Minute 1: Another Spartan Race
Polite rule-followers don’t change the world. If anyone embodies that maxim in the endurance sports industry, it’s Joe DeSena. He continued his one-man crusade to bring back large events with a 4,000-person Spartan Race in Hungary recently. This followed his Jacksonville event back in June from which, thankfully, no Covid transmission stories have emerged. In addition to temperature checks and ample hand sanitizer, Spartan required all volunteers and staff to wear face masks. Athletes were required to wear masks everywhere except for on the course itself. Spartan sent runners off in waves of 50 every 5 minutes. Whether it’s the right thing or the wrong thing for the future of humanity, Joe is bringing endurance racing back. Perhaps to show his kinder, gentler side, he also published an interesting post this week entitled “Why Walking Is the Ultimate Productivity Hack.” He explores the physiology of how simple walks promote creativity and problem-solving. Einstein, Beethoven, Dickens and Thoreau, according to Joe, all said that walking helped them generate their biggest ideas. (If we go for an extremely long walk, could we figure out the winning Powerball number?) #WalkStars
Minute 2: World’s largest endurance photo vault
For more than a decade, the world’s largest collection of digital endurance race photos sat idle on a massive array of hard drives in a Tallahassee warehouse. 200 million images from world major marathons and 10K fun runs alike were hidden from the athletes who ran those races. Our sister company, MarathonFoto, just uploaded 200 terabytes to the cloud and created a new feature where athletes use their email address to search for images of their glory days. Just like window-shopping on Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive, this stroll down memory lane doesn’t cost anything to look. Just don’t be that guy who posts screen shots of their blurry images stamped with “Do Not Copy” all over them. But if you really, really want one race photo in particular, and you really, really don’t want to pay for it, just send us an email with a link to the photo and we will make free photo dreams come true for 10 lucky readers. If you finish just outside the top 10, one male and one female reader will receive a consolation prize of a Six Minute Mile water bottle, normally available only through our referral program. #PicsOrItDidntHappen
Minute 3: Did trail running really hurt our fitness level?
It’s hard enough to get older and slower every year as an endurance athlete. We don’t need our GPS watch to play schoolyard bully and taunt us about our fitness levels. But that’s exactly what Suunto did this week when they pig-piled on our actual aging process and said they consider our “Fitness Age” to be two years older than our calendar age. Aww c’mon. Really? Suunto rated us “Fair” and placed us in the bottom half of all Americans our age. We understand we’re not a sub-6:00 miler anymore, but we’re doing better than “Fair.” Turns out Suunto generates these rankings by how hard your heart needs to work to cover miles running or cycling. That’s a bit of a hack to derive a VO2 max that is not as accurate as going into a sports performance lab. (A description of the right way to do it is here.) Since we do most of our endurance outings on trails, our speed per mile is considerably slower than our friends on asphalt while our heartrate is higher covering hills and uneven terrain. The rule of thumb is that you are probably running at least 60 seconds per mile slower on trails. Others calculate the slowdown as adding 10-20% to your normal mile splits. Phew. Ego salvaged. Now we can enjoy a guilt-free post-run beer, as our friend Brian Metzler just wrote about in this Trail Runner piece: “The Joy (And Purpose) of a Post-Run Beer.” And BTW, all is forgiven, Suunto. We actually love our Suunto 5 GPS watch. It looks good, holds a charge well, integrates easily with Strava, and has intuitive features. Age is just a number the government keeps track of.
Minute 4: Bubble Gum Shoes (yes they actually exist)
We’ve seen a lot of crazy running shoes in our time. Remember when barefoot toe running shoes we’re a thing? Apparently some folks are still into the toe-pocket shoes. For sheer curb appeal and conversation starting, few shoes edge out Mizuno’s bubble gum shoe: the Mizuno Enerzy. These shoes are advertised to give a superior underfoot feeling with loads of soft cushioning foam. While these shoes won’t guarantee a PR, they definitely will guarantee plenty of strange looks from pedestrians and lots of questions from friends. And if you’re interested, prepare to hand over some serious cash: these bubble gum shoes come with a $300 price tag.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Last week we mentioned that Lululemon paid $500 million to acquire Mirror, a start-up that sells digital home workouts. We saw this as part of an evolution from “quantified self” technology to workout content engagement. Tracking workouts isn’t as interesting these days as discovering and being coached through new workouts. Right on cue, word leaked that Under Armour is now seeking to sell its collection of digital fitness and diet tracking apps that it paid about $700 million for 7 years ago. Map My Fitness was sold to Under Armour in 2013 as part of that acquisition spree. Our guess is that the entire collection of run/ride/diet tracking apps will sell for much less than UA paid for them. UA’s stock has dropped more than 60% in the past year.
Was something strange in the water this week? Two new stories emerged on how athletes should deal with going #2. We’ve all experienced thoughts on race morning like “What if I can’t go before the gun?” or “What if I have to go during the race, instead?” (See Pippig, Uta, Boston 1996.) The first Johnny on the spot (ouch) was LiveStrong with a story Monday on how to overcome constipation. Two days later, this piece ran: “3 Ways to Make Yourself Poop, According to Gut Health Experts.” More fiber, fluids and sleep can help your digestive tract as well as your overall health.
As a follow-up to last week’s posts about running with or without tunes (“The Silent Cult of People Who Run Without Music” and “The Best Way to Carry Your Phone for Every Type of Runner,”) Spotify announced this week that they will make a custom workout playlist for you. Just tell them your workout type and the vibe you are seeking. They will auto-magically create a mix of music and even podcasts to fit your goals.
A few good nutrition ideas crossed our desk this week, including these: “10 Foods Under 10 Calories You Should Be Eating More Of” (Swiss chard, garlic, spinach), “The Secret to Busting Cravings” (more fiber and protein), and “Can Fat Adaptation Make You Faster?” (lower carb consumption is better for events of 60 minutes or longer).
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) is one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood and was once dubbed the Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. He is also a pretty remarkable athlete based on this surfing video and he sinks a full court basketball shot in this clip. Hemsworth is known as one of the most dedicated strength and conditioning actors in the world. A description of his Thor workout and diet is here and he recently launched his own mind/body/nutrition site called Centr. To prep for his role in Men in Black, he used this 9-move 30-minute workout that can be done with body weight and only a few dumbbells and is appropriate for mere mortals.