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Should you dial back strength training before big races?

Minute 1: Nutrition tips for reaching your personal best

It was hard to get too stoked about posting a fast time in a virtual race last year. No crowds, no hype, and no Insta-worthy finish line photos with your arms in the air and a PR displayed on the clock. As the 2021 race calendar begins to fill with live races again, anxious runners are ramping up training and dreaming new dreams of personal bests. Right on time, Canadian Running is offering some help with “8 tips for running a PB in your next race.” Its number 1 tip is to “nail your nutrition.” The story emphasizes the importance of having a nutrition plan that includes both pre-race meals and mid-race snacks like gels and bars, and testing your plan before the race. Numerous health and fitness sites offer nutrition advice for boosting your speed and stamina, like Runtastic’s “Runner’s Diet - The 9 Best Foods For Runners.” The Cleveland Clinic explains “How to Prepare for a Marathon & What to Eat” and Training Peaks has this “Complete Guide to Proper Marathon Nutrition.” While most lists include standard options like bananas, oats, carbs and peanut butter, offers a menu of “10 Superfoods for Endurance Athletes.” For in-race fuel, check out this list of drinks and energy boosters in “17 Surprising Mid-Run Snacks to Improve Your Marathon.” It’s also important to make sure you refuel properly after a long run. Healthline has some tips in “The 15 Best Foods to Eat After Running.” For more depth on the subject -- and good entertainment on your next long run -- check out our podcast interview with Nancy Clark, one of the most respected nutritionists in endurance sports. #SufferingFuels

Minute 2: Should you dial back strength training before your big race?

Running coaches for years have instructed their athletes to cut back on speed workouts and high-volume training a few days before a big race. Fearing a loss in strength, however, many of those coaches advised runners to keep hitting the weights or risk a sharp drop-off in overall power. The fear has been that athletes quickly lose the benefits of those intense workouts when they stop doing them. A new study, however, contradicts that conventional wisdom, as reported this week in Triathlete magazine. The story’s subheadline says it all: “Runners who stopped their strength training retained the benefits for four weeks, and got faster.” What’s not to love? The most surprising aspect of the research is that runners not only maintained gains in running economy but also showed improved performance in 3,000-meter time trials. A word of caution here: although the study was credible, the sample size was small. In a related post, Trail Runner magazine suggests that triple-digit or high-volume training weeks are not always a prerequisite for long-distance success. In “How to Run Well Off Low Mileage,” The story includes advice from 3 successful trail runners who have succeeded with low-volume training. For more on the best strength-training programs for runners, check out Fleet Feet’s “Strength Training for Runners” or’s “The Best Strength Exercises for Runners.” For trail runners, check out “How To Build Strength to Improve Your Trail Running.” #NumbersInStrength

Minute 3: Barkley Marathon victorious

The Barkley won again. Not a single participant among the field of accomplished ultrarunners could finish the grueling 100-mile race last week at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tenn. One of the toughest endurance races in the world, the 2021 Barkley Marathons ended a day early with no runner completing the race for the third straight year. The Sportsman called it “The 100-Mile Race That Broke All Of Its runners.” Only 15 participants have finished the race through the Tennessee mountains in the 35-year history of the event. This year’s event was even too much for ultrarunning icon Courtney Dauwalter, who was attempting to become the first woman to finish the race. Dauwalter may not have conquered the course, but she was still smiling on Instagram after the event. Check out more on Dauwalter’s 100-mile ultrarunning adventures from our SMM podcast with her last year. Despite its tiny size, the Barkley is so quirky and so difficult, that it even has its own documentary. Check out the trailer here. #TenneseeRisky

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Virtual Run Entries Open

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Run or walk virtually in the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Virtual Run. Traditionally known worldwide as the “Runner’s Rite of Spring” in Washington, DC, the event is oversold every year. Not so in 2021! Runners are invited to experience peak blossoms in their own communities by participating in the Virtual Edition, March 20 through April 11, 2021. Register between March 20 and April 9. Since there is no size limit, there is no lottery for the Virtual Run. There are no time limits either. All entrants get in and receive a t-shirt and a medal plus a chance to pin your own cherry blossom on a virtual cherry tree. Run or walk either the Ten Mile Run or 5K Run-Walk. Dogs run or walk for free. Post your results and photos and win prizes.

Minute 4: How to maintain your thru-hike fitness

If you’ve daydreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s hard to imagine a positive experience without properly training for a thru-hike. Only 1 in 4 hikers actually complete the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, and according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the most common reason they don’t make it is injuries. Proper training can help you avoid the types of injuries that can derail your adventure. If you make it, a long thru-hike could leave you in the best shape of your life. As one recent story explained: “These Benefits of Hiking Will Make You Want to Hit the Trails.” Completing a long hike raises an interesting question, though. How do you maintain that fitness level after you complete a thru-hike? Outside examines this issue and offers some training tips in “How to Build and Maintain Thru-Hiking Fitness.” Outside recommends starting with steady cardio exercises, adding resistance training, and gradually increasing the difficulty of your hikes. It’s also a good idea to get in some trail runs. has some great advice for this in its latest “Trail running essentials: everything you need before you start your run.” For more on how to prepare for your hike, also check out these fitness tips from The Hiking Life. #HikeSchool

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that traffic in U.S. cities like New York, Portland and Houston has declined as much as 66% in 2020. Fewer cars on the road meant 30% fewer collisions according to a new detailed report called the INRIX 2020 Global Traffic Scorecard. There is dark side to the trend, however, as more cyclists took to the roads in 2020. Unfortunately, fatal accidents did not decline as much as vehicle/vehicle collisions. Outside has been maintaining a comprehensive database that shows bike accidents by type and location. Former NBA player Shawn Bradley was recently paralyzed in a cycling accident when he was hit by a car near his home in Utah. As bicycle traffic has increased, it’s important for both drivers and cyclists to check out resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s tips for bicycle safety.

  • Most runners would rather run up the steepest pitch of Mount Washington or Pike’s Peak in freezing rain than climb on an elliptical machine. The exercise machine that more closely mimics skiing than running is typically reserved for injured runners. Running coach Cory Smith says, however, that the elliptical can improve a runner’s fitness and performance. He explains why in “The Best Elliptical Workout For Runners: Rolling Hill Simulator.”

  • Bad news from our shameless self promotion desk -- 2 of our top editors badly strained their shoulders while patting themselves on the back for the successful launch of our Six Minute Mile Professional Edition. Interestingly, the orthopedic surgeon who examined them said that it will cost about $6 per month for proper physical therapy. What a happy coincidence. That is exactly the cost of a subscription to the fastest-growing industry trade journal in endurance sports. That means that you can not only get critical news and financial data on the most important companies in our industry, but you can also save 1 of our employees the embarrassment of attempting 1-armed pushups for the rest of their lives. All kidding aside, in tomorrow’s issue we break a story about shoe delays caused by shipping problems along the Asia to U.S. routes. We also launch a new feature that lists the top 10 stories that you really can’t afford to miss from the past week.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Ultrarunner Dave Mackey is a master at running across the Grand Canyon and back. In 2007, he crossed the South and North rim in 6 hours, 59 minutes to become the first runner to break the 7-hour mark. Eight years later, life changed dramatically for the 2-time North American Ultraruner of the Year. Mackey, 51, suffered a horrific injury while trail running near his home in Boulder, CO. The severe injury, caused by a tumble down a cliff and a large rock falling on him, led to Mackey having his left leg amputated below the knee. He returned to endurance running with a prosthetic leg, however, and on March 11 completed the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim challenge again. Our friend Brian Metzler recently documented Mackey’s amazing journey for For more on his remarkable comeback check out the video below.


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