Listener Q&A: September 2018

Apparently, it is now fall…

To be fair, I haven’t seen too many different color license plates on the roads just yet, so down here it is still only fall according to the calendar.

But sometime in the next couple of months, the snowbirds will migrate and Florida fall will officially be upon us.

Whether or not it feels like fall yet, we can’t deny that the month of September is drawing to an end.

And that only means one thing: let’s get after some questions!

Listener Q&A September 2018

The process is simple: you ask, I answer!

Or at the least, I try to answer. With a little luck, the answers I give to your questions are somewhat useful for not only those that ask but for everyone listening.

Have a question you’d like to get answered on the show? Join the FB group and be on the lookout for a post, typically mid-month, asking for questions. Then, fire away!

Have a question that requires a bit more back and forth to really address? Feel free to schedule a call, and I’ll help you walk through whatever you’re dealing with at the moment.

But for now, let’s get on to the questions!

How do you come back from an extended injury?

Obviously, there are a lot of variables at play with a question like this.

What is the injury? How long were you out? What you were doing (mileage, workouts, etc) before the injury? Do you have any races coming up that may impact your return?

That said, the best blanket advice is to take it slow and adjust expectations down.

Too often, runners rush back to “doing what they were doing before their injury” and wind up injured again.

Needless to say, you don’t want that to be the case.

So take your time and ease back into your normal training routine.

What key runs should be included every week?

It depends.

How many days do you train? How long have you been running? What are your goals?

In general, I’d say that for someone training for a longer race, the long run is one of the most important workouts on your schedule.

A couple of easy runs are pretty important for building your base.

And if you still have time, mixing in a higher intensity workout isn’t a bad idea either.

More important, however, is listening to your body and being willing to adjust based on how you’re feeling.

Remember, just because something is on your plan doesn’t mean that you’re “required” to do it.

Any suggestions for dealing with lower back pain after a run?

Bad Running Habits: The Pre-Run Static Stretch

In a word, stretch!

One of the biggest cause of lower back pain/tightness is hamstrings that are beyond tight.

When your hamstrings are tight, they can actually cause your pelvis to rotate which puts more pressure/tension on the muscles of your back.

That leads, unsurprisingly, to back pain.

And after a run, when your muscles are cooling down, they tend to get a bit tighter. Which puts more pull on your pelvis. Which leads to an increase in your back pain.

So if you can stretch your hamstrings after a run, that will likely help.

If you really want to solve the problem, you would be wise to stretch more than just after your runs.

Another suggestion is to make sure you are working on building core strength and stability, and remember your core is more than just your abs.

But if you’re even remotely inflexible, start by stretching your hamstrings.

What kind of dog would you say you resemble while running?

A Doberman.

Not the sleekest. Doesn’t necessarily look like a natural. Wasn’t “bred” to run forever.

But able to get the job done without looking completely out of place.

How do you settle on the pace to race a marathon?

I Don't Know

This is a tricky one, because you really shouldn’t be training at marathon pace too often.

So it’s hard to feel confident in your ability to maintain a certain pace over 26.2 miles when you haven’t “practiced” it very often.

That said, if you’re training intelligently you will be able to maintain a faster pace during your race than you have been running in training.

Honestly, I think the best thing you can do is try and avoid worrying about your pace on race day and simply listen to your body. (Unless you are aiming for a BQ or something that requires a certain pace.)

I really resonated with what Chuck van Duzee said about how focusing on our pace on race day may actually keep us from doing as well as we could have if we just ran the best we could that day, knowing the distance.

If you’re brave enough to do it, give that a shot. You might just be surprised at what you can do if you DON’T worry about your marathon race pace.

What Michigan races, specifically in the UP, would you recommend?

I can’t give you much in terms of recommendations, because I’ve literally never run a race in my home state.

And I’m not just talking about longer races, either.

The only “race” I’ve run in Michigan was Ekup my senior year of high school. And that hardly counts.

That said, I can’t think of a better place for an early fall race than the UP.

Anything that time of year should be amazing.

And make sure you get some pasties and smoked fish while you’re up there, too.

What kind of strength training should runners focus on when they are pressed for time?

Obviously, the ideal situation is that you’ll be able to stick with a good strength training program as your mileage ramps up during training or your life gets a bit hectic for one reason or another.


But here in the real world, the ideal situation isn’t always attainable.

So when good enough is the best you can do, where should you focus your limited time/attention?

Hips. Glutes. Core.

Staying strong in the middle is going to help prevent your form from breaking down and keep you moving forward for the entirity of your race.

And you can work those parts a few times a week without going to the gym too.

How many races each month is normal?

How important is cadence?

In a word:

What is HRV?

HRV is a measure of the variation of time between the beats of your heart.

A very metronomic heartbeat is a sign of the body dealing with stress, whereas a rhythm that is more random means that the body is more relaxed/stress free.

I measure my HRV daily and use that as a tool to help me gauge how my training is going.

When the number is high, I know I’m recovering well and am likely to have a good run.

When the number is low, my HR usually is elevated during my run and it is often difficult to keep it steady, even if my pace is fairly constant.

I don’t make my training decisions entirely based on my HRV, but if I’m feeling a bit tired and my HRV is low I know that the odds are my run isn’t going to be great.

So instead of forcing the issue, especially if it’s an easy run mid-week, I’m more likely to do a bit of yoga or get some time on the bike to try and speed up recovery instead of going for my regular run.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Who is your favorite Disney character?

How long does it take to recover from a calf strain?

Slight exaggeration? Perhaps.

But a strained muscle, especially a strained calf muscle, takes some time to heal.

In order to be fully healed, you are probably looking at 4-6 weeks. Though if you hurt it bad enough, it could be even longer than that!

Be patient. Let it heal. Then ease back into your training so you don’t tweak it and have to start the process all over again.

Does speaking at races you are running change how you feel/prepare about the race?


Right now, the priority is the speaking and the race is definitely the icing on the cake.

I still want to do well, of course, but I’m still far enough from a BQ that I’m not that concerned about my race day performance.

I feel like I’m in PR shape, or at least pretty close to it, but I’m not even worried about PRing at this point.

When it happens, and I’m confident it will soon, that will be great. But for now, as long as I can speak and run the event, I’m very happy.

When I get closer to BQing, I may plan for a race where I’m going strictly to run and not add on the extra responsitbilities of speaking. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Do you think you’ll be able to cross off all 50 States with the speaking? How many States are you up to now?

Will I be able to get all 50 trips/races paid for by speaking? Probably not. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to make that happen though!

Time will tell, but even if I “only” get half of them taken care of that way, that still saves me thousands of dollars in cost. And there are more things that I gain professionally from working with these races than just the monetary value, so every chance I get to go run a race as part of my job I’m going to seriously consider!

As for States, I’m currently at 6 down, 44 to go. And if all goes to plan in October, that number will be 8.

And there are a couple of possibilities currently being discussed for early 2019 that would put me at 10.

So things are certainly moving in the right direction!

How many miles do you personally get out of a pair of Altras?

In my experience, a solid 500-800 miles.

It depends on the model, of course, but I don’t think I’ve retired a pair of road shoes with less than 500 miles on them yet. And I’ve yet to completely retire a pair of trail shoes.

That may not be true for you, but that is my experience.

How would you advise me to actually race a few other individuals in an upcoming race?

I think the sit and kick approach is best.

It’s always easier to be the chaser and not the chased, so you don’t want to try to push the pace early because you may get reeled in before you break the tape.

That said, you don’t want to just let them go and trust they will come back to you, because that isn’t a guarantee.

But if you keep them close and make your move a mile or two from the finish, you should be good.

How long will it take for me to build my base and see gains in my fitness?

Running 80/20 Requires Patience

It’s going to vary from one person to the next, but it certainly takes time.

Keep training intelligently, and remember to look for signs of progress beyond what you see on your watch at the end of each run.

Is there a formula for successfully running a negative split?

I don’t know that there is a formula as much as there is a strategy.

Basically, you have to run the race intelligently.

An Intelligent Race Schedule

Running a negative split race requires being disciplined in the first half of the race in order to make sure you have enough gas in the tank to finish the race strong.

And sometimes that means purposefully starting the race a bit slower than your goal pace and trusting that you’ll be able to make up the time at the end of the race.

If your training has gone well, you will likely be able to trim the time in the end. But it takes a certain amount of confidence in being able to go out there slower than you want to be at the end of the race.

How do you make sure you’re able to mix in the different types of runs in a week?

Remember, you don’t need to do everything each week. This is especially true in terms of the higher intensity workouts.

Keep your long run and easy runs on the schedule week to week, and then mix in some different harder workouts on occasion.

That may mean you’re mixing in a different one every week. Maybe every couple of weeks.

But don’t feel like you need to do everything all in the same week.

Because you don’t.

How slow should you really run your long runs during marathon training?

As slow as possible?

Unless you’re doing some sort of long-run “workout,” pace isn’t as important as the time on your feet.

As a heart rate guy myself, it’s all about how hard my body is working.

So I’ll usually start my long runs at a pretty decent clip, but as I get more fatigued I have to slow down to maintain my HR.

And sometimes that means I’m walking more than I’m running near the end of a run.

And I’m 100% ok with that.

What does Adi think of you and Beks running?

Time will tell.

Hopefully, she thinks that running/being healthy is normal, and as she gets older she finds ways to stay active that she enjoys.

If that’s running, that would be awesome.

If it’s not, no worries.

At this point, she’s a pretty good runner for four years old. But we will see what the future holds.

Who benefits most from HR training?

Anyone that wants to improve their endurance.

HR training helps you build your engine so your run more efficiently at the same level of exertion.

The better you get on that front, the stronger you’re going to be at the end of a longer race because you haven’t been working as hard since the gun went off as you would have been had you not been as efficient.

Based on the science and my experience, I can’t think of any type of runner that can’t/wouldn’t improve from some disciplined HR training.

The thing is, not a lot of runners are willing to be disciplined enough to see success.


And I’m Spent…

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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