Author Matt Fitzgerald on “The Endurance Diet”

Have you ever heard this famous line among distance runners?

If the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything.

It’s a common way for runners to justify eating whatever they want. If the caloric needs are high enough – the logic goes – then any fuel will do:

  • Just rocked a great long run? Bring on the pizza and soda!
  • Had a successful race? Treat yourself to a burger and fries (and maybe a beer…)!
  • Running higher mileage than usual? A nightly bowl of ice cream can’t hurt…

The problem, of course, is that you’re not a furnace burning anything and everything for heat.

You’re a runner who needs nourishing food to recover quickly, promote health and longevity, and fuel your training.

You wouldn’t put olive oil in your car and expect it to run well… would you?

You wouldn’t put a gallon of gasoline in your car and expect it to cover 150 miles… would you?

Of course not!

Diet is more important than most runners realize – and the effects of poor eating habits can derail anybody’s running:

  • If you don’t eat enough, you’re more prone to running injuries and won’t run as quickly during races or workouts
  • If you eat too much, you’ll gain weight and running economy will suffer
  • A sub-par diet results in poor recovery (and could result in weight gain, too)
  • A sub-par diet also causes low energy levels outside of running

But if you dial in your nutrition then performances will improve, recovery will be faster, and you’ll just feel better.

And I think every runner would benefit from that.

To help optimize our dietary choices and approach to fueling, I invited author Matt Fitzgerald onto the podcast today.

Matt Fitzgerald: “Eat Like an Elite!”

Endurance Diet

Over the last several years, Matt has been investigating the eating habits of professional endurance athletes around the world.

And his findings are powerful. World-Class runners in the United Sates, top swimmers in Australia, and champion triathletes in South Africa all have one thing in common: their diet.

There’s overwhelming evidence from around the world – and indeed, from every type of endurance sport – that the best runners in the world all eat the same way.

Matt calls this approach The Endurance Diet and outlines five foundational habits that shape how elite runners fuel their training.

Whether you want to get faster, lose some weight, or just look more like an elite runner, then this approach will work for you.

On the Strength Running Podcast, we talk about these five core habits:

  • Eat everything
  • Eat quality
  • Eat carbohydrates
  • Eat enough
  • Eat individually

And do you know why I’m so adamant about this approach?

It’s not because I really like Matt’s last name (but let’s be honest: it has a nice ring to it).

It’s not because it gives you permission to eat carbs, unhealthy foods (in moderation!), and enough to feel satisfied.

It’s because it works!

I spoke with numerous Registered Dietitians to create Strength Running’s nutrition content – and every single one of them is on board with this approach. These nutrition experts:

  • Have advanced degrees and certifications in nutrition
  • Advise Olympians at the world-class level
  • Appear on television as thought leaders in the diet space
  • Consult with pro sports teams like the Boston Red Sox and Orlando Magic

I’ve always said that if you’re going to model your behavior after someone, model it after the best.

Check out the show on iTunes or Stitcher (and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes!).

Links and Resources:

If you enjoyed this episode, please be sure to thank Matt on Twitter. I know he’ll appreciate it!

This episode of the Strength Running podcast is sponsored by Generation UCAN, a very different type of fueling product that stabilizes blood sugar and delivers steady energy with no GI distress.

They have a patented preparation process for corn starch, which creates a fueling product that works very differently than anything else on the market:

  • Their “SuperStarch” results in no GI distress because it’s not sugar-based
  • With no sugar and longer-lasting energy from more complex carbohydrate, there’s no crash or cravings post-run
  • It allows you to use less fuel overall because there’s no crash

I’m proud to partner with a brand that I use myself, that’s trusted by elites like Meb Keflezighi, and works so well.

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Dathan Ritzenhein on Strength Training and Marathon Fueling

Dathan Ritzenhein is one of the best distance runners in US history. And he’s here today to help you run faster.

Dathan Ritzenhein

Ritz has more career highlights than there are spectators at the Boston Marathon (ok maybe not but still!):

  • 3x Olympian at the 10,000m and marathon distances
  • Former US Record holder in the 5,000m (12:56.27)
  • 3rd fastest American marathon time in history (2:07:47)
  • Three-time USA Cross Country Champion
  • Two-time Foot Locker National high-school Cross Country Champion
  • Half-marathon PR of 60:00 (2nd best HM time in US history)

A Generation UCAN-sponsored athlete, he is now preparing to run the River Bank Run 25k this May.

When I started running back in high school, Ritz was emerging as a cult figure on the high school running circuit. As a senior, he smashed the US high school 5,000m record with a staggering 13:44 performance.

This came on the back of his two repeat national championship victories in cross country.

As you can imagine, he was a celebrity among die-hard HS running fans.

After seeing his dominant XC performances, his 5k record, and also his mind-bending 8:41 3200m performance (also a national record), Dathan became one of my favorite runners to follow.

And he’s on the podcast today to talk about his training, marathon fueling, strength work, and the lessons he’s learned from coaching himself.

Dathan Ritzenhein: Strength, Fueling, and More

I kicked off the episode with an embarrassing story – one I debated sharing but I thought it was funny. Enjoy!

On more serious topics, we chat about:

  • His injury prevention approach that’s helped him rebound after so injuries (stress fractures, hernias, Achilles problems, and more)
  • His favorite confidence-building workout
  • His go-to meal after a marathon
  • Eating pop-tarts the night before racing a marathon
  • How his training has changed since turning pro

You can download the episode and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or here on Stitcher.

Resources, Links, and Books mentioned on the show:

This episode of the Strength Running podcast is sponsored by Generation UCAN, a very different type of fueling product that stabilizes blood sugar and delivers steady energy with no GI distress.

They have a patented preparation process for corn starch, which creates a fueling product that works very differently than anything else on the market:

  • Their “SuperStarch” results in no GI distress because it’s not sugar-based
  • With no sugar and longer-lasting energy from more complex carbohydrate, there’s no crash or cravings post-run
  • It allows you to use less fuel overall because there’s no crash

I’m proud to partner with a brand that I use myself, that’s trusted by elites like Dathan Ritzenhein, and works so well.

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Injury Prevention Essentials for Bigger Runners with Coach James Dunne

If we’ve met – or you’ve seen pictures of me – it’s clear that I am not a big guy. Actually, I’m tiny.

I’m no bigger than Shalane Flanagan…

At 5’7″ and 125 pounds, I have the stereotypical runner’s body. And I love it.

I’ve always been very comfortable in my skin, though it wasn’t always like that. I played basketball through middle school, always wondering when that growth spurt would (finally!) hit.

Alas, I’ve been waiting since 1998. When I started running in high school, I had an important decision to make: do I continue with basketball (knowing that I’d likely never play on Varsity because of my size) or run indoor track instead?

I chose track – and my thin frame proved advantageous. Looking at the body types of Olympians, it’s clear that the stereotypical body for distance runners helps you run faster.

You carry less weight. You’re more economical. And you can therefore run a lot faster.

But did it help with preventing running injuries?

Are lighter runners less likely to get injured? Are heavier runners more likely to get hurt?

I’m not quite sure… so I dove into the latest literature and invited James Dunne on the Strength Running podcast.

James Dunne and Running Heavy

James doesn’t look like the “typical” runner – he’s 6’6″ and 250 pounds. A former professional rugby player, James has a degree in Sport Rehabilitation and is fully insured member of the British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers (BASRaT).

He’s the founder of Kinetic-Revolution and has an ongoing fascination with the functional biomechanics of running (in other words, how you move while running).

In this far-reaching discussion, we talk about quite a few issues:

  • Should overweight runners be more worried about injury?
  • Is gaining weight more important for injury risk than being consistently overweight?
  • Does training for weight loss differ than training for a race? How?

Check out this episode on iTunes (or Stitcher if you have an Android device).

Show Resources & Links:

A big thanks to James for coming on the podcast. Be sure to say hi on Facebook if you enjoyed the show!

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How the Best Runners in the World Recover and Prevent Injuries (and a free book)

I’ve always been fascinated (ok, borderline obsessed) with how elite runners train and schedule their running.

After all, if you’re going to learn about running, why not do it from the best runners in the world?

And whenever I get a chance to read about how the elites train, I jump at the opportunity. These books have changed my perspective on running because they offer a glimpse into the world of professional athletes:

So it should be no surprise that combining my two passions – elite training and injury prevention – has me salivating.

Seeing the daily recovery strategies from professional runners is exciting. These are athletes who run up to 120+ miles per week and compete at the highest level of the sport.

For them, staying healthy is a job requirement. Recovery between hard sessions is critical, especially when you’re frequently running twice per day.

And I’m thrilled to announce a new resource to inspire you and give you a few new strategies for staying healthy.

The Little Black Book of Prevention & Recovery

Over the last few months, I’ve been working with a blockbuster group of professional runners to bring you their most tested and proven recovery ideas.

If you’ve ever been curious how elite runners handle all that running without getting hurt every day, this book is for you.

If you wonder what recovery options a pro prioritizes, you won’t want to miss this book.

And the best part? It’s completely free!

Download the ebook here.

Elite Runners on Injury Prevention

You’ll hear from:

  • Dathan Ritzenhein – 3x Olympian, 3x National Cross Country Champion
  • Amelia Boone – 3x World’s Toughest Mudder Champion
  • David Roche – 2x National Trail Running Champion
  • Kelly O’Mara – professional triathlete
  • Ian Sharman – 3x winner of the Leadville Trail 100
  • Devon Yanko – 100k National Champion and 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifier
  • Joseph Gray – Mount Washington American Record holder and World Mountain Running Champion
  • Andy Wacker – Trail Half Marathon National Champion
  • Max King – US National Ultra Running Champion and 2x winner World Warrior Dash Champion

Each of these world-class athletes shared their favorite recovery or injury prevention strategy – and the responses are incredibly varied.

You’ll hear about post-race recovery, why you should eat a LOT, how to return to running after an injury (and what mistakes to avoid), and the virtues of eliminating busyness from your life.

There’s a lot more than I can include in this post, so get your copy today.

I want you to have every advantage possible in your training – and there’s no better way than learning from the best.

But I have one favor to ask: please apply at least one principle to your own running. Instead of passively consuming this info, do something with it instead!

Only by applying new concepts and training ideas will you reap the rewards.

Using this book you can try a new post-run recovery technique.

Or change how you approach the other 23 hours of the day when you’re not running.

Or even update how you behave at the office (see Amelia Boone’s thoughts on being a runner while working full-time).

Get the book here.

One last thing: it would mean the world to me if you shared this article on Facebook. This book is free and took a lot of time and resources to make for you – I hope you enjoy it!

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Matt Frazier on Eating Healthy and the Habits that Support Hard Training

My college coach used to say, “Don’t burn the candle at both ends.” What he really meant was, “Don’t drink too much and stay up late chasing girls.

healthy habits

When you unpack that nugget of wisdom, it’s clear that the lesson is about so much more than running.

Because while your long runs, weekly mileage, and faster workouts are all important, they won’t help you improve if you don’t prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

Without proper nutrition, you won’t have as much energy to tackle your training.

Without enough sleep, recovery will be sub-par and some of your hard work will be wasted.

Without reducing stress, the risk of over-training and injury increases (and you’ll rarely feel good).

So it makes sense to give yourself every advantage and set yourself up for success, especially if you’re gearing up for a big race or attempt at a personal best.

Before all of my marathons – especially my 2:39 PR at the Philadelphia Marathon – I joked with my friends that I became a monk in the months leading up to the race:

  • I slept as much as possible
  • I came home early from seeing my friends and I didn’t drink as much
  • My easy runs were VERY easy
  • My foam roller became my new best friend
  • Post-run fueling was prioritized over being late to work (sorry boss)

When you get these “little things” (which are not so little) right, it makes training much easier to accomplish.

After all, success in running depends on the lifestyle that surrounds the training.

So the topic of today’s podcast is different than what I normally publish – but it’s just as critical to your running.

Matt Frazier on the Healthy Habits that Support Running

When I have a sticky problem, I reach out to Matt Frazier.

In just the last few years, Matt has implemented  a staggering number of changes to his life:

  • He adopted a vegetarian diet – and then vegan
  • No Meat Athlete was born and quickly became a world-wide movement
  • He improved his marathon from 4:53 to 3:09 to qualify for Boston
  • Not wanting to settle, he started running ultras – including a 100-miler
  • He’s given up oil and experimented with other habits like journaling, meditation, and fruitarianism

If you’ve ever tried to start a new healthy habit, you know how difficult this can be on top of your other obligations like work and family.

And I wanted to know how to make all of these “little things” easier to implement in your life.

Because if you’re not sleeping well, eating right, and eliminating stress the other 23 hours of the day, then running a longer distance or racing a Personal Best is going to be that much more difficult to achieve.

You can listen on iTunes or – for our Android users – on Stitcher.

Show Links & Resources

Will you join us next week?

I mentioned on the show that this was just an excerpt from the full interview available to members of Team Strength Running

The team is my absolute favorite SR program for a variety of reasons:

  • It brings runners together! We have hundreds of members from all over the world, of every ability, and all of them love running
  • Our Training Plan Library is extensive (and growing) with more than 30+ plans for 5k – 100 miles, base-building, weight loss, and more
  • Every month there’s a new guest expert like OCR pro Amelia Boone, sports psychology professors, pain management specialists, and a lot more
  • Coaching! Once you’re on the team, your success is my priority. Join our regular, live Q&A sessions to ask any of your running questions (no matter how weird or silly they seem)

We don’t open very often – but we will soon!

I’ll be sending out more info to the runners who want to hear more about the team. Is that you?

If so, hop on the list here. You’ll be the only runners to know when we’re finally open soon.

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Injured? How to change your training when you can run again

Nursing a running injury is demoralizing. You’ve lost fitness. You can’t do what you love. And you feel like your progress has stagnated.

running injury

During my own running career, I’ve had countless injuries. Some were minor while others (like my ITBS injury) lasted six months.

After six months of being sedentary, wishing I could just take a few steps without shooting pain near my knee, and more reruns of House than I care to remember, I was finally able to start running again.

That experience – and what I’ve since learned about strategic injury recovery – prompted me to overhaul my approach to injury management.

My new approach has resulted in:

  • Only one major injury from 2009 – 2014 (I’m very proud of this considering the annual injury rate is around 70% for runners!)
  • Powerful results from my clients with injuries as diverse as patellofemoral pain syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, and plantar fasciitis
  • Invitations to speak about injury prevention at the National Endurance Sports Summit at Princeton University

My #1 goal is to elevate the sport of running: to help runners get stronger, healthier, and a lot faster.

Any other goal is simply a distraction.

So you can imagine I love it when I hear from my runners:

And much like other areas of life, testing is what helped bring my injury approach from haphazard to stunningly effective.

But it wasn’t always that way…

The “Normal” Way of Treating Injuries

Most runners use a “Try Everything, Try Nothing” approach to injuries. They throw a bunch of treatments, ideas, and tactics against the wall and hope something will stick.

But this approach has no overall strategy. It has no progression to get you from injured and unable to run to healthy and able to run pain-free.

This mirrors exactly how I dealt with injuries in college. If something started to hurt, I’d ignore it and hope the pain would just go away.

Then it wouldn’t and I would ice the painful area. Then I’d sit in the warm bath at the trainer’s before going to practice.

Without fail, it would still hurt. So I’d take a week off from running, sporadically ice my leg, take some ibuprofen, and spend a little more time than usual doing some random core exercises.

Sometimes it would work. Sometimes I’d still be in pain a week later.

This entire process drove me crazy!

Why wasn’t my treatment approach formalized and put into a specific protocol – with detailed, daily steps to help me run again?

The answer is that at the time, I didn’t know any better. I had only been running for 6-7 years and my running geekery had yet to truly blossom.

Now, things are different. I’ve upgraded my approach after I:

  • Learned more about the sport during the USA Track & Field coaching education course
  • Read a few (ok ok, too many) books about running
  • Worked with thousands of runners on their own injury struggles

And while I’ve been called a magician, a “bloody little ripper,” and accused of having “mystical powers,” none of that is true.

I just tested many types of injury treatment approaches very well (you can get a sneak peak here).

The Testing Approach to Injury Management

When it comes to returning to running after an injury, there are a lot of unknowns. You might ask yourself a lot of questions:

How should I increase my mileage after my injury?

What should my first run back look like?

How should I modify that first week of running?

There are no clear-cut answers. But there is an approach that helps.

Episode 32 of Q&A with Coach goes into more detail about this testing approach to post-injury running.

Ultimately, it does depend on several factors:

  • the nature and severity of your injury
  • the amount of training time you missed
  • your history with injuries
  • whether you have a goal race coming up

To help with your individual situation, any coach needs to ask a lot of clarifying questions. Doing so helps whomever is giving you advice have a clearer picture of your unique injury.

If that interests you, then you’d love Team Strength Running where I do live Q&A’s with the team every few weeks.

Every member has the opportunity to ask their personal, individual questions and get immediate feedback. It’s my favorite aspect of the program.

We’ll be opening soon to those who want to get every advantage with their training:

  • A library of 30+ training plans that prioritize injury prevention, weight loss, ultra marathons, and even base training
  • Live Q&A’s with me
  • A new expert interview every month
  • Access to our private community to meet other members, share stories, and encourage each other
  • Team discounts on gear, programs, and clothes

Want to learn more? Sign up here and I’ll let you know more about the program next week.

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