Dec. 1, 2022

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Run long and healthy. Amby


How do you know you need a recovery day?

We all know our training plan must include hard days and easy days. But what’s the right ratio between them? Should it be 1:1 or 1:2 or 1:3, or some other ratio? Other important, related questions: How should this ratio change by training volume and intensity, or by age and sex? 

Endurance expert Alan Couzens thinks a measurement like morning heart rate (or HRV, heart rate variability) is the way to go. Check every morning, then decide on your training for the day. It’s a simple, objective measurement. “It's silly to set your training plans to arbitrary cycles of load & recovery (3:1, 4:1 etc),” Couzens notes. “Your body's readiness for training is cyclical, but not predictable, even for a very stable athlete. In other words, take recovery when your body says, not when ‘the plan’ says.” 

But Couzens’s tweet drew a contrary view from another exercise expert, Inigo San Millan. He responded: “In many instances when an athlete is fatigued it may be [too] late and it’s key to be ahead of it. I always go with a plan and check multiple parameters, especially blood biomarkers to check that training is assimilated correctly.” 

They both make good points. I lean toward conservative approaches, so I favor San Millan’s perspective. But it couldn’t hurt to also include HRV as part of your evaluation process.

6 sports nutrition myths, including a view on fasting

There’s a lot of confusing, often contradictory, and not-evidence-based sports nutrition information all across the internet. Here sports nutritionist and former elite cyclist Anne Guzman notes 6 that she labels “myths.” You’ve probably heard that moderate caffeine/coffee consumption doesn’t dehydrate you; Guzman agrees with that, and offers some context.  

Most interesting is her thinking about intermittent fasting and training while fasted--in the morning before breakfast, for example. Guzman doesn’t think these will do much for your weight loss efforts. However, she adds: “I'm not dogmatic about not training fasted since there is some interesting science around the adaptive response to training fasted related to metabolism.” More here.

A sneak peak at the new book Born To Run 2

You would have expected this book a decade ago. After all, the original anti-shoe, pro-Tarahumara best selling adventure tale came out in 2009. Most writers and publishers would have launched the “how to do it yourself” edition a couple of years later. But Chris McDougall is a war-reporter at heart--he lives for the chase and discovery. He’s not your typical “how to” advice author, and I admire him for that. So he held out as long as he could before producing B2R2. 

But eventually his coach, Eric Orton, or his publisher applied more pressure. Now we have Born to Run 2--one of the clunkiest book titles ever. I didn’t expect to like B2R2, or to learn anything from it. I was wrong on both counts.  

The book is lively and fun--all credit to McDougall’s writing skill. The photography is fantastic. And I definitely learned things I had never encountered in 60 years of reading running material. Especially the strange indoor running form drill powered by “Rock Lobster” from the B-52s. I’ve actually done it a few times at home (with YouTube music), and it’s a good one. The drill is included in this book excerpt at Outside Online. 

Top (free) marathon training plans--and non marathon too

The internet is bursting with free marathon training plans (and ones you have to pay for), but some deserve a bit more attention than others. Particularly when they bring a lot of plans together in one place, which allows you to select from a substantial menu.  

Runners World’s first senior writer, Hal Higdon, has long led the way in this department. Even though his programs are also available for $$$ at Training Peaks (with a few bells and whistles), Hal continues to offer them for free on his personal website. So far as I know, he was the first to do so--back in the Dark Ages pre-2000--and his programs have been followed successfully by thousands of runners. Here’s Hal’s basic Training Plan “menu” page. I counted quickly and found at least 50 different training plans. All free. 

Another high-quality source has now followed in Higdon’s footsteps. This is Marathon Handbook, which recently made all its plans free at this webpage. MH also excels at producing a vast number of free runner-advice articles on almost every topic you can imagine.


NOTE: If you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text version of RLRH for $4/month, you would also have received new articles about:

# The best, most effective interval workout you can do

# Fueling up, or fasting, before afternoon training sessions

# How a “Power Hour” could boost your race fitness

# Are visual cues the key to day-in, day-out motivation?

# “Unfavorable iron, immune, and stress responses” after low-carb diets

# Is milk better than water for rehydration?

# Good news: Your running economy improves with experience.

#A compelling quote from Marcus Aurelius about the power of the mind

CLICK HERE for details about subscribing to the complete, full text edition of Run Long, Run Healthy.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. See you again in a week. Amby