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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — October 28, 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: Sneaky speed that’s good for you. Bounce back from post-marathon “blues.” Coffee boosts glycogen replenishment. A proven injury-recovery plan. Train, don’t strain. Try FFIT in place of HIT. Best marathon weather. Kenyans are different. More.

Sneaky speed work that builds you up, doesn’t tear you down

If there are two training principles I’m certain about, they are: 1) To run fast, you have to train fast, and 2) Too much fast training is a big problem. That’s why I like this article: It provides 3 “camouflaged” workouts that can keep you sharp year-round without hammering you into the ground, mentally or physically. “Hill sprints” are a personal favorite, though I do mine slightly different from the description here; tailoring workouts to your own whims is where all the fun and training creativity comes from, right? And “Tweener Repeats” are also great because they were first designed by the brilliant coach, Jack Daniels. More at PodiumRunner.

How to bounce back from post-marathon “blues”

I have a friend who just lost her fall marathon to a bad cold that followed a weekend of babysitting her 2-year-old grandson. We had been training together all summer for our (different) marathon goals. I got to run mine; she didn’t. That’s depressing stuff, but life happens. Others like well-known marathon coach Ben Rosario note that they developed their worst post-marathon blues after their best races. Go figure. At any rate, when you’re down, you need to find a path upwards. This article has several solid tips to help you deal with “neurochemical shenanigans.” More at Outside Online.

Don’t fall into the “imposter syndrome” trap

The elite athletes and medal winners get to climb the podium, accept a nice check, and have articles written about them. They get 95 percent of the publicity and often seem to define the sport. As a result, midpack runners are heard to say, “I’m not a real runner. I’m not like …. But, of course, all runners actually experience training and racing in much the same way, and all are “real runners.” Playing the imposter can be fun and self-deprecating, but it might also be limiting your potential. I don’t recall reading past articles about “imposter syndrome” in running media (but definitely in other areas), so this one struck me as interesting and perhaps helpful. More at Triathlete.

Coffee boosts glycogen recovery after long workouts

Nutrition for marathons and other long events really couldn’t be easier. You just consume the same things before and after. Before, you load water and carbs, topped off by coffee/caffeine. After, you rehydrate to replace lost fluids, eat carbs to replenish the ones you burned off … and, according to an impressive new paper, drink coffee, because it provides an extra stimulus to increase muscle glycogen.

Brazilian researchers forced 11 highly fit male cyclists to do an exhausting afternoon ride (4 hours) and another of the same the next morning. In between, subjects were instructed to eat a low-carb dinner, so they didn’t fully carb up after the first ride. After the second long ride, subjects drank either a coffee and milk “frappe” with plenty of sugar or a plain “milkshake” with equal sugar.

Oops, how can they call it a “double-blind, crossover”  trial when subjects could surely tell a coffee drink from a non-coffee drink. Well, maybe not. The researchers did everything they could to make the drinks seem the same. The drinks were served in opaque containers with coffee-infused lids and dark straws in a room with openly brewing coffee.

Result: Those who drank coffee + milk saw their glycogen supply increase by 57 percent more than the non-coffee drinkers. This means that “the consumption of coffee with sweetened milk is an effective strategy to improve muscle glycogen recovery.” More, including free, full text for a fun read, at Nutrients.

“Wait for the snake to stop hissing”

When a smart, veteran runner like 1500-meter/mile star Nick Willis provides a full-fledged report on how he got over a recent injury, we’d be smart to pay attention to his process. In particular, he waited 12 days before seeking deep-tissue massage. This was met with enthusiastic approval from biomechanist-ultrarunner Geoff Burns, who noted: “Stretching, poking, testing, massaging something that hurts is likely going to *escalate* any structural damage. Wait for the snake to stop hissing.” More at (Click on “Show This Thread” for Willis’s report.)

To beat stress: Train, don’t strain

While there are optimistic trends on the virus and economic fronts, there’s also no denying that a lot of people are stressed out after nearly two years of… just too much stuff going on. We read about people quitting their jobs, and I wonder how many have also stopped running or exercising. It’s a good time to make sure your workouts are helping you de-stress vs. adding stress. Non-attachment, psychological flexibility, and self-compassion can help guide you. Also, here’s an unexpected study result showing that higher mileage runners “demonstrated a decrease in reported worrying on a daily to near-daily basis” — less anxiety. More at Psychiatric Quarterly.

When knee pain strikes, here’s your plan

After a half-marathon, knee pain (outside of the knee) was the most frequently reported injury. Not surprisingly, there was more knee pain among runners over-2:00 than under-2:00, because the slower runners were probably less fit and well trained. The anterior knee pain was also linked to a lack of hamstring stretching, according to a paper at the J of Clinical Orthopaedics & Trauma. If you’d like to know how a physical therapist deals with knee-pain injuries in the office, here’s the answer at Brit J of Sports Medicine.

Try FFIT — fun, fast interval training — instead of HIT

I’m linking to this article mainly because I appreciate all the ways the New York Times is trying to get readers to exercise more. I guess I’d call this one a “slide show.” Don’t worry; it’s very short. In just 6 quick slides, it renames HIT workouts as FFIT workouts — for “fun, fast interval training.” That’s not a bad acronym, and it’s designed for middle-aged people who want to establish a lifetime routine. The goal is to raise your heart rate for 3 minutes, rest for 3, and then repeat. There’s some confusion over whether you should do 3 cycles or 4, but don’t sweat the small stuff. More at New York Times.

Choose a 50-degree day for your next marathon

Everyone knows that heat & humidity are enemies to great endurance performance, and plenty of good studies have confirmed this. But I guess academics are like elite athletes–they always want to upend the competition. So some European researchers checked out 1258 race-walk and distance running (inc. marathon) results all the way back to 1936 to see how weather affected the winning times. The absolute best temperature for a fast marathon is 50 degrees F, but things stay reasonably good up to about 62F. Then, every 3-4 degree F increase in temperature adds about 0.4% to your marathon time, getting worse at the extreme high-temperature ends of the scale. Increasing humidity also hurts. Bottom line: If you want to run a fast marathon, say a Boston qualifier, good weather is an absolute essential. More at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, and see Alex Hutchinson’s analysis of the study at Outside Online.

Yes, you can combine strength training and aerobic training

Runners are taught that training must be sport-specific and that more running (up to a point) makes you a better runner while other stuff probably won’t. In other words, swimming won’t improve your half-marathon, and it steals time you could devote to running. Nonetheless, research has shown that a modest amount of “concurrent” strength and aerobic training make good partners. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the two routines allow for maximal strength and aerobic gains. This demonstrates “the compatibility of the two training sessions.” More at Int J of Sports Medicine.

Endurance exercise improves health more than strength exercise

All movement is good, of course, but some activities might be better than others, and consistent aerobic endurance training almost always gets high marks. Here, in a press release from the American Physiological Society, researchers found “endurance exercise more beneficial to human health than resistance exercise such as weightlifting.” Why? Because it stimulates mitochondrial-derived peptides (MDPs) that “translate to ideal levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference.” The same effects were not found with strength training. Original paper from the J of Applied Physiology.

Kenyans don’t seem to have diet-hormone-bone issues

We all wonder how the East Africans manage to be so dominant in world distance running. The answers to date are close to nil and often confounding. Here a research team looked at diet and other measures related to RED-S (Relative Energy in Sports), which has been associated with various problems (bone fractures, hormone deficiencies, and many more) in Western studies. Often, low-calorie consumption is at the root of the problem. The study group here is elite Kenyan male and female marathoners with bests under-2:14 and under 2:40. They appear to have a very low calorie intake (1581 calories/day for the males; 1446 for the women). Yet they showed no signs of low bone mineral density or other RED-S problems. The researchers concluded: “This calls into question whether the current criteria for Triad-RED-S are entirely applicable for athletes of African ethnicity.” More at Euro J of Applied Physiology.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

Great workouts you can get done before going to work

Your heart health: Dr. Gabe Mirkin explains what you need to know about those new aspirin guidelines

6 simple glute exercises that can help you prevent running injuries


“The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama, competition, camaraderie and heroism. Maybe you can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but you can dream of finishing a marathon.” —Fred Lebow

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