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Army Ranger school running tests

FEB 8, 2023

Minute 1: Nike and Apple are trying to change how we work out

“Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna. Never will.” That was Joan Cusack’s sage observation in the hit movie “Working Girl.” We could paraphrase that to say: “Just because I played a Jane Fonda tape on my Betamax, that didn’t mean I was getting fitter.” Fast forward to 2023 and we now have some of the largest companies on the planet competing for mindshare in the fitness market. You can find quality workout videos instantly and cheaply on YouTube, Apple Fitness, Nike and even Netflix. Nike has paired up with the streaming giant, and here’s what one expert had to say about it: “I’m a qualified trainer — here’s what I made of Nike’s new 10-minute Netflix workouts.” They’ve got everything from full-body cardio, to strength programs, and even Vinyasa yoga, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. The Runner’s Flow and Vinyasa Flow Yoga sessions were particularly useful, especially for beginners looking to expand their mobility repertoire. How does Netflix stack up against competitors? Find out in “Apple Fitness+ Review: What the App Gets Right and What Could Be Improved.” Late last year, Apple removed the requirement for users to have an Apple Watch, so if you’ve got an iPhone, Apple Fitness+ is at your disposal. In addition to workout videos, Apple Fitness+ offers tracking of various health metrics to record your progress and provide insight into your health.

Minute 2: Find the right rhythm on your run

Runners march to the beat of their own drum. It’s largely an individual sport, and it comes as no surprise that runners use many different tempos and turnover rates to go faster, even at the highest levels of competition. You can see this when measuring run cadence, which may have you asking: “What is cadence in running and why is it important?” Cadence is the number of times a person’s feet touch the ground in a minute, and it’s affected by your height, weight, stride length, and other mechanics. For a while, 180 steps per minute was touted as the ideal number. Later on, an analysis of elite ultramarathoners showed they competed at a range of 155 to 203 spm. In other words, it appears there’s no one size-fits-all number for ideal cadence, and your natural inclination will likely be most efficient. However, those looking to reduce injuries may benefit from a faster cadence and shorter stride. For more on that, check out “Running Cadence Explained: What Is a Good Running Cadence?” or this excellent piece from Training Peaks: “Finding Your Optimal Running Cadence.” The advice from TP is that a shorter stride length – and therefore quicker turnover – is a faster way to run. Overstriding creates a less fluid, bouncy run. Generally, faster cadence is also associated with a midfoot strike, and for those with knee injuries or joint pain in the legs, that style of running can help reduce impact. If you want some technology assistance, these days even a relatively affordable watch like the Garmin Forerunner 55 provides cadence alerts to keep you striding at the optimal rate.

Minute 3: Live longer with a stronger grip

When you hear the phrase “holding on for dear life,” Mission Impossible-style action scenes might come to mind. Well, it turns out action heroes aren’t the only ones whose grip strength extends their lifespan. It can be a useful indicator for everyone to estimate their longevity according to this new piece: “Want to Live Longer? Start Thinking About Grip Strength.” A recent study showed that a stronger grip was inversely associated with DNA methylation age acceleration. That’s another way of saying your biological age, and if you’re curious how that metric differs from your normal age, read “Chronological Age vs. Biological Age: Which Is a Better Indicator of Health?” So, if you make your grip stronger, will you suddenly live longer? Probably not, as it’s one of many factors that indicate longevity, but don’t necessarily cause it. Training your grip strength is beneficial for developing functional fitness, though. It’ll help you lift a bar off a bench press and bring a bundle of kids/groceries in from the car. If you’re curious to learn about other ways of estimating your biological age, you should check out these “10 Interesting Predictors of Longevity.” At a quick glance, walking speed was one of the most reliable indicators of overall health according to a study of more than 38,000 participants. That makes sense, given that “Brisk walking may shave 16 years off your biological age by midlife, researchers say.”

Minute 4: Adding milk to coffee has a surprising benefit

Without coffee, our runs would be slower, our mornings would be sleepier, and this newsletter would never get published. As if we needed any more reason to love our cup of joe, we just learned that “Adding This To Your Morning Coffee Could Fend Off Inflammation, New Study Finds.” A lot of us already add the magic ingredient, milk, which allows for an increased reduction in inflammation. The proteins found in milk bind with the polyphenols found in certain plant foods (like coffee), boosting their anti-inflammatory effects significantly. Coffee is one of many sources of polyphenols, and you can take advantage of this nutritional synergy by eating pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts which all rank high on polyphenol content according to this chart. In addition, a new story describes how “Nuts May Reduce Heart Disease Risk & Increase Serotonin, New Study Says.” These nuts are high in tryptophans, which aid in immune system regulation related to heart disease. Not only that, but getting plenty of nuts in your diet was found to increase blood serotonin levels by about 60% after 12 weeks. That could have positive effects on your mood according to preliminary research.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Flexibility, strength, and discipline – 3 things you’ll gain if you practice a martial art like Taekwondo. If you’re a runner, it’s easy to see how those skills could cross over and make you a better racer. Lucky for us, we got a glimpse into the training of a black belt athlete named Rayna Vallandingham, so if you want to learn how to kick butt in the dojo and on the track, read “‘I’m a Taekwondo World Champion and 4th-Degree Black Belt—Here’s How I Build Strong *and* Flexible Legs’.”

  • What’s the best way to build muscle in the gym? Take a quality over quantity approach. That’s what the latest research by the U.S Army indicates, anyways. 5 reps for 2 to 3 sets a few times a week was the most effective method for building strength with weightlifting, and if you want to understand why, check out “The Future of Strength Training.” Speaking of the Army, if you’re curious about what it takes to be an elite ranger, you can learn about their fitness standards here: “Army Ranger PFT.” The recommended time for the 2-mile run is 13:00 while the standard for the 5-mile run is 35:00.

  • Depending on your mood, speed workouts can be either the most enjoyable or most dreadful part of training. They’re difficult, but it helps to have a variety of workouts at your disposal to keep things fresh. For a few ideas, check out: “6 Track Workouts to Improve Your Speed.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

@Timmarovt is living proof that with the right mindset, you can accomplish your dreams regardless of the obstacles in front of you. About 8 years ago, he was involved in a surfing accident that left him paralyzed in his lower body and doctors suspected he would never walk again. Tim refused to take “no” for an answer, powering through rehabilitation and getting back on his feet. Now, he’s completing marathons. We can’t wait to see Tim grow stronger every day, and we’re excited to follow in his footsteps for our own training. Watch him in action in the emotional clip below.


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