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5 drills to make you a better runner

MAR 16, 2022

Minute 1: Try these drills to improve your form

“Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.” A coach shared that wisdom with us recently and at first we smiled. But then we cringed. When someone shares a good tip, workout or drill with us, we usually give it a shot, modifying to fit our “comfort level.” Do we keep working at it until it’s perfect? Um, well, that would be a “no.” That’s why a new piece from Polar hit home last week: “5 Running Drills To Become A Better Runner.” There’s no one-size-fits-all running form, but there are some basic tenets that are worthy of practicing until we can’t get them wrong. Unlocking a greater range of motion, building full body coordination, and dialing in the right cadence will improve anyone’s running experience, and drills are a good way to make that happen. Drills performed as part of a warmup serve a double purpose: improving your form and protecting you against injury. These drills work as a stand alone workout, too. The next time you’re in need of a recovery day, consider avoiding another run in favor of high knees, lunges, and skips instead. That way, you lower the risk of an overuse injury. Repetitive stress is a major catalyst for injury among endurance athletes, so be on the lookout for “The 8 Most Common Running Injuries.” There are a few key habits which separate healthy runners from the chronically injured, and you can see them in “How to Prevent Running Injuries—Tips, Exercises, and Drills.” One of the most vital aspects of healthy training is running with purpose. Having a well-planned routine with a balance of fast running, slow running, warmups and drills is a good defense against overtaxing your body.

Minute 2: Endurance training builds a fighting spirit

UFC athletes are best known for fast hands and ferocious hearts. We’d forgive you if you think “leg day” for these folks means practicing roundhouse kicks. In truth, some workouts for these professional pugilists borrow ideas from endurance sports. Men’s Health explains the details in: “Learn Functional Fitness From UFC Legend Nate Diaz.” Nate and his brother Nick are known for going against the grain. While most fighters come out swinging, looking for an early knockout, the Diaz brothers are content to let their fights go into the later rounds, unloading a steady pace of attacks to wear their opponent down. Nate discovered his love for endurance sports at a young age, competing on a swim team before he got his start in combat sports. Now, the staple of his preparation centers around a 5-mile run. Once he’s able to run that distance in 37 minutes a few times a week, Nate knows he’s ready to compete. Combined with his vegan diet, Diaz’s conditioning is second to none, securing him wins over former champions like Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. For details on what fuels his success, check out “Nate Diaz on the vegan diet he believes is the secret behind his elite UFC fitness.” And since we don’t typically cover UFC news, we thought we’d double down with a wild new story: “UFC's Kevin Holland, friend take down gunman in Houston restaurant shooting; no injuries reported.” Probably the most remarkable angle to the story is that this marks the second time in 6 months that Holland successfully took the law into his own hands. In October he put his conditioning to good use when he ran after a car thief and subdued him until police arrived. Details on that feat are here. #FightHealthClub

Minute 3: How the Nordic diet benefits athletes

In a recent issue, we raved about Norway’s groundbreaking training methods that brought them Olympic success. As we all know, training is only one part of the equation of healthy living. Proper diet and nutrition are just as important. Well, our Scandinavian friends have a few things to teach us in that regard as well, according to a new story: “Research recommends the Nordic diet.” What makes the Nordic diet so effective? It includes a wide array of sources for healthy fats, and when compared to other diets, it was highly effective for lowering cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar. Even more impressive was the fact that these results occur with or without experiencing weight loss. For a detailed breakdown of the key ingredients, check out: “What is The Nordic Diet? Meal Plans, Foods and Costs Explained.” This diet is less about the specific foods you choose, but rather a collection of 10 overarching principles that should inform the way you eat. Things like choosing seasonal produce, food from wild landscapes, and going organic wherever possible. Fish are a staple of Nordic cuisine, and they’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids that are largely responsible for those cholesterol benefits. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend checking out “10 healthy fish to eat.”

Minute 4: Athletes can change their relationship to pain

Ultrarunner Scott Jurek is known for saying: “Pain only hurts.” What he meant is, no matter how bad it feels, as long as you’re confident you aren’t injured, the pain doesn’t go beyond temporary discomfort. Even if you aren’t tackling challenges of Jurek proportions, if you plan to race hard, you should expect to be in pain. Managing that discomfort can be an important part of success, according to this new story from Outside magazine: “How to Deal with Running Pain Like a Pro.” To perform at your best, you need to welcome pain. Framing agony in this way is the first step to viewing it as a necessary fact of running life, rather than something to be avoided. Instead of pain meaning “I need to slow down,” you free yourself to react mindfully, choosing to persist in spite of discomfort. It’s important to know how to distinguish acceptable pain from the pain of injury, so you should take a look at “How to Know the Difference Between Soreness and Pain.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • You wouldn’t use the same training plan for a 5K as you would for a Marathon. To run at your best, you’ve got to tailor your approach for the distance you’re running. That’s just as true on race day as it is during the leadup, especially when it comes to food intake. What to eat or drink during a race changes dramatically depending on the nature of the event, and it’s useful to have a cheat sheet so you can prepare exactly what you need to fuel up on the go. Check out “Race nutrition for every distance: an infographic.”

  • Chances are, you’ve done a lot of shivering this winter. Your body’s natural response to cold temperatures is to tighten, and it's especially common for your shoulders to shrug up, putting extra strain on your trapezius muscles. If you need a little help loosening up this spring, follow the guide in: “‘I’m a Physical Therapist, and This Is the No. 1 Muscle Affected by Winter Stiffness’

  • At the risk of upsetting one particularly spirited teacher from this viral video, we’re saying “Yes, Pomegranates!” Why exactly? Well, they're known to improve heart health, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. You can read the details in “This Fruit Is the Pom: Pomegranate Nutritional Benefits.”

  • Thanks to so many of our dedicated readers last week, our stacks of Six Minute Mile t-shirts are considerably smaller right now. We are offering a good deal on these shirts as we make room for some new offerings later this spring. Our SMM t-shirts are made from high quality tri-blend material, unlike most of the race giveaway shirts that fit poorly and itch like crazy. These Six Minute Mile shirts come in any color you’d like (as long as you’d like black). Don’t be the only runner in your friend group to miss out on the hottest fashion trend in endurance chic. Check out the remaining inventory here, priced to move at only $14.99.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We’ll be honest – when we hear about a test designed to let us know if we’re officially old, we’re in no rush to see the results. That is, unless the test is a blast to try out; then we’ll give it a go. At the risk of facing a bit of humiliation, we’re attempting the “old man test” that’s recently gone viral, where you put your socks and shoes on while balancing on one leg the entire time. Details on the phenomenon are in this story: “You Probably Can’t Pass This “Old Man Test” That’s Viral on TikTok.” To be fair, the test is difficult to do regardless of age, so we’re content to save our pride and blame any failure on a strong gust of wind. If you’re curious to take the test yourself, you can follow along with the short video below.


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