Strength training for ultrarunners podcast episode

Strength Training For Ultrarunners With Sarah Scozzaro

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Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • How ultrarunners should decide if they should include strength training
  • What are the benefits of including strength training in your plan
  • What’s the minimum effective strength training volume?
  • How strength training programming should change throughout the season
  • The biggest mistakes ultrarunners make with strength training

Guest Bio:

Sarah Scozzaro is a CTS Coach who specializes in ultrarunning and has an extensive strength training background. Sarah has her Masters’s degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in performance enhancement and injury prevention and has a long list of qualifications and certifications after her name including being a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified personal trainer and National Academy of Sports Medicine performance enhancement specialist.

Guest Links:

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Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Corrine Malcolm (00:06):

My guest today is CTS coach. Sarah Kaza. Sarah has been working with athletes of all types from NFL players and MMA fighters to ultra runners for almost two decades and believes that movement variability makes for a more durable athlete, more durable human. When she’s not working with athletes, she’s wrangling her three cats who somehow surprisingly did a really good job of staying quiet throughout our interview. Today, Sarah has her master’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in performance enhancement and injury prevention, and has a long list of qualifications and certifications after her name, including being a national strength and association certified personal trainer. That’s a mouthful and the national academy of sports medicine, performance enhancement specialist. What you need to know is that she truly is a knowledge seeker who wants to keep learning. And that’s exactly why I wanted to have her on the podcast today to discuss growth and creativity and coaching specifically in the realm of how and why ultra endurance athlete should utilize strength training as part of their year round training plan. We hope you enjoy our show. Sarah, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to finally have you on,

Sarah Scozzaro (01:11):

Oh, thank you, Karen. I’m excited to be here. It’s been a while. Like this is awesome. It’s really happening.

Corrine Malcolm (01:17):

I know. I feel like this is a podcast that we’ve put off or not put off. We both had to cancel it, I think for various reasons. And we finally, we made it I’m at home. I’ve got my normal podcast studio stuff around me. Um, you’re at home. You’re not like dealing with an ice storm or anything crazy. So it’s good to have you on find.

Sarah Scozzaro (01:36):

Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Corrine Malcolm (01:38):

One of the reasons I wanted to have you on your name is gonna be familiar to lots of listeners, either via the coup cast or other CTS material. You’re one of our coaches and you’re kind of our go-to strength person. I would say. I feel like we all feel like a little bit of a niche within our coaching team and we come from all different backgrounds and you are, you’re like our, you’re our, go-to our go-to strength person on the team. And I, I think it’s interesting coaching for me was this perfect marriage between my love of science and being in the lab and then my love of, of being outside and exercising and running and skiing and being that athlete. And I get to combine those two things. And I’ve, I’ve talked to Neil about this, about psychology and him kind of merging that with his love of ultra running. So I’m wondering, you know, how given your academic background, given your personal back experience, how did you end up merging all those interests together to be where you are right now? Coaching ultra endurance athletes. Oh,

Sarah Scozzaro (02:32):

That’s a great question. I, I think we all kind of go about it in like a circuitous way. Like there’s never anybody that’s rarely like ABC and that’s the, that’s the path we took. Um, I’ve always been a runner, like since I was a child, I loved running, but I had a really bad nasty injury, uh, almost well it’ll be 20 years ago this year. I wanna say wasn’t that long ago, but it was, um, and I didn’t run for eight years following that injury. And in that time, in that gap, I started doing the things that I could do cause I wasn’t air quotes supposed to run. And that got me really into strength training and I just fell in love with it. And so, and then I pursued my master’s degree in exercise science and it’s like, it just kind of like this budding love for all things movement. And then when I was able to start running again, which is a completely long story on its own, um, that was just an essential part of that for me. And I took that love and I wanted to help make kind of bridge that gap for other people too, in the, um, ultra its kind of realm.

Corrine Malcolm (03:35):

Yeah. And so for those, for those listening at home who might not have heard you a coup cast before, for example, can you tell us a little bit about your, your background in the strength world kind of pre coming into coaching ultra endurance athletes now? Cause I just think it’s really interesting. You bring this very, um, it’s, it’s it’s nuance for sure. And I think you can learn, like you obviously learned a lot during that experience. And so can you tell us about that experience and then also maybe what you learned and what you brought from that part of your career into this part of your career?

Sarah Scozzaro (04:05):

Yeah. So my experience outside of ultra training, ultra coaching with my strength training, is that what you’re asking?

Corrine Malcolm (04:11):

Yeah, exactly. You’ve got a very, your, your career path has been very different than I think a lot of us. And so I think it it’s just, it’s fascinating. Oh, I find it fascinating.

Sarah Scozzaro (04:20):

Yeah. So, um, I pursued, like I said, my degree, I did a bunch of certifications that just I’m one of those people that win something and trust me, I wanna dig deeper. And so I would pursue other certifications and knowledge. I just, I’m a student of learning and I feel like we are always learning and I happened to get a certification in what at the time was called restorative exercise and long story short that certification and my strength work behind that. I somehow managed to catch the eye of a strength and editioning coach for an NFL team. And so I spent four seasons working with the Cincinnati Bengals, um, with all things like restorative exercise and part of, you know, it was, I was a consultant technically, but just having that window into this world was pretty fantastic. Um, also my background is, um, MMA.

Sarah Scozzaro (05:11):

I did MMA conditioning, um, for strength and conditioning with the MMA team that we had when we lived in Germany and different people there. And it’s, I just love movement and the body is just so fascinating to me and where I feel like I can take some of that working with ultra athletes and running cuz a lot of people would be like, how do we make that connection? Right? Um, is just not only, you know, strength is pretty, I don’t wanna say it’s pretty basic, but there’s basic movements we need to have no matter what athlete you are. And then we find tune them for the athletes. So obviously the demands of a running back are gonna be different than a MMA player are gonna be different than someone who is running a 50 K. But how that was those puzzles and the problem solving to figure that out for each athlete, I think made me a richer coach because of being able to see different people from all different backgrounds and learn about what works best for different, uh, populations. Um, and just having an insight to different athlete types.

Corrine Malcolm (06:10):

Yeah. That like we are, we are a summation of all of our previous experiences. And so I just think that’s really cool. I think a lot of us kind of stick in our narrow tracks. Maybe we’ve worked with other endurance sports, but um, having that background either in, in collegiate sports or in professional sports, that’s so different from, you know, what we do day in and day out now I think provides a lot of insight into the fact that yeah, they, they are individual athletes and they all have every sport has its unique and individual to make hands, but we can still break that down to it’s like simplest parts as far as what strength do they need? What mobility do they need? What aerobic conditioning do they need, um, to answer those puzzle pieces. So that’s really cool. I love that. Oh, thank

Sarah Scozzaro (06:49):

You.

Corrine Malcolm (06:50):

I’m a little bit jealous.

Sarah Scozzaro (06:51):

Some people would. It’s funny though. Cause when I got into ultra running and ultra coaching, I almost felt like my track was a little too wide. Right. Because I didn’t fit into the normal kind of stereotype, but I found for me, it’s just been a really good fit and, and really authentic to who I am and how I coach. So I take it as an asset versus a not being focused enough type of

Corrine Malcolm (07:12):

A yeah, I think, I think it’s an asset for sure. I mean I’ve shared, I’ve shared a strength. I’ve shared a weight room with, you know, the us bobsled team and the us Lu team and all these kind of odd, odd sports sandwiched in there together. And you know, we’re not doing, we’re doing similar, but, but different things in there. And so I think it’s, it’s kind of cool to get, to see the inner workings of other athletic programs and then take, you know, it’s like traveling the world, right? You get, take what you like from other cultures and kind of apply it yourself at home and get to take what you like from other sports and apply it to the sport that you’re working in. So I think that’s a, I think that has a lot of value. Perfect

Sarah Scozzaro (07:45):

Analogy. I love that. I’m gonna use that. That’s a good one.

Corrine Malcolm (07:50):

You’re like I’m putting that on the resume. This is how I’m selling myself moving.

Sarah Scozzaro (07:53):

No frantically.

Corrine Malcolm (07:57):

Okay. So moving there, I think, you know how I want to, you know, talk about what we, what we brought you on today, right? People are like, Ooh, strength. Interesting. Ooh, strength, ultra endurance athletes. Very interesting. But as, as we’ve had this conversation before we’ve had this conversation within our coaching group, you’ve had this conversation with coop, um, on the coop cast strength is this term that gets thrown around a a lot. And as we just mentioned, strength looks different for different sports and different sports modalities. What does that even mean? When an athlete comes to you and says, Hey, I need to do strength. I want to do strength. What, what is strength? What, what do athletes want? Like how can we, you know, maybe open our minds or narrow our minds, whatever, whichever it needs to go to understand what strength means in this context for all Trice athletes.

Sarah Scozzaro (08:45):

Yeah. That’s a, that’s a great question. So I think that question, because you’re, you nailed it on the head is it means something different to so many people. So I might have an athlete coming to me and they might be like, I wanna do strength training or I’ve been doing strength training. And when I ask what that is or ask what that, what they think it is going to be, you know, depending on the question, it might look completely different than what I had in my mind. So it’s that having that, you know, that communication cuz what one person might consider strength training, I mean is somebody else might not. And I think traditionally strength, strength training is using resistance. You know, it’s a form of using resistance, um, for muscular contraction, you’re building strength, endurance, um, it’s working on the skeletal muscles, all of those things.

Sarah Scozzaro (09:32):

Um, but other other people there’s a lot that could be lumped into the strength training bucket. So do we consider mobility part of strength training? Do we consider TRX and body weight, strength training? Do we consider, you know, so all of these levels and I like to think anything that is making the body stronger and more D can fit into that strength training bucket. So maybe my, my, my it’s a little broad my road on this. Right. But I find every, I find there are so many things within that strength training bucket that can benefit people to start saying this is, or this isn’t and making maybe, um, judgements on that when really there’s all a place for everything. It’s just kind of how we, you know, narrow that down. Does that make sense?

Corrine Malcolm (10:24):

Yeah. It’s kind of like, you don’t wanna turn someone off from doing, doing, thinking they not doing enough, so they don’t do anything. I’ve got athletes, right. Or we all, we’ve all experienced it. So it’s like, you don’t have enough time in your day. And so the training plan says to do 75 of easy, easy running and you don’t have time to do that. And so you don’t do anything at all versus like getting out for a 30 minute run. I think the same can be applied to strength here where it’s like, just because you only have bands or you only have a kettle bell or you don’t have access to a gym or you do have access to a gym or you’re too scared to maybe do you know, like heavier, you know, ballistic, Olympic style lifting. Um, doesn’t mean that it’s not practical or doesn’t mean that it doesn’t fit into your training plan.

Sarah Scozzaro (11:04):

Exactly. And I mean, and we could totally get in the nitty gritty and have that debate with people about like, well this is strength training and this isn’t, but you said the exact thing. If somebody comes to me and they’re like, I wanna do strength training, but I have one Ketle ball and a pair of bands, or I only have a stability ball and pair of bands. I’m not gonna be like, well, that’s not strength training. I mean, because there is, we can form some resistance with that. There are different ways to utilize even very little bit of equipment to get some sort of, uh, stimulus that we want for the individual. It just will look different than someone who’s got a full out Olympic lifting facility at their fingertips.

Corrine Malcolm (11:39):

Yeah. You might have to lift your dog or your cat or your child, or I don’t know, a gallon, a gallon, you know, thing of water. Yeah. But I think that there is room for, I mean, if I’ve learned anything from coaching ultra endurance athletes who live in the weirdest locations and who, who want to do the craziest races, we can get creative. I think that’s the big thing here, right? That you can get creative, you live in Texas, but you’re doing UTM B. We can get creative. And if you can

Sarah Scozzaro (12:04):

Get creative on the end, you know, the endurance, aerobic aspect of things, why can’t we do it in the, you know, in the realm of strength training as well. So it’s the same kind of my and set. Um, and also, you know, uh, most athletes that I’m getting and I’m sure you can probably relate to this are coming to me to become a better ultra runner or obstacle course racer or, you know, I get some athletes that are coming for like, uh, military selection, you know? Uh, so for those cases, the last two strength training is gonna be a big part of that. But for most of my 95% of athletes that are like, I wanna run my first a hundred mile or my first 50, they’re not looking to push heavy, heavy weights around the gym. So having a conversation, you know, I always take the approach of, I wanna make people strength curious. So I want people to be like, this is, I can do this. This is not gonna impede my running. This is gonna, I can, uh, this is palatable. I can do this. It’s it’s not a big leap. It’s approachable. And I’d rather be from that aspect and get people to recognize the benefits of strength training than make it sound like it’s this big, scary thing that you have to have all this equipment for. And it’s otherwise it’s not accessible to you at their wise.

Corrine Malcolm (13:15):

Yeah. I think that that’s really, I love the strength curious. I, I come from a sports background in which we did a lot of stuff in the weight room. And so I, I am, I like strength. I think that you get athletes like that too, who just really like doing strength. And so it’s like, okay, let’s figure out how we incorporate this and how we incorporate it for different parts of your, your year. And I think that’s kind of, you know, something that we should talk about here a little bit is that as you mentioned, you know, strength is a broad bucket and I think how we’ve defined it. And I think you, obviously, you, you helped, um, Jason and I, in the writing of the updated strength section of training essentials for, for ultra running. Um, in addition, one of the book we basically said, if you wanna get better at running, you gotta run strength is an accessory like, you know, approach with caution. And

Sarah Scozzaro (14:00):

We got the yellow tape was wrapped around that quite excessively.

Corrine Malcolm (14:04):

Yeah. And we got surprisingly or maybe unsurprisingly to me anyway, we got a lot of pushback or coop got a lot of pushback on that. And so that was something that we wanted to change moving forward to the second edition of the book. And you had a, you had a hand in that and one of the ways that you have set this conversation up in the past, or at least Jason has, and then in the book as well is kind of this idea of corrective strength. Or I always, I call it like PT strength versus like Egen or performance oriented strength. Yeah. Is there a way that an ultra runner can look at their year and look at those kind of buckets of strength and, and you, and get to utilize more than, you know, they don’t have to stay on one side of it. Does that make sense?

Sarah Scozzaro (14:41):

Yeah. Yeah. Um, and funny enough, I was recently speaking to Adam Pulford about this and he’s come up with a great term cause we were talking about corrective and how some people that makes them feel like there’s something wrong, like we’re trying to correct. And he came up with a great term of collaborative. Um, Ooh, I like that. Or coordinative, I’m sorry. Coordinated of how we’re coordinating different methods to kind of enhance someone in their strength versus we’re trying to correct something. So I liked that, um, coordinated approach, but so yeah. So with strength training, back to your original question, it, I look at just like, we would look at an athlete in terms of whether we’re at like an intensity block or a volume bill block, or, you know, where we are six months out from their, a race two months out from their, a race I approach strength training the same way in the terms of, it’s not just where we throw oh, one breath and one set, you know, one loading at them and go like, okay, this is it for the rest of the eight months.

Sarah Scozzaro (15:36):

Just like you wouldn’t have somebody, you know, volume phase for nine months, you wouldn’t have somebody doing the same type of strength training for nine months. Um, especially when it comes to a certain type of loading. So I tend to have, um, I’m in the I’m in the, I fall into the category of people that I think it’s best to work on higher, uh, weight, more intense, um, heavier loading in the beginning of the season. And as we move closer to an event or erase and something that once your volume is really loading on those legs, we really wanna be careful with how much we’re throwing at them in the weight room as well. So

Corrine Malcolm (16:13):

Yeah, it’s that periodized approach, right? Exactly. Akin to, you know, I think it gets confusing for a lot of people. Cause I think we are the reverse of a lot of other endurance sports in part, because a lot of endurance sports race much shorter than their training volume. I E you know, Nordic skiers are going for two or three or four hour long endurance ski. Their longest race might be two hours maybe. And that’s, that’s a long to marathon in the ski realm. Or, you know, you’ve got track athletes who they’re doing long runs of, you know, 16, 18, 20 miles, but they might be a steeper or the marathon. And so I think, you know, Ultra’s this weird reverse of things where for us really least specific is yeah, that VO two max blah, up those running intervals. Um, I tell so many athletes, like it’s a Teeter totter, right? Like volume and intensity, can’t be high at the same time and, you know, strength pairs so well with that and the type of strength you’re doing pairs so well with that.

Sarah Scozzaro (17:08):

Exactly. And so I’m

Corrine Malcolm (17:10):

Trying to encourage

Sarah Scozzaro (17:10):

That. Yeah. And I use that Teeter totter too, where we don’t, we can’t build one and the other at the same time, there’s that battle or like the scales and so agreed with you on, you know, on the strength training. And it just fits a lot of that type of work. You know, that five by five that really heavy loading the velocity, the more explosive that’s gonna be really paired well with like your VO two max and temp run phases earlier in the season, then say two months out from your first hun hundred miler.

Corrine Malcolm (17:37):

Yeah. And it’s one of those things where I think it’s, um, that you got that you’ve got that natural fit. And I think, you know, the mistake or traditionally, anyway, I remember in college, you know, as, as a member of the ski team, we lifted, we lifted a lot and we lifted quite heavy versus, you know, the, the cross country and the, the track teams were in there, you know, standing on one foot with dumbbells in both hands, you know, running their arms back and forth, you know, type of, type of thing, this like this strength, you know, quote unquote strength, endurance versus like, no, no, no, you, you run up a hill. That is, that is building strength, building and building endurance very specific to your, how your body moves through space. But can you talk a little bit about how strength can be this? Like you can get, you get that type of strength through your training naturally, and that what you’re doing in the weight room should compliment that. And I think by compliment, I mean, like almost should be very different from what you’re doing in your, in your training, like in your running to training out, out in the field.

Sarah Scozzaro (18:30):

Ooh. So give me an example of that.

Corrine Malcolm (18:33):

Okay. So akin to the VO two max and like lifting heavy and lifting the smaller, small, like in, so, you know, five by five, five by three versus, you know, later in the season, when you’re getting close to your races where it’s, you’ve got that heavy load on your legs, and maybe the gym becomes more of a, of a, we would call it and skiing a like main, like a maintenance phase. Okay. Style strength. Yeah. Like, we’re go, we’re not necessarily even doing high reps, but you’re doing, you’re doing a little bit less. Maybe we’re doing more, you know, core work or, um, more mobility focused movements, as opposed to, you know, pulling, pulling things really heavy off the rack. And so this idea, I think that a lot of runners go into the gym and they’re like, well, I’m an endurance athlete. I need to, you know, I should be doing 20, like 20 reps, you know, three by 20 of everything type of thing. And that to me is like, you do that when you go run up a hill, why would you do that many lunges in the gym type of thing? Like how can we balance those, that narrative?

Sarah Scozzaro (19:26):

Yeah. I tend to, so I feel like that I don’t even wanna call it maintenance, but like, we’ll talk like heavier volume season with running. Right. Which with most people with strength would correlate that with like maintenance strength, but that’s more into that, like 70, 80% of your one rent max. So instead of going like that 85 to 90, that you’d be doing earlier in the season, you’re, you’re still lifting some, but you’re not gonna be pull like, like you said, a five by three with, you know, two minute rest or anything crazy like that. It’s gonna be, you know, some of the same movement patterns, but your loading is gonna be different. That doesn’t mean we take the intensity away, but we take the amount that we’re loading. So that percentage of loading, so good example of what you could lift for like say for, for five reps of five is gonna look different than what you could squat for three reps of, or three sets of 12 and different rests and all of that.

Sarah Scozzaro (20:20):

So when I say, I want you to leave one or two good reps in the tank, no matter if you’re five by five or three by 12, the amount that you’re gonna lift is gonna look different just because of the, the volume that we’ve prescribed or we’ve programmed. So therefore you can still have intensity there, but it’s not gonna be the same amount of loading on those legs that you would get earlier in the season. Um, in terms of exercise selection, I’m a big fan of the traditional squat lunch hinge, push pull. Everybody hears me say this rotation care totally, but there’s, you know, different ways we can go from, you know, certain like conventional deadlift in the beginning, heavier to progress to more king deadlift. Um, ketlebell deadlifts. We can kind of work with more single leg patterns as well, single leg, Romanian, deadlifts, and things like that than just strictly pulling a big Barb all off the ground.

Corrine Malcolm (21:09):

Yeah. I like that it can be this, this kind of there’s fluidity to the season, both, both running the things that you’re doing out on the trailer, on the road, and then what you can, what you’re bringing into the gym. And that, that intensity is still there. But the, the workload I think, is how we look at it. The workload yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (21:26):

Changes. And I think that that is a nuance that can get lost sometimes because there’s always this assumption that if you’ve reduced loading, if we’ve changed the reps and sets to be I’m air quoting now for the people that can’t see me lighter, then therefore you’re not gonna work as hard, but you’re still, you’re still challenging your body, but the programming is gonna cha you know, change how that stimulus occurs because of the amount of, of weight that you can push or pull or lift or carry because of that programming. Um, so you’re, it’s not to say that, like you said, you’re not gonna be doing, you know, single lake standing runners arms for 30 seconds in the middle of your running phase. You know, that if that’s someone’s bag, Hey, I’m not, I’m not gonna slam that. But you know, there’s definitely a other things we can be doing if somebody wants to and has the accessibility to do so. Um,

Corrine Malcolm (22:14):

Yep. The time all this

Sarah Scozzaro (22:15):

And the equipment and the desire, you know, like I said, I’m, I’m all about making people strengths or encouraging people to be strength, curious, and pick things up and learn how to move. Cause I feel like doing that allows us to be better athletes all the way around. Um, we’re just more dur, but if that someone is, you know, like you said earlier, if I only have time to do so much giving them a 90 minute strength program, when they’re already having a hard time fitting in their 60 minute run is kind of unrealistic.

Corrine Malcolm (22:42):

Yeah, it is. So you’ve got, you’ve got that communication line needs to be opened. I understand what, what is actually feasible. And so it’s a great, my question there is then what is like the minimum? Is there a minimum worthwhile, like time that someone should set aside? And obviously this might change based on like the phase of the year that they’re in, but, um, you know, I’m looking at like, okay, like if we’re in a lower volume running phase and we’re doing a bunch of running intervals, you know, maybe someone’s got a, a late fall race right now. And so they’re in a, they’re in a running interval block. It’s still, we’re still spring. We’re not, we’re not quite now.

Sarah Scozzaro (23:12):

It’s almost spring. It’s winter. Not Illinois. It’s spring. Sure.

Corrine Malcolm (23:15):

Yeah. It’s it’s second. It’s like fall it’s spring first, fall spring. Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (23:20):

We’re in full spring.

Corrine Malcolm (23:20):

Um, yes, we’re being tricked, but um, so say you’re in a running interval phase right now, right? This is an opportunity in my mind that you’ve got, you’re running a little bit less volume to me. Maybe you have a little bit more time in your day to do, to do some doing, do some strength right now. So I’m just kind, I’m curious, like, is there a minimum worthwhile amount of strength to be doing? Does that change based on the phase of the year that you’re in once again? Is it a, if you can, you can. And if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Like how can an athlete digest that because there’s an ideal of what we should be doing and then there’s the reality of life.

Sarah Scozzaro (23:53):

Oh, right. I mean, getting someone set up for a, a, you know, a, a 50 mile training plan, there’s an ideal amount of volume. We’d like them to hit there, but then there’s someone that’s working a full-time job and has four kids and you know, of this, that and the other. So yeah, with strength, I’m always an advocate of like, anything you can do is better than nothing. We just have to be very, very targeted on what we go to do. So a lot of the accessory work, a lot of the, the bonus fun. I like to say fun work. Cause this is fun for me that, I mean, I want all the toys, right. I like to do it all, but that you’re probably gonna be more focused on certain movements that are gonna help that. And that’s where it becomes into very individualized.

Sarah Scozzaro (24:31):

So that particular person would benefit most for doing X, Y, or Z and a, B or C is just something they don’t have time for right now. Um, 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times a week can go a long way for most people. Um, especially when the running volume, this, you know, earlier in this season, like you said, they’re not running as much. Maybe they’ve got more time to lift and they’ve got 60 minutes, three to four times a week, go for it if you’ve got it. Um, but if you don’t, I wouldn’t say an all or nothing approach applies here. I feel like you can still get some benefit with any little bit of time you’ve got,

Corrine Malcolm (25:05):

Yeah. It’s that qual over quantity approach that I think is so important to stress with most people that we most, I mean, most of the athletes that you and I have on our rosters are, are busy, are busy humans, right? They, they have, they have busy jobs. They have, they have families, they have these other things that are pulling their time and attention. And I think there’s this, I, once again, there’s this idealized version of what they should be getting in every week. And then there’s the, the practicality of what they can get in every week. And kind of being able to skim, skim off the things that are the, the, the mile that might be unnecessary here. And the, the, the show muscle exercise that might be unnecessary there. Right? Like the, I know what you mean fun,

Sarah Scozzaro (25:43):

Like, or, you know, the repetition, you know, or some people will go in and do, you know, three different chest press exercises and, you know, tri sets like, okay, maybe we just need to do dumbbell presses or pushups, just boom. Yeah. And, and even that I’m, I would always, for most runners, I’m gonna be in the pushup camp, especially in season, you know, I mean, moving your body, being able to press and push and lift your own body. There’s a lot of value there. Uh, and I think so many people get caught up in the all or nothing approach like you said, or that paralysis by analysis of like, well, crap, I, I don’t have time for all this, nor do I have any equipment. So I might as well not even do anything at all, I think is unfortunate because they’re missing out on some, some beneficial work that I think could them in general, just being a more durable human, um, we’ve talked before about, you know, in our coaching calls and with coop about how, you know, running is gonna make you a better runner, you know, so I’m never gonna say, oh, strength training is gonna make you a better, better runner, like running is going to make you a better runner, but strength training can make you a more durable runner and there’s just benefits there, you know, but ultimately you have to prioritize the time that you’ve got for your training.

Corrine Malcolm (26:55):

Yeah. I was just writing and reading a lot about kind of like the aging, the aging athlete. And I talk a lot about, you know, I joked in my introduction for this article that I just wrote about, um, every single article of re like research article I pulled for, it had some form of the phrase, age related, decline God in the intro. Right. Which like very dark, dark sounding. But, you know, it’s kinda like, yes, like the, the clock stop stops for no one type of thing. And as you mentioned, you know, yes, to get better at running, you have to, but there’s this durability component there that you’ve, that you’ve alluded to. And it’s, you know, who knows what percentage, you know, we gain from doing these things. But if one of the things that came up in all these articles was that the, the biggest thing to prevent decline in endurance performance as we age, is the ability to continue to maintain training volume and training intensity.

Corrine Malcolm (27:44):

And if you’re missing time, because you’re injured, that is automatically going to decrease your amount of time, like your amount of time to train the ability to get volume and the ability to get intensity in. And so in a way, you know, we’re not gonna quantify it here. That’s not a fair question, I think, but what, like, in a way, getting, you know, doing a minimum amount of, of strength, particularly as we age, which might make it even more important. Um, can, if that’s, if that’s preventing you from missing training in a way, I think that’s like maybe one of the bigger, the bigger benefits in the long run of doing the strength work. Yeah, exactly.

Sarah Scozzaro (28:21):

No, exactly. Exactly. So whether we can, you know, quantify that or qualify that of, like, if you do strength training three times a week for 60 minutes, you will be this percentage less likely to be injured. It’s not that so much, is that it, because it makes you more durable and it makes you stronger in general, you’re less likely to be injured with like overuse and certain things. I’m not about falling and like on a weird, like, like me and breaking your knee, you know, having like a freak accident, those things happen. But in general, just being more balanced, being stronger, you know, saving off the tea in the latter stages of events, you know, postural stuff, just all of these things come together that makes you a more robust athlete. Um,

Corrine Malcolm (29:08):

Yeah. Yeah. And that in the long run, I think has a lot of, a lot of benefit that’s, you know, isn’t maybe tangible, but is there yeah, right. Like it’s not like we can’t necessarily measure it, but it’s, you know, it’s, it’s there in the ether somewhere and we

Sarah Scozzaro (29:23):

Feel better. I don’t know about you. I just feel better when I’m, when I strength, train, you know? And yeah. I, I feel stronger. I sleep better. I just, I, I know, and nobody can science. Isn’t how I feel. But I feel like most of my athletes that start strength training are like, wow, I feel like I’ve got, you know, I’m snapper. When I run, I feel like I’m recovering really well. I feel really good powering up those Hills. Now it’s probably a condition of them doing more hill work. Let’s be honest, burning Hills will be better at running Hills, but I don’t think that doing lunges and squats in the gym is gonna hurt you as long as it’s programmed appropriately. And that’s kind of the flip side of that is that strength training can make you a more durable athlete and can help with, you know, where, where we’re just talking about, like with the whole injury, overdoing strength training can lead to fatigue and issues to where then a lot of my newer athletes that, that come to me and they’re like, oh, I tried strength training in the past, but it made me sore.

Sarah Scozzaro (30:17):

And I had to miss too much of my running. There’s a flip, there’s two sides of the coin there.

Corrine Malcolm (30:22):

Yeah. Like that sounds like a programming issue or a time of year issue. So I guess that’s a great question though. Like, so that sounds like a big mistake. What, what other mistakes do you see either in athletes that are coming to you at CTS or, or in, I mean, we, we watch, we watch what’s going on out in the, the wider world of ultra endurance sports too. Like, what are some of the common mistakes, you know, maybe it’s programming, maybe it’s getting sucked into, I don’t know. I, I love going to a CrossFit gym because I think the community’s so strong and I’ve got athletes who love doing that style of workouts and it’s like, but there’s a time and a place for it. And it’s, so what, what kind of mistakes do you see stacking up? Be it programming, be it intensity in the gym that we, that you can try to help athletes avoid when they, when they try to approach strength

Sarah Scozzaro (31:05):

Training. Yeah, absolutely. And, and you’re right. Things like CrossFit, the, uh, the community there for folks that can’t be beat, you know, it really does fulfill a lot of needs for a lot of people. And it’s, it’s, it’s fantastic where I think a lot of the pro problems or challenges come with strength training, it does come down to program. Um, and, and that’s to say, like, if, if somebody, even if my athlete was doing their programming or a programming that I wrote for somebody at mile six or mile six month, six Woohoo mile a month, six, you know, six months before their event, if they tried to apply that exact same programming to three weeks before their race, there would be a problem there, even though the programming made sense at one point in the training. So I think a lot of the pitfalls people fall into is they’ll just grab plans off the internet and try to apply it to where they are without understanding maybe the variables and where they are in their running cycle. Um, pushing too hard. Sometimes people get, I see this a lot. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I think when we lift at some point kind of that ego takes over and you’re like, well, I wanna, I wanna, how much could I do? And you know, and so that can leave you pretty darn sore and can really impact things. So now you’re had to cut your run short, cuz your legs were dead

Corrine Malcolm (32:19):

And, or I’ve done, I’ve tried to do intervals after like a hard gym session and where my arms were sore. Yeah. And then, and I’m like, oh my goodness, these intervals are so hard because it’s so hard to pump my arms right now. Like it wasn’t my legs at all. It was like, my shoulders were sore. So of

Sarah Scozzaro (32:35):

Core you blasted your core, you did a 20 minute core blast and then you go, it’s like, yeah, I mean, fatigue is fatigue. And so I think a lot of it comes down to programming, even if something was at one point programmed intelligently and had a purpose, not applying it to the right part of your phase can be a challenge and can potentially cause problems. I think people trying to go too, too close to an event, um, is a challenge. That’s a, that’s something I see a lot of people go, they’ll be like, I was doing my, my hardcore CrossFit, whatever you wanna call it, training and classes a week before my event. And that’s terrifying. Yeah.

Corrine Malcolm (33:15):

And I find that like just too much intensity stacks up to that, like oftentimes they’ve got, you know, a set or a super set of, of lifting moves, but then it, it, it, there’s always, you know, like a, I think you, you know, know the self, right? Like, can you scale or can the coach in the gym scale appropriately for you? Like, are you going to be able to hold back on the, every minute on a minute for as hard as you can for 20 minutes or whatever it is, right. Or, you know, not get caught up, been the race mentality that, that is really fun in those gyms as well. Oh yeah. But it’s a lot of intensity and I find that when I’m trying to program around that for athletes, because I know it’s important for them, it’s, it’s really like, I have to stress how important it is that like, this is okay for this time of the year, but I need you to scale yes. At these moments and at these weeks, um, just because it is it’s intensity overload that they can’t go get a workout in because yeah. You know, they ended up doing basically what is the equivalent to like a hit session or a running interval session in the gym on top

Sarah Scozzaro (34:11):

Of the hi the interval session they were then supposed to have, or they, they had that morning. Yeah. So exactly. So I agree with you, it’s, it’s having be knowing, knowing myself, knowing how to scale, knowing how to regress or progress, you know, if you’re, if you’re, if you know how to take something further and make it more challenging for you in the right appropriate part in your training cycle, having that knowledge or being able to surround yourself with people that can help you with that, I think is very, very important. Cause a lot of people don’t necessarily know when to kind of put the breaks on a little bit. Um, and you know, I think that’s what we serve too, as coaches is being able to be that outside objective of like, no, you’re, you’re, you’re pushing too hard here when they wouldn’t necessarily know it.

Corrine Malcolm (34:54):

Yeah. And I think that’s an easy, it’s an easy like terrain trap. I think I introduce coop to that word. It’s an avalanche, like it’s an avalanche ski term and I about it. And like I used it in the book and it comes up a lot now and I’m like, do you know what a terrain trap is? Um, but yeah, it’s like a, it’s a terrain trap that I think is easier to fall in on the strength side of things than it is on the running side of things. Most of my athletes don’t need to be motivat. Don’t need like me to tell ’em they’re going, you know, too hard or too easy on a, on a, on a run on a run workout. I think the, the strength stuff it’s really, I think it’s this, this hard idea for athletes to understand that strength is basically even if, you know, depend independent of necessarily quote unquote the intensity or the workload of the workout. Like it’s almost always a high intensity load on the body. And it’s hard, I think for athletes to, to scale that without a little bit of help.

Sarah Scozzaro (35:44):

Agreed. Yeah. I, I would say so. And I think pulling RPE in a, if trying to have that conversation of RPE with strength can kind of help with certain loading. Um, and just like, Hey, I want you to approach your strength today. You know, especially if someone, or let’s say the listeners out here cause I program for my athletes. So I make sure they know where they need to be, but if somebody’s listening to this and like, oh, I wanna, you know, strength, train. It’s like, well, if you’re in a volume phase with your running, maybe stick to the same kind of RPE that you would stick with your running in that phase. So if you’re kind of in that five, six, maybe that’s where you’re lifting should be to, don’t go for eight and nine in the gym when your runs need to be in that five, six realm. Um, yeah, you just kind of put guardrails kind of G know thy self, but also know, you know, kind of, if you’re gonna put demands on your body, whether it’s out on the trail or the road or the gym it’s fatigue, it is stress. Stress is stress on the body.

Corrine Malcolm (36:36):

Yep. And it’s all pulling from that same bucket. Yep. Work, stress, the life, stress, the running stress, the gym stress all in the same stress bucket. Yeah. So you have to be careful what can athletes do if, you know, maybe they’re working with one of us, maybe they’re not working with one of us. Maybe they, they wanna incorporate incorporate strength, but they’re, they’re totally new. Or they haven’t done strength for a long time or they’re unsure of, you know, where to even start in the gym. Is there any, are there any good resources out there? Um, can they, can they go to the gym and work with anyone? Like I know that’s, that’s a hard question to, to answer, but I feel like it can be really scary to start strength as well, you know, independent of what you have accessible to you just get just starting can be the hardest part, I think. Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (37:19):

You know, that’s a great question. I feel that that there’s some complications there because a lot of people will say, well go, just seek out a personal trainer that has X, Y or C certification. But I can tell you that I have known some, some coaches and trainers that have had those certifications that are not very good coaches. And then I’ve known people that have, you know, they, they got the basic and worked their butts off and they did thet education and they really study their craft that usually allows for them to, they then progress and get further education in the area in terms of certifications and degrees. But there are a lot, there are just as many good trainers out there as there are bad ones. So, and, but for someone who doesn’t know, there’re like, well, how do I know what’s bad? Um, and I don’t know if just reading a book is enough to kind of communicate that to somebody, cuz it is very much an action type of type of a situation of like I’m a kinesthetic learner I learn best by doing, you know? So yeah. Um, I do think it’s important to seek out the coaches in and trainers in your area, especially if you’re very new to strength to get eyes on you to make you’re do sure you’re doing things properly and appropriately. Yeah. Because those

Corrine Malcolm (38:29):

Movements properly.

Sarah Scozzaro (38:30):

Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of things, you know, with running, generally speaking, if I tell someone, you know, if I program for someone to run a certain pay, you know, effort and they come back and it looks like that was a little too spicy, we can usually course correct that pretty quickly and have a conversation. Whereas if someone goes into the gym and doesn’t know how to squat and puts a big barbell on their back, they can hurt themselves really quick. Um, not to the

Corrine Malcolm (38:53):

Fire risk there. What was that? There’s higher risk. There’s

Sarah Scozzaro (38:56):

Higher risk there and that’s not to put the fear of anything into anybody, but my, my general kind of go-to is most things. If you can do good form unloaded, then you start to progress to loading. So if you can’t do a good body weight squat probably don’t need to throw a bar ball on your back.

Corrine Malcolm (39:13):

Yeah. This is where I think, you know, I, I oftentimes when, when runners are getting injured or, or have an injury or they’ve had an injury for a long time and they, they need, um, you know, they need a PT in their area, so I’m okay. Well talk to your running community. Yes. Your running community will tell you who the good PT is and who the good PTs are similar with

Sarah Scozzaro (39:31):

Strength coaches.

Corrine Malcolm (39:32):

Yep. Yep. And, and even if maybe you live in an area where strength coaches are as available, maybe you live in a really rural area and there isn’t, you know, a big, a big public gym type of place maybe, but you guys have a really good PT that might be the person to go to for some of that assessment and just body, just body movement patterns. Yes. Right. Unloaded would be a great place to start for folks who might not have that person in a gym locally to them.

Sarah Scozzaro (39:55):

And a lot of physical a therapist nowadays do are, are there’s, you know, not all of them, but there’s a lot nowadays, especially that have that dual hat of they’re also very much into strength and they understand lifting so they can integrate that for you. And like you said, they can do checks on movement patterns. They can help assess you. They can help find any link. You know, we weaknesses in the, the chain there. Um, I’m a big advocate. I’m knowing your scope and knowing what you are and knowing what you aren’t. And I am not a physical therapist. So I don’t think strength training should be in place of physical therapy. Um, so if somebody, you know, has a pattern of injury or they are injured probably best to start, probably it’s usually best to start with a physical therapist, a doctor, people that can really, um, assess your movement. So you know that you are safe to proceed. Um, whereas me programming for somebody who’s like, Hey, yeah, I’m coming to you, but I’ve got this problem. It’s like, well, I can’t diagnose that

Corrine Malcolm (40:53):

Nor should I, what is your P what is your PT say exactly. That’s what I want. What did your

Sarah Scozzaro (40:57):

PT, all of my athletes that have come to me, either with they’re working with the PT or they start one, once they’ve been with me, it’s having that conversation of like, what is your PT having you doing? What are they seeing? Having those conversations? Because, um, strength training for general populations is great, but we start to get to the nuance of it is not physical therapy. And so even this where they wanna call it career directive or coordinated or collaborative, that kinda shore up any like weaknesses you might have, those are usually best served once you’ve been released for PT or, you know, you’re safe to progress with, uh, a general lifting program.

Corrine Malcolm (41:32):

Yeah. Is our shout out to all the PTs out there. We see, we see you. We love, we love you. Yes. We need, we need, we need you. You know, and I think athletes are like, this is where my hamstring hurts. And I’m like, what does your PT say? 100%. Like, I can’t diagnose you over text either.

Sarah Scozzaro (41:46):

Yeah. And I, and I do have, you know, physical therapist that I am in contact with that see my athletes. And it’s like, you know, we all have this very open circle of communication. And it’s like, yeah. So, and so has this. Or my person comes to me and says, my physical therapist says, I’m dealing with this. They want me to focus on these types of exercises. Here are the ones they’ve given me great. Or I’ve written programming. They’ve brought it to their physical therapist. They’re like, does this look appropriate? And the physical just can give the green light, like yep. That is appropriate for where you are in your strength training, but I’m not doing it in place of a physical therapist. That’s the key.

Corrine Malcolm (42:17):

Yeah. Yeah. It’s collaborative. And I think that it’s really cool when we do get to work directly with, um, athletes, athletes, physical therapists, um, or at least, you know, yeah. I, I, or strength and conditioning coaches. I had a, an athlete who I got to get on the phone with their strength coach and, and, and have that conversation be like, okay, this is where this is in their season. And like, I wanna know kind of what you all are working on and, and just make sure that we’re really syncing things up for this athlete. So it’s

Sarah Scozzaro (42:40):

So important, I think. And that’s one of the beautiful things I love about CTS and all of us coaches is that we take that collaborative approach. We don’t try to be something we’re not, and we don’t feel any threat by being able to say, Hey, let me talk to, I I’ve talked to other, my, my athlete. Some of them are like, Hey, I’ve got this personal trainer or this strength coach that I really love working with. Great. Let me talk to ’em and yeah, love it. I’ll tell them where you are in the season. And they can give me feedback and I don’t feel threatened. I think it’s fantastic. Like we’re all the goal is always what’s best for the athlete and how can we help them progress and become a stronger, more durable runner and human. Yeah. So I think that’s what it comes down to.

Corrine Malcolm (43:17):

I ask that it’s like, well, who’s your team. Yes, I’m on your team, but who, who else is on your team? Is it, do you have a dietician that you wanna work with? Do you, do you have a PT or do you need a PT? Do you have a body work person? You know, whatever it might be like, who, who is your team? Who am I working with? Because the truth and the matter is, is like, yeah, I’m not, I can’t do everything. I’m not a dietician. No, I’m not a nutritionist. You know, like I’ve done my CSCs, but I’m, you know, like if you’ve got a coach, a strength coach that you like locally who gets to have eyes on you, who gets to see you 100%, like, amen, take them. Absolutely.

Sarah Scozzaro (43:48):

And I tell people that like it is so always somebody that has eyes on you in person is gonna be able to coach you better than me on a two dimensional computer screen, like nine times outta 10, as long as they’re a good coach, which then, you know, these people are seeing good people. They’re gonna get more out of that. Even if it’s just, I have athletes that I write the programming and they check in with a coach every now and then like a strength coach at their gym that they schedule kind of like tune ins and form checks and things like that. And it’s just, it’s so valuable to have that team. We’re all stronger when we’ve got a good team behind us.

Corrine Malcolm (44:23):

Yeah. And I think that that’s, you know, that’s kind of hearkens back to this idea too, of like, there’s no one way to do this. There’s no right way, you know, okay. Quote unquote, there’s no right way. There’s there are right ways to move your body maybe in wrong ways to move your body. But generally speaking, right? Like collaboration, creativity, working with what you have, I think is not something to be afraid of when it comes to ultra endurance sports. And when it comes to adding strength and mobility and all these things to your or training plan within all tri and sports. So there’s no one way exactly to make that

Sarah Scozzaro (44:54):

Work. You can talk to three different strength, coaches and personal trainers or people in this field, and they’ll have a different opinion on how the best way to do something. And it really does come down to the athlete, very athlete specifics. We try to be broad and we try to give general recommendations. But I think that anybody that gets somebody moving and moving well in the gym, in outside and in the gym is gonna be a benefit. Um, it might look slightly different, you know, from one person to the next, but I feel like there’s a lot to gain there. And there’s just so many benefits that carry over.

Corrine Malcolm (45:27):

Yeah. I like to say the best strength training for you is the strength training that you will

Sarah Scozzaro (45:30):

Do 100%, 100%. So if I tell you barbell or nothing, that doesn’t help you. I mean, if you don’t have a barbell, you know, now if you’re a barbell, you know, if you’re a totally into that and I tell you, like, go balance, you know, take a stability ball and do some, you know, bridges. You’re probably gonna think like, oh, that’s weak. But you know, somewhere in between and depending on the person is where is where the magic lies.

Corrine Malcolm (45:55):

Yeah. The strength, strength, and training and all that stuff. And your coaches need to meet you where you’re at. And I think that that’s a good, it’s so important, a good place to kind of round out this conversation and what I’ve been ending, all these conversations with. Cause I just think it’s an interesting resource for folks is this idea of, you know, people have enjoyed this conversation specifically they’re really, if they’re like, oh, I’m, I’m strength curious now, which is great. We want people to be strength curious. Um, is there a book or a podcast or content resources that you would recommend they pick up if this isn’t a genre of, of, of conversation that they’re interested in learning more about? Yeah.

Sarah Scozzaro (46:31):

Um, I’m a, I’m a real big fan of, I am NSCA certified, which it sounds like you are as well with your CSCs. They put out great information. Their website is a great, a great resource studies. Um, the different journals, they publish having a PubMed, being able to look at studies, you know, I think is very important to be able to read so that you’re not just reading an article and taking that at face value, but you can dig deeper. Um, there’s a, quite a few strength coaches that I have a lot of respect for that are actually not even necessarily in, uh, the, the running community, but I like to follow people that I, I find give a lot of value to strength and have pretty good sound principles and exhibit good form. Uh, um, so yeah, I think, I think it’s pretty, it’s tough to narrow down to like one or two books, but I’m always a big fan of like the NS, C a C S C S textbook. You’re welcome everybody. It’s good. It’s a good one. It’s good. It’s just solid information. And then as I did, as I progressed in my journey with, you know, strength training and whatnot is then you start to find the areas that you wanna dig deeper and you just, just be open to learning.

Corrine Malcolm (47:44):

Yeah. And there’s a lot of great continuing, continuing education that’s put on every year for people within this field and people within like the physical therapy field that you can, you can go to that are, that are super niche and really, really fascinating. So there’s stuff out there for

Sarah Scozzaro (47:56):

Everyone. And if you wanna geek out with, with your people, those are the best, best places to geek out with your people. So,

Corrine Malcolm (48:02):

Yeah. And then my final question that I really have been enjoying asking everyone is what’s something that, you know, now that you wished that you knew when you first either started ultra running in general, or that you, when even when you first started coaching, like obviously we continue to learn that’s I feel like something that we all bring into the CTS, like our coaching collective is that we really, we are kind of all hunger, like hungry for knowledge and continuing to learn. And so, yeah, I’m wondering if there’s anything that, you know, now that you wish, you know, five or 10 years ago you had known then,

Sarah Scozzaro (48:32):

Oh, doesn’t have to be perfect. Make progress. I think that more applies to my, my own personal life and journey, you know? Um, and just always be curious, especially like with coaching, but, um, I wish I had learned this is so cliche. I wish I had learned to truly appreciate my rest days and that

Corrine Malcolm (48:55):

I dig

Sarah Scozzaro (48:56):

And that we all it more is not better when it comes to strength or running, running more is not always better.

Corrine Malcolm (49:07):

I think that’s perfect. I think people will get, hopefully that resonates. I resonates with me for sure. I’m I’m reveling in my rest day

Sarah Scozzaro (49:14):

Where, when you’re younger, it’s go, go, go. Is that guilt? There was guilt of taking a rest day and now I’m like, oh, cute. It’s yes. Rest day. I love rest days. Yeah. So, um, just perfect. Understand that when you put the work in that the rest days have just as much and more purpose sometimes than some of the actual training days is that’s, that’s so key.

Corrine Malcolm (49:38):

Yeah, it is. It’s got that. That is a, a, a, a powerful purpose for that day and it, it definitely pays, pays dividends in the long run. Yeah. If people wanna find more about you, they wanna follow you on social media, where can they, where can they track you down?

Sarah Scozzaro (49:53):

Oh boy. Um, dirty runner without the I D R T Y runner am on Instagram and I I’m on Twitter, but I don’t post much. I’m more of a stalker, I’m a political stalker. And, um, and in the CTS website, and if you Google me, I’ve been on quite a different, uh, amount of podcasts with different modalities that I’ve worked with, like original strength and stick mobility and things like that. So I do enjoy talking all different realms of movement.

Corrine Malcolm (50:22):

Perfect. Well, thank you so much again, Sarah, for joining us today. Um, we’ll definitely, we’ll find, we’ll find some, some reason to have you back on to discuss something. Oh, fabulous. In this realm for sure.

Sarah Scozzaro (50:33):

I’m here for it. Thank you. Yes.

Corrine Malcolm (50:35):

Wonderful. Okay. Thank you so much. We hope you enjoyed this show and we’ll be back next week.


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