Culture

PodiumRunner’s 10 Most-Read Stories of 2020

We review our most popular stories from an unpredictable year, revealing the practical, passionate tastes of PodiumRunner readers.

PodiumRunner is a dynamic and informative conversation with runners about issues that matter to us most: training, recovery, time management, nutrition, motivation, and more. We aim to address your lives and goals with science-backed advice, passion, and honesty. 

Below we’ve listed the stories that proved to hit that mark — these are our top-ten most-read stories of 2020. It ranges from Amby Burfoot’s thought-provoking list of 10 science-backed health benefits of running to Brian Metzler’s review of Molly Seidel’s electrifying, Olympic-qualifying marathon debut, and lots of details on how to train better and prevent injury. Scroll on down for the complete list plus the links in case you missed these gems or just want to give them another read.

1. 10 Amazing and Evidence-Supported Health Benefits of Running by Amby Burfoot

Running has numerous proven health benefits
Photo: iStock

In this motivating article, Amby Burfoot explores ten research-proven health benefits of running. Some are the obvious benefits, including its ability to extend your lifespan and assist in weight management. But Burfoot also examines some of the lesser known benefits of running including how it’s been shown to help you fall asleep more quickly and improve the quality of your sleep. Or, research showing that it can reduce cognitive decline and risk of Alzheimers because by pushing oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Whether you’re a new runner or a lifer, this list is comforting and motivating.

2. How to Train and Eat to Boost Your Immunity From Coronavirus by Amby Burfoot

Man stretching with mask on.
Photo: Getty Images

Immunity consumed our minds this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in this article Amby Burfoot spoke with one of the leading experts in exercise-immunity research, David Nieman. In it, Nieman, a biology professor at Appalachian State University, and director of the human performance laboratory at North Carolina Research Campus,  lists his recommendations on how to adjust training and diet to maximize immunity and minimize the chance of catching the virus. As we all anxiously await mass distribution of vaccines, it’s an article that’s as relevant now as it was back in July when it was published.

3. 3 Ways to Increase Running Cadence for Speed by Jonathan Beverly

Shot of man's calfs as he runs.
Photo: Getty Images

We’ve all heard the term cadence tossed around, but there’s been a dearth of practical information as to how to actually increase our turn-over without altering our natural form. PodiumRunner Editor-In-Chief Jonathan Beverly offers three practical and science-backed suggestions for optimizing cadence, prefacing them with the reminder that “every runner is different, and our bodies naturally find the rate that is most efficient for our build, mechanics, fitness and speed.” He goes on to describe how simply doing fast-feet strides, swinging arms faster, and running tall can make us naturally faster.

4. How to Beat Runner’s Knee by Matt Fitzgerald

Woman grabbing knee while sitting on road.
Photo: Getty Images

Runner’s knee is the most common running injury affecting 19-30% of female runners and 13-25% of male runners, according to one recent review. In this article, journalist Matt Fitzgerald discusses a new medical understanding of the ailment, also known as Patello Femoral Pain Syndrome, and new treatments that don’t require you to stop running. Additionally, the article offers strengthening exercises for relief and prevention of runner’s knee backed by recent research.

5. Molly Seidel’s Improbable Marathon Debut by Brian Metzler

Molly Seidel posing after the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.
Photo: Justin Britton

Back in February, Molly Seidel shocked the U.S. running world by becoming the first American woman to earn an Olympic qualification in her debut marathon, running the sixth-fastest time in Olympic Trials history. In this fifth-most read article of the year, Brian Metzler profiles the ups and downs of Seidel’s career before she accomplished the historic feat, and discusses how she executed the spectacular race.

6. How Often Should You Run? By Matt Fitzgerald

Shot of man's legs while he runs on trail.
Photo: Shutterstock

In this perennially-popular article, Matt Fitzgerald tackles one of the most fundamental variables of training, breaking down what exactly you need to take into consideration when coming up with an ideal running frequency. “Research shows a person needs to run at least a couple of times a week to get any progressive benefit from it,” he writes. There’s no single right answer as to how often an individual should run, but Fitzgerald delves into the variables — such as goals, life schedule, and running experience — that can be used to set the parameters of too much and too little when coming up with the ideal personal running frequency. The article also addresses the pros and cons of doubling (running twice a day), and the benefits of cross training.

7. 3 Key Hill Workouts That Target Speed, Strength and Endurance by Jason Fitzgerald

Man running on dusty road.
Photo: 101 Degrees West

Jason Fitzgerlad outlines three types of hill workouts that can help you meet specific running goals. More than that, the article discusses why each workout works from a physiological perspective. Fitzgerald explores long hill repeats, short hill repeats, and hill sprints and provides a workout blueprint for each.

8. How to Run a 2:27 Marathon At Age 59 by Amby Burfoot

Tommy Hughes marathoner
Photo: courtesy Tommy Hughes

In 2019, Irishman Tommy Hughes ran two remarkable marathons at the age of 59. The first was a 2:30:15 in the Rotterdam Marathon. Six months later, he ran even faster to clock an age record-breaking 2:27:52 in the Frankfurt Marathon on October 27, 2019. In this inspiring article, Amby Burfoot provides the training and racing principles that Hughes relied on, and how anyone can apply them to his or her own running goals to break barriers at any age. 

9. How Jacob Riley Trained For and Ran the Perfect Olympic Trials Marathon by Amby Burfoot

Jacob Riley Olympic Trials Atlanta
Photo: Stone Malick

Jacob Riley entered the U.S. Olympic Marathon trials an unsponsored underdog. But arduous 120-mile weeks, grueling 18-mile progression runs, and an understanding that it was his last shot at the Olympics pulled him to a 2nd-place finish. In this article, Amby Burfoot reviews the post-collegiate struggles that Riley endured before seeing success in the elite circuits, and details the “perfect” trailing he had under coach Lee Troop leading up to this spectacular race in the Trials in February.

10. Do-It-Yourself Lactate Threshold Testing by Matt Fitzgerald

men running on a track.
Photo: Scott Draper

Rounding out our top-ten most popular stories is Matt Fitzgerald’s guide to discovering your lactate threshold, considered one of the best measures of running fitness, without needing a lab. The article explains what exactly “lactate threshold” is, and why it is extremely useful for planning training, before delving into several detailed methods of finding out what yours is and how to use the information.