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9 rules of thumb for getting faster

MAR 22, 2022

Minute 1: Not all fats are bad, and some even keep you feeling young

Fat shaming has been a thing for decades. We’re not talking about schoolyard taunts or embarrassing swimsuit moments. We mean fat as a nutritional component. Beginning in the ‘70s and ‘80s, fat somehow became a nutritional boogeyman. The 1983 book “Eat To Win” became a NYT #1 best seller by preaching a diet high in carbs and very low in fat. Dr. Robert Haase told us that athletes were consuming too much protein and that lowering cholesterol levels was the key to peak performance. Since then, our understanding of fat for athletes has evolved. Yes, fat is calorically dense, containing about twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein per gram, but there’s more to the story than that. There are different kinds of fat with a variety of benefits and downsides, and one in particular may just be the key to a longer lifespan. Take a look at this provocative new story: “How Dolphin Research Is Revealing the Hidden Health Benefits of Butter.” Researchers studied the diets of dolphins to discern which nutrients promote longevity. It turns out, a kind of fat known as C15:0 was found to “help prevent prediabetes, lower inflammation, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and more, in humans as well as sea mammals.” C15:0 can be found in butter, whole fat dairy, fish, beef, and lamb, but it’s just one of many healthy fats you should consider for your diet. For a list of a few others, read "25 Healthy High-Fat Foods to Keep You Full and Satisfied.” Avocados, nuts, eggs, and seeds are all good sources of unsaturated fats. The Mayo Clinic recommends the Mediterranean Diet for heart health, relying on olive oil as a source of healthy fat. If you want to take it a step further, you may explore the question “Why is the keto diet good for you?” Keto diets can help you lose weight, and lower the risk of certain cancers, but many think it takes fat consumption to an extreme level.

Minute 2: What you should know about training zones

You often hear of athletes “getting in the zone” before a big game or race. That expression is another homage to the ‘70s and a book called “The Inner Game of Tennis” that sold nearly 1,000,000 copies and was a breakthrough work emphasizing the importance of confidence and mental equilibrium for athletes. It’s a way of describing and encouraging focus that seems like a brainer these days. There’s a different sense of the word “zone” that’s not so obvious, though. In fact, there’s a lot of science behind the concept of “training zones” that every endurance athlete can benefit from learning. Dive into the details in “Zone 2 Training for Endurance Athletes: Build Your Aerobic Capacity” from Training Peaks. The idea is that training intensity levels can be broken down based on the kind of energy source used, and muscle fibers recruited. There are fundamentally 3 kinds of muscle fibers: type 1 (slow twitch) and type 2a & 2b (fast twitch). Slow twitch fibers are used for low to moderate intensity exercise, and they’re especially good at burning fat as an energy source over long periods of time. Fast twitch fibers are engaged at higher intensity levels, and they use carbohydrates and ATP for quick bursts of energy. As you can see in “Training Zones Explained,” zone 2 is fairly low intensity exercise; the kind where you could still have a conversation if needed. By doing about 75% of your training in this zone, endurance athletes will develop their metabolism to burn fat more efficiently, allowing them to conserve carbohydrates and maintain a greater average speed over long distances. #CleanupInZone2

Minute 3: What we can learn from the happiest nation on earth

Scandinavia is having a bit of a moment in the sports and healthy living media. In the past few weeks, we’ve covered Norway's cutting edge training philosophy that led them to Olympic gold. Then, we looked at the Nordic Diet, which can lower cholesterol and improve overall health. Now, we’re crossing the Baltic Sea to visit Norway’s neighbor and meet the happiest people on earth: “Finland Doesn’t Understand Why It Keeps Winning the “Happiest Country” Title.” There are a few obvious factors that make a difference, like having clean air and water, low crime rate, socioeconomic equality, and a trustworthy government. There’s a lot more to it than that, and to make matters more complicated, humans often don’t even know what they want. That’s why choice is the most important factor for happiness, according to Malcolm Gladwell. See why in his TED Talk, “Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce.” His main conclusion is that humans have such a diverse set of preferences that there’s no one size fits all solution to satisfaction, whether it's for the spaghetti sauce we eat, the country in which we live, or the exercise we perform. Zach Miller knows all about this, and he writes about his transition to a new relationship with running and skiing after an injury. Read his story “In a Rut.” Zach is a North Face-sponsored athlete and an interesting cat who spends much of his year living in an off-the-grid cabin on Pike’s Peak. Change is scary, but it’s in finding new passions and making new friendships that we’re able to grow, and that’s why freedom and choice is so vital to our happiness.

Minute 4: 9 simple tips every runner should know

Every week we bombard you with info to help your running, and while we hope you find it useful, we understand it can get a little overwhelming. If you feel that’s the case, it could be a sign you need to get back to basics with some general rules of thumb to guide your training. No data charts, scientific jargon, or any other complications. Just universally applicable advice in “9 rules of thumb for getting faster.” When in doubt, the one true north of any training plan is consistency. Nobody ever got fast from running once every few weeks, and likewise, you’d never find someone who didn’t make progress after a consistent month of practice. Another key is to listen to your body. You can do all the planning and preparation you’d like, but until you put things into motion, you won’t know how much volume your body can handle, or what running pace feels right. For tips on taking a more intuitive approach, read “Improve Running Performance By Listening To Your Body, Not Your Watch.” (Zach Miller, who we mentioned in Minute 3, is known for eschewing GPS tracking devices.) Lastly, have the discipline to run workouts, but not to the point of exhaustion every time. You should walk away feeling like you kicked that workout’s butt, not vice versa. Otherwise, you’re getting in the way of your own recovery, and probably increasing your likelihood of injury. For a breakdown of when it’s okay to train to your limit, check out “When Should You (If Ever) Train to Failure?

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • The technology that goes into footwear is changing fast, and that’s helping us all get speedier. As manufacturers experiment with new methods and material, they uncover ways to drop shoe weight, leaving you feeling faster than ever. Recently, Under Armour released the Flow Velociti Wind 2, a shoe that contains no traditional rubber. That has us asking the question: “Are Rubberless Shoes the Future of Running?” We think that’s a real possibility, but don’t take our word for it, watch “Under Armour Flow Velociti Wind 2 Review: A competitive do-it-all daily trainer?” and see for yourself.

  • You may be familiar with your smartphone’s “Dark Mode,” a feature that aims to lessen the damage screen light does to your sleep quality. By filtering out blue light, which is known to inhibit melatonin production, Dark Mode promises a better night’s rest, even if you use your phone right before bed. Just how effective is Dark Mode? Well, skeptics point to a lack of scientific consensus, and many sleep experts feel that Dark Mode simply doesn’t address the root of the problem, which is the overall brightness and stimulation from late night screen time in general. Check out the full story here: “Is Dark Mode Actually Better for Your Eyes or Your Sleep?

  • March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Now that spring is beginning to warm us like a soft wool sweater, we find more and more of our exercise hours are spent outdoors. In addition to just logging miles on roads and trails, we like the idea presented in this new story about using our local park as an open air gym: “Park workout for fat burning outdoor exercise.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We’re continuing our countdown to next Sunday’s Oscars with a roundup of iconic running scenes in movie history. This week, we’ve got a nostalgic blast from the past that’s as inspiring as it is heartwarming. Forrest Gump runs across the country, not once but 4 times over the span of 2 years. But his love for running had humble beginnings, breaking free of his leg braces to escape a pack of bullies as Jenny delivers the iconic line, “Run Forrest, Run!” The film won 6 academy awards upon its release in 1994, and its scenes like the one below which earned its status as an instant classic.


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