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Are endurance athletes less likely to suffer from COVID-19?

Minute 1: Are endurance athletes less likely to suffer from COVID-19?

Some very fit people have been among the victims of the Coronavirus pandemic. Olympic gold medal swimmer Cameron van der Burgh called his experience “by far the worst virus I have ever endured.” David Lat, who has finished the NYC Marathon multiple times, was placed on a ventilator and was a “coin flip” as to whether he would live or die. Thankfully, he is recovering, but another New York runner was not so fortunate. Anick Jesdanun, 51, succumbed to the virus despite a collection of 15 NYC Marathon finisher medals. He had no underlying health conditions. While those stories are heart-breaking, endurance athletes should take some comfort in certain statistics around the pandemic. First, according to the CDC, 90% of Coronavirus victims who require hospitalization have an underlying condition. The most common of those are hypertension, obesity, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Another common denominator among those conditions is that they are all relatively rare among committed endurance athletes. Nonetheless, we want to urge against smugness among our fit friends, as some of those conditions are the result of unlucky genetics rather than sloth. (We don’t know any smug endurance athletes, do we?) Second, according to a study from the University of Virginia, regular exercise produces a powerful antioxidant known as EcSOD. That is one of the best weapons the body has against Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) that is often the ultimate cause of death in COVID-19 cases. Approximately 70%+ of patients admitted to the ICU suffer from ARDS. “We often say that exercise is medicine. EcSOD set a perfect example that we can learn from the biological process of exercise to advance medicine,” said the author of the study. Further support for this concept comes from a U.S. News story entitled “What Athletes Need to Know About COVID-19.” They quote a pulmonary and critical care physician from the American Lung Association as saying: “The healthier you are going into this, the more likely you will recover.” #OunceOfPrevention

Minute 2: CrossFit founder’s provocative video on Coronavirus

Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has a take on the Coronavirus pandemic that will anger some readers, motivate others, and make everyone see American healthcare in a slightly different light. For years, Glassman has been preaching getting off the couch and off the carbs. Even before the pandemic, he was delivering a provocative presentation to doctors and medical schools around the world. His basic thesis is that 80% of U.S. deaths and 86% of U.S. healthcare spending are related to chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardio vascular disease. Yet only a tiny percentage of medical school training is devoted to nutrition and exercise -- two well-documented antidotes to chronic disease. Coronavirus mortality rates, according to Glassman, have been dramatically increased due more to underlying co-morbidities than to the virus itself. He cites a version of the 90% stat we reference in Minute 1 above. He also cites a controversial British researcher who observed that half to two thirds of Coronavirus deaths strike medically compromised victims who may not have lived another 12 months anyway. (Yeah, that’s where he may lose some followers.) Check out his 7 minute video and brief article on the topic here.    #MentalWOD

Minute 3: Shout-out to a legend

If you are a woman who has finished a marathon, please remember to occasionally raise a water bottle in honor of Kathrine Switzer. She was the first woman to officially complete the Boston Marathon in 1967 after registering as “KV Switzer.” Race organizer Jock Semple tried to tackle Switzer and tear off her bib early in the race, but she fought past him and went on to finish the race. Far from just a bucket-lister, Switzer has enjoyed a long running career and won the New York Marathon in 1974. She showed more grace than we likely would have when she forgave Semple and even politely interviewed him for a retrospective. Her book Marathon Woman is a well-regarded classic and is now being turned into a movie. The reason we bring this up now is that Yahoo Sports just released a terrific chat with Switzer as part of its “Breaking It Down” video series. We will let you know as soon as the movie producers put a call out for extras. #GivingMisogynyTheHeisman

Minute 4: Woman runs 100 miles on a treadmill (on a prosthetic leg)

Next time you hear us complaining about having to run with a facemask, please hit us with a 6-foot stick and remind us of the story of Jacky Hunt-Broersma. She is a North Carolina woman who has persevered through greater inconveniences than a soggy facemask. Jacky lost a leg to cancer in 2001 and used the experience to propel her to the first 5K of her life. Fast forward through several marathons and ultras on her prosthesis to last week when she set a world record as the first amputee to run 100 miles on a treadmill. Take that Coronavirus. Check out her story here and learn why she enjoys looking back at photos of herself with both legs intact as motivation.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

·       Alica Schmidt is a world-class runner who had her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics. She also happens to be very attractive. Many of her 760,000 Instagram followers are dudes who admire more than her 400M results. For Schmidt, however, the track is more important than her Insta feed. That’s why she was not happy with an Australian magazine that named her the World’s Sexiest Athlete. “I do not know why I got this title,” she said. “Sport comes clearly first.”

·       As we mentioned in our last issue, you have voted with your thumbs and mouse clicks to make our 8 Top Running Shoes for Spring the most-clicked link in SMM history. Our new gear editor, Brian Metzler followed that up with a guide to “Trail Running Gear That Will Keep You Healthy and Sane.” Once again, the runners are eating the runners’ food and readers have used the guide to help get them into the woods and safely distant from other runners. We would love to hear from you about what other gear guides may be of interest in the future. More shoes? Apparel? Sunglasses? GPS watches? Dating apps? Drop us a line by replying to this email or sending a fresh one to A particularly thoughtful suggestion may just earn you one of the new SMM stickers or water bottles.

·       We launched our Six Minute Mile referral program last week as a way to cultivate a more positive form of virality during difficult times. Sign up for your custom link to share with all your friends and Russian bots. Email it, text it, put it on social. We'll keep track of the folks who sign up using your link, and you'll earn sweet swag rewards. Refer 6 friends, get a Six Minute Mile sticker for your computer (sorry, Macbook not included). Hit 12 referrals and enjoy a collector’s edition SMM water bottle. Become an all-star and you'll get a rare, not-available-for-purchase Six Minute Mile t-shirt or sweatshirt. Click here to get your link and start reaping those rewards. (And we’re kidding about the Russian bots. Bad idea on so many levels.)

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Thanks to our friends at Canadian Running Magazine, we now have a nice collection of “Motivational speeches to kick your training up a notch.” We all need a little inspiration these days, and what better source than some classic sports, movie and personal reflections. We probably would have added a few, including the classic Win One for the Gipper video and a favorite scene from Chariots of Fire (“Get up, lad. Get up!) We are also suckers for the Herb Brooks speech to the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. (Were our friends from north of the border reluctant to include this one???) We still get chills every time we watch this one:


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