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Are kids becoming soft?

Minute 1: Are today’s children too soft?

Joe De Sena, the founder of Spartan Race, is always provocative and frequently insightful. It’s one thing for De Sena to challenge adults to get off the couch and tackle obstacles, but it’s another when he makes his 4 children take on audacious challenges, like 1-mile ocean swims at age 5. Some of his fatherly exploits were chronicled by Men’s Health earlier this year: “Today's Kids Need to Toughen Up, Says Joe De Sena.” De Sena believes that kids need to earn their just desserts, so he once made his young son hike to the top of a nearby hill to retrieve his Christmas presents. De Sena has turned his parenting philosophies into a new book which drops next week: “10 Rules for Resilience: Mental Toughness for Families.”

While we may find ourselves more in the Mrs. Doubtfire school of parenting than Camp Joe, we can’t argue with his recommendations on limiting screen time for kids: “5 Ways to Set Screen Time Limits for Your Kids.” Some of his recommendations work for groups besides just Tik Tok teens. We like the idea of making certain rooms in the house screen-free zones and appreciate the sentiment of talking on long car trips rather than just binging videos.

Minute 2: Trail running tragedies

We have often jumped on our soap box to encourage runners to give their joints a break and their mental well being a boost by logging more miles on trails than pavement. Even a quick 4-mile run on dirt can clear the mind as well as any meditation app ever downloaded. Trail running has grown in popularity in recent years, and while that’s wonderful, we have had several sobering reminders that the further off the pavement your runs take you, the more caution you should exercise. Last week the Marathon des Sables reported a fatality during its 155-mile race in Morocco: “Man Dies While Competing in Grueling, Multi-Day Race Across the Sahara Desert.”That news followed this recent tragedy during the iconic Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc: “Czech Runner Dies from Falling During UTMB’s TDS Race in Chamonix.” Those incidents occurred only a few months after the worst disaster in trail running history which Men’s Journal just detailed in a full recounting of the hypothermia that affected so many runners in May: “Death in Stone Forest: Why 21 Runners Died Competing in China’s Ultramarathon.” On a happier note, quick responses from local rescue squads last weekend helped to protect the lives of 87 runners participating in a 50-mile trail race through the Utah mountains. Most runners were not prepared for a snow storm that dumped 18 inches and featured screaming winds during the first few hours of the race. I Run Far, a respected journal of trail running, provides all of the details in this piece: “What Really Happened at the 2021 DC Peaks 50 Mile Race?

Minute 3: Super masters kicking butt

Amby Burfoot is a living testament to how keeping physically fit also keeps your mind sharp. The 75-year-old runner was a lively and thoughtful guest on this episode of our Six Minute Mile podcast. We also enjoyed watching him streaking down Boylston Street in Boston on Monday wearing bib 1968. Why that bib number? That’s because in 1968 Burfoot won the Boston Marathon while he was still a senior at Wesleyan University (and a teammate of Bill Rodgers). In addition to outrunning marathoners half his age, Burfoot also stays active in the sport as a popular writer and columnist. He just penned this piece that is likely near and dear to his heart: “How 73-Year-Old Jeannie Rice Keeps Getting Faster.” Rice just ran 3:38:38 at the London Marathon and is running 10-15 minutes faster now than she was in her 60s. (Cover your eyes, Amby, but Jeannie beat your Boston time by a very healthy margin.) Rice logs 65-70 miles per week for a couple of months leading up to a marathon and mixes in some 5K races for speed work.


Minute 4: Gear round-up

Just as surely as leaves fall from New England maples and women’s running jackets zip from the left side, a change of seasons means gear companies release new batches of their shoes and apparel. Those releases spawn a school of new product reviews to assess those products. A few of those caught our eye recently. Working from toe to head, Men’s Journal provides: “Running Socks Guide 2021: The Best Pairs for Men.”

We also liked this Fleet Feet review because it explained why you may want silver fibers or compression fabrics in your socks: “The Best Socks to Wear With Running Shoes.” If you’re wondering what a $229 pair of running pants look like and whether they’re worth the money, check out “8 Best Running Pants and Tights for Winter Running.” Women may enjoy “The 12 Best Running Jackets for Women of 2021, According to a Running Coach,” while men can check out “The 10 Men’s Best Running Jackets in 2021.” If you want to extend the available hours for an outdoor run as the days get shorter, this guide provides good options from established players as well as newer brands offering 600 feet of illumination power: “The Best Headlamps for Runners and Athletes this 2021.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • If you’re on a road trip and don’t have time for a healthy meal -- and you’re not an expert at eating a wilted salad while driving -- you will have more options beginning in November. The company that’s served billions of burgers has entered a partnership with Beyond Meat to create a healthier sandwich option. Check out the details in: “McDonald's to start testing McPlant burger in U.S. next month.”

  • There will be no rest for the Boston Marathon organizers as they pivot quickly to the 2022 edition of the race that will take place on April 18. It is unlikely that the field size will exceed 30,000 again given continued pandemic uncertainty, but that seems to be just fine with many runners. Participants in this week’s Boston Marathon were generally pleased with the smaller crowds and staggered wave starts. The starting line was less hectic and runners avoided long waits milling around Hopkinton. For details, check out “'22 Boston Marathon, and More Change, Just 6 Months Away.” Registration for the 2022 Boston, will open on November 8, so that means the November 7 New York Marathon will be the last big opportunity to hit a qualifying time. Registration details are here and qualifying time info is here. This year, 93% of runners were vaccinated, but there is no final word yet on what Covid precautions will be in place next April.

  • The pandemic seemed to have at least 1 positive effect on the health of New Yorkers. According to the NYC Department of Transportation, in a city famous for honking taxi cabs, a record number of residents and visitors used bicycles to get around town: “NYC cycling surge: 530K daily bike trips represents 26% increase in recent years.”.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We have shared many inspiring trail running videos in this section over the years, like this Red Bull production profiling Killian Jornet or this Salomon film showing the best way to hit the trails -- with your dogs. As we mentioned above, however, not all trail adventures are set to flowing music and lyrical mountain trails. Sometimes it gets damn ugly out there. A local Utah TV news station shared this video account of the ill-fated 50-miler that was called off mid-race due to a snow storm. If you want to see just how nasty it was up there, check out this more detailed account by Jordan Stuart, an experienced trail runner with a compelling Instagram account and a knack for video storytelling.


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