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Run Long, Run Healthy Weekly Roundup — January 20, 2022

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: Do hill repeats for “speedwork in disguise.” Get your race pace right. Find the right training partner. How to break a marathon record. The best recovery—massage! Minimalist shoes, good and bad. Time crunched? Use HIT for your next half marathon. The perfect napping time (20 minutes). Jason Koop’s impressive new training book. More.

Try hill repeats for “speedwork in disguise”

Frank Shorter once said something like “Hills are speedwork in disguise.” That’s too bad because I wish I could take credit for the same; I’ve certainly repeated it often enough. In addition, I’ve used hills effectively in my own training. Here, David Roche supplies all you need to know, and then some. My favorite hill workouts: 20-30 second modest climbs at about a 1-mile pace with longish walks back down the hill. Or 60-second climbs at 5K pace. I can’t imagine doing longer hill repeats, though some apparently can. I just run some very hilly courses in my marathon training. More at Trail Runner.

Find the right training partner

Finding the right training partner is about the best thing that can happen to a runner. But what exactly makes someone your perfect partner? It would be easy to draw a long, exhaustive list, but a modest one as in this article hits all the right points. You definitely can’t train with someone who makes everyday runs emotional and competitive. Absolutely, they must be punctual in my book. Of course, they need a sense of humor. Lastly, I personally think it’s spicier to run with someone of the opposite sex. You learn new perspectives as your running conversations span over a wider range of topics. More at Triathlete.

Get your race pace right

Matt Fitzgerald is a master at developing “programs,” whether for marathon training, smart weight control, or whatever he’s teaching. He uses science and proven practice, picks out the best pieces, and assembles them into an intelligent whole. I’m a fan. That said, I’m dubious about his new attempt to teach runners race-pace control. I like the workouts; they’re pure Fitzgerald in the way they mesh together. But I’m not tossing my watch before my next race. Things happen in a race—things like adrenaline—that don’t happen in training. I like to see my mile split. For Fitzgerald’s workouts, go to Outside Online.

How to break a marathon record

On Sunday morning in Houston, Keira D’Amato broke Deena Kastor’s American record in the marathon—a record that had lasted since 2005. Among other things, D’Amato is 37, married, the mother of two, and a working real estate agent. How did D’Amato do it? How did she push past the pain and doubt? Apparently, she made a mental promise that this would be her last marathon, so why not give it her all? Quote: “I was telling myself if I just stayed on the pace and kept with it, I’d never run a marathon again.” The mind is a powerful thing, as explained here in a review of “the central governor” at Marathon Handbook. More on D’Amato and her record-breaking run at Outside Online.

For best recovery, massage beats cold water and rest

Who doesn’t love a massage? And who doesn’t wonder if all that kneading and pressing actually does any good. Here’s an article that lets you evaluate the pros and cons. But here’s the more interesting journal paper—an actual randomized controlled trial that pits massage against cold water against simple rest after an exhaustive run. And the winner is … ? “These results suggest that massage intervention promotes faster recovery of Running Economy and running biomechanics than Cold Water Immersion or passive rest.” More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Minimalist shoes: good for short contact time, bad for increased forces

Most studies on minimalist shoes and runners look at just the forces exerted during one step on a force plate. This new paper asked “experienced minimalist runners” to run for 30 minutes at tempo pace in minimalist shoes or conventional shoes. In the minimalist shoes, they had shorter contact times and produced higher forces on the feet. Reviewing these results on Twitter, running biomechanist Max Paquette said he thought these differences were probably not enough to cause injuries. The researchers themselves wrote that the higher pressures could be a risk factor for the development of some foot injuries. More at Applied Sciences.

The only thing you’ve got to fear is… fear of injuries

It’s pretty much a given that you’re going to be upset and depressed when an injury interrupts your training. In this new report, researchers looked into the “injury-related psychological distress” of runners. Another word for this: “fear.” You’re fearful because you don’t know how serious the injury is, or how long it might last. This distress tends to increase the injury’s effect on your running. More fear is “associated with lower perceived running ability.” The authors suggest that PTs work on an injured runner’s mental condition as well as his/her physical issue. What can runners do for themselves? Try not to fall into the trap of catastrophizing—after all, most runner injuries are relatively short-term and soon resolve. Also, any cross-training you can do without pain should help. More at Physical Therapy in Sport.

In a time crunch? Use HIT training for your next half marathon

A previous study on women half marathoners found that a low volume high intensity training program with some jumping exercises was almost as good as a much higher-volume moderate program. This additional analysis showed that the HIT running elevated the runners’ VO2 max and also eccentric leg muscle strength. The women were recreational half marathoners with some degree of experience, aged 35-45. Both groups ran slightly under 2 hours, but the HIT runners covered 21 percent less distance in training and required 17% less time. The researchers concluded: HIT training could be used effectively to help women runners deal with the frequently heard “lack of time” issue. More at Int J of Environmental Research & Public Health.

4 ways to deal with eating disorders

It’s no secret that runners are susceptible to various eating disorders. A Spanish research team dug into the problem of negative running addiction with 167 very fit runners (average age 24; slightly more men than women), and found that 65% occasionally experienced “compulsive eating.” The more serious problems, anorexia and bulimia, were present in 11.4% and 16.2% of the sample. Many of these individuals had been overweight or obese as children. The researchers concluded that coaches should: 1) educate athletes about “distorted beliefs” relating to exercise and nutrition; 2) avoid excessive training; 3) include nutritionists in their programs; and 4) use tools to detect eating disorders. More at Nutrients.

Here’s the optimal napping time—20 minutes

I’ve been looking for the answer to the napping question for a long time: How long should I allow myself to nap in the afternoon? It turns out the answer is fairly simple, at least in a side-by-side comparison of 20 minutes vs 90 minutes. 20 minutes increased several performance times and raised antioxidant defenses. 90 minutes just increases sluggishness, which matches with my personal experience. Now I set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes. More at Biology of Sport.

A big thumbs up for Jason Koop’s new training book

And a sheepish admission: I didn’t know much about Koop until I noticed a promotion for this book, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning. I was immediately drawn to his offer of a free PDF download of 131 figures, charts, and tables. After looking at these, I ordered the oversize, self-published paperback 5 minutes later. Don’t let the title put you off. If you run anything over the mile, you’ll learn plenty of new and useable training tools from Essentials. Especially in Chapter 9, “Train Smarter, Not More.” I double dare you to try his “peak and fade intervals.” Start here with the free download at Jason Koop.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

> Harder workouts that improve fitness contribute more to mental health than basic activity

> 5 reasons to get out there and run in the cold

> Ladies: You might need more caffeine to get the same boost the guys are getting


“The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitants of the northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the fixed smile of the tropics.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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