A test to see if you’re ready for your next race



Minute 1: Movement is the name of the game

In 1988, advertising wiz Dan Wieden went to Nike CEO Phil Knight and told him that Nike needed a tagline. They were getting their butts kicked by Reebok at the time, with FY1987 Swoosh revenue down 18%. Mashing together the last words of convicted killer Gary Gilmore before his execution (“Let’s do it”) and Nancy Reagan’s ubiquitous anti-drug campaign (“Just say no”), Wieden pitched “Just Do It” to Knight. “We don’t need that $h*t,” Knight responded. As billions of Nike customers worldwide know, Knight lost the argument, but won the shoe war. As it turns out, “Just Do It” isn’t just transformational ad copy, it’s also a pretty good way to think about fitness in general. According to a new study, even tiny doses of exercise can produce real results: “Doing a Micro Workout Can Boost Fat Metabolism By 43%—Here's How to Do It.” In an ideal world, we would all have plenty of time to spend with family, perform well at work and get in 60 minutes of exercise per day. All of us blame time constraints when workouts take a back seat to life. According to new research, however, even a bout of exercise as brief as 1 minute can positively impact your heart and metabolism. Think squat jumps, stair climbs or burpees in between work calls. Or even lunges while you’re waiting for your morning coffee to brew. You can also reference this timeless interview with the NYT fitness columnist Gretchen Reynolds: "Walk, Run, Swim Or Bike — The Most Important Exercise Is Merely Movement." Her thesis is that movement is the key to longevity and health. And it doesn't matter so much what type of movement you're doing, just that you're moving. Biking, walking, running, gardening, playing a sport with your kids -- they all count as long as you're moving for 20 minutes or more according to her thesis. #JustMoveIt

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Minute 2: Olympic inspiration

While watching the Olympics this summer, we will admit that our mind occasionally wandered to: “Hmm. I bet I could do that.” Of course, we didn't think we could perform at Olympic levels, but we were inspired nonetheless to do a Walter Mitty version of elite training and events. Just watching the cyclists, track stars and triathletes prompted us to get out the door ourselves. Apparently, we weren’t alone. In fact, a well-regarded study proves it. A new story, "What impact do the Olympics and mass-sporting events have on public health?" talks with researcher and professor Mikihiro Sato of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research looked at what impact the 1964 Tokyo Olympics had on spectator's physical activity and the impact of mass-participation events like marathons on the spectator's life satisfaction. Children who watched those Tokyo games grew up inspired and participated in more physical activity events as they aged. The post-Olympics sporting bump is a real thing. In 2018, after the US Men won Olympic curling gold, Minnesota saw a big uptick in interest (4 of the 5 team members were from Minnesota). #AlwaysInspired

Minute 3: To Jump or Not To Jump

Who doesn't love a good training montage? Especially one featuring Rocky, who integrated all kinds of workouts to get him primed for prize fights. One of Rocky’s go-to workouts, of course, was jumping rope. It turns out that one of the better ways to stay fit and active is to jump. Whether for joy, for fun, or for fitness, jumping is a great workout. For evidence, check out: “Jump Squats Are Tougher Than You Think. Here's How to Do Them Right.” If simple jumps feel a bit primitive for you, consider jumping rope. That exercise competes with running in terms of caloric burn. "The Rundown on Jump Rope vs. Running" presents a strong argument for both. If you did a 30-minute workout, a 155-lb person would burn 421 calories doing fast jump roping and 450 calories running at an 8-minute mile pace. A slower paced jump and run were comparable too. Jumping rope also provides more of a total body workout compared to running alone, with all those arm movements to keep the rope spinning. If you need a good place to start your jump rope training, check out “5 Easy Ways to Get a Full Body Workout at Home for Busy Parents” from Crossrope, the makers of innovative jump rope equipment. If you’re looking for advanced inspiration, check out Tori Boggs, a 30-time Grand World Champ who posts fun and incredible jumping rope videos on Instagram. #JumpToIt

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Minute 4: Are you ready for your next race?

Whether you’re getting married or skydiving, you really don’t find out if you’ve prepared properly until you take the leap. Although the stakes are lower, we often feel the same way when we toe the line of a running race. Are we ready for this? Have we trained properly? Will this be our day? Olympic running coach Ross Ristuccia can’t tell you whether you’ve chosen the right spouse or packed your parachute safely, but he can tell you whether you’re ready to race. His methods are described in this new piece: "Try this fitness test ahead of your next 5K." Ideally, you should try this test about 3-4 weeks prior to your race. It's a simple enough interval workout, 6 x 1k at 5k race pace, with a 90-second rest. If you're able to hit the mark on all 6 intervals, then you're right where you should be. For longer distances, check out “Three Great Marathon Predictor Workouts,” including one of our personal favorites, Yasso 800s. The idea is that if you run 10 x 800 meters, your time on the last couple of 800s in min/sec should be your marathon time in hr/min. So if you run a 2 minute 50 second 800 at the end of the workout, your marathon time should be 2 hours and 50 minutes. Gotta love that simplicity, although some have argued it’s too simple: “Yasso 800s Predict A Time That Is About 5 Minutes Too Fast.” If you're interested in more of an overall fitness evaluation, consider taking the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test. We like this one because they publish different standards for groups ranging in ages from 17 to 51+. We are also biased because the MFT favors runners, with a 3-mile timed segment -- a longer distance than other military branches. #TestPrep

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We just went live with a fun interview with Jason Jabaut, a former sub-4-minute-mile professional athlete who is now the Chief Operating Officer of Fleet Feet, arguably the #1 chain of run specialty shops in the U.S. Jason brings a fresh perspective on life, sports and business that reflects the downhome values of a company that is headquartered in North Carolina and is passionate about helping runners reach their goals. Whatever they’re doing down there is working, as Fleet Feet posted record revenue last year despite the global pandemic that temporarily closed most of their locations. His favorite movie is Ghostbusters, so he automatically qualifies as someone we wouldn’t mind sitting next to during a long flight delay. Check out the interview in our Six Minute Mile podcast here.

  • In Tuesday's issue we mentioned how many of the runners during the Olympics were sporting the Nike super shoe, and included a story about the development and science behind the shoe. Well, here's some additional empirical evidence to support the advancement of the latest foot tech. Athletes sporting Nike shoes took 21 of 33 podium spots in Tokyo. Nike's spikey track shoes, ZoomX return 85% of the compression applied by an athlete, a remarkable energetic return that can propel an athlete forward. Combine that with the advanced technology and responsiveness of the track itself, and it's no wonder a number of world records were smashed. In the marathon, 4 of the 6 podium finishers wore Nike Vaporfly shoes.

  • Leadville, Colorado, is known for the Leadville Trail 100, a gold standard of ultramarathon trail runners. But Leadville runs another race too that is a bit more unknown - unless you're from Colorado. Enter the Burro race. It's a race that's been happening for 73-years. If you thought running at altitude was hard enough, try doing it while leading a burro for the 15-mile or 21-mile course. If you have your heart set on a burro race, you've got time to catch one still. The season continues into September, but you'll have to make your way to Colorado where 3 of the remaining 4 races take place.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Nike’s very first “Just Do It” TV ad debuted in 1988 and featured an 80-year-old runner named Walt Stack. Mr. Stack was a Bay Area legend who began every day with a long run over the Golden Gate Bridge and a 1-mile swim in the bay. His ad launched the re-birth of Nike and created billions of dollars of value for the company. The former union foreman who was also the president of the Dolphin Club at Fisherman’s Wharf didn’t reap much of that cash, but was one of the steadiest adherents to routine we’ve ever encountered. He almost invariably ran 8:30 pace on his runs, regardless of distance. That consistency prompted a Sports Illustrated writer to quip: "Walt Stack's pace is so steady, if he fell out of an airplane he probably would fall at the speed of 8.5 minutes per mile."