Doc’s Talk 07-22-2012

Dr. Scaff talked about intervalsspeed workracing, and more.

Do intervals help?
  Hal Higdon, Dr. Scaff, and Jeff Galloway all say the answer is No. The reason:  Because when sprinting you use the quick twitch muscle fibers and go into anaerobic capacity, which uses glycogen.  You do not run a marathon on quick twitch muscle fiber, you run on slow twitch muscles using fat.  If you want to run a marathon faster you must do more miles.

So what are intervals good for?  They are good for coordination.  If your knees tend to knock, if your toes cross, if you tend to fall down, intervals will help improve your coordination.  But of course, if you fall during an interval you’ll end up with a lot of road rash and other things that might keep you from running entirely, …so you have to balance the risks.  

If you are going to do intervals, do them AFTER your long run when you are a lot less likely to get hurt.  If you are not warmed up and go do an interval you may pull something.  When you have run 10 miles and you are tired, you are less likely to hurt yourself.

The same is true of speed work.

Speed Work
How many miles can you do speed work?  Speed work is a little different than intervals.  Speed work is when you run faster than your training pace.  Ten percent of your mileage can be speed work.  So if you go out for a 10-mile run today, you can do 3 miles of speed work afterwards, but then you have to do another 10 miles before you can do 3 more miles.  If you run a marathon you’ve got 260 miles before you do anything.  That gets you ready for the Great Aloha Run. So 10 percent of your work can be speed work or intervals.

That is the 10 Percent Rule.

Ten percent of your training
 could be spent entering a race so that you can get some race experience such as doing a 10K (6 miles) race.  If you have run 30 miles for 2 weeks you can run a 10K.  In a race try to stick close to your marathon pace (unless you are planning to win the 10K) because you might as well use the race as a training experience to get accustomed to the crowd and the excitement of the start, and to practice your pacing.  Pacing is the whole thing.

So starting in a race, meeting your competition, getting to meet people, there is no reason to be afraid of that if you use it as part of your overall training program.  However, if you go out and get injured, it has not been a good training experience at all.

Next Up:  Nutrition
Two Sundays from now we are going to be talking about nutrition.  Dr. Scaff now has so much more on nutrition than he did 3 years ago.  We will start with some challenging questions, such as:

Suppose you are on a statin and it makes your muscles so sore you cannot run.  Who will live longer:  The person on the statin or the person who stops taking the statin and continues running?  The answers are absolute.

Who will have a better lipid profile, cholesterol, etc.:  The person eating a high fat diet (pork belly, bacon, eggs, etc.) and losing weight, the one on the glycemic diet (a balanced diet), or the high carbohydrate diet?  And of those 3 diets, who is most likely to regain weight, and can that be measured by something in the blood?

Dr. Scaff will have the data, and all the references are in Your First Marathon – The Last Word In Long Distance Running, by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M., available for purchase at the Honolulu Marathon Clinic on Sundays and online at:

Next week Dr. Scaff will talk a little bit more about what is going on in the marathon and how you might perform not only in the future, but in your marathon aspirations in the Olympics.

Reminder:  July Mileage
The training schedule for July is 4 hours per week.  That could be 1 hour 4 days per week, or 1 and a half hours over fewer days, any way you want to do it, and many of us should be up to 30 miles, although you do not HAVE do 30 miles at this point.  The most that the Honolulu Marathon Clinic will have you to do will be 40 or 50 miles per week.  That is sort of stretching the limits because that is where the injuries start to occur, but doing 40 or 50 miles per week is where people start meeting their goals if they are trying to a break 4 hour marathon time.

That said, the Honolulu Marathon Clinic is here to train finishers.  The last person in the pack is Dr. Scaff’s hero or heroine because they took more time to do the marathon.  Even elite runner Frank Shorter says, “I suffer so much in 2 and a half hours I don’t know how they can do that for 4 or 5 hours.”


For some good reading on nutrition, Dr. Scaff recommends everyone check out the daily postings on Dr. Alan Titchenal’s “Got Nutrients?” web site:

Here is a recent posting:

July 21, 2012
A new study of over 400,000 people indicates that an inactive lifestyle is as bad for health as smoking. Even 15 minutes a day of exercise was enough to show a significant reduction in the mortality risk compared to being totally inactive.

Consumer Link
Inactivity ‘killing as many as smoking’

Research Link
The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9798, Pages 1244 – 1253, 1 October 2011