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Can you handle the “75 Hard” fitness challenge?

OCT 27, 2022

Minute 1: The beer mile crowns 2022 champions

We love pepperoni and we love yogurt smoothies, but they really don’t pair well in the same glass. In a similar vein, we love running and we love beer, but we still can’t decide if the “beer mile” is the silliest or greatest race idea out there. Setting aside our purist instincts (Pretentious? Moi???), we’ll concede that the beer mile is a pretty fun spectacle to witness. Last week, 65 runners from more than a dozen countries convened to crown a running & chugging world champion. In the women’s race, the coronation was clear: “U.S. American Women Dominate the 2022 World Beer Mile Title.” If you don’t know, the rules of the beer mile are pretty simple: Begin the race by drinking one beer within the designated zone (just like a baton handoff zone), and then run a lap. Repeat that process until you’ve completed 4 laps -- but there’s a catch. If you can’t keep the beer down and have the dreaded “reversal of fortune,” you’ve got to run an extra lap. Elizabeth Laseter completed what would have been a world record performance, had it not been for the fact that she left the chug zone before starting her final lap. Melanie Pozdol was the third runner to cross the line, but was the official winner since she had adhered to the rules. Her total time was 6:41 which included 40 seconds of beer chugging. A family-friendly video of the women’s action is here. On the men’s side, a Canadian prevailed as shown in this video recap: “Corey Bellemore Sets New Can Beer Mile World Record.” The crazy Canuck finished in 4:49.70, well off his world record time of 4:28.10. Bellemore established a dominant lead on the first lap, despite a slow first beer chug. It’s worth noting that this year’s venue prohibited glass containers on the track, thus requiring runners to consume from a can, as was tradition early in the event’s history. Cans, despite being popular with hipster beer aficionados, are slower to chug and create more foam than bottles. So while Bellemore’s performance was worse than his record, it was good enough to set a new mark in the “can category” of the beer mile.


Minute 2: What does good sleep sound like to you?

A good night’s sleep is payment for a hard day’s work. But sometimes, as Tom Petty reminds us, the waiting for that reward is the hardest part. If you’ve ever struggled to fall asleep, you’re familiar with how frustrating it can be. Many of us are willing to try things like meditation apps or background noise to induce slumber. The complication there is that if you share your bed with someone else, you will need to wear headphones to access these auditory remedies, raising this question: “How Bad Is It Really to Sleep in Headphones?” The first thing you should check is the volume level, because you shouldn’t exceed 70 dB for extended periods of time. For reference, that’s about the loudness of the average busy office. If you find yourself drifting off before taking your earbuds out, you should be extra careful to keep your volume low, since the longer you’re exposed to noise, the greater your injury risk will be. Another factor impacting safety is how often you wear headphones during the day. Using the same pair day and night will increase the buildup of potentially harmful bacteria that can get caught in your ears, so wash your buds frequently, and consider using different pairs for day and night. If you use your phone at bedtime, your best bet is to keep it strictly for audio, since visual stimulation can have a negative effect on restfulness, according to “Why You Should Ditch Your Phone Before Bed.” Light emitted from our phones can interrupt our circadian rhythm, and exciting visual content can fire up our nervous system, rather than relaxing it. Last but not least, treat yourself to a warm, non-caffeinated drink to help settle in. Check out these “Peppermint Tea Benefits That'll Have You Reaching for a Large Mug” to see why experts think it's the perfect bedtime beverage. #SleepSoundly

Minute 3: Do you need to train stabilizer muscles?

A building is only as strong as its foundation, but in an earthquake zone like San Francisco, it is only as strong as its stabilizers. Our bodies are the same. Growing muscle isn’t much good if you don’t develop the stability to perform your movements in a controlled way, and that’s where the aptly named stabilizer muscles come in: “What Are Stabilizer Muscles (and Do You Really Need to Train Them)?” The distinction between regular and stabilizer muscles is not always clear. For some movements, a muscle will perform basic pushing and pulling functions, while for other athletic moves, those same muscles will perform a stabilizing role instead. Building stability is less about targeting certain muscles, and more about using them in a way that improves their ability to maintain joint stiffness. Isometric exercises like planks are one way to accomplish this, and they top the list of these “5 Killer Isometric Abs Exercises to Work Your Core.” Boat pose is one of the trickier options featured, but if you can pull it off, you can build the connection between your core and lower body stabilizers all at once. Single leg exercises can also help you grow your coordination and balance, so try out some of the “8 Single-Leg Exercises for a Strong Lower Body.” If you think you are ready to move past the basics, check out this piece with a list of “8 Advanced Balance Exercises,”


Minute 4: What is the “75 Hard” challenge, and is it healthy?

The hardest of the hardos are flexing on social media about an intense new phenomenon: “75 Hard.” If you’re out of the loop, this program has recently gone viral on platforms like TikTok, and we’ll be honest, it has us asking how committed is too committed when it comes to building an exercise routine. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and once you see the list of rules to participate, you’ll see why it’s generating so much buzz. The details are here: “What Is The 75 Hard Challenge?” There are 5 basic rules to follow: Set and follow a diet with no cheat meals, work out twice a day for 45 minutes (at least one outside), take progress pictures, drink a gallon of water a day, and read 10 pages of a book a day. To us, following those rules for 2 weeks sounds hard enough, never mind 2+ months. There are benefits you can expect if you manage it, but experts warn that this level of rigidity isn’t suited for everyone. Becoming overambitious in your training can actually backfire and cause you to lose motivation if you struggle to meet your goals. If you like the idea of 75 Hard, but want something a bit more down to earth, read “The 75 Soft Challenge Is the 75 Hard Challenge's Younger, Nicer Cousin.” 75 Soft borrows the same overall format, but loosens the requirements and allows for extra recovery. There’s also an emphasis on measuring how you feel, rather than how you look before and after with progress photos. Before you commit to one or the other program, give them a comparison and see which aligns with your goals and ability. #HardTime

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We’ve covered the Mediterranean Diet in previous issues, and for good reason. It’s probably the most widely-accepted winner of the title for “best diet” out there, given its ability to improve longevity, reduce risk of heart conditions, and more. Well, it’s great for a lot of folks, but there’s a limit to the number of health concerns it can address. If your main worry is developing dementia, you should look elsewhere, according to a recent study: “Does the Mediterranean diet reduce dementia risk? 20-year study hints no.”

  • When in doubt, do it yourself. That’s what some dieticians recommend if you want to increase the control of what goes in your body. When it comes to race day snacks like energy gel, you’d be surprised just how easy it is to ditch the pre-packaged stuff and create your own recipes. You’ll be able to select exactly what goes in it, avoiding problematic foods that don’t sit well with you, and you’ll probably even save some money. Find out what to do in “How to Make Your Own Energy Gels.”

  • There’s an increasing trend in fitness to ignore one size fits all routines, heading toward a more individualized approach to exercise that works for you. That’s useful for deciding what to do in the gym, but it’s equally important to listen to your body as you approach recovery, says the author of one study. Everyone will recover at different rates, and our sleep and diets are ever changing, impacting our rates on a daily basis. That's why you should check out “New Research Explains Why Workout Recovery Is Not One-Size-Fits-All.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

The Marine Corps Marathon, one of our absolute favorite events of the year, returns this Sunday after a two-year hiatus. While not as high profile internationally as the Boston, Chicago and New York marathons, the MCM punches far above its weight class in terms of scenery, history and military-grade event execution. Runners receive the coveted Eagle, Globe and Anchor medal at the finish line from a uniformed Marine and then proceed to the Marine Corps War Memorial for an emotional photo in front of the statue portraying the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. There have been many famous people who have received that medal, including Senators, celebrities and superstar athletes. Arguably the most famous MCM finisher of all time was Oprah Winfrey, who ran 4:29 in 1994 to celebrate her 40th birthday. Legendary race director Rick Nealis shares a few funny memories in this video about hosting the talk show phenom and how the Marines on duty protected her from the paparazzi. (Two National Enquirer “reporters” ran all 26.2 miles flanking Oprah. Ugh.) To hear Oprah describe her training and race experience to her television audience, check out the brief video below. BTW, she looked super fit and reasonably happy, despite slogging through a very wet and cold day in the nation’s capital.

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