Continuing Education for Runners

Public service announcement: Twitter can make you feel really cool, I can see why it’s a marketers dream. Case study:


Disclaimer: I am frivolously using quotes to denote terms I feel are being abusively mis-and-over-used in general, but I lack the patience to explain myself.

(and it’d be off-topic, not to mention annoyingly pedantic. For you. I thrive on semantic arguments)

Admittedly, I’ve been kind of a skeptic on stimulants this week. Ok, for a couple of weeks now. Occasionally my sunny side up attitude takes a nose drive for a while, and I just try not to make too much of an arse of my self.

Here’s what I’ve been mentally digesting (consuming? Nope. Both sound gross) regarding running this week:


I think I’ve mentioned before (but maybe I just thought about saying it) that I read several marathon training books cover-to-cover during my 8-week “off-season” between October and December. I learned a few things and decided to follow the Hansons Marathon Method for Boston 2013 training. There really aren’t a lot of meaningful differences  between the myriad plans and strategies I’ve studied up on over the last year or so, it really comes down to philosophical perspective (by that I mean, more or less, are you trying to make running work around your life, or your life work around running: for the Boston training cycle, I fall into the latter. Also are you trying to finish a marathon, or do you want to race to your fitness level? Again, I’m in the latter group).

People keep asking me questions, and I keep reading blog posts of people who have “followed” the Hansons Method in the past that seem to indicate A) articles regarding the Hansons Method have been very mis-leading, and B) people don’t read training books like books, they read them like dictionaries, typically flipping right to whichever “training plan” is presumably right for them.

I think that is dangerous. Or rather, not the best practice to give yourself a great shot at success and improvement.

The biggest example of what I mean is the high frequency with which I am being asked “oooh, the HANSONS method. That’s the one where you CAN’T run more than 16 miles, right?” No, I’m not being cheeky that’s the emphasis people seem to consistently use. The next, and really annoying thing, (people can be forgiven their ignorance in the first example because this mis-conception has really taken on a cultural life of its own) is that I keep reading in running blogs, over and over again, and from SEASONED runners how they are “breaking the HMM rule” and running a 20 miler. Meanwhile, their weekly mileage is up over 60 miles, and they are running at a fast clip. Which means that a 20 miler might actually be PRESCRIBED rather than verboten.

Here is a response to this question of the long run right from the source. (Luke Humphrey, that is. Who wrote the book with Keith and Kevin, another fact that people bizarrely don’t pick up on)

This guy.


To further comment on my chagrin that people seem to jump to conclusions and apply them without actually reading a whole book, it seems people also only read the titles or subtitles of articles. There’s been a lot of talk this month about this article in Competitor magazine (print and online in the January edition). I read this article a while ago (might have been 5 days, might have been 3 weeks, I have no idea), and was really annoyed because the title is terrible. “Ditch the Long, Slow Distance”.  The article is not saying that you should not have any long-slow-distance runs. It is saying that your long runs should have structure, number one, and number two, a few times a training cycle they should even be run hard and fast (again, with structure). I linked to it twice. I bet exactly 3 people read it. And ten people click on the link, and decide that I am wrong after reading the first half of the article.


This report at of a “study” is notable only in that they use the following, amazing, sentence; “The researchers concluded that hedonism and self-indulgence are not the only reasons people chose high-calorie foods…”

                                                                                                                Source: via Mark on Pinterest


Here’s another piece from about race “nutrition”. I really, really, really, REALLY think that many runners are way too focused on their gels and sports drinks and salt tabs, and under focused on what they are eating during all the non-running hours of their life. Just like it can take 10 days for a hard workout to have a physiological effect on your body, the stuff you put down your gullet will still affect your performance 24, 48, 72, hours later.

For quite a while I had horrible reactions to every sports drink and gel I tried. So I started eating baby food on long runs. It actually worked out really well, aside from the general mockery from anyone who was running with me at the time.

Eventually,  I figured out that the Honey Stinger brand chews gave me no stomach upset and only minimal heart burn. I seem to totally lose my ability to chew when I’m trying to run fast, however. So, last winter I practiced taking gels first at random down times, like sitting on the couch and watching NCIS. Then later, whilst instructing spin classes (people actually started asking if I thought they should be bringing “nutrition” to classes. Seriously. Erg. I guess I should have been flattered?) Now I don’t use the baby food strategy anymore, but a combo of gels and chews. But still pretty minimally.

 Click on the product images for reviews, not written by me. I’m not sponsored by any products, nor have I been given free stuff to review, nor do I receive money if you decide to use these items. But if I’m linking you to it, I probably personally endorse it.


I hope this makes up for the sort of negative vibe that is possibly being given off from parts of this post. This video was just brought to my attention during the ride back from a run out in the burbs today. After watching it I was immediately happy that I didn’t publish this post earlier in the week.

Finally, if you haven’t “liked” my facebook page yet, please do. Then you can play along in next week’s “like” challenge. I’m not going to disclose how sore this week’s 65 burpees left me, other than to say I’ll be continuing with the challenges!


P.S. I rolled an ankle at mile 4 ish of 16 this morning, and now, hours later, it hurts and is swelling. Please cross fingers it’s fine by morning. Grr, snow, grr.

4 responses to “Continuing Education for Runners

  1. Awe shit to the ankle!!!!! I love the puppy treadmill.

    • Hahaha! I know, that puppy is amazing! My ankle isn’t swollen today which is very good, just tender. I am going to keep it wrapped and take a slow run later on. Hopefully it’s just a tweak.

  2. Sorry about the ankle and the comments from silly people on your training and food. Great response from Luke Humphrey. I have learned in my short running life that the philosophy counts as much as the recipe. Maybe more. I think it’s unrealistic for all humans to stick to a plan 100% of the time. That’s where we can fall back on the philosophy. Love it. Hang in there.

  3. Haven written a lot of runner advice type articles, I can tell you that No, people do not read most of anything. They read headlines, bold and bullet points and then argue with you about them. It’s good times.

    Side note: I also am incapable of chewing when I’m running hard (though I lose it biking as well) and I had to switch to all gels and drink. I don’t know how you’re able to do chews! Maybe I should practice more too.


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