Minute 1: Don’t let your GPS force you to run too fast
I asked an old friend recently if he was still a practicing Catholic. “I’m practicing,” he said. “But I just don’t get into many games.” That’s kinda how most of our running friends are looking at Covid. Lots of training runs with not many races. Even with promising Covid vaccine news this week, we are probably still several months away from a return to large in-person racing. That means that we will either have to get our competitive juices flowing in a virtual race (our list of favorites is here), or we will use our GPS tracker to battle ourselves and our friends online. And that phenomenon has grown dramatically during the pandemic as Strava downloads doubled in the first 6 months of 2020. While this may be great for community building and goal-setting, it also causes many runners to push too hard on training days when they should be running easier. Triathlon Magazine Canada examined this issue in “The case for slowing down your easy runs.” Running coach Reid Coolsaet, one of Canada’s fastest marathoners, says pushing yourself too far on easy days will eventually catch up to you, producing fatigue and setbacks. Coolsaet has some easy tips for avoiding this, including covering up that GPS device. As the Washington Post noted last year, “Tech gadgets for exercise sometimes do more harm than good.” Some commentators even warn why you shouldn’t post your fitness program on Instagram. But if you just can’t resist, here are some tips for “How To Make The Most of Technology to Help Your Running.” As far as slowing down on some of your runs, there are plenty of studies that show why running slow is good for you. #Stravacide
Minute 2: The mental game sets ultra runners apart from other athletes
In one of our favorite new podcasts, we recently spoke to 2018 Ultra Runner of the Year Courtney Dauwalter, who typically beats every woman in the field, and occasionally all the men, too. Courtney has succeeded with her legs, of course, but her competitors will tell you that her mind is an even more effective weapon. Their views were just validated by this report: “Study Finds What Sets Ultra-Runners Apart From Other Athletes, And It's Not Muscles.” Researchers surveyed 56 elite athletes from the 2019 Hawaiian Ultra Running Team’s Trail 100-mile race and found that ultra runners have greater mental toughness than athletes in other sports. Studies have shown there’s a limit to human endurance, but there’s also science to the psychology of mental toughness for runners. As we outlined in our last Six Minute Mile, there are plenty of tips for building a strong running mindset. If you’re training for a big race, check out these 7 strategies to help you develop mental toughness during races. And if you have an ultra circled on your 2021 calendar, check out this post on Mental Training for Ultra Runners: 3 Tips.” #NePlusUltra
Minute 3: Why mashed potatoes could be a fueling mistake
Apart from arguing with family members about politics, our favorite part of Thanksgiving is mom’s recipe for mashed potatoes. Even with some gravy and butter, we rationalize the overindulgence as fueling us up for our next workout with clean-burning, vegetable carbs. A few research studies even backed up our gut instincts. In one study, scientists had athletes eat mashed potatoes instead of sports gels, which prompted farmers and spud advocates to promote potatoes for athletic performance. A new story points out, however, that mashed potatoes don’t travel as well as a packet of GU. In Trail Running magazine’s “Biggest Fueling Mistakes Made by Runners,” sports nutritionist Rupert Bonnington says your nutrition choices should come from rigorous testing and a realistic approach. It should be rooted (like potatoes) in science but practical. Nutrition should be balanced, he says, but also something you enjoy. “A little bit of the good stuff, a little bit of the naughty stuff, a bit of the boring mundane stuff.” For more advice, try RunKeeper’s “5 Simple Nutrition Tips to Boost Your Running,” or these “15 Science-Backed Nutrition Tips for Runners and Triathletes.” We also like VeryWellFit’s “Running Nutrition Guide” that includes recommendations for what to eat before, during and after a run. #Spudnik
Minute 4: Minute 4: How running can boost your mental acuity
In this new age of working from home in T-shirts and sweatpants, we’ve been bombarded with posts about how exercise is essential during Covid-19. And we’ve been reminded often of the mental benefits of jogging and running. Now a new study confirms that, showing how “Running can boost mental acuity.” The University of Calgary study showed that running and other aerobic exercises on a regular basis can boost brain function and that runners of all ages should experience some brain improvements with consistent exercise. By studying 206 adults over a 6-month period, the study, published by the American Academy of Neurology, showed that running 4 days a week led to a 5.7% improvement on tests of executive function, and 2.4% in verbal fluency. “Even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” said researcher Marc Poulin. Yet another reason to take your well-worn T-shirt and sweatpants outside for a run. #BrainingPlan
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
While the news of a potential Covid vaccine is great for the world, it was not kind to “stay at home” stocks like Zoom and Netflix. In the sports world Peloton was hammered and dropped 20.3% in Monday’s trading. Gym investors, on the other hand are rejoicing. Planet Fitness stock climbed 16.2%, perhaps stealing Peloton’s investors.
There are plenty of good reasons to run with a partner. But what if a non-running friend suddenly wants to run a marathon with you? The New Yorker recently broached the subject and has some hilarious advice for “How to Support Your Friend Who Wants to Run a Marathon.” Like managing your initial response by not asking: “Why?” “You?” “Really?” Or accepting his new-found commitment to nutrition, even if he is the guy who once “snuck an entire rotisserie chicken into a movie theater.”
OK, we were trying to go an entire week without mentioning carbon-plated running shoes, but Nike ruined our plans. The Beaverton giant just announced it will release the first carbon-plated trail shoe. The ACG Mountain Fly is waterproof and has a React midsole with a carbon plate for stiffness and propulsion. Built for trail runners, it features a hard rubber sole that wraps around the big toe and a sticky outsole for a strong grip. The futuristic design also has a turtleneck-like ankle cover and enclosure system.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If you think your year has been tough, consider the story of brewpub owner and avid runner David Hiler. The Vermonter lost his left leg to cancer in January and then watched his business revenue plummet from the quarantine. He was willing to fight through the painful recovery and training in order to make it back to the Boston Marathon, where he ran 3:20 only a few years ago, but there was a problem. His insurance company, like most insurance companies, did not provide coverage for a specialized prosthetic leg that costs as much as $50,000. Enter the Born to Run Foundation. Created by a young athlete named Noelle Lambert, the organization came through for Hiler last month and provided a running blade. Hiler, who is “the most positive, upbeat person,” according to one of his business patterns, is paying it forward by releasing a special beer whose proceeds will benefit Born to Run. Lambert’s story is even more tearful and joyful than Hiler’s. She was a star collegiate lacrosse player when she lost her leg in a moped accident in 2016. After a year of recovery and rehab, Noelle made a storybook return to Division 1 lacrosse. She then switched to competing on the track after graduation and quickly set a US 100M record by clocking a 16:31. She is now training for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic games. You will need Kleenex handy when you watch the video below of her first game back on the lacrosse field.