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Building a better running stride

DEC 2, 2022

Minute 1: Endurance athletes can learn a lot from soccer players

This year, the FIFA World Cup has proven to be as entertaining as ever, with some game-winning goals feeling like nothing short of a miracle. While we are truly impressed with the remarkable ball-handling skills of these elite athletes, as endurance sports geeks, we have really latched onto this stat: top midfielders like American captain Tyler Adams average more than 7 miles of running per game. Take a look at this Instagram post from Runner’s World magazine to see what we mean. Adams covered 24.83 kilometers combined in his first two games in the heat of Qatar. It has us wondering how these players are able to build so much speed, technique, and endurance all at once. The American star answers our question here: “How I train: Tyler Adams.” Tyler says the longer he has until game day, the harder he’ll push himself. That means for a Saturday match, Mondays and Tuesdays are serious workouts, Wednesdays are medium intensity, and Thursdays and Fridays are easy. Of course that plan is altered during a tournament setting when he is forced to play multiple games per week. As far as injury prevention goes, Tyler says he has two secret weapons: core training and cryotherapy. If you want to follow in his footsteps, try some of “The 6 Essential Core Exercises For Soccer Players.” Cryotherapy research is still in the early stages, but there’s some promising evidence for its efficacy as a recovery tool. Take a look at “Whole-body cryotherapy: Does it work?” to learn more.

Minute 2: This might be the best way to improve form

We often envy the running form of top level marathoners as they seem to float along the pavement with beautifully efficient strides. There’s very little wasted energy or overextension, and the closer we can get to moving like the pros, the faster we’ll be. The problem is, trying to consciously emulate another runner’s form is often counterproductive, according to research discussed in this new story: “Dear Coach: How Can I Build a Better Running Stride?” Studies show that our “preferred movement path,” aka our natural stride, will be most efficient for us. Thinking about and altering that stride in the middle of our run often does more harm than good. That’s not to say we can’t improve our stride, though. It means that we can’t expect to develop it and improve our speed all at the same time. We have to make a conscious effort to improve our mobility and technique first, and after those changes naturally alter our gait, the efficiency will come. Setting aside some time to perform these “Running Drills for Proper Running Form” is one way to start the process according to Training Peaks. These drills work by opening up your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and more to allow for greater range of motion when you run. Dynamic stretches like these are a popular way to start your workout of the day, and it pairs well with “Full-Body Mobility for Runners” for a cooldown. #FormFollowsFunction

Minute 3: Looking for a caffeine boost without coffee?

Research has shown that caffeine can be an athlete’s best friend – boosting performance like a good pacing partner, but without forcing you to breathlessly answer their questions. To some of us, the idea of gulping down a hot cup of joe before our race doesn’t sit well, though. We’ve covered caffeine alternatives before, like the gum we featured in Minute 3 of this issue, but that’s only the start of your options. Here are some “Unexpected Sources of Caffeine to Try.” Chocolate bars, for example, contain caffeine, and the greater the cacao percentage, the more caffeine you can expect. In a large bar of dark chocolate, you can expect to find about 80 mg. That’s almost as much as a typical cup of coffee. Next on the list is matcha tea, which contains about 80 to 170 mg of caffeine per cup. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine which is believed to reduce jitters associated with caffeine consumption. That’s just one of “7 Proven Ways Matcha Tea Improves Your Health” according to Healthline. Whatever source you choose, it’s important to stay within the daily recommended amounts of caffeine depending on your individual health needs. You can try this simple calculator to get an estimate of what your caffeine limit is, as well as find further info on who needs to watch their caffeine intake.

Minute 4: What will we see in the running world in 2023? Brian Metzler identifies top trends

For our favorite shoe expert, Brian Metzler, this week has been like having backstage Zac Brown tickets combined with Super Bowl sideline passes combined with a spin on the Maserati test track. You see, Brian and hundreds of other running shoe disciples and analysts convened over the past few days for the industry’s most important trade show. As Brian writes:

“Every year in the week after Thanksgiving, running gear brands gather at The Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas, to show off new shoes, apparel and gear to retailers and media. I spent three days visiting each brand’s trade show booth, running in new shoes and connecting with brand representatives and footwear experts while sniffing around for trends and hot stories. For shoe dogs like me, it definitely carries the excitement of a kid being a kid in a candy store. In fact, it can be almost dizzying. Based on my unscientific research, here are a few of the biggest things you can expect in the running world in 2023.”

Here are the five most important trends that Brian covers in his full story which can be found here on our website.

1) Trail Running is Blowing Up

2) Thicker Foam Midsoles

3) More Carbon Super Shoes on the Way

4) The Hottest Emerging Small Brands

5) Shoes Customized to a Runner’s Pace/Mile

Brian explores these developments and also gets specific about what to expect in the newest models from Hoka, Nike, Saucony, Mizuno, Atreyu and many other brands, from boutique to behemoth. For the complete rundown, check out Brian’s full review here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • This recent story from CNN provides a cautionary tale for those interested in a healthy lifestyle and male reproductive health: “Sperm counts may be declining globally, review finds, adding to debate over male fertility.” A reputable worldwide study of sperm levels over the past 50 years indicates that sperm levels have dropped 50% – enough to cause concern for how well the species will continue to reproduce. According to one of the study’s authors, obesity, a lack of physical activity and diets high in ultra processed food may be responsible for the decline. “The same factors that harm health in general usually are also harmful to semen quality,” the doctor said. As for a popular theory circulating online, here is some good news for men receiving Covid vaccines: “Fact Check: Israeli study finds drop in sperm count after Pfizer vaccine is temporary, no sign of sperm damage.”

  • Race days typically have their share of ups and downs, but we haven’t heard a story this dramatic in quite a while. It’s a good thing Cardiologist Steven Lome was running in the Monterey Half Marathon in California last week, because he had to perform life saving CPR to not one, but two participants in the race. We’re happy to report both runners returned to stable condition and were taken to the hospital, but it’s a reminder for all of us to check in with our doctors to make sure we’re fit to race. It’s also a good reminder that with all the challenges the world faces, our community of endurance athletes often adds more solutions than problems. See the details of the story in: “Cardiologist saves two runners’ lives during California’s Monterey Half Marathon.”

  • The weather outside is getting frightful, and that’s tough for everyone who does their running on the road. We’re always on the lookout for ways to stay in shape year-round, and when it’s too cold to leave your house, a push-ups challenge may be just what you need. Lucky for you, we’ve found 2 to get you started. Take a look at “I Did 15 Push-Ups Every Day for 30 Days to Increase My Functional Strength” and “30 Day Push-Up Challenge For Beginners” to see how much stronger you can get in only a month.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

As we mentioned earlier in this issue, working on form is important if you want to improve your efficiency. It’s a change that won’t happen overnight, but there’s nothing like a solid video demonstration to start the process of developing your stride. This clip from @_charihawkins, a world class heptathlete representing team USA. She covers some info on foot strikes, showing us how to transfer our energy and minimize the breaking that can occur from an overstride and aggressive heel strike.


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