— To stretch or not to stretch if you’re a runner? “Instead of seeking extreme flexibility, says Gene Shirokobrod, a physical therapist in Maryland, runners should focus on exercises that target abilities that need improvement, such as strength and range of motion,” Amanda Loudin writes for The Washington Post. “Those attributes are different from flexibility, and they’re more important for runners.” Or, as I’ve always said, “What good is an over-stretched elastic?”
— A few weeks back I wrote about the debut of the Nitro Athletics meet in Australia and commented that there was “a nice balance of traditional and innovative events…I like that there’s a classic mile race for both men and women, but I also love the idea of a 3-minute race for distance, hurdle relays and elimination miles.” Well, hat tip to USA Track & Field for making this past weekend’s U.S. indoor championships in Albuquerque a bit more interesting with the inclusion of off-distance events such as the 300, 600 and 1000-meter runs. As I Tweeted on Saturday, “The element of the unknown presents an interesting dynamic for athletes and fans alike.” It makes for interesting racing, as Kevin Liao pointed out for the newly formed Citius Mag. “But it wasn’t even the result that mattered as much as the fact we collectively had no clue how the race was going to unfold,” Liao wrote. “This level of intrigue is often missing from elite-level track and field.” In a word: Bingo.
— Ryan Hall says we’re not really all that close to the sub-2 hour marathon right now. The best bet? Put a 2:03 guy on a treadmill and crank it up to 13.2 mph. “If you put someone who’s in shape to run 2:03 flat on a treadmill—and you put it at zero per cent gradient and you have the temperature controlled—I bet you could get someone under two hours,” Hall said. Sounds exciting.
— When I wrote my book a few years ago, I spent many a night staring blankly at the computer screen, unable to get many—if any—words down on the page. It was a mighty struggle. I asked my then colleague Matt Fitzgerald, who seemed to possess an uncanny ability to churn out books on his lunch hour (this is only a slight exaggeration, by the way), how to break through this mental roadblock. “How many emails do you get a week from people asking you for advice?” he asked me. “A ton,” I replied. “Don't worry about the word count and just pretend you’re answering a bunch of emails from runners who have questions about training,” he suggested. It was brilliant advice. The book came together pretty quickly after that conversation. I’ve since used this same strategy of pretending that I’m giving advice to a friend, athlete or colleague to overcome a number of different challenges in my life. Turns out, Matt’s common-sense suggestion to take the pressure off myself to produce X number of words every time I sat down in the chair is called “self-distancing,” and it’s grounded in some good research. “‘Pretend you’re talking to a friend’ allow(s) us to remove our emotional selves from intense situations," Brad Stulberg writes for New York Magazine, "paving the way for more thoughtful insight and subsequent decision-making.” That pretty much sums up my own experience in a nutshell. (And if you’re wondering how I managed to max out my Gmail storage limit, well, there you go.) On a serious note, and speaking of book writing, Brad and his co-author Steve Magness just put their new book, Peak Performance, up for pre-order ahead of its June 6 release. Spoiler: You'll want to read it.