HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com The site for everyone who loves running. Wed, 14 Aug 2019 23:48:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://www.hillrunner.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/hr-icon-100x100.png HillRunner.com https://www.hillrunner.com 32 32 Don’t be afraid of failure https://www.hillrunner.com/dont-be-afraid-of-failure/ https://www.hillrunner.com/dont-be-afraid-of-failure/#respond Thu, 15 Aug 2019 15:00:54 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64497 Continue reading "Don’t be afraid of failure"

This COULD happen, if you’re willing to take some risks

You’re at mile 5 of a 10K. You’re close to PR pace but a little short. You could go for it and try to get the PR but you’re not sure if you can maintain the effort needed.

What do you do?

I hope you go for it.

What’s the worst that can happen if you can’t maintain the PR pace? You might struggle in the last half mile. You might lose some time or a few places but the PR isn’t going to happen if you play it safe anyway.

When you talk with your friends at the finish line, they won’t suddenly hate you. They will probably be proud of you for taking the chance. Bottom line, they will still be your friends.

When you get home, your family will still love you. Taking a risk and not having it pay off won’t change that.

It would be disappointing but you will still have supportive friends and a loving family. You will be disappointed but you will move on.

If you do succeed, though, your friends and family will be there to celebrate that great accomplishment.

So take the chance. The down side is not as significant as it may seem in the heat of the moment.

https://www.hillrunner.com/dont-be-afraid-of-failure/feed/ 0
“See God” workouts and why I (mostly) don’t like them https://www.hillrunner.com/see-god-workouts-and-why-i-mostly-dont-like-them/ https://www.hillrunner.com/see-god-workouts-and-why-i-mostly-dont-like-them/#respond Thu, 01 Aug 2019 15:00:57 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64371 Continue reading "“See God” workouts and why I (mostly) don’t like them"

I was recently asked why the workouts I assign are so easy. While most runners who have been with me for some time know that not all workouts I assign are easy, there’s a very important reason why I prefer workouts to be easier than some others do.

If you follow social media workouts or Flotrack Workout Wednesdays or other such things, you will see plenty of what in college my teammates and I called “see God” or “run ’til you puke” workouts. Many people get the idea from these sources that the best runners are always doing these workouts. The truth is that they aren’t. These workouts make social media and Workouts Wednesdays for two primary purposes.

First, they are more “impressive” (for lack of a better word). They look tough, they look like you’re working very hard. They look “better” for the fans.

Second, they are used to intimidate the competition. Especially the Workout Wednesday workouts you see collegiate teams doing, teams use these to get inside the heads of their competitors. If they can do a blowout workout that has the competition thinking “I couldn’t do that” then maybe the competitors will have that workout in the back of their minds next time they meet.

Neither of these are a good idea of how you should be training or a fully accurate representation of what these teams even do throughout an entire season.

Sure, there are places for these workouts, especially for elite and collegiate athletes. However, they should be used very sparingly. Even elite and collegiate athletes are doing far more sustainable workouts (for their levels of fitness) most of the time.

As for us, under very rare circumstances, we should do a workout or two like these. Far more often, though, we’re better off finishing our workouts strong and feeling like we could handle more. Nudge your fitness up but remember one of the most important rules of long term development: consistency, consistency, consistency. Don’t bury yourself with your workouts. Make sure you can keep things going next week, next month, next season, next year. That’s how you get the biggest improvements over the long term.

Note: This is one of the weekly posts I shared with Club HillRunner.com members earlier this year. If you like it and would like to see more posts like this, you can see at least one per week for just $12/year (that’s less than 25¢ per post, not to mention the other benefits) by signing up here.

https://www.hillrunner.com/see-god-workouts-and-why-i-mostly-dont-like-them/feed/ 0
Looking for a shortcut? https://www.hillrunner.com/looking-for-a-shortcut/ https://www.hillrunner.com/looking-for-a-shortcut/#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/2016/06/16/looking-for-a-shortcut/ You picked the wrong sport.


https://www.hillrunner.com/looking-for-a-shortcut/feed/ 0
What to do after a breakthrough? https://www.hillrunner.com/what-to-do-after-a-breakthrough/ https://www.hillrunner.com/what-to-do-after-a-breakthrough/#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 15:00:14 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64146 Continue reading "What to do after a breakthrough?"

Because there was no last Thursday of the month blog post last month, there will be none this month, and I’m incredibly busy at the moment, I’m going to slip a recap in here. There’s a lot I’ve been reading. Here’s some of it.

One note: I mentioned I’m going to slip more than just sports science links into these posts going forward. I’m going to feature something that is not sports science this month.

Some time ago, Steve Magness and Jon Marcus had Alan Webb on their podcast and they talked about a workout he did: 20×400, starting at 61 seconds and working his way down to 50.1 seconds. Yes, 50.1 seconds. On the 20th 400 of a workout.

Needless to say, that is a HUGE workout. Even for an elite athlete, that is a pretty crazy workout. So how do you follow up that workout? If you’re thinking you’re insanely fit, strike while the iron is hot, you’d not be doing what Webb did.

Webb took the next day off.

Smart move.

After hearing that podcast, I noted the topic as something I wanted to blog about at some point. Magness beat me to the punch.

This is a tough one for many people, myself included. It’s just natural to want “one more”. However, you got there through a lot of hard work. How do you know “one more” doesn’t become the one that’s too much?

If you’ve had a breakthrough, your body is on the edge. It’s doing things it’s never done before. Keep pushing it and you could push it over the edge.

This doesn’t mean you pack it in, just jog and giggle for the next month. However, it does mean you prioritize your recovery and make sure you’re ready for what’s to come. You don’t push for more, more, more. If you do, you’ll find out at some point that more isn’t always better.


Could Jell-O aid injury recovery? For certain types of injuries, maybe.

I thought this was a bit of overstated marketing until I read it, extremely comprehensive: The definitive guide to what we do and do not know about caffeine and performance

What’s new in hydration research? Alex Hutchinson fills you in.

What’s new in sports recovery research? Alex Hutchinson also has the scoop on that.

How many hours of sleep do you really need? You may think you are fine when you are not.

You may have seen the new study making the circles about a gut bacteria that appears to make you faster. Alex Hutchinson has some interesting insights. I’m now more skeptical, especially after this:

Three of the paper’s authors have indeed started or hold equity in a company called FitBiomics. According to the company’s website, they are “sequencing the microbiome of elite athletes to identify and isolate novel probiotic bacteria for applications in performance and recovery… [and] purifying these novel probiotics and commercializing as ingredients to disrupt consumer health and nutrition and cater to the next generation athlete.”

Back in 2017, discussing the company’s impending launch, the first author of the new paper, Jonathan Scheiman, said: “I would like to think that a year after we launch, we could have a novel probiotic on the market.” And to be honest, that goal-focused approach makes me read the results with a bit more skepticism. It doesn’t automatically mean the results are wrong. But they didn’t happen to stumble on a neat microbe with potential performance-boosting effects; they were looking for one. And the problem with that kind of science is that you often find what you’re looking for, even if it’s not really there.

https://www.hillrunner.com/what-to-do-after-a-breakthrough/feed/ 0
What are you running for? https://www.hillrunner.com/what-are-you-running-for/ https://www.hillrunner.com/what-are-you-running-for/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2019 15:00:57 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64219 Continue reading "What are you running for?"

Figure out what you’re running for, then plan your running around that

No, this isn’t a “Why do you run?” post. I know as well as you how difficult it is to answer that question. What I would like to ask is how you prioritize your running goals.

Why do I want to ask this question? Because I got myself in trouble recently when I tried to have it all. I hurt myself simply because I was unwilling to give in on anything.

Maybe I should explain this a little more. As is true for many runners, especially those of us who have been running for many years, running has become many things for me. It’s a competitive pursuit but it’s much more than that. It’s my daily dose of sanity. It’s a pursuit of good health. It’s many other things that are hard to put into words.

This got me in trouble because some of those priorities, if not kept in balance, can conflict with each other, especially as we get older.

Being a competitive pursuit, I want to push myself very hard in workouts at times. When I push myself very hard in workouts, because I’m in my 40s and my body doesn’t recover quite like it used to, I need to really back off or even *shudder* take a day off sometimes.

But running is my daily sanity. If I take a day off, how do I get that dose of sanity?

My answer was trying to have it all. I’ll do the hard workouts that help me fulfill my competitive pursuits but I’ll keep running every day to get my daily dose of sanity.

That didn’t go so well. I ended up straining/pulling a muscle in my hip, causing some pain in the hip and down into the hamstring.

I simply tried to do too much because I was trying to have it all. I wasn’t willing to make the decision on what I was running for, what was more important.

This is the decision we put off at our own peril, as I proved. When your different reasons for running conflict with each other, you need to figure out the balance that fits your priorities. It’s not a simple on/off switch. I could choose to take a little off my workouts but also take a very occasional day off. Or I go all in on one side or the other: keep the workouts and take regular days off or back off significantly on the workouts so I don’t need even occasional days off.

What doesn’t work is what I was doing. You have to make a decision.

I’m still in search of what that balance will be for me. I know I still want to compete so the workouts won’t dwindle to nothing. However, I also know that I need my daily sanity.

This is something I need to figure out to find my proper balance.

These are also things you should be thinking about to find your proper balance. Don’t make the mistake I did or you’ll eventually find yourself heading down a path I can tell you is not very fun.

https://www.hillrunner.com/what-are-you-running-for/feed/ 2
Ask me anything https://www.hillrunner.com/ask-me-anything-2019-06/ https://www.hillrunner.com/ask-me-anything-2019-06/#comments Thu, 06 Jun 2019 15:00:53 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64143 Continue reading "Ask me anything"


It’s once again that time. As I always mention, this is one of my favorite things to do every year. It’s your opportunity to ask me anything you would like.

Almost nothing is off limits. Feel free to ask me about training, racing, my thoughts on the news in and around the sport, what’s going on at HillRunner.com. This is my invitation to you to ask whatever you would like.

As usual, you can reach out to me however you feel most comfortable. If you want to ask something publicly, you can do so in the comments, on Facebook, you can tweet at HillRunner.com or my personal account. If you want to ask in a more private setting, you can use the contact form or, if you are friends with me on Facebook or know my email, you can reach me through those methods.

As has become tradition, I’d like to ask you something also. I truly hope to get some feedback because I want to make sure I’m creating the best experience possible for you.

With HillRunner.com recently turning 20 years old, it’s been around the block a few times. In doing so, it’s picked up a lot of great people but also quite a few spammers. I’ve been working hard to clean up spam attempts and keep the spammers at bay but wanted to know if this is affecting you.

Have you encountered any issues using HillRunner.com? I’ve put some pretty aggressive tools in place. From what I can see, they haven’t been blocking anyone other than spammers but I want to make sure that’s the case. If you have been running into any issues, please let me know so I can resolve any issues. If I don’t hear from anyone and don’t see any signs of problems, I’m going to assume only spammers are being blocked and that’s not something I want to do if anyone who is legitimate is also being blocked.

https://www.hillrunner.com/ask-me-anything-2019-06/feed/ 5
Forget about RICE/PRICE, focus on PEACE & LOVE https://www.hillrunner.com/forget-about-rice-price-focus-on-peace-love/ https://www.hillrunner.com/forget-about-rice-price-focus-on-peace-love/#respond Thu, 30 May 2019 15:00:17 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64140 Continue reading "Forget about RICE/PRICE, focus on PEACE & LOVE"

Two notes before getting started with this month’s posts:

1) I’m trying something a little different. I’m going to pick one topic to write about here, then offer more links with a quick intro to each after that. I’d love to hear what you think of this format.

2) Unrelated to this post, just a note about the summer blogging. I’m taking my own advice and keeping my priorities in order. I want to spend a lot of time with my family and, when you live in Wisconsin, you learn quickly to take advantage of the summer. So I’m going to go to an every other week schedule over the summer. Next week, I’ll post the usual ask me anything. Then I’ll take the following week off from blogging and so on through August. I’m not sure what that will mean for these monthly recaps but I’m sure there will be at least one over the next few months.

Ok, now on to this month’s topics.

We’ve all heard of RICE, right? Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation for injuries. Throw in protection and you have another well known acronym, PRICE.

Are RICE and PRICE the best ways to deal with injuries?

Maybe not. Maybe we should be focusing on PEACE & LOVE.

This method of injury rehab may be a little more complex but that’s because it’s more comprehensive. It also takes our latest knowledge of returning from injury, such as the fact that light activity actually works better than complete rest for recovery, and applies it to the method.

So, what does PEACE & LOVE stand for?

Avoid anti-inflammatories



If you’re intersted in what each of these terms mean, be sure to click the link above.


We’ve long been told that evening workouts negatively affect our sleep. What if that’s not true for moderate intensity workouts completed at least 90 minutes before bedtime?

Overtraining is tough to overcome. It’s expensive but there may be a “cure” for it.

Debates over stretching never end. The latest thing to be studied? Long or short rests between stretches. The answer seems to be that shorter works better.

What is debated more than stretching? Weight gain/loss. A new study suggests weight gain isn’t driven by the usually mentioned culprits but more generally by highly processed foods.

Running is good for you, we all know that. Here’s another reason: being physically fit reduces your cancer risk.

Yet another hotly debated topic: what is the best foot strike? The answer: it doesn’t really matter that much.

https://www.hillrunner.com/forget-about-rice-price-focus-on-peace-love/feed/ 0
Summer running https://www.hillrunner.com/summer-running/ https://www.hillrunner.com/summer-running/#respond Thu, 23 May 2019 15:00:00 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/2017/05/18/summer-running/ Continue reading "Summer running"


Summer is here! Or so we hope here in Wisconsin. It’s time for vacations, beach time, camping, and all kinds of outdoor fun!

It’s also time for the summer racing season, big workouts to prepare for those races while working through the heat and humidity, and all the other running considerations.

We all think of winter as the challenging and dangerous season for runners but there are challenges and safety considerations we need to keep in mind during the summer also. As well as the adjustments that we need to make not for our safety but to ensure we’re getting the most out of our summer time training.

Note: Some of what I say below may sound like medical advice. It is NOT meant as such. I am not a medical professional. I am just stating common suggestions for dealing with issues you might face while running in the summer. If you have any health related questions or concerns about your health, please seek the advice of a medical professional.

Pace: slow down

For most runners, ideal running weather is somewhere around 50-60 degrees (about 10-15 Celsius) with low humidity. When it gets cooler, you don’t slow down drastically but you do have to dress for it. When it gets warmer and/or more humid, there’s only so much you can do to dress for it. After that, the heat and humidity stress your body and you must slow down or pay the consequences.

Especially as the temperatures climb through the 70s and 80s (about the 20s Celsius), the stress on your body increases rapidly and you need to slow down or you will push your body too far.

What can we do about this? Slow down. Unfortunately, there’s not much else there is to do. I always remind myself that my paces will slow in the summer but they will come back strong in September and October as the temperatures get closer to ideal again.

If you’re racing in the summer, that’s fine but understand that it might be better to compete against other runners than against the clock. Even then, understand that some people are less affected by the heat than others. There are things you can do to mitigate the effects (hydrate, train in the heat to adapt to it, etc.) but there is only so much you can do. Don’t get upset about things out of your control. Believe in yourself and the process and know that things will get better as the weather cools.


Hydration should always be a focus for runners. Most people walk around in at least a mild state of dehydration all the time. Runners are more susceptible because we are out there sweating. Add in higher sweat rates due to the heat and we’re even more susceptible.

The best form of hydration most of the time is water. You don’t generally need sports drinks or other “hydration” drinks. Water will work just fine.

The one exception might be on long runs. Unless you’re doing an extreme long run, you don’t necessarily need calories as you should have enough fuel in your body before the start of a long run to fuel the run. However, you’ll be sweating out a lot of electrolytes, primarily sodium – salt, and it can be a little risky to replace just water without also replacing those electrolytes.

Note on hydration

Don’t go overboard! Current recommendations are to drink to thirst. As you may have noticed over the past several years, there have been some cases of hyponatremia going around the running community.

Some people think of hyponatremia as an over hydration issue and it largely is. Most people who have suffered it simply took in far more fluids than they needed. However, the actual health concern is an imbalance of nutrients.

There is some evidence that taking sports drink or electrolyte tablets will reduce the risk of hyponatremia by keeping nutrient balance better in check. However, the most proven effective way to reduce the risk is to drink to thirst.


Overheating is a real concern, especially on our hard days, whether races, long runs, or workouts.

The best ways to minimize the risk of overheating are to slow down and run in the early morning or late evening.

Pay attention to how you respond to the weather and what conditions hit you the hardest. Early morning is cooler than late evening but it’s also more humid. If you suffer in the humidity but do fine in dry heat, evening running may work better for you. If you can handle the humidity but not the heat, morning runs might help you out.

If you do start feeling overheated, find a shady spot, get some cool fluids if you can, and rest. If you stop sweating on a hot day, this is a sign of a serious problem and you should do all you can to cool down as quickly as possible.

Sun exposure

Finally, be aware of the amount of sun exposure you’re getting. Vitamin D is great but we don’t need much sun to cover our bases there. Skin cancer is not great. Again, running in early mornings and late evenings is the best way to reduce your sun exposure. If you do need to run in the middle of the day, get a good sweat resistant sunscreen and look for shade if possible.

Running in the summer is great! I wouldn’t give it up for anything, other than maybe a crisp October day. I hope you enjoy your runs this summer. As you do, also make sure you get the most out of your runs while staying safe. Keep cool and have a great summer!

Photo credit: _MG_7936.jpg by Gord Laqua, on Flickr

https://www.hillrunner.com/summer-running/feed/ 0
Before doing more, do it better https://www.hillrunner.com/before-doing-more-do-it-better/ https://www.hillrunner.com/before-doing-more-do-it-better/#respond Thu, 16 May 2019 15:00:29 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64101 Continue reading "Before doing more, do it better"

Before you worry about doing more, make sure you're first doing it well
Before you worry about doing more, make sure you’re first doing it well

When you’re looking to improve, where should you go first?

Given my training history, which I’ve shared very publicly over the years, you might think I’d say do more.

If you did, though, you’d be wrong. I did more, a lot more at times, but not until I focused on doing things “better”.

Why does this matter? Because, if you do more of the wrong thing, that’s not going to make you better. In fact, it brings a high chance of breaking you down, resulting in injuries.

Before doing more, think first about how you can do things better. Are you covering your bases, doing all the types of workouts necessary to be your best? Are you doing the auxiliary work necessary to run strong and with good form?

Of course we all need a base to do these things but, once you establish an adequate base, focus on the all around training. Once you have well rounded training, then you can increase your volume safely and with better results.

https://www.hillrunner.com/before-doing-more-do-it-better/feed/ 0
The clean slate phenomenon https://www.hillrunner.com/the-clean-slate-phenomenon/ https://www.hillrunner.com/the-clean-slate-phenomenon/#respond Thu, 09 May 2019 15:00:21 +0000 https://www.hillrunner.com/?p=64066 Continue reading "The clean slate phenomenon"

If you’re doing anything new, you will improve rapidly at first

Do you remember when you first started running? You could do no wrong. You got better no matter what you did, even if you know now that it wasn’t very sound training.

Now, if you’re an experienced runner, every bit of improvement takes a monumental effort.

This, in a nutshell, is the clean slate phenomenon. When you’re first starting something new, almost no matter what it is, you improve by leaps and bounds. As time goes on, improvements become more difficult to come by.

This is why new runners improve so rapidly but more experienced runners require much more work to get even close to the same improvement.

To take this phenomenon a step further, think back to the last time you excluded speed work from your running for a while. Remember what happened when you added it back in? Yes, the first workout was brutal. Then you improved rapidly for a month or two before leveling off.

You were practicing a “new” skill that you hadn’t practiced in a while and were, once again, experiencing the clean slate phenomenon.

Why does this matter? For two reasons:

First, if your training is lacking something, don’t get too worried. Add it back in and, within a month or two, you’ll gain some major ground.

Second, there are times when we need to keep this in mind. If you add something into your training and see rapid improvements, that’s wonderful but don’t expect to keep improving rapidly for the long term. What works for the short term may not be the best option for long term development.

So be sure to take advantage of the clean slate phenomenon. As a goal race nears, use that last 2 months, give or take, to add in something that has been lacking in your training. However, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that, just because adding some element to your training created big initial gains, this means keeping it around will bring continued rapid improvements. It’s not always that simple.

https://www.hillrunner.com/the-clean-slate-phenomenon/feed/ 0