ATC 268: Mentally Preparing to Race, How Much is Too Much DOMs, Inconsistent Pacing, 50 Days of Ironman, and more!

August 31, 2018

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In this episode of Ask the Coaches, coaches Brock and Lucho answer Endurance Planet listener’s questions about Mentally Preparing to Race, How Much is Too Much DOMs, Inconsistent Pacing, 50 Days of Ironman, and more.

But first, Brock and Lucho had some interesting experiences and thoughts to share…

– Brock cured his plantar problems by using a massage stick on his shin and calf every day, plus a morning mobility routine including calf raises, ankle circles, hip circles, hip hikes (basically working the whole kinetic chain, à la Katy Bowman protocol). Lucho’s warmup is a variation of 7 way hips.
– “Endurance” needs redefining. The term is relative… Going from a 200m to 300m race requires “endurance.” Lucho says that the cutoff for “endurance” is technically only 60m. Anything longer than that requires endurance!
– An acetylcholine response (putting you in fight or flight mode) is necessary to do well in a short race, sometimes referred to as “running with pure hate.”
– Dopamine is the hormone released for track events, while serotonin is associated with ultra endurance events.
Neurotyping probably makes a difference in what types of exercise you’re attracted to and naturally succeed at.
Studies have shown links between anxiety and muscular cramping.

Dennis asks:

Hi, guys, I’m Dennis, 31y from Germany. I train for the 200m/400m and I’m a pretty calm guy.

Which is a problem during workouts; getting in the proper mental state is pretty important after all. I’ve been actively working on this issue for the past few weeks, usually trying self-talk.

When I lift heavy I don’t have that issue, because the weight itself gets the juices flowing. But on the track, it is much harder.

I guess exploring the option of mixing some kind of physical activity like jumping with some sort of visualization or something is what I’m gonna try next. Do you guys have any advice/thoughts for me?

The coaches say:
– Proper warm-up is key.
– Mantras and visualization are helpful.
– Do you think being calm is holding you back?
– Swimmers listen to music before they start a short race.

Nina asks:

Up until last year, I had severe anemia that I managed to cure through iron supplements. At my worst I could barely run 400m at a 10-minute mile pace. Since my recovery, my running improved enormously, allowing me to run 10k in 48 minutes 2 months after I could barely run at all. However, my physical strength hasn’t changed much and my legs are still weak from 2 years of incredibly slow and sluggish running. Since my one year of faster, iron-fuelled running, I have had 5 bad injuries that stopped me from running at all for 2 weeks or more. I know this is due to my muscular weakness.

Now, I know that everyone says that strength training is the panacea but literally every time I try to do a strength workout (squats, lunges, wall sits, single leg stuff) I am so incredibly sore for 4-5 days after and feel like I’ve torn myself apart! This is despite not pushing myself too hard doing the strength exercises (I do mostly bodyweight, sometimes with very light dumbbells).

However, I successfully adapted to using the stairmill in a few weeks and naively hope that it can give me strength for injury prevention and faster running without the absolute agony of squat DOMs. How can I get my leg strength up to speed with my cardiovascular system with minimal pain and injury risk?

The coaches say:
– Too much, too soon!
– You should not be that sore from a strength workout.
– We know you say that you aren’t pushing yourself during the workout but your DOMs says otherwise.
– Start with lower weight, lower reps, smaller range of motion and build from there. Start where you are at, not where you think you should be.

Mike asks:

I have a question about how to train widely disparate pace ranges to make them converge.

I am a 38-year old that started running 7 years ago. I didn’t hear about MAF until about 3.5 years ago so my first several years were training at higher heart rates. During training runs at this time I ran
– 1 mile in 6:05,
– 5k at 7:00/mile pace,
– 13.1 at 8:25 pace,
– 26.2 at 12:00 pace.

I then trained exclusive MAF for nearly 1.5 years and ran two 26.2s bringing 26.2 pace down to 10:00 then 9:05/mile (didn’t run hard so no update to previous shorter distance times.) My longest runs were 18 miles and one 20 mile run while averaging 25-30 miles per week in the buildups to these. Unfortunately, my right hamstring cramped very hard during all of the 26.2s and I had to resort to significant walking.

Listening to the Podcast, most issues with cramping are caused by muscles not ready to go the pace and distance so during my last training cycle I added 1 harder run a week and added some faster segments to my weekly Long Run. In that cycle, there was a 20-mile run where I ran 13.1 at near race effort in the middle and during that 13.1 I was able to average 7:40 per mile. I averaged about 45 miles during the cycle and had two 20 mile runs and several at 18-19 miles. Unfortunately, come race week I had caught the GI bug that was hitting the area hard lasting the full week and had to drop out of the race so I don’t know what could have been (found out later about an E. coli recall on foods that we were eating at the time; unknown if it was the cause but certainly suspicious.)

I plan on increasing my strength training but with my widely disparate paces across distances and knowledge that I have a history of right hamstring cramps, would it be better to train exclusively at MAF again or to keep the one harder run plus quality in the Long Run?

The coaches say:
– Your paces don’t seem that wild.
– Work on hamstring strength.
– When is your next race? That is important.
– Strength training and more intense runs should help with the cramping but since you always cramp in the same spot, also look for muscle impingements or adhesions or scar tissue (etc) that could be irritating the muscle and causing the spasm or cramp.

Leslie asks:

Hey guys, love the podcast. I learn so much. My question is what do you think of Ashley Horner and the 50 Ironmans in 50 days? She’s doing it to raise money for a Haitian orphanage. Is this really doable? Just wondering your opinion.

The coaches say:
– Possible to complete – maybe.
– Possible to race well – no.
– Worthy cause – yes.
– Is there a better way to raise that money that won’t take years off of her own life – probably.


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