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Balancing a plant based diet

OCT 21, 2022

Minute 1: Dealing with lower back and knee pain

Compressed nerves can be a real pain in the butt. We’re not speaking metaphorically, we’re talking about a compressed sciatic nerve. Never heard of it? It’s a nerve found in the lower back, and anyone that’s experienced a sore lower back, butt, or legs should look at “The 6 best sciatica stretches and exercises to beat butt pain.” The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body, starting in the spinal cord and traveling all the way to the feet, and it's an especially common problem area for those who work at a desk all day. Luckily, the article has six stretches and exercises to perform that will alleviate your soreness. In our last issue, we brought you some stretches to help with your knee pain, and we’re extending this topic to bring you up to speed on prevention. Good news for runners: you’re already on the right track according to this new story from the Washington Post: “Does running really wreck your knees?” The good news for all of us is that when researchers examined marathoners over time, they actually found that running could heal existing damage in our knees. Introducing your knee cartilage to a moderate amount of stress over time will cause it to adapt and strengthen, similarly to the way our muscles and tendons respond to exercise.

Minute 2: Your plant based diet can be flexible

When we talk about going vegan or plant-based on our diet, there’s a tendency to feel like it has to be all or nothing. Like most things in life, the way we eat isn’t so black and white, and even small adjustments to a meat eater’s diet can have a positive impact on both their health and our environment. If you want to see how swapping out a bit of meat for a plant-based protein source can benefit athletes, read: “Eating plant-based for health isn’t an all-or-nothing deal.” The more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein like legumes or tofu you get in your diet, the lower your risk for heart disease, according to the studies cited in the article. Researchers found that omnivores (those who eat both plant-based protein and meat) could have up to a 16% lower risk of developing heart disease, among other benefits. However, even those who switched as little as 3% of their caloric intake from meat to plant-based sources saw a statistically significant reduction in mortality rates from cardiovascular disease. That’s a pretty major result for such a small switch, and it has us excited to try some of “The 18 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians.” Included on the list are some popular favorites, like beans, nuts, and soy milk. There’s also some less common suggestions, like the blue-green algae known as Spirulina. You’re probably asking, “What Is Spirulina?” Don’t worry, we were too, but after reading up on its health benefits, we think it’s earned a spot on our grocery list this week. #PlantGrowth

Minute 3: Can plyo help you add miles?

When you’re training for a marathon, performing explosive box jumps and other plyometric movements may not be as high on your list as long runs, hill repeats and track work. If your ultimate goal is to run slow and steady over a long distance, all your movements should follow suit, right? Well, not exactly. Experts believe there are benefits you can only get from plyo movements that help short and long distance runners alike. Take a look at this new piece from Training Peaks: “Should Endurance Athletes Do Plyometric Training?” Plyometric exercises are ones in which a muscle reaches maximal force in a short amount of time. That can take time to get used to as an endurance athlete, but if you ease your way into it, you can expect to see improved strength, speed, coordination, and lower injury rates. Ankle hops are a safe way to introduce your body to that kind of motion, and once you’ve got your footing, it’ll be time to take on some box jumps. When you’re ready, read “How to Do Box Jumps with Perfect Technique.” The key to performing a safe box jump is in the way you land. Try to plant yourself with both feet simultaneously to spread the force evenly. You should also keep your knees bent at the point of impact, providing you with a kind of shock absorption you wouldn’t get if you landed with straight legs. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can try the more advanced single leg box jump for even greater tendon and muscle strength development.

Minute 4: Get into a recovery mentality

Our shoe expert, Brian Metzler, weighs in this week on an old favorite from Saucony. With all of the advancement in foam and carbon components, brands have sometimes let their attention to the everyday line-up lapse, while adding these new materials only to their top-of-the-line race shoes. Saucony has re-energized their popular Triumph shoe and Brian likes what they’ve produced. If you want all the pluses and minuses, please click to see the full review on our website. Here is Brian’s take:

A long time ago in a running store not so far away, the Saucony Triumph was a premier neutral cushioned everyday training shoe that runners of all abilities raved about. But then a midsole foam revolution took over the shoe walls at running stores, followed by the innovation of carbon-fiber plates embedded into midsoles. The combination of those two elements changed how we felt about the everyday trainers we loved for so long. By 2020, the Triumph became a bit of an afterthought when compared to other maximally cushioned trainers and also compared to the stunningly good Endorphin Speed trainer in Saucony’s line. Well, this is the year, the Triumph makes a triumphant return! Revitalized with new materials and a new vibe, it’s everything it ever was back in the day, but also a whole lot more too.

What’s New: When the Triumph was in its original prime a few years ago, it was built on a basic EVA midsole that was at least as good and as light as other everyday trainers on the market. But now it returns to a new level greatness with a new PWRRUN+ foam compound that’s lighter, softer, springier and cushier than ever before. Yes, this is the trickle-down impact of having the derivatives of high-end materials from racing models coming down into everyday training shoes. As such, the Triumph 20 is now a true maximalist training shoe that compares favorably with other max training shoes from Hoka, New Balance and On. Even though it doesn’t have the hyper-responsive PWRRUN PB midsole as the Endorphin Speed 3 performance trainer, it feels pretty amazing underfoot – especially compared to how average the previous editions of the Triumph might feel now. Both the slightly narrower shape under the forefoot and the rockered geometry of the midsole contribute to a more natural ride.

Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s everything the Triumph has always been — reliable, cushy, comfortable and durable — only considerably better with the softer and livelier new midsole foam, increased midsole height, improved engineered mesh upper and propulsive rocker geometry.

For more pros and cons on the brand new Saucony Triumph 20, check out Brian’s full review here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • In minute 1 of this past issue, we covered a groundbreaking new weight loss drug that’s growing in popularity and changing the way some people are approaching weight management. Changing the way for some of us, that is. If you didn’t know, these new technologies come at quite a hefty price tag, so it’s a luxury most folks probably can’t afford at the moment. If you’re curious to learn more about the drug, and the socioeconomic issues surrounding it, take a look at “How a Diabetes Drug Became the New Weight Loss Trend for the Rich.” For more straight up science about tirzepatide, one of these new drugs, you can read about the research in: “Medication Results in More Than 20% Weight Reduction in Individuals With Obesity.”

  • What’s the easiest way to get more out of your shoes and care for your feet? Many industry experts think the answer is to match your running kicks with a quality pair of socks. Look for a fabric that’s durable and breathable. Moisture wicking can help you avoid a buildup of sweat as well. Last but not least, make sure you’ve got the right fit, and consider toe socks if you’re struggling with blisters and need to switch things up. For a list of options, read “The Best Running Socks, According to Professional and Amateur Runners.”

  • Running is better when we’re together. So says a recent study that looked at activity levels in participants and their friends to find trends in their enthusiasm for working out. Sure enough, being around active people was associated with a boost in motivation to get out and moving. See the details in “Friends could be key to finding fitness motivation.” While we’re on the subject, check out: “The Best Ways to Support the Runner in Your Life, According to Reddit,” to become the best running partner you can be.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

For a runner, one of the best feelings you can experience when you’re not actually running is to learn that you’ve qualified for running the Boston Marathon. In a similar vein, letting your friends and family know the good news is a close second, and a recent viral TikTok capturing that moment really tugged at our heartstrings this week. Bridget Lawler caught her dad’s reaction on video and it’s just about the most wholesome thing we’ve ever seen. If you’re familiar with Boston’s “rigid qualifying times,” you know just how significant this is, so props to Bridget for making it happen. We’d also like to mention that the “Official Charity Program of the Boston Marathon” is still open for entry, so take a look if you have dreams of running this historic race. Watch coverage of Bridget’s video in the link below.


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