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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — November 11, 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,” Burfoot says.

THIS WEEK: Train like Molly Seidel. Or, train like Eliud Kipchoge. What’s the best interval workout? Super shoes are slower on hills than on flats. How to stack good habits. Strength training for the hips. Altitude training on the cheap. More.

How to train like Molly Seidel

Molly Seidel ran another fantastic marathon this weekend in New York City (fourth overall, with the best time ever by an American woman on the NYC course). So naturally, we all want to know how she got so fast in just the last several years. Well, she didn’t. Seidel has been one of the country’s top runners since her high school days when she won everything in Wisconsin four years in a row and also broke the tape in the 2011 Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships. But she had a tough time in college and beyond until she started working with a new coach and tried a different training system. This article goes deep on the changes they made together. More at PodiumRunner.

Or, take your pick: Train like Eliud Kipchoge

This newsletter generally steers away from elite athlete profiles, but Eliud Kipchoge is one of a kind, and so… here we are with one. More than a decade ago, I was lucky enough to enjoy a short, slow run with Kipchoge near his training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya. Cathal Dennehy recently spent three days with Kipchoge and pals. He presents a handful of anecdotes and insightful gems here. I like the one about Kipchoge waiting for the medal ceremony in Tokyo after his second-consecutive Olympic Marathon win. The below article outlines his training program. My super-short summary: “It’s easy to train like a Kipchoge. It’s not so easy to live like a Kipchoge.” More at Outside Online.

What’s the best interval workout?

Interval training presents a vast canvas of workouts that vary by number, intensity, and length. Of course, we’d like to know if one is somehow better or more efficient than another. The best answer to this question: It depends on what you’re training for, mile or marathon. Here researchers compared sessions that ranged from 4 x 30 seconds really hard with 4-minute recoveries, to 4 x 4-minutes with 3-minute recoveries, to a steady, hard 45-minute run. They found no significant differences for peak VO2 or peak HR, while only the 30-second sprints made a difference in blood lactate levels. Loose conclusion: A hard workout is a hard workout but the “differences should be accounted for when planning training sessions.” More at Outside Online.

When super shoes run up and down hills

The researchers who did much of the early work on Vaporfly super shoes wanted to investigate how the shoes perform on uphill and downhills—you know the real world of Boston and New York City Marathons, and many other runs and races. Turns out there are subtle plusses and minuses. The shoes provide a smaller bonus on uphills than flats, and a smaller or equal bonus on downhills. Overall, on a course with both ups and downs, the Vaporfly 4% shoe becomes a Vaporfly 3%. Remember: The time-saved running in the shoes is 33 percent less than the “metabolic power” measured in the lab. So a Vaporfly 3% becomes a Vaporfly 2% if you’re calculating your marathon time. (Unless you’re one of the lucky outliers who checks in with a 5 to 7% improved metabolic power.) The researchers note that shoe companies might next build shoes “tuned” to the topography of the marathon course being raced, ie, the Vaporfly 6% Berlin and the Vaporfly 4% Boston. More, free full text, at J of Sport & Health Science.

A little cardio “primes” muscle for upper-body strength training

A New York Times article quoted research that found a cardio warmup for a strength workout could increase the effectiveness of that strength session. This of course left us wondering: If I do a few push-ups before running, will it enhance my leg strength and efficiency? I trust someone is working on this question right now. The article reminded me of “habit stacking,” the popular technique whereby you build a new (good) habit by pairing it with an established (good) habit. This could get ridiculous real fast, but it is smart when you add a few strides (speed) to the end of a modest easy day run (endurance), and there must be dozens (hundreds? more?) good combo pairings. I do heel raises while rewarming my morning coffee. That counts, right? More on Habit Stacking.

Running injuries DON’T come from bad muscles or mechanics

As you know, it’s not easy to prevent running injuries. Many researchers have looked into muscular issues and biomechanics-movement factors. Here, in a meta-analysis, a team found that neither was a significant predictor of running-related injuries (RRI). There was a little evidence for knee-extensor strength and for hip adduction velocity. But, the overall conclusion: These findings do not support any “association between biomechanical or musculoskeletal measures” and injuries. Rather, recommendations should be “focused on better-established risk factors for RRI, such as previous injury and training characteristics.” More at J of Science & Medicine in Sport.

Sex differences in pelvis maturation might explain girls’ injuries

Girls are not small boys. Their pelvis and hips mature differently than boys, according to this study of young runners before/during/after puberty. For example, girls are more likely to experience a change in their “frontal plane pelvic obliquity.” Translation: They might find one hip dipping lower than the other. Girls also exhibited greater maximum peak hip adduction compared to males. The sex differences became more pronounced in later stages of puberty and could “correspond to an increased risk for running-related injuries in female runners compared to male runners.” More at J of Science & Medicine in Sport.

But simple steps can improve hip imbalances

While normal sex development and lots of other factors might lead to hip imbalances and associated problems, there are also ways to work on those issues. Here are several simple strengthening moves and stretches to help you prevent or correct “hip drop,” a common issue among runners. More at Fit Page.

2.5 hours of running/week offers a strong mortality benefit

The Scandinavian countries have often been leaders in exercise research, and the Malmo (SWE) Diet and Cancer project ranks among them. It tracked a large number of midlife men and women, noting behaviors linked to cancer and other illnesses. Here the Malmo team reports on exercise quantity and mortality over a 20-year follow-up period. Those walking about 5 hours a week (roughly, 2.5 hours of running, or maybe 12-15 miles a week) had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than those walking/running half as much. More at  BMC Public Health.

How to do altitude training on the cheap

Not everyone can live in Flagstaff, Boulder, Iten, or Addis Ababa, but many elite runners try to do altitude training whenever they can. With a little help from technology, sea-level runners can mimic the same. Here’s how—with a restrictive breathing device (not quite the real deal), altitude sleeping tent (the price is dropping), or entire gyms that can adjust oxygen level to simulate altitude (who knew?). More at Canadian Running.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

“Girls on the Run” program provided a positive “sense of normalcy” in recent tough times

After partial knee replacement, 7 percent run marathons

In Covid, childhood obesity rising fast, which increases Covid risks for kids (as for adults)


“All you need is the courage to believe in yourself and to put one foot in front of the other.” —Kathine Switzer, women’s running pioneer

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