Megan Roche is a professional runner for HOKA ONE ONE and the 2016 USA Track & Field Trail Runner of the Year at the ultra and sub-ultra distances.
A five-time national champion, she’s also the North American Mountain Running Champion and a six-time member of Team USA.
Her new book The Happy Runner: Love the Process, Get Faster, Run Longer was written with her husband David Roche (also an elite runner who contributed to our Little Black Book of Recovery & Prevention) and presents a unique and compelling view of how to excel as a distance runner.
In it, she discusses a wide range of fascinating topics for runners:
And of course, Megan and David cover the training side of things with a focus on how to get the most out of your body.
In this podcast conversation, Megan and I talk about:
Over the last two years, I've been learning more and more about strength training. In fact, our new strength program High Performance Lifting (details here) has rocketed to our most popular training course.
Like many runners, I'm not in love with weightlifting (I'd rather be running!) but I've come to appreciate just how valuable it is for endurance athletes. Higher levels of strength almost always lead to faster race times.
That's why I'm thrilled to present a new podcast with strength coach Tony Gentilcore.
Tony previously joined us on the pod to talk about why runners should lift.
He's back on today to go into more detail. Tony pointed out during our conversation that all of us deadlift all day long. Whenever we pick something up from the ground (a child, a bag of groceries, your running shoes), we're performing a deadlift.
If we practice that movement and get stronger moving in that way, it will make life - and our running - a lot easier.
And that's the mentality we should all have when we think about strength training: it's exercise that makes other exercise easier.
But we're going to talk a lot more about the deadlift in this episode:
If you're not sure where to start, don't miss SR's free strength series.
Now, my goal at Strength Running is to always show you the most effective approach. The training that will most likely get you to achieve your biggest goals.
That’s why we don’t waste time on minutiae. We don’t chase shiny objects like CrossFit Endurance or wonder if we should go keto or run all of our miles barefoot.
We focus on what has been shown to conclusively work for runners.
As you can imagine, some prevention strategies are better than others:
This episode will rank the most effective injury prevention strategies so you know which one to choose for your needs.
Verrelle Wyatt is a 2:24 marathoner, 4:18 miler, and an Athletic Hall of Famer for his high school. He received his doctoral degree in Physical Therapy from Walsh University in Ohio.
He has two medical licenses in both Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy in addition to being certified as both a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) and Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES).
In this conversation, we discuss a lot:
This episode is an excerpt from our full conversation for Team Strength Running, Strength Running's affordable group coaching program.
As a runner himself, Jason Koop has two top-10 finishes at the Leadville Trail 100 and has finished some of ultrarunning's most challenging races like the Badwater 135, Wasatch 100, and the Hardrock 100.
He's the Director of Coaching at Carmichael Training Systems where he's been for over a decade working with runners, cyclists, and triathletes.
Today, coach Jason Koop focuses more on trail ultramarathoners, guiding some of the best ultra runners in the country:
This wide-ranging conversation covers a lot:
Our conversation is a must-listen for aspiring coaches, ultrarunners, and running geeks who want to dive a little deeper into training theory.
Running injuries are formally called repetitive stress injuries. Do the wrong thing (over a prolonged period of time) and you can rest assured that you’re probably going to get hurt.
Here’s a great example from outside the running world. Recently I interviewed Staci Ardison in our monthly interview series for Team Strength Running about weight lifting. She’s become a very competitive powerlifter over the last few years and asked about injuries in the weight room. What causes them? How do you stay healthy while lifting?
Her answer was surprising. It wasn’t a neat new trick or fancy wrist strap for dead lifts.
It had nothing to do with what shoes you’re wearing (in fact, she frequently lifts barefoot or whether or not you were wearing compression socks.
Her answer was this:
Not doing things correctly. Don’t ego lift.
How simple. And also, how accurate.
In the sport of weightlifting (just like in running), injuries are caused by doing things you’re not prepared to do.
I want to provide a bit more detail on and examples of these training errors so let’s dive into the top 5 mistakes we make as runners.
For more on injury prevention, get our free email series here.
With some runners hesitant to brave the yoga studio – and the benefits unclear – I wanted to get a leading expert on the podcast to discuss yoga for runners.
Please say hi to Sage Rountree.
Sage isn’t just an internationally recognized yoga expert with the highest level of training possible. She hasn’t just worked with Olympians, NBA and NFL players, and collegiate athletes.
She’s also a running and triathlon coach and the author of eight books, including:
With a PhD in English Literature, race experience from 400m to the ultramarathon, and experience teaching yoga at venues ranging from the local Turkey Trot to the Pentagon, Sage has a breadth of experience unlike most other fitness experts.
She’s also the owner of the Carolina Yoga Company, the Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat; and the Carolina Massage Institute.
And she’s on the podcast to talk about the many benefits of yoga for runners.
Today I want to help you avoid the most common mistakes among new runners. These "unforced errors" derail your progress, invite injury, and make running harder than it needs to be.
Simply not doing the wrong thing can be the difference between success and failure.
It’s like Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said:
“It’s not the great play that wins the game. It’s eliminating the dumb play.”
Here are three of the most common mistakes I see beginners make with their running – whatever you do, avoid these at all costs!
For more on beginner running, get our Bonus Podcast for new runners at https://strengthrunning.com/new/
Pam is a Team Strength Running member. Every month, I get the team together for a live video coaching call. We talk about workouts, scheduling races, planning around vacations and injuries, and how to strategically plan a season.
I recently asked the team if anybody was planning a BIG goal and wanted to come on the podcast to talk more about how to achieve that crazy goal.
[These opportunities are only available to Team SR members. Learn more about the team here.]
Pam stepped up. She’s not new to running but wants to run a marathon even though she’s never run longer than about 9 miles. Her longest race has been 10k.
This is a unique place to be: an experienced yet low-mileage runner who wants to make the leap to running 26.2 miles.
We’re left with a lot of questions:
These are the questions we’re answering on today’s podcast episode about running your first marathon.
This is a behind the scenes coaching call that I occasionally do for team members, highlighting their unique goals and struggles and how they can keep improving.
The format of the call is three parts:
First, what is Pam’s background as a runner?
Second, what are her goals and current training like?
Finally, we strategize on how she can make those goals a reality.
To kick off 2018, we’re focusing on strength training for runners. And there’s an undeniable advantage from getting the fundamentals right before you learn how to start lifting weights:
Progress is faster (you get better sooner!)
Risks are mitigated (far fewer injuries!)
Results are more substantial (you get stronger!)
My goal is to help you limit the early mistakes as you start lifting weights so you can enjoy all of the benefits of strength training exercises:
We cover a lot more on Strength Running’s free weight lifting ecourse here – don’t miss it!
If you don't know Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, you're missing out.
He’s a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force Reservists. He designed the US Air Force Efficient Running Project and has presented running workshops on over 50 military bases.
Mark has been a national-level Masters runner, completed more than 100 marathon and ultra-marathon races, and is a two time winner of the Air Force Marathon. His PR? A staggering 2:24.
He's also strongly involved in the local West Virginia running community:
Mark's new book, Run for Your Life: How to Run, Walk, and Move Without Pain or Injury and Achieve a Sense of Well-Being and Joy is all of his expertise and experience distilled into one manual for preventing injury.
He's also on the Strength Running Podcast to discuss these topics in more detail.
We're focusing on three main areas of prevention:
Tempo runs are beneficial for virtually every runner – from milers to marathoners, tempos are nearly ubiquitous.
Of course, they’re a staple for longer distance runners training for the marathon and beyond.
If you’re not familiar with this type of workout, there are three popular definitions:
1. Comfortably hard. A pace that’s faster than “moderate” but not exactly “hard.” If you have a high training age and prefer running by feel or perceived effort, this may be the most helpful definition for you.
2. The pace you could race for an hour. For some runners, their tempo pace is similar to or about the same as their 10k pace.
This definition is best used for more advanced runners.
3. 85-90% of maximum heart rate. If you train by heart rate (learn how to calculate your max heart rate here), this is a valuable way to ensure you’re in the right range for your tempo run.
More scientifically inclined runners know that tempo workouts are run at or near your lactate threshold. This is the pace at which you’re producing the maximum amount of lactate that your body can clear from your muscles and blood stream.
In other words, tempo runs are done at lactate threshold which is the fastest you can still run aerobically.
Most coaches - including myself - don't have the tools to discuss this serious issue. I have no personal experience or training with eating disorders in runners (though I have friends with disordered eating).
So I brought on someone who does: Annyck Besso.
The goals of this conversation are threefold:
Annyck is a Registered Dietitian with expertise in the treatment of eating disorders in private and academic medical center environments. She has a Bachelors degree in nutrition and dietetics, a Master's degree in dietetics, and specialty training in approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family Based Treatment (FBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
She's also quite the speedy runner, recently running 3:07 at the hot and humid Wisconsin Marathon.
Resources & Links from the show:
Thank you Annyck for coming on the podcast to share your expertise about the topic of eating disorders in runners. There are a lot of resources included that I hope all of our listeners will find helpful!
Trail running is a welcomed alternative to road running because it's a different type of stress that helps you become a better runner:
Plus, let's not forget that running trails usually means that you're going to run slower. And that can actually be a very good thing!
When used appropriately, train running can aid recovery by forcing you to run slower. A lower heart rate - on a softer, more forgiving surface - is how to structure a great recovery day.
From injury prevention to athleticism to recovery, trail running can help improve the quality of your training (and your race results).
To help you make the most of running trails - and get started with the least amount of stress - I spoke with trail and ultra runner Doug Hay.
He's also the creator of the Trail Runner's System (today's sponsor).
Our conversation covers a lot:
We also include a challenge for you - so don't miss this episode.
Dr. Ryan Smith is a lead instructor for the Institute of Clinical Excellence in the Fitness Athlete division. He specializes in treating individuals who participate in CrossFit, Olympic Lifting, powerlifting, and other recreational sports like running.
He also specializes in pelvic health therapy, utilizing an external approach that focuses on education and management of diastisis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and post-partum issues.
Ryan is an avid supporter of the Senior Rehab Project and promoting individuals to strength train throughout their lifetime.
You might recognize his name - he contributed to an earlier article on bodyweight strength training for runners.
And I'm excited to introduce a longer discussion with Ryan on many related topics:
Enjoy my conversation with Dr. Ryan Smith!
Show Links & Resources:
Jonathan Marcus is to running as Charlie Munger is to investing: a coach that uses “elementary, worldly wisdom” to mold his athletes into high-level runners.
His past coaching and running industry experience includes:
He was appointed USA Track & Field High Performance Coordinator for the men’s middle distances in 2011 and his national role with USATF included serving as co-meet director for the prestigious USATF High Performance track meet held annually at Occidental College.
Currently he’s the Director of High Performance West, an elite training group in Portland Oregon. He also has an incredibly enlightening and action-packed podcast with fellow coach Steve Magness called On Coaching that I highly recommend.
What I most respect about coach Jonathan Marcus is that he’s a lifelong learner: always reading books, learning, educating himself, and connecting with others to improve his ability to perform at a high level as a running coach.
Our wide-ranging discussion might surprise you because we talk about some interesting topics that, on first examination, don’t appear to be truly about running or coaching!
For those who want to transcend beyond an elementary understanding of running, this conversation is a fantastic primer on the nuances of high-level running achievement.
I think you’re going to love it.
You might recognize Tina from Episode 31 of the podcast. She’s an 11-time All-American athlete and elite athlete for Great Britain who’s run in two British Olympic Trials.
Tina recently overcame amenorrhea by taking a break from training, had a daughter, and is now returning to competitive running.
But we’re not here to talk about Tina. We’re here to talk about YOUR questions, problems, and struggles.
In this conversation, we’re discussing:
Nichola - or Nic as her friends call her - has such a long list of credentials and accomplishments that I simply can't share them all here.
But just a sampling of her education and experience demonstrates her expertise:
Her blog has also been voted as the UK's best health blog in 2015! Clearly, we're in good company.
In this conversation, Nic and I discuss a wide variety of topics important to runners:
Use these principles to focus on big-picture principles and thrive!
I’m a proud omnivore. I firmly believe that eating a balanced, “whole-foods” diet is the key to both long-term health and improved running performance.
But the issue isn’t which diet is best, but the results that a certain diet can give to you.
Over the past decade, I’ve been borderline obsessed with discovering the optimal diet for running performance.
I’ve read many of the best diet books, interviewed Registered Dietitians, pro athletes, and best-selling diet authors:
I’ve also heard first hand from elite runners, USA Track & Field instructors, and world-class coaches about the best approaches to eating for endurance runners.
And they all include meat.
But… not one person (anywhere) thinks we should eat a meat-based diet.
Whether you’re vegan or an omnivore like myself, we should all eat a plant-based diet. Here are 3 strategies that work well for me.
Angie and Trevor Spencer are the hosts of the Marathon Training Academy podcast and have helped thousands of runners over the years successfully run their first marathons.
Angie ran her first marathon in 2008, promptly got injured, but turned things around in a big way: since then, she's run 51 marathons and 4 ultras with not a single injury (!). A Registered Nurse, she also has USATF-Level 1 and RRCA-Level 2 coaching certifications.
Trevor followed in his wife's footsteps and went from couch potato to marathoner in just a few short years. After his first marathon in 2011, he's since completed 14 marathons, 15 half marathons, and a Spartan Trifecta.
They've both joined me on the podcast to talk about the subject of "Couch to Marathon" or how to:
Every year, about a half a million runners finish a marathon in the United States (and most of them - nearly all of them - aren't elite athletes blessed with marathon-friendly genetics).
The marathon can be conquered. Success over 26.2 miles just needs a more strategic plan than your neighborhood 5k.
This is how you do it.
Over the years of coaching hundreds of athletes to new personal bests from 1.5 mile military fitness tests up to the 50-mile ultramarathon distance, I’ve been given a “private look” inside how runners approach their training.
And most of the time, I’m horrified! There’s no progression. They avoid race-specific workouts. I see pacing mistake after pacing mistake.
If you want to run faster you need to take the next logical step in how you prepare and plan your training schedule. Even though you might think the 5k is short, it demands very specific workouts.
Good 5k training includes three distinct aspects of running fitness: speed, race-specific fitness, and endurance.
Over-emphasize endurance and you won’t have that “higher gear” to hammer the last mile.
Skip the specific 5k workouts and you’ll feel flat with no power.
Balancing all three ensures that you’ll feel powerful on race day and accomplish your race goals. So if you’re wondering how to train for a 5k, here’s how to execute each one (no matter what fitness level you’re at right now).
Learn more about SR's training programs if you'd like to race faster! See https://strengthrunning.com/coaching/ for more.
Alex Hutchinson holds a PhD in Physics from Cambridge, a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia, and is a former national-class runner in Canada. He’s written for Runner’s World, Outside Magazine, The Globe & Mail, Popular Mechanics, and many other major media.
I’ve been pestering Alex to write another book after Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? became one of my favorite exercise science myth-busters (if you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly recommend it).
And he finally delivered! His new book, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance has quickly become my favorite running book from the last few years.
Our conversation centers on the psychological limits of endurance:
Alex’s book showed me the many factors that limit endurance – and practical methods for overcoming those limitations.
Often, it’s not your training that predicts your race performances, but what’s between your ears.
Warrior Dash is a fun vacation from more traditional road racing. If you’re bored and need a new challenge, an obstacle race might be just the cure.
They’re fun – but you need the right training to prepare yourself for the challenge of completing a difficult obstacle course. With obstacles every few hundred feet on courses that are almost always hilly with uneven terrain, it’s downright difficult to maintain your pace and get in a groove.
For most runners, it’s a challenge just to run in between each obstacle!
But there are specific ways that you can train to ensure you have a successful race. Make no mistake: whether you’re running a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder, these aren’t your typical road races. It takes a particular mindset to conquer them. Here’s how.
Sam started running in 2002 to lose the weight he put on in college. But his training really picked up years later when he started racing more in 2015.
He told me:
I set a goal to run another marathon in December, 2016 with a goal of a BQ. I dumped weight lifting and boot camps, to focus on running. I jacked up my miles going from running 10-15 miles and week quickly to running 30-40 miles a week.
Leading up to the marathon I developed plantar fasciitis but was able to train through it. A week before the race I developed ITBS and ran the marathon anyways. It was a horrible race that left me sitting on the side of the road at one point.
But I finished (actually setting a PR in 3:30) and could barely walk afterward. After 2 months, I started training again and decided I wanted to try triathlons.
I jacked up my miles and completed a Half Ironman. But I didn’t take time to recover and developed ITBS. And I've been battling with issues ever since.
Listen in as we strategize how to get control over this injury cycle so Sam can focus on racing faster.
Sam is a member of Team Strength Running and is able to talk over these issues with me on our live coaching calls.
If you'd like that opportunity, sign up here to see when the team is accepting new members.
Heather Caplan is a Registered Dietitian, certified running coach, and host of the RD Real Talk Podcast.
She’s also the former Head of Nutrition and Coaching at tech startup Spright, Inc. She’s also worked in corporate wellness coaching and public health nutrition counseling.
Her work has been featured in national media such as Runner’s World, The Washington Post, Women’s Running, Outside Online, and others.
Heather is on the podcast today to answer YOUR nutrition questions:
This is a very wide-ranging discussion based on your answers to my Twitter question here. If you like this format of podcast, we have two more you can download here!