The past few years have seen a huge rise in different training, nutrition and gear trends for athletes, especially runners. While some — like smarter fabrics for cooling and aiding recovery — seem like they’re here to stay, there are a few that experts really wish would just go away already.
We talked to experts and looked at recent studies to see what’s out of style for this running season. Here are five trends that have seen better days:
Intermittent fasting is still popular among athletes, but properly timing your eating to fuel your training is key here. A trend Dr. Stacy Sims would love to see disappear is this intermittent fasting or even multiple-day fasting that’s done with complete disregard for one’s training schedule. Doing a long or hard run ahead of breakfast in that “fasted state” will break your body down, not help you burn fat. (A slow, short run or walk is fine, but don’t go crazy.) Fuel for your training, and if you are experimenting with intermittent fasting, make sure your run time is in your feeding window, not outside.
“I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s silly to go for a #RunStreak,” says Jonathan Levitt, longtime runner and owner of the hilarious Twitter handle @RestDayBrags. He adds that what he can’t stand is seeing people push through injury to meet an arbitrary goal — often ending up more injured in the process. “Oh, let me go run an arbitrary distance even though I’m sick/overtired/just flew cross-country/didn’t sleep/injured/whatever just so I can keep this streak going no matter what,” he jokes. “If you have long-term goals, you can’t think about instant gratification like that. I understand that for some it’s a way to keep themselves accountable to exercise, which is fine, but I think it’s silly to legitimately be training and streaking at the same time.”
It’s not to say that HFLC won’t work for some people — but the way it’s been written about and discussed in a lot of the athletic communities in recent years that has coaches cringing. For runners, particularly women runners, cutting carbs or dropping them to an extreme can be dangerous, and definitely won’t help you hit a PR. “Keto diets and HFLC diets are trends I don’t like,” says coach Heath Dotson. “These may work for ultra-endurance athletes, but on the whole, people need carbs. Performance in aerobic sports, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, reward those who can oxidize the most carbs, not the most fat. In general, keto and HFLC are detriments to performance at the elite or fast-amateur level.” (Levitt also jokes that the fear of carbs is the trend he’d love to see die.)
Your ideal stride, as it turns out, is likely the one you’re already using. “People tend to figure out what works best for them,” says Dotson. “If there is an injury issue that keeps cropping up, there could be some need to look into it. But to simply change something for style — midfoot, forefoot versus heel strike, for instance — usually ends up with a person injured and slower.” (A shoe like UA’s new HOVR that can record stride rate and offer suggestions for a target range is a happy medium — it avoids changing how a runner runs, but can help make a runner move a bit more efficiently.)
While being an early bird is great, the trend that some coaches wish would die is the idea that he who runs earliest is the toughest. Rather, coaches are beginning to encourage runners to prioritize getting adequate sleep for proper recovery, and running at a time that suits their needs, versus one that looks coolest on social media. If the pre-dawn runs make you feel like a million dollars, stick with it. But if the 4 a.m. wake up is leaving you groggy through the rest of your day, take a pass.