All Posts by Kyle

Shoe Variation & Injury

There was recently a question on the Runner’s World forums about a calf strain and if it could be due to the runner only wearing one pair of shoes. I thought it interesting, so wanted to share the question and my answer below.

“I’ve been dealing with an overuse calf injury for 6 months now. I don’t want to blame the problem on my shoes, but could switching shoe models help alleviate an overuse problem?”

Certainly. Different shoes, different terrains, different paces, they all spread out the mechanical stress and force locations to different parts of the body in different ways. This allows all those areas of the body to experience less overall stress and to easily recover.

Think of a runner that does the same exact speed at the same exact incline for the same exact difference on a treadmill every day in the same shoes. They’re placing the exact same stresses in the exact same locations every day, not giving those areas time to recover. It would be like doing the bench presses every time, other muscle groups would never get any stimulation to strengthen and the pecs would never get any off time to strengthen, thus weakening and likely becoming injured. New shoes could change your running form slightly, which could place the stress at a new location of the calf and give that injured area a rest. Compression sleeves could potentially do the same.

That all being said, there’s still no reason to blame the shoes, it’s not their fault. You just may have made a slight error in not giving your body enough variability.

Potentially it could not have to do with a lack of variation at all. I recently dealt with a calf issue due due to tight hamstrings as a result of a weekend of lots of climbing and descending after living in the plains for two years. I spent a few weeks with reduced volume and no intensity, and now I’m A-OK . Of course, you could look at that as a lack of variation issue as well, because I was lacking variation in the plains which meant the mountains were too big of a stimulus (classic too much too soon). But I look at it as me being unmindful and overzealous on the vertical for a weekend.

Shoe Durability​

I also feel that such variation can help a runner put more distance in individual shoes before they are required to retire a pair. As I said in Men's Journal, ​I typically run through my shoes for 800-1500 miles until they fall apart or I wear through the bottom. I believe different shoes, speeds, terrain, etc all change up how the feel and legs are loaded so you do not overload a certain area of the body. It works for preventing running injuries and I believe it works for shoe durability.

Imagine if you only ran in a single pair of shoes. Throughout the miles the sole under the big toe will compress and wear away, so every run you may be pronating a tiny bit more each time. Over the miles that pronation may become exaggerated. Now, pronation is natural and necessary, but over-pronation beyond what is healthy for you can be an issue. Performing an exaggerated degree of pronation for weeks/months due to shoe wear may be harmful, but wearing those shoes two or three times weekly along with another pair or two increases variability and can potentially be a healthy practice!​

Can the parallel use of different running shoes decrease running-related injury risk? | “the parallel use of more than one pair of running shoes was a protective factor

My Favorite Running Socks

Check out this quick review of the only socks I'll spend money and run farther than 30 minutes in!

You can purchase here.

I feel Injinji toe socks are better for running than a traditionally shaped sock because:

  1. The sock pods separate the toes, reducing the potential for blisters (that's why I originally purchased).
  2. They keep the feet drier because there is more material on the foot (between the toes).
  3. They let the toes/feet splay when on the ground better than a more restricting pair of socks.4) They keep the feet cooler. Consider what is warmer, mittens or gloves?

My one piece of advice is to not buy the thinnest liner pairs. They were originally the ones I preferred, however they simply wear out much much quicker than the slightly thicker models. 

The Last Minute Race Training Plan for the Untrained

Because people ask...

After seeing some form of this question three times today on Twitter and/or Reddit, I thought I would make a quick post on what the heck you should do if you have a marathon coming up very quickly and you've not trained for it.

This post is assuming you are reasonably fit and able to go out and jog an easy mile fairly comfortable.

Keep in mind

  • During this week you must never become sore.
  • Run at an easy conversational pace. No hard running.
  • End every run before you feel like you need to end it due to fatigue or soreness.
  • The point of your training right before a race that you're not trained for is to simply get your legs as used to being on their feet and as used to that running motion as possible without developing any cumulative fatigue.

Race Week Plan

  • Monday - Jog 1 minute, walk 1 minute, repeat for 10-30 minutes based on your comfort level.
  • Wednesday  - 2 minute jog + 1 minute walk for 15-45 minutes. Remember, easy & end the run before you need to.
  • Thursday - Walk 30-60 minutes
  • Friday - 2 minute jog + 1 minute walk for 15-45 minutes. Remember, easy & end the run before you need to.
  • Saturday - Walk 30-60 minutes
  • Sunday - 26.2 miles of run / walk.

The Day Before the Race

  • Stay active, but don't do anything too out of the ordinary. Try not to spend 2 hours walking around a race expo.
  • Don't eat too much the day before, and especially the evening prior. I try to keep my dinner size down to a minimum to reduce the amount of food I may have in my GI system on race morning and potentially during the race.

Race Day Pacing

  • Keep it EASY. If you've never been in a race before, you'll find out really quick how the race day environment makes a super fast pace feel super easy. This causes people to start the event too fast and is the #1 reason why people hit the wall. 
  • You may not feel like you need to run/walk early on, but practicing a regular run/walk routine before you need to run/walk will drastically improve your performance in the final half of the distance. 

Race Nutrition

  • I would suggest to bring a bottle with you and drink to thirst. I like this handheld. You can refill it at aid stations along the route.
  • I also suggest taking in 100-200 calories during each hour of the race. If the event you are doing has regular aid stations every 3-6 miles or so, you can simply grab a few things at each of these, that way you won't have to actually carry them with you along the way.

Running Gear

  • Lube is going to be very important so you do not chafe. It's likely you have vaseline, that will work just fine. Race morning, rub it inside your thigh and around your man bits if you have them.
  • As for the actual gear, you have two options. Go with what you have or get new gear. Honestly, what you already have will likely be pretty good for your purposes. And if running is not something you think you're going to often do, it may not be worth it to buy new running specific apparel. Even compression briefs, basket ball shorts, your athletic socks and shoes, and a cotton t-shirt will work. They may not be 100% ideal, but they're going to be fairly close. 

How a Course is Measured

In a fascinating LetsRun.com article looking at how far exactly did Kipchoge run during his sub2 hour marathon attempt there was a section about course measuring.

This is very important subject for all runners who are looking to PR. The authors discussed if Kipchoge actually ran farther than a marathon and if that cost him the 1:59:59.

Below you'll see how a course is measured:​

The first thing that Katz explained is that a course measurer is supposed to measure the shortest distance between two points on the course, cutting the tangents. So as long as the measurer does this and the runners stay on the course, they’re going to run at least the proper distance. On turns, like on a track with a rail, the measurer measures 30 centimeters from the curb. In theory, if a runner could hug every turn perfectly, they could shave off a little distance, but that doesn’t occur in reality. Katz said even for the 200m race on the track, where there is only one turn and the runners could try to hug it perfectly, he thinks the runners are running at least 200m.

David Katz
Olympic Marathon Course Measurer

So you see, it's measured by the shortest possible route. So if you take wide turns during a race on a certified course, you're running farther than the course is measured! For the average half marathoner, doing even an extra .1 of a mile at a half marathon will add a minute to their time. 

I consider taking the tangents to be the #2 most important piece of racing skill behind proper pacing.

How are certified race courses actually measured?!? 

Click to Tweet

Chip or GPS Time?

I just had someone message me this question on Instagram! If he goes by chip time, he was only 2 seconds of PRing, but if the GPS time is correct it took him longer to run the course. So, which do you go by?

Should you go by chip time or GPS time for races? - Click to Tweet!

5 Things to Change Your Running

I've read thousands of articles related to running, nutrition, entrepreneurship, etc.

One that has always stayed in my mind was on the subject of the aggregation of small marginal gains.

Specifically, this article talked about a pro cycling team who hired someone whose job was to improve little things, a little bit. Imagine if you upgraded five things by just 1%, that is a small change but can lead to big growth over time!

Now imagine if you improved everything related to your running, or just one thing even, 1%? That's not hard to do, but 1% over a year, 3 years, a decade? That's going to have a huge impact!

Imagine if you upgraded five #running related things by just 1% - Click to Tweet!

Below are five small things you can do to drastically improve your running They're little things that will make a difference!

  1. Improve your long run nutrition - Many people feel that since they can get through an easy 2-3 hour run without taking in any calories, they should. But there are two good reasons to avoid this. First is that taking in 100-200 calories hourly may simply improve how well you run during those few hours. Second is that if your goal is a race that will require intra-run nutrition, you should absolutely practice this nutrition during long runs.
  2. Strength & Mobility - One of the biggest changes I implement in the training of new clients is the addition of consistent strength work. Most of the athlete applicants I get do not perform frequent strength work. Even if it's just a 3 minute lunge matrix to warm up, that's going to make you stronger! I have a bunch of great routines here. Doing the lunge matrix pre-run and doing a 10-20 minute routine on your rest days is a great start!
  3. Do a Double Day - I believe one of the best training tools a person can use is a second run after a hard morning workout. I call them tired leg runs and they are best done at a super easy effort with no watch. Just go out for a few miles 3-6 hours after a morning track or tempo workout. Running on fatigued legs will improve our fuel utilization, mental strength, muscle fiber cycling, and most importantly is simply a second stimulation for adaptation.
  4. Pre-Bed Protein - The evenings of hard or long runs I always try to get in 20 or so grams of slow release protein like casein right before going to bed. You can either purchase some casein powder or in my case, drink some milk (80% casein). Consuming a slow release protein means you'll have this metabolized in your body during your overnight fast. 
  5. Run More - It may not be as easy as it sounds, but consider this: If you run 20 miles weekly over 4 runs and were to simply add an extra half mile into each run you'd run 22 miles, a 10% increase by simply running for an extra few minutes each day. It's super low risk since it's such a small increase spread over 4 runs but over time will make a positive impact on your fitness!

Which one are you going to work on this week?

Low Carbing & Running

I had two people in the last week ask me about low carb dieting and running, one was an athlete and one was a newsletter subscriber. I thought this was a sign to do a video about it! Check it out below and let me know what you think in the comments!

Can a low carb diet and running work well together? - Click to Tweet!

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How Important are Rest Days?

Great question that I was asked about the importance of rest days for runners.

It really depends on how much you're running AND what you're doing while not running? Are you getting 8 hours of sleep nightly or 6?

Are you eating enough protein and calories or not?

How's your daily physical activity? Daily stress? Are you on your feet a lot or sitting?

All of this comes in to play when taking rest days into consideration. People running a lot but also who rest well can get away with fewer rest/off days, but people like the ER nurse I coach absolutely need a few days of no running because when she's on her feet for a 12 hour shift that's still physical activity!

"Rest days? What do you think I'm doing when I'm sleeping?!." - Click to Tweet!

What’s the best training schedule?

On reddit and twitter I very often see people asking for training plan suggestions.

As a coach and as someone who has been coached, obviously I feel the best plan is having one that follows you. One designed by a coach to fit your local weather, your job schedule, your children's schedule, etc.

But for those who are not financially able to afford a coach or for those who don't need the accountability from that investment, the personalization, etc, I still thing you should really follow a training schedule! This is absolutely one of the best things a person can do to improve their running.

When looking to download a pre-written schedule, there are a few considerations​:

1: It must follow your work/life/education schedule. 
2) ​A schedule that is a little too easy is better than a little too hard.

So, where do you find these pre-written plans?

Well, searching google for "half marathon training schedule" is a nice place to start. Check out the first ten links and find the one that fits the above points best.

I'm really a fan of purchasing a full book. Hudson, Johnson, Fitzgerald, Higdon, Pfitzinger, are all great choices. The thing about getting a full book is it will be full of supplemental information about strength work, nutrition, etc.

"The best plan should follow the runner, not the other way around." - Click to Tweet!

How to Run When You Don’t Want to.

There are two times to run.

  1. ​When you want to.
  2. When you don't.

If you're serious about improving at something and doing what you've never done, you must do what you've never done! Sometimes, this means doing what you don't feel like doing.

"There are two times to run: When you want to & when you don't." - Click to Tweet!

Check out my video below where I talk a bit about my thought processes when I'm really just not feeling like running and how I GET MYSELF to go out and run even on the worst of days.