The Blog Begins: Blog #1
If you have been following my running journey the last few years, you probably remember the month that I did a vlog in January 2019. While it was a lot of fun to document my life every day on video and edit it together, the entire process was too time consuming to balance with a fulltime job, competitive running, and a serious girlfriend (now wife 😉). After almost 2 years I've decided to resurrect the concept of more or less daily updates with this blog! Another big reason for the blog, too, is that I consume A LOT of running content and news throughout the day, and I want a place where I can save the interesting parts for myself to look back on later as well as share the more useful tidbits with the athletes I have begun coaching. So here we go!
Quote of the Day
"You have not lived in the world of competitive sport until you have fought a battle that is not against me to opponent but against yourself." -Peter Pollock
News of Note
The University of Minnesota has decided to cut Men's Track and Field due to lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The track and field community is understandably upset that such a storied program is being scratched without good reason. Someone did the research (https://twitter.com/_jcarpenter_/status/1304517873809854464?s=19) and showed that cutting their men's track program only saved ~$600,000 or 0.04% of the university's athletic budget. Couldn't another, more expensive sport help out? Or perhaps donations or a fundraiser could be put in place? Neither of these options was (publicly) considered. And that's not to mention the school's $4 billion endowment...
If you care to support bringing the program back, please sign the petition below. Don't think petitions work? A similar thing happened to Brown University's track program earlier this year, and public outcry forced the university to reverse the decision.
Save Minnesota's Men's Track and Field Program: http://chng.it/VXmm549NSV
Since I'm at training altitude for the first time I decided to cover an article about altitude training and it's (possible) benefits. There is a lot of debate on whether or not training at altitude is effective or not. To me the only data that matters is this: 95% of Olympic and World Championship Medalists competing in events 800m and longer since 1968 have either trained at or were born at altitude. The article tries to look at how to delineate people who respond to altitude training from those who don't, but what I took from the article is that there are certain ways to prepare oneself for altitude training, as well as the fact that just because a person does not respond to altitude well the first time there may be hope that they may respond in the future.
Why Altitude Training Helps Some but Not Others by Alex Hutchinson:
"A new analysis casts doubt on the idea that people are born as "responders" or "non-responders" for training in thin air."
"The physiologists also had two other pieces of advice for the coaches: don’t let your athletes come to altitude if they have low iron stores (defined as serum ferritin below 30 micrograms per liter) or if they’re ill (as indicated by levels of the inflammation marker C-reactive protein above three milligrams per liter). These rules, too, were not enforced, so the researchers checked whether those with low iron or high inflammation were less likely to respond. The results were unconvincing: if anything, the non-responders had slightly higher baseline ferritin and lower C-reactive protein than the responders.
Other studies, in contrast, have found that having good iron levels and avoiding illness are crucial to getting good results from an altitude camp. And the physiologists who work closely with elite athletes have plenty of other ideas about what it takes to ensure a successful training block in thin air. The real conclusion, yet again, is that getting the most bang out of your altitude buck is complicated and highly individual. You can take that as a glass half empty: simply booking a plane ticket guarantees nothing. Or you can take it as a glass half full: even if your first stint at altitude didn’t work out, you might still be able to make it work the next time—if you get the details right."
Podcast of the Day
Trail Runner Nation Podcast with Matthew Algeo, author of "Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport." Back in the 1860's there weren't TV, phones, or even accessible entertainment for your every day folks. The opera, orchestra, and other forms of entertainment were mainly for the wealthy. That was until 1859 when Edward Weston lost a bet about the results of the 1860 presidential election and had to walk from Boston to DC, roughly 400 miles, for the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. The walk generated so much attention that multi-day walking competitions, often held on 20+ lap to the mile loops, became America's favorite spectator sport. Champions could win upwards of $50,000 for a 6-day race win (there was no racing on Sundays back then). The podcast chronicles everything from how racers drank whiskey, champagne, and even chewed coca leaves (cocaine is the notable extract from this plant) to the demise of the sport at the end of the 19th century in part due to the invention of the bicycle (faster racing = better crashes). This topic was different from what you get in a lot of running podcasts so it's definitely worth a listen.
Listen on Spotify:
Today I did my longest run of this training cycle! I've been increasing my mileage over the last few weeks as I adjust to altitude. This increase has been met with more fatigue and, in turn, some slower runs so there was not workout attached to this long run. Without much on the calendar in terms of racing, I'm happy to just be out there running and keeping my general fitness up... for now!
Quotes from What I'm Reading
Lore of Running, 4th Edition, by Tim Noakes - Introduction:
"For the first time I discovered a sport in which was possible to be completely alone. I loved it. No rules, no guidelines, no teams, no coaches, no spectators, and in those distant days, few other participants."
"I discovered that the successful completion of severe running challenges such as finishing an ultramarathon as best I could gave me the confidence to believe that within my own limits I can achieve whatever physical or academic target I set myself, as long as I was prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. I learned that the rewards of running, as in life, come only in direct proportion to the amount of effort I'm prepared to exert."
About Lore of Running, 4th Edition, by Tim Noakes: Noakes is a leading researcher in the field of exercise science, perhaps most famous for his theorem of a "central governor" in each of our brains that limits us from reaching our true, maximum athletic output to protect us from going too far and hurting ourselves. Lore of Running has been touted as a must read by any serious runner or coach, and I came across it at the AirBnB that Hannah and I are staying at for 5 weeks in Boulder, Colorado.
Thank you for reading today's blog! If it's provided you with anything useful at all, it would mean a lot to me if you would consider supporting me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/caroluskhan
Sharing goes a long way, too!
Lastly, if you or someone you know is looking to up your training and want a coach to help, look no further! Shoot me a message, and I'll get you set up with a personalized training plan in as little as a day. Thanks and keep grinding! 💪