Live Q&A: Thursday, March 25, 3 p.m. EST


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at Check out my bestselling new book on the science of endurance, ENDURE: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, published in February 2018 with a foreword by Malcolm Gladwell.

- Alex Hutchinson (@sweatscience)


Just a heads-up that I’ll be doing a live web-chat Q&A on the Globe and Mail website tomorrow (Thursday, March 25, 3 p.m. EST), taking questions about running, training and preparing for races. Feel free to pop by with any questions you’ve got — the session will last an hour, and will be located at this link.

7 Replies to “Live Q&A: Thursday, March 25, 3 p.m. EST”

  1. Aw man! I literally just read this. At 4:06pm. Just missed you by thiiiis much. Luckily I can still read the transcript!

  2. I was following this Q and A, when it was over you mentioned we could redirect a few questions to this blog:
    Forgive me, but I think this is going to be bit long winded.. I have been a spring/summer/fall runner for three years, going on the fourth (xcountry ski in the winter). Last year, I started experiencing some excruciating cramping that I researched and through process of elimination found that it was dairy-related – if I consumed dairy within a day or two of a run, about 5 minutes in the cramping would be so bad that it was impossible to finish at anything more than a medium-paced walk. Easy fix, I eliminated pretty much any dairy from my diet and as a result soon developed a complete intolerance. Winter came, as did the re-introduction of dairy. As of right now, I am able to consume any type of dairy product and it doesn’t seem to be effecting my run. I would love, love, love, however, to know how common this really is, if you have ANY ideas about perhaps why this happened last year, why it’s not happening this year and if there is anything I can do to prevent the intolerance from returning in the future (while still consuming dairy).

  3. Sorry I missed you, Caroline; and thanks for the question, Jen. You’ve got a pretty complicated situation there — lactose intolerance and stitches/cramps are both controversial topics among researchers! So I definitely can’t provide any concrete answers.

    Still, a couple of thoughts. Lactose intolerance is a slippery topic — what I’ve been hearing a lot lately is that what appears to be lactose intolerance often turns out to be a secondary effect of other conditions like gluten intolerance, so that actual lactose intolerance turns out to be more rare than people think. The fact that you’re currently consuming whatever dairy you want suggests that this isn’t a hard-and-fast “intolerance.”

    Of course, you probably don’t care what it’s called as long as you can have your dairy and run. But it’s worth thinking carefully about any other changes in what you were eating or when you were running that might have triggered the cramps last year. Or whether you were on antibiotics that left your gut bacteria depleted and your digestion compromised, or something like that.

    In terms of how common it is — well, the idea is very common. I know that, 15 years ago when I was struggling with cramps during runs, I stopped having dairy in the day or two before races, because that was the standard thing to do. Whether it helped or not, I’m not really sure! But I guess my main advice is to be open to the possibility that other factors in your diet could have played a role too.

  4. Hi Alex,
    I have a Q for you as well. I’m a new runner (but not new to exercise/sports). I started training for my first 5k race (this Sunday!) and was training indoors (treadmill) until about 3 weeks ago. I’ve run outside 4 times now and each time I get a pain in my left foot (only) along (what I think) is my metatarsal to the cueiform bone). It seems to start after 2-3 k. Any ideas what is causing this? Or what I can do to prevent it? I tried running on grass (when I could) 2 days ago and that helped a bit. I can still feel it at times now. Thanks.

  5. Hi Caroline. There are lots of different things that can cause foot pain — and I’m definitely not a doctor… That being said, a couple of times when I’ve had pain in that area, it has been because of pressure on the top of the foot from tying my shoes too tight. Sometimes just remembering to loosen the laces helped (they tend to get tighter every time you tie your shoes), but I’ve also had success with the first and third alternate shoelace techniques described in this article:,7120,s6-238-267–12334-0,00.html#

    Obviously no guarantees, but it might be worth a try!

    More generally, if it has only started happening once you moved outdoors, it’s another reminder that there can be subtle differences between indoors and outdoors — so if possible, transition gradually between the two. (i.e. in spring, start by going outdoors once or twice a week before making the full transition).

    Best of luck with the 5K!

  6. Hi Alex,

    I am training for my first ultra-marathon, the 125km Canadian Death Race. It takes place in early August. My weekly long runs are reaching marathon distance. I’m curious about a couple of things:
    1. Understanding that it is unrealistic to train to 125km, what is a realistic distance to train to?
    2. Considering I have another 4 months of training ahead, should I peak at marathon distance, taper, rest and then build up to train past that distance. Or should I aim for consistent long distances for the remaining months?
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

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