Don’t fear neck gaiters

You probably saw the headlines: neck gaiters, commonly used by runners, are worse than not covering your face at all for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Well, the headlines didn’t really get the story right.

The first thing to note is that the study only tested one person with a gaiter. With only one person and only one test on that person, no result would be statistically significant. Many variables could have played a role in the result.

The second thing to note is that the study wasn’t testing the performance of masks. It was testing the performance of the test being used. It was to determine if an easy, low cost test works.

It’s worth noting that other tests, including one noted at the link above, show that gaiters do in fact work. Single layer gaiters like most running types don’t work as well as multi-later ones but they still do work.

So, if a single layer gaiter is what you have available and you’re in a place where you’re around people, use it. It does help.

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There is room in the middle

This month, I’m going to bring up a couple topics and expand on them a little more than normal for a recap post. Then I’ll throw a bonus link or two at the end. Fewer links, a little more in depth this time.

To start, we all are familiar with hard/easy training. I’ve even written about it here. But isn’t there a value to the middle ground? Isn’t there sometimes a reason to venture off the ends of the spectrum?

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Facing the reality of this fall racing season

With the news yesterday that the New York City Marathon has been canceled, we’ve now seen Boston, Berlin and New York taken off the 2020 calendar. Chicago and London (currently rescheduled from spring) are still scheduled to go but don’t be surprised if they also cancel. During a pandemic, it would be irresponsible to bring tens of thousands of runners from around the world together, along with workers, volunteers and spectators.

Given what the experts are saying about a likely rebound of the pandemic in the fall, it’s likely that most large events and probably many, if not most, smaller events will not be happening this year.

I don’t say this to be a downer. I say it as a reminder of the reality this year is throwing at us. Keep this in mind as you’re training and adjust your training accordingly.

Now, on to some hopefully less depressing things I’ve been reading this month…

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You can build muscle and strength

You’ve probably heard the idea that endurance training blocks or greatly reduces the ability to muscle mass and strength through strength training. It’s been “common knowledge” for decades.

However, there is some evidence that’s not totally accurate.

More important for those of us who are focusing on maximizing our running performance: what does this do for the runner? It appears the greatest benefit comes from fatigue resistance. So, along with already documented injury prevention benefits, strength train to improve your performance late in races when you are exhausted but looking for that extra gear to chase down the competition or your goal time.

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Why do we feel and do worse when running alone?

I’ll kick this month’s recap off with a timely topic. If you’ve ever run a solo time trial, as many people are doing now, you’ve probably noticed that you can’t quite go as fast as you can in a race. I know, personally, I can’t even come close in a time trial to what I can do in a rac.e

But why is this? The stock answer is always that competition pushes us to do better and there’s obviously truth to that but what about the competition? Drafting doesn’t count for all of the difference. Motivation? Some other psychological component?

Well, this isn’t the complete answer but it does point in the direction of a potential answer. Essentially, most people feel “better” when running with others, which allows them to run harder. Feeling “better” is hard to define and it’s hard to say what we can do about this while running by ourselves. However, it’s bringing some additional level of understanding to the topic.

It’s also a good reminder right now that, especially if you usually have training partners, it’s ok to be running slower right now even while the run may feel just as hard or harder. It’s actually perfectly normal for that to happen.

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Can you boost your immune system?

Before I even start: For the best information and advice on COVID-19, trust the CDC.

I, as I’m sure many of you, have been a bit distracted this month with COVID-19. I admit that I haven’t been reading as much about training and racing as I normally do. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading.

On the topic of current events, one of the things I did read was quite timely. Some good advice on giving your immune system its best chance to not just fight off COVID-19 but whatever infectious disease may be going around.

Please stay safe. Keep running but consider solo runs. In the meantime, more of what I did manage to read is below.

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Can AI predict injury risk? Can professionals?

Have you been convinced to try to change your running form because someone insists something about your form is sure to cause injury? How did that work for you?

For what seems like my entire running life, I’ve always heard about how certain aspects of one’s running form are sure to cause injuries. Some of the advice I’ve heard or read about is so contradictory that it would seem that we’re all bound to get injured on a monthly basis because, no matter what you do, you’ll find someone who will tell you that’s bound to cause injury in short order.

But is all of this actually true?

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Is extreme exercise bad for your heart?

The eternal debate is back, if it ever went away. Is too much running bad for your heart? I’ve faced a number of people who have tried telling me it is so. Chances are you also have.

But is it true? The “evidence” given to support this idea is usually anecdotal or flat out false. How many times have you been told about Jim Fixx? While his death was tragic, when you look at the big picture with him specifically or with runners overall, things look much different.

Well, now we have more evidence that even extreme exercise doesn’t appear to be a health risk. It appears going beyond a certain extent of exercise doesn’t help your health but it also doesn’t harm your health. So, if you enjoy doing more, don’t worry about it.

Read on for more of what I’ve been reading about recently…

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