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Ask me anything
by on Thursday, June 2, 2016  (11 comments)


Another 6 months have passed. Here's your open invitation to ask me anything.

Within reason, nothing is off limits. Ask about training, racing, my thoughts on any news in the sport. Ask about the site, the coaching service, Club HillRunner.com or anything else that's going on.

If you want to ask publicly, you can do so in the comments, on Facebook or you can tweet at HillRunner.com (or tweet at my personal account). If you want to ask more privately, you can use the contact form or, if you're friends with me on Facebook or you know my email address, you can reach me through those options.

So what have you been thinking about and wanting to ask?

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As an aging runner (55 this summer) I have been thinking of getting a bike and adding cross training. I was thinking of one hour hard on the bike as a sort of strength workout and a two hour moderate bike effort as a solid aerobic effort. I would alternate these workouts weekly, meaning one bike workout a week. I run about 50 miles a week. Seems like it might lessen the pounding and be fun to try something new. Thoughts on how those bike workouts sound/translate?

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That's an interesting question Double. I think those workouts you describe would be good for testing the waters with biking as a supplement to your running.

As you know, biking is obviously different than running but, as we age, we find our bodies just can't hold up to the "pounding" (I hate that term but I'll use it now for lack of a better term) of running. Something to supplement the aerobic conditioning can be useful. The hot trend for elites like Meb is the ElliptiGo but you don't want to see the price on that. A more affordable and readily available solution is the good old bike.

The main difference I've seen documented between biking and running and that I've found in my own personal experience is that you need more time to get the same type of workout. A 1 hour somewhat high intensity effort may be like a 20-30 minute run at a moderate intensity. A more moderate 2 hours may be more like a 1 hour run. As a supplement to whatever running your body allows, these might be good workouts.

Another use for the bike is what an aging runner I used to run with at times would do. At a younger age, he would do an hour for his regular easy days. Later in life, his legs just wouldn't hold up to an hour a day every day. So he would ride on a stationary bike for 10-15 minutes before his run to warm up, then run for 45-50 minutes.The bike would be good to warm him up so he could launch right into his run at a higher intensity than he normally would and it would still give him some aerobic benefit.

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Seung (Guest)

Hi Ryan,

I enjoy your insights and look in here once in a while. Is there something about running that you've changed your mind about over the years? Meaning, is there something that you used to do/say that you realized later was a mistake? It could be training-related, equipment-related, anything.

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Ryan, thanks for the insight. Looking forward to Al's this year. Catching up reading the site it appears Eduardo is our ace in the hole. Good to see hard work paying off!

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Hi Seung,

Great question. I hope that anyone who has known me for some time can attest to the fact that I've changed my mind about things over the years. If you're not learning, you're stagnating. If you're not changing your opinion based on what you've learned, then what purpose does learning serve?

While it's not easy to get me to change my mind, it can happen with good evidence. In my opinion, your opinions should not bend with the wind. Once you've done research and formed an opinion on a topic, it should take some solid evidence for you to change that opinion because it should have taken some solid evidence to form the opinion in the first place.

A couple examples of things I have changed my opinion over time:

1) Lifting weights. In the 1990s, I read a handful of studies that could find no benefit in lifting weights. Body weight exercises seemed to be just as effective as hitting the weight room for distance runners. In fact, there were some potential drawbacks to lifting weights.

In more recent years, some research has shown that lifting weights with proper form and technique can be beneficial for distance runners.

I still believe most runners would be better off doing body weight exercises at home due to time and logistical constraints. However, for runners who have the time and facilities available, I believe there are benefits to lifting weights. It's not the act itself that has me advising many runners against hitting the weight room. It's the give and take. It's the fact that they would have to take time and energy away from more productive activities to get to the weight room.

2) General training philosophies. In college, I ran under a very Daniels-inspired system. We got away from the Daniels system for one semester, my sophomore year of cross-country. It was a failed experiment. The team struggled significantly and we were back on the Daniels train in short order.

Needless to say, after seeing that, I was fully on board the Daniels train. I still believe there is a lot of good in the Daniels philosophy. I also think that, as his philosophy has evolved over the past 20 years, the changes have addressed most of my concerns. That said, anyone who knows Daniels and knows my training philosophy can tell you instantly that, while I borrow ideas from Daniels, I've strayed from his philosophy - especially that I so fully believed in 20 years ago - significantly.

In fact, I'm now more than ever open to the idea that no one philosophy works for everyone. A good coach should not get bogged down in a single philosophy. Instead, he or she should learn everything possible about as many different ideas as possible and be willing to look at any individual athlete, consider the athlete's goals, strengths and weaknesses, and personal history, then work with the athlete to find the philosophy that works best for that specific individual.

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Double, I hope it helps. Ed is definitely taking big strides this year, thanks to the kind of consistency in training that he's struggled to maintain previously. I don't think either of us has a great idea right now of what he might be capable of by fall but I think we're both excited and expecting big things.

By the way, I should post this more publicly soon but the team page is set up. You can register here whenever you are ready.

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Hey Double - I am working hard - and I want to really help the team. But - I would be happier if I PR'd significantly and was still the 5th or 6th scorer. We need to recruit a strong team and get back on that team podium!

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Interesting topics here!! When are you racing a half marathon or a marathon? You have run short races for so long, that maybe you should run another distance, just saying..

in all seriousness, it would be interesting to see if your 5-8k times can match your long races.

Take care buddy!

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Ed, I always say, if I'm running the mid-28 time I seem to have consistently checked in at in recent years, I'd rather be our third finisher than our first finisher. That said, I'll do what I can to recruit but I'm also going to try to claw my way to the low 28s. We're going after it from both angles.

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Cesar, to be honest, I just have no interest in the longer races at this point. They are a lot of work and a big commitment for a single event. The shorter races are more fun and less of a commitment for any individual event. To put in that much work and commitment to something I've done in 2:40 and come out with a 3:00, 3:10, or whatever that is well short of what I have done would be somewhat deflating. I just don't have an interest right now in doing that to myself.

I'd say it's more likely than not that my mindset will change some time in the future. That time is not now, though.

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We need to see about recruiting that guy that finished between you and I at the Deer Run. Josh J. stated that he knows the guy - he might be a strong teammate to recruit.

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