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4 best running investments of 2023

JAN 6, 2023

Minute 1: Are bio-wearables and food sensitivity tests effective?

In the past, high tech bio monitoring and tests were confined to a lab and reserved for professional athletes looking to maximize performance. These days, sensors and tests are more widely available than ever, but do the versions offered to amateur athletes have the precision needed to make a difference? We’re on a mission to find out, starting with food sensitivity: “Do At-Home Food Sensitivity Tests Really Work?” Eating foods you’re sensitive to can result in bloating, fatigue, headaches, and more. Food sensitivity tests aim to flag the problem areas in your diet you need to avoid, but some scientists are doubtful of the efficacy of these take home tests. They work by detecting the presence of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in your blood; a kind of antibody that appears after eating food. The problem is, IgG will appear regardless if you have an intolerance or not. This differs from tests performed by doctors when determining your allergies, which look for immunoglobulin E (IgE). To test for IgE, you need to go through a series of skin pricks and blood samples, so it’s a technology that’s currently not available to take home. Nonetheless, IgG tests can be a good starting point to identify problems in your diet, and by taking your results to a doctor, you can begin to narrow down the potential issues with what you eat. A kind of diagnostic that shows more promise for athletes is continuous glucose monitoring. Check out “Fitness Test: I Wore A Blood Glucose Monitor For A Month And Lost 2kg By Accident.” A CGM can help you identify how dramatic of an impact certain foods have on your blood glucose. Certain people might be overly sensitive to carby foods like pasta, for example. The data captured by your CGM can give you an objective approach to identifying and then avoiding sugar crashes that sap you of energy throughout the day.

Minute 2: Is it time to give up on New Year’s resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions are great in theory, but how often do they actually stick? If Google trend research is any indication, people seem like they’re giving up on the tradition, as searches for the topic have been on a steady decline since 2017. Some people have even gone as far as to say we’re witnessing “The End Of The Resolution.” Critics argue that New Year’s resolutions come from a negative perspective. They imply we’re not good enough as we are, and need to dramatically alter ourselves to be complete. That can lead to extreme weight loss and dieting practices, which rarely bring long term success. What’s the alternative? Cultivating positive habits and setting realistic goals. Take a look at these “10 Tips to Stick to Your Workout Goals.” Striking a balance between consistency and moderation isn’t easy, but it’s important if you want your workout habits to persist over time. Defining the amount of days a week you want to exercise is a good place to start, including plenty of rest days to avoid burnout. It can also help to pair your overall goal with smaller, weekly goals you set as you go. Here is “Why small goals are the secret to big success (and how to set smaller goals).” If you set the goal of running a marathon this year, that’s could be seen as an abstract and far-off target. By taking things week by week, defining the distance or time you want to spend running, you’ll give yourself a more executable plan to get you where you want to be on your road to athletic achievement. #ResolutionConclusion

Minute 3: Turn up the heat to trim down your PRs

Recently, we were raving about the benefits of an at home sauna experience to promote relaxed muscles, glowing skin, and improved cognitive and cardiac health. As a follow-up to that story, we just came across this hot take: “Could Year-Round Heat Training Improve Performance?” A study run in 2022 looked at cross country skiers who took part in daily heat training sessions for 5 weeks, and they experienced a 1.58% increase in hematocrit compared to a control group. That’s a measure of the ratio of the volume of red blood cells to the total volume of blood. The higher your hematocrit percentage, the more oxygen can be carried to your muscles, and the faster you’ll be. What’s the mechanism behind this increase? One theory is that exposure to heat increases the amount of plasma in our blood. Then, the body responds by generating more red blood cells to maintain normal hematocrit levels. Finally, the body’s plasma levels return to normal, leaving a higher red blood cell concentration in the aftermath. Do you have to exercise in the heat for this to happen, or is a sauna visit enough? Experts aren’t certain on that either, but a mix of both may be your best bet for results. On top of the hematocrit boost, ending a workout in the sauna could reduce muscle soreness by up to 47%, according to “Should you use the sauna before or after your workout?

Minute 4: Gear review: The best investments for 2023

Last week Brian Metzler penned one of the popular posts we’ve ever had – his list of “The Best Running Shoes of 2022.” This week, he is expanding his list of gear recommendations to prep you for a happy and productive new year. This new list of running shoes, equipment and races should give you some ideas for 2023. We summarize his takes below, but to get the full reviews and to see all of his ideas, please click here.

1. Invest in a new running shoes

I’ve always found that early January is a great time to buy a new pair of durable, high-mileage training shoes as a means to kick-start my running. No, that doesn’t mean spending $130 to $170 (or more!) on a new pair of kicks will help me become a better runner, but it will inspire me to run more. I believe happiness can truly be found in a new pair of shoes that fit well, feel good and put an energetic spring in my step. Three of my favorite 2022 training shoes that you should be able to find at closeout prices include the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12, Hoka Clifton 8 and On Cloudmonster.

2. Invest in gear that improves your experience

I’m pretty frugal when it comes to buying new running accessories, but I tend to spend money on gear that improves my experience and not on things that are essentially just fashion upgrades like new jackets, shirts, hats or shorts. As for new gear that debuted recently, I love the Roll Recovery R8 Plus ($169); Shokz OpenRun bone-conduction headphones ($130); Norda’s 001 G+ Spike shoes ($330) and the Suunto Peak 9 Pro smartwatch ($699).

3. Invest in sleeping better

I know if I want to reach my endurance-oriented goals this year I will need to prioritize sleep. For me, that means doing a better job of scheduling my waking hours — including when and where I’m going to run every day — and shutting down at a decent hour every night to assure that I get good sleep. To improve my slumber, I recently invested in a Cosmo Performance Pillow from BedGear and so far, it’s been a game-changer. But the best thing I’ve done to improve my sleeping is to embark on my own personal Dry January quest of temporary sobriety. I’ve never understood the concept of non-alcoholic beer, but I have to admit I love the Cerveza Atletica (lager) and Upside Dawn (golden) brews I had this week from Athletic Brewing.

4. Invest in race registrations

Nothing inspires me more than a long-term goal, which is why I find that signing up for a big goal race in the second half of the year is the perfect motivational carrot. I’ve already registered for the Chicago Marathon on October 8, but I’ll probably sign up for a summer trail race like the Never Summer 60K. While it’s increasingly difficult to get into the country’s biggest marathons (Boston, Chicago, New York), there are plenty of other races worth considering, including the March 19 Los Angeles Marathon, June 17 Grandma’s Marathon, Oct. 28 Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon and Dec. 3 California International Marathon. Just make sure you’re following a training plan of at least 12 weeks for a half marathon and 16 weeks for a marathon so you can really enjoy the journey to the finish line. I am also a big fan of overseas marathons as a way to deepen connections with the running world.

For the complete rundown on the best investments you can make in your running this year, check out Brian’s full story here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We could tell it was going to be a big year for sustainable fitness gear after publishing Brian Metzler’s “3 Last-Minute Amazing Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for Runners” a couple of weeks ago. That prediction seems to be holding up, because footwear companies are “Running in circles: the race to create a recyclable sneaker.” Salomon, On, and Thousand Fell are winning the race, as far as we can tell. They’ve come up with ways to repurpose their used shoes into things like ski boots, or even recycle the material right into next year’s model.

  • The human foot is designed like a springboard. Ideally, when you strike the ground with your foot, the tendons and muscles absorb some of that impact by flexing at the ankle and bounce back as you push forward. How can you improve the efficiency of this motion? Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton, coauthors of “Born to Run 2: The Ultimate Training Guide” think that increasing lower leg stiffness is the answer, and you can do so with pogo hops: “Pogo hops: one drill to boost leg strength and prevent injuries.”

  • Gear can do a lot to maximize your potential as an endurance athlete, but only if you have a good way to carry it. Water bottles, phones, gels and snacks are just a few of the building blocks to a great outing, and if you want a way to carry them without being weighed down by clunky backpacks, then a running belt might be exactly what you need. Find out “How To Choose The Right Running Belt,” and check out these Running Belts from Nathan to find the right tools for the job.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

As much as we’d like to think we’re all unique in our pursuit of athletic excellence, the fact is, there are probably more similarities than differences among runners. When we think about the other runners in our lives, some common stereotypes immediately come to mind, and we’ll be the first to admit it makes us an easy target for parody. Rather than let it get to us, we’re choosing to embrace our predictability with this humorous video pointing out a few of our common quirks you’ll see in training or on race day. Watch the clip below to see what kind of runner you are.


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