JUL 3, 2022
Minute 1: What is forest bathing, and how can it make you healthier?
As runners and competitors, it’s easy for us to take the attitude that faster is always better. Going on a walk, you may be tempted to pick up the pace, raising your heart rate to get a bit of extra cardio. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need, but it’s important to recognize the value of slowing down as well. That advice applies not only to your foot speed, but also your brain speed. In a world that seems to bombard our attention span with shorter and shorter snippets of media, we like the idea of combining exercise with a mental re-boot. Who knew that there is a movement dedicated to this practice with a seductive name: “What is forest bathing?” Also known as shinrin-yoku, it’s an idea that originated in Japan in the 1980s. Put simply, it is a mindset where the goal is to notice and appreciate as much as you can about your surroundings when walking in nature. Instead of chatting to a friend and striving to maximize your step count, you’ll aim for silence so that you can notice the sights, smells, sounds, and textures around you. It’s quite similar to mindfulness meditation and the benefits include lowered blood pressure and increased heart rate variability – two markers of cardiovascular health. Forest bathing is also believed to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Last but not least, one study found consistent improvements in mood and anxiety levels among forest bathers. It may sound like a cliche, but the advice to stop and smell the roses could be more valuable than we ever realized.
Minute 2: Avoiding chafing and blisters
Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, humans really do excel at long distance running. Evolution has treated us kindly in that way, but despite how capable we are, human runners suffer from a few persistent flaws. One of the most common, and most annoying, of those flaws is chafing. If you’ve ever suffered from this sort of abrasion, you should dive into this new piece: “How to Prevent Chafing While Running.” Chafing can occur wherever there’s friction or skin on skin contact, and since we come in all different shapes and sizes, the areas most likely to chafe will differ from person to person. Your first line of defense is having the right kind of clothing. That means sports bras, a properly fitted running pack, and shorts that are long enough to prevent rubbing between your thighs. In a similar vein, your sock choice will have a big impact on another friction related injury: blisters. If you want to keep your feet free of sores, then check out “The best, most effective running socks for performance and avoiding blisters.” Once you’ve got a proper outfit, the next consideration to make is lubrication and other gels to protect your skin. Take a look at the “15 Best Anti-Chafing Products For Runners To Get Quick Relief.” Some of these products are geared toward prevention, and can be applied before you run. Others are for relief if the damage has already been done. #BlisteringSpeed
Minute 3: These principles will guide you to a healthier diet
If you search the web for the world’s healthiest diet, you’ll find more menu dropdowns than a Cheesecake Factory. Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting, vegan, etc. etc. Different sources cite a variety of plans and promises for athletes and couch dwellers alike. If info overload has got you dazed and confused, consider a simpler and more general approach like the one described in: “How To Fuel With Purpose.” There are 5 tips that can be worked into any diet, starting with Fuel. Typically, most of our energy comes from carbs, and by choosing unprocessed options with fiber in every serving, you’re giving yourself a healthy and sustaining kind of energy that’s great for taking on the workday or a workout. Next is Build. Our bodies need protein and amino acids to grow muscle, so make an effort to get one serving before or after exercise to see your optimal results. Prevent is number 3, meaning you should look for antioxidant rich foods like fruits and veggies. These foods slow aging and boost immune function. 4 is Protect. This is about getting healthy fats to reduce inflammation and promote brain health. It’s a good time to mention, saturated fats can be healthier than you’d expect, assuming you aren’t eating too many. For the details, read “Is saturated fat bad?” A good rule of thumb holds that if they make up less than 10% of your daily energy intake, you’re in the clear. The fifth and final principle is Hydrate, and the key here is to adjust your water intake based on temperature and activity level. If it's hotter, and you’re moving around more, grab a few extra glasses throughout the day.
Minute 4: Shoe review: Altra Vanish Carbon ($240)
Brian Metzler dives into a new shoe from Altra, a brand with a cult following. Altra was content to let other companies release versions of carbon-plated shoes while they toiled quietly to come up with something that is both unique in the market and “on brand” for Altra’s devotees. Brian hits the highlights here, but if you want all the pluses and minuses, please click here to see it on our website. Here is Brian’s take:
Altra was the last major shoe brand to enter the carbon-fiber-plated racing shoe category, a full five years after Nike pioneered the new design paradigm and two years after every other brand joined the fray. What took so long? It took time for Altra to figure out how to make a modern “super shoe” in its own likeness — namely with a wider toe box and a level (or “zero-drop” platform). But the wait was definitely worth it, as the new Vanish Carbon is a fast and uniquely designed shoe that fits nicely into the primary characteristics of every single Altra shoe since the brand launched 11 years ago.
What’s New: Everything about this shoe is new. Altra has had fast, lightweight shoes for many years before the advent of shoes with carbon-fiber plate embedded in hyper-resilient foams. But the new AltraEgo foam — a modern supercritical TPE-based material — is definitely a next-gen material that can put Altra back in the top tier among shoe brands. That cushy and ultra-bouncy foam pairs with a uniquely shaped, flexible plate and lightweight upper that make this shoe fast and efficient for racing on the roads – from 10K to the marathon.
Why They’re Great: They’re great because they’re light, comfortable, agile and ideal for running up-tempo paces over long distances. They have enough cushioning for long-haul comfort, but they are light and low enough to promote quick-cadence running. What makes them truly special is that they have Altra-specific features: It’s built on a flat or level platform (the same height off the ground in the heel and forefoot) and it has foot-shaped toe box that gives plenty of room for a runner’s forefoot to spread out and perform optimally via toe splay and flexing of the transverse arch.
For more pros and cons on the new Altra Vanish Carbon, check out Brian’s full review here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We hope everyone was successful in their attempt to beat the kettlebell challenge we featured in the last issue. Now that you’re warmed up with those 2 moves, we figured it’s a good time to drop a few kettlebell workouts you can follow along with as well. These are great for building both upper and lower body strength and don’t require a $200/month gym membership to get started. Take a look at these “11 Beginner-Friendly Exercises to Do With Kettlebells.”
We’ve known for a while that carrots are one of the healthiest and tastiest veggies you can get your hands on. That’s why we try to eat them like our favorite cartoon bunny. If you don’t want to chomp them like Bugs, consider carrot juice yet, which delivers vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium. That means carrot juice is great for skin health, eye health, and more, according to: “10 Nutritional Benefits Of Carrot Juice For Skin, Vision, And Health.”
It’s well established that exercise is great for your mental health. But when you ask why, you’re often met with the reductive answer: “Must be the endorphins.” There’s a bit more to it than that, and different levels of exercise will release hormones and endocannabinoids which have major beneficial effects. If you want to dig a little deeper into exercise’s effect on mood, and learn how to get the most out of it, read “Move yourself happy! How to exercise to boost your mood – whatever your fitness level.”
We would like to extend our appreciation to all of our readers in Atlanta who came up to our booth at the Peachtree Road Race Expo this weekend! Meeting our readers and hearing your words of kindness for our publication was an amazing experience. To all of our brand new subscribers, thank you for signing up and spinning the wheel. We hope you got the SMM swag you wanted! A few of you asked if you needed to be able to run a six minute mile to read our publication. The answer is absolutely not. Our aim is to keep you inspired and to stay motivated! (BTW, we still enjoyed the trips down memory lane many of you took us on about the glory days when you were that fast).
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Let’s face it, most of us are on our phones and computers a bit too much. Research shows Americans have about 8 hours of screen time a day, and that’s typically time where we’re indoors and sedentary. That’s why we need a call to action like this short film, Go Where You Feel Most Alive, that showcases some ferocious but beautiful landscapes and waters to get you hyped. We hope this short video unlocks your sense of adventure, enticing you to ditch the phone and don the outdoor gear.