Dr. Shannon Ritchey is a former physical therapist and the owner of Evlo Fitness. Her goal is to educate about exercise physics, metabolism, and neurology to help people make more informed and effective decisions about fitness.
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This is the real life runners podcast, episode number 321. Less, but better. Building our bodies up instead of breaking them down with dr shannon richie What's up runners. Welcome to the podcast today. Super excited that you're here. Joining us. We have a special guest. Dr. Shannon Richie is on the podcast today. Shannon is a former physical therapist and the owner of Evlo fitness. And her goal is to educate about exercise, physics, metabolism, and neurology, to help people make more informed and effective decisions about fitness. And I'm so excited for you guys to hear today's podcast because the conversation that Shannon and I had just is so important for us to hear as runners, because I think so many times we subscribe to this. More is better. Attitude when it comes to our running and push harder to get faster. And it just leads to a lot of wear and tear on the body and a shorter term relationship with running than most of us would want. If you're listening to this podcast, I hope that you would like a longterm relationship with running and you would like to be able to run into your forties, fifties, sixties, and beyond. And if we're constantly breaking our bodies down, then that's not going to be a possibility for us. We need to be kind to our bodies. And so we talk a lot about that in this episode, Shannon. Um, really breaks down some of the science for us and helps us to understand why it's so important for us to build our bodies up instead of just constantly breaking them down. So without further ado, let's. Head to the interviewAngie:
All right, you guys. Welcome to the podcast today. I'm super excited. I have Dr. Shannon Ritchie on the podcast today and we are going to have an awesome conversation. So Shannon, welcome to the podcast. I'm so glad you're here.Shannon:
Thank you. I'm excited to be here.Angie:
So as we start out here, can you first just tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?Shannon:
Yeah. I am a former physical therapist. I'm no longer practicing and I'm the founder of Evlo Fitness, which is an online, strength training program designed to help people build muscle with less wear and tear on their bodies. And the reason I started that, this Platform was because of my own experience with over exercising, overdoing it, constantly feeling broken down, constantly thinking that was normal and going to all this body work to try to like piece me back together. When in reality, when I started looking at the mechanics and at the, physics of my workout program, I was just way overdoing it and putting force and load through my body in ways that were wearing down my joints instead of supporting my body and building muscle and cardiovascular health and all of those things. And so I wanted to design and create a method that people could use to help improve the health of their bodies, their muscle mass, their strength, their fitness, without costing them joint pain or hormonal imbalances, or without making them feel like they got hit by a truck. because I think it's very normalized for us to feel like Oh, that means you had an effective workout. If you feel like you got hit by a truck. so I don't think that that's the sign of an effective workout. I think that that means your workout was too intense or forces through your body where, you know, wearing down joints or what it causing inflammation or whatever that might be. So, yeah, that's kind of where I am today. So I really try to educate about how, my new favorite maxim is less, but better and how we can incorporate exercise in our life to ultimately build ourselves up instead of slowly wearing ourselves down.Angie:
That's so great because I think that so many of us are conditioned with that messaging of more is better, do more. If you're not feeling sore, then your workout wasn't effective. So what kind of made you realize that all of this, all of that messaging that we are very conditioned by was wrong and what made you kind of go in a different direction?Shannon:
For me, I'm someone that, I need to have the evidence and the logic in order to ultimately change my mindset. And so I had a mentor in physical therapy school who was telling me all these things. He was like, you don't have to do that to be fit. Like I was complaining of back pain all the time. And like, and yet I was going and doing all my intense workouts. And he was like, maybe it's your workouts. And I was like, no, like I gotta do this to be fit. Like I've got it. Like, this is just a normal side effect. And he was like, it's not. And I didn't really fully believe it until I moved, from Kansas city to North Carolina. My husband went to grad school in North Carolina, took a break from my routine for a couple of weeks, my fitness routine and felt 100 times better. Like my body felt so much better. And I was like, wait, I'm not exercising and my body feels better. Like shouldn't exercising make you feel better, not worse. And I feel better by removing it. And so I really thought about, okay, when I add exercise back in, is it possible for me to be fit without having all these negative side effects? Like I was 24 years old and had chronic pain all over my body. Like that wasn't acceptable to me once it went away and I was like, oh, I don't want, I don't want that to come back. I feel so good. And so I started studying, mechanics a little bit more. I started studying like the physics of exercise and I started a lot of the things that I was studying started to really make sense. I was like, oh, muscles need time to recover. If you're overloading muscles and joints, they're going to have symptoms of pain. Pain isn't necessarily an indication that okay. Those muscles are going to get stronger and the, and there's a way that you can load your body and slowly progress without costing all these issues. so that was really, I had to really like convince myself with the logic and the, I don't want to say evidence, cause there's not a ton of evidence around like physics. It's just like, you just have to study physics basically. Yeah. But, it's not like they're going to do research about like joint angles and things like that, or hopefully they will someday. But, and then I started using it on myself and I started seeing better results, even though I felt like I was working out less and less hard and less frequently, but I felt better and I was seeing better adaptations. So that's kind of ultimately what. Oh, I had, I think a lot of our audience probably are similar in the sense that like, it has to make sense in order for them to adopt that new mentality. Like you can't just say, like, do less, like take care of your body, listen to your body. It has, you have to have kind of have the evidence and the logic there in order for people to change their mindset. And I was the same way.Angie:
Yeah. I also am the same way. And I want to hit on a couple of things that you said there, like first, When you were talking about how you were constantly sore and you just constantly felt like your body was, was breaking down on you, and how when you stopped exercising and you realized how much better you felt, I, it just made me think about how many people are going through their life that don't even realize that that is another option, that think that that's the norm, right? Like you feeling sore all the time, they think, well, that's just the norm. Like that's just. How I should feel. They don't even know that there is a better way to feel.Shannon:
Yeah. And it's sad because I think for anybody that, and I think people also get used to feeling a certain way, like they, they, their new baseline is just to feel like creaky and cranky and like their joints to feel cranky and their muscles to be sore. And. What I encourage everybody to do, and I know this is scary for people who aren't used to taking breaks from exercise, but take four days off exercise and see how your body feels. Because if your body is feeling better after those four days, likely you are doing too much in your workout and you could actually see better results by adopting the less, but better mentality and feel better. I think. A lot of people never ever give their bodies a break. And so they have this expectation that, or this baseline tolerance of joint pain of soreness of like, I get out of bed in the morning and it's, Ooh, I'm so stiff moving around. It's like, let's, let's tolerate more from ourselves and from our bodies because eventually, like I always say, like your body will give you whispers until it screams. And that scream is going to be a knee replacement. or a, you know, a debilitating back injury or whatever it may be. And if we back up and say like, wait a second. My body's whispering at me and it's been whispering at me for the last decade. Let's listen to that. And what's the harm in like changing it up a little bit to see if your body could potentially adapt better. And maybe you could see better results. I think there's, I think really you have nothing to lose by doing that.Angie:
Yeah, but I think that can also be very scary for people because they're used to that certain thing that they've been doing or that certain way that they've been conditioned to think about fitness where they think, if I take time off, then I'm going to be losing fitness. If I take time off and I'm going to be going backwards. And they're very afraid of that because we, I think, especially as runners. Are very number oriented very driven individuals. We like to challenge ourselves. And so I know that this is definitely a struggle that i've had with our clients and with you know Podcast listeners and everybody is they don't want to take time off and a big time thing that I have to convince people of is Increasing their recovery time because they're not, I always tell people, you know, you talk about the evidence there is the evidence of a load and recovery cycle. You have to load the body and then you have to give the body proper amounts of recovery so that it can actually make the adaptations. You can actually gain the benefits from your workout. But in our mind, that's like, oh, well, I just have to take maybe a day off. As long as I give myself one rest day per week, then that's enough. But there are even some runners out there that have a very hard time taking any rest days whatsoever. So can you talk a little bit about the importance of recovery and rest days and how that can actually make us stronger and faster in the long run?Shannon:
Well, two things come to mind one that is specific to runners and then one that is just like general fitness people. And I think both of these things really helps me take recovery day. Actually, three things come to mind. So first is that I think people are afraid. Maybe some people can resonate with this. Maybe some people won't, but I think people are afraid that if they're not running or if they're not exercising, they're not going to be burning calories. And so they're going to gain weight. So if they take four days off, they're afraid that they're going to gain weight because of. They're, they're backing off their activity. I've done tons of episodes, podcast episodes about this that show that exercise. Is not as significant of a, energy expending activity as we think there's something really cool and interesting that I encourage your listeners to go research called the constrained total energy expenditure model. Basically this says that your body has this narrow window of calorie expenditure. And when you add more activity, you don't actually increase that window. So you're burning. Really the same amount of calories at, the same amount of activity. So if you do less activity, you're probably still burning about the same amount of calories, especially if you're just an active person in general, which I assume all of your runners are active. They're not like just sitting in stationary all day. so even if you back off activity, odds are, you're still burning about the same amount of calories. And I know people are going to be like, I don't believe that why this happens. People are like, no, that's not true. Here's why this happens. When you exercise and you expend more calories from exercise, your body adapts by borrowing calories from other processes in your body. So it might slow down digestion. It might, take calories away from mental processing. It might take calories away from healing inflammation. It might take calories. It borrows from different calorie processes to keep you within this narrow window of energy expenditure. And scientists think that this is evolutionary, an evolutionary mechanism to, constrain our energy so that we have energy left for, emergencies to like run or fight when we need it so that we're not completely draining ourselves all the way to zero, basically. So when people take out exercise, they're really not likely they, unless they change their eating, they're really not likely to gain. really any weight, especially if it's just four days. so that's the first thing is that we need to stop thinking about exercise as like a calories in calories out and really think about it as exercise is improving our metabolism for sure, which might. Improve our ability to, which might increase that window of energy expenditure that we're using throughout the day, but it's not so much as just like one single session is what I need to like maintain my weight. So that's the wholeAngie:
idea of like burning off the cupcake that you ateShannon:
at lunchtime. It's not, it's a total myth. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. it's, it's all about like, if, if fat loss is your goal, it's all about, Fueling and how you're eating and not necessarily how you're exercising. Exercising has an indirect effect on weight loss in the sense that it can improve your metabolic flexibility. It can improve your body's ability to use fuel. It can improve insulin sensitivity, which improves your body. Body's ability to use fat. But as far as like the calories in calories out thing, exercise isn't as directly related to that as we've been led to believe, or as we once thought there's newer evidence about this. so I've done podcast episodes about that in case people want to know a little bit more, but that's kind of the first thing I think of. And that's a lot of people's, I think, fear. The second fear is that people are going to lose progress if they take some time off and. Number one, when we're talking about running specifically, I think your runners probably know that, endurance can come and go pretty quickly. it it's easy in easy out. I mean, I'm not saying that running is easy by any means. I'm not saying that, but your endurance. can fade pretty quickly within the matter of a week. You might notice a difference and then it can come back pretty quickly within about a matter of a week. So if you're taking four days off, when you go back to that next run, you might feel it, but it's going to come back pretty quickly. It's not like you're going to go all the way back to square one. but the bonus of taking some time off is that there's been some interesting studies that show that when you take. some dedicated time off exercise every eight to 12 weeks, your body actually improves some anabolic signaling that might be desensitized from consistent exercise. So you can actually help, repair muscle during that time, repair any damaged tissue and improve anabolic signaling so that when you come back to your strength training routine or running routine, you actually might feel stronger. So it's, it's. It all sounds backwards and counterintuitive and it totally makes sense that people would be afraid to take a step back, but when we look at the current evidence, it actually makes a lot of sense for people to take those breaks.Angie:
That's really interesting. And for those of you that aren't quite sure what, what the medical terms are that, that Dr. Shannon's talking about here. Anabolic is building the body back up, right? There's, there's anabolic and then there's catabolic. Catabolic is breaking the body down. Anabolic is, is building back up. So what she's saying is that our body is making adaptations where we can actually build back stronger during that extended Rest period during that time off our bodies actually getting stronger, which again, like you said, it seems counterintuitive But it's something that I know you've talked about on your podcast. We talked about on ours as well during the workouts We're breaking our body down and during recovery. We're allowing our body to build back up So when you look at it that way, it does make sense that an extended off period can allow your body to build back stronger because it has more of the resources that you're not depleting those resources and With those consistent workouts every day or some people, you know, twice a day that are, you know, intense with their workouts and you're just giving your body the sleep and the fuel and the time that it needs to actually repair itself and build back up stronger than it was before.Shannon:
Yes. Thank you for translating all of that. Cause sometimes I get excited and wrapped. I appreciate that. Yeah. It is when you, when you frame it like that and some, some people, it's just a matter of like, just take the leap of faith because if for some reason, You gain a pound or whatever, like worst case scenario is that you gain a little weight or maybe you lose like a tiny bit of progress. You're going to get it back pretty quickly. You know what to do. And you, I really, really think that you have so much more to gain than you do to lose. Because if you take that time off and you're like, Oh my gosh, I came back to my run stronger. I feel amazing. My joints don't feel terrible. and then, and then you're able to incorporate those. I call them reset weeks. So four to seven days. off exercise, every like quarter or so you're able to take those, you know, three or four times a year. And then what's magic is you can, you can coordinate them with your, when you go on vacation or if you go out of town or if you're busy or if something in your life happens and you're like, I don't really have time to go for a run. I don't really have time to work out. It's like, okay, well, Reset week time and this is going to be good for my body. And I think reframing that is so framed for so many people.Angie:
Yeah, you know, it's that kind of aligns with people that train for big races, like a half marathon or a marathon. And at the end of that cycle, after they actually run their race, we encourage people to take a week or two off sometimes, depending on how long the race was, how hard the training cycle was, all of that things. But we always say, take at least a week. If you want to go out and move your body and just do some walking great, but don't feel like you have this need to run and jump right into a training cycle. And we've had so much pushback on that. Like people do not want to take that time off because. Again, I going back. It's all about the way that we think about this, and it's about this idea that I don't want to lose fitness. I don't want to lose all all these things that I've gained throughout this training cycle. If I take this week off, if I take two weeks off, I'm going to go so far backwards. But when we look at elite professional runners, a lot of them take two to four weeks off after a goal race where they don't do any runningShannon:
whatsoever. Yes. And it's because they're getting advised by professionals who are saying, like, who understand adaptations of the body and know that rest and recovery have to be in balance in order for you to continue progressing. And if you think about it, people are like, people are afraid. Let's frame it this way. If you're afraid of taking a break. And you're never taking breaks. Eventually you're again, your body's going to scream for that. And you're going to have to take an extended time off if you get injured versus if you are keeping up with the maintenance of your body and you're staying ahead of it, you're less likely to experience a debilitating injury that takes you out for weeks or months. So I think it's like really. Really smart. It's like a training smarter, not harder thing. And, I think it's like you have more to lose than you are more to gain. Sorry, more to gain than you do to lose. I think. Yeah,Angie:
I absolutely agree. So going back to what you were talking about earlier about how you noticed that when you started doing this for yourself that you found that you were making better adaptations. What kind of adaptations, what kind of thing, things were you noticing when you started moving from, you know, those heavier load, heavier training sessions to more of that smarter training and using the joint angles in the physics to guide your, your training?Shannon:
Muscle. Is what I started noticing. I, I also had to change my nutrition a lot in order to, like, I wasn't eating enough protein. And so I, it, and I didn't know how much protein I was eating until I started tracking it. And, which I know that there's lots of, opinions about tracking and things like that. It works for me because I was able to get some awareness around how much I was eating and what I was eating, my macro profile. but I, once I started eating more protein and started. improving the angles of force in which, I was putting my body through, I started to see muscle. Those were the adaptations that I saw. Now, I, at some point last year, and it's kind of changing now, I'm going through a different season of my life where I'm not, I, my focus isn't on being so lean because we're looking to have kids and like. Super, super lean. This is not where I want to be right now. but last year, I had a body recomposition journey. So it's where you lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. and I had, I did that through strength training and diet. so I think a lot of people, one of my issues with running is that. people use it as a weight loss tool. And I think that instead of using nutrition and like you said, they get into it because they're like, I want to get in shape or I want to lose all this weight instead of investing in understanding how they're eating and what they're eating. And so I think that it ends up. It ends up encouraging over exercise in the pursuit of trying to be smaller or trying to slim down. So anyways, all that to say, when I changed all these things, I felt better. I had my back, I had no more chronic back pain or wrist pain or hip pain, and I started to see muscle, muscle gain.Angie:
Yeah, that's very cool. And I definitely agree that a lot of runners do. Get into running for the calorie burn and for the weight loss benefits, especially those of us that kind of get into running later in life. There's some people that get into running competitively in high school or in college or those kinds of things, but a lot of the recreational runners that we work with, they're just getting into running because they want to lose weight or their doctor told them that they need to get in shape. And running is one of those easy things where there's not, they think, they think that there's not a lot to know, right? They think that they're just put some running shoes on and you head out the door. And so there's a lower barrier of entry, which is good. And it's also one of the quote unquote, you know, most effective calorie burners, right? When you, if you look at. Weightlifting, the number of calories that you burn in a weightlifting session is much lower than the number of calories that you burn during a running workout or during a run, right? We can talk about all day about the afterburn, right? And how weightlifting is actually more effective in the long run when it comes to calorie burn because there is That after effect that cardio and running does not have, but when we have this calories in calories out mentality, it makes sense why a lot of people would be drawn to running. And I also agree that that can get people into. A big problem area when it comes to restricting food, but then they start increasing their running. They start increasing their training load. Maybe they even want to sign up because they feel good, you know, at the beginning of the running journey and they decide they want to run a race. It's time for a half marathon, you know, but they want to keep their calories low so that they don't gain weight. But when you're training at that level, you need more fuel. And again, this is one of those things that, we've tried to educate runners on. To understand that restriction and this mentality of restricting what you're eating is not going to be a helpful mentality for you to have if you want to perform and not break down in the process.Shannon:
Yes, so that's where I think weight loss and running for performance can sometimes be conflicting because It's like, if you need the, if you need carbohydrates to run a long race, that might, that might conflict with your ability to lose fat. So it's like, and there's, I want to say that like, number one, there's nothing wrong with wanting to run a race. And number two, there's nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but just understanding that. Like. Okay, this is my goal. What is the best thing and the healthiest thing and the most sustainable thing I can do for my body? I love that you talk about that because yeah, I do think that that's something I haven't touched on in my podcast at all But it does they do those two things can very much be conflicting Yeah,Angie:
they are and that's where I think that people start to often shift. So they they Get into running for weight loss and they're in this restriction mentality. And then they start to shift into, Oh, I want to get better as a runner now, but they don't shift their mentality around the nutrition or around the strength training or around the other things that need to go into making them into an athlete. Like, this is what I don't think a lot of runners understand. They're like, Oh, like I just, I go out and jog or I'm just a runner. And it's like, no, you're an athlete. You need to train. As an athlete, and that includes recovery and nutrition and running and strength training in a very holistic way if you want to continue to do this for years and years to come, if you don't want your body to break down in the process, which is one of the things that we see with 90% of all runners getting injured, and I'm on a mission to help that not to help that number go down, right? Like, because you don't have to be injured. And like, there's so many people out there that believe well, yeah. If you're a runner, injury is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be. So can you speak a little bit about, you know, because your program is all about joint friendly exercises and how we can support our bodies and allow ourselves to get stronger without just constantly being broken down in the process. So how can we make running more joint friendly? You know, I know that. In general, you're not a huge fan of running for some of the reasons that you've talked about already and some other reasons But there are people out there that just love running right? They love the sense of freedom. They love getting outside There's so many other benefits of running outside of cardio. They don't just running is not just cardio for For runners, right? Like there's so many other benefits that we get from running. So how can we continue to do what we love, which is running, but also support our bodies in the process and try to minimize that wear and tear on our joints and our bodies?Shannon:
Yes. So first I want to say that, like, I've really changed my opinion on running over the last like year or so. I, I do think that I do because I've been seeking to understand it a little bit more. And I think that runners, like you said, a lot of them are not running necessarily for weight loss. They're not running. They're running for way different reasons. Yeah. Empowerment. This is something that is freeing for me. This is something that I feel so good doing. I love it. Runners love it. They do. I think that like. I've shifted in the sense that like, okay, let's, I agree with you. Like, let's figure out how we can, how you can continue doing this thing that you love. And it gives you so much freedom and passion, while still keeping your body safe and trying not to wear down your body. And so that's a big, the big question mark. And I think one of the best ways to do that. Is to cross train. And I think maybe a lot of your hopefully a lot of your runners are cross training, but running can be high repetition of the same movements over and over and high repetition can cause overuse, which can break down tissue. And so if I, if I had anything to suggest to runners and they were open to manipulating the routine a little bit, I would say like, Yeah. Every other day run. And then if you can add a strength training session on your off days, like even two or three times a week, that can help build up your T the tissue around your joints, muscles, and tendons, to be able to tolerate your running load. Better. now the idea, I think we, we tell runners to cross train and a lot of runners are like. Oh, that means I need to go like do these intense classes on my off days. And I need like, not all strength training is created equal. We want to make sure that we're balancing your, like you said, load to recovery. And that includes your strength training sessions. So I think, you know, we do have a lot of runners in our program and what they end up doing is they'll do, we have a three time per week track. So it's like a full body class on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. and then they run. I'm sorry, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then they run on their, the off days. And I always try to encourage, try to take one recovery day, and then maybe do another lighter run. That's like more of a recovery run. and that tends to work really well because they are working all every muscle group in their body. and then running as a much different skill than lifting and it's a different way. So I always say like. Let's try to diversify how we're putting load through your body so that you can better tolerate the load that you have during running.Angie:
Yeah, I totally agree because I think that that is one thing that's very true about running is that we have this, this one motion that we're just going in one plane of motion and we're going, we're going forward. We don't even go back, you know, like we're only going forward, right? So we definitely have muscle imbalances and other issues, especially. Those of us that get into running later in life, we've had maybe past injuries in other sports that we played when we were younger, or, you know, other issues that have kind of popped up in the 20th or 30 years that we've already, that we've already lived. And it can lead to These muscle imbalances that are essentially just highlighted as we continue to do the same thing over and over again. So, I think what you're saying is, is spot on, you know, with incorporating strength training multiple times per week. and I, I do like what you said. So in your program, you said that you have like the three day a week track. So those three things, those three days are all full body activities or full body exercises.Shannon:
Yes, all full body. Yes.Angie:
Okay. So when you say a full body, do you do like upper body and lower body or more like compound types of exercises?Shannon:
Great question. It's separated into muscle specific exercises. Personally, I think that the more specific we can get with load to each muscle, the better because each muscle has different capacities for resisting. Weight and has different motions that it, works the best in and fires the best in. So we do, for instance, we would do chest presses and then we would do step ups for the glutes and then we would do ball crunches for the abs and then repeat that circuit or whatever it may be. we'll work like several different muscle muscle groups in each class. I recommend doing it like that, especially for runners so that they can really focus on one muscle group at a time. And their focus isn't spread out through their entire body. Like you're not working shoulders and glutes and abs, like all in one exercise. I think that provide Really, I recommend that for, for everyone, but, I like that, especially for runners because they could really focus not only on the strength of their muscle, but also on the stability of that joint, which is going to be really important for running.Angie:
Yeah. So then if you kind of add your workouts up throughout the course of the week, you're hitting each muscle group at least one time, or would you say twice or what would you say?Shannon:
At least one time. Yeah. And I will say that like some runner, I think something that one thing that runners are, confused about is like, should I just work my glutes since my quads are getting loaded when I'm running? Or should I just, you know, if you're an uphill runner or whatever, should I not work my hamstrings since my hamstrings are getting loaded when I'm running uphill. And I like to say to work all of the muscle groups, including your quads, including your hamstrings, because, You're working them in a different way with strength training. You're targeting more of your type two muscle type one muscle fibers are still getting targeted, but you're, you're targeting type two muscle fibers, which unless you're sprinting, usually aren't getting targeted much with running. So those, those you're targeting muscles in a little bit of a different way, even though they are the same muscle groups. Now that said, if you go on a really hard run and your legs are like smoked the next day, I recommend giving your legs a recovery day and just working the upper body.Angie:
Yeah, can you talk a little bit more about the difference between type one and type two muscle fibers for people that might not be totally aware of like what those differences are and how are, you know, eat different activities work the different types of muscle fibers and why it's important for us to work both.Shannon:
Yes. So type one muscle fibers are your endurance fibers. we historically thought that all these muscle fibers were smaller than type two muscle fibers, but we're starting to, there's starting to be some interesting literature that says that is not always the case, but in general, the type one muscle fibers tend to be a little bit smaller. These are your endurance fibers. These are your fibers that are recruited during long distance running. Walking longer distance biking, things that don't require a lot of power, but require endurance. So runners have these type one muscle fibers down. Like these are the ones that they're relying on as their bread and butter as they're running. unless they're sprinting. And then we have your type two muscle fibers, which are, the power from powerful muscle fibers. They are, very easily fatigued. So you can only recruit them for a short period of time before they. no longer work. So these are the fibers that are recruited in the last few reps of a set. For example, let's say you're doing chest presses and you're going to 12 reps or whatever reps eight through 12, or you're struggling to lift the weight though. That's when your type two muscle fibers are kicking in to try to complete the activity. Cause there were the the movement is requiring more power output. your type two muscle fibers are really important to maintain and hopefully gain because as we age, studies have shown that we tend to lose preferentially type two muscle fibers in relation to type one muscle fibers. This is why people age and their body composition starts to change significantly because they're losing these large type one muscle fibers. This is why as we age, or part of the reason why as we age, our insulin resistance starts to climb. We start to develop, greater risk for certain conditions like diabetes. we start to, insulin resistance has even been linked to some, degenerative, neurodegenerative dis disorder disorders. Wow. My words today. Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and dementia. So staying insulin resistant, keeping those type two muscle fibers can be one of the best things that we can do as we age. And this is the importance of strength training. And why I don't recommend only running, I also recommend adding in that strength training.Angie:
Absolutely. So the research is showing that there's a link between our type two, muscle volume or muscle mass and that insulin resistance.Shannon:
Yes. Because your muscle is a, the larger muscle fibers are a big source of glucose storage. So when you eat. You're the food that you're eating is broken down into sugar and that sugar travels to your bloodstream and to different cells in your body so that your cells can operate and do their thing. And that glucose is traveling into muscle into the muscle to be stored to use for emergency. So. When you have, which lowers our blood sugar, which lowers our insulin. Okay. But if you always have high blood sugar, because you don't have enough storage sites for that glucose insulin, insulin sensitivity declines because there's more insulin in the, there's more blood glucose, there's more insulin in the bloodstream. And so our insulin resistance increases. But if we can increase the site, the storage sites for that glucose by increasing our muscle mass, we can decrease the blood sugar chronically and decrease. Our insulin resistance. I know that I said that reallyAngie:
fast. No, it's totally good. I need to clarify. Yeah. Well, I also want to point out why this is so important for us as runners though, because like you said, when we eat sugar, when we eat carbohydrates, it gets broken down into glucose and it gets stored in the body as glycogen and it gets stored more in those type two muscle fibers. So we as runners, we need that. Stored form of carbohydrate for our runs like we as that's that's what we need. You know what I mean? Like so many people want to burn fat on the runs Which is fine, and we do burn some fat if we are going at a low enough effort level And which is one of the big things that we promote In our program is the importance of easy running But even when we are doing easy running, even if we are burning fat, we are we still need carbohydrates I like to think of carbohydrates as kind of like the fuel to on the fire like you can't Start burning fat without carbohydrates. You need some carbohydrates in there. And so this is wonderful news because if we build our Type 2 muscle fibers, the amount of type 2 muscle fibers that we have through strength training, then you're saying we're also building our glycogen storage capacity, which is going to help us on our runs, which is beautiful.Shannon:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I hadn't tied that together to running, but that's absolutely correct. Yeah, that's awesome.Angie:
So one quick question. So in the, in the research that you've seen more recently, when we talk about age related muscle loss and loss of lean muscle tissue, Do our type two muscle fibers just kind of wear away and just like basically, And I don't want to i'm not i'm now i'm coming up with a word like yeah atrophy. Thank you Do they just completely atrophy or do they kind of turn into type one muscle fibers?Shannon:
I've seen mixed evidence on this. Okay.Angie:
I have to. So that's why I wantedShannon:
to see what you've seen also. Yeah, I've seen, I think that there's still some more emerging literature about this. so that's a big question mark. Yeah. Okay. It seems like it could be, they do transition to type one fibers. They, they turn into type one fibers. To me, what makes the most sense is that your existing type two muscle fibers just get smaller and they just atrophy. so I think there's a big question marker on that. I've seen, I've seen both things. Sorry. That's not a very satisfying answer.Angie:
No, that's okay. Cause that I, that's the same answer that I have. So I'm actually glad that you kind of are we are trying to build and improve those type two muscle fibers, are we essentially just trying to strengthen and improve it? Existing type two muscle fibers, or can we, can we reverse it? And can we make type one muscle fibers into type two muscle fibers?Shannon:
Again, mixed evidence, but I have read papers where people with a large composition of type one fibers, like your runners might be able to transition some of those type one fibers into type two fibers. And there's different categories of your type two fibers, but they need type one fibers may have the capacity to transition into type two muscle fibers. Now we all have a certain composition of type one and type two fibers. by just genetics. And so you, you have it within your body. And so it's possible that you might just be able to make what you currently have larger. and then there is some interesting evidence that, yeah, you might be able to transition your existing type one fibers to have it more, composition of type two fibers within your muscle.Angie:
Awesome. So I mean, all of this has been really so fascinating. one more thing that I just kind of wanted to talk, touch on a little bit. and we've, we've kind of like alluded to this already, but like, I think that there's a lot of runners out there that live by this, no pain, no gain mentality and more is better. And can you touch a little bit about what makes this thinking problematic, especially as we get older?Shannon:
I think that If we are constantly pushing our bodies to the brink, eventually we're not, we're going to plateau or we're going to injure ourselves, or we will have hormonal issues. Your body is not built to just be. Doug into the ground at all times. we have to have a balance of rest and recovery. And so I think that when people back up and they are more mindful with their training, they're more mindful of assessing their own recovery and getting ahead of taking a recovery day. Even if it's not on their schedule, they're like, I plan to do a long run today, but I wait, I woke up today. My body feels like heavy, you know, that like heavy feeling, like your limbs feel heavy, like everything just feels heavier to pick up. That's a strong indication. It's time for some recovery. Your body's not going to be able to adapt well right now. So when we can start to get more intuitive about just like listening to your body, or do you wake up and you feel springy and like you pick up a weight or something and it feels light as a feather. It's like, that's an indication of some good recovery. Okay. Let's go hit it hard that day. so I think it's just a matter of like, Not being so rigid around your routine, because if you can give and take when your body is asking for it and improve the ability for you to kind of dip and dive through different seasons of your life through different recovery periods, you're going to see better results. And I know people don't believe that they think that more is better. until you try it and you feel it and you're like, Oh my gosh. I feel so much better. I am seeing better results for the first time in my life. I'm sleeping better because it's all typical. If you're over training, you're not going to be sleeping well. If you're not sleeping well, you're not going to be recovering. Well, if you're not recovering well, you're not going to adapt well. So,Angie:
yeah, I think that that's a really good thing to keep in mind. but one of the things that kind of comes up to, for me, when you say that is. When we as runners, especially, people that are doing half marathons, marathons, ultra marathons that are really running longer distances, fatigue is part of the equation. Like there is a training principle called cumulative fatigue, which is actually something that we are trying to break. Put on to runners, right? Like that with their training load, we need them to get cumulatively tired so that their body learns how to adapt and their body learns how to adjust and and learns how to make those training adaptations so that when they're in the race that they have set as their goal. There's going to be a time you get tired. Like when you're running 26 miles, you're going to feel tired. How can we push through that? Right. So it's like, I feel like there's this delicate balance of making sure that we get enough recovery. But also understanding there are going to be cycles in our life, which is why it is so important to use the training cycle concept where, We are going to feel more tired, and that's what is to be expected. That is what we are asking of you. You know, as running coaches, you're going to be tired. And just because you feel tired doesn't mean you should take an off day. Because there are specific workouts that we will give people, back to back workouts or back to back days, where they run a workout or a longer run, they have to run the next day because their body needs to learn how to run on tired legs. Because the goal that they have, Is to run a marathon, right? So we need to use that as part of the training process. So how can we, now this is, this is a really hard question, but I'm going to throw it at you anyway. how can we listen to our bodies and allow ourselves to have the recovery that we need while, and also not just give ourselves an out if we're feeling a little tired that day.Shannon:
That's such a good question. And I think that really the difference lies in when you're training for performance, like you're about to go run a race, your experience is going to be a lot different than if you're just training for general fitness and, and to be fit and healthy and to maybe look good naked and to, you know, improve your body in all these ways. Those are very different goals. When you're training for performance, you might have to have a little bit of the no pain, no gain mentality. All athletes do because athletes are training for performance. Whereas if you're just training again for just general fitness, that's the, you might wake up and adjust your training schedule, depending on how you're feeling, which is a lot of like our audience and who we speak to. So I'm glad we're having this conversation because your audience might be more on that performance and where they're like, I feel horrible today. And I've got this run on my schedule that I've got to get done. so sometimes, but I think understanding that like, yes, if I'm training for performance, I might have to push through that fatigue. Whereas if I weren't training for, for performance, I might take a recovery day, but knowing that like, if I'm on that performance track, like you said, cycling the training and making sure that like, after my race. I'm taking some good time off so that my body can really recover and that I'm not just grinding myself into the ground. That has to happen. Otherwise, your body is just going to break eventually.Angie:
Yeah, I agree. And I think that that's one of the big things that we can do when we, when we work with people. For performance is look at the big picture of not just this one training cycle. Like, yes, it's important for us to look at this, but also look at the next two, three or four, like look at the whole year. Cause we like to do like 90 day cycles and looking at the whole year and saying, okay, like. In this cycle, you're gonna feel tired, you're gonna feel a little bit broken down sometimes, like, we still have to create those boundaries because we don't want you to be pushing yourself into an injury, right? There's a difference between feeling tired and ignoring pain and ending up injured, right? There's a whole different, that's a whole different conversation. but then also realizing after this cycle, we're gonna go through a building cycle where we are. Allowing more recovery. We're focusing more on strength training. We're doing different things to build you up for maybe your next training, you know, your next race cycle or whatever it is. And I think that cyclical way to approach our training is really beneficial for pretty much everybody.Shannon:
It's got to be short term because if people, people get in the habit of doing that long term forever and ever and ever. And that's when people run into hormonal issues, joint, joint, joint degeneration. This is why so many runners end up with knee replacements because they're not, and they don't have to, like, that is not an inevitable thing for you is getting joint replacements. Like if you're taking care of yourself, along the way, then you won't have to do that. So I think I love that idea of thinking of more of that as like. This is just for now, like, I don't have to do this all the time.Angie:
Yeah. And again, like, cause we, we have both people that listen to the podcast, you know, we have people that are very, goal oriented and performance oriented, and then people that just run because they love it and they want running to be a part of their lifestyle. So I think that that was really good that we made. that differentiation. Totally. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Love that. Well, I have absolutely loved this conversation. Before we wrap up, is there anything that you would like to talk about that we haven't hit yet or any message that you would like to convey to our listeners?Shannon:
I think we really covered a lot. I think if you're interested in more of the calorie expenditure thing, to me, that's a really fascinating conversation. And I have a lot of podcast episodes. So fit body, happy joints is my podcast. We don't talk about running, but they might find some value in some of the other episodes.Angie:
Yeah. And if you could send me the, the, episodes that you're specifically talking about with that calorie, what was the name of that?Shannon:
Constrained total energy expenditure model constrained totalAngie:
expenditure model and Herman Ponser. It has been doing a ton of research about it. So if you Google and he also has a book called burn, which is good. And it kind of describes all of this in layman's terms. And, So I think that might be interesting for your runnersAngie:
too. Definitely. I'll definitely, I'm definitely going to look into that myself too because I have not, heard too much about that one yet. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for coming on here and sharing your wealth of knowledge with our listeners. We really appreciate it. If our listeners want to connect with you, where can they find you?Shannon:
I'm active on Instagram. So Dr. Shannon DPT, and then my podcast, my favorite corner of the internet, fit body, happy joints. And then, our workout platform is evlofitness.Angie:
com. And real quick before we end, how did you come up with the name Evlo? What does that mean?Shannon:
Oh my gosh. It's like, not even a cool story. It's, we tried. Okay, finding a name that isn't trademarked is near impossible. So we basically made it up. It kind of sounds like love. It kind of sounds like evolve. but it wasn't, it wasn't, it was available so we could get it trademarked and I like, I like it. I like it.Angie:
I like it. All right. Cool. All right. So you guys, we will put all of that in the show notes as well. So if you want to connect with Shannon, please go check out the show notes. You can find her. At all those places and definitely listen to her podcast. She has a wealth of knowledge and she does the research and does, you know, puts so much science, into it, which we appreciate also, because you're not just out there just talking, you know, based on personal experience. You're really incorporating a lot of the science. And I liked the way that you break down. A lot of the stuff in the fitness world. It's very helpful. I try. Yeah. So, all right, you guys, thanks for joining us today and we'll catch you on the next episode.
And as always thanks so much for joining us this has been the real life runners podcast episode number 321. now get out there and run your life