Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter: 14th December 2023

A Surprisingly Different (And Good) Marathon Program; How To Coach A Teenage Daughter; Marathon Moms Making Big Strides

Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter: 14th December 2023 1

Here’s the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and more specific running advice.

[RLRH is taking a 2-week break for the end-of-year season. It will next be published on January 4, 2024. Wishing you and yours great Holiday health. –Amby

A Surprising (And Good) Twist On Marathon Training Plans

I’m always on the lookout for marathon training programs that are distinctly different from others. Given the hundreds of marathon programs on the Internet, you’d think it easy to find differences.

But it’s not. Most programs look remarkably similar because there’s considerable agreement on what’s included in a good marathon program. Things like: 1) 12 to 20 weeks of preparation; 2) a gradual, progressive increase in weekly mileage, with a particular focus on weekend long runs; 3) a modest number of tempo runs at marathon or half-marathon pace; 4) a cutback week (decreased mileage) every 4 weeks or so; and 5) a 2-3 week taper before the big event.

All these training programs are basically sound, and should lead to good results. That’s great for the runners who follow them. But where’s the creative variety?

Last week I stumbled upon a marathon program with just enough of a plot twist to grab my attention. The author, Matt Fitzgerald, is a highly regarded coach, running expert, and book author.

Here’s what I found different (and liked a lot). Fitzgerald inserts a cutback week every third week vs every fourth. That means you get more easy weeks as you build towards the high mileages required for the marathon.

Fitzgerald calls his plan “Foolproof.” I’d stop short of that. I’d call it “Smart.” More at Stack.

Generation Gap: How Should A Former Champ Coach His Teen Daughter?

Maybe not at all. At least that seems to be working well for Dathan Ritzenhein and his daughter, Addy.

In his high school days as a scrawny, seemingly invincible kid from Rockford, Michigan, Dathan Ritzenhein won the FootLocker Cross-Country Championships as a junior and senior. A couple of weeks ago, his daughter, Addison, won the Nike Cross-Country Nationals as a sophomore.

I don’t think there has ever been a father-daughter team quite like this one before. So I listened carefully to a Dyestat interview with the two Ritzenheins. What’s their secret?

The good news: They don’t seem the least concerned with secrets. Dathan believes that the coaches at Addy’s high school are doing an excellent job, and he doesn’t interfere or micromanage his daughter’s running. In fact, he says, “I don’t really know what she’s doing until after she does it.”

Okay, he does get her free shoes from On, the shoe company that employs him to coach its elite international running team in Boulder.

Addy has only been running seriously for a couple of years. Before that, she focused on gymnastics with a little swimming and volleyball. She seems drawn to cross-country primarily because she likes the social connections with her teammates. “I would say the flexibility from gymnastics has helped me, and just being part of a team. I like the teamwork.”

Addy’s mother, Kaelin, was also an elite runner in high school (same town as Dathan) and college (she and Dathan both attended the University of Colorado.) But neither parent has pushed Addy to running. They let her discover it on her own after exploring other sports.

This reminds me of Shalane Flanagan’s path. She had two elite runners as parents. But she mainly played soccer until midway through her high-school career. Then she switched to running, and absolutely blossomed. She made several Olympic teams and won a New York City Marathon.

The kids are alright. Let them play their games when they are young. They have plenty of time in high school and beyond to become serious runners. More available at a podcast from Dyestat.

Breaking Barriers: Motherhood And The Marathon Journey

The members of the first U.S. female Olympic Marathon team in 1984 were all on the young side, and childless–Joan Benoit, Julie Brown, and Julie Isphording. My, how things have changed.

We don’t yet know who will be going to Paris next summer, but there’s plenty of competition among those in their mid-30s (and beyond) who also have a thriving brood. I thought Keira D’Amato was the clear leader of that pack with her 39 years, and two children. Along with a marathon best of 2:19:12

But then Sara Vaughn hit the Chicago Marathon finish line two months ago in 2:23:24. She’s 37, with four children. Don’t look back, Keira. You’ve got marathon-mother competition.

Plenty of it. Just last month, Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle were featured in a NY Times story on breastfeeding. A couple of days later, they charged to the front of the NYC Marathon lead pack for half the race before finishing in 2:29 and 2:32. Taylor has so many children, both biological and fostered, that I can’t keep up with the total.

All this is prelude to a new Alex Hutchinson “Sweat Science” column on women and their return to fitness and competition after childbirth. The rule: There is no rule. Every postpartum woman runner has to listen to her body, and make her own best decisions. As Hutchinson writes: “Every return from pregnancy is different, and there’s no default timeline.”

Also: There are no limits. Every month, women like D’Amato, Vaughn, Taylor, Huddle, and many more are proving that women can run as fast, if not faster, after childbirth as before. Here’s a key study along those lines. 

I had barely finished typing these lines when I learned about Carter Norbo, who just won a Virginia marathon in 2:38:14 less than 4 months after giving birth to twins.

Of course, many more new mothers return to running without setting records. They simply improve their personal health/fitness, and likely that of their newborns as well. As Hutchinson notes: We should “see all the postpartum athletes around us, recognize the challenges they’re encountering, and celebrate their achievements.” More at Outside Online.

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> No finish line in sight: Super shoes aren’t going away in 2024. There will be more than ever.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE you would have received this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text “Run Long, Run Healthy.” (Subscription Link Here.)

# Two simple words–”Hop” and “Stick”–that could fix your stride

# How to unleash running’s fat-burning potential

# Treadmill benefits, and Buyer’s Guide

# Ketones make a comeback as a post-exercise fuel

# New running gear so amazing you won’t even believe it

# Who was the top runner of 2023?

# Everything you need to know about vo2 max

# 14 new nutrition products for runners

# An inspirational quote from Sir Edmund Hilary, first to the top of Mount Everest

And remember: “I spend HOURS searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in MINUTES.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again in the New Year on January 4, 2024. Amby

Photo of author
Amby Burfoot stands as a titan in the running world. Crowned the Boston Marathon champion in 1968, he became the first collegian to win this prestigious event and the first American to claim the title since John Kelley in 1957. As well as a stellar racing career, Amby channeled his passion for running into journalism. He joined Runner’s World magazine in 1978, rising to the position of Editor-in-Chief and then serving as its Editor-at-Large. As well as being the author of several books on running, he regularly contributes articles to the major publications, and curates his weekly Run Long, Run Healthy Newsletter.

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