Q&A on run streaks, heart rate monitors, yoga for runners and more
By Henry Howard
It’s time for another installment of my occasional question and answer articles related to running. I came across the questions below on various social media channels recently and expanded on my initial responses with added perspective here.
Please note that the following is not to be considered medical advice. Consult your physician, dietician or other health-care professional for specific recommendations for you. This is intended to be an overview based on my personal research and experience.
On to the questions and answers:
Question: Is it safe to do a run steak?
Answer: It depends on factors such as the athlete’s goals, fitness level and experience. A run streak can be a good goal for athletes who already have the fitness. Additionally, they would need to do a mix of easy runs to balance their harder workout days. (Alternatively, runners just focused on a run streak could knock off day after day of easy runs.)
Whereas runners who don’t streak would usually have two or three days of rest or cross-training, I would recommend a run streaker do very brief runs on otherwise “rest” days. Ten to 20 minutes would suffice in most cases to achieve the goal of a run for the day.
In fact, one of my athletes recently passed his nine-year running streak anniversary. He has several short 10- to 20-minute runs in his weekly plan, which keep his streak alive.
On the other hand, a few years ago I had an athlete who had mixed goals. She wanted to continue a daily run streak but also sought a PR in her marathon time. From the outset, she struggled to achieve quality runs intended to increase her fitness and speed. She ended up becoming injured, and was unable to continue her streak or pursue a PR.
Question: How do you know when your shoes have had it? I'm sure everyone's mileage varies, what do others look out for?
Answer: There are lots of variables to answer this question. The brand of shoe, where the miles are accumulating (roads, trails or a mix) and the runner’s stride. It’s a wide range but generally I expect my running shoes to last between 300 and 600 miles before breaking down.
One test I use is to hold the shoe in one hand and gently push by the toe end toward the laces. If the shoe bends too easily, it’s likely time to retire them.
Question: I’ve heard that yoga is good for runners. Why? And how do I begin?
Answer: When I first added yoga to my training schedule twice a week, I gained flexibility, increased my recovery time and built in some much-needed meditation time. All of those elements combine to make yoga a dynamic cross-training tool.
Among the most beneficial poses for runners is the pigeon pose. Here’s a good guide on how to do it properly. To begin, I would recommend checking out the vast collection of videos on YouTube that you can follow along with in the comfort of your own home. I prefer yin yoga, which is a gentle practice where the moves are held longer to promote recovery in the muscles.
For more on why yoga is a great cross-training tool for runners, check out my previous interview with Jenny (Maier) DeNucci. A runner and yogi, she gives practical advice on the practice and how it can benefit you.
Question: Should I be doing strength training, or will it negatively impact my running?
Answer: Adding strength training into your training plan will only benefit your running, as long as you do it wisely. Recently, I published a four-part series on strength training (all the links can be found in the final installment).
In the third part, I interviewed running coach, Boston Marathon qualifier and nurse Angie Spencer. She answered questions related to concerns runners have about how lifting weights may make runners too bulky, slow then down or other factors.
In short, by adding strength training a couple of times a week you will help strengthen the muscles and support system, thereby improving your changes to grow as a runner.
Question: I have my long run scheduled for tomorrow and it is supposed to be raining. Should I just run it in the rain, move it back a day or complete it on the treadmill?
Answer: It's up to you, of course. But as long as it is safe, I would recommend running in the rain. After all, we can't dictate what the weather will be like on race day. Training in nasty — but not dangerous — weather builds confidence and helps us prepare for anything on race day.
That said, if it is storming hard, feel free to move it to Sunday. And if there is lightning, definitely wait it out or run Sunday outside.
I would definitely not do the 20 miles on the treadmill. While that would build mental toughness for sure, a 20-miler should be a good quality run that is hard to duplicate on the treadmill. (And, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing your race will not be held on a treadmill. The long runs should aim to mimic race day conditions as much as possible.)
So, if it’s safe, definitely embrace the suck and head outside in the rain. Avoid lightning or other dangerous situations by waiting or moving the run back a day.
If you like my advice and are looking for a running coach, I currently have some openings. Feel free to connect with me and we can set up a free, no-obligation consultation to see if we are a good fit.