REAL LIFE RUNNERS PODCAST: EPISODE #261 – Know Where You Are (Transcript)
ANGIE: Everybody, thank you so much for joining us today on episode #261 of the Real Life Runners podcast.
John Steinbeck once said, “To find where you are going, you must know where you are.”
In this episode, we will show you the importance of knowing exactly where you are in four different areas that affect your running, so you can move forward confidently towards your goals. The mistake that so many people make is not knowing exactly where they are right now, they assume their current point based on past experience or on wishful thinking, which are usually not very accurate. This can often lead to overtraining, which leads to fatigue and injury or undertraining, which leads to lack of progress and satisfaction.
This is why knowing where you are right now is absolutely critical for your success. There are four areas that you need to assess. So, if you want to know what those are, stay tuned.
KEVIN: This is the Real Life Runners Podcast and we're your hosts, Kevin and Angie Brown. Thanks for spending some time with us today. Now let's get running.
KEVIN: Alright, so opening with a quote from Steinbeck, I like it. We're really going for it.
ANGIE: I mean, we are very eclectic in our knowledge.
ANGIE: We can talk about running, we could talk about Steinbeck.
KEVIN: I like the California references myself. So good stuff.
ANGIE: There you go. I mean it's so true though, right? Like I was just kind of thinking about this idea of knowing where we are right now because I think that so many times, we, as runners don't always accurately assess our current point. Like I, I sometimes fumble because I'm like, oh, you're starting point, but it's not your starting point, right? Because we are, probably all of us started a long time ago, or even if it was recently, it was probably weeks or months ago, so you're not necessarily assessing your starting point, you're assessing your current point.
KEVIN: Yeah, yeah, like the same way that a race is not necessarily the end of your running thing, it's just the next point. It's just, it's a checkpoint along the way, knowing where you're at today is simply a checkpoint based off of where you are. As you alluded to in the intro, people make two choices here. They say either, I'm at the same place that I used to be or I'm at this imaginary place that I'd like to be sometime in the future, and I'll pretend that that's my current, which is different than sort of the mental philosophy that we've talked about before of adapting this whole idea of “I am a runner, so I'll take on that thing.” That's different than saying, “Well I am a sub-three-hour marathoner.” If your current marathon is actually like 5. You can't just be like “Yep no, I am a 3-hour marathoner so all my workouts will be based off of that, that's not a good set up.
ANGIE: Yeah, that's dangerous, right? Like if you're trying to base your workouts on your future goal, that can lead to stretching and over training in a bad way. There are certain times where stretching is a really good thing where you want to stretch yourself beyond what you're currently capable of, but that needs to be done within limits, because if it's done outside of that, or if it's done too frequently, that leads down the path of injury in burnout.
KEVIN: So, you talked about there were four areas that we're going to kind of lay into of all the different places. Cause you can't just be like this is where I am like there's specific things that you should assess of. Let's check all of these areas and see where I am in all these different places.
ANGIE: So, the first thing you want to assess is your current mileage ability. Alright, so a lot of the mistakes that we see here are runners coming back after time off or after an injury and they jump right back into where they were, you know. So, say they were training, and they ended up having to take a week or two off with a foot thing or a calf injury or some sort of thing that kept them silent or just life got in the way, or they went on vacation with their family for two weeks and they want.
KEVIN: Or sickness.
ANGIE: Yeah, an illness. And I think that you know, we've had previous episodes where we've really talked specifically about how long you should take to get back into it depending on how long you missed, you know how long of a time off period you took and also it does matter why you took that off, period. You know if it was for an injury, it was for an illness versus just life kind of getting in the way. You know, like you just went on vacation with your family and maybe you went to a place where running wasn't very easy, maybe the roads weren't safe for you to run on, maybe you couldn't find a place that was a safe place for you to run, and so you just didn't run right. So, that would be one reason, but then, illness and injury would be a second reason for missing or, you know, missing time on your training plan.
KEVIN: I mean even within injury and sickness, like there's difference with a head cold and like pneumonia that gets down into your lungs. Like how easily you can come back of those like, you might want to take a little bit more cautiously if you're coming back with something like made it really hard to breathe.
ANGIE: Right? So, a lot of times what happens is runners will come back and they'll try to jump right back into where they were. You know, they'll they'll assume that they were right where they were, you know that they are where they were. Yep, 2 weeks ago or three weeks ago or whatever, or they just try to pick up their training plan right where they left off. And you know this is one of the reasons that we love having people come into the Academy because we can really help people understand how to adjust their plan in a way that's right for them, right? Because a lot of times this is where a lot of runners get confused, they don't know how to, okay, well I was following this training plan and the training plan was good and everything was on track, but something happened, something got in the way. How do I adjust to that? Do I need to go back to the week that I was in before I got hurt or before I missed, you know, or do I need to go back even further than that? Or can I just kind of pick up where I left off, right? And all of those factors are really important and very specific to each person, each training plan, each reason why you missed a chunk of time and how long that time was and all of that, right? But when runners come back in, and they jump in too soon and try to get right back where they were without allowing that proper buildup time, that can lead to, obviously injury from ramping up too quickly and it can also lead to just a lot of frustration, right? Because you think that you're following a training plan, you're doing the workouts that are listed, but they don't feel good or you're struggling a lot. You just find yourself on the struggle bus like every single run. And that can just lead to a lot of frustration because you're not able to build that mileage the way that you think you should be able to.
KEVIN: Yeah, one of the other reasons of not being able to build that mileage is assuming that, well, I took a few days off from you know, my ankle was bothering me, or I was out of town or whatever so now I have to cut my mileage drastically when I come back. If you take three or four days off, you can pretty much just be right back at the mileage you were. Like your body is going to be fine, you're going to be able to keep doing that and then you can increase from there.
ANGIE: Unless it was an injury, right? Or like a pain that you were trying to kind of give it some time.
KEVIN: Sure. Yeah, coming back off an injury is totally different. Coming back off of something got in the way that that was not physically painful, so we just got in the way, and you missed a few days. I think a lot of people pull themselves back way too much and then they're like, I keep feeling like I have to cut back my mileage and then slowly build back to this and then I cut back, and I slowly build back so it can never get to the higher mileage that you know some people are actually going for.
ANGIE: Yeah, because you're never actually making progress.
KEVIN: Right? It's literally.
ANGIE: It's down and back and down and back and down and back.
KEVIN: Yeah, it's two steps forward, two steps back. It's not even like two steps forward, one step back. It’s literally, it's just two and two, every single time so that's super frustrating for some people also.
ANGIE: Yeah, for sure. So, what do we do? How do we actually know where we are right now? And how do we know where we need to go? So. the first is to actually know your current mileage ability. Ask yourself how far I can run right now, and I think that that's sometimes where a lot of people like that question alone gets people confused and I can understand that like I can totally understand this.
KEVIN: It sounds like a simple question.
ANGIE: It does sound like a simple question, but really if you're starting back again, especially after an extended break, right? How many days a week should I run? How long should those run be Should those runs be? Like, where do I even start, right? And I think that that's one of the things that stops so many people in their tracks is that they don't even know where to start.
KEVIN: Yeah, it's.
ANGIE: Like do I start with the three-mile run? Do I start with a five-mile run? Do I start with a run walk? Do I start with three days a week or five days a week? There's a lot of moving pieces here that you have to figure out.
KEVIN: Right. 'Cause say you think to yourself you have an honest assessment. You're like, yes, I could run 5 miles, but I would be shot the next day. Okay so then 5 miles is not your starting point. That's an excessive run for you starting at three. Maybe it's reasonable if you say I get started 3 but I'd be pretty tired the next day, but your plan is to only run every other day starting at three seems reasonable because you'll run, you'll take an off day, you'll run, you'll take it off day. So, three then seems like a reasonable start.
ANGIE: Okay so this seems like a pretty obvious question, but like how do you actually assess your current mileage?
KEVIN: Right. So, I think there's a few things that you have got to come up with, is how many days out of the week are you running? What's your overall weekly mileage? What's a normal run for you and you have one run that's longer? So, there's like several questions within that that you kind of give it all ultimately, adds up to how many miles do you put in a week, which a lot of people try and like define that number as though your body somehow keeps track of what seven-day intervals are. Like, I run exactly this many miles every 7 days. But if you run like a long run on a Saturday but then the next week you run on a Sunday and the next one you have it on a Saturday. Your seven-day intervals get thrown off a little bit because you end up with like two long runs within seven days, so it looks like you ran a whole lot of miles there. So, it's a ballpark, like have an overall idea of, I do roughly this many miles every week or so.
ANGIE: Yeah, because you know, while it is relatively arbitrary, like what you are kind of pointing out, right? Like it’s cause training mode is just training mode and it’s just whatever the stress is that you're placing on the body. We as humans need to put some sort of construct around it right and that's why I think weekly mileage is very helpful. And like Kevin said, there are sometimes things like that get moved around and you end up maybe even doing like two long runs in one week, right? Because like for example, I was, I went out of town a couple weeks ago and I did. I normally do my long runs on a Saturday, and so I did a long run on a Saturday and then I did my next long run on a Friday, so it wasn't even a full week apart, but that was because I was flying, and I was traveling, and I was adjusting, so sometimes that does happen and, technically, the way that I structured my weeks, those were two separate weeks. But in your body, you know, the way that your body feels those were really only six days apart.
KEVIN: Right, they were closer than your normal long run spread.
ANGIE: Yeah, but just for all our intents and purposes here, we need to put some sort of structure on it, so weekly mileage Is a good way to go.
KEVIN: Right. So, if you're currently running, this is something that a lot of people don't actually know, like how many miles do you run for a week? I mean I, I sold running shoes for years, that was one of the go-to questions you would ask is well, how many miles do you run per week? Because it gave an idea of how, like when they would have to come back and get another shoe. You know, shoes go 300 or 500 miles some can stretch a little bit longer now. Kinda depends on you on the issue, but we tell them oh you go 10 miles week, we'll see you in a year. You go 20 miles a week, we'll see you in six months. It was a good gauge, but it was funny to see how few people hadn't answered that question or really had to pause and like do some math in their head and try and figure out the answer to that thing.
ANGIE: Well, I run four days a week and I usually do about four or five miles, and so yeah.
KEVIN: So, I guess 20. But it's a good number for you to know. Because if you're coming back off of an injury, coming back off of some like extended absence. You don't just want to jump right back to that mileage, you want to go back and think, okay, what was my normal mileage and then start especially if you're coming off an injury, started half of that and then take about a month to build back to normal. Seems like It's a pretty reasonable build at that point.
ANGIE: Yeah. And the other thing you want to keep in mind here too is especially if you're coming back after injury, you want to insert regular down weeks where you reduce your long run and overall mileage for that week to allow your body to recover, okay? Especially if you're coming off of injury and or illness, because there's a reason your body was injured, there was a reason that your body got sick, right? Like there was something going on that the training load was too large your body couldn't handle it, so you got injured. Maybe it was a freak accident that wasn't even related to running, but your body is still healing. Or maybe illness-wise you know, your immune system was run down because you were over training so that could have led to illness. Maybe it has nothing to do with your running, you know. I'm not saying that like necessarily has to be related, but maybe it did, you know, maybe there was a link to it. So, you want to make sure you're still taking some of those down weeks where you pull back on your long runs in your overall mileage every couple of weeks as you rebuild that base.
KEVIN: I mean, the difference between going like hard one day and a recovery the next day or a couple of days of recovery then has more of a macro scale of pull back every couple of weeks every three weeks maybe depending on how injury prone you are, and it'll keep your overall body just you'll feel fresh. You'll think to yourself instead of your building your long run of nine miles, 10 miles, 11 miles, knowing that after that, like a three-week build, you get to go back to like it's mentally refreshing. Not knowing that next week doesn't have to go to a level, or I have to go to 12.
ANGIE: I agree.
KEVIN: You're like, oh wait, I get to pull back a little bit, and it's nice that way.
ANGIE: Yeah, and the reason this is so important, is that you want to set yourself up for success. If you don't know what your current capabilities are, and you try to jump in way ahead of yourself, it can lead to a lot of frustration, it can lead to a lot of aggravation, right? And one of the things we like to think about since we have kids. Like, when can I take my kid to a movie? Right? like that was one of the questions we had when we were raising our children out in public.
KEVIN: Like being out in public, not sitting on a couch movie but like actually going to a theater and interacting with other people.
ANGIE: Yeah, yeah. When are they ready for that?
KEVIN: And look, this is kind of similar to mileage, like running longer mileage takes a mental toll and a physical toll. If you've got a toddler and they struggle to sit through an entire television show, that's like 24 minutes, then going out to the movie theater seems like a really poor choice for the kid and everybody else involved. So, the same thing happens with trying to ramp up your mileage too quickly. If you're not physically and mentally ready for that long of being out there and running, jumping into it, it is not going to be a pleasant experience for anybody involved.
ANGIE: Exactly. So, onto the second area. So, it's important for you to know your current mileage. The second thing you want to assess and know your current point is your current speed or pace. So, the mistake that we see a lot of runners making here is that they assume that they're either faster or slower than they are. Same thing that we were talking about before. It can lead to overtraining or undertraining, you know, you base it on past experience or some future wishful thinking. And there are people in both camps, right? There are some people that think they're just faster than they actually are and there are some people that actually think they're slower than they actually are. They actually don't believe that they are as fast as they actually are, and I love working with those athletes. Like, I love it when those people come inside, you know, onto our team into the Academy and they're like, well, these are the paces that I run, and I look at like some of those ones are fun of their numbers, and I'm like, and how did that feel? And they're like, oh, that felt good, you know, I'm pretty comfortable. And I'm like, oh, you are so much faster than you actually realize, this is going to be fun, right? But what happens, you know, if you assume that you're either faster or slower than you actually are, then if you're trying to train based on paces, incorrect paces, that can get you in trouble, right? So, if you think that you would you want to be able to run or they can actually, that would be the other mistake that people make is basing it on what they want to be instead of what they actually are, right? It’s kind of like the overarching principle that we're talking about in this episode.
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean you talk about overreaching on some of these things of, you know, say you're running a 27-minute, 5K, you'd like to run a 25-minute, 5K. You've got paces based off of both of those times. It's nice to occasionally reach towards the piece that you want to be racing, but most of your training should be based off of where you currently are so that you can build to that next place. If you try and base everything off of your reach every workout is going to be rough. It's going to be hard to string together successful workouts.
ANGIE: Yeah, yeah. So, you know if you aren't really sure what your current speed or pace is and then you try to like design these workouts. Or maybe you downloaded a training plan from the Internet that gives you like, okay, we'll run this workout at 5K pace or this workout at 10K pace. You're like, well, I haven't done that in a little while, but this is what I used to be. You know, I used to be able to run this space or you know, this is what I really want to be like what you're saying then you're reaching, but and then you start to train based on those paces, and they're actually inaccurate. Again, that can lead to undertraining or overtraining.
KEVIN: This happens to me regularly if I try and go into specific workouts and be alright, this should be at my 5K pace, but I've been training for things that are substantially longer. My 5K pace is not the 5K pace I used to have a few years ago, right? And I have to come to terms with that and be like look, I've not been training for a 5K's my 5K pace is not as fast. I should not do this workout at my 5K pace 2019 here in the year 2022, that is a poor choice, that is a bad assumption on my part that I could still go out and race that exact same time.
ANGIE: And so, instead of just assuming what your pace is or what you want your pace to be, the best thing to do is actually to assess it. So, you can do this a little bit by a couple different things. So, the first thing you could do would be to sign up for a race and actually just use it as a checkpoint just to see where you are. You know, maybe that's a 5K, maybe it's a 10K half marathon, depending on what kind of distance you're training for. You could just sign up for a race. Also, make sure that you're signing up for a race that's within your current ability.
KEVIN: Mileage wise. Don't sign up for a half marathon, just because you have a goal of a half marathon. Like, I mean, I can currently run 6, so, let's see what I can do in for 13 right now, seems also dangerous.
ANGIE: Yes, that could also be painful. Yeah, very painful. Right, so pick a distance based on step one, based on what your current mileage is, and just kind of see how fast you can run it and that will give you a good estimate of where you currently are.
KEVIN: Yeah, and then don't have judgment on that. That's where you currently are. You need to know where you currently are to get anywhere you can't be like, oh man, I feel so bad because my time was this, and three years ago I was doing that, five years ago I was doing that, two kids ago I was doing this. Like there's a lot of things that may have come up and changed the world that you're living in right now. So, knowing where you currently are by just popping into a race, that's a good one. Another way is that you could do this if you don't have a race or maybe you don't want to sign up for the race? There's a lot of people that know that I'm not as fast as it used to be. I really don't want the anxiety of putting a race bib on me and then it shows up and I'm not as fast. Go on and run by effort, go out and and have a mark that you've got to go out and say, alright, I'm just going to run for 20 minutes, at what feels like a medium effort or what feels like a 5K effort? Say this is my effort and really be honest with yourself. This is the effort that I'm putting forth, it feels like I'm racing a 5K, but don't ever look at your watch. Like don't look at your watch. Go back and check the numbers later and have an honest assessment. Be like I was pushing this hard and that's the piece that I was actually going, huh? Interesting, now I've got something to build from.
ANGIE: Yeah, and that's how we like to run our run tests, run our run test. Like, so when we have people that come into our training Academy, one of the things that we help them to do in part two of the training Academy, is build a foundation and so part of building a strong running foundation is assessing where you are, and so one of the things that we have them do is a run test, where we tell them, okay, go out and run at this effort level for a mile. Take a little break. Do it again, right? And then we use those numbers to assess where they are right now. So, there are different ways that you can do that, and one of them is just getting you know, signing up for a race. Another one is doing exactly what we just said, running by effort, seeing what pace that equates to and then using that to base your paces off of. But quite honestly, this is why we love running by effort, because you don't need specific training paces. You can literally do all of your training by effort and get fantastic results in your running because you don't have to be tied to a given pace or a given pace range. Even if you have a time goal for a given race trained by effort just all the time it is a fantastic way to get there.
KEVIN: There well, as long as you're super honest with yourself, correct? So being honest with yourself is the key to this. Like it's really hot in the middle of the summer here right now, so my 5K effort does not necessarily match up with the piece that I would run a 5K in ideal weather conditions right now, yeah.
ANGIE: Especially like in December, like Florida in July, is different than 5K race pace in December.
KEVIN: Yeah, very very different. So, even if I am in fact faster than the watch says, that's what the watch says because I don't know 7:00 o'clock this morning it was already like, feels like upper 80s temperature so if you're running by effort and honest with yourself about what that effort is, so like this is a moderate effort. This is a harder effort and really be honest with yourself and not judging about like man feels like I'm really slowing down. Well, of course you are. It's summer, it's hot, so you're probably going to slow down, but your effort can still be a consistent thing, and then when you train for a race, you train some at race effort, not race pace, but race effort then you were training a little bit faster, you train a little bit slower, and everything will work out great for me.
ANGIE: Everything works out great, you know, but it is so important to know where you are right now so that you can train appropriately, right? And we like to like in these two books I've been like doubling up, we like to like in these two books. I say we run tests, we run a run test, but anyway we like to think about books because we have two girls, and we want to make sure that when we give them a book or when they get a book from the library that it is age appropriate or reading level appropriate because if they are reading a book that is beyond what they're currently capable of, that's going to again lead to a lot of frustration, and that's one of the things I think that lead a lot of young readers to a lot of frustration, right? Like there are children that progress faster in reading and there are children that take a little bit longer to understand the concept of reading and improve their efficiency with reading, right?And so just because they're in second grade doesn't mean that all of the second graders have the same reading level and that's how a lot of the reading levels are set up right. And so, I think that that's one of the things that that can lead to so much frustration in young readers. And unfortunately, that can lead a lot of young readers to just decide, I'm not good at reading or I don't like reading, or I hate reading, right? And that's one of the things that leads a lot of runners to say I don't like running, I'm not good at running.
KEVIN: I don't like speed work. This is because I'm not good at speed work, I mean the correlation here is perfect because there are quick responders into speed training that they go out, they've been doing a whole lot of easy running and then they do like two speed sessions and suddenly and they're so much faster. And this happens with some kids, some kids you give them like a list of vocabulary words and boom, they've memorized list of vocabulary words. They’re quick responders to this. That doesn't mean that everybody else can't pick up those vocab words. That doesn't mean that you can't gain the speed, it just may take you a few extra sessions. It might take you a few sessions and then some down time to recover and actually take in and absorb all of that training before you see the process actually play out in some of your some of your race times.
ANGIE: Yeah, that's so good. I love that. All right, so far, we've got to know our current mileage and know our current speed or pace. Step 3 and the third thing that you need to think about and really assess honestly, to know where you currently are, is your strength and mobility, okay? And a lot of runners do not understand the importance of strength and mobility for running. They don't even think about it. They don't even address it. They just assume that running makes them stronger, and unfortunately this can lead to a lot of soreness, a lot of injured runners. A lot of you know people runners that just like, take too long to recover or just not reaching their potential. All because your strength training and your mobility have everything to do with your success in running, especially when it comes to injury prevention.
KEVIN: Yeah, you told you most runners about where you currently at and a lot of them if really pressed, they'll give you their current PR in a race they've recently run, and their weekly mileage very few of them will be like, also, I'm pretty consistent with my strength training twice a week like that, just that's not part of the conversation. Most will be able to at best, give you weekly mileage and maybe throw a PR.
ANGIE: Yeah, they don't usually include how much they can deadlift.
KEVIN: Yes, also, I'm currently squatting like no, Nope, I'm not doing.
ANGIE: I'm squatting a hundred pounds, right? Like that's not usually what we talk about as runners. But I think it should be like I, I mean not that we should be just throwing out things to puff up our chat.
KEVIN: Humble brags are always great.
ANGIE: Well, the same reason that you shouldn't be comparing your race PR's either. Like, you know, I think there's a lot of people that that's one of the questions that a lot of runners ask themselves, like oh what's your PR? Or what's this? Or is it that cause it's that immediate level of comparison, so that's not what we're talking about here. I'm talking about you within yourself, understanding. Am I even addressing my strength? Do I even know how strong I am? Do I know my areas of weakness Because strength is the foundation that running, and mileage and speed are built upon. You need a strong body with strong muscles to support you if you want to become a better runner. Because injury often comes almost always from lack of strength in some way or another. Right, a lot of times when we see calf injuries for example, or knee injuries, or knee pain or something like that, it's because of a weakness in the ankle or a weakness in the hip, or some sort of instability in the body where maybe that thing is okay for it, like when you have lower mileage. You know, like you have enough strength, if you're running 5K's but if you want to build up to a 10K or a half marathon, all of a sudden those muscles your body needs more strength because that's more time on your feet your muscles need to work harder to stabilize your body. There's a lot more strength and muscle endurance that's needed. It's not just cardiovascular endurance, it's also muscular endurance. Like how many times can that muscle contract and relax, contract and relax? Cause that's what we do in running, right? Like we're constantly contracting and relaxing our muscles. And there's only so many cycles that those muscles can go through before they get tired, and that level that fatigue level and that resistance to fatigue is different for each runner and that's where muscle strength really comes into play for us as runners, it's 1 area.
KEVIN: Yeah, I think another reason that people kind of ignore the importance of strength is they're like, well, I'm not trying to sprint, so I don't want to get all big and muscular, I don't really need to like fine tune my power and explosiveness. I'm trying to run a half marathon. I'm trying to run a full marathon. I'm not running anywhere near my maximum effort level. Okay, but if you increase your power if you push up the ceiling and you're running at a level that's like 60% of your ceiling, 60% of a taller ceiling is a whole heck of a lot of a faster pace, yeah, so sure, you could be running at a much lower than your maximum speed, but the ability to increase your max. speed, which comes from strength which comes from power training just, it lifts all of the numbers.
ANGIE: Yeah, exactly. So, I like to think of this as like the roots of a tree, right? So, if you have a tree, the deeper the roots, the more stable that tree is going to be, the stronger that tree's foundation. And that's really what I like to think of strength training as it is like building like really helping the tree grow deeper, stronger roots because you know we live in Florida and is now summer and it is hurricane season, so when we get hit by the storm and you drive through the streets afterwards, you're going to see downed trees and the number of downed trees you see corresponds to the high the speed of the winds that came through our area. You know how strong that storm was? And so, if it was just a tropical storm or like a category one, there's not going to be as many downed trees as if a category three or four comes through, and that's because at the lower wind speeds, the roots are strong enough to support the tree and allow it to still be standing, but at those higher speeds it's going like sometimes the roots fail, right? Because they're not able to withstand winds of higher speeds. Same thing with running, you might be fine at a given speed or pace, but if you're trying to run faster, this is where a lot of hamstrings injury injuries come from, you know like especially with sprinters, you see them in the Olympics. You know pulling up with a hamstring injury because they're trying to run at that max. power.
KEVIN: That looks painful every time.
ANGIE: Oh, it's so painful, but when you're trying to run longer distances, or you're trying to run at higher speeds, that's more demand being placed on the body or on the system, so you need stronger, deeper roots, aka stronger muscles, to support your body and allow that to be okay without you getting injured.
KEVIN: I like that I was trying to figure out how all these correlates and I really, I wanted cause I love my 3-legged stool analogy that you know 3-legged stools are super stable, so if you build your mileage and your speed and your strength that you form a really strong and stable runner but it doesn't fit well with the three-legged stool because if you knockout one of them, the other two will immediately topple. It's like a latter day where you've got mileage, speed and strength, and two of them represent the sides of the ladder and the third one represents rungs, and it doesn't even matter which one you put it aside and which one you put as the runs. You can't climb up a ladder with one side and a bunch of rungs. You're not getting very high on it, and you can't climb up the ladder with just two sides of rungs. You're not getting very high on it. You have to build up all three simultaneously. You can climb a rung and then you have to build up the little side walls and you get to another rung, and you have to build up the side walls. You got to kind of keep building them up so sure it's like oh I have quality strength. I can go out and run this mileage and this space and I don't get hurt. I feel recovered, everything is going great for me, but now you want to run faster. You want to run more. You're going to need to increase your strength a little bit, then then you have to keep increasing your speed to keep up with this new power that you've developed. Oh, now I'm going faster, now I can run even further. Great, you want to increase more? Increase your strength. They all kind of keep climbing together
ANGIE: Yeah. And so, it's super important to understand how to assess your current strength. And so again, going back to our training Academy. When people enter, we have a whole section filled with assessment tests so they can assess all of the areas that really matter for us as runners. So, I'm sure that there's like YouTube videos and things like that that you guys could look at, but a couple tests that you might want to do would be the single leg, calf raise test. Okay, that's a hugely important one, where you just stand on one leg and you do a calf raise like you go up and down on your toes. And you do it slowly and you see how many of those you can do.
KEVIN: Do you remember when we did that with our cross-country team, and you were counting out, you’re like up, down, up, down, up, down, and then you've done it for a while and some kids started fading and stopping and then after about a minute and she stopped counting and she goes okay, how many did you do? Every single kid on the team turned to her and went wait, were we supposed to be counting? Every kid. Not a single kid on the team counted.
ANGIE: Well, apparently that was poor direction on my part, and I will take responsibility, if not one of them.
KEVIN: It was the funniest thing, they all looked at you like oh wait, we were supposed to count.
ANGIE: I guess we're going to do that again.
KEVIN: It is great.
ANGIE: Yeah, so that's a really good one to do. Side plank and plank or really good ones to do as well to kind of just see what that core strength is. There's, it's also really important to assess your single leg strength. There are several tests that we can do for that as well but knowing where you are and being able to find those areas of weakness is hugely important. You know, like if you do a single leg squat test and you see that your knee is crashing in then what does that say about your hip strength, right? OK, if yes, your hips are weak, right?
KEVIN: Oh, it's weak.
ANGIE: So, what do I need to do to strengthen those hips up so that when I go out and run 10 miles, my knee isn't crashing in, starting it like mile 7 aka that's why I have knee pain, right? Like, you have to think about how all these things are related. If you've got weakness in your hips, maybe they're fine for the first 5 miles but as soon as you start, you know, that's why a lot of runners, they'll sometimes tell us like, oh, I just can't run more than five miles and I'm like, well, why can't you? Like, well, my knee. Every time I go past five miles my knee acts up and I'm like well that's just because you're weak and they're like no it's just because my knee is bad and I'm like it has nothing to do with your knee it has nothing to do with your knee, it has nothing to do with arthritis. It just means that you are lacking in the strength to support your body beyond a certain distance or beyond a certain time on your feet really, you know.
KEVIN: That's essentially what it is it's not even the distance, it's time on feet because it is muscular endurance.
ANGIE: Exactly. So, it's absolutely essential to make sure that you understand where you are, strength wise. You find those areas of weakness so that like Kevin said, as you build that ladder and you're trying to improve your mileage or your speed. You can also build up those areas of weakness and make them stronger.
KEVIN: Excellent, alright, so we have one more.
ANGIE: One more. OK, so the fourth thing, fourth area that you need to look at is you need to know your current life circumstances. What else is on your plate like? Yes, all the running specific things are important, but you also need to know what else you're dealing with in the rest of your life, especially if you want to train for a race or increase your distance or increase your training load. What else is going on? Right? And this is one of the areas we see so many runners and black like they don't take into consideration other life situations when they're choosing their training goal. Like maybe you want to run a marathon. Fantastic, I love the goal. I think anyone can run a marathon with the right timeline and with the right training. But, if you've got a really busy season at work, if your kids are in five sports each. If your husband is traveling. You know, one weekend a month. If there's, all these other life circumstances that are happening, is now the best time for you to add marathon training to your plate? And the reason it's so important to know this is that you can avoid so much frustration, so much struggle, so much overwhelming and really enjoy the process a lot more when you also take everything else into consideration. Because if you decide I'm going to take on this big training goal and you just kind of ignore all the other things that are going on in your life. A lot of times this thing that's supposed to be such an amazing thing, you know, running a half marathon running a marathon becomes very overwhelming, right? The training plan just becomes one more thing you have to do and then you get frustrated because you're not able to keep up with the plan 'cause life just keeps getting in the way, right?
KEVIN: Yeah, overwhelmed straight into frustration is a bad cycle.
ANGIE: Right, which then leads into even resentment, right? You can either resent running because it's just one more thing, adding stress to your life or you can resent maybe your family and it like, I know that nobody likes to talk about this, but like we can resent these other things in our life that we see that are taking us away from running, that are not allowing us to accomplish our training plan in the way that we have it laid out, right?
KEVIN: Yes, so happy because you've got this new baby in your life. But now your timeline of oh, but I was planning on running a marathon this year. Maybe that timeline is not working quite perfectly for you, or it can, like you can, by all means you want to put one more thing on it and you're like OK, this is going to be great. Take the time goal off of your race. You can do that just run it with a different plan, run it with a different mindset. I'm here to enjoy the experience of training for a marathon. So then if you miss a couple days, you're not so frustrated because you're like oh I'm so far behind my plan, I'll never hit that PR that I'm aiming for. Take the PR out of it. Like if you really want to do the distance? And you're like, wow, I've really. I want to do the distance, but I've got a lot on my plate in my life then, take some of the stress away, take something off your plate, and maybe that's the time goal that you've associated with the run, yeah, that might help a lot.
ANGIE: Yeah. Because one of the things that we fail to acknowledge as humans a lot of times, and I've definitely, both of us, we definitely fall into this trap sometimes as well. We've learned how to catch ourselves more, you know when we do fall into this trap, but one of the things that we sometimes fail to recognize is that stress is just stress, right? It doesn't matter if it's physical stress, if it's mental stress, if it's emotional stress, there's all these different things that can cause stress in our lives and running is a stress on the body. I know that a lot of us love to think that running is our way to de-stress, and it can provide a like so many mental benefits. It can help us process other areas of stress, but it is still a physical stress on the body. Especially if you're running too hard, right? Especially if you don't take those easy days easy and don't take those recovery runs as easy.
KEVIN: Or every time you get together with a group run you feel like you're not keeping up with the team and now you've got this negative comparison. Your running did not become a destressor effect. Your running became a stressful effect that did not help anything at all.
ANGIE: Right. But even if your run makes you feel better mentally, it's still a physical stress on the body, right? And so, I think that that's one thing that we often neglect is just understanding that running is a stress. And so, if you have all these other areas of stress in your life. You know you've got a lot of pressure at work. You've got a lot of family obligations; you're taking care of like an aging parent like there's so many things that we deal with as runners and as humans. Adding in a big training goal is the best circumstance for you right now. That doesn't mean it's never going to be possible, and again it could be. You know, maybe it is a really good thing for you to do right now, but like Kevin said, maybe you just adjust your goal a little bit around it.
KEVIN: Yeah, 100%. This is the whole idea that no, no I keep my running over here. I've got my family over there. I do my work over here as though these are in fact separate little bubbles that you live in. They're not all of those bubbles overlap each other. It's one really messed up looking Venn diagram where all the circles are just stacked on top. They're not separate, you can't go out and be like well, as long as I finished my run by 7:00 o'clock in the morning, that's when I'm a runner and then for the rest of the day, I'm not a runner anymore, I'll just do all the other things. No, no, no. That run still affects the rest of the day and what you do all day is going to affect your run the next morning. These all come together. Like I try to pretend that I could be a runner separate and then have the rest of my life that did not ultimately lead to good positive success. As much as seizures and a couple of trips to the hospital. You can't pretend these things are separate, they do overlap. Maybe for some people they overlap less than each other, but they all involve stress, and you have to deal with all of the levels of stress on your body.
ANGIE: Yeah exactly, I made this mistake just two weeks ago, right? So, I like I mentioned earlier, I went out of town. I flew to Denver, Colorado two weeks ago and I did a kind of project, like I did not look at the big picture well enough like I did not. Okay, I did not plan well for how to allow my body to adjust to this trip. So first of all, I had really never been at altitude before, like, I had been to Colorado like once in high school, but I don't really remember if even if it did affect me, you know at all. But I was like, well, I'm going to be at this event I'm I was flying out Friday night, so I was at this event Saturday and Sunday, so I'm like well I can't do my long run on Saturday, so I'll just wake up. I had a friend doing her long run on Friday. I was like perfect, I'll just tag along with her so, I woke up at 5:00 AM on Friday, went for a 10-mile run, was you know packing and getting ready and making sure all the girls were all taken care of, and the house was all set during the day on Friday.
KEVIN: It's just mental stress there.
ANGIE: Lot of mental stress. I had a lot of mental stress about the event I was going to, and you know a lot of like nervousness and anxiety about this if. And so that, I got on the plane and my flight was delayed and long story short, I ended up basically being awake for 24 hours straight. By the time I finally got into my hotel in Denver with the time difference and everything else that was going on and then I had to be up the next morning and at the event at 9:00 AM, right? And so, it's just like though I was exhausted like I, I'm sure I didn't drink enough water, I'm sure I didn't eat enough food like there were so many factors and by Monday, like you know, during the event Saturday and Sunday, there's a lot of running on adrenaline, right? And just going and by Monday I was tapped out like I was so exhausted, and I was like looking back on like the circumstances leading up to the trip and then also during the trip. And I did, you know, try to go out for a run. I did go out and run in Denver, just did like a short three-mile run but had to do some walking in it because like my heart rate was just through the roof because I was exhausted. My body was exhausted right? I was at Altitude like all the things and it's like, yes, it proves your point exactly like running isn't this bubble like it has everything to do with everything else that was happening to me and what I had put my body through that weekend and just being awakened, traveling and all this. Us there in the altitude and how that affected my body like there were so many factors that played a role in all of it added up to a lot of stress on my body. And I'm like almost two weeks out from that event. Like, well like a week and a half and I'm finally starting to feel kind of normal again. It's like it took me a solid week to recover from that trip. Like and thank goodness I didn't get sick either. You know, like a lot of times a lot of people get sick right after having like high, you know periods of high stress like that, but I felt like junk for a good week, you know. And I'm just like my runs don't feel good. My workouts don't feel good. I'm tired all the time like I was just wiped out.
KEVIN: Yeah, I mean, that's ultimately what it was, you were exhausted because of all the different parts of your life, they all account for stress, right? And stress is stress in whatever form it's coming. Stress is stress, right? So, to recap, we had four places that you should check to see “Where am I currently at in my running, so we've got our overall mileage. We're going to check our weekly mileage, how many days out of the week are you running? We've got how fast are you? You can go off on effort-based training or you can run like a local race just for fun. Don't get caught up in the time. The time is just checkpoint. Checking your strength. You gave some good examples of single leg tests and squats and planks side planks. All lot of really good stuff that calf tests. Make sure you actually count how many calf raises you can do. And then seeing where you are in in your overall big picture life, like how does running fit into your life? Cause if you're, if you got a lot on your plate, if you open up your plate, and you're like, whoa, that's a lot going on there. That might not be marathon season.
ANGIE: Yeah exactly. So, understand where you are in those four areas and that will set you up for greater success to get and chase those future goals and to actually move forward in your running and accomplish bigger things. Have that accurate assessment and be brutally honest with yourself. You know sometimes when we look at these areas, all four of these areas, we want to be further along than we are. We don't want to admit all the stress that we have in our life. We're like, Oh no, no, I'm strong. I can handle it. Be honest with yourself, okay? Like assess where you currently are in those areas so that you can move ahead and achieve your goals.
Alright, you guys. So as always, it has been so fun hanging out with you today. If you haven't yet, please leave us a review on iTunes. Please share this episode with a friend, if you found it valuable and tune in make sure that you're subscribed to the podcast, and we appreciate you spending this time with us today.
This has been the Real Life Runners Podcast, Episode #261. Now get out there and run your life.