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Why many runners gain weight during marathon training

JAN 29, 2022

Minute 1: Words of wisdom from an elite marathon runner

If experience is the best teacher, we should all take notes when an Olympic-level runner is in front of the class. We like this noteworthy new story featuring a Q&A with Mara Yamauchi, the third-fastest female British marathoner of all time. Take a look at “How To Run Faster: Tried-And-Tested Advice From An Elite Athlete.” Simply put, Mara says consistency is the main component of growth as a runner. One of the most fruitful things you can do is identify a reasonable volume of mileage to take on, and then stick to that level for longer than you may expect. It is best to have consistent, injury-free training rather than the stop/start that comes with trying to ramp mileage too quickly. If you do hit a plateau and don’t know how to advance, Mara suggests an audit of your habits – both in training and your life in general. Often we fixate on what we do during the workout to improve, but our time outside the gym eating, sleeping, and working will all have a big impact on our performance. For a look into how sleep, nutrition, and stress levels will impact your ability to train, read “Your athlete’s lifestyle affects their performance.”

Minute 2: Cyclists: look out for these injuries

The faster they are, the harder they fall. That’s the unfortunate reality for cyclists, whether they experience a sudden accident, or develop a nagging overuse injury after logging high mileage. Getting back in the saddle after tough setbacks isn’t easy, but a good place to start is by following the advice in “Common cycling injuries: treatment and prevention.” Impact injuries among cyclists can be some of the nastiest occurrences in all of endurance sports, and they warrant immediate medical attention. Even if you don’t think you’ve broken a bone, you could be suffering from a concussion, or a road rash that could turn into an infection if left unaddressed. The faster you can identify these issues, the sooner you can work to fix them and get back to riding. Another common issue among cyclists is lower back pain, and your positioning may be the cause. Try out different seat & handlebar heights to find a more comfortable setup. Last but not least, knee pain is a frequent problem among cyclists. There can be several different causes, so for a breakdown of why you’re hurting, and what to do about it, read “Cycling knee pain: What to know.” About 28% of amateur cyclists report having knee pain, and the location of discomfort can clue you in to what’s going wrong. Use the article to identify if you’re having anterior, posterior, lateral, or medial knee pain. #CrashAndLearn

Minute 3: We can learn a lot from this groundbreaking marathon research

Humans and guinea pigs have done some pretty remarkable things in the name of science. Like the old joke about chickens being involved with breakfast, but pigs being fully committed, usually the lab rodents have it tougher than homo sapiens. At least that’s what we thought until we read this new article: “Lessons from 10 Marathons Run in 10 Days on a Lab Treadmill.” Volunteering to run marathon after marathon in a lab while being hooked up to monitoring equipment is not our idea of a good time, which is why Sharon Gayter deserves our thanks. Back in 2017, she offered to run that experiment so that researchers could better understand marathon pacing, fueling, and strategy, and at last, the data has been published. The first curveball Sharon encountered was her food consumption. She planned to get calories in the form of drinks, jelly beans, sandwiches, and protein smoothies, but they immediately caused nausea. From then on, she would only consume a few grapes and water during her runs, meaning her carbs and glycogen supply could be easily depleted if she went too fast. By slowing down to a more comfortable pace, she was able to get over 60% of her energy from fat storage in her body, demonstrating how reducing your pace can pay dividends in long distance events. As far as refueling outside of the runs, Sharon has a few tips. For instance, she often aims to gain a few pounds before big events, knowing that the body will be in a calorie deficit during competition. In fact, weight gain before marathons is common, and often a good sign. Take a look at “Why You Might Gain Weight While Training for the Marathon.” Weight gain could be the result of increased muscle mass, or greater glycogen storage – two things that will up your speed when it comes time to race.

Minute 4: Reader survey results

Thank you to 3,500+ of our loyal readers who took the time to share feedback in our second ever reader survey. We picked up some interesting insights about who you all are and what you’d like to see more about. Here are a few takeaways from your responses:

  • You are pretty smart cookies. 50% of our readers have a graduate degree.

  • You are very dedicated to a healthy lifestyle as more than 60% of you run or work out five or more days per week.

  • We love you guys, but when it comes to sports, you are not the most diverse. Your single most popular activity after running is hiking, with about 60% of you citing that as your second favorite sport.

  • Most of you cut in half the number of races run over the past 12 months, but the bounceback should be special. Overall, our readers plan to increase the number of races run this year to a level higher than in 2019. More than 50% of you plan to run at least 4 races while 14% will do 10 or more races. Impressive.

  • Nearly 80% of you use a GPS watch to track runs. Garmin Connect is the most popular tracking app, favored by 45% of our readers while Strava is in second place with 17% market share.

  • Almost 1,000 of you expressed an interest in becoming an ambassador for Six Minute Mile. We can’t promise that we will pay you $180,000 per sponsored post like the “Top 15 Highest-Paid Instagram Influencers,” but the plan is to send some Six Minute Mile swag your way for sharing SMM with friends and helping with fun events. Stay tuned for details.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Brian Metzler has been on a roll lately, providing us with some of the best gear reviews and insight the web has to offer. You can find his thoughts on three new trail running shoes including the Altra Mont Blanc here, the Adidas Terrex Agravic Pro here, and the HOKA Tecton X here. As trail running has grown in popularity recently, so have your options for gear. If you want a rundown of a few more shoe ideas, take a look at the “Best Trail Running Shoes of 2022” from iRunFar.

  • Whatever skill level of runner you are, you can do a backyard ultra. If you read the word “ultra” and think we’re overestimating your abilities, let us explain. In this context, it doesn’t mean the same as an ultra marathon, because in a backyard ultra, you go as long as you’re able on a 6.706 km loop course. There is no judgment whether you run one loop or dozens of them. You get the experience and community of an ultramarathon, with a distance you’re able to tackle. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, read “Why you should try a backyard ultra.”

  • In old movies about horse racing, at some point a grizzled old trainer checks a steed's teeth to determine how fit it is. For folks who run on two feet rather than four hooves, dental health is also a surprising indicator according to the Mayo Clinic: “Oral health: A window to your overall health.” Having healthy teeth isn’t just about brushing and flossing. What you put in your mouth is going to affect oral health, for better or worse. Some foods offer cleaning and fortifying properties, like crunchy veggies or calcium rich drinks like milk. On the other hand, sugary and acidic foods can be detrimental. For a rundown of what’s what, read “The best and worst foods for teeth.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

If you couldn’t tell by now, we’re always on the lookout for a challenge to test our fitness capability. As long as you perform them with safety in mind, online challenges are a fun way to give yourself a fitness checkup and shake up your routine. If you beat the challenge, you can pat yourself on the back and enjoy a little boost in confidence. If the challenge beats you, then you know what you can work on in the coming days and weeks to become the healthiest version of yourself. We’ve previously shared the Old Man balance test which involves standing on one leg at a time while putting on socks and shoes. This time, we found a balance challenge that will test your single leg strength and coordination. All you need is a kettlebell or similar heavy object, and then follow along with the video from @running.yana. Good luck!

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