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The Best Tempo Run Ever; Complete Guide To Avoiding Runner’s Anemia; Amazing Dehydration Psychology

RLRH Newsletter: January 26, 2024

Last Updated:

The Best Tempo Run Ever; Complete Guide To Avoiding Runner's Anemia; Amazing Dehydration Psychology 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 deeper, more specific running advice. – Amby

Just a test

The U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials are approaching fast—on Saturday, Feb. 3—so this week I’m looking at a few of the high-performance strategies the Trials runners will be using, along with the usual assortment of training, nutrition, and injury prevention advice.

​The Best Tempo Run Ever​

The tempo run is a central training component of almost all endurance runners. It teaches you—physically and mentally—to run “hard but controlled.” Those two words are the key to all successful endurance training and racing.

But many things can go awry when overeager coaches and athletes get their hands on the tempo run. In particular, many do tempos that are too long and/or too hard. The “terrible toos” lead to unsuccessful endurance training and racing.

Another tempo-run problem: relying too much on a strict formula, thinking you must do 20 continuous minutes; or 40 minutes; or whatever.

Endurance running coach Steve Magness has a better way. He calls it “the split as you feel” threshold run. I’m tempted to call it the “flexible tempo run” or even the “fartlek tempo run.”

Here’s how to do it. First, pick how many minutes of tempo running you want to complete on a particular day. Say, 25 minutes. Second, warm up, and then start your run. Third, evaluate how the run is going.

If you find that you’re working too hard (i.e. not “controlled”) or maybe feeling too muscle-sore, stop your tempo run after X minutes. Jog very slowly for several minutes to recover. Then start up again until X + your second effort = 25 minutes, your goal for the day.

Don’t get upset at yourself for the two-pronged effort. Instead, congratulate yourself for being smart about completing this workout just as it was meant to be–hard but controlled.

Magness notes: “This takes some pressure off the workout, makes it more manageable, teaches you how to listen to your body…while still getting the stimulus for the workout!” Some days you’ll run 20 minutes + 5 minutes, others 15 + 10. You might even end up with a 10 + 7 + 5 + 3. It’s all good.

More at X/Steve Magness.


Your Complete Guide To Avoiding Iron Deficient Anemia

Many runners, especially females and/or strict vegetarians, have issues with anemia. And often they don’t realize it. That’s why a simple, complete guide is always a valuable resource.

That’s what dietitian Nancy Clark has produced here. Iron deficient anemia strikes athletes because they “lose iron with heavy sweating, blood loss in urine or via the intestinal tract, and damage to red blood cells caused by footstrikes while running.” Plus young women have monthly periods.

Clark covers “What to do” if you think you might be anemic, and also “Preventing and/or resolving anemia,” and “Iron supplements” that can help. One tip I didn’t realize: “ Taking an iron supplement every other day is as effective as taking it daily.”

More at Nancy Clark RD.


Amazing Psychology: If You Think You’re Dehydrated, You Are

Just about everyone—runner, coach, physiologist—understands that getting dehydrated by more than 2-3 percent during a long endurance race is a bad thing. Below 2%, the evidence is less solid.

Here researchers used a clever design to see how dehydration under 2 percent affected cycling performance in an all-out 15 minute test after a prior 80-minute endurance effort.

Each subject performed the same protocol twice with a gastric fluid tube introduced into the stomach. They were allowed to drink a bit of water during the 80-minute pre-test, and also had water released (or not) into the stomach. As a result, subjects didn’t know how much total water they had received.

But researchers controlled the experiment so that each rider did one 15-minute test while fully hydrated, and one while 1.6% dehydrated. They also told the riders when they were dehydrated. With an important twist: They lied 50% of the time.

Sometimes riders were told they were dehydrated when in fact they were not dehydrated.

Result: They performed 6% worse thinking themselves dehydrated vs the exact same all-out test when they thought they were fully hydrated.

Alternatively, when actually dehydrated (but told they weren’t), the riders’ performance did not suffer.

Also, heart rates, gastrointestinal temperature, and relative perceived exertion were not different between trials, whether riders were dehydrated or not.

Conclusion: “This study demonstrated that when participants believed they were dehydrated by ∼2%, endurance performance in the heat was impaired by ∼6%.”

It seems, then, that you should keep aiming to avoid dehydration of more than 2%. But if you’re not sure you’re hitting this goal, try not to obsess about it. A small miss might not have a large effect.

More at Physiology & Behavior.


SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

Got knee pain? Here’s a great infographic to help you figure things out.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

  • The 24 Hours That Will Make (Or Break) Your Marathon
  • Why Are Supplements Largely Unproven But Massively Popular?
  • How Super Drinking (Hyperhydration) Could Help You Run Faster
  • Time Your Caffeine Surge To The Minute!
  • Real Life, Real Runner Results With The “Train Low, Race High” Diet
  • Does “Time Restricted Eating” Boost Health & Performance?
  • How To Reframe The Marathon Challenge
  • Here’s How To Know If You’re Drinking Too Much Water

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 next week.

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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