Blog update and podcast/media roundup

Well, it’s been a while! As you may have noticed, Running Writings hasn’t seen an update in quite a while. Perhaps for good reason—I’ve been working on my PhD in biomechanics at Indiana University’s School of Public Health, which, as I’ve discovered, leaves very little time to spare.

Every time I think up an idea for a blog post (and I have had dozens!) I realize there’s one more dataset to analyze, one more paper to revise, one more grant to apply for, one more skill to learn. So, though RW hasn’t seen any updates, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, and I’ve been learning an incredible amount of new things about the science of running performance and running injuries. But all of that work keeps me very busy, and unfortunately I haven’t had much of a chance to share what I’ve been up to with the people who follow Running Writings.

Plans for Running Writings

Rest assured, I still have big plans for bringing the science of running out into the real world, and Running Writings will continue to be a big part of that. One of the first steps forward is going to be overhauling the website itself (Update: Done!)—RW runs on Google Blogger, which is ancient and neglected. You may have noticed that I’ve had comments disabled for several months, as the site was being overrun by spam (Update: comments are back!). Moving to a new hosting platform will help immensely on that front, and will also modernize the look and feel of the site. Look for a big overhaul sometime…“soon”? Early spring perhaps? There is some chance RW will be down temporarily, but I don’t intend on deleting or moving any old content.

Once that’s done, I’m hoping to share some of the more useful tidbits of science that I’ve learned over the course of the last 3+ years as a PhD student studying this stuff every single day. They won’t necessarily be the long-format blog posts that I’ve written previously, but hopefully you’ll still find them useful.

Beyond these immediate updates, Modern Training and Physiology is somehow still selling at least one copy nearly every single day, which still blows me away. Somewhere collecting digital dust, I do have outlines for more long-format writing (and even more books) in the future. I’ll be revisiting those as I get closer to finishing my PhD.

What am I researching these days anyways?

When I was applying to graduate school, I remember putting a clever line in my personal statement about “realizing I didn’t just want to write about running research – I wanted to become a running injury researcher myself.” Well, I did it! I have a few research papers out, and am working on several more. Seeing something that you originally wrote in a coffee shop using Google Docs show up in a nicely formatted PDF in a real scientific journal is really something else.

After a lot of voracious reading and some scatterbrained ideas presented at a few conferences, my research interests have settled on four broad topics: running injuries (big surprise there!), wearable technology, physical activity epidemiology, and advanced statistical methods for studying those first three topics.

This fall, I passed my qualifying exam, which means I am All But Dissertation. So, just as soon as I can cook up a really brilliant PhD thesis, I’ll have my degree! No small matter, of course—especially considering the pandemic (any bets on how long until you can safely sit in a poorly-ventilated room five feet from someone running on a treadmill?). But, I do have some research ideas I’m pretty excited about; yes they involve several of the topics above, and no, unfortunately I can’t share any details yet!

Podcasts and media appearances

One thing I can share is that the research I’ve done so far has led to some pretty cool opportunities already. In April, my advisor (Dr. Allison Gruber) and I appeared on the Mountain Land Running Podcast to talk about using wearable technology to monitor training loads.

Pretty soon after, one of my studies got mentioned in a Runner’s World article about cross-training after injuries (original paper is here—in it, we used Fitbits to study what happens to a runner’s overall physical activity level when he or she gets hurt). Then, this winter, I got to chat about elite marathon training and the science of running injuries with Joe Sell on the Marathon Running Podcast.

Joe’s podcast was especially fun, since we got to chat both about science and about elite training (especially Renato Canova’s marathon training methods)—since my research is so focused on injuries, I don’t get to do much with elite training these days. The previous episodes of the podcast, especially episode 6 with Nate Jenkins, are awesome, so it was incredibly fun to go on this podcast.

Brought to you by readers like you

In an odd way, none of these things would have been possible without the readers of this blog. So, allow me to say “thank you!” to everyone who’s been reading RW over the last ten years! I wouldn’t have gotten my start in running injury research, and all of the great things that have come out of it, if this website hadn’t gotten any traction. Here’s to more running, more writing, and more Running Writings!

About the Author

John J Davis, PhD

I have been coaching runners and writing about training and injuries for over ten years. I've helped total novices, NXN-qualifying high schoolers, elite-field competitors at major marathons, and runners everywhere in between. I have a Ph.D. in Human Performance, and I do scientific research focused on the biomechanics of overuse injuries in runners. I published my first book, Modern Training and Physiology for Middle and Long-Distance Runners, in 2013.

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