DEC 16, 2022
Minute 1: Is Dry January for you?
Back in the ‘80s, one of the most important decisions a race director faced was which beer company to roll in for the finish line party. Seeing a Budweiser or Miller Lite truck with a dozen spigots flowing from its sides was a welcome sight for many thirsty runners and furtive teenagers. (You could also smoke cigarettes on planes back then.) There are still races willing to hand you a free beer coupon, but a more common occurrence is what we saw after the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon in October, when Athletic Brewing was rewarding runners with a tasty non-alcoholic beer. Makes a little more sense, if you really think about it. We were reminded of that logic when we read a moving Runner’s World piece about the journey of Amber Graziano-Cano: “After Getting Sober, She Found Her Purpose in Running.” Amber was a lifelong athlete, running cross country in high school and playing softball at Baylor University on a full academic scholarship. As the stakes rose on the field, so did Amber’s alcohol intake, causing her to lose her spot after only one season. She remained active as a runner in the following years, but continued to drink heavily. It wasn’t until she had children that she realized there was a problem. That’s when she decided to pursue sobriety, and after a few ups and downs, founded a Facebook group called Recovery Road Runners that’s attracted more than 1000 members. If you’re curious about the benefits of (temporary) sober living, January is a good time to try it out, according to Marathon Handbook: “Here’s How To Do Dry January: Hit Reset, Feel Awesome.” Cutting alcohol out of your life can make exercise easier, but that’s only the beginning. People experience better skin, weight loss, increased energy, and sounder sleep after a month without booze. Dry January is a little easier if you’ve got non-alcoholic options to choose from, so try some of the drinks listed in: “We Tested Over 50 Nonalcoholic Drinks and Mixers: Here Are the Best Ones.”
Minute 2: What counts as “bad” posture
Moms sternly whisper to sit up straight. Drill instructors scream to stand up straight. While their tactics differ, they both agree that there is value to a rigid spine. Some modern experts, however, now think differently: “No, There Is Actually No Such Thing As ‘Bad’ Posture. Here’s Where the Real Problem Lies.” Slumping or slouching over and over again can eventually cause certain muscles to atrophy, but that takes time. Over two months, according to some experts. Before getting to that point, your body will give you plenty of warning signs in the form of aches and pains. By frequently adjusting your position, as well as moving around and stretching periodically throughout the day, you can alleviate most of these concerns. We should mention that sitting posture and running posture are connected, as you can see in this piece from the Oregon Running Clinic: “How Bad Posture Affects Your Run.” If your stagnant posture is causing you pain, your running form may be compromised as a result. Try some of the stretches listed in the article, like the hip flexor stretch or glute bridge, to balance yourself back out. Sitting down isn’t the only time your posture can be a concern, and athletes should take note of these “8 Ways to Improve Your Running Posture.” By performing drills that make you conscious of your body’s alignment, you’ll set yourself up to move toward a more efficient and comfortable stride. #StraightTalk
Minute 3: Are we going about dieting the wrong way?
Unfortunately for anyone seeking nutrition advice, trendiness and sensationalism are often the driving forces behind what gets recommended. It’s a lot easier to sell something if you exaggerate its efficacy, after all. As you consider this truth and ponder whether you will be among the 50% of Americans who cite “weight loss” as their New Year’s resolution, you may want to read: “The Truth About Fad Diets.” Generally, diets are considered a fad when they make bold claims about weight loss and other benefits without adequate supporting evidence. They prioritize short term results in lieu of long term sustainability. The article looks into various diets, like keto, paleo, atkins, and more, offering a critical account of the pros and cons for each. All of these have the potential to induce weight loss, but in any situation where you’re restricting food intake, you're risking all sorts of nutritional deficiency. Some experts think that instead of following restrictive diets, you’re better off adding healthy principles. Focus on what you can add – rather than what you can subtract – to your own food intake, like the antioxidants covered in “Do antioxidants have the power to improve motivation?” By making an effort to add healthy foods into your daily intake, you may find yourself satiated before you’re tempted to reach for less healthy options in your kitchen. For some specific ideas, check out this list from Real Simple: “The 30 Healthiest Foods to Eat Every Day.”
Minute 4: Save time shopping and save the planet
Our favorite running shoe expert, Brian Metzler, moves from the shoe wall to the end aisle displays of his virtual running store this week. He’s indulging his consumer instincts, by recommending some holiday shopping ideas that don’t include a new pair of shoes. Lest you think he’s selling out his Boulder roots, fear not. His list consists of three ideas that will not only help reduce your carbon footprint, but are also stylish enough to make you the most hip gift giver in your circle of family and friends. Here is Brian’s take with a link to his full reviews below:
If you’re like me, you’re probably scrambling to complete your holiday gift shopping over the next few days so you can make sure you have time to relax as the year winds down. Because I have a few runners on my list, I often try to buy friends and running buddies some of the high-performing gear I’ve actually wear-tested during the year.
For example, here are three of my favorite running accessories that launched this year that I will be giving as gifts. They are not only great items on their own, but each one also has a strong sustainability story. What’s good for the earth and the environment, is certainly good for my running family and friends. (And, if you’re shopping for yourself, they’ll be good for you, too!) Even if those gift recipients never realize the full back story, they’ll be getting a high-quality product that will perform well and last for a long time. Brian’s list won’t break the bank, as all items are priced below $100. They include treats for your feet along with ways to keep you safer out on the roads and trails. For the complete rundown on Brian’s save-the-planet shopping spree, check out his full product reviews here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Another week – another “no excuses” story about how little exercise it takes to improve your fitness. It’s good to know that on days when we are short on time or when our WHOOP says we should not be doing a full workout, just a bit of activity can still make a difference. One recent study found that as little as three 1-minute bursts of vigorous activity a day was enough to reduce your risk of early death by 39%. Details are here: “Short bursts of vigorous activity can cut risk of early death, study suggests.”
When we look at the careers of elite athletes like Neely Spence Gracey, we’re reminded that it’s truly never too late to become our best selves. She debuted in the marathon in 2016, setting a PR of 2:34:55 early on. The next 6 years, however, would be full of ups and downs. The responsibility of motherhood, injuries, and poor planning prevented Neely from reaching her full potential for a long time. Those challenges produced a lot of wisdom and excellent material for a book she wrote to guide women through their fitness journeys: “Breakthrough Women's Running: Dream Big and Train Smart.” By heeding her own advice, she beat her old marathon PR by 4 minutes, clocking a 2:30:29 earlier this month. For some tips you can apply to your own running, check out: “6 Lessons That Helped Neely Spence Gracey Achieve Her Own Big Breakthrough.”
Ladders are a runner’s best friend. Not the climbing kind; we’re talking about the interval workouts structured in ascending or descending fashion. Descending ladders in particular are a favorite of one expert, as he found them to be psychologically tolerable in a way that a lot of speed workouts aren't. Well, there may be a physiological reason behind this psychological response, and it has to do with the way our body responds to exhaustion. The theory is that the more we deplete our gas tank, the greater percentage it will recover in our rest periods. In other words, you can go from 10% to 50% energy in a similar time that you might go from 80% to 85%. That means with a descending ladder workout, you can squeeze in a whole lot of intensity in a very short period of time. If you’re curious to learn more, dive into “Why Ladders Are the Best Interval Workouts.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We can’t quite figure out why runners seem obsessed with proving the viability of the croc as a competition shoe. We observed one runner don a pair and take on the Chicago Marathon in Minute 6 of this issue. We weren’t eager to try it for ourselves when we saw the results, but we commend his efforts and admit it was quite entertaining to witness. Well, the croc coalition are back at it again, and this time, they’re seeing how they stack up as a sprinting shoe. We’d say the attempt was quite successful, as Mississippi College decathlete Niklas Klei broke the world record for fastest 400 meter dash in crocs. He came in at a blazing fast 51.84, and it has us wondering if there’s something to croc running after all. See for yourself in the link below.