JUL 30, 2022
Minute 1: Build yourself up to overcome muscle imbalances
Improving the human body presents a bit of a paradox: to become really good at a certain sport or activity, you’ve got to do a lot of the same exact motion, over and over again. The trouble is, this repetition grows your muscles in a very specific way, leading to overdeveloped muscle in some areas, and underdeveloped in others. Muscle imbalance can bring on all sorts of injuries down the line, including a common one for runners: knee pain. To avoid this fate, check out: “How to Protect Your Knees in 5 Easy Moves, According to a Physical Therapist.” In the video, physical therapist Sam Chan Covers 5 exercises to strengthen the quads, hips and glutes, which all play a key role in supporting the knee. By moving in different directions than what’s common in running, you’ll improve mobility while reducing your risk of injury. For more details on how imbalances can occur, and what to do about it, take a look at “The Runner’s Muscle Imbalances Fix Routine.” Imbalances won't only occur in your legs. The core and arms are frequently neglected by runners, and that can have negative ramifications for your form. Seated rows, Supermans, and single leg squats can improve your performance while reducing the risk of injury.
Minute 2: Putting your fitness goals into perspective
If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit that goal every time. Before you roll your eyes and say: “Thank you, Stuart Smalley,” take a minute to think about your own fitness goals. Chances are they are based on numbers – maybe a half marathon finish time or the dial on your bathroom scale. Nothing wrong with that, as quantified motivation can serve a purpose, as outlined in this new piece: “How much exercise you need to reach your fitness goals, according to experts.” Obviously, someone simply looking to get in shape will have different requirements than a competitive runner looking to win races. If you’re in the former camp, a good place to start is the CDC’s recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. If you’re short on time, a good rule of thumb is that every 2 minutes of moderate exercise is about the same as 1 minute of intense exercise, so a few HIIT sessions a week should get you where you need to be. Going beyond basic fitness and pursuing more ambitious fitness goals requires persistence and motivation. To get to that place, you need more than just a numerical goal. As you plan your next run or workout, don’t ask yourself “how” you’re going to do that, but “why” you’re going to do it. Bestselling author Simon Sinek explored this idea in a TED Talk: “Start with why -- how great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek | TEDxPugetSound.” He’s not the only one to notice the significance of our “why” as a motivator. Author Mark Rowlands speaks about deeper motivations in “Philosophy and the Serious Runner.” In his research he found that the most committed runners are motivated not by improving their health or even their mental wellbeing, but by a belief in the intrinsic value of the sport. They view running as fundamentally valuable – worth doing for its own sake. #FindYourWhy
Minute 3: Get the most out of each swimming stroke
Last week, we brought your attention to aqua jogging – a water-based activity for runners recovering from injury or just looking to beat the heat while training. In addition to “running” through the water this summer, you may also consider actually swimming at your local pool or beach. It is an excellent form of cross-training, but our running buddies typically diss swimming because it’s repetitive and monotonous. Fair enough, but this new story from Polar made us realize that we don’t have to just stare at the stripe on the bottom of the pool while windmilling our arms thousands of times in a freestyle stroke: “Four Different Types of Swimming Strokes.” The most common styles of swimming are freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke. Freestyle, of course, is a highly efficient technique that engages the back and arm muscles. It’s a great choice for those looking to swim longer distances and develop their upper bodies. The butterfly is a difficult technique to learn, but once you get it down, you’ll be burning 450 calories every 30 minutes of swimming. Use it to develop your core, arms, chest, and upper back. For lovers of endurance swimming, the breaststroke is a great option. It’s easy to learn, and distributes the workload to your arms and legs pretty evenly. Last is the backstroke, and it’s perfect for working on your core, back and hip muscles. As you plan out your swim routine, check out “The Advantages of Swimming Sprints vs. Distance” to figure out what will fit best for you. If even 30 minutes of swimming sounds too boring for you, a shorter, more intense session can still deliver benefits according to this story: “15 Minute Speed Swim Workout.”
Minute 4: Challenge yourself to run 30 days in a row
Ben Beach holds the Boston Marathon record for streaking with 54 consecutive finishes. Connie Brown, a 78-year-old realtor from Florida, completed her 52nd consecutive NYC Marathon last November to extend her record in that event. Maybe you don’t want to invest decades of your life in your own streaking, but how about a more modest goal of running every day for a month? There are lots of benefits to taking on this challenge as described in this new piece: “30-Day Running Challenge – All You Need To Know.” The requirements are fairly simple: set a goal for yourself in the form of a minimum time or distance of running every day, and then just do it. We’d recommend aiming a bit below your current average runs, but you can feel free to exceed that target some days if you’re up for it. Will this make you a better runner? Most likely. Is it the absolute best way to train? Probably not, but you won’t know what works for you until you try. According to “Is it good to run every day?” there's no clear consensus on whether running every day is the most effective way to go, but by listening to your body, you should know pretty quickly if it’s a manageable workload for you. Be on the lookout for these “7 signs it’s time to take a break from running” as you progress to make sure you haven’t pushed too hard.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
One factor that turns a lot of people away from a plant-based diet is the lack of feeling full after a meat-free meal. It’s a major roadblock for us to adopt healthier and more sustainable diets, but thankfully, a Brooklyn-based company called Smallhold thinks they’ve found the answer: Mushrooms. There’s a far larger variety of edible fungi than the typical supermarket selection would have you believe, and your new favorite vegetarian snack could be growing in the sci-fi esque chambers of this cutting edge facility. See the details in “How a Brooklyn-Based Company is Revolutionizing Mushroom Farming — And Why It’s the Perfect Moment.”
We love to see people take on their first marathon, especially when it’s for a good cause. This year actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher is teaming up with Peloton to run the NYC Marathon in support of Thorn, an organization he founded about 10 years ago to protect children from sexual abuse. To get a look at how his training is going so far, check out his Twitter page.
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Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Everybody loves an underdog, so when you’re competing against the Jamaican National Sprint team, you’ll always have an opportunity to root for the team with the odds stacked against them. Having won 5 out of the 6 women's sprint events already at the 2022 World Athletics Championships this month, Jamaica was favored in the 4x100 relay – their final shot at another gold medal. But thanks to a blazing fast start off the line followed by 3 flawless baton exchanges to secure their victory, the U.S. outran the reigning speed queens: “U.S. stuns Jamaica in women's 4x100 relay to win gold at World Athletics Championships.” Check out the thrilling race in the video below.