A week that has been notable for how normal it has felt in relation to most of my other weeks since mid-March. I actually hung out with friends after work on Monday and went to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Asian Lantern Festival on Monday. Quite the change from my normal routine of working, strength training, and sleeping.
As I continue my running rebuild I have stumbled on a problem that I need to solve in the next month or so or seek therapy for. I have been strengthening my mid and low back to improve my running posture and it led me to notice how much more solid and aligned I have felt but that it is a feeling I am not able to maintain consistently. When things fall apart it results in right shoulder pain that seems to pull my upper body toward the left, leaving me with the out of whack feeling that has plagued my running for the last few years. The good news is I have stumbled onto the solution with the question being whether or not I will be able to consistently get myself aligned so I can resume running with confidence.
Wesleyan University track and cross-country alumni blew the whistle on former coach John Crooke for engaging in the same sort of coaching behavior that Mary Cain levied at Alberto Salazar. Crooke, who abruptly retired two weeks ago, held fat talks with his runners, asking them to log their eating habits for review, but to keep those meetings secret from other runners. Just as Cain’s performance began to suffer when Salazar shifted her focus to eating, Crooke’s teams struggled as well, suffering performance declines and struggling to retain runners on the team.
This TED talk from Dr. Stephen Seiler goes into detail to reveal how exercise physiologists have been able to better understand the impact that variable training intensities have on elite endurance athletes and how that understanding can benefit non-elite performers. Though the thesis of his talk, that training too often at hard intensity is counterproductive, was not a new concept to me, I did find the details around how that conclusion came about interesting. Seiler details the laboratory experimentation that altered researchers’ understanding about endurance training and how that laboratory work led to studies being undertaken in the field with elite athletes where laboratory theories met the real-world demands and experimentation of high-level professional training.
I enjoyed this interview with Jos Hermans, the founder and CEO of Global Sports Communications, who shares his thoughts on the upcoming duel between Eliud Kiphcoge and Kenenisa Bekele in London. Hermans lays out the challenges that COVID have posed to professional runners, who have had to train without the support of training groups and professional support staff, a challenge that could impact the race in October. I also thought Hermans had an interesting take on the two runners, feeling that Bekele is actually the more talented of the two while it is Kipchoge’s consistency that has made him the king of the roads. Given the dearth of live competition in 2020 coupled with the challenges of training in uncertain times, the race in London should be exciting and may provide a twist or two.
As I’ve cast around for strength training plans in the wake of COVID and my avoidance of the gym since March I nevertheless find myself gravitating back to Jay Dicharry whose Running Rewired served as the basis for my strength training last year. This podcast interview focuses on triathletes, so some of what he discusses will sound foreign to runners, but his main message remains an important one for runners to heed: maintaining endurance and power requires a body capable of long-term postural stabilization.
This article looks at the concept of open loops, your brain’s way of storing any unfinished business left on your plate. The problem with these loops is that when left untouched the brain, eager to close those loops, begins to obsess over them, creating anxiety, which can effect your daily life or your training. Author Oliver Burkeman posits an easy solution, one that should free your brain from that pesky anxiety and keep those unfinished tasks organized and accessible.
This infographic seeks to end the “all or nothing” approach to improvement. The strategy, from Precision Nutrition, asks you to scale improvements in various areas of your life, creating a graduated list daily actions, starting with the smallest form of action you could take toward an improvement (lace up your running shoes and head out the door for a jog to the end of the street) and progress up to the biggest action you could take (commit to 18 weeks of following the Hansons marathon training plan). If you hesitate to take action because you do not have the perfect plan thought out (one of my biggest weaknesses) then this concept is one you should take the time to explore and grapple with. I know I will.
This Week’s Quote
Success is never final. Failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.
A Small Request
This newsletter is a labor of love and I would write it even if no one read it (as it is few people right now do). I do not write because I have all the answers but rather because the topics interest me and because writing about them allows me to further explore them, internally debate them, and work through them. I share these links because reading them and thinking about them helps me to be better in my running, in my coaching, in my relationships, and in life. If you read this newsletter and think it would benefit someone you know, I ask that you take the time to share it with them. If you have a question for me or a comment on how I can be better in this space, please take the time to reach out. Thanks.