NOV 10, 2023
Minute 1: Take care of fascia and inflammation to reduce workout soreness
If you want to hear a debate that’s even more animated than your nutty relatives discussing politics at the Thanksgiving table, ask 10 fitness experts what causes soreness. Whether it’s lactic acid, damaged muscle tissue, or something else entirely, scientists aren’t entirely sure what happens when we’re sore after a hard run or workout. That’s why if you want to cover all your bases, you need a versatile approach to warmups and recovery, and the latest research indicates that you need to take care of your fascia. To learn how to do that, read: “Muscle Soreness After Working Out? Here’s How to Manage.” Fascia is a bodily structure that makes up the lowest level of skin, surrounds bones and muscle, and suspends our organs. Initially, biologists thought it played a passive role, but now we understand that it’s responsible for the transfer of blood, lymph, and nerve signals. Not only that, but it’s believed that working out can cause fascial inflammation, which may be the source of our aches and pains. Take a look at these “10 Ways to Keep Your Fascia Healthy so Your Body Moves Pain-Free.” Stretching, foam rolling, and hot/cold therapy are some of the most effective ways to break up scar tissue and enhance your recovery. If you’re sore from a weightlifting session, switching to cardio like running can help lower your inflammation levels as well, according to: “Running may boost inflammation-fighting cells that enhance performance, study finds.” BTW, we really started thinking about soreness issues after taking on our new sponsor, Xendurance. They deal with soreness for a living and their product has been shown to reduce lactic acid by 26% while also increasing aerobic threshold. Their endorsers include everyone from Joe Rogan guests to Olympic gold medal runner Matthew Centrowitz. We are about to launch a test among our editors, so stay tuned for updates.
Minute 2: How does exercise affect blood pressure?
If the market for blood pressure medication were a country, it would be larger than the GDP of half the nations in the world. This year, Americans alone will spend $12 billion on these meds, since nearly half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure. With apologies to readers who make their living in pharma, we hope that number gets slashed dramatically by a much simpler treatment: “Why does exercise affect blood pressure?” While this seems like a healthier antidote, improving your blood pressure requires a fairly large time commitment. Experts recommend doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week to protect your heart. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, making it more efficient at delivering blood to your body. Not only that, but cardio is one of the most effective ways to manage your body weight, and weight loss was also associated with a reduction in blood pressure. Over time, some may even develop a condition called “Athlete's Heart”, but it’s nothing to worry about. Athlete’s heart is an enlargement of the heart, which can resemble a harmful condition known as Cardiomyopathy. Apart from mild heart murmurs, a slower heart rate, and lowered blood pressure, there really aren’t any side effects of athlete’s hearts to be concerned about, so don’t panic right away if you’re an athlete and you display abnormalities on an EKG machine or chest X-ray.
Minute 3: Are there different kinds of hunger?
Until recently, we thought “Are you hungry?” was a yes or no question. But we just came across a new article that opened our eyes to the nuance of the topic. There are different motivators and situations that cause us to eat, and understanding the details can give you a healthier and happier relationship with food, according to: “Dietitians Want You To Know: It’s Okay To Eat When You’re Not Hungry. Here’s Why.” According to the article, we typically think hunger as only “biological hunger.” That’s our bodily need for sustenance to intake energy and nutrients, and it's closely associated with the physical feeling of hunger. But in addition, there’s also practical, taste, and emotional hunger. Practical hunger is the drive to eat when you don’t feel particularly hungry, knowing that it’s the most optimal time to do so. For instance, taking an early lunch to free up a busy work schedule satisfies your practical hunger. Feeling full, but eating a tasty dessert knowing it brings you satisfaction is driven by taste hunger. Finally, eating comfort foods in a time of stress is called emotional hunger. When done mindfully, satisfying these alternate hungers can be quite healthy, and it’s important to remember that food can enrich our lives beyond its most basic function. With that in mind, we look forward to firing up these “20 Comfort Food Recipes That Are Both Healthy and Satisfying” the next time we want to fulfill our emotional hunger.
Minute 4: Shoe Review: Brooks Divide 4 ($100)
We continue to receive some very insightful reader feedback on Brian Metzler’s story last week about the lack of sustainability in the running shoe industry. One New England reader pinged us to ask if we would share some research on the best way to recycle shoes, beyond just dropping them in a Goodwill box. Are there truly effective programs out there or are collection sites at running shops just a way to assuage our guilt? Great question, Chris. Stay tuned for some updates next week.
This week Brian is back with news on the least expensive shoe we have reviewed to date. Like Brian, we try to log most of our miles on trails rather than paved roads. We appreciate the experience of running in a prettier place without exhaust fumes, but we really love the lower impact of soft surfaces. We realize most of you primarily train on pavement and may not want to make a big investment in a trail shoe if you’re only going off-road a couple of times per month. Brian says that the new Brooks Divide 4 is your solution at a MSRP of only $100. A few highlights of his review of the Brooks Divide 4 are below, but for his full take, check it out on our website.
This might shock some people out there, but give me a moment to explain: the $100 entry-level Brooks Divide 4 might be the only trail running shoe you need in your quiver. Yes, I know, I am shocked, too, but hear me out.
Not too long ago – maybe even only a dozen years ago – trail running shoes were still an unevolved concept. Shoe designers hadn’t yet developed shoes nuanced to tackle different types of terrain, mostly because shoe brands weren’t selling loads of trail running shoes yet. And that’s because the sport, even though it was growing, didn’t really have the depth of vast participation numbers. So ultimately, while there were good trail running shoes, they weren’t as nuanced with modern materials and manufacturing methods as their high-tech offspring are today. But the shoes that were available then – even though they were more basic than today’s terrain-specific models – were much better than road running shoes.
Fast forward to today as you’re looking for a new pair of trail running shoes and you’ll find there are dozens of models to choose from, ranging from $100 to $260. My two bits of advice on figuring out what model might be best for you are these: 1) Consider the type of terrain you run on most often – dry and dusty, wet and sloppy or rocky and technical – and find a shoe that can handle that terrain with aplomb; 2) Consider how often you will go trail running over the next six months or a year and, if you’re primarily a road runner who dabbles in trail running occasionally, look for a do-everything road-to-trail hybrid. In either case, it would be worth checking out the Brooks Divide 4.
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it for the $100 price tag. That’s half the price of some trail running shoes, which means you’ll be able to spend that extra money on a race entry or a hydration pack. Does that mean it’s a low-quality shoe? No, it means that it doesn’t have some of the high-end features or materials that other trail shoes have (like a hyper-responsive midsole foam or a rock plate for protection), but it’s still a very good quality, mid-range shoe that offers comfort and versatility, as well as good traction and long-wearing durability. And for 100 bucks, it’s a steal of a deal for what the shoe provides.
For Brian’s full analysis of the new Brooks Divide 4, check it out here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
To go forward in fitness, you should try walking backwards. That sounds a little confusing, but if you read up on the benefits of backwards elliptical movement, it’ll all make sense. Using an elliptical in reverse can increase the exercise’s difficulty, engage your core, and more, according to: “Try This Little-Known Elliptical Trick Next Time You’re at the Gym.”
While New York Yankees run the bases, their partners run marathons. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo came out to the NYC Marathon last Sunday to encourage their wives, Samantha Bracksieck and Emily Vakos, who both finished in under 4 hours. Not only that, but they celebrated the victory in style, and if you want to see how to make your post-marathon party a home run, check out: “Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo Celebrate Their Wives with DJ Party After the Women Finish NYC Marathon.”
We often write about how to improve your sleep quality. Everything from morning runs, sun exposure, sunlight lamps, and more. But there’s one area we haven’t touched on in a while, and that’s food for better sleep. Beyond just cutting out caffeine, there are tons of foods and nutrients to look out for if you need help catching some ZZZ’s, so grab some of the “8 Best Foods to Help You Sleep.”
Our fast friend and running music DJ, Rebecca Trachsel, is back this week with a new featured song: “Do The Right Thing” by HAARM. This Liverpool-based trio met in a bar and has been together since 2016, which is surprising because despite how good they are, I'd never heard of them until last year when I discovered their song “Foxglove.” They're unique in that they have two lead singers, both songwriters, which leads to a different sound that's a bit more trippy and sonorous, almost oddly beautiful. “Do The Right Thing” was released last month and is one of a string of singles they'll be putting out every six weeks as they build up to the release of their debut album in the spring of 2024. Personally, I will be waiting eagerly for more. You can find “Do The Right Thing” on Spotify here and Apple Music here. #turnitup
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Endurance athletes have a funny way of sugarcoating the difficulty of their sports. Honestly, we think a little bit of delusional optimism is necessary if you want to do your best as an athlete. In spite of that, @fuelmyrun is saying enough is enough, and she’s here to translate what your triathlon-loving friends really mean when they speak. Is it really a recovery swim, or just a second workout? Who’s to say, but we sure got a laugh out of this video as she attempts to break it down in plain English for us.