Author Archives: Steven Gomez

My Supplement Stack: 2023 Edition

It has been a while since I’ve updated my personal supplement rundown. Over the last year and change I’ve slowly tested and adjusted my supplement intake, based on research and personal needs. Since my stack had been actively evolving, I wanted to hold out on updating until I had mostly settled on a revised supplement intake.

But now I’ve comfortably settled into a tight regimen of certain supplements, and I’ll discuss what I use and when.

Please note the obvious caveat: The use and dosage of the below is based on my body and health situation. Your needs may be different. Explore usage of any of the below items with discretion and caution for your individual situation. And of course, you’re welcome to take/use or leave/ignore any of this information.

These are listed in rough order of importance.

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The Hadfield Advanced Marathon Training Plan: Who’s It Good For?

I’ve previously brought up Jenny Hadfield’s Advanced Marathon Training Plan. Hadfield is a coach and a writer for Runner’s World. I found the structure of Hadfield’s plans to be very accessible and up to speed with the base training centered approach I currently want to follow.

If you provide an email address, Hadfield’s website allows you to download this and other training plans. Each plan includes a detailed Page 2 explanation of any terminology on the Page 1 schedule.

Obviously, Hadfield is available for personal coaching, and this would lead to a more personalized training plan. The described plan is a template, but can be followed to the letter as-is.

The various plans Hadfield offers vary which midweek workout goes where by day. So to simplify, and because it’s probably the best fit for many experienced runners, I’ll cite the Advanced Plan’s schedule. The easier plans do have more cross training days and do switch some workouts around, though the schedule layout is mostly similar.

The Basics of the Hadfield Advanced Marathon Plan, in a nutshell:

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How much faster running do you need in base training?

A primary concern with Osler/Hadd style base training is that the lack of hard/fast running will cause you to slow down.

With Hadd training, this is a partially valid concern. One effect of the training is that, while you can improve and maintain threshold-level speed, your ability to kick or surge is limited. Your cruising speed in the short run will improve, but it’s hard to speed up from there.

Osler style base training avoids this by having you do a time trial or race once a week every week. This one hard short-medium run serves as your speedwork. Eventually, once you switch to sharpening training, you work on repeats and other speed frequently ahead of a goal race. But the weekly time trial helps work on and maintain your fast running during the lengthy base training cycle. (It also allows you to quickly take up speedwork, as you’ve been practicing it some each week)

One of the drawbacks of common marathon training plans that include speedwork is that the speedwork not only limits your base aerobic development, but your body can actually burn out on the repeated hard stimulus after about 3 months, very counterproductive if you’re planning to run a marathon in 3-5 months. (And no, a solid taper alone is not enough of a break to refresh those reserves)

Both Osler and Hadd agree that an ideal base training focused phase should last around a year or more before you begin any serious speedwork, and that most runners simply don’t do this because of their own lack of patience, not to mention short term ambitions of goal races. Most simply cannot fathom thinking, planning or executing that far ahead.

I realize one of the reasons my performance improved so dramatically in 2017-2018 was that I made a point to run easy almost all of the time. Most times it was out of necessity, running home from work and needing to guarantee completion of the run and arrival. I ran as easy as I needed to. Often, admittedly, fatigue from the workweek and rest of my life compelled me not to push it on most runs. I covered mileage and got home. It not only allowed me to pile a lot of weekly mileage, but the sub-aerobic-threshold running gradually pushed my aerobic threshold upward, as Hadd’s explained at length.

Most runners don’t do this. Most coaches wouldn’t recommend this. But my obsessive unrelenting focus on easy aerobic base running led to my lactate/aerobic thresholds consistently improving, which showed in my race results. I occasionally did some fast running, but I didn’t need to do much at all to see improvement during this period, even when the Racing Team was out of season and I was only running easy on my own.

A few training plans do lean exclusively on easy running, at least for the first couple months. IronFit doesn’t program any fast running until 7-8 weeks in. Hal Higdon’s easy plans are all easy running, and even his intermediate plans only include a slightly-harder-than-easy marathon pace run once a week. (I’ve mentioned before that while Hansons programs only easy runs for the first 3 weeks or so, I don’t really count that in such examples as that pre-speed base period is relatively short.)

But most plans ask for speed or tempo work right off the bat, holding that pattern through the entire 16-20 weeks. Perhaps that’s too much? Not because a runner can’t handle it: Obviously, most can. But it may be too much because, as Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns or Tom Osler have pointed out, such running is best employed in brief 1-2 month periods right before key races, when its benefits are needed. (In that respect, IronFit somewhat gets it right, only programming speed/tempo in the last 9 weeks of training… though even that’s a little long.)

One of the reasons I’ve found Osler training a good fit is because I think he found the right combination back in 1967 when he wrote The Conditioning of Distance Runners. Run easy, except for one hard run/race a week. Build that easy mileage for 3 months. Then pile on speed workouts in the 7 weeks before your big race or racing block.

In my experience, more speed/tempo each week than that can be too much after a few weeks. This may be why so many serious runners get injured or flat-line their performances so much.

In my experience, less speed/tempo each week than that can indeed stagnate your faster running and make it hard to kick. My long stretches of easy training did improve my cruising speed. But the best racing results only came when I was also doing speed and tempo work in training.

I realize Hadd avoids speed training entirely. However, Hadd’s Phase One base training places top priority on troubleshooting and building your aerobic base fitness only months, only gradually adding harder running once you’ve reached a suitable run volume and shown aerobic threshold base improvement. His training aims to troubleshoot your aerobic shortcomings first and foremost. You only worry about running faster once that’s been suitably addressed.

And it goes back to what both have pointed out about most coaches’ and runners’ general lack of patience, of wanting to see results now. We go to the speedwork right away because we want to see ourselves running fast. And we often default to the (somewhat faulty) common sense that you can only get faster if you practice running faster.

Chicago Marathon Once Again, and The Summer Challenge

I entered the drawing for the 2023 Chicago Marathon not expecting much, having heard (that allegedly) spots would be (more) limited to out of towners and that the drawing might be a bit tighter across the board.

Well, they drew me once again!

So I’ll be heading out there next October, just a few months after Vancouver 2023.

Obviously, I’m running Vancouver in May, so this means not only a 2nd 2023 marathon but a relatively quick turnaround, as marathons go. After a couple weeks off from Vancouver, I’ll have only 20 weeks before Chicago.

So, sorry Frank Shorter, but I won’t be in any position to forget about my last marathon by the time I need to resume base training for the next one.

Of course, in the weeks leading up to this, I had still been planning long-term just in case, presuming I was going to run Chicago. I drew up different schedules, measuring their build, the estimated marathon shape in October, to see what would work. I had also formed plans for what to work this summer on if I didn’t draw in and the summer was free, but that’s a moot point now.

Much like the injury-failed Indy Marathon campaign last year, my big challenge is to endurance train effectively during the Vegas summer. The difference now is I learned and now know a lot about training in these circumstances that I didn’t know last year. (And also, knock on wood, that I have a 100% hamstring and hip flexor complex that’s better built to handle training)

I’m now training at 3000′ altitude along significant hills on weekdays, with similar hills at lower altitude (2300-2500′) on weekends. I’ve focused a lot in the cooler weather on nose breathing on the run as much as I can reasonably handle, only mouth-exhaling or even mouth breathing if the going (usually an extended hill climb) gets tough enough to justify it. My Osler-style base training and the resulting gradual mileage build has been reasonably comfortable. I’ve also scaled back my cross training and walking, sticking mostly to brief walks and some backward walking.

Already, Runalyze has showed my measured VO2max has jumped a great deal, and I’m not even into the real (midweek 8 milers and 3+ hour long runs) meat of training yet. I’ve barely done any fast running, other than a Turkey Trot 10K that went well on no race-specific training and despite not having run farther than 6 miles on any run.

Osler training and the progression has gone quite well, and I’m probably going to stick with it going ahead. Ultimately, after months of easy base training with one tempo or time trial a week, I’ll follow his advice and add in sharpening work towards the final couple months. I may not add as much as he recommends, as March and April tend to add their own stimulus: Increasing temperatures. People tend to forget that’s an added training stimulus in spring! So, if my base runs in hotter weather are suitably tough, I may just keep them the same.

Going back to Chicago could be weird, as a tourist this time. I’ve found (and paid a pretty penny for) a good centralized hotel with a kitchen. The city’s a lot harder to deal with when you don’t have a home base away from the main drag you can retreat to. Unlike Vancouver, I probably won’t stay terribly long following the marathon, though I’ll at least stay the following day.

Meanwhile, it’s rather premature to put a ton of thought into Chicago 2023. I still have to train for and run Vancouver! More to come as it becomes relevant.

Walking Backwards

I wanted to go to the gym before work in the mornings again. This is also because I wanted to cut down on going out for coffee in the mornings. I didn’t want to sit at home and commute during the rush hour either. A key reason I leave early for work (as well as work out right after work) is to avoid the heavier traffic.

But as I ramp up my mileage in base training, I notice that even simple low-impact spin bike workouts left me unduly worn out each day. Runalyze training stats also showed my TRIMP/monotony/workload-ratio ran unsustainably high when I combined both.

So I cut out cross training aside from strength workouts twice a week. I also cut down on the length of my walks during work breaks.

With this, and without the morning gym workouts, my training stats all fell back in normal range. While demanding for now, my added mileage felt reasonably comfortable.

But I still wanted to make use of the gym in the morning. There had to be something low-impact I could do without it being mind numbing (I can’t lay down and stretch for 60 minutes). Yoga’s a bit too much. Strength workouts are 20-30 minutes and not 60 for a reason. The elliptical and spin bike again were too much. Even a normal treadmill walk was a bit too demanding.

I decided last week to start with reading my Kindle on a treadmill while going as slow as reasonable. The default at the gym is 1.0mph, way slower than usual for me, and I just kept it there while reading. This went okay, but towards the end I got an idea.

I’ve dabbled occasionally in my lifetime with walking backwards, both out in the world and on the treadmill. It certainly isn’t super challenging. I’ve occasionally seen people at the gym do it on the treadmill as training.

I decided on impulse to try it during my last few minutes on the treadmill, and turned out it worked fine. Minimal impact, super easy, no real danger. My Garmin showed it was much lower in effort than normal walking.

Next time out, I tried walking 1.0mph backwards on the treadmill for a whole half hour. Went fine, and Runalyze showed the TRIMP impact is about 40% lower than a normal walk of the same length.


It turns out that walking backwards not only has known training benefits, but also benefits those with lower back and hamstring issues.

The often-constricted hamstrings move more eccentrically in a backward walk, improving their range of motion and better engaging them. Recall that I had serious hamstring problems both last year and in 2019. I’ve had none since, but I certainly don’t mind preventative work to avoid them with better hamstring fitness.

Backwards walking also reduces dynamic stress on the knees and improves motor function of the surrounding muscles, not to mention the frequently neglected tibialis muscles along the shin.

So, I started doing treadmill backwards walking on weekday mornings. It does sometimes leave me a bit weary, though that could also be the cumulative effect of the other running. I still strength train in addition a couple days a week, but other than that (and short walks on breaks) no cross training.

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Experimenting with Tom Osler’s Base and Sharpening Training

I previously mentioned reading Sky Waterpeace’s Lazy Man’s Guide to (Ultra)Marathon Running. While obviously not that lazy myself, Kindle Unlimited granted me free access to the Kindle version. The somewhat insightful book got me experimenting with keto, which was fine for the month I actively practiced it.

But Sky also harps on the writing and work of an accomplished marathoner and ultra runner named Tom Osler. Sky’s principles are based considerably on Osler’s principles. As an appendix, Sky included a 28 page booklet written in the late 60’s by Osler about his fundamental training approach called The Conditioning of Distance Runners. You can now find the booklet on Amazon and other sources.

Along with being a precursor to today’s gumroad e-books if you think about it… Osler’s booklet, however esoteric and outdated on the surface, outlines a sound approach that in some form has been both practiced and ignored in the decades since, to this present day.

There are two camps in endurance runner training. One emphasizes a healthy dose of recurring harder workouts alongside your easy and long runs from day one. The idea is that the harder, faster workouts are what makes you faster and fitter, that without regular fast running you cannot possibly get faster, and possibly even get gradually slower. This approach is far and away the most popular of the two, because people generally aren’t patient, and coaches traditionally have learned to always train this way (plus it’s harder to be hands on when all the pupil’s running is easy running).

The other camp argues to initially emphasize a large volume of (often exclusively) easy training, only introducing harder workouts after having built a sizable easy running base over months. The understanding that developing your slow-twitch aerobic mitochondria is what improves your natural fitness and performance over time, and that speed/tempo work should build upon that base fitness after it has been developed.


Let me throw some arbitrary labels on these two camps for ease of discussion. I’ll call the first camp “Speed and Base”, as the two are utilized in tandem each week. I’ll call the second camp “Base then Focus”, as the theme is you spend months running easy at first to build a base, then only utilize harder training when closer to the goal event(s).

Below are some examples of writers or coaches whose approaches fall into each of the camps. Again, it’s worth noting the lion’s share of coaches and writers traditionally fall into the Speed and Base camp. For them I could name dozens of coaches, but I’ll stick to four.

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The Fitness Run and the Real Meaning of an Easy Run

“Easy Run” is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied terms in running, and not for the reasons you’d think.

Yes, people often do go too hard on their “easy” runs. But to me the issue is the broad over-application of the term “easy run” to most training runs.

Most runs beyond 30 minutes aren’t necessarily easy. The effort and intensity desired may be “easy”, but beyond the 30-40 minute mark the body is now being stressed beyond the comfort zone. Your body isn’t going to come down from that effort as easily as, say, hurrying across a street, or doing a simple 20 minute workout that leaves you refreshed. The oxidative stress is higher over a longer period, and markers like your heart rate variability will remain abnormal for some time afterward.

Related: This is a reason the Pete Magills of the world strongly recommend you never go on a recovery run lasting more than 40 minutes. You’re defeating the “shakeout” purpose of such a run.

Some wisely avoid the term for base training runs (referring to them by training zones, e.g. a Zone 1-2 run, for example), or use a different term entirely (as Matt Fitzgerald does when he calls them Foundation Runs).

I consider recovery runs the true Easy Runs. They’re short. They’re not done to stimulate an endurance training effect. Usually, they’re done for circulation or to activate hormone production that will further drive recovery. Or, like a “shakeout run” the day before a marathon, it’s done to expend some energy as it feels better than just resting entirely.

I posit that what coaches call Easy Runs should instead be dubbed Fitness Runs. The difference is that the terminology makes the intention of the workout clear. Any run done at an easy effort, but for longer than 30 minutes, or at more than a 75%-max average heart rate, is by my definition a Fitness Run.

By my definition the recovery runs are the only ones that should be labeled Easy Runs.

And since it will come up, any run longer than 90 minutes, or longer than the longest run I can do during the workweek, is by my definition a Long Run. It’s fairly hard for me to do more than two of these a week, since I work full-time and on those days I can’t by this definition do a long run.

(In my case, the longest workweek training run I can manage to do is basically 90 minutes. If my workweek limit was 60 minutes, then any weekend run lasting 61 minutes or longer would be in my case a Long Run.)

I decided to label my training runs this way, and it’s way more useful and less confusing for workout tracking than the old Easy/Recovery/Long labels.

Some examples (all of these examples are what most would call an “easy run”):

  • I go on a training run after work that lasts 45 minutes, and my HR averages 71% of max. This is a Fitness Run.
  • I go on a work break run lasting 12 minutes at 74% HR. This is an Easy Run. It lasts less than 30 minutes, and the average heart rate is below 75%. I should bounce back pretty quickly from this.
  • I go on another work break run that lasts 10 minutes at a 79% HR. This is actually a Fitness Run, because my heart rate went beyond the 75% threshold, meaning this run was a bit harder. Though it was very short, the effort will impact my fitness.
  • I go on a training run after work that I have to cut short at 28 minutes, and average a 73% HR. This is an Easy Run, even though I intended it to be a Fitness workout, because the run did not hit the 30 minute threshold.
  • On a Monday holiday, two days after a Saturday 2 hour Long Run, I go out for a lengthy easy run that lasts an hour and 35 minutes (95 minutes). This is also a Long Run, even though I just ran one on Saturday. Many will only label their longest run of the week the long run, but again I have a clear threshold of 90 minutes for long runs, and this one qualified.
  • And of course, if on a subsequent weekend I go for a long run, but I have to to cut it short at 80 minutes, this run is only a Fitness Run, as it did not reach my 90 minute threshold. (Side note: If I run farther than 8.1 miles on this or any other non-long run, Runalyze will classify this as a long run for Marathon Shape calculations, whether or not I label it as such, since that’s their default threshold for long run calculations.)

A couple of added finer points:

  • If I have to drop out of a race, I don’t label this as a race. I’ll give it the appropriate label, whether a Long Run or a Pace Run (I lump all my under-90 minute tempo and marathon-pace runs, or Zone 3+ runs, anything steady and harder than “easy”, in as Pace Runs). For example, when I DNF’d the Vancouver Marathon this year at mile 19, I labeled that a Long Run. Only races I complete are labeled as a Race.
  • If I decide randomly on a Fitness or Easy Run to run hard, whether intervals or a time trial or a fartlek, it gets labeled accordingly to what I ended up doing. Regardless of intent, the run is labeled based on what I ended up doing.

So now I label my regular runs as Fitness Runs and my recovery-type runs as Easy Runs. I like this definition of Easy Run far better than what everyone else uses.