The Best Stride Is The Self-Selected Stride

Jannine Myers

It’s always great to hear the views of different running experts, and today’s brief post, which features the training philosophy of Coach Pete Magill, is no exception. Magill, a now 55-year-old Masters runner, holds the world record for fastest 5k for age 49+ (fastest time of 14:45), and is the co-author of Build Your Running Body, and author of recently released book The Born Again Runner.

In an interview with RunnersConnect host Tina Muir, Magill made the statement that the “best stride is the self-selected stride.” What he meant is that we can’t simply make a conscious effort to improve our form by attempting for example, to shorten or lengthen our stride. That is a ridiculous notion, he says, because our bodies, while in motion, are firing off thousands of nerve impulses per second that couldn’t possibly be influenced by just a few messages from the brain to the legs. However, practicing regular form drills – an act which does require conscious thinking – will naturally teach your body the motion of a better stride.

Unfortunately many runners are opposed to doing form drills because of the extra time that needs to be factored in to their usual running routine. And this is why Magill believes that a lot of runners are not meeting their full potential, and why injury rates are so high. They run the same runs day after day, using the same motion – but maybe changing up pace, intensity, or distance – yet fail to recruit other important muscle fibers. You could liken this concept to that of a farmer expecting to produce a full harvest despite having watered only a third of his field.

When you neglect to use all of your muscle fibers, explains Magill, the unused muscles eventually atrophy and create muscle imbalances that in turn result in injuries. In doing form drills, you learn how to recruit and use all your muscles together in the most efficient way; that’s what self-selected stride is, and it’s the most optimal stride for faster, stronger, and injury-free running.

Check out Magill’s comprehensive and thoroughly researched guide to building the kind of running body that will get you running faster, longer, and hopefully injury-free.

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[The form drill video demonstrations by Meb Keflezighi and Dathan Ritzenhein, in this post, are also worth trying]

Training, Nutrition, And Your Menstrual Cycle

Jannine Myers

Here’s a post that will most definitely resonate with the female athletes reading this; it’s a post that addresses the issue of a woman’s menstrual cycle and how it impacts her ability and desire to train. For the purpose of keeping it nice and simple, I’ll be omitting all of the   scientific stuff and giving you just the stuff you need to know.

First, let’s take a look at the menstrual cycle:

menstrual-cycle

The average cycle lasts around 28 days for most women, and it includes four phases which are addressed below:

1. Menstrual and Follicular Phases

During days 1 to 5, the uterus lining breaks down and menstruation begins, then, over the next eight days the uterus gradually thickens again. Pain-tolerance is greater during these two phases, which makes it the most ideal time to focus on higher intensity workouts. Your body will tend to rely more on available glycogen stores, so now is a good time to enjoy some extra carbs – quality carbs, mind you!

2. Ovulation Phase (may include the 5 days leading up to day 14)

This is the time to go for it; if you have a race during this phase, shoot for a PR!

One consideration you need to take into account during this phase, is that estrogen levels will be higher, putting you at greater risk of injury. Elevated estrogen levels adversely affect neuromuscular control, as well as impair collagen synthesis, thereby compromising joint strength. So, give it your all but be mindful of form and technique!

3. Luteal Phase (days 15 to 28)

It’s during the luteal phase that you’ll likely have a higher-than-usual temperature, and that will affect your ability to produce efficient cardio output results. You’ll feel a lot more fatigued and less inclined to workout, especially with the discomfort of greater fluid retention. Hence, this is the best time to focus on fat loss – instead of performance – by reducing the intensity of your workouts and leaning more towards low-impact exercise and easy-paced runs. Since fat will be your body’s main source of fuel, this would also be a good time to cut back on carbs and calories to optimize fat loss efforts.

And there you have it; a simplified approach on how best to train and eat in a way that gets your menstrual cycle working for you, and not against you.

A Protein Powder Solution For Runners On A Budget

Jannine Myers

A question I am sometimes asked is if I can recommend a reasonably priced protein powder. Protein powders seem to inhabit the kitchens of almost anyone who exercises these days, and I can see why since they take the guess work out of calculating recovery and performance-gain nutrition needs. But they’re really quite expensive, and while I can’t recommend a more affordable product, I can suggest a much cheaper alternative.

Powdered milk is an often over-looked nutritional gem. Although not as rich in protein as actual protein powders, it’s still a very good source, and also a great source of magnesium, calcium, and Vitamins A and D. I always have powdered milk in my pantry – admittedly, because I live in a location where typhoons love to stop by – but I actually do use it when I’m out of protein powder. It’s so versatile that it can be used in baking recipes, in smoothies, in oatmeal, and even in sauces and soups.

To help get you started – should you decide to pick up a bag of dry milk powder the next time you’re at the supermarket – here’s a recipe I created that’s quick and easy, and perfectly nourishing after a run or workout.

Milk Powder Protein Cake-In-A-Cup

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Ingredients
4 tablespoons Non-Fat Dry Milk Powder
1 tablespoon Coconut Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 packet Stevia
1 Egg
1 tablespoon Coconut Milk/Cream
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Frozen Blueberries

Directions

Add all the dry ingredients to a large mug

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In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut milk, and vanilla.

Pour wet ingredients into the mug and mix well with the dry ingredients.

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Add the blueberries and gently fold into the mixture.

Put the mug in a microwave and cook for about 90 seconds.

Remove the mug from microwave and allow to sit for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

Enjoy your mug cake; you should have a nice blueberry sauce at the bottom of the cup :)

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 Nutrition Information: 265 Calories, 6g Fat, 12 g Carbohydrates (4g Sugar), 9g Protein, 15% Calcium, 10% Iron, 8% Vitamin A