10 minutes worth of me answering a few questions about running. Hopefully, you find something helpful!
I was emailed from a newsletter subscriber asking for my thoughts on cross training.
“How much should runners cross train?” Click to Tweet!
The primary consideration here is how much is the individual running? If the person is at their upper tolerable limit of weekly mileage, they should likely be running and resting. But if there is room for activity then cross training can be an excellent way to build your fitness but not fatigue the legs very much!
Self-awareness is in part, being mindful of what you’re good at and what you are not good at.
As a running coach, my primary job is to work with training modulation. When an applicant fills out the client application I tell them that I do not work with people who cannot currently run due to injury or if they are suffering from a mental issue such as an eating disorder. In such cases like injury, a running coach may not be the best person to work with, but perhaps a physical therapist or athletic trainer to help rehab and heal the damaged area, or perhaps a nutritionist to discuss dietary issues that could cause an injury.
I wanted to share with you a few links to a few of these experts whom I follow. I hope you seek them out, let them know I recommended them, and learn from them!
Diet: Matt Fitzgerald – He’s not a registered dietitian, but over the years he has studied general nutrition and more importantly the nutrition of top athletes and is a true expert in the area of sports nutrition.
Research: Alex Hutchinson – Sweat Science is one of the best resources to keep up to date on the latest research. Whether he simply tweets a new study out or shares an entire article he writes on a subject, it’s fascinating stuff.
Strength & Mobility: James Dunne – A physical therapist out of the UK, he puts out so many strength and mobility routines that it seems a bit overwhelming. I’m a big fan the courses he offers, such as a 30-day knee/leg strengthening course that guides you through a progressive day by day strength and mobility routine.
More SAM: Steve Gonsor – and the team at Run Smart Online also touch base on many aspects of running form, runner-specific strength work, etc. A great account to follow for some cutting edge information.
Running Shoes & Foot Mechanics: Craig Payne – He’s basically the anti-Huffington Post clickbait headline. Craig really dives deep into the research on mechanics and footwear.
Of course, I’m always willing to speak with the individual because in so many cases it was an error with training modulation that caused the injury! Many people make the mistake of running too hard too often, running too much, not enough easy running, jumping into workouts that are too long or too hard. These are my areas of specialty!
Recently I was asked about getting adequate calories in as a distance runner.
This is a valid concern, however what threw me off was that the individual mentioned they were vegetarian and seemed to think being a vegetarian was making it difficult for getting adequate calories into a diet.
I’ve been a plant-based eater for a decade now and have never quite understood this concern. It’s not as if meat is a huge amount of calories that people take in while running or in general it’s not terribly high in calories.
Below I’ve broken down dietary recommendations for distance athletes and provided examples of my own diet!
For those engaged in run training, we typically consider protein and carbohydrates first. Fat is usually not an issue and comes naturally in adequate amounts when you eat adequate food in fairly unprocessed forms.
With carbohydrates, depending on your training load you may need anywhere from 3 grams / kg daily for someone with a light/moderate training volume to 5 or 6 grams / kilogram daily for athletes with very very amounts of running.
There’s a term for vegetarians who eat a lot of vegetarian junk food. Being a junketarian must be avoided at all costs. One cannot thrive off of Oreos and Ramen Noodles.
Many vegetarians, especially new ones, fall into the trap of cutting out meat and going overboard on wheat without even realizing it. Wheat based food (primarily bread and pasta) is super convenient and cheap, however isn’t the most nutrient dense.
Healthy carbohydrate sources include
In regards to protein, a daily intake of 1.5 – 1.8 grams / kilogram of bodyweight is recommended for optimal run fueling and body regeneration.
There is no vegetarian who has not been asked where they get their protein from.
Unlike vegans who avoid all animal products, vegetarians don’t eat fish or meat but usually can eat everything else.
Great vegetarian protein sources include:
Pro Tip: Having vitamin C with iron rich food like legumes increases the iron absorption.
Unfiltered, here’s what I had for meals the day of writing this.
Dropping some weight is both simple and incredibly difficult.
Simply, you must eat fewer calories than you burn.
Difficult, because that’s a huge challenge.
Unless you are running a great deal, you’re not actually burning a huge amount of extra calories. 20 miles weekly is only 2,000 extra calories, and that’s not even a pound (that’s 3,600 cals). It’s very easy to unknowingly consume an extra 300-400 calories daily if you’re running 3-4 miles daily.
In my opinion, a runner looking to drop some weight must do some form of food restriction. A 500 calorie deficit at least 5-6 days weekly will yield nearly a pound of weight loss each week.
When I’m consciously looking to drop some weight I’ll restrict what I eat in the AM and noon hours to about 500 calories in the morning and 500 calories over lunch. In the evening I’ll eat nearly ab libitum and not be as strict with the calories but still try to remain at about 2,000 calories daily intake.
Why 2,000? Because most people with a semi-active lifestyle (walking around, no exercise) burn about 2,000 calories daily. Roughly. So if I ate 2,000 calories and didn’t run, I’d not gain or lose weight. But if I eat 2,000 calories and run 36 miles weekly I’m going to be in a 3,600 calorie deficit and lose about a pound a week.
I am typically in a calorie deficit Monday – Friday. I simply find it easier to restrict my food/calories when I’m on a set schedule during the week. Weekends I don’t restrict so much and if I don’t run long I’m probably not in a calorie deficit, which I think is good a few days weekly.
Recording your weight or not is a common issue. How often do you step on the scale? I typically weigh myself daily before breakfast and after pooping. Yes, I know it’s very common to see recommendations to NOT weigh yourself daily, but I like to see the overall trend. I’m not worried if a day I’m 146 and the next I’m 149. I know I obviously didn’t gain 3 pounds of fat!!! If the overall trend is 147 +/- 1 pound then that’s what I”m looking for. If the next month the overall trend is 146 +/- a pound, that’s fantastic.
This is another super interesting topic that I discussed here on Reddit.
Many people prefer to avoid some of the super processed “food” options both during daily life but also during training, and I think this can be a wise idea.
Below is a short list of “real food supplementation” that I’ve used instead of some of the more unnatural supplements.
Low-carbing for endurance: the oxygen problem | Examine.com | “This is the first study to compare the effects of a ketogenic diet (LCHF) with both a traditional high-carbohydrate diet as well as a periodized high carbohydrate diet in elite endurance athletes.”
The New Rules of Carbs for Runners | Matt Fitzgerald | “A carefully planned low-carb diet can induce weight loss and support good health, but it’s not the best approach for runners because it throws out the baby (high-quality carbs) with the bathwater (low-quality carbs).”
Real Food Supplementation | Coach Kyle Kranz | “In my mind, there are three “levels” of processing of sports fuel.”
I was asked about shin splints, preventing and getting over them, but I dive a bit deeper and briefly discuss that an injury is so much related to what happened right before, a few weeks before, it could be nutritional, could be a dozen things.
“There are a dozen things that go into getting an injury, and you need to figure out the root cause” – Click to Tweet
How long should the long run be?!?
This is a super hot topic that many feel very passionate about.
For more advanced runners I’ll often have them top out in the 20-22 or 3-hour range. The reason for this is any longer and it’s simply a lot of time on their feet that is likely going beyond the point of diminishing returns. Long runs that are too long take too much out of you and require extra recovery time.
For the average (4:30 marathon) or slower runners, it gets tricky because if they want to run 20 miles for the long run, a very important mileage threshold, it’s getting into the 4-hour run range. Mentally it will likely be worth it to at least his 20+ once during training, but going over 3-hours too often, even for 4-5 hour marathoners, is not necessary in my opinion.
I was asked on Twitter if it was normal for legs to feel like jello after a run.
My response was "yes", but there's a different between normal and good! It's normal for legs to feel like jello (very fatigued) after a long or hard run. However even in those cases it's often best to end the run before the legs get to this point of fatigue.
For long runs I think it's normal/ok for the legs to be quite tired at the end, but for most other runs they should never be so long or hard to make the legs feel like this. Reaching this level of fatigue too often will increase the amount of rest/recovery you need between hard workouts. If you go 95% instead of 99% during your tempo/track runs, you'll require less easy/recovery days between hard workouts and you'll feel better!
I was recently put in touch with a local martial arts instructor who was asking for some advice she can provide to her students who are looking to attend a half marathon my local run club puts on.
So I gave her some training plan suggestions for people who can run but need to take it up a notch for a trail half marathon.
But I wanted to take my advice up a notch, so I made this video and article on some general quick thoughts I had for new trail racers.
Watch the video below for more and please comment with any advice YOU have!
I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to get 100-125g of protein in daily.
As a vegetarian, I don’t eat meat. However, I eat a lot of eggs, yogurt, milk.
Check out the video below to see my favorite protein sources!
I believe it’s best to go by how you’re feeling or expect to feel during a run, in regards to hydration.
The biggest myth I see when it comes to drinking fluids during running is that losing sweat is bad. You can drop water weight during a run or race and be fine! I ran the Austin Half Marathon in conditions of 70 degrees F and 90% humidity without a single water stop, and had zero issues with cramping or fatigue
Below is an excerpt from one of my favorite authors and books on the subject of hydration, Dr. Tim Noakes and the book, Waterlogged.
You shouldn’t relate overheating to dehydration. You overheat when you run too fast. That’s the key. You don’t overheat because you become dehydrated. The brain’s too clever. If you’re not going to drink, the brain will slow you down, and that will lower your body temperature, not raise it. So, we’ve got some great studies where we look at people running half marathons, marathons, short ultramarathons, and long ultramarathons. The longer the race, the lower the temperature, because they are running slower. Their levels of dehydration are pretty much the same whatever distance they run. There’s some sort of regulation, that whatever distance you run, if you drink appropriately, you always get the same level of dehydration, however far you run. But the key is that the faster you run, the hotter you are. But it’s still absolutely safe to expect your body temperature to rise. And the fact is that heat stroke occurs very, very infrequently. It’s the exception, not the rule. And when it does happen, there are exceptional circumstances. Most of those people have some other genetic circumstances that are a problem, or they are taking drugs, or they have an infection. It’s not normal to develop heatstroke during a race. If you do develop heatstroke during a race, something else is going on, and that’s affected your body’s ability to control it’s temperature, but it’s not the normal procedure. Normally it’s perfectly safe to run in the heat, and your body will make sure that your to the finish before your temperature rises too high.
Let’s say that again:
You shouldn’t relate overheating to dehydration. – Click to Tweet
Tim Noakes on the Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports | Dr. Timothy Noakes| “The brain, unfortunately, can’t tell you that when you overdrink, you’re going to go slower. So you don’t pick up the messaging. You just go slower without realizing it. It’s very important.”
The Basics of Hyponatremia | Marty Hoffman, MD | “Therefore, NSAIDs not only increase the risk for acute kidney injury, but also increase the risk for the development of EAH. It should be apparent that the use of NSAIDs during endurance events is risky business.”
5 Scientific Ways to Stop Muscle Cramps | Armi Legge | “There are four reasons why losing electrolytes and water probably doesn’t cause — or isn’t the primary cause — of your muscle cramps.2-5”