How to predict running injuries?

We’ve probably all heard these ideas. Over pronation causes injuries. Strength or flexibility imbalances or simply lack of strength or flexibility cause injuries.

Heck, these are things I’ve said. But are these things true? Maybe not.

Well, there are some interesting caveats offered in that article but the short story is, on the whole, it’s hard to pinpoint any specific things that increases overall injury risk. Interesting to think about.

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Strength training, “running is my drug of choice”

We all accept that strength training is beneficial for runners, right? But what to do? There are so many different forms you can do. What ones really help for runners?

Well, a couple of things I read this month drove the point home: Yes, strength training is beneficial for runners. The key point, though, is that almost anything will help if you have been doing nothing.

Personally, while I do believe anything is better than nothing, I believe the combination of runners more likely sticking to the routine plus working multiple muscles in coordination makes “complex” body weight exercises like squats, lunges and push ups for the upper body are probably best for most runners.

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Tapering your strength training, protein before bed, pre-run stretching

Most of us who strength train intuitively know that it seems right to taper your strength training before important races. However, there are convincing arguments to be made that certain neuromuscular gains will be quickly lost if you reduce your strength training too quickly or completely drop it.

Has this been tested, though? Well, we didn’t think so until people started asking questions during the pandemic when fitness centers and weight rooms were being closed. At that point, a researcher realized he had limited results from a follow up to a strength training study he did some number of years ago.

What did these results find?

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How to pick the right running shoes for you?

We’re always looking for a better way to choose the right running shoe. For a long time, it was believed we wanted to find a shoe that would promote “neutral” pronation. That’s the world I grew up in and what I, along with pretty much everyone else during the time, believed.

Then, we realized that using this method didn’t seem to reduce injury risk. So along came the “just find the pair of shoes that’s more comfortable” theory. It’s one I adopted (and, for myself, it didn’t really change the shoes I was picking). I believe it works well but is it really the best? We haven’t seen injury rates drop dramatically, if at all, since switching to this method.

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Why does cross training work?

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me mention specificity of training. In short, this is the idea that the best way to become a better runner is to run. You can do other things and they will help but they won’t help as much as devoting the same amount of time and energy to running.

But then, why do things like strength training matter? Strength training specifically is extremely different than distance running. It’s basically a polar opposite. So why does it help us run better?

Well, Alex Hutchinson offers some thoughts on that. An interesting read.

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Returning to running after COVID-19?

As should be expected with a virus that we didn’t even know existed a year ago, we’re still learning a lot about COVID-19. I’m sure you’ve all heard the good news that a very effective vaccine is likely on the way but it’s still going to take time to get it produced and distributed. Meanwhile, people are still getting infected and will continue to do so for a while.

So everything we can learn about it is important. If you catch it, you want to know what it means, right? Well, here’s more on returning to your workout routine after recovering from COVID-19. The short story? Be patient and come back gradually. There is evidence that a significant (in some studies a disturbingly high) number of people who have recovered, even very healthy and fit people, developing long lasting serious side effects.

So please be careful. Based on what I’ve seen, I’d recommend being far more cautious than I normally recommend for coming back from a cold or flu.

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How to race during a pandemic

For the first time since 1989, I haven’t run an in person race this year. I know there have been a few opportunities this fall but I just don’t feel that any of these events were, to me, worth the risk of potentially being a part of the problem and spreading a serious virus. I terribly miss head to head racing and everything that goes with it but running still means a lot to me even without that and some things, like the health of my family and community, are more important.

That said, we all have to make our own choices. I don’t pass value judgments on to others who make different decisions. I hope they will take reasonable precautions and consider the safety procedures of the races they are considering but, if they feel the race is worth it, that’s their choice.

So, if you’re one of those people who are looking for a race, how do you decide what race to do and then how to safely participate? The always great Gretchen Reynolds offers some thoughts on that.

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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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