Minute 1: Who is fittest of them all?
Some high school yearbook superlatives are easy choices. Carolyn Churas was clearly the best looking girl in our class and Adam Sandler was definitely the funniest kid in our uncle’s class. (True story.) In the sports world, some superlatives are also easy. Like naming Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time. (Send hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Other choices aren’t so obvious, particularly when it comes to overall fitness rather than just excellence at doing one thing. That’s why we were happy when Sports Illustrated stepped up this week with its list of the 50 Fittest Athletes in Sport. We figured the list would be dominated by NFL/NBA types, but several endurance athletes made the cut including Sara Hall, Courtney Dauwalter, Emma Coburn, Jim Walmsley, and Eliud Kipchoge. (Cyclists and triathletes were overlooked, which doesn’t seem fitting.) Simone Biles was ranked #1 overall for women while Giannis Antetokounmpo was ranked #1 for men. BTW, #17 on the men’s list is D.K. Metcalfe, a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. He is competing this weekend in the U.S. Olympic Trials in a bid to make the squad as a 100M sprinter. Based on this viral clip of him chasing down an opponent, we like his chances. For those of you who are superficial about the aesthetics of human beauty, there is also some pretty good eye candy on the SI list. None of the men or women hold a candle to our superlative friend Carolyn, however. #FittestTest
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Minute 2: Break out of a rut right now
We have fully transitioned from tights to shorts for our runs, which turns our brain into an exclamation point during sunny days on the roads and trails. While the novelty of getting some sun on our pale legs motivates us to get out the door, we know that the dog days of summer are ahead when we will search for motivation to beat back the “same olds.” Eventually we tend to fall into ruts, running the same routes and repeating workouts over and over. If you’re looking for motivation, check out this new story: “Sick of the same old route? 14 fabulous ways to get out of your running rut.” The author presents a series of ideas to help break up monotony in your training. Starting with the obvious (run different routes!), the ideas include training staples like intervals and Fartleks, setting goals (attainable ones), and a bevy of other tips. As we regain the comfort of physical closeness again, running with groups and friends on a regular basis is returning. We find more inspiration in “20 Ways to Bust Out of Your Workout Rut,” including treating yourself to new workout clothes, trying a podcast instead of music (we know of a great one!), and focusing on your rest and recovery. With a lot of great ideas, you’re bound to hit upon at least one tactic to help avoid emotional bonking. #InARutSpell
Minute 3: Running with your phone instead of a watch
With constant improvements to GPS and smartwatches, the choices for digital metrics on our wrists seem to pop up faster than mushrooms after a spring rain. But not everyone wants to drop an extra few hundred dollars on a watch that basically replicates features you already have on your phone. So for those who prefer phones over watches, this one's for you: “The 8 Best Cellphone Holders for Running of 2021, According to a Running Coach.” The story gives you a quick review of various options -- belts, armbands, and combos of the two. It really comes down to preference and need and in fact it sometimes depends on what type of runner you are. If you’re a marathoner, you may want a belt that can also carry water. A trail runner who has other gear needs? Maybe a CamelBak. The shirtless runner also getting a tan? Yep, a Flipbelt for you. Amazon, the master of the retail universe, weighs in with a dedicated section of “Best Sellers in Cell Phone Armbands.” And maybe at the end of the day, you still want a simple fitness tracker on your wrist to complement your phone, but not the smartest of the watches. If so, check out: “The best fitness trackers 2021: activity bands to help develop healthier habits.” #WatchThis
Minute 4: The endless battle with the defiant master of our day -- sleep
Have you ever daydreamed about how much more productive you’d be if you didn’t sleep? Or maybe if you cut your pillow time in half? Until medical science figures out a sleep substitute, Type A go-getters will remain burdened with getting some shuteye every night. For athletes, our need for a good sleep goes beyond waking up and feeling refreshed. Sleeping well helps our bodies heal and build muscle, and we know sleeping well improves performance. Sleeping isn’t easy for everyone and not everyone has the same patterns, but in this new article, “The Surprising Sleep Secrets of a Professional Marathoner,” Becky Wade Firth shares her insights about what works for her. First one? Adherence to a schedule. Firth also balances out her downtime, hydration and a snack before bed. Things that also help include minimizing stress (sometimes easier said than done) and the occasional nap. Of course these elements tie into Firth’s life as a professional runner, so some things that help the rest of us are similar as well. “The Power of Sleep (And How to Improve Yours)” reiterates many of the suggestions on Firth’s list, like consistent schedules, but also suggests minimizing electronics, avoiding liquids other than water (alcohol and caffeine are not your friends before bed) and even steps like decluttering and making your bedroom a little zen may help you sleep like a professional too. #DayToZZZZ
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We have been a fan of Brooks shoes in general and the company’s CEO in particular for many years. Our admiration was confirmed by reading this new story from Barron’s: “Brooks Sports CEO Jim Weber on the Growth of Running, Managing Supply Chains, and Being Part of Berkshire Hathaway." Like other running and fitness brands, Brooks benefited from the pandemic running boom, growing revenue 27% and surpassing Nike in women’s running. While online sales skyrocketed in 2020, they are seeing runners returning to stores in search of better fitting gear.
The news on the Peloton Tread safety issues keeps getting worse as yesterday, the company initiated a volunteer recall on their treadmills. CEO John Foley admitted that Peloton should have addressed the Tread+ problems sooner. Sadly, it was too late as one child’s death was reported, and more than 30 injuries as a result of using the treadmill. Last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Peloton and Foley had resisted a recall. The company paid the price for the recall as well financially, losing over $4 billion in market value this week. If you’re looking for a high end alternative, check out the model that’s been on our wish list forever: the Woodway. They are crazy expensive new, but you can occasionally find deals for used models online.
We are intrigued by a new book: Running Stories: By Runners of All Ages, Speeds & Backgrounds. The book shares the stories of 88 runners and answers the simple question: why do we run? Maybe the trick to bust out of the rut we discussed earlier is waiting amidst these tales.
Goals. We all have them and we all strive to meet them. Sometimes, we fail, or we stop along the journey. Why is that? Social psychologist Emily Balcetis writes in this story, “Change your perception to make running easier," that the ability to meet your goal is really all about perception which is shaped by fitness and motivation. The fitter you are, the easier you will perceive exercise to be, thereby setting up a virtuous cycle of enjoying workouts more, the more you work out. Similarly, athletes who are more motivated will perceive exercise to be easier, even at the same fitness level as a lesser-motivated peer. If you are still in search of your motivational North Star, check this out: “10 Ways to Boost Your Exercise Motivation.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
67 years ago this week, Roger Bannister became the first human to crack the 4-minute mile barrier on May 6, 1954. The 25-year-old Bannister clocked a 3:59.4 which was, at the time, thought to be a nearly unattainable feat. A short time later, Bannister hung up his spikes and became a successful doctor. The vintage video below not only shows the race in its entirety, but it is also narrated by Bannister himself, explaining his mentality and approach during the historic race.