Minute 1: Should you be alternating shoes?
Even if your name isn’t Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw, you may have a shoe problem. Think about your closet right now. If you’re like us, you train in one pair of shoes until they’re worn out and then chuck them in the back of the closet, thinking maybe they’ll be useful someday for yard work or dog walking. Since most shoes only last 300-500 miles, that means runners must have perfect lawns and tired pets. A new story this week tells us that we’re doing it all wrong. Instead of wearing one pair until they’ve lost their bounce, "You Should Rotate Your Running Shoes More Often — Here's Why." The basic idea is that your shoes need a little time to breathe and recover, just like their owners. Giving them a day or 2 off between runs helps the foam recover and a dryer shoe can generally withstand more abuse than a damp shoe. Owning a quiver of shoes also lets you choose the right tool for the right job. That means more than just a pair of trainers and a pair of racing flats. Consider owning a pair for trail, tempo days and long runs. If you need more convincing, check out “Five Reasons to Own Multiple Pairs of Running Shoes” or “Why You Must Rotate Running Shoes.” Fleet Feet also provides answers to these riddles: “How to Extend the Life of Running Shoes” and “How to Tell if Running Shoes are Worn Out” in this blog post. BTW, if you are a fan of Sex and the City, you may enjoy “20 Of Carrie Bradshaw’s Best-Ever Shoe Moments.” #ShoeBin
Minute 2: Mastering your master years
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” That’s our favorite Mark Twain quotation of all time. It applies not only to life in general, but also to running. Sometimes experience trumps fresh legs. Most runners competing in the masters age bracket have been active in the sport for a long time, but there are also some newcomers who are leveraging the wisdom of age into racing success. The Washington Post just ran this story: "They didn't start running competitively until late in life. Why are they winning?" The piece details the exciting onset of newer runners in their 50s, 60s, and even older brackets who are new to the sport and setting PRs, breaking records and recalculating expectations for a whole generation. One study showed that as we age, we do slow down, but much less so than previously thought. For a little more insight, check out “The runner’s body: how it changes as we age.” Remember that VO2 max begins to drop significantly in your 40s, but that is a more important metric for succeeding in a 5K than in a marathon. Older runners continue to thrive at that distance and even in ultras into their 60s and 70s. If you need some spine-tingling proof, check out this video of 70-year-old Gunhild Swanson in the 2015 Western States 100 when she had only seconds remaining to finish the race in the required 30 hours, which no woman over the age of 70 had ever done before. #LikeAFineWine
Minute 3: How long to become unfit
Before you freak out from this headline, remember what you just read above - even if you took time off, like the masters runners mentioned before, you can still come storming back. But the question remains, how long does it take for our bodies to become unfit? Taking time off, whether days, weeks, months, or years, is not a death sentence to your health or your fitness, though it does have a measurable impact. A new story gives us some hard data: "Health experts reveal the number of weeks it takes to become 'unfit'." In one example cited, a 2:30 marathoner will show about 10% decreased cardiorespiratory fitness (measured by VO2 max) within the first 4 weeks. The rate of decreased fitness decelerates as time goes on, however, so that eventually that elite athlete will maintain a higher resting VO2 max than a less competitive runner. For those who run at a less-than-elite level, however, you can expect to see a large decrease in VO2 max within 8 weeks, nearly back to pre-fitness rates. A decrease in fitness doesn't just affect runners, it's measurable in weight lifters too, as their muscle mass decreases. You can find details in this Healthline piece: “Exercise Break: How Long Does It Take to Lose Muscle Mass?” If you’ve been training steadily for at least a year, you can expect to take a 3-4 week break without losing a significant amount of muscle mass and strength. The Healthline story also examines how age and gender affect time off from running and working out. #UnfitHappens
Minute 4: What motivates people to start running?
Someday we will stop talking about the pandemic and how it has changed our lives. Today is not that day. Sorry. We'll continue to hit this topic until endurance events return to normal and interesting studies dry up. New stat: In a survey from RunRepeat of over 3,000 current runners, nearly 30% of respondents said they started running during the pandemic. In other words, the next time you pass runners on the roads or trails, nearly 1 in 3 of them have only taken up the sport in the last 15 months. That is good news for shoe retailers like Fleet Feet, which tripled its ecommerce sales last year. It’s also good news for all runners as more new blood joins our community. Of the new pandemic runners, 78% said that physical health was their big motivator and that a large chunk of them love running enough that they're interested in doing a race in the near future. They are more open minded about virtual races than folks who ran pre-pandemic. For you veteran runners who post on social media, you can now consider yourself an influencer. The pandemic was an influencer on people maintaining mental health through exercise. Londoners, for example, increased their walking, cycling, and running. In 2020, more 26.2 mile runs were uploaded to Strava than in 2019. Cyclists challenged each other to "Everesting" and Strava recorded over 1.1 billion (that’s with a “B”) activities uploaded in 2020. Damn. Well done, world. #WelcomeToTheClub
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Mother's Day may be over for 2021, but we won't stop showing appreciation and gratitude for moms, whether they are grandmothers or brand new moms. If you fall in the second category, you may appreciate: "A Guide to Regaining Core Strength Postpartum.” Outside provides some specific exercises tied to the progression of timeframes postpartum to help you return to peak performance. For more inspiration, you may want to check out “How These Olympic Marathon Moms Get It All Done.”
In 2019, Stephanie Bruce won the USATF Half Marathon Championship. 11 days later she ran a competitive 5000M race and set a new PB. After the race, she turned to her coach and explained simply: “When you're fit, you're fit!" Coach and author Matt Fitzgerald used that anecdote as a jumping off point for a column he titled “Running is running and when you’re fit you’re fit.” He writes about what that means and how it applies to runners training for specific races, but translating that achieved fitness to other races. For example, training for a half marathon and running a 5K later just like Stephanie did. Fitzgerald is of the opinion that runners should generally train for any race in essentially the same way and that a balanced approach to low-intensity and high-intensity training will benefit you regardless of the distance.
Let's say you are in the midst of training season, and you're trying to increase your mileage, but long runs don’t always fit into your schedule because of real world responsibilities. Well, time to consider 2-a-days. The question about how often you should run is asked a lot, and Matt Fitzgerald (yep, the same guy from the paragraph above) is a fan of 2-a-days. Perks: increased mileage without dedicating significant single blocks of time to long runs, incorporating cross-training, etc. If that option may work for you, here are some tips on how to ease into the 2X per day routine.
Minute 6: Don’t sleep on the Field in Track & Field
Track talk has been prominent for the last couple of weeks here, and who can blame us with the hopes of seeing the Olympics this summer (fingers are still crossed). In all that track talk, we can get carried away and forget about the amazing athletes on the field too. For example, Italian Larissa Iapichino holds the world record for under-20 in the long jump. Check out this video that shows a bit about her training and her aspirations for the future - including beating the Italian record held by her mom. Leave it to Red Bull’s media team to make a seemingly simple event like the long jump absolutely fascinating.