JAN 11, 2023
Minute 1: Should you fuel your races with protein?
For decades, carbo-loading has been as much a part of marathon preparation as long runs and humble brags. Carbs are the most rapidly available source of energy we’ve got, but they are not the only macronutrient that can improve game day performance. Runners also need a healthy serving of protein in their diet, and if you’re concerned you may not be getting enough, look for these “6 Signs Your Protein Intake Is Too Low,” including restless sleep, mental fogginess, and more. Some experts think protein has the potential to improve performance mid-race, according to: “Should Your Marathon Drink or Fuel Contain Protein? The Research on Taking Protein During a Marathon Race.” Dr. John Ivy, a sports scientist at the University of Texas, presented research indicating protein could boost performance by 24%. The study compared two groups of athletes: the first drank a protein and carb-infused beverage, while the other group’s drink contained only carbs, but despite the promising results, scientists are still uncertain of the precise mechanisms at play here. Some theorize that adding calories of any kind would result in a similar improvement, but in a larger analysis of studies on the topic, nobody has identified a potential loss in performance from adding protein to your race day diet. In other words, it couldn’t hurt to try it out for yourself, provided it doesn’t cause added GI distress. If you’re looking for quick and easy ways to increase your protein, try “10 of Our Favorite High Protein Snacks.” Extra protein may or may not make you faster, but one thing is for certain: a protein deficiency will almost certainly harm your athletic performance over time.
Minute 2: Don’t neglect these muscles when you stretch
If you want to freak yourself out a little, when you are brushing your teeth tomorrow morning, try to think about which motion is about to come next. Are you about to move from the left to the right side or from the top to the bottom molars? Chances are you do the exact same motions every time you brush, but you never really think about it. The same is true for our pre-run stretches. If you are like us, you do the same five or six moves before every run in the same order that you’ve followed for many years. While your teeth are probably getting cleaned just fine with your daily routine, there’s a good chance your stretching routine is failing to fully prep you. For example, we’re willing to bet most of you don’t spend much time thinking about the piriformis muscle (no judgment, we don’t either). According to this new piece, it’s time to brush up on this key functional muscle: “Want to be a stronger runner? Pay attention to your piriformis.” Located in the gluteal region, the piriformis is essential for hip rotation, and it has a major impact on your running performance. Positions like the seated hip flexor stretch, pigeon pose, and lunges are a good place to start, so dive into the article for a video guide on each move. The piriformis is a common problem area for those who spend a lot of the day sitting, which means this could help our information worker friends: “Simple Stretches for Runners Who Sit All Day.” Make sure you’ve got a yoga mat and foam roller on hand when performing the Lying Door Frame and Thoracic Stretches. Last but not least, for a list of dynamic stretches that fit into your warmup and cooldown routines, try these “13 Best Stretches For Runners: Pre and Post Run.” #InTheHomeStretch
Minute 3: Weightlifting can be a tool for managing arthritis
If you’re experiencing symptoms of arthritis, lifting weights might seem like you’re adding fuel to a fire. It feels counterintuitive, but research has shown that resistance training performed in moderation can be exactly what your body needs to alleviate pain and reduce risk of more serious injury. Take a look at “Weight Lifting and Arthritis: Is It Beneficial For You?” Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in your joints, but weightlifting can build muscle and improve balance to provide them with support. Let’s be clear, fast tracking your way to heavy weight isn’t the best course of action for those with arthritis. Starting slow and giving your body time to adjust to the new resistance is important, so use this guide to spot “4 Telltale Signs That You Should Be Lifting Heavier Weights, According to a Trainer.” If you’ve been lifting the same amount of weight for a long time, find it easy to lose focus during your sets, or never feel sore after a workout, it might be time to up the intensity. If you’re looking for other ways to stay active with joint pain, these “14 Ways to Work Out With Arthritis” could be just right. You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your workout, because water walking, water aerobics, and swimming keep the impact low and your heart rate high.
Minute 4: Kicking off a new feature
When our daughter was playing 5th grade lacrosse, her coach sent periodic update emails that somehow managed to make carpooling info emotional and hilarious. Coach Dara’s energy leaped off the screen of our kitchen computer screen every week. We laughed, we cried, we signed up for post-game orange slices. Unlike most of our marathoning friends, it wasn’t until long after meeting Dara that we learned she was a veteran of many Boston Marathons and an accomplished running coach. (If we had her talent, we’d be asking strangers on the street to pat us on the back.) We tried to coax her into contributing to Six Minute Mile several times, but never found a project that felt authentic. Until now. Until Dara signed up for the 2023 Boston Marathon. You see, this is personal for our friend Dara Zall Kelly. Ten years ago she finished Boston with a few buddies and showered up in a hotel room overlooking the Boylston Street finish line. To their everlasting dismay, they watched through the windows as the horrible events unfolded below. On the 10th anniversary of that terrible day, Dara is determined to turn a negative into a positive, and she’s taking us along for the ride. She is going to do a weekly post about her training, progress and setbacks on the road to Boylston Street. Yes, she will touch on the aftermath of the bombing, but mostly Dara’s pieces are about why running a marathon is so meaningful to so many of our readers. She will dive into nutrition, shoes, gear, training logs and why it still hurts so good to run a marathon that is way slower than your PR. Dara’s intro piece is here along with her biography. Look for her second installment in Friday’s issue and then at least one blog post every week until Patriot’s Day.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Living a happy, meaningful, and low stress life has a lot to do with the kind of job you have. It’s safe to say that some industries are far more effective at reaching those ends than others. If you’re curious, researchers have done their best to rank different kinds of jobs and activities on these metrics, and it will come as no surprise that the top of the list is filled with outdoor activities. Jobs in forestry, agriculture, and outdoor recreation scored high marks across the board, so read the full article to see why they are “The happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs in America.”
The temptation to lie in bed and do nothing is strong when you feel an illness coming on, but don’t pull the covers up to your chin just yet. It’s worth trying some light exercise to help you fight off the sniffles if you’re feeling up to it. As a general rule of thumb, moderate exercise is okay when feeling ill above the neck, like with a runny nose or headache. If you want to give this immune system hack a try, read “Is Working Out While Sick Safe?”
Rowing is a popular cross training tool for many endurance athletes. If you’re inexperienced on modern equipment, however, it’s possible to veer off course. Tweaks to an athlete’s back, hamstrings and shoulders are common results of poor form. It’s not as intuitive as running, so don’t feel bad if you give a rowing machine a shot and feel totally out of your element. To avoid or to correct some bad habits, check out: “A Rowing Coach Shares the ‘Big 3’ Mistakes He Sees Beginners Make on Rowing Machines.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound? That’s a question that has puzzled philosophers for ages. The modern offshoot of this dilemma is: If a runner racks up miles out on the roads but doesn’t track it on their GPS watch, does that run even count? These days, it feels like a lot of us are inclined to say no. The satisfaction of charting our progress on apps and devices is so strong, it can be a real motivation sapper when we forget to turn them on. @Lauramcgreen on Instagram knows all about it, and she shared this hilarious video about her hesitation to move without having a tracker ready to go. Give it a watch if you think you can relate.