SEP 30, 2022
Minute 1: Drop that call: How your phone compromises fitness
In the early days of “car phones” that offered the size and stylishness of a large brick, bumper stickers began appearing that read: “Hang up and drive!” As it turns out, that was pretty good advice for safe driving. And to paraphrase that bumper sticker, a new study reveals that we should “Hang up and exercise.” Bringing our phones along to the gym has been shown to impede progress in many cases, and the details are here: “Fitness Expert Reveals The One Thing That Might Be Ruining Your Workout.” If you are in between sets and hang your head down to mindlessly scroll, that little distraction can impair your balance by up to 45%. That means you’re at greater risk for wobbling or even falling when performing lifts or using a cardio machine. Then there’s the trap of spending too much time at a low intensity state. Some rest is absolutely necessary as you work out. Getting caught up on Twitter to the point that you return to resting heart rate will lower your efficiency and quality of exercise quite a bit. Lastly, it’s important to keep your phone out of sight during an exercise itself. A notification or buzz can cause you to break focus, making it harder to maintain proper form or stay motivated as you’re pushing through a workout. Sometimes, attaching your phone to your body in a secure way can alleviate your need to keep checking, while still providing access when it’s necessary. Take a look at these “6 Handsfree Ways to Hold Your Phone While You’re Working Out.”
Minute 2: Are ankle and wrist weights worth trying?
When we think about walking or running with weights, our mind conjures images of vintage AMF Heavy Hands and aerobic walkers wearing pink leg warmers. Besides looking silly, isn’t working out with weights on our ankles or wrists kinda dangerous? Well if you wait long enough, obsolete stuff becomes retro, and that’s the case with these weights. They are enjoying a moment, according to this new story: “Do Ankle and Wrist Weights Actually Help Your Workout? Experts Explain.” Two rules to keep in mind when you’re using these weights: (1) Less is more, and (2) slow and steady. Experts say that just adding 1 to 3 extra pounds on your wrists or ankles is enough to give you noticeable resistance without throwing you off balance. On a similar note, low impact movement like walking should be OK with added weight, but steer clear of plyometrics and other explosive activity, as those will add a lot of unnecessary strain on your joints. No one seems to recommend running with wrist or ankle weights, but weighted vests are used by some athletes: “Running With A Weight Vest | Weight Vest Sprint Training For Sprinters & Runners.” One study looked at runners who warmed up with the vest on, and found that their running economy increased about 6% as a result. Running full on sprints with a weight vest garnered mixed results, and experts say that you’ll probably have to experiment and find out what works for you if you’re interested in that sort of high resistance training. If you are looking to add some intensity to your runs, you may also want to check out this story published this summer: “8 Benefits of Running with a Weighted Vest.” #ItsAllInTheWrist
Minute 3: 4 things we can learn from Kipchoge’s training
Eliud Kipchoge’s recent marathon achievements have elevated him to a rare level of dominance on the world athletic scene. It’s one thing to reach the top of your sport, but to stay there for half a decade is a feat you’ll see only a few times in a generation. Obviously, most of us don’t have the time or innate ability to follow his routine closely, but even the humblest endurance athletes among us can learn a few things from the world record holder: “Four Takeaways From The Training of Eliud Kipchoge, Marathon GOAT.” If you’ve been keeping up with our pro breakdowns in recent months, it will come as no surprise that most of Kipchoge’s training occurs in heart rate zone 1. Kipchoge runs about 100 of his 130 miles every week at an easy pace. He often shuffles along in recovery runs at an 8:30 pace, only accelerating to 6:30 toward the end of these outings. (Yes, you can tell your friends that you can train – sometimes – as fast as the Olympic gold medalist!) Even 6:30 is quite a bit slower than his marathon race pace, which you can read about in “Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record was the product of pain, rain.” In his controlled, disciplined workouts, Kipchoge says “I try not to run 100 percent, I perform 80 percent on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and then at 50 percent Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.” He’s got to go fast, but not too fast to maintain the volume and recovery schedule that keeps you improving over the whole season. Those are two of several tips you can find in the original article, so take a look and see what habits you can adopt from the marathon GOAT.
Minute 4: Shoe review: Best carbon-plated shoes for fall races
Like snowflakes and microbrewed IPAs, no two carbon-plated super shoes are remotely alike. Some feel extremely soft and bouncy, according to our resident expert Brian Metzler, while others feel relatively firm and rigid. Some work better with a compact gait, others work better for a long, loping stride pattern. Taking the time to find the pair that works best for your style will go a long way in helping you optimize your performance in any race from a 5K to a marathon. For the full story and a list of his top 6 picks, click here. As a preview, we are sharing three of his tips here to help you dial in the right pair for your style.
1. Don’t shop by brand or popularity.
Just because Eliud Kipchoge continues to lower his best marathon personal best while wearing a pair of bright orange Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can. Yes, you might be able to, but you might be able to run even faster in another pair of shoes that are more conducive to your running gait. Making your choice based on a certain brand or the popularity of a certain shoe or its graphics is never a good idea.
2. Fit, feel and ride are most important.
How a shoe fits your foot is always the most important factor in selecting a new pair of running shoes, but with super shoes, how the shoe feels and how it rides are almost equally important. Even if two shoes fit your feet similarly, you’re likely to notice a decidedly different feeling as your foot rolls from heel to toe-off and thus, an entirely different ride sensation. The energetic pop of a shoe might be distinct as your foot transitions from midfoot to forefoot or it might come by way of a more muted rolling sensation as every shoe’s rocker geometry and foam responsiveness are tuned slightly differently.
3. Don’t stress about the price tag
Most super shoes have prices in the $200 to $275 range, but that’s a pretty big range. While it might be hard to avoid the sticker shock, try not to make your decision based on which shoe is cheaper. Trying to save $50 on a less expensive model could ultimately be a $225 mistake if the shoe you wind up buying just doesn’t work for you.
For the complete story and Brian’s six super shoes for fall races, click here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Usually when someone takes a post-run or gym selfie, they will pick a shot that reveals a nicely-defined muscle or two. That’s all well and good, but there’s another physical indicator of fitness that gets overlooked and it can be just as important – tendon definition. According to @thebarefootsprinter, stronger tendons in your feet and hands will look more defined, like lines that are easy to count. If you want to see what we mean, and learn how to improve tendon strength, watch this instagram clip: “How strong are your feet?” Tendon fitness, it turns out, can play a critical role in your speed, strength and endurance.
We really admire Polar.com, in part because their training advice is often as good as their watches and fitness trackers. This week, they’ve brought an excellent breakdown into why sleep is so important for recovery, the role it plays in facilitating hypertrophy (muscles getting larger), and ways you can measure your sleep health. If that all sounds interesting to you, click on "The Best Way to Build Muscle? Sleep.”
Maybe you have an aversion to burpees because a too-hardo gym teacher with too-tight coaches’ shorts made you do too many of them in middle school. That’s a shame, because as tricky as they are, they do provide a full body workout that can help athletes of all kinds. Luckily, if you’re looking for a fresh take on this classic calisthenic, we’ve got “7 Modified Burpees That Work for Every Fitness Level and Workout Need.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
OK, here’s a fascinating flexibility hack that one of our readers shared with us this week. While we have good intentions of stretching more often (I promise, I’ll just mix in a little more yoga!), we tend to fall back into the same five or six pre and post workout moves every time. That’s why we were excited about this new idea for immediate hamstring flexibility improvement from @handsdan. For this mobility drill, you’ll start with a baseline test of touching your toes. Then, perform sitting leg lifts and holds for about a minute. Stand back up, and watch how much further down you’re able to reach. We were skeptical at first, but it worked for us on the first try. (We should never doubt an engaged SMM reader!)