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?

Well, the results were interesting enough that both Alex Hutchinson and Richard Lovett wrote about them.

The results are limited because only 8 runners took part in the follow up. However, the limited results do look promising. After a complete elimination of strength training for 4 weeks, 3K performances actually improved slightly. This suggests that it’s possible that even going to zero strength training for as long as 4 weeks might actually even improve your running performances.

Obviously, it would be nice to see some follow up research but this is a promising result for those of us who just intuitively feel the need to at least taper the strength training just as we taper our running before big races.

Protein before bed

Do you eat anything right before going to bed? A lot of people think that’s a bad idea. Personally, until earlier this week, I never did just because I didn’t feel the need.

However, after reading this earlier this week, I’m giving something new a try. I’m trying to get in some protein as shortly before bed as reasonable. In short, it suggests a high protein snack before bed will aid in muscle growth and recovery, which should help your performance. There are also suggestions of other benefits but that’s what jumped out to me as a competitive runner.

Stretching before a workout?

Yes, the topic is back. Should you stretch before a workout? Here’s a pretty comprehensive review of quite a bit of literature currently out there on the topic.

The takeaway? Dynamic stretching appears to be good. Static stretching less so, performance wise. However, a significant reduction in muscle injuries was reported with static stretching so doing some as a part of a more comprehensive warmup makes sense. As part of a more comprehensive warmup, potential negative side effects performance wise seem to be mitigated and a 54% decrease in injury risk sounds like a compelling reason to do some stretching.

In general, though, I’ll stick with my usual advice. Do what feels best to you. Personally, I’ll stick with what I’ve been doing. If I have a chance for what was described as a comprehensive warmup, I’ll include at least a quick static stretching routine. Regardless, I’ll do some dynamic stretching (leg swings at a minimum) before all of my runs.

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