All Posts by Kyle

Key Workout: Specific Endurance

This may be the most scenic road race in South Dakota, start to finish there is a great view!

This may be the most scenic road race in South Dakota, start to finish there is a great view!

The Workout: 20km @ 90% goal half marathon pace (gp= 6:06 / 3:47)

The Result: 21.1km @ 6:27 / 4:00 pace (downhill), 6:38 grade adjusted pace

Desi, a couple friends, and myself went camping near Spearfish on Saturday. I took advantage of us being near the Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon course to run this route instead of on the bike path.

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I started the morning with a bagel and some coffee. After we left the campsite Desi dropped me off at the start of the race course. Immediately before starting I had some water and 200 calories of the First Endurance Liquid Shot, then I began the workout.

The goal of this workout, on August 31st 2014, was to enhance my Specific Endurance.

Increase ability to resist fatigue at goal race pace through progressively increasing both time and distance at goal pace as the race approaches.

This was basically the culmination of a progression from shorter distances at 90% goal pace to 21.1km at 90% goal pace. The next step is to taper for a few weeks, peak for the race, and hit 21.1km @ 100% goal pace, which is a hopefully a sub 1:20 half marathon.

Below you will see the slight 1.88% downhill grade of the course. I ran a 6:27 pace. 90% of GP would have been 6:45, and Strava puts the Grade Adjusted Pace at 6:38 on flat terrain, so a bit ahead of goal for this run.

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Stability Shoe Pseudoscience

My friend Rick at EngagingMuscles.com made a comment at a blog recently, and I wanted to post it here for you to read and consider.

The original post:

With less than two months to go until the half marathon (eek!) I thought it was about time I invested in some proper running trainers. My Nike IDs have been amazing – they started my running journey, are great trainers for the gym and have been the first ever pair of workout trainers that I have actually worked out in. Pretty impressive. But as I have been notching up the miles I have noticed more rubbing on the insides of my feet and a few blisters starting to form. I thought it was about time I headed to a running store to see what the experts advised. I had a gait test to establish what kind of runner I am. I ran on a treadmill in my Nike IDs for a few minutes whilst the store assistant filmed it. Afterwards we watched my running back and watched, in slow mo, how my feet hit the ground and how they left it. It was really interesting to see myself running and it taught me a lot. The assistant advised me that my running style was good and that my legs were straight when hitting the ground but as my feet left the ground they were turning in slightly, which can cause blisters and knee injuries. Apparently this is a common thing for runners.

Based on the gait test he gave me three pairs of running trainers to test. And it was a thorough test – I was even able to run outside in each pair to test them for comfort. The ones that appealed to me most were the Asics GT-2000. They were cushioned, gave great support and the inside arch has an extra support to stop your foot from turning in after it leaves the ground. In theory this should provide a much more comfortable run and limit damage to your knees. So I purchased them and have now been out three times in them, a few 5Ks and a 10K.

So far, so good. They are very comfortable and light-weight but they also feel strong, like they are really supporting your entire frame. The heel is cushioned so I feel like the impact is definitely getting reduced. My toes have started to hurt slightly – I’m not sure whether that’s because my feet are being forced into the right position and they are used to running in the wrong one! Only time will tell. But with only a few months to go until the race I better start increasing the miles…

Rick’s comment:

I just came across your blog for the first time. From what I’ve read it sounds like you take running and training seriously. Because of that, I figured I’d take a moment to let you know that making the jump from a Nike Free Run to a “stability” running shoe is going to decrease your *performance* and most likely lead to an injury over the long-haul.

To say the same thing in a slightly different way, although your new shoe is providing your entire chain with an artificial support, it’s also making your feet and the entire chain (much!) weaker on every step.

There are various factors that contribute to a walk-in running shoe store wanting to sell you a “stability” shoe. There are even times where the sales person makes a few dollars more. That being said, I don’t have anything to gain by convincing you that a running shoe with an orthotic built into it is the right thing for you. But I do have the knowledge to back up what I’m telling you here.

The bottom line is this: If you want to perform *optimally* and avoid an injury, don’t wear a “stability” shoe. Does that mean you won’t have an injury down the road? No. But at least you’ve taken a step in the right direction to avoid an injury.

For the most part, it sounds like your Nike Free wasn’t too short or narrow. (Side Bar: Nike running shoes fit a 1/2 size shorter than other brands) In most cases, blisters are due to these three factors: (1) Wearing a non-technical sock that’s primarily made from cotton and (2) wearing a shoe with a mid-sole cushioning system that’s broken down and (3) lastly, a sloppy fit.

An Injinji toe sock is always a good investment! They make a technical sock that will allow your toes to move throughout the toe box.

If you like the feel of of the cushioning in the ASIC’s 2000, they also make the Cumulus. That shoe is in the “neutral” category. It will provide you with close to the same amount of cushioning, and still allow you to perform better over the long-haul.

As far as what the running shoe specialist at the store told you about your foot mechanics: The front of your foot is supposed to roll in just prior to leaving the ground, e.g., propulsion. And if that’s not enough to reinforce my point, consider this: Running on a treadmill is nothing like moving across planet Earth.

I hope you find this to be helpful.

My own comment.

A few thoughts…

As Rick pointed out, your foot is absolutely supposed to turn inward and pronate before leaving the ground. That’s natural and necessary. My feet do it. Rick’s do it. The world record holder in the marathon’s feet does it.

With your running style, I find it interesting that people purchase shoes to make up for poor running form/lack of strength rather than simply try to strengthen their own body and improve technique. I believe Rich is correct when saying that a cushioned shoe will weaken the foot. You know what happens to a leg when placed in a cast…

To the original poster, my first thought when reading that you were getting blisters but also increasing your running pace and volume was that it’s possible with the increased volume you’re simply spending more time running when slightly fatigued. It’s common for that compromised running form to result in a bit more of a shuffle, which can increase the amount your foot moves around inside the shoe and causes blisters.

In my own experience as someone that was sold very cushioned and controlling shoes do “deal” with my “over-pronation”, I’ve been much happier and uninjured over the last 10,000+ miles in neutral, zero drop, and low profile footwear.

Key Workout: Hill Circuit

The Hill Circuit is a great workout for working on your running specific strength.

When you first do this routine, start with an easy few miles as a warm up and only do 1 rep of the above circuit, followed by a cooldown.

Every 2-3 weeks repeat the workout but add another set.This will make you stronger!

You can see below I did the four reps when the pace graph spikes four times.

 

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Wear Pattern & Stride

0 vs 1200 miles

0 vs 1200 miles

Wear pattern on shoes has long been held as a way to determine stride characteristics.

However the truth is that shoe wear pattern does little (or nothing) to actually tell you what your feet are actually doing, as they have a great deal of movement inside the shoe independent of the footwear.

Wear pattern also completely ignores how your feet are interacting with the ground in relation to your body positioning. This important factor may be more crucial than how your foot actually touches the ground.

Below is the initial post asking about Heel Wear Pattern, followed by my response and two others.

So my running shoes show a significant amount of wear on the outer heels of both shoes.

 I run in Brooks Ghost 6s which are Neutral.  It’s almost time for me to buy a new pair.  Does this wear pattern indicate anything that I’m doing wrong and/or should I be looking into getting a different type of shoe? -AStack75

—–

No indication of anything wrong. If they’re comfortable and you’re happy with them, feel free to purchase the same or a similar pair. I’d recommend getting that new pair and slowly transitioning from the old to the new pair. Start off with your shortest run in the new pair and every week you could add one more run in the new shoes until the old ones are phased out, or you can wear them both for as long as that other pair is good for.

Depending on how long you’ve had the shoes and how significant the wear is, it could possibly hint that you’re heal striking a bit heavily. It’s most important to try to not land with a straight and outstretched leg in front of your body, but land with a flexed knee closer to under your center of mass, perhaps with a slightly less pronounced dorsiflexion of the ankle. But again, that’s just a “maybe” without actually seeing you run. -kjkranz

—–

The above is good advice. 

Some people will tell you heel striking is bad. Don’t listen to them. What’s bad is landing with the knee extended and the foot out in front of you as kjkranz states. 

If there’s a lot of wear on the heel, it’s also possible that you scuff or slide the foot as you land–I’ve seen people do that. But lateral heel wear is pretty normal even without a gait problem. There’s a reason many manufacturers put more durable rubber in that area. -Duck916

—–

Yeah, that’s a typical wear pattern.  And I like kjkranz recommendations on running form. -Nazaretti

Strength is in your BRAIN

This is a quote that was posted on Facebook, and I wanted to share it here.

There is a lot of talk in the running world about the importance of strength training for increasing performance and injury prevention. I agree with the current research that explosive and heavy resistance training increases stiffness within the muscle-tendon system resulting in increases in running economy, but running economy is measuring steady state oxygen uptake (VO˙ 2). Running economy is more a measure of physiology (performance measure) than pure mechanical efficiency. It is not looking at how the athlete gets from point A to B. General strength and the ability to generate force is extremely important, but only if produced in a coordinated and timely fashion to produce the desired outcome of the individual athlete. Most athletes are not structurally ready to handle explosive and/or heavy resistance training. Running with 2.5x body weight while on one leg, over time and distance at a given pace is hard enough. Data can show increases in power, reduction in contact times, increases in muscular stiffness, and even reductions in right/left asymmetries, but it doesn’t automatically preclude the athlete from injuries. Quantitative data is only useful if it helps improve the athletes “Running Resiliency”.

I believe it is important that runners understand MUSCLES are STUPID. Muscles need the brain to consciously and unconsciously tell them what to do, and at what time to do it in, in order to produce the muscular patterns that are appropriate for the desired task. I am not going to give the muscle, in isolation, that much credit and responsibility to automatically pull to body into the correct position when running. The brain needs to intrinsically understanding the goal of the desired movement, and then needs to organize a movement plan that will be sent to the musculoskeletal system in order to produce the desired task (running). This requires skill, are you training skill or just strength without purpose?

I truly Believe runners can run with fewer injuries. I Believe we are uniquely design to move/run, but culturally have devolved and are structurally less skillful. I Believe we have complete control over our bodies and movement, and thus ultimately the incidence rate of our injuries. Are you training better movement by training your brain to express more efficient and optimal movement patterns? Don’t get me wrong this can and needs to happen in conjunction with a specific plyometric and heavy resistance strength training program, but you better be in the right place at the right time when performing these exercises. Open for discussion. Please share and discuss!

Stephen Scott- Professor in Neuroscience, Queens University
Movement Skill: 3 Fundamental Components (3 B’s)
1. Brain
2. Biomechanics
3. Behavior

Train Better Movement!

Benefits of Double Run Days

DCIM100GOPRO

An athlete that I coach inquired about running twice in one day, how it should/can be done, and why.

This is something I do most days of the week and there are three main reasons to do so. I’ll also go into the two primary benefits to doubling at the end of the article.

1) Time Crunched

This is a very common one for a number of my athletes since they either are stay at home parents on their child’s schedule or work a 9-4 type job. Often they simply do not have enough time before work or at some point during the AM to do a full run (10k for example) so they’ll run 6k in the morning and then finish out the run later in the day.

For most people doing this is almost always going to be preferred over just doing the first 6k and leaving it at that. I’ll generally even be completely fine with people in this example going longer during the second run if they can. The reason for this is that splitting 10k up into 6 and 4 makes the overall workout easier, so it’s ok to do more.

2) Peak Volume

Almost every elite distance runner on the planet does two runs a day most days of the week. This is simply because if they’re running for 12-14 hours or 100-120 miles per week if they were to only run 6 days and 6 runs per week that would average out to 17-20 miles per run, which is far too much in each session. Instead they break it up, below is an example of a high mileage week from Ryan Vail. This is probably a 13 hour week for Ryan.

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3) Looking to Up Volume

This is where I fall. I’m currently running between 9 and 10 hours weekly and that includes 4-6 20-30 minute regeneration runs during the week. These sessions are very very easy yet serve to increase my total weekly volume. The goal is to get me running more miles while not hurting my key workout goals, it’s certainly a balancing act.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 7.32.26 AM

 

4) Human Growth Hormone

If the goal for the day is regeneration, performing two easy runs is a great idea. Research shows that human growth hormone production, key for recovery, can increase by as much as 500% with 45 minutes of running. However, after that it only increases by another 50% or so. Doing two short and easy runs increases your volume, does not hinder recovery, and increases HGH.

Benefits of Doubles

The main benefits can be seen in the reasons above. First is that they allow a person to get more volume in if they cannot fit the run into a single session due to constraints. The second reason to double is if you’re running so much that doing that much volume in 6-7 single runs is simply too long per run.

What is your experience with doubling? Have you tried it?

I need to race more

I think I need to race more.

Not to race to win, but to learn how to suffer.

I do suffer, but I suffer from going out too slow in races.

What I need to learn is how to be comfortable suffering from the second a race starts until the second a race ends. And racing is the best way to improve on this ability.

I just need to…stand at the starting line not caring about how I’m going to finish or what my end pace is going to end up being. Hell, screw pacing all together.

Professional Ironman triathlete Balázs Csöke said in an interview, “I can’t even explain to someone how there is no going slow. When you get out from the water, you sit on a bike and you ride as hard as you can for 112 miles, and then you start running, and you go as fast as you can for 26 miles. It hurts from the first moment of the start. And it’s going to hurt for eight and a half hours. Without a second’s rest.””

I have yet to learn how to do that. During the Heart of the Hills 17km race I took the first 5k relatively easy. I rested for the first 1/3rd of the race for god sake!

During the final 1/3rd I can suffer, however. I always try to keep in mind what Yuki Kawauchi said when he stated “Every time I run, it’s with the mindset that if I die at this race it’s OK.” Unfortunately, I can’t seem to do that at the beginning of an event.

My Experience With Foam Rolling

Today I saw two mentions/links to foam rolling come up in my news feed, so I thought I would share my experiences on it.

I used to be the chronic foam roller.

Each day I would roll and do strength work for an entire episode of Battlestar Galactica. This probably only amounted to about 20-30 minutes of actual work. However one day I read an article about the uselessness of chronic foam rolling…so I stopped.

It’s been about a year since I’ve done any real foam rolling and I can’t say I’ve noticed anything different. I’ve not become stricken with tight, inflexible, injured muscles. I’ve not been overly sore. Nada. But I do have about 20-30 minutes extra each day!

Below are three food for thought articles on rolling, or more accurately not rolling:

Foam Rolling: You May Be Hurting Yourself. | Ryan Booth at Reciprocal Innerventions | “Maybe people just don’t want to learn how to correct firing patterns in their  hips, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors etc. If your hips are mobile, of what use is a roller? None. What, after all, are you using a foam roller for? Flexibility? Pain relief? Recovery?Maybe if I told you that there is no proof it does those things you’ll stop? Maybe you’ll listen to a bit of reason.”

Your IT Band is Not the Enemy (But Maybe Your Foam Roller Is) | Robert Camacho at Breaking Muscle | “As with most movement disorders the true solution is mindfulness of your body position and mindfulness of your movements. Weak hip abduction is an insidious because it can cause all sorts of issues. Luckily, it’s rather easy to identify and deal with. Get your glutes firing again and maintain mindfulness of their proper use while working out. Yeah, it really is that simple. Now get out there and get moving.”

Foam Rolling 101 | Charles Polique | “The point is that just because a product is popular and sells well doesn’t necessarily mean it fulfills all the claims of its manufacturers and distributors. Another example: foam rollers.”

How to Run on a Calorie Deficit

With the winter coming to a close soon enough, many people are possibly in the midst of their base building phase and approaching more specific work to prepare for racing.

For many, race weight is likely on their mind.

If you’re looking to lose weight for health reasons, this article may not be for you. If you want to lose weight to run faster, read on!

Why a Race Weight?

If you’re looking to improve your personal records, losing some excess weight can be worth a lot.

Specifically, for each pound lost you could simply increase your pace by 1-3 seconds per mile depending on your starting weight.

To put this into a real-life example, a 150 pound man dropping to 140 would increase their pace by about 10 seconds per mile. That’s :30 over a 5k and a few minutes for a marathon simply by losing weight.

How weight loss improves your speed is two primary reasons. First is you simply have less mass to carry forward and up. Second is your body will dissipate heat more efficiently and cool you better.

What’s your ideal race weight?

Warning: This is going to be a low number!

It’s also not a number that anyone, even the elites, will weigh year round. They may only weigh this for the racing season and then will gain back some in the off-season. It also will depend on your goal races and muscle mass. Shorter distance runners tend to do better with more muscle and weight.

Running Shoe Guru’s writer Peyton Hoyal details what your ideal race weight is, quite well. Peyton suggests to take your height in inches, double it, then based on your frame:

  • Small Frame– Double the inches, then subtract 5-10lbs to establish an optimum running weight for health and performance.
  • Medium Frame– The formula works! Keep it the same.
  • Large Frame– Double the inches, then add 5-10lbs.

For a 67 inch tall person with a medium frame, that come to 134 pounds at race weight.

  • Females could subtract 0-10 pounds from this number as they typically weigh less.
  • Males could add 0-10 pounds to this number, as they typically weigh more.

How to reach Race Weight?!?

There is a bit of a method to running in a caloric deficit, or bringing in through diet less calories than you are using up through activity.

Even some Kenyans will spend at least the month or so before a competition in a caloric deficit, in an attempt to drop a bit of weight before the goal race.

The balance must be found in eating enough food to both lose a bit of weight slowly over time but still fuel your training so you can continue running at your high level. There are many things can can be taken into consideration for this to be done:

High Quality Food

While eating less food, focusing on nutrients is important.

Foods that are more nutrient dense basically include everything but grains and food with added sugar/fat. An issue with calorie restriction is it also restricts nutrients such as essential fat, protein, vitamin, and minerals. High quality food also tends to be rather low calorie, so you can eat more volume of food for fewer calories.

Pre-Workout Fuel

When on a calorie deficit, it’s important to fuel the exercise properly.

Try not to go into long or hard workouts without some sort of pre or intra run fueling.

The purpose here is to both fuel your body so you can perform at your max during these quality sessions, but also to prevent your body’s glycogen from getting too low during these runs. Fasted easy morning workouts are ok, however for harder sessions being in a caloric deficit may hinder your training ability.

Post Workout Food Timing

Research has shown that for recovery and most people, total daily calories is much more important than eating within that 30 minute post workout window when your body is sucking up nutrients like a dry sponge absorbs water. However, if you’re in a calorie deficit or doing another longer workout within 6-8 hours of your previous one, food timing becomes much more important.

This importance comes from a number of factors. Your primary fuel while running in fat and glycogen. Fat is a near endless supply, but glycogen needs to be restocked. Immediately after a workout your body is primarily repairing muscle and restoring glycogen better than at any other time during the day. If you eat take some food right after the run, it will go towards these two purposes, setting you up for your next workouts. Not letting your glycogen stores get too low is key, as if they get low your body will not be able to train at its fullest.

Calorie Reload Day (or weekend, or week)

This serves two purposes.

First, it gives you a higher calorie day to bump up your weekly food intake. No need to go crazy here, just don’t be in a deficit.

Second, it gives you a chance to eat some higher calorie food, a cheat meal. I suggest your cheat meal be your next full meal after your long run, as much of the calories taken in will go to glycogen replenishment (keeping it off your butt, and fueling future runs!)

You can simply do calorie reloading during periods of recover, be that easy days where you do not run as much or full weeks that you run at a lower than typical volume.

How much of a deficit?

Really, as little as possible of a deficit, this could change based on how far out you are from the goal race.

3,600 calories lost is a pound. 400-600 calories daily is a good range. Any less and your weight loss will be nil. Any more and you’re risking sacrificing your quality workouts.

Tools

There are a couple tools that make tracking calories easier.

First, is apps like LoseIt! that easily record calories intake and burned. You can scan barcodes and it will even bring up the food!

Second are measure devices. Measuring makes tracking easier! 1c rice, .5c chickpeas, etc. You don’t realize how small a tablespoon is until you can only eat 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

There are also a couple more methods of weight loss that can be used while training, that may not necessarily require much of a calorie deficit.

Intermittent Fasting

This is, simply put, waiting longer to eat. There are different methods, but many will fast overnight for 12 hours, some longer, some shorter. Fasting does not necessarily mean you eat less total daily calories, only that you may eat less in the morning and then larger lunches and dinners.

Doing easy runs on an overnight fast may increase the fat burning during the workout, which could make you more economic. (one of the theories for why women bonk less than men is because women are better fat burners). If you go into a workout fasted the fuel for that run is coming from body fat and stored glycogen, the next meal you eat will then go towards first restocking those glycogen stores. Doing harder workouts fasted may make the run more of a stress to the body and could then cause more adaptation and fitness gains.

There are also numerous other potential benefits as well.

Standing Desk

This is another “hack” that you can do to burn an extra few calories, if you wish. Calculations suggest that 4 hours of standing vs sitting burns an extra 100-150 calories. Not a lot at once, but over time it adds up!

The Post-Workout Window of Opportunity

Commonly you hear of the PWO Window of Opportunity as a time to eat within 30 minutes after training since your body is absorbing nutrients like a dry sponge absorbs water.

It’s true getting a carb beverage in right after (or even during) a workout does help maximize your glycogen stores. However, if you’re not doing another hard or long run within about 8-10 hours of the last workout total daily calories and nutrients matter much more than getting in food within 30-60 minutes after running.

Using this window of opportunity to lose weight by not eating right away can be a easy method of reaching race weight after time. This will help increase your insulin sensitivity, which means your body is better at lowering blood glucose back down to base level. You’ll also probably eat less overall. Note that you should never sacrifice fueling for weight loss after a key workout!

Hope for the rest of us

There’s hope for the rest of us.

I’m referring to the people that were not child prodigies or who started their endeavors in childhood.

The hope is in the stories of Steve Way, Heather Turland, Ed Whitlock, Kathy Martin, Laura Batterink, and Matthew Elliot.

You’ve probably never heard of any of any those names, but they’re all important to me. These are people who discovered their love and aptitude for running late in life and have reached elite status.

In my favorite running related book, Lore of Running, Dr. Noakes discusses the common occurrence of the running ability of professionals to drop off quickly, later in life. Most athletes who are the best in the world in their 20’s are not the best in their 30’s and 40’s, or older. An example is one of the fasted US marathoners ever, Bill Rodgers. In his prime he was regularly running sub 2:15 marathons. Now? Between his 50th and 60th birthday his 10km time reportedly slowed by 10 minutes. In his 60’s now, he’s certainly not one of the fastest 60 year old age groupers.

Noakes believes that over time, running will reduce the elasticity of tendons and muscles. This reduces the “elastic recoil” ability of the legs, which is basically free stored energy, like a spring.

On the flip-side from Bill Rodgers, is Kathy Martin. In her 40’s she started running and is a top running in her age group in events ranging from 800m to 31 miles. In her 50’s she set more than a dozen American age group records.

Next up is Patrick Johnson, who grew up on a fishing boat and did not start running until his mid 20’s. In 2003 at the age of 31, he became the first non West-African to go under 10 seconds in the 100m!

Steve Way is perhaps my favorite story however. He is famous for going from being an obese, depressed, alcoholic, and chain smoker to a 2:16 marathoner and representing his country in the Commonwealth Games.

Relatively unknown is Heather Turland, who only started running to get back in shape after pregnancy. However with only four years as a runner she ran 2:35:10 to represent her country internationally in the marathon.

Ed Whitlock is the person here you’re most likely to have heard of. He did not start running until his 40’s and at the age of 82 ran a 3:41 marathon, which is actually a half hour faster than the average men’s marathon finishing time in the US.

With many of the above names being of decades past, Laura Batterink is a newcomer, finishing 9 spots behind Molly Huddle at a recent event. She never ran in high school or college, but 10 years ago she started running for fitness. 10 years of hard work and a bit of talent, and she finished a race right behind names like Molly Huddle, Sara Hall, and Amy Hastings.

Finally comes Matthew Elliot, who was recently on the cover of Runners World. He is the only one on this list who actually ran in his younger years, however he was far from anything special. He was only a 4:42 miler in high school, certainly someone you’d never expect to finish 4th at the 1500m USA Track & Field championships at the age of 27.

These inspirational folks can teach us a number of things.
1) Running age is more important than birth age.
I believe that if you start running later in life (20/30’s vs teens or younger) with the proper training and recovery you can reach 90% of what your true potential would have been.
2) You may have no idea you’re extra-ordinary at something.
Few people are given the opportunity to give an activity 100%. I’m lucky enough that due to my work I can train and recover properly. It does not have to be running though, it could be playing the piano or painting!
3) Time, patience, & hard work can lead to incredible improvements for anyone.
If you spend 5-10 years or 10,000 hours doing something well…you’re going to see drastic improvements. Just give it time and effort.

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