The funniest part was his description of how he came to run. He said he had to do sports in school, and he went to the cross country team because it was rumored to have the easiest coach. A few of the other kids told him they ran into the woods, hid for a while, and ran out; this is what he did for a couple of days with them. After that, older kids asked him to run with them and he started to enjoy it. This was a surprising story from someone who became an Olympian!
He was a great and entertaining speaker, and I'm glad I went to the talk. However, I became confused by his answers to a couple of the questions asked by the audience.
First, his answers regarding stretching suggested that stretching isn't helpful at all and that it can actually cause injury. He felt the same whether it was done before or after the run. I'm personally a fan of stretching and focusing on how to do it well, so this blew my mind. My experience with stretching (and foam rolling, although this wasn't brought up) has been nothing but good. Even Runner's World supports stretching for performance and flexibility in articles like this one. Do other big name runners feel this way? Is anyone else shocked by his answers on this topic?
Also, there were questions on how strength training helps runners. This is another one that I'd expect to be super helpful, and in fact I feel it has been for my knee issues. However, Jeff said he doesn't feel it helps with running, but on the other hand it doesn't hurt. Is this how other runners feel, that strength training isn't helpful? This goes against the thoughts of personal trainers (who work with endurance athletes) that I've worked with, and of course there are many articles out there supporting strength training like this one from Runner's World.
All in all, his take on preventing injury is that a specific ratio of walking to running makes all the difference. I didn't write down the details, but the ratio changes depending on your pace and can then change day to day based on a give workout type. He suggested that running 3 days per week is the ideal.
I tend to follow the Hal Higdon plans, I stretch and strength train, and I run more than 3 days per week. I'm going to stick with what is working for me, although it was interesting to hear his insights and ideas. My main takeaways from the talk are: 1. Even Olympians and professional athletes may have varying views on training, which supports how different each person/athlete really is, and 2. While I may find stretching to be fantastic, others may not. I may love to strength train and believe it makes my old college knee injury feel better, but other people don't do it at all and have no issues.
Here's to listening to your body, your training needs, and doing what works best to keep YOU healthy and running strong.