AUG 30, 2023
Minute 1: Runners can improve their lungs with these tips
Running on scenic trails can leave you breathless – in every sense of the word. Nothing wrong with being awestruck, but we could all do without gasping for air during a punishing hill or alpine interval workout. To avoid that, you can train your lungs, according to this new piece: “8 Ways to Increase Lung Capacity For Running.” Lung stretches and pursed lip breathing (inhaling through your nose and exhaling slowly through pursed lips) can strengthen the muscles involved in breathing. This technique has also been shown to improve your oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. Another step is to make sure you’re performing some workouts that push your lungs to their limit. Interval runs and hill sprints are a good place to start, and in fact, those are also recommended in: “How to Improve VO2 Max: The Only 2 Workouts You Need.” VO2 max is essentially a measure of how well your body can use oxygen, so a higher VO2 max will make things easier on your lungs. The most effective way to improve your VO2 max is by spending time at your maximal aerobic speed, which is the minimum pace which requires your body to use its max oxygen intake. You could try a workout based on 1000 meter interval repeats to hit this goal. Beyond that, other breathing exercises can increase your lung’s efficiency and capacity: “Breathing Exercises to Increase Lung Capacity.” The first technique is diaphragmatic breathing, aka “belly breathing,” which is performed by expanding your belly while you inhale slowly to move the muscles responsible for breathing through their full range of motion.
Minute 2: Does every athlete need to worry about overtraining?
There’s a Kobe Bryant video making the rounds on Instagram in which the NBA star talks about his legendary work ethic. Squeezing in four workouts per day beginning at 4:00 am may have worked for Kobe, but it’s probably not a winning formula for endurance athletes. Amateur runners might think that overtraining is something that only happens to the pros who push their body to the limit all the time, but you’d be surprised at how common it can be, especially if you engage in high impact or intense exercise. It could be time to ask yourself the question: “Should I worry about working out too hard?” One analysis found that runners experienced more than three times as many injuries as a typical gym-goer, likely due to the high impact forces in running that are absent in weight lifting. High injury frequency is one of several signs you could be experiencing burnout, and you can read about the rest in: “Should I Worry About Overtraining if I’m Not an Elite Athlete?” Slower heart rate recovery after exercise, persistent colds or flu, difficulty sleeping, or loss of appetite could all be indications your body needs a break from exercise too. If you’re unsure if overtraining is the cause of your ailments, you can take some of the guesswork out by using technology to your advantage. Here is one take: “How to Avoid Overtraining and Injury with WHOOP.” Heart rate metrics, sleep quality, and exercise intensity can help you pinpoint signs of overtraining. For instance, if WHOOP tracks you at a higher than normal amount of strain on a day that’s supposed to be an easy workout, you’ll know it’s time for a rest.
Minute 3: What’s the perfect temperature for running?
As the end of August approaches, we are more excited than a group of leaf peepers booking an October bus tour of New England. That’s because fall might be the best time for runners to deliver their top performances, thanks in part due to cooler weather. As temperatures drop, so should your finish times, according to this new story: “What’s The Ideal Marathon Temperature For A Perfect Race?” It may come as a surprise just how cold the ideal racing weather should be. According to one analysis, somewhere between 38.9°F and 49.8°F is perfect, with males generally doing better on the colder end of the spectrum, and females on the warmer side. As a result, late fall is the fastest time of the year for many runners. To get you even more fired up for colder temps, check out: “Fall Running: 6 Reasons Why It’s the Best.” Not only are temps cool, but also the lower humidity and dry air can make for an ideal running climate as well. For those of us who want to combine our trail running with our foliage fawning, check out: “7 Ways to Enjoy Fall Running.” Call us commercially crass, but we like tip #5 on their list. Buying a new piece of fall running apparel gives us some extra motivation to head out the door. Please just keep these other tips in mind if you are trail running late in autumn: “10 Tips for Running during Hunting Season.” Who knew that wearing white clothes makes you look like a deer’s backside?
Minute 4: Use your diet to manage pain
According to a 2019 study, one in five Americans live with some form of chronic pain. Apart from eliminating the root cause, there are a number of strategies you can adopt to mitigate discomfort. Medication is the obvious choice, but at times, the side effects can be a problem in their own right. Some have found success and minimal downsides from addressing their pain with dietary changes, according to: “Can Diet Improve Chronic Pain?” A lot of chronic pain issues stem from inflammation, which can be exacerbated by eating too much processed meat, sugary foods, and refined grains. To combat inflammation, you need foods that are high in omega-3s, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc. For a list of some options, look no further than “Foods that fight inflammation” from the Harvard Medical School. They say an anti-inflammatory diet should contain tomatoes, olive oil, leafy greens, nuts, fatty fish, and fruits. Berries are especially high in polyphenols, one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients, which is why they top the list on “Which foods are highest in polyphenols?” The black chokeberry, elderberry, and black currant have the highest polyphenol content per serving, but blueberries aren’t far behind if you’re looking for a more accessible option.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Legendary martial artist Bruce Lee once said that we should strive to “be like water,” formless and adaptable to whatever environment we’re in. We think that’s good advice for both the body and the brain, and researchers are inclined to agree. The brain’s adaptability, known as neuroplasticity, can be improved to give you a healthier, happier, and more capable state of mind. If you want to learn how to keep your brain young and flexible, take a look at “How to Increase Your “Neuroplasticity,” in 7 Key Steps.” Traveling, hanging out with younger people and learning a new language are all good ways to keep your brain healthy.
Getting a full night’s rest is one of the steps to building neuroplasticity, but it’s also vital for building muscle after exercise. In fact, sleep and exercise have what’s known as a bidirectional relationship. In other words, sleep can improve exercise, and exercise can improve sleep. If you want tips on how to build synergy between them both, read: “Sleep Is the Key to Your Greatest Workout. Here's What to Know.”
Things like your commute to work or the walk to a corner store to pick up some groceries can be seen as an annoyance, or a blessing, depending on how you look at it. Sure, it can take time and energy, but with the right mindset, you can recognize the potential to improve your health with these opportunities for movement. If that sounds helpful to you, learn how to reform your mindset in “How I Turned My Errands Into Exercise.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We wish the state of fitness content on social media platforms were in better shape, but unfortunately for all of us, quality content isn’t always what drives views. Rather, it’s a constant stream of product placement, surface level analysis, and trend hopping that gets pushed to your feed, and it’s totally reasonable to feel fed up about it. We think @lauramcgreen has had enough herself, which is why she’s firing shots at the formulaic approach used by influencers to make content. Like always, she manages to turn expectations on their head in a video that’s as funny as influencers are annoying, so take a look if you need some comic relief. Click here to watch.