DEC 1, 2023
Minute 1: Fuel up before a long run with these foods?
At an early holiday gathering with some running friends last week, we noticed a napkin on our host’s kitchen counter: “People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point,” it read. “The glass is refillable.” Leaving aside the concern that we tend to gather our deep thoughts by reading or writing on cocktail napkins, we thought this motto would resonate with endurance athletes. At a literal level, it relates directly to this new piece: “What You Should Be Eating Before Your Long Runs.” Keeping your tank filled at the proper level means consuming foods that contain high quality sources of energy and electrolytes, but are also easy on your digestive system. To address your energy needs, choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates. They’ll provide your body with a readily available source of energy, but won’t cause the ups and downs associated with processed foods and added sugars. The longer your run, the more your body will rely on fat as an energy source, so consider eating foods like almond butter, eggs, and nuts to keep you sustained for the long haul. While at The Running Event in Austin this week, we were intrigued by a new generation of nutritional solutions like SFuels. Their products help train your body to use (optimally oxidize) fat and carbohydrate simultaneously, allowing you to go longer in your training and racing. More on that to come, as their founder has generously agreed to share the science behind this new fueling evolution. In the meantime, if you are seeking clean fuel, remember that foods high in electrolytes like magnesium, sodium, and potassium can facilitate muscle function and reduce the risk of cramps, so try to “Put Down the Sugary Sports Drink—These 9 Foods Naturally Replenish Electrolytes.”
Minute 2: Can you do this coach’s recommended number of pushups?
If you subscribe to the KISS principle in life and fitness, you may already appreciate pushups – one of the simplest workout moves you can perform. They can be done just about anywhere, no equipment needed, and they’ll get your arms, chest, and core in shape all at once. That got us wondering, is there a baseline number of pushups we should aim for, and is there such a thing as too many? To get to the bottom of it, let’s dive into: “How Many Pushups You Should Be Able to Do Per Day.” Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel says that everyone should aim for at least 20 pushups at some point in their life. Make sure to clear the full range of motion each time, touching your chest to the ground and pressing all the way until your arms are fully straightened. If you find 20 too easy, try slowing down your speed. That increases your muscles’ time under tension, which ups the difficulty, and therefore, muscle growth. Just be sure not to take things too far, because some trainers feel that working out to the point of soreness is counterproductive. In this clip, Canadian martial artist and coach Firas Zahabi explains “How to never get sore,” which could be the key to improving consistency and exercise volume over time.
Minute 3: Ignore the scale
As referenced in Minute 1 above, runners must train their bodies to burn fat if they want to perform well over long distances. While this process may also make you a little more confident on the beach, we were reminded this week why weight loss can be a misleading goal. Body composition is more important to our overall health and performance than a number on the bathroom scale. Improving your power to weight ratio can be one of the most effective ways to speed up your pace, according to: “Beyond the Mirror: Understanding the Subtle Signs of Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat.” The first thing we should note is that if you aren’t dropping pounds, don’t worry. Muscle weighs more than fat, after all, so even if you’re successful with your body recomposition, the scale won’t capture the full nature of your progress. For that reason, some athletes like to use body fat measurements with skin calipers, bioelectrical impedance analysis, and more. Body recomposition requires you to walk a tightrope when it comes to diet. Muscle growth happens best when you’re eating a caloric surplus, and fat burning happens when you’re in a caloric deficit, so striving for both takes a lot of coordination and patience. For tips on how to pull it off, check out “Gaining Muscle But Not Losing Fat? Here’s Why!” Protein is muscle’s best friend, but processed foods and added sugars are known to pack on the pounds. That’s why if body recomposition is your goal, you’ll want to choose natural, protein-rich foods like eggs, salmon, chicken, and soybeans.
Minute 4: 5 Key Takeaways From The Running Event Trade Show
We had the happy privilege of tagging along with shoe dog extraordinaire Brian Metzler at The Running Event in Austin, TX, this week. Brian is a bit of a celebrity at this event, where all the top shoe, apparel and gear brands gather as an industry. (And yes, Brian will no doubt cringe when he reads that “celebrity” description.) His passion for the sport and its brands is palpable and contagious. When he isn’t jamming in a “working run” or two during the day, he walks the expo floor looking like a kid who just won a shopping spree at FAO Schwartz. That’s a long way of saying that Brian is very well positioned to recap this event and explain how the latest industry developments apply to you. A few highlights are below, but for the full analysis, check out Brian’s story on our website.
1. Cool New Shoes are Coming
Running shoes are continuing to evolve – for performance, style and innovation. There are a lot of new foams, new uppers and new outsoles coming out, so 2024 will be an exciting year to visit your local running store to search for your next pair of kicks. While many of the next-level shoes are still under embargo – several of which will launch before the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 3 in Orlando, Florida – there are a few iterations of shoes that will have removable or replaceable midsoles to enhance performance or sustainability. Again, hit our website to see news about new shoes from Nike, Adidas, Puma, Hoka, Brooks, Salomon, Altra, Scarpa and Reebok.
2. Diversity is On the Rise
The running industry – brands, retail stores, race organizations, etc. – has a long way to go when it comes to diversity. However, at this week’s trade show, there was a much better representation among BIPOC individuals in all aspects of the trade than ever before, ranging from the educational seminars and panel discussions to the after-hours parties.
3. Athletes and Influencers are Elemental to Brands
While professional runners are primarily connected to running brands for their running performance, more and more brands are bringing their athlete partnerships to the forefront for storytelling and product development. And that will continue in 2024 because it’s an Olympic year. Those connections bring both star power to a brand’s identity and authenticity to product design.
4. Retail Service is Evolving
Most of the seminar sessions of the trade show were geared toward running stores enhancing their service, brand selection, fitting assistance, social media, training programs, merchandising and local events. In her keynote presentation, Melissa Gonzalez explored how run and outdoor specialty stores can adapt successful aspects of large retailers – like Target and Amazon – while still being small and hyper local with a focus on actionable customer retention strategies.
5. Pickleball is Booming
Although the trade show was primarily about running and trail running, there was a lot of excitement focused on pickleball, which has been called the fastest growing sport in the United States. Why is there a connection between pickleball and the running retail industry? The biggest growth sector for pickleball is from recreational runners and running stores are always looking for additional non-running fitness items to sell, just as they have done with inline skates, yoga mats, swimming goggles and other fitness trends of the past several decades.
For Brian’s full analysis of these emerging trends – along with some sneak previews of hot new shoe models – check it out here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Happy December to all our readers! Hot chocolate, presents, and a warm fire is what’s on our mind right now, but we’ve got room for one more winter tradition: Snowshoeing. Not only is it a ton of fun, but snowshoeing can also be an excellent form of cardio and cross training for runners. To learn why, check out: “An Ancient Form of Cardio You Should Try This Winter.”
In Minute 1 of our last issue, we looked at the declining quality of sleep as we age. The data was scary enough to keep us up at night, but luckily, we found a few tips to counteract the decline. Among them was doing 40 minutes of exercise a day, and by going on a morning run, you’ll get even more of a benefit by syncing your circadian rhythm with the rising sun. Morning runs aren’t easy for many folks, but you can get into a groove with these: “10 Strategies for Embracing Morning Runs.”
We are big fans of hill running, so we were happy to discover this new piece this week: “I added incline runs to my workout for 2 weeks — here's what happened to my body.” The author reported having better core engagement, a more intense workout, and improved quadricep development after incorporating incline runs into her routine.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We love trail running and we love living in New England. While our world-famous foliage can make autumn runs pleasing to the eye, all those leaves fall to the ground, eventually, creating a slick camouflage for roots and rocks underneath the pretty color. As @katepallardy writes on Instagram: “Let's run all the trails, they say. Twenty twisted ankles later, I'm like – alright, the fun has ended. The leaves taketh over, and there's no hope.” Check out her full video of this phenomenon below. It is equal parts PSA and comedic sketch.