The Goldilocks principle and AI coaching

Good morning,

I’ve been thinking about the “Goldilocks principle” lately. You know, how the correct amount of something is great for you, but too little or too much does nothing, or even ends up hurting you.

Like how ten minutes in the sun can be rejuvenating. Ten hours, however, can leave you burned. Everything in life has a correct dosage. But that dosage is not the same for every individual, nor is it constant.

The training load that can leave you injured when you’re just starting out, can be a recovery week a bit further down the line. But usefulness is not just about what we can handle. It’s about what’s right for us, given our wants, needs, obligations and other circumstances.

How much running is the right amount for you these days? Do you need a little more to get there? Or should you step back for a while to create space for the other priorities?

Something to think about. Let’s move on.

One Runner Followed His Watch’s AI Training Plans for a Month. Here’s What Happened

AI running coach illustration

“Currently I have no coach, and no specific race I’m preparing for, so I decided to be a guinea pig, making a resolution to wear my Garmin for a full month, 24 hours a day, and do everything it recommended.”

A couple of years ago, I never ceased to be amazed by how stupid my “smart” Garmin watch seemed to be. If I went out for a slow run? Uh-oh, your fitness is going down the gutter. Running a few faster-than-normal-reps? Wowza, prepare for a PB landslide! This article details the experience of one runner who surrendered himself to the whims of his Garmin. And, safe to say, a bit has happened since I last wore one.

Research shows working out gets inflammation-fighting T cells moving

Illustration of T Cells, invigorated after body has exercised, fighting off inflammation

“Protecting from cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of diabetes, shielding against dementia. The salutary effects of exercise are well established. But exactly how does exercise make us healthy? The question has intrigued researchers for a long time.”

Running is good for us. We know this. And there’s of course no confirmation bias at play here, when I feel the need to share this study with you all. It’s just nice to have science confirm what we already know. You know? And this time, it’s about how exercise helps the body fight off inflammation.

Fallow Season

Illustration of a runner relaxing in a field

“What looks like unproductivity is actually the active process of repair, and it is part of the rhythm of sustainable cultivation. Without a fallow season, growth cannot proceed indefinitely.”

This call for taking some time away — with the aim of coming back even stronger — by Sabrina Little really spoke to me. And, in many ways, it is closely connected to this week’s intro text. Only Little spoke about it far more eloquently than I ever could.

Runners’ Replies

Two weeks ago, I asked you to share what you do when you can’t run. I got some great answers, and in this edition’s Runners’ Replies I will share some of them.

The first one comes from Norman:

When I can’t run, I stretch as if I am going to run, eat, and prepare the same.

Then I will do HIIT workouts, and in-home cardio work instead.

I also look ahead to when I will run next, and plan the week. I continue my goals.

And yes, I do eat dark chocolate sometimes, and healthy protein.

Well Norman is certainly more productive than me when he finds himself unable to run. I’m more of a “wallow in self pity, eat snacks and candy” kinda guy, if I’m being honest. The next response is from Frank:

When I can’t run it makes me very sad. Weather in upstate NY at this time of the year is so unpredictable, but one thing you can count on is that it is very cold, regardless.

I’ve come to enjoy my HIIT routines: Moving from one exercise to another non-stop: 

  • Mon. & Wed.: Climbing Machine, Rowing Machine, Airdyne, Spin Bike , Box Jumps, Battling rope, 35 minutes total. Then it’s on to lifting weights, moving from one exercise to another. (Lower Body) Squats, Deads, Pull-ups.
    Total time: 50 min. 
  • Tue. & Thurs.: Same routine as above, but instead of lower body, it’s upper body weights. Chest, Shoulders, Bi’s and Tri’s.

Friday strictly Cardio, Climbing Machine, Rowing, Airdyne, Spin Bike, Battling Rope and Jump Rope, Box Squats.  40 minutes total, then on to a little bit  of ab work. (Unfortunately: Still no six pack)

Good to hear that I’m not the only one who’s sad when I can’t run. But I really need to take inspiration from both Norman and Frank, and be more productive when I get some downtime from running. Another one who’s a good example in that regard is Mark, who wrote the following in the Run161 Strava Club:

Usually do some lower impact exercise when I can: walking, swimming or bodyweight exercises. Good to keep moving and although I don’t enjoy these as much as I do running feels a reasonable second best to do something.

That’s exactly the mindset we need to adopt. It is indeed a very reasonable second best to do something. And it is so much more conducive to maintaining both fitness and routine compared to my destructive patterns of reaction. The last response I will feature this week comes from long-time Run161 reader and supporter Lamar. He writes:

A mix of things including riding an ancient Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike (Circa 1985).

Lamar is not kidding when he says his Airdyne is ancient. Just look at this ad for a 1986 Airdyne I happened to come across:

Schwinn Airdyne add from ca 1986.

20 minutes every other day to total fitness, eh? Well, I don’t know about that. What I do know is that Lamar’s approach shows us that it’s not about having the latest and greatest equipment. Instead, you have to do what you can with what you’ve got. Even when you can’t run.

I want to hear from you!

For the next edition of Runners’ Replies, I want you to share your favourite running music. What do you put on when you really want to get your heart pumping during a fast tempo run, or blaze the last rep of a fast workout? 

Email me at and share what your favourite running songs are and why. If you have any special stories about the tunes and your running, be sure to elaborate!

Finish Line Funnies

Meme about running before and after Christmas
Left: Last run before Christmas. Right: First run after Christmas.

That’s the whole shebang for this week. Let me know what you thought by clicking one the links below.

Until next week,


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March 21, 2024