. Some gentle massage on the tendons themselves can also help.
But it’s a process. Keep taking it one day at a time, and hopefully things will be feeling better soon!
How does having a strong core help me as a runner?
There are so many ways that a strong core helps us as runners.
Your core provides stability to your hips, which allows your major running muscles (primarily your glutes) to do their job instead of acting as a stabilizer. The stability in a strong core also helps to reduce your risk of IT band issues, as the muscle associated with the IT band also works overtime to stabilize the hips/core if your core isn’t up to the task.
The core also helps with energy transfer between your upper and lower body. We think about running as only a lower-body activity, but your arms swing just as much as your legs while you’re running. A strong and stable core helps you use the energy from your arm swing to help drive your legs forward as well.
Core strength also helps you maintain good running form, which improves your endurance and your efficiency during your runs.
So, yeah, core strength is kind of important.
On longer runs, how often should I be eating something?
As a general rule, your body holds about 90-120 minutes worth of glucose in your muscles.
But that is going to depend on how hard you’re going and how well your body is at using fat for fuel.
And it takes about 30 minutes for your fuel to be converted into glucose for your body to use.
So plan your fueling strategy accordingly.
How are you handling wearing a mask in the Florida heat/humidity?
I mean, I only wear a mask when I go into a store or something.
And stores have air conditioning.
So it’s really not an issue.
Any suggestions for things I can do to improve my posture while I’m sitting at my desk all day on various Zoom meetings?
Being tied to the desk is tough on the posture, no doubt.
A few suggestions?
- Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair.
- Stand up and go for a quick walk between meetings.
- Do band exercises at your desk working upper back and shoulders.
This is one of those situations where there’s definitely no silver bullet.
You’ll have to come it at from a few different ways to stretch your chest, strengthen your upper back, and be mindful of your posture.
And I’m spent…
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