HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com The site for everyone who loves running. Wed, 25 Mar 2020 22:59:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://www.hillrunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hr-icon-100x100.png HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com 32 32 Can you boost your immune system? https://www.hillrunner.com/can-you-boost-your-immune-system/ https://www.hillrunner.com/can-you-boost-your-immune-system/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68172 Continue reading "Can you boost your immune system?"

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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.

Speaking of boosting your immune system, some more on how sunlight boosts your immune system. It’s more than just vitamin D. So get outside and soak in some sun!

We’ve long tried to understand what happens as runners age. Here’s an interesting study performed on a very fast father/sun duo that sheds some light on that.

We all know sitting for long times is bad for us, right? Well, what if our running makes it less bad? Note: I said less bad. This doesn’t give you a free pass to sit all day but it does mean sitting isn’t quite as bad if you train hard as it would be for someone who doesn’t.

Shoe type (minimalist vs. maximalist) doesn’t affect running form?

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Running during a pandemic https://www.hillrunner.com/running-during-a-pandemic/ https://www.hillrunner.com/running-during-a-pandemic/#respond Thu, 19 Mar 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68350 Continue reading "Running during a pandemic"

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This is a good time to go for a solo run

Before I begin, I understand that running should be one of the least of our worries right now. We have bigger concerns to think about.

That said, I’m not an expert in pandemic response so I have very little to say about it. Seek out other sources for that topic. I recommend starting with the CDC.

What I do know is that many of us rely on running or working out in some form to calm our nerves and relieve stress. In these times, calming nerves and relieving stress seem very important. So what is a runner to do?

To be honest, I won’t pretend to have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers. Almost nobody who is alive right now has experienced anything like this and the world was far different 102 years ago when it last experienced anything like this.

As I already mentioned, I am not an expert on pandemic response. I am also not a medical expert. If you want medical advice, you’re reading the wrong blog. For the most part, I’m simply going to offer some reminders of good practices that you’ve heard non-stop for a while and then mention a few things that might be a little more runner specific.

First, some good news for most of us personally. This specific virus seems to be relatively minor for most relatively young, healthy individuals. For most of us, that means it’s not a huge risk personally.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously, though. Not a huge risk doesn’t mean no risk. More importantly, we have a responsibility to the people around us. The more we can do to prevent or at least slow the spread of this virus, the better off the people around us are, from our own families to our communities at large.

So what should we do to slow the spread? Mostly, this means doing what everyone is being told to do. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Stay away from large gatherings. Try not to touch your face or at least reduce the amount of times you touch your face. All the things you’ve been getting told to do over and over.

What about runner specific things? Well, it greatly depends on your circumstances.

Do you use a fitness center? If so and especially if it’s a busy one, you might want to consider whether you can get a similar workout at home. At the very least, be very conscious to wipe down your equipment well after you use it. You also may want to consider wiping it down before you use it in case the last person to use it didn’t wipe it down well.

Do you run outdoors? Well, there’s some good news there. If you’re like me and run in relatively light trafficked places, you’re probably already practicing social distancing, another catch phrase you’ve probably been hearing a lot of recently. Also, I was watching something over the weekend where a medical expert encouraged people to get outside. Fresh air and sunshine are good for body and soul.

If you’re running through a heavily trafficked place, you might want to consider what other options are available. While you’re less likely to catch or spread something in the outdoors than in an indoor atmosphere, if you’re in close contact with many people, you’re not off the hook.

Obviously, if you’re in a “hot spot” and public officials are telling you to self quarantine or stay in your own home as much as possible, then you might need to consider what you can do in your own home. If you have a treadmill, great. If not, get creative to do what you can. Body weight strength training is better than nothing. I’ve heard from one person who is walking laps through the house to at least do something. Remember, something is better than nothing.

Finally, indoors or out, keep in mind the intensity of your training. Some exercise actually strengthens the immune system, another good reason to keep doing some training. However, pushing yourself hard can weaken the immune system and make you more open to infection. Consider backing off the hard days and make them more moderate if you want to minimize your risk of catching and spreading this virus.

The bottom line is we all need to be willing to have some flexibility during this challenging time. Be willing to let the plan go if circumstances force your hand. Your safety and the safety of the people around you are worth missing a few runs or backing off the hard days a bit.

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What makes a good workout? https://www.hillrunner.com/what-makes-a-good-workout/ https://www.hillrunner.com/what-makes-a-good-workout/#respond Thu, 12 Mar 2020 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68090 Continue reading "What makes a good workout?"

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Last week, I wrote about what makes a good training plan. In it, I said it’s a plan that allows you to accumulate consistently good runs and workouts.

So what’s a good workout?

The biggest mistake I see people make when talking about good workouts is focusing on two numbers: reps and splits. 10×400 at 75 seconds is better than 10×400 at 80 seconds. 4×1 mile at 6:00 is better than 3×1 mile at 6:00.

There’s more than that, though, even if you don’t account for the possibility that 75 seconds per 400 or 4 miles might be overreaching, making the workout unsustainable.

What were your recovery times? What kind of weather were you facing? What has your training the past few days looked like? What do you have going on outside of running? How did you feel?

All of these things matter when it comes to determining what a good workout looks like.

Sometimes more repeats or faster times does not always mean the workout was better. If the weather was worse, slower may be a good thing. If you were intentionally running your recoveries faster to get a different stimulus, your repeats may have necessarily been slower. If your overall training load has recently been higher, you may be more fatigued and fewer repeats may be necessary.

One thing I think a lot of people overlook is how they feel. Sometimes it’s a real accomplishment to run a workout at the same pace as you have a few weeks ago but be able to do it while feeling better. Especially if a goal race is nearing, this allows you to express and feel your fitness gains without pushing harder than necessary.

Finally, remember what I mentioned last week about sustainability. If your workout is not sustainable, your training plan will not be sustainable. Don’t over extend yourself on any individual workout. Keep things controlled. I often like to use the idea that you should always feel like you would be able to do “one more” if you absolutely had to.

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What makes a good training plan? https://www.hillrunner.com/what-makes-a-good-training-plan/ https://www.hillrunner.com/what-makes-a-good-training-plan/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68120 Continue reading "What makes a good training plan?"

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What does a good training plan look like?

What a loaded question, right? It could look like so many things.

Well, don’t expect a detailed explanation below because the truth is that what makes a good training plan lies in the big picture, not the details.

So what is the key to a good training plan? It’s a plan that allows you to accumulate consistently good runs and workouts for weeks and even months on end.

Not every run or even workout has to be great. Not every one will even be good. But there should be more good than bad.

More specifically, what does this mean? It means you build sustainability into the plan. You very rarely, if ever, plan to go 100% because you can’t do that often without breaking down. You build rest and recovery into the plan because those are both when you actually improve and critical in ensuring that you can keep going for long periods of time.

Beyond that, the details are specific to the individual but they do matter to an extent. If you are a speedster, you will probably find a lot of grinding long runs and tempo workouts to wear you down so you should consider more shorter, intense work with just enough long runs and tempo workouts to cover your bases. Likewise, if you’re a grinder who loves long runs and tempo workouts, you’ll probably break down if you do too much high intensity. So include a generous portion of long runs and tempo workouts and use the more stressful high intensity workouts more sparingly.

As I often tell the runners I coach, you won’t see much improvement in a few weeks or in a month or two but, when you look back 6 months or a year from now, you will be surprised by how far you’ve come. That, to me, is the measure of a good training plan and that is what a sustainable level of training will do for you.

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Don’t get too caught up in tech https://www.hillrunner.com/dont-get-too-caught-up-in-tech/ https://www.hillrunner.com/dont-get-too-caught-up-in-tech/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68138 Continue reading "Don’t get too caught up in tech"

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I’ve written about not getting too caught up in tech while running. Listen to your body while running and use the tracking for after the fact analysis.

But what about other parts of your life? What about sleep?

In short, much like your running, don’t let the tech get in the way of getting the job done.

What’s the best evidence based strength routine? Instead of worrying about what’s best, we’re better off just worrying about what we will consistently do.

Speaking of sleep: High-intensity exercise in the evening does not disrupt sleep in endurance runners.

Could a keto diet be bad for your bones? It’s hard to put too much stock in one study but, if you are concerned about your bone health, this might rightfully give you reason for a bit of hesitation.

The skeptic’s take on altitude training. Note: This isn’t meant to be a balanced debate. It’s meant to present the side of the debate that is often not even considered. We usually don’t even consider it to be a debate so it’s interesting to at least read about and consider the other side.

I’ve discussed the pendulum swing of shoes in the past. While I surely didn’t predict the carbon fiber supplemented super cushioned racing shoes we are all now familiar with, they are a part of that pendulum swing and don’t be surprised if the pendulum does swing back at least some at some point.

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How you approach running is how you approach your life https://www.hillrunner.com/how-you-approach-running-is-how-you-approach-your-life/ https://www.hillrunner.com/how-you-approach-running-is-how-you-approach-your-life/#respond Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68117 Continue reading "How you approach running is how you approach your life"

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Are you late to group runs? Do you miss training runs or workouts regularly?

Are you late to meetings at work? Do you miss appointments?

If you answered yes to the first pair of questions, you probably answered yes to the second pair.

If you’re late to training group runs, you’re probably also running late to meetings and appointments in other areas in your life. If you follow through with your training, you probably follow through with commitments you make outside of running.

In short, what you do in running is both a reflection of and a tone setter for the rest of your life.

If you want to be the person who is on time or early for meetings and appointments and follows through on tasks in the rest of your life, consider your running an opportunity to practice. Show up on time for group runs. Make a point to get in your planned runs.

You don’t need to be perfect. Remember last week, nobody is perfect. However, barring injury or dangerous circumstances, the more consistent you are, the better. Practicing this in your running will give you the skill to do it in all parts of your life.

Note: I first thought of this as a topic when I heard it on a podcast for coaches. I flipped what they stated, which was that how a person approaches their life tells you how they will approach running. If they are late for recruiting visits or miss calls, expect them to be late for practices or miss team meetings. The point for coaches was recruit those who don’t miss calls and arrive late for visits because those are the people who will be late for practice and not meet their commitments to their teammates. The same applies in reverse, though, and I think is a better way for runners to think about how they can work on self improvement through running.

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Nobody is perfect https://www.hillrunner.com/nobody-is-perfect/ https://www.hillrunner.com/nobody-is-perfect/#respond Thu, 13 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68111 Continue reading "Nobody is perfect"

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It’s hard to believe but even this guy isn’t perfect

If something goes wrong in your training plan, what do you do? Do you panic or do you roll with it?

How about if something goes wrong in a race?

We all make mistakes. We all have bad things happen sometimes. What matters is not whether or not these things happen because they will. What matters is how you handle these moments.

I’ve seen runners panic the moment they make any small mistake or anything goes wrong. The wheels fall off as soon as one bad thing happens and that one thing turns into a downward spiral. I’ve even been one of those runners at times.

Instead of panicking, accept that you’re not perfect. Nobody is perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. What separates the champions who overcome mistakes or bad circumstances from those who experience the downward spiral is how they handle those mistakes or bad circumstances. They don’t panic. They adjust to the new reality and find the best way forward.

Some people think how you handle these situations is an innate trait. I disagree. It’s a learned skill. You can learn to overcome these things. You can learn to roll with the punches and adjust the plan when something goes wrong.

The first step is to recognize that you’re heading down the path. Recognize that you made a mistake and are now feeling the panic. Take a deep breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes. Then, instead of thinking about how this is the end of the world, take a few moments to think about where you can go from here. Missed a long run or workout? Can you do it tomorrow or the next day without compromising your next big day? If not, was it really that important? What will happen if you skip it? Probably not much because it’s just a small part of a much bigger training plan.

Once you’ve come up with the best path forward, you have a new plan to follow and you can execute it to the best of your ability, adjusting again as circumstances require.

So, if you’re one who tends to head toward that downward spiral as soon as something bad happens, next time try something different. Accept that you’re human and you are allowed to make mistakes or have bad things happen to you. Then find the best path forward from the point you are at.

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How do you view your races? https://www.hillrunner.com/how-do-you-view-your-races/ https://www.hillrunner.com/how-do-you-view-your-races/#respond Thu, 06 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68126 Continue reading "How do you view your races?"

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When you line up for a race, what’s going through your mind?

Are you looking at it as a challenge? An opportunity to see how well you can perform?

Or do you see it as a threat, fearing failure?

For both psychological and physiological reasons, you are far better off thinking of it as a challenge and an opportunity.

Psychologically, when you view your race as a challenge, you are more calm and relaxed. When things are going right, you can reach a flow state where you perform at a higher level. If things go wrong, you can think clearly and calmly through the problem and come up with a strategy to overcome the challenges.

If you view your race as a threat and fear failure, you are more stressed. When things go right, you’re spending energy concerned about what could go wrong instead of thinking about what you can do to continue having things go right. If things go wrong, you’re more likely to panic and make bad decisions.

Physiologically, when you are gearing up for a challenge and thinking of it as an opportunity, you have a challenge response. Your cardiac output increases and your peripheral resistance decreases, meaning that you allow more blood flow to your limbs. Levels of beneficial hormones increase and stress hormones decrease.

When you are feeling a threat, stress responses takes over. Your peripheral resistance increases, lessening blood flow to the limbs. Your blood pressure increases. Your stress hormones spike and beneficial hormones drop.

So, if you go into races fearing failure and not looking at them as opportunities, try working on changing your mentality toward racing. Make a conscious effort to flip the script. It will help you run better on race day.

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Can AI predict injury risk? Can professionals? https://www.hillrunner.com/can-ai-predict-injury-risk-can-professionals/ https://www.hillrunner.com/can-ai-predict-injury-risk-can-professionals/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68045 Continue reading "Can AI predict injury risk? Can professionals?"

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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?

What if we ask computers?

AI can categorize form but can’t predict injuries based on form. It does a great job of correctly placing runners into categories based on their form. However, it can’t predict injury risk based on form.

What if we ask the experts?

Experienced coaches and sports medicine professionals also can’t predict injuries based on a popular injury risk assessment. Using a test that is commonly used for predicting injury risk, even the experts can’t predict injury risk.

What does all of this mean? It means all of our bodies have different ways of moving, also sometimes called our movement signature. This is how someone who knows you well can spot you based on your running form before you’re close enough for them to know who you are by seeing your face.

There are exceptions but, generally speaking, your body finds the best way for it to move and, without major efforts involving far more than thinking about moving differently, your injury risk will actually go up if you try to change your form.

Other things I’ve been reading recently:

Higher VO2max isn’t always better. With higher VO2max comes lower efficiency. Just a reminder that running fitness is very complex and multi-faceted. A comprehensive training plan is necessary to be your best.

Study: Don’t use ice baths for recovery. We’ve seen studies like this before. Here’s another one.

Could marathoning be good for your knees? We’ve also seen studies like this before. When will people accept that running is generally good, not bad, for your knees?

Saunas have benefits but those benefits aren’t free. There are definitely benefits, especially for anyone training in a cold climate for a warm weather race. However, they do add stress to the body and that stress does need to be accounted for in your training plan.

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Winter running gear https://www.hillrunner.com/winter-running-gear/ https://www.hillrunner.com/winter-running-gear/#respond Thu, 23 Jan 2020 16:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=68071 Continue reading "Winter running gear"

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Probably because I share so openly the kinds of winter weather I’ve run in (pretty much anything you can think of) I’m often asked what people should wear in given conditions.

I always struggle with these questions. Not because I’m trying to hold back top secret information but because I truly don’t know. Different people need different gear in different conditions.

If I tell you that I go from shorts to lightweight pants in the high 30s and from lightweight pants to thermal pants in the low 20s, that doesn’t tell you what you need. It tells you what works for me, which may be very different than what works for you. I’ve lived nearly my whole life in Wisconsin, I’m well acclimated to the cold. If you’ve lived your entire life in Florida, you will almost surely need to wear more than me even if we’re running together.

You can see this in Wisconsin very plainly when the temperatures are in the 30s and 40s. Some people will pull out the pants at 50 degrees, others keep wearing shorts until the temperatures are well into the 30s. It’s quite possible that people at both ends of the spectrum are doing exactly the right thing, dressing as their bodies demand.

When dressing for any weather, don’t worry as much about what someone else is wearing. Figure out what you need for yourself. This may require some trial and error. It may get a little unpleasant when you occasionally overdress or underdress. However, you will pretty quickly learn from these errors and find what is just right for you.

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