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9 track drills for faster running

MAR 18, 2023

Minute 1: What happens when your body is running on empty

Physicists tell us that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only rearranged. For runners, that means if you aren’t taking in energy via food and drinks, your energy leaving your body and your running performance is being rearranged – and not in a good way. In spite of this basic science, some athletes and coaches believe that caloric restriction is the right call during training and competition, but most evidence suggests otherwise, according to this thoughtful new piece from Trail Runner: “The Science of Low Energy Availability and Performance.” Individuals will have different thresholds of what counts as underfueling, since we all have our own metabolic rates and exercise habits. However, the impacts are fairly consistent. In the short term, you can expect an inability to adapt to training, greater fatigue, and increased inflammation. That’s your body’s way of slowing things down to save energy when it thinks there isn’t enough to go around. In the long term, things are a bit more complicated. There’s some evidence to suggest that moderate low energy availability can improve certain bodily functions, given time to adapt. Of course, extreme deficits in energy are considered unstable and disruptive to your health, and most experts recommend listening to your body and reputable dietary guidelines when attempting any sort of restrictive eating practices. Runners who want to tailor their diet to their training and racing should check out these “Nutrition Guidelines for Long Runs and Race Day.” Getting the proper balance of macronutrients is a major component of an effective diet, and most experts recommend getting about 65% of your calories from carbs. That’s especially true if you’re competing for 2 hours or less at a time. If you’re going longer, aim to take in more fats, since they can be stored as energy in greater amounts than carbs.

Minute 2: Drills to keep your speed development on track

If you’ve ever snooped on elite athletes prior to a big race, you probably witnessed a variety of drills and routines. If you’ve wondered how those moves help the stars, check out these “9 Great Track Drills To Make You A Faster Runner.” A-skips and b-skips are a combo that’s designed to improve your explosiveness and running mechanics. They’ll help you get into the habit of maintaining an upright posture and reducing excessive vertical movement, so follow along with “How to Do A-Skip & B-Skip with Proper Form - Find Your Stride with Coach John Smith.” In addition to dynamic stretching drills, the list also recommends resisted running drills, like these “Resistance Sprint Drills to Boost Speed.” Attaching a parachute or pushing a sled can work wonders for developing strength. Once you take it off, you’ll feel like you’re flying, which can be a powerful mental trick to improving your athletic confidence. The nice thing about parachutes is that they’re effective, cheap, and easy to carry, so take a look at the “Best Running Parachutes Tested & Rated” if you want to pick one up.

Minute 3: Your body changes as you age, and so should your diet

The older we get, the earlier it seems to get late. In the same way we’ve altered our liquid nightlife intake, it also makes sense to adapt our food during the day as well, according to: “Addressing the Changing Nutrition Needs of Masters Athletes.” One difference between older and younger athletes is the amount of protein they need to prevent muscle loss. Beginning in your 30s, the body begins to lose muscle due to a phenomenon known as sarcopenia. Younger adults can get away with 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight a day, but studies have indicated masters athletes can benefit from a ratio 1.5g per kg or greater to preserve muscle mass. To help meet the dietary adaptations of a masters athlete, supplementation is a popular choice. In particular, creatine monohydrate and omega-3s can help to preserve your intensity and metabolic efficiency during high intensity exercise. Here are the “7 Best Creatine Supplements of 2023” and “The 6 best omega-3 supplements.” There are some supplements that promise more than they can likely deliver, however, so be wary: “What To Know About 'Immune-Boosting' Supplements.” Things like vitamin C, zinc, and elderberry powder may or may not boost your immunity, but nothing will make a difference quite like a healthy lifestyle can. Most experts agree that maintaining an exercise schedule and limiting your intake of harmful substances like alcohol is the most reliable way to keep your immunity strong.

Minute 4: Shoe Review: ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 ($160)

Shoe expert Brian Metzler weighs in this week with a review of an old favorite. Don’t let the fact that the GEL-Nimbus is on version 25 fool you. This is a full revamp of an ASICS fan favorite. The highlights are below and you can check out Brian’s full review of the new GEL-Nimbus on our website.

Looking for a new pair of everyday training shoes with a high-stack midsole profile? You’ve got to check out the new ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25. But if you’re going to give it a try, please forget what you knew about the previous version of this neutral-oriented daily trainer. The Nimbus has always been a workhorse of a training shoe, ideal for a wide range of runners. And it still is. Only it’s not remotely the same shoe as it was in the past.

Two of the biggest trends in running shoes in 2023 are thicker midsoles and midsole foams made from new, luxuriously cushy and responsive foam materials. ASICS has reimagined the Nimbus based on those key points, but in doing so it took the Nimbus from a basic, utilitarian family sedan and converted it into a luxury SUV with leather seats and a megawatt stereo system. That’s not a bad thing at all, but in doing so, it’s also eliminated the versatility, agility and handling the Nimbus once had. Since January, I’ve worn the Nimbus 25 as one of my go-to training shoes and have worn it for a lot of 8-12 mile runs. I don’t have any complaints at all about its comfort or durability, but the more I run in it, the more I am reminded that it’s not nimble or speedy.

What’s New: Everything about the GEL-Nimbus 25 is new or revamped. There’s 20 percent more FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco foam in the midsole than the previous version and a 4mm increase in thickness from heel to toe. There’s also a new PUREGEL cushioning pod that improves impact absorption with less weight than the previous GEL pods. Plus, the Nimbus 25 no longer has a midfoot Trusstic system (aka plastic midfoot shank) which allows the new midsole formulation to serve up a smooth, uninhibited transition from heel to toe without any torsional rigidity. And the shoe now has an 8mm heel-toe offset—previously 13mm (women’s) and 10mm (men’s), respectively. The upper has also been changed from an engineered mesh material to a breathable, semi-stretchy knit fabric with a bootie fit from a fully gusseted knit tongue. A new outsole includes three segments of perforated rubber (two pads of durable rubber on the heel, one larger segment of lighter and more responsive rubber under the forefoot) plus large sections of exposed foam, which combine to keep the shoe as light as possible while also being plenty durable and very grippy on wet and dry pavement and concrete. Whew! That’s a lot of changes, to be sure. Somehow it retains the same name of ASICS’ best-selling training shoe that’s been a favorite of runners for a quarter century.

Fit/Feel/Ride: The GEL-Nimbus 25 fits true to size with a medium-volume interior from heel to midfoot but with a slightly more narrow toe box. (A few wear-testers said they might consider sizing up by a half size, so it’s important to try this shoe on before you buy.) The step-in feel is unbelievably plush, with softness surrounding your feet from all directions. It fits like a fleece-lined glove. Once you lace it up, it feels like a mix of the comfiest bedroom slipper you’ve ever worn and the best foot massage you’ve ever experienced. Walking, jogging or running produces a gooey soft sensation with plenty of bouncy action in every stride. Once you lace them up and start running, you realize this is nothing like the GEL-Nimbus shoes you used to know. It’s a true maximally cushioned trainer that produces buttery smooth transitions from heel-strike to toe-off, thanks to a mild rocker geometry. For a shoe with such an enormous midsole, it’s surprisingly stable, too. (But not enough to accommodate for overpronators.)

Why It’s Great: The dramatic improvements—especially the thicker midsole, the lower heel drop and the soft new upper and tongue—have turned it into a luxury high-mileage cruiser. It’s now on par with shoes like the Brooks Glycerin and Saucony Triumph models when it comes to top-tier comfort and cushioning, and not surprisingly, it carries the same $160 price tag. That’s the cost of doing business nowadays, but it’s a good investment if you’re looking to up your running game this year.

For the complete rundown on the new ASICS GEL-Nimbus, check out Brian’s full review here. Brian’s full collection of shoe reviews now features more than 20 shoes on our website with something for every runner.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Our friend Dara Zall Kelly logged her longest training run in the lead-up to Boston and her account, as usual, is equal parts hilarious and poignant. Juggling motherhood, hockey playoffs and icy Massachusetts sidewalks, Dara ran a big chunk of the marathon course in reverse and provides details on everything from her fueling to wiping tears and snot away with her sleeve. Check out this week’s account here.

  • If we told you somebody biked all the way up Mount Everest, would you believe us? Okay, maybe we need to rephrase that. Nobody's cycling up the mountain itself, but they are going the equivalent distance in elevation gain, as part of a trend called Everesting, and it’s one heck of a way to test your strength, endurance, and mental fortitude. If you want to learn about the pioneer of the trend, Ronan McLaughlin, and what it takes to do it, check out: “Is “Everesting” the Most Diabolical Endurance Challenge Yet?

  • The Rocky film franchise has supplied some of the most powerful sports movies around; a perfect flick to put on when you need extra motivation. That’s why we were hyped to try out this arm workout that’s driving the next iteration of the series: “Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors' Creed III Trainer Shares Arm-Building Tips.”

  • Neurosurgery is a complicated endeavor, but we were pleasantly surprised this week with some very simple advice from one leading brain surgeon. In an effort to keep the mind working right, even into old age, he recommends three things: “‘Exercise, avoid bangs and invent fairy stories’: Henry Marsh’s guide to keeping brains healthy.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

These days on social media, we hear a lot about green and red flags. Usually, it’s in the context of romantic relationships, but do romantic partners exhibit similar signs as our hiking partners? @meredithweber_ thinks so, and she breaks it down in a clip covering everything you need to know about proper trail etiquette. If you’ve got a trek planned and want to knock it out of the park for your fellow hikers, follow along with these hilarious and helpful suggestions, like planning out your post hike meal or packing an extra summit beer.


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