Sweat Science blog moving to Runner’s World site


As of September 2017, new Sweat Science columns are being published at www.outsideonline.com/sweatscience. 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)


So… big news. As of today, the Sweat Science blog is moving over to Runner’s World. All new posts will appear at runnersworld.com/sweat-science. It’s exciting news for me, and I think it’s good news for readers too, as I’ll explain below.

What will I find over at Runner’s World?
Don’t worry, it’s not turning into a running blog. In fact, the content will be exactly the same – the broad theme remains “the science of fitness,” encompassing everything from neuroscience to nutrition, with (I admit!) a particular focus on endurance sports. The blog won’t be going through any editorial process – no one from RW will be suggesting topics or overseeing what I write. (On the flip side, that means there will still be typos, unfortunately!)

Why move?
The move coincides with another career shift: starting in the April issue, I will be writing a monthly column in the print edition of Runner’s World, and will also become a contributing editor for the magazine. The column will be entirely separate from the Sweat Science blog; it’s called Fast Lane, and will focus on more applied training ideas for serious runners.

No, really… why?
Hey, let’s be honest: the other part of the reason is money. I’ll now be able to make part of my living from this blog – which is why I think the move is good news for readers. Sweat Science has grown far beyond what I anticipated when I started it three years ago, and now takes up a considerable amount of time. I’ve resisted accepting advertising and making quid pro quo arrangements, in part because I’m not confident that I’d manage to say what I really think about fitness products and research if I’m also accepting money or free stuff from the people selling them. Getting a paycheque from Runner’s World allows me to keep spending time reading and dissecting the literature without establishing direct relationships with advertisers whose products I write about. (Yes, I realize that RW will have ads from, for example, shoe companies – but the extra degree of separation makes a big difference to me.)

Oh yeah, I guess I’ll probably have to switch to American spelling. So maybe I am a sell-out after all…

What now?
I hope you’ll update your bookmarks, browsing habits, RSS feeds, and whatever other newfangled social media tools bring you to this site. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this blog has changed my own practice of journalism for the better: by the time I write about a neat new piece of research for a newspaper or magazine these days, chances are I’ve been directed to an interesting new angle or a relevant counterargument by someone in the comments section of the blog. I sincerely appreciate all those contributions, and hope they’ll continue.

Thanks again for reading, and hope to see you at the new address. In fact, the first post is already up, on how — contrary to conventional wisdom — running may protect your lungs from air pollution.

55 Replies to “Sweat Science blog moving to Runner’s World site”

  1. Yes, congrats on the move. Hope it pays off for you both financially and quality of life ways. However, maybe because its the first day, but I can not find a way to subscribe. Not on your page, nor are you listed in RSS Feeds at the bottom of the page. I love the blog but if I have to go to runnersworld.com to read it it’s not going to happen.

  2. Thanks, all!

    @David: There will definitely be a way to subscribe, I promise. It might take a couple days to iron out the wrinkles. The truth is, I jumped the gun a little early — I wasn’t supposed to make the move until Feb. 15, but I’m going to be away backcountry skiing for a few days next week, so I figured I’d just take the plunge right away.

  3. Congratulations, Alex. You’re a very versatile and talented writer. Good luck on your new association.

  4. Hi Alex, congrats. It’s obvious that this is best for you. I really do hope you’re correct about their attitude of editorial hands-off, because the way you write it now is just about perfect.

    And yes, I agree with David – RSS is critical. Looking forward to getting those wrinkles ironed out. Unfortunately, unless yours is different from every other Rodale blog I subscribe to, the full text won’t be included. Reading more than a couple of sentences will require clicking over to the site and being presented with that (ahem) pop-over ad.

  5. Congratulations Alex. It’s nice to see someone get paid doing what they enjoy. Keep up the excellent writing.

  6. Congrats and well deserved! Love the academic angle of this blog and your inquisitive/balanced discussion of the material.

  7. Congratulations! It always showed that you put a lot of time into this blog. Good to be rewarded for that.

  8. Congratulations, although i am not a big fan of Runnersworld, i like some of the blogs. and i dislike the videos about fe. core strength. in which they advise crunches and planks on swiss balls.
    We all know that we have to work on the posterior chain. But you can pull up the scientific level of the website.
    But this is a great opportunity, i fully belief that you will keep up the good word. i would love to read your Fast Lane. column.
    Enjoy your ski-trip and we see you back in Runnersworld

  9. Just to echo – I enjoy your blog (although am a new reader) via RSS – would it be possible to post a reminder once the new RSS feed is up and running (no pun intended) otherwise I’m sure others like me will forget to re-subscribe!

    Thanks, looking forward to reading more! Tom

  10. Alex, sounds like a good move, but I can no longer find an RSS for your new blog. Do I just need to look harder, or is there simply none ?!?!

  11. Congratulations Alex! To piggy back on ‘Scott’, will I be able to search on RW for your old posts? Whenever I have a question pop into my head regarding any aspect of fitness, your blog and its search bar is my first stop. Thanks and enjoy your trip.

  12. Alex – a huge congrats my friend! I have already updated my reader 🙂 Hopefully we’ll still have access to all of your previous posts.


  13. Please write another post here when your RSS feed is up so I will remember to change my blog reader over.

  14. Thanks to everyone for the kind words — I really appreciate it! Two quick answers to questions:

    (1) The new RSS feed is http://sweatscience.runnersworld.com/feed/
    I’ll work on getting that more obviously displayed on the new site, and I’ll ask whether it’s possible to switch to full text instead of excerpt mode.

    (2) The “archives” will remain here. We discussed moving them over to the new site, but I figured that would leave a whole bunch of broken links pointing to posts here.

  15. Change is hard, but I assume this move will help you, Alex. Personally I enjoyed the site being something unto itself, rather than a subsidiary section on a running site. Anyways, as long as the content is of the same nature I will not have much to legitimately take issue with.

  16. Congratulations Alex. Your blog has always been a great resource and somewhat well kept secret. Happy to see you have this opportunity!

  17. Congrats. I just discovered your blog a few months ago and have enjoyed it ever since. It’s good to see hard work pay off.

  18. I completely understand this move. Journalistic freedom is a swell thing to have. But being financially secure provides some ease of mind as well.

    Therefore, my only big question is: will you have the freedom to classify crap appearing in Runner’s World as crap? 🙂

  19. Congratulations!

    I hope you do manage to get a full feed going because those blogs that only give excerpts… well, I usually end up being too lazy to read most of their posts.

  20. While I recognize the honor in being wanted, but anytime advertising is involved, I find it hard to believe that journalistic integrity can be maintained throughout. case in point, weightlifting magazines. They are loaded with supplement advertisements. Most of us know that most of these elixirs do nothing at best, and hurt us at worst! For example, 90% of the revenue in running magazines is shoe advertisements…recent data suggests shoes are the main culprit in injury genesis??? How will that reporting play out?

  21. Congratulations Alex, though it is disappointing your new blog doesn’t allow comments. Not really a blog at all, without comments, I would think, and I find the comments here generally add a lot of value to the entries.

  22. @patrickg: Thanks! I’m not sure what you mean about “not allowing comments” — there are already comments posted on each post. I agree that the comments here add lots of value, and I hope that will continue at the new site. Anyone can comment there.

  23. @alex
    My apologies, Alex, it must be an error in my browser permissionss. Anyway, I’m really excited to see the blog getting the (commercial) recognition it deserves. Your site has become a must visit for me!

  24. Thanks again, Patrick. And, to my surprise, my wife asked me the same question about how to comment on the new site yesterday. In her case, the solution was that you have to first click on an individual post title; then at the bottom of the post, it offers you the opportunity to log in and comment. Hope that helps, though it indeed may be another factor (e.g. browser-related) in your case.

    And, before anyone points it out — yes, I agree that it’s a pain that you have to create an account in order to comment. Like some of the other changes (e.g. excerpts only in the RSS), these are bad choices in my opinion. But they’re trade-offs that are balanced by the advantages of the new site, so I hope they won’t be deal-breakers for too many people.

  25. Alex—I loved your site and said so once. But today, I felt a little oh -no when I read your shod vs barefoot analysis. Where is your usual challenge to who paid for the study? Why NIKES?
    Your review is pro shoes. Not pro science. Or at least it seemed to me. I think I would have felt better if you had listed the research countering this one Nike study…that suggests that barefoot is more efficient. Otherwise this study proves that wearing huge but light weight rubber spring like heels as we see in some shoes is a good idea…right?

  26. @rik: Thanks for the comment. Here’s the conflict of interest disclosure from the end of the paper: “Acknowledgements: Supported by the University of Colorado Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, but independent of any shoe company sponsorship.”

    You write: “Otherwise this study proves that wearing huge but light weight rubber spring like heels as we see in some shoes is a good idea…right?”

    Why would you say that? This study didn’t look at “huge but light weight rubber spring like heels,” it looked at lightweight Mayflys in habitually barefoot runners who land on their forefoot. And the results were surprising enough to merit comment.

    “Your review is pro shoes. Not pro science.”

    Why? What part of the science did I misrepresent? I read an interesting study, and reported its findings on my blog — exactly the same as I do when I read an interesting study from Dan Lieberman’s lab (which IS funded by a shoe company). It seems to me that immediately assuming that a study whose findings clash with your worldview must be have been funded by an evil conspiracy is far more “not pro science.”

  27. Wow, Alex, thank you for taking a moment to get back to me. Says lots about you. Sorry, didn’t see the disclosure statement on RW article, my mistake.

    Here is what made me comment about bouncy rubber springs effect–this quote is the camel’s nose into tent—forgive mixed metaphors, sorry. Perhaps I should say, gives them a ….toehold ….on the marketing idea that rubbery heels is beneficial, which is one key premise, in fact, the linchpin that supports all those heel based concepts.

    Though I seem to remember reading that the foot automatically compensates for softer surface and that runners get more rebound from hard surfaces than from grass.

    Quote from latest article:
    ” The other is the cushioning in the shoes: without cushioning, the researchers suggest, the runners’ leg muscles have to expend metabolic energy to absorb the impact of each stride. They call this the “cost of cushioning” hypothesis.”

    Thus, my thinking was that this toehold hypothesis allows the logic that started all this heel cushioning—( for an industry that once had a completely undocumented ad campaign about heel cushionhing holding it up, this hypothesis would be a step up, and one that could be quoted and used in media)—it allows the logic of more equals better, at least if one were to scan the market and witness the ever increasing size of heel features over the decade, this would seem to be the logical expression of that theory…am I on to something here?
    Thank you.

  28. Hi Alex, just found these from back when I read them. Maybe they help?


    3 links to research on rebound hard surface. Thus, cushioning in shoe might have no benefit, or actually decrease economy, maybe….offers a counter to their “hypothesis” which is at this point still a hypothesis??



  29. @rik: I understand your concerns that these results might be misused by shoe companies to argue that their big, bulky shoes are “more efficient” than barefoot. If they do, shame on them.

    But if you’re truly interested in using science to understand how the human body works, you don’t get to pick and choose what results are “safe” to discuss. These scientists performed an experiment, got some interesting results, and I blogged about those results. As far as I can tell, you reacted strongly because the results don’t fit with your existing beliefs, not because there was actually anything wrong with the experimental methodology. But we’re supposed to form our beliefs based on data, not force the data to fit our beliefs.

  30. Dear Alex:

    Here is ( I hope) a better summary of my logic, and my last clumsy attempt to articulate my reaction to the transformation of hypothesis into fact in the article about barefoot vs shod.

    What do you think?

    I am not arguing about results. I see your point.

    It’s the explanation that seems a bit hasty and premature to me.

    I am challenging what I view as the arbitrary, optional, unvalidated, and un-peer-reviewed hypothesis about those results.

    At this point the idea of cushioning being the cause of the results is still a guess. Right? Even your own opening paragraph has at least 3 options for how to frame or contextualize the results?

    Couldn’t we just as easily selected others from the dozens of hypothesis to explain these surprising results? Including the hoped for “never even thought of that one.”

    I am suggesting that it is unwise to allow the “unknown” cause to be so easily attributed to one side a hot debate.


    Thank you again for discussing this.

  31. @rik: I still don’t understand what you’re complaining about. As your own comment says, I presented three different options for how to contextualize the results, then I presented the data to allow readers to judge for themselves, then I presented the hypothesis advanced by the authors of the study (which WAS peer-reviewed, despite your assertion to the contrary), while clearly identifying that it was just a hypothesis.

    Are you seriously suggesting that I should avoid presenting any hypotheses that aren’t pre-approved by you?! That’s not my understanding of how scientific dialogue advances.

  32. Hello, Alex:

    Here is my point in a nutshell.

    I was wondering—the cushioning hypothesis is still a guess,agree?
    Could pick another one to explain, agree?
    Could be something new, or totally unknown as of right now, agree?
    Data somewhat certain. Explanation of data…still open to debate and inquiry, agree?

    Thank you again for your time.

  33. @rik: What part of my post suggests that this topic isn’t open to debate and inquiry? I’m all ears to hear other explanations for this data. You’ve spent a lot of time commenting on this post, but none of your comments say “Here is a good explanation for this data.” They all say “I object to you presenting this other explanation for this data.”

    To put it another way, if you don’t like the authors’ hypothesis, present a better one, don’t just argue that it’s somehow “anti-science” of me to report the authors’ hypothesis! Science advances when a good hypothesis replaces a bad hypothesis, not when a hypothesis that someone doesn’t like is suppressed.

  34. Yes, you are so right, and I agree totally.
    And I think you are agreeing with my 4 nutshells above. Are you?
    However, there is no way I would deem to offer an alternate guess, I am not qualified—- I rely on you for that. In fact, that is my point, I rely on you for challenging and debating hypothesis advanced for motives and flaws I can not discern, and in this case, I got worried. I rely on you to be a challenger where I can not be, and I did not see that here with your usual rigor and vigor.
    And I see your points, I was hoping you could see mine.
    As a reader I came away with the idea that you were agreeing with
    this possibly premature or shaky hypothesis, and I could not see why you did that, and I would have not commented had you written with the same crystal clear skepticism you are known for. Do you see what I mean, not do you agree that you did or not do this, but you do you see what I mean?
    Thank you for reading my comments and sharing your insights.

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