Minute 1: Why women runners are setting the pace
As Jerry Garcia famously sang: “That’s right, the women are smarter.” Based on emerging research, it turns out that many women are also faster, particularly at longer running distances. While men are faster at shorter distances, in races over 195 miles, women outperform men statistically. There are several reasons for this, but one big explanation is that women are better at pacing than men. A few years ago, a University of Dayton study evaluated the 2007 and 2009 Chicago Marathons and determined that women sustain their pace better than men because they burn carbs more slowly, allowing their bodies to better manage the heat. Now a new international study backs that up, boldly declaring that women are better runners than men. The study by RunRepeat shows that women are 18.3% better at keeping an even pace than men. After surveying 2.3 million marathon results over a 10-year period, it concluded that men slowed their pace by 14% during the second half of a race, compared to just 11.4% for women. And the longer the run, the more important those statistics become. There are plenty of recent examples that back that up, showing that female ultra-athletes are leading the field over long distances.
Minute 2: New study on neck gaiters
In August, a Duke University study implied that runners should stop wearing a neck gaiter as a mask, suggesting they might be worse than wearing nothing at all. The Duke study was quickly challenged by several outlets that advised: “Don’t throw out your neck gaiters just yet.” Yet another new medical study study now shows that the Duke findings may have been at least half right. While a gaiter is not worse than not wearing a mask at all, neck gaiters do not provide ideal protection from COVID-19. Not surprisingly, this new October study found that N95 and surgical masks are much more effective than typical gaiters. A single-layer gaiter blocks only about 47% of respiratory aerosols, but if it is doubled up, effectiveness climbs to 60%, which is in the ballpark of medical masks. If you like the design and comfort of a neck gaiter, but are seeking greater protection, we are big fans of the Buff gaiter with replaceable filters that slide into their classic design. Last week we linked to several mask review guides and our readers found this one the most useful: “The 24 Most Breathable Face Masks for Running and Outdoor Workouts.” #InTheBuff
Minute 3: The ‘Big Dog’ wins the Backyard Ultra
Courtney Dauwalter had already established herself as an amazing endurance runner. When she won the 2017 Moab 240 in 58 hours, 59 minutes, finishing 10 hours ahead of the runner-up (a man) Red Bull dubbed her the best ultra runner in the world. With countless records and more than 32 ultra wins, The New York Times calls her “The Woman Who Outruns Men, 200 Miles at a Time.” But she likely has never had a more impressive or intriguing victory than winning this year’s Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra. The last-runner-standing competition turned into an international affair this year, with groups competing by country in different locations around the globe. In the US, 14 runners competed on a 4.167-mile loop in Bell Buckle, Tenn., with new loops starting once every hour. Dauwalter was the last runner standing, running 283.3 miles over 68 laps in 56 hours, 52 minutes, a record for a female runner in the event. While Karel Sabbe of Belgium won the overall world title with 74 laps in just under 55 hours, Dauwalter was the first “Satellite” Backyard Ultra champion for the U.S. Dauwalter said she loves the event because it “leaves the door wide open for pushing your limits. …. The bar keeps raising, and I love it!” #DoggedDetermination
Minute 4: It’s now officially cool to wear knee-high running socks
If you grew up in the ‘80s, you may recall an era when it was cool to wear knee-high tube socks while working out. You may remember those times fondly as retro chic, or you may be deeply scarred by a dad who wore dress socks with shorts or athletic socks with sandals, making the annual list of things men shouldn’t wear this summer. But such styles are not quite so taboo anymore, especially if you are wearing compression socks.
Compression socks are not just for your grandpa’s varicose veins anymore. They offer many health benefits and have become quite popular among athletes. Basketball players have been wearing them for a while, and not just because they look cool. Compression socks for running have proven to have numerous benefits, from enhancing performance to helping with pain and soreness after a run. Now there is evidence that the long, tight, knee-high socks have even more value, with many people wearing them while working from home. If you’re interested in becoming healthier and trendier, check out this list of the best compression socks for runners. #NotJustForNurses
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
As you consider the safety of your family and your community, there really is no good excuse to avoid masks in public. While that responsibility is likely to continue for some time, at least you can rest a little easier about safety in the grocery store. A new study just published in the Washington Post concludes the following: “Stop wiping down groceries and focus on bigger risks, say experts on coronavirus transmission.”
Runners have known for awhile that 2 of the best ways to improve your performance are through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and a strength-training program. The best HIIT workouts improve cardiovascular fitness, while strength training for runners builds lean muscle and endurance. But there are other benefits as well, especially if you are looking to shed a few pounds. Many experts have concluded that “HIIT really works when you want to lose weight.” If you’re interested in adding these routines, check out the 10 most effective HIIT exercises for runners, and these 14 running-specific strength training exercises.
Stephanie Simpson was the top Canadian in the Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, a team event that had her running for 43 hours. What was even more impressive (and surprising) was the food she ate during her two-day run. Simpson said she tried to eat something on every 4.167-mile lap, scarfing down burgers, waffles, pretzels, chips, candy, and even McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches. Though she did eat a banana every now and then, it was offset by the french fries. “I ate almost no healthy food for two days,” she said. The parents of another competitor brought the Canadian team food from McDonald’s, while a food truck at the event supplied the burgers and fries. Simpson’s food intake was not normal fare for how to eat during long runs. Though chips and pretzels are not all that unusual, the burgers and fries are certainly not what you are supposed to eat during an ultra. The best advice is to follow these trail snack tips Women’s Running calls What Elites Eat on the Trail. Simpson said she wasn’t hungry the day after the race, but was starving on day two. “But I don’t even have a craving for fast food,” she said. “I think I had enough during the race."
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Ironically, many runners dread a leg day workout in the gym. Even though we know it’s good for us, many of us skip it, hoping/believing that we’re getting enough leg work on the roads. It’s kinda like: “I brush my teeth twice a day, why do I need to floss?” We’ve seen the leg day memes and we’ve read about why you should never skip leg day, but still we rationalize and procrastinate. For runners, it’s critical to work glutes, calves and thighs (hamstrings/quads) at least once a week, since these are the “3 Most Important Muscles to Work in Your Legs” according to Well+Good this month.
Nike Master Trainer Traci Copeland is a former track and field athlete at Georgetown who now runs yoga and bootcamp sessions for a wide range of athletes. We like her simple workout below that promotes lower body stability for runners.