Jeff Gaudette and Matt Fitzgerald once again provide a series of outstanding articles on Competitor – if you don’t subscribe to their feed, you’re missing a lot of valuable content, but be prepared to ‘drink from the fire hose if you do. Or, you can just rely on this monthly summary to point out the best.
- Jeff discusses executing workouts based on feel. I’ve written a bit more generally about building the ability to run by feel, and Jeff gets more specific about how to use breathing to gauge your effort (and nails the exact breathing rate goals I use in my workouts).
- Jeff also elaborates on the idea behind race-specific training, and ties it indirectly into the periodization approach. All too often I see runners running tough workouts too soon, and here Jeff points out when and how to start ramping up your intervals and which ones to reach for by major race category.
- Matt also gets more specific on running lactate threshold / tempo workouts by feel, using a difficulty rating scale. My experience has generally been that running by feel is equally valid (if not more so) to running by pace goals.
- Too often, we associate “speed development” with intense workouts like intervals/repeats (on or off the track). However, Jeff also points out that basic workouts like strides and hill sprints done on a regular basis can help you maintain your speed even when focused on longer distance training for the marathon. I now incorporate these techniques several times a week into my marathon base and endurance phases.
- And Matt addresses the question of “junk miles”. His point is the same that you’d see from Lydiard, Scott Douglas, Pete Pfitzinger, and even Brad Hudson (who generally advocates less, higher quality miles) – miles only become “junky” when they take away from the quality of your harder workouts. In general, the more miles you can sustain, the better.
You have most likely seen the hype around another study claiming that “extreme exercise” actually reduces the gains in mortality risk that exercise generally brings. However, what is important to understand is the method in which the data is treated in this study, as Alex Hutchinson points out. They controlled for the weight and blood pressure of the subjects. In other words, if you take away some of the health effects from running lots of miles, it doesn’t have as many health effects. It’s a shame that this fact is missed in most of the coverage of this study.
Another topic where questionable research abounds is the cause of injuries in runners. John Davis at Runners Connect summarizes some grand studies (both of which have limitations) on injury rates and causes, and points out some indications from the data which jive with basic physiology and biomechanics. Of interest is the fact that older men tend to injure their Achilles more often. Hand raised.
Caleb Masland contributes his usual trove of training gold on the dailymile blog, with the best of the bunch this month being some advice he picked up at a USATF class on how to sequence your training sessions. Alex Hutchinson addresses this a bit more broadly in Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? (spoiler alert – it depends on what your main objective is). Caleb’s advice is more tactical and maybe something worth posting on your closet door next to your training schedule.
Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running gives the low-down on using heart rate monitors to support your training. I actually misplaced mine a few months back and haven’t missed it, but do feel it would be helpful for monitoring anticipation runs to make sure they are sufficiently easy. And not to be confused with The Running Manifesto, Jason offers The Runner’s Manifesto, which encompasses 18 solid foundational thoughts in becoming a better runner. Of course Fitz would do 18 points, as he’s an overachiever and a high-volume guy in general.
Cinnamon, one of the bloggers on Salty Running (yes, they are all named after spices, and they are all women, for now) did a fair amount of research on the latest science and opinion behind the value of static stretching. It struck me that, just like with minimalist shoes, we fall victim too quickly to the “all or nothing” school of thought. I think the comment by “Liz” is spot on – we could all probably afford to do a little bit, preferably via a deeper session once or twice a week.
I often like to weigh in on the debate between supporters of “traditional” and “minimalist” running shoes, and feel strongly that there is no one answer that fits everyone. So I loved seeing the news from Peter Larson at Runblogger that Running Warehouse is offering a 90-day return policy. Since I’m currently feeling a bit stuck in a rotation between only two shoes and generally don’t like the advice I get from running shoe stores, I now have a reason to feel more comfortable in buying a pair that “should” work out online.
Steve Magness contributes a rambling post (his usual manner, but the content is good enough to be worth tolerating the structure) on his criticisms of zone training. This is in a similar vein (with much more discussion of science) to my own recent post on varying your easy paces. I agree with Steve that trying to compartmentalize our training into specific paces for specific purposes oversimplifies things and ignores variability in individuals or training conditions.
Finally, anyone who takes an interest in interviewing moi automatically gets a call-out on this monthly post. Thanks to Dirt Dawg (Mike Croy) for his book review and podcast interview this month, as well as Tal Gur for the interview on being a competitive runner amid all of life’s other commitments on his Get Inspired blog.