Minute 1: Can you remember what you were thinking while running?
"The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.” When Albert Einstein shared that thought in the early 20th century, is it possible he was speaking about a morning run? Few things spark our minds and produce more great thoughts than a good run. “On a normal run, I’ll have harebrained ideas about all different things -- things I want to do later that day, things I want to do in the next 5 years, planning out my life,” professional runner Ben True once told Outside magazine. “Often, it’s some new invention that I think would be really cool, some new business plan…” But as Outside points out in “Here’s What Runners Think About While Running,” many have encountered the same hurdle: by the time we’ve untied our shoes, we’ve forgotten half our new ideas. Runner and author Jen Miller decided to do something about that by interviewing fellow runners during a 24-hour race on New Year’s Eve. Equipped with her phone, a notebook, two pens, a pencil and extra battery chargers, she documented the experience in a New York Times piece called “To Run and Take Notes at the Same Time.” Researchers have examined the thought process of runners for years. A 2015 study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that unlike Ben True, runners generally think about 2 things while running: their pace and distance, and pain and discomfort. (So much for endorphin-induced euphoria.) But most runners would rather dwell on more pleasant subjects. Men’s Journal recently asked runners “What Do You Think About When You’re Running?” The responses span a variety of topics, from ex-wives and girlfriends to movies to watch and food to eat to “how long until I can stop running.” Run Eat Repeat also came up with good internal conversation starters in “12 Things to Think About While Running.” As for the problem of remembering your best ideas, you could always record them into the Notes section of your smartphone. That works as long as you don’t mind looking like Michael Keaton in the ‘80s movie Night Shift. (“Take live tuna fish and feed ‘em mayonnaise.”) #JackHandy
Minute 2: An apple a day really could keep the doctor away
Surely, there has never been a more famous fruit than the apple. The juicy orb of flavor is so delicious that some of the greatest minds in history have analyzed and opined on it. “Surely the apple is the noblest of fruits,” author Henry David Thoreau wrote. The apple is so beloved that Solomon, history’s wisest of wisemen, once said: “Comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love.” And of course, Benjamin Franklin famously declared: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, they were all onto something, as Healthline points out in “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away — Fact or Fiction?” Healthline breaks down the benefits of apples, from their nutritional value to helping maintain a healthy heart and fighting cancer. One of the most important benefits is promoting brain function and reducing stress, which we could all use right now. That could also be why young students were once taught to give an apple to their teacher. Though recent medical research shows that “Apple Juice Is Not Healthy For Kids,” there are few downsides to eating pure apples, except perhaps consuming too many. Medical experts list them among the “Top 12 Healthful Fruits” and nutritionists rank them among the “10 Foods That Are Good to Eat After Running.” Brightly-colored fruits like apples are also among the “4 foods runners should eat to support their immune systems.” For other healthy foods that are good for the body, mind and soul, check out Healthline’s “18 Terrific Foods to Help Relieve Stress.” #ForgivingFruit
Minute 3: How to properly and respectfully blast winter snot rockets
With snow, ice and freezing temperatures making us think twice about venturing out into those frigid conditions, it seems everyone has a list of “Tips For Running in Winter Weather.” GearHungry.com has a line in that story that stopped us in our tracks: “Running in Winter = Snot Rockets.” In its tips for head and face coverings, GearHungry points out that “snot rockets are an easy way to turn your neck gaiter into a cold face covering.” Yes, runners know all about snot rockets. When your heart is pounding, you’re gasping for breath, and your nose is running like a waterfall, sometimes there’s only one solution: blast a snot rocket off the path or trail. Adidas even once glorified the practice in an ad campaign called “Runners, Yeah We’re Different.” Snot rockets are unfortunately a common and often necessary practice among runners. And there’s an art to it. Our friends at Fleet Feet provide the ultimate how-to guide with: “5 Steps to Blowing a Perfect Snot Rocket.” In addition to its snot rocket advice, Fleet Feet just published a helpful guide: “Embrace Winter Running With These Cold-Weather Tips.” #DoingBlow
Minute 4: How to treat common foot problems
Your feet are getting jealous. While your legs, knees, hips and IT bands get most of the attention, it’s your feet that endure the heaviest pounding while running. As Healthline points out this month in “Common Foot Problems of Runners,” that can lead to such painful problems as blisters and toenail damage or more significant injuries like plantar fasciitis and stress fractures. Active.com weighs in with “Runners and Foot Injuries: 4 Causes of Foot Pain.” Stress fractures can be particularly painful and damaging to runners, so check out “The Ultimate Runner’s Guide to Stress Fractures” from Runners Connect. While blisters are painful, too, they are mostly just nagging and annoying. Self.com has some sound advice in “10 Ways to Avoid Those Gross, Awful Blisters on Your Feet When You Run.” #FootFaults
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
With the pandemic and live-event cancelations forcing us to get more creative with our running and fitness goals, apps like Strava, Runkeeper and MapMyRun are becoming must-haves if you want any sort of competition. Exercising at home or on your own is the new normal, so there are plenty of new apps being introduced to track your fitness goals and boost motivation. VeryWellFit provides its list of “The 10 Best Fitness Apps to Download in 2021.” Strava also has some new features as does the Apple Watch 2021. To pair the best apps with the right gear, check out TechRadar’s “Best Running Watches of 2021” or The Wired Runner’s list of the “Best Running Watches in 2021.”
We documented above the importance of taking care of your feet, but taking stress and pressure off your knees is equally important. Fleet Feet says you can do this by taking smaller steps and increasing your cadence. In its blog post “Does Cadence Matter?” Fleet Feet cites a study showing that increasing your cadence by just 10 percent can reduce knee pain and the risk of knee injuries. Quicker, shorter steps create a more fluid stride, taking pressure off the knees and reducing the risk of injuries. Fleet Feet also recommends using music to help you find your stride or cadence.
The more efficiently your body can get rid of lactic acid during a tough workout, the faster you can run. A great way to increase your anaerobic threshold is with tempo runs. Setting a good pace -- faster than your normal training pace, but slower than your race speed -- can help train your body to control the buildup of lactic acid. Canadian Running explains the science behind the technique with “The tempo run: training your anaerobic threshold.”
If you’re a vegan, finding hiking boots and shoes that are not made with some sort of animal leather or other animal-derived products can be a challenge. But with the rising popularity of plant-based materials, there are more and more boots and shoes that are vegan friendly. OutdoorsMagic.com has a list of 100% vegan products in its “Best Vegan Hiking Boots & Shoes 2021 | Top Quality Walking Boots That Are Cruelty-Free.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
For any of our readers who think their PRs can only be seen in the rear view mirror rather than through the windshield, consider the story of Keira D’Amato. The 35-year-old realtor and mother of 2 young children had ended a promising professional running career more than 10 years ago due to a nasty foot injury. Despite being a 4-time collegiate All-American, she had to shelve her Olympic dreams and focus on career and family. Until 2020. That’s when D’Amato re-emerged with a vengeance to PR in the marathon, 10K and 5K, thanks to a successful foot surgery a few years ago and a lot of pre-dawn workouts. In November, she was even able to set a new American record for a women’s-only 10-mile race when she ran 5:08 miles in a D.C. race she helped organize calle the Up Dawg 10-Miler. (“The Office” reference to that joke is here.) D’Amato is now positioned well to make the U.S. Olympic team at the trials next June. We had the pleasure of interviewing D’Amato for a Six Minute Mile podcast that will be released next week. A video on her story and her Up Dawg triumph is below.