JUN 25, 2022
Minute 1: A good night’s rest starts with better morning habits
If you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep, you probably think about your pre-bed time routines regarding food, drink, light exposure and room temperatures. But like most things concerning our health, you shouldn’t sleep on the importance of good habits long before your head hits the pillow. According to this new story, a good night’s rest starts with decisions you make from the moment you first wake up: “6 Things to Do Every Morning for a Better Night's Sleep.” Consistency is key. Our bodies run a lot better when we get up and go to bed at the same time, since we have an internal clock which influences the release of hormones. Melatonin levels rise around the time we usually go to bed, and testosterone and cortisol levels are high when we wake up. In a similar vein, getting 15 minutes of sunlight soon after rising is a great way to reinforce your circadian rhythm, halting the release of melatonin as you start your day. Try to make your bed during the day, so that when you return to your bed at night, there’s one less chore to be done. Of course, that was a key recommendation in this famous UT graduation speech by Admiral William H. McRaven. The last consideration to make is the food you eat. A nutritious breakfast gives you energy throughout the day, and there are a few nutrition hacks you should try to improve your sleep as well. Take a look at “The 9 Best Foods and Drinks to Have Before Bed.” Turkey making you sleepy isn’t just a Thanksgiving themed myth. It contains tryptophan; an amino acid that increases melatonin production.
Minute 2: What these two popular supplements can do for your performance
Bushwacking your way through the largely unregulated world of exercise supplements can leave your nutritional intake a little scraped up. Advertisers are quick to make bold claims about boosts to performance, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This week, we came across a new story on creatine, a substance that caught a bad rap years ago when baseball players began using it (and other stuff) while chasing home run records: “McGwire Admits Taking Controversial Substance.” The new story is paints a much different picture: “Creatine vs whey: When to use them.” Whey is a quick source of protein that won’t break the bank. Of course, just consuming protein alone isn’t enough to get stronger. You need to pair it with exercise. Giving yourself adequate fuel to recover is key to making progress and whey powder is one of the most convenient ways to do that. What about creatine? This one is less common, and it works by improving your performance in high intensity activities like weightlifting. It’s less essential than protein, but it can be incredibly useful for breaking through a plateau if your progress is slowing down. When it comes to safety, it's a low risk supplement to take according to: “Creatine and Creatine Supplements.” Creatine is found naturally in milk, red meat, and seafood, so a creatine monohydrate supplement isn’t anything out of the ordinary for your body. Anti-doping agency USADA weighs in with this info: “What Do Athletes Need to Know About Creatine?” #SupperSupplements
Minute 3: Don’t sweat it this summer
The summer heat can create a bit of a paradox for athletes. It sure is inviting to get outside for a run, but if you fail to manage the high temps, you’ll be seeking indoor AC quicker than New York City kids flock to an open fire hydrant. To make the most of the warmer months, there are a few considerations you can make, so find out “How to handle the summer sweats.” First off, you should select the right clothes for the job. For hot and humid days, moisture wicking fabrics are the way to go, and to see the best natural and synthetic options, take a look at “The 7 Best Moisture Wicking Fabrics for Sweat Management or Fitness.” Another tip worth trying is reducing your caffeine intake. It stimulates your central nervous system, raising your heart rate and activating your sweat glands. A good goal is to consume no more than 400 mg a day (about 4 cups of regular coffee), but keeping it even lower during the summer can pay off. Finally, you may want to try the new breed of antiperspirants that are designed specifically for athletes. Check out “The 7 Best Sports Deodorants For Your Next Workout.” You might be wondering, are antiperspirants safe for runners? While they can limit your body’s ability to cool itself down, it’s typically not severe enough to cause a problem, according to “Is antiperspirant unhealthy while exercising?”
Minute 4: Shoe review: ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+ ($250)
Brian Metzler highlights a shoe this week that has become a real competitor to the carbon-plated offerings from shoe giants Nike and Adidas. He hits the highlights here, but if you want all the pluses and minuses, please click here to see it on our website. Here is Brian’s take:
ASICS was a little later to the carbon-plated road racing shoe scene, but it has caught up quickly. Its original Metaracer and Magic Speed shoes with carbon-fiber plates contributed to podium finishes for its elite racers, but those felt more like traditional, low-to-the-ground racing flats. However, its more maximally cushioned and stride-differentiated Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge shoes have led to breakthrough performances for pros and age-group athletes and put ASICS on the same level as Nike and Adidas among elite racing shoes. The Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+ are the newly released updates that will be worn by several elite marathoners in the mid-July World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Oregon, including Americans Sara Hall and Emma Bates. (The Metaspeed Sky+ is designed for longer-striding runners, while the Metaspeed Edge+ is meant for runners with a shorter, quick-cadence gait.)
What’s New: The updated Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+ both have thicker FlightFoam Blast Turbo midsole, a new, more pliable engineered mesh upper and adjusted positioning of the carbon-fiber propulsion plates. While analyzing stride data from thousands of runners, ASICS determined the stride style runner needed the plate to be placed higher, to allow for the greater compression of the foam during toe-off to gain higher bounce. The cadence style runner needed the plate to be lower and more forward to facilitate maintaining the tempo and promote easier roll-forward motion. The Metaspeed Sky+ has 4 percent more foam in the midsole, while the Metaspeed Edge+ has 16 percent more cushioning. Both are cushy shoes, but it’s the location of the foam relative to the position of the plates that is the differentiating factor for each gait style.
Why They’re Great: Both of these shoes have a featherweight vibe with a softer, cushier and more energetic ride for each type of gait. The carbon-fiber plate in each model contributes to the maximal energy return by working with the natural motion of each stride style and the hyper-responsive characteristics of the Flightfoam Blast Turbo. That leads to the ability to maintain a faster pace for longer periods of time with greater efficiency and less fatigue.
For more pros and cons on the ASICS Metaspeed Sky+ and Metaspeed Edge+, check out Brian’s full review here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
The widespread adoption of streaming services has given everyone the power to be their own personal DJ. With that in mind, if you want to make a playlist as good as the pros, you’ve got to think like a pro. That means paying attention to the tempo of your songs and making sure they suit the occasion. For exercise activities, there are pretty specific BPM ranges that work best, and if you want a few pointers on making the right picks, read “The Science Behind a Good Workout Playlist: How to Pick the Right Music.”
A lot of food products position themselves under the health conscious term “energy bar.” Some of them are exactly as described, providing lasting energy in a nutritious package. Others are glorified candy bars, if we’re being honest. The key is to look for a few crucial ingredients: how much added sugar is there? Are sweetening syrups high up on the ingredient list? For a breakdown of what makes an energy bar “clean,” take a look at “The Energy Bars With the Best Ingredients (and Least Sugar).”
If you’ve given yoga a try, your first sessions probably involved you asking yourself: “Wasn’t this supposed to be easy?” How yoga got that reputation, we don’t know, because it can be a real challenge for your balance and isometric strength. However, we might be making things harder for ourselves than we need to, and it’s because we’re not giving ourselves enough wiggle room. No, we don’t mean that as a figure of speech, we’re literally talking about wiggling. Allowing yourself to move and make micro-adjustments while you perform yoga can be a game changer, so take a look at “The Missing Ingredient in Your Yoga Practice? Wiggling.” Since we’re in an Om frame of mind, we will also suggest checking out this helpful story: “8 of the Best Yoga Stretches for Runners.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If you are reading this publication, you probably already believe in the transformative power of running. Beyond clearing our heads and making us feel healthier, some runners use the sport as a kind of therapy in the face of tragedy. This week we learned of Ryan Welsh’s experience with running as a way to deal with loss and grief. In his 20s he lost both his parents in a short period of time, leaving him overwhelmed and unsure where to turn. Until he tried running. He quickly began to cherish his runs as a way to decompress and reduce stress at the end of each day. Before he started, he viewed running as boring and monotonous, but it wasn’t long before it became the thing that grounded him and helped him rebuild himself and the relationships he valued. To watch his inspiring story, take a look at the clip below.