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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — August 5, 2021

Your weekly guided tour of the best new research and articles on running from around the web.

Each week, Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, also the world’s most experienced running editor, curates the latest and most useful content on running and health from around the internet. “I spend hours finding the best new research and articles, so you can review them in minutes.”

THIS WEEK: Two simple rules to improve your running. How to adjust your pace in the heat. Olympic updates. Get more control over your stomach issues. Should you lean forward when running? Find your perfect marathon pace. The surprising benefits of a lay off. Run 10 minutes faster in your next half-marathon. Monitor your heart rate. More.

Two simple rules to succeed at running … or anything

Author and performance coach Brad Stulberg has a talent for observing the athletic (and larger) worlds around us, and distilling core principles from what he sees. He doesn’t get lost in the details; he searches to find the bigger picture. For example, he’s a relatively new dog owner, and it didn’t take him long to find 7 parallels between training his new dog and training himself (or me or you). I liked even more his “2 simple rules” for getting better at almost anything. Yes, #1 is obvious, and #2 is not exactly revolutionary. But that doesn’t negate the bigger point: If you don’t follow both #1 and #2, you don’t get better. End of story. More at Outside Online.

How to adjust your pace in the heat

The first and most important rule of running in the heat is: Adjust your pace appropriately. In the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Marathons, for example, the male runners won’t try for a 2:02 finish time (or the women for 2:16), because that would be suicidal in the expected warm, humid conditions. This article has some precise formulas on how to adjust your pace to whatever difficult (hot) weather you face. Here’s another, very complete, with more formulas, physiology, and advice from one of the leading experts in the field. More at Podium Runner.

Don’t let stomach issues derail your workouts and races

Many runners have stomach problems during workouts and races, perhaps because running is a bouncy, stomach-roiling activity. Fortunately, there are also many ways to limit stomach issues on the run. Don’t eat fats and fiber before running; don’t get dehydrated; watch out for too much sugar and caffeine; and consider probiotics as a possible preventative. More at Women’s Running.

Olympic Updates

In track and field, here’s what to watch for in the 5,000m and 1500 meter finals. That 1500m final will include Jacob Ingebrigtsen, whose training I explored a while back (lots of long “cruise” intervals). In the women’s races, all eyes are on Sydney McLaughlin, who bested both her own world record and rival Dalilah Muhammad to win gold in the 400 meter hurdles. Team USA’s Courtney Freirichs made a bold move with three laps to go to win silver in the 3,000 meter steeplechase winning the hearts of fast-twitch-challenged runners everywhere, while Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai became her nation’s first female gold medalist. Chemutai credits part of her win to “enjoy[ing] the weather,” but Tokyo’s hot summer has put climate change back on the list of things that might end the summer Olympics for good.

The surprising benefits of a lay off

The next time you’re feeling stressed because you have to stop running for several weeks due to injury, travel, or whatever cause, look on the positive side of such layoffs. Yes, you’ll lose some aerobic fitness. At the same time, however, you can maintain muscle endurance, may increase muscle mass, and “may enhance anabolic hormonal milieu.” These are also reasons why many coaches and athletes believe in several rest periods per year. You have to back off occasionally in order to achieve leaps forward at other times. More at European Journal of Sports Science.

Should you lean forward when you run?

Before growing interested in human movement patterns, especially foot strikes, Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman studied head/brain biomechanics. Check out his textbook if you want some light reading. Now, in a new running paper, he has investigated: How does forward lean affect running mechanics? After all, the torso, arms, and legs make up 68 percent of your body weight, so they likely have a big effect. Lieberman hypothesized that a forward lean would increase stride length and decrease stride frequency, perhaps increasing injury risks. But he proved himself wrong. Stride length decreased, and frequency increased. However, a lean did increase loading rates and ground reaction forces, so Lieberman still suspects it could cause injuries. More at Human Movement Science. And on the same topic, some thoughts from a running on forward lean in the context of your strength and speed. More at PodiumRunner

Find and improve your perfect marathon pace

All marathon runners want to know their best marathon pace (especially when they’re standing on the start line), and how to improve it. Many online calculators based on Jack Daniels’s pioneering work help us by establishing “equivalent performances.” A new paper looking at runners in the Athens Classic Marathon found that they could improve their marathon times by running more days/week, covering more miles/week, and lowering their BMI. The authors also devised a formula to predict marathon time from vo2 max, which is roughly the same as using a Daniels calculator. More at Frontiers in Physiology.

Monitor your heart rate to train and recover better

Heart rate before, during, and after a run is one of our simplest, most accessible, and most powerful performance metrics. It can tell us when we’re making progress, when to slow down, when to speed up, when we need more recovery, and perhaps even when we’re about to come down with a cold or flu. Here’s some additional advice about how heart rate might indicate that you need to eat more, or to increase your fluid intake. More at Training Peaks.

Would you like to run 10 minutes faster in your next half marathon?

Yeah, me too. Because if you can do that, you can likely run 20 to 30 minutes faster in your next full marathon. Here are 7 strong tips, ranging from mental strategies to workouts. I’d have to say that # 5 is the most important. Surround yourself with a veritable army of support from family to training partners on online social groups. Fifty years ago we had to deal with “the loneliness of the long distance runner.” But no more. To improve your running, get less alone in every way possible. More at Run to the Finish.

You can start running late, and still achieve top times

I won’t claim to understand machine learning. I always thought you needed to connect two points before you could draw a line. This paper does it with just one point, and claims to be more accurate than the many previous performance-decline tables The senior author, Bergita Danse, told me she’s a discus, javelin, and shot thrower who competed in the 2017 European Masters Championships. She and her colleagues performed their big-data analysis with the help of a Swedish Athletics database including more than 83,000 performances dating back to 1901. Who knew? The most important finding, according to Danse: Runners who started late in life could achieve top performances that would decline little in subsequent years. “This means it is a great idea to start exercising, even for older individuals.” More at GeroScience.

Regular exercise decreases telomere shortening. Which can “extend health-span.”

Telomeres “protect genomic stability,” a good thing. When telomeres get shorter, that’s considered “one of the hallmarks of aging.” Aging can also be a good thing, if you increase wisdom. But, you know, all in all, I’d rather not. That’s where regular running comes into play. In a meta-analysis and systematic review of “human and rodent trials,” exercise was found to increase a substance called “TERT,” which in turn acts to decrease telomere shortening. “These findings suggest exercise training as an inexpensive lifestyle factor that … can ultimately extend health-span and longevity.” More at Ageing Research Reviews.

How adolescent runners can get strong bones

The military has a problem with bone injuries similar to what often happens with teenage runners. If recruits get injured, as they often do in basic training, it costs the Army time, money, and potential dropouts from service. Here, U.S. and British military researchers investigated strategies “to promote adaptive bone formation.” They concluded that the path to healthy, strong bones includes “adequate sleep, vitamin D, calcium, and energy availability.” More at European Journal of Sports Sciences.

And how masters sprinters maintain strong bones

This study looked into lower-leg bone strength of a group of male masters sprinters who continued to train hard and compete 10 years after a previous investigation. (One sprinter was still getting after it at age 85). Another group had stopped the hard stuff, switching instead to a light “endurance training” program. Result? The still-sprinting group, which included strength training in their program, “maintained or even improved” their bone health while the endurance group had “decreased bone properties.” This appears to be a “Use it or lose it” phenomenon. More at J Bone & Mineral Research Plus.

SHORT STUFF you’ll want to know

>Would you like to enter the world’s most expensive (and luxurious) ultramarathon?

>Post-training sauna bath improves heat adaptation and performance

>Oral cannabidiol oil (CBD oil) found ineffective against exercise muscle damage

>High levels of omega-3s in blood linked to 5 years longer lifespan


“You don’t run 26 miles at 5 minutes a mile on good looks and a secret recipe.”—Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic Marathon champion

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well, and see you next week. —Amby