All Posts by Kyle

Benefits of Double Run Days

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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.

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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.

7.26.14 Key Workout: Specific Endurance

Hell.Yeah! Killed it! Goal pace was 80-90% of 13.1 goal pace and I ran this at 88% of goal pace. This run was a big motivational boost for me.

This 20k was longer, faster, and at a much lower effort that last weekend’s 17km race. I’m incredibly pleased by the low perceived effort during the first half of this run. My legs were definitely holding me back though, the lungs were completely fine. I don’t think my calves & hamstrings have fully recovered yet from last weekend’s downhill race + Wednesday’s track workout.

The first slightly downhill 5k was 21:34 and very easy. The next 5k was for the most part the same easy effort but with some headwind & uphill sections so it was of course a bit slower at 22:39. The third 5k was an increase in effort and uphill at 21:54. The final 5k was slightly downhill and a high effort in 20:54.

Nutrition was a Bearded Brother Bar 60 minutes out. A bottle of 1st Endurance Pre-Race 30 minutes out (testing). During I drank 12oz of water ( a sip ever km) with about 100 total cals of their Liquid Shot. Now I’m sipping on some soy milk with 1st Endurance Ultragen mixed in.

(affiliate) links on nutrition:
BB Bars (Bodacious Blueberry is my fav)
Pre-Race (don’t buy because it tastes good)
Liquid Shot (I have the huge bottle)
Ultragen (I like cappuccino)

During the run I got a "AWESOME SHORTS, BOSS! FUCK YEAH!" from a guy talking on his phone. We crossed paths at a corner so he had little time to think and was so inspired by the Cosmic Shorts that he felt the need to interrupt his conversation and that just came (loudly) out of his mouth through instinct.

During the run I got a “AWESOME SHORTS, BOSS! FUCK YEAH!” from a guy talking on his phone. We crossed paths at a corner so he had little time to think and was so inspired by the Cosmic Shorts that he felt the need to interrupt his conversation and that just came (loudly) out of his mouth through instinct.

Arm Position & Running

Notice the high hands. And yes, I'm wearing a Pikachu hoodie.

Notice the high hands. And yes, I’m wearing a Pikachu hoodie.

Below is my comment on the article by Gretchen Reynolds at the NY Times

I used to carry my hands lower when I ran, assuming holding them too high would be a waste of energy (similar to Wally Dunn’s thinking below) however I would often get sore shoulders during races ranging from the 5k to the 100 miler. Then one day I saw a video of myself during a V02 Max test and it dawned on me that holding my arms lower required more effort to move them, and since I have a high step cadence I move my arms quite rapidly.

Since seeing that video I made a conscious effort to raise my hands and keep them in a bit tighter to my body.

I’ve no longer experienced the sore shoulders during races 🙂

Also, one of my favorite quotes about arm position comes from Gordon Pirie:

“Some say it does not really matter what a runner does with their arms. My response is to ask them if it is okay if I run with one arm behind my back and the other between my legs. They look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles. Then I put both hands over my head and ask: “is this okay?” Or, I’ll put my hands on my ears and ask: “how about this?”. If none of hose methods of carrying your arms is correct, and if we eliminate all the incorrect ways of using your upper body and arms (reductio ad absurdum in mathematics), we logically should arrive at something that works very well indeed.”

#1 Tool to become a stronger runner

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Is patience.

Or you could also say, time.

Below is a quote from Tina Muir, with the bolded text what we’re talking about here.

2. How did you get to be such a speedy runner?

It has taken years of consistent training, dedication, and doing “the little things”. I try to share these on my blog through my Secrets of Success posts, but most of it just comes from getting stronger year after year. My freshman year in college, I ran 21:15 in the 5k, but my 5th year, I had run 16:08. That being said, having a coach who knows what they are doing is absolutely critical. I would never be anywhere close to where I am now without 100% trust in my coach. I know how important that is, which is another reason I like to share what knowledge I have with others to give back to the community as best I can.

Now obviously smart training, proper recovery, nutrition, etc all play a role in becoming faster, but running is a long term sport.

Look at Tina’s progression like this. Lets say she ran for 4-6 years before college. maybe she played a bit of soccer in grade/middle school and ran cross country in high school, I’m not sure. The important thing to realize is that let’s say 5 years before her college freshmen year she could have been a 26 minute 5k runner. 5 years later she was a 21 minute 5k athlete, and 5 years after that she was a 16 minute 5k runner!

Now I don’t know her history other than that one quote, but this type of progression is true for almost all runners. No matter if you start running in middle school or in college for the first time, with 10 years of good progression of mileage, intensity, and with some smart training you’re going to improve a lot.

You just have to have the patience and take the time!

For myself, this is a good reminder that the best is yet to come. I was obese during my freshmen year of high school, 4 years later I was 80 pounds lighter and a cyclist. Now I’ve been running for about 7 years and am only now really starting to train well and smartly. I consider my first 6 years of running just simple base building. My aerobic house is built, now the real work and progression begins!

Edit

I found another great example that really shows what time does for running. The below quote is from Donnie Cowart, who recently broke the four minute mile barrier after 15 years of running!

“I can trace my thoughts about a sub-4 minute mile all the way back to middle school. Just starting my running career, I had no idea the challenge and work that lay before me, but I was extremely optimistic. From eighth to 10th grade I weighed less than 100 pounds. I was cut from my middle school baseball, and basketball teams with the coaches saying, ‘You need to grow a little taller.’ ‘You need to get stronger.’ … Then I found my home in track and field, a place where size didn’t matter. In eighth grade, I mustered a 5:29 mile, in ninth 4:59, and by 10th grade I got it down to 4:50. I was on my way. I worked hard did everything I was told to do, always telling myself I was going to be good when I was older, stronger, and possibly after that ‘growth spurt.’”

Case Study: Achilles Overuse

“There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience.”

– Archibald MacLeish

This is a little case study from my own experience with an achilles issue that I’ve been battling.

We’ll go over the cause, symptoms, how I overcame the issue, and what can be learned from the experience that I went through.

Calves, FTW

Cause

First lets start with what I did to cause my problem.

I had been living in the plains for over two years and my climbing during runs was very minimal.

My wife was offered a job in Rapid City South Dakota, right along the Black Hills mountain range. We visited for a weekend and I took advantage of the trip to get some climbing in. I climbed a lot. I descended a lot.

When I returned to the plains (before we actually moved) there was definitely some leg soreness the next week, especially noticeable in my hamstrings, however I kept on training as usual. Tight hamstrings mean tight calves, and the next week I started to notice one of my achilles tendons was pretty sore early on during my runs.

Symptoms

What I actually noticed was some soreness in the area between my heel and lower calf. Usually it went away during a run, but it would take about 5-15 minutes for it to stop nagging at me. I also noticed it a bit in the mornings.

This was nothing terribly painful and I would hesitate to say it was an injury. More accurately it would be something I tend to refer to as a niggle. But it had the potential to become an injury!

Overcoming the Issue

Now comes the important part, how I prevented the niggle from becoming an injury.

When you notice something is not right with your body you must make a modification to your training! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. If you do not change the cause of the problem how is it expected to go away?

The first thing I did was reduce my training intensity. I took out anything other than easy running. When that did not quite work I also lowered my volume. I also warmed up more thoroughly prior to running since I noticed that the discomfort decreased after 5-10 minutes of running. A big thing to notice here is that I was able to resolve the pain without fulling stopping my training.

What can be learned

There is no such thing as a mistake if you learned from it.

Primarily, this was a reminder of mindfulness. I was unmindful when I did a weekend of too much vertical and I was unmindful when I did not give my legs enough recovery time afterwards. At least I practiced good mindfulness to let my achilles heal up!

Interestly, you could look at the cause of my problem in multiple ways.
Overuse (of the calf)
Under-recovery (of the legs post hilly weekend)
Lack of Mindfulness (both in that I did an excessively hilly weekend and trained through the soreness afterwards)

This case study can be applied to almost any potential injury or circumstance. It’s been years since I’ve actually had an injury (I can’t even recall it) however I’ve had numerous instances where a little niggle showed up. Each time I was able to lower my volume, move to easier trails, reduce intensity, or get off the treadmill and each time I prevented the niggle from becoming a real injury that would prevent me from running.

Learn from my mistakes, be mindful!

Also be sure to check out my other training advice & injury articles!

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