Minute 1: Olympic news round-up
If you think you’re too old to compete for an Olympic medal, think again. This year’s U.S. men’s Olympic squad will include 44-year-old Abdi Abdirahman, the oldest track and field athlete ever to wear the red, white and blue. The squad will also include 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton, the youngest American Olympic runner in 57 years. You can find the full roster and brief profiles of the 64 male athletes here. Molly Seidel will be a headliner for the U.S. women in the Olympic marathon. Seidel has shown remarkable resilience overcoming stress fractures, an eating disorder and hip surgery to transition from NCAA track and XC success to the marathon. The full list of the U.S. women’s squad is here. One athlete who won’t be in Tokyo is American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson who was suspended from competition for 1 month following a positive test for THC. That ban is long enough to keep her out of the 100M event at the Olympics, but would have lifted in time for her to compete in the 4X100 relay event. USATF just ruled, however, that she would not be running the relay, either: “Though her suspension ends before relay event, Sha'Carri Richardson left off US Olympic track team.“ Richardson has been receiving lots of support from other athletes and celebrities. The mental stresses and struggles for Olympians go beyond positive drug tests, particularly for track and field athletes who typically labor in obscurity for 3+ years, waiting for their Olympic moments of TV exposure and big sponsorship fees. The NYT just chronicled the strains of an Olympic year that have been compounded by the pandemic: “Physically and Mentally Taxed, Olympic Hopefuls Near the Finish.“ At elite levels, mental health is just as important as physical health if an athlete wants to podium. For Olympians looking to maximize every advantage, the extra year has given Nike more time to perfect new technologies for its stable of athletes: “Olympics Highlight New Nike Running Footwear Technologies“ discusses the footwear giant’s advancement in running technology. We’ve detailed the perks from the Vaporfly before, but Nike hasn’t stopped there. While foam was the first update to decrease weight, Nike shifted focus to energy return with the Vaporfly Next%2 and Air Zoom Alphafly Next%2. They’ve engineered shoes specifically for distance, for sprinters, and middle distance. From trainers to spikes, the shoes are now as much a tool as an athlete’s lungs. #5RingCircus
Minute 2: Sliding into strength training
When runners plan their week, usually it means figuring out how far and how fast to run each day. Particularly when training for a race, folks love their workout calendar. But when juggling work, family and training, a session of strength training too often lands in the same category as filling out expense reports -- I’ll get to it when I get to it. One way we’ve motivated ourselves not to skip weight training sessions is to try something different than the same 10 exercises we learned in high school gym class. This week we enjoyed this article from Outside: “The 6-Move Sliders Workout.” The idea is to use small mats that will slide smoothly across a hardwood or kitchen floor. A Boulder-based coach designed this workout and it targets key muscle groups we rely on so much as runners. By using sliders, otherwise standard movements get more productive as we’re forced to use stabilizing muscles simultaneously. Moves include reverse lunges, sliding planks, lateral squats, pike, bridge, and mountain climbers. As always, use care to work new exercises and movements slowly into your routine. A recent NYT article, “To Avoid Running Injuries, Don’t Shake Up Your Routine Too Much” highlighted a study correlating 8+ routine changes and running to injuries. Enjoy a slide sometime soon, just not a slip. #SlideRight
Minute 3: Quick tips
One of our favorite challenges of endurance sports is that there is always something new to learn. No matter how long you’ve been running, how fast you are, or even if you’re a professional, everyone can expand their perspective with advice like this: “Triathlete Beth Potter Shares These Running Tips for Turf, Trail, or Track.“ Potter offers her opinions and insights on what works for her, like regularly switching up her training surface and not being a pavement pounder all the time. Grass workouts can replicate the feeling of fatigue at the end of a race (ask any cross country runner what even a 5K race on grass feels like). Trails and tracks provide a softer landing that is easier on your joints than paved roads. Potter also shares her insights on embracing proper attire for seasonal weather changes, the right set of shoes for the right type of run (and terrain), and finally, diet and recovery tips too. While Potter covers the “do’s,” we liked this new light-hearted article in Canadian Running on the “don’ts”: “7 things not to do a run” which even seasoned runners can sometimes forget. The lead-off piece of advice is one we can relate to -- don’t stop running if your watch dies. As watches got “smarter” their battery life got shorter, leading to the unfortunate dead-watch-mid-run problem. With the busiest marathon calendar in history ahead of us this fall, many endurance athletes are celebrating post-pandemic freedom by running their first 26.2 miler. For advice for those folks, check out this list from the Marine Corps Marathon: “20 Tips for First-Time Marathon Runners.” Whether you're doing first or your 21st marathon this fall, there is something for everyone on the list. #FreeAdviceWorthMoreThanYouPayForIt
Minute 4: A New Perspective
Someday, we promise that we’ll try not to talk about the pandemic for an entire issue. Today, however, is not that day. Fear not, this story isn’t a sad tale of lost jobs or lost loved ones. It’s all about perspective and a new view on training -- literally. Gregg Lind, an ultramarathoner from Minneapolis, spent the pandemic shaking up his running routes. Abandoning streets and sidewalks, Lind took to the alleys. In this profile from the Star Tribune, "During a year of solitude, Twin Cities runner kept exploring and making connections," Lind describes how his trips down the alleys changed perspectives for him. Surprisingly, his journeys down the roads less travelled helped him make new connections to neighbors and begin conversations with people he wouldn’t have seen otherwise. He talked about coping with the realities Minneapolis faced after George Floyd was killed. He also found some treasures to take home, including a bike for his son. Lind’s story is a positive one and a good reminder that it doesn’t take much to find a new view for us when we hit the streets, the sidewalks, and now the alleys. #NewView
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Yoga has been a highly recommended alternative and supplement to running routines for a long time. One related routine that most endurance athletes ignore, however, is tai chi, a Chinese martial art that is equal parts self-defence and moving meditation. Benefits from practicing tai chi include decreasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression; helping people become better multi-taskers; and improvements to agility and flexibility, much like yoga. It can improve your sleeping habits, boost your immune system and alleviate pain. “7 Tai Chi Benefits, From The Mental To The Physical” should help you get started with the practice.
While skateboarding and endurance sports rarely appear together in the same newsletter, we couldn’t resist sharing this video from Tony Hawk, a skating pioneer, celebrating the inclusion of skateboarding as an Olympic event this year.
Brooks Running Company announced this week that by 2040 the company wants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions and create a carbon-neutral shoe. Nike announced that it wants to use 100% renewable energy for its facilities by 2025 as well as its own net-zero goals. With companies like Allbirds creating eco-friendly products for the running world, it’s good to see the major brands making significant contributions to addressing their impact on the environment.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Usain Bolt may officially be retired as a competitive runner, but he still holds the title of the Fastest Man Alive -- at least for now. He is the only sprinter to ever win gold in both the 100M and 200M in 3 consecutive Olympic games (2008, 2012 & 2016). As the build-up to the Olympics continues, this is one of the best videos we’ve seen to inspire runners from sprinters to marathoners.