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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — January 7, 2022

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: Yes, you can do better in 2022. How Shalane Flanagan ran six fast marathons in seven weeks. Evidence-based tactics for goal achievement. Should you train at the current pace or goal pace? Twenty-six golden rules of running. Five steps to lifetime running. Exercise and immunity. Use meditation to beat mental fatigue. Why we talk about weight loss, and how to succeed at it. More.

Yes, you can be and do better in 2022

Brad Stulberg, often with Steve Magness, has practically invented a new form of achievement advice (i.e., training tips). Stulberg doesn’t dole out specific workouts to follow, which can feel disappointing when you think it’s what you need. Instead, Stulberg offers the higher-level general principle. Which, when you look twice and think about it, often proves more useful than what you thought you needed. Here he lists 16 ways to help you “be better and feel better” this year. Many resonate with me, but particularly this one: “Simple does not mean easy, but it usually means effective.” More at Outside Online.

How Shalane Flanagan ran 6 fast marathons in 7 weeks

I recently had the chance (over Zoom) to hear Shalane Flanagan discuss her “Project Eclipse” marathon effort last fall. I was surprised to learn about the lack of advance planning and marathon training she managed but impressed by the 360-degree support system she put together. Flanagan’s no regular runner—not with her Olympic medal and NYC Marathon victory—but her most important strategies will ring true, and powerful, to any serious runner. More at Outside Online.

Should you train at goal pace or current pace?

It’s the beginning of the New Year, and if you’re like me and nearly every other runner I know, you’ll be aiming for a few fast (for you) races this year. That means you’ve got to pay at least occasional attention to your training pace. And it raises the inevitable question: Should you train at your current race-pace or your future, hoped-for goal race-pace? Most knowledgeable coaches advise the former, but exercise physiology PhD Jason Karp notes that there are a few times and places when it’s okay to stretch for goal pace. I think that’s smart so long as you don’t overdo it. More at Dr. Jason Karp.

How to set goals and achieve them

It would be difficult to find a better, more-evidence-based article on goal achievement than this one. It’s long. And thorough. You should read it and save it, not just for January 2022, but for any time you are ready to improve your life with some new habits or goals. Approach vs. Avoidance. Flexible vs. Rigid. Process vs. Outcome. Habit Stacking. Mental Contrasting. Social Support. It’s all here. More at Stronger By Science.

Train your willpower and 25 other “golden rules of running”

Remember: The most important muscle in your body isn’t a muscle, but your brain. Keep the brain functioning well, and everything else performs better too. In addition to the Will Power rule, I particularly liked rule #23: “It’s better to be slightly undertrained than slightly overtrained.” All 26 helpful rules come from a free ebook download at Marathon Handbook.

5 steps to lifetime running, plus the amazing Yuko Gordon

You control your own goal-setting, so make it varied and fun. You can aim for time or distance or miles run per week or the number of different people you run with each month. Get creative. Also: Yuko Gordon ran in the inaugural Women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984, later improved her PR to 2:38, and last fall, at age 70, won the Wanda Marathon Age-Group World Championships in 3:25:30. How does she keep learning and adapting? “I read many books about running,” she says. More at World Athletics.

A timely reminder: Exercise can offer some infection protection

With the U.S. and World reeling from the Omicron variant, it’s a great time to remember that exercise and fitness can offer some protection from infections. While there’s also evidence that excessive exercise can temporarily lower infection resistance, experts agree that “Regular bouts of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise are beneficial for the normal functioning of the immune system and likely help lower the risk of respiratory infection/illness and some cancers.” So don’t let COVID get you down. Maintain your exercise program. Here’s a helpful infographic from My Sport Science/Michael Gleeson. More at Exercise Immunology Review, and an expert’s recommendations at PodiumRunner.

Don’t let exercise boost your alcohol intake

I mentioned this study several weeks ago in a Short Stuff item. Now the NYTimes has also taken a look, so it’s worth a deeper dive. An analysis from the big Cooper Clinic database of more than 38,000 adults has revealed a link between higher fitness levels and greater alcohol consumption, especially among women but including men as well. In decades past, moderate beer and wine were considered heart-healthy beverages—a view that has changed a bit. (Here’s the perspective of the American Heart Association.) The Cooper researchers concluded that those using exercise to improve their personal health-fitness “might consider concurrently aiming to reduce alcohol consumption.” More at Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise.

The “sound of silence” can be deceiving

We’re often advised to run as softly as possible. The theory? If you’re not making a lot of noise, you’ve got an efficient stride that doesn’t produce high, injury-producing impacts. And we’ve all pretty much accepted this hypothesis, because who doesn’t like the idea of a quiet, smooth, gliding stride? Now researchers have conducted laboratory trials, and—you guessed it—there was no correlation between shoe-landing sound levels and measured forces. Conclusion: We should not “rely on impact sound to infer impact loading.” Or injury prevention. More at J of Athletic Training.

Why and how we should talk about weight loss with runners

In some circles, it has become almost verboten to talk about runners and weight loss. Not here. Yes, we need to tread lightly with adolescents, who face a potent combination of social, competitive, and hormonal issues. But for adults, excess weight is a much greater problem than excess thinness. And many are rightly interested in trimming a few pounds, which will improve both health and running performance. In fact, “weight loss” internet searches topped “Covid” searches during 2021. So here are 10 solid weight-loss tips from nutrition experts. My faves: “Eat slower” and “Eat like our ancestors.” More at Eat This.

Replace mental fatigue with calming meditation

A number of studies have found that mental fatigue decreases physical performance. This one agrees. A mentally-fatiguing task reduced motivation and increased Relative Perceived Exertion in a subsequent running test. As a result, the runners covered less distance. I’ve always found the opposite works well for me. If I do just 5 minutes of calm meditation before a run, I feel much better. More at Education, Motor Behavior, Sport & Health.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

> 5 signs that it’s time for a day off

> Here’s to anything that makes us smile on the road, including funny spectator-created signs

> Lower your risk of atrial fibrillation with more polyunsaturated fats


“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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