NOV 4, 2022
Minute 1: When should your final pre-race workout occur?
Most training plans have you start slow and build momentum like a freight train. By the time you’re a couple of weeks out from the race, you’ll have cut the miles and upped the tempo so that you’re doing a lot of running at competition pace. At that point, you’ll face a question: how far out from race day should you stop workouts altogether? One coach thinks he has the answer: “When should you stop doing hard workouts before your race?” Steve Magness thinks your taper should be all about dialing in the right amount of muscle tension. Typically, when we hear the word “tension,” we think of an issue that needs to be solved with massages or foam rolling (if that sounds like something you need, look back to Minute 1 of this issue). That’s true for excess tension, but it’s important to remember that some tension is inevitable, and desirable for athletes, says Magness. Tapering off too quickly or too far out from race day can rob us of our power. If you’ve ever given yourself a layoff from running, only to come back to find that you feel more sluggish and unresponsive than before, you’ve likely lost too much tension for optimal performance. How do you avoid this? Magness recommends doing your last hard workout 10 days out from the race, followed by an immediate taper in your mileage. At that point, you may be wondering, “Should I Run the Day Before a Marathon?” There’s no definitive answer for this question, but it seems like the majority of runners prefer to do a shakeout run the day before, citing these “5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Run the Day Before Your Race.”
Minute 2: Here’s what to do about the flu
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but medical experts are predicting a pretty awful flu season for 2022. We just can’t catch a break it seems, but that’s all the more reason to read “Flu Season Is Going To Be Bad, People—Here’s How To Prep for It.” A silver lining for all the Covid precautions we had to take was that we were protected from all sorts of other viruses as well, including the flu. Now that the masks are off and the crowds are back, these other viruses are experiencing a rebound; certainly not a comeback we’re rooting for. Flu cases typically peak around December to February, and initial surges indicate this year will probably fall on the early side. For those who want to get a flu shot, that means the sooner you can, the better. If you manage to catch a sickness this winter despite your best efforts, you can find some relief in these “10 Natural Remedies for Flu Symptoms.” Some remedies are straight from your grandmother’s book of wisdom like gargling with salt water. Others may not be so obvious like boosting your zinc intake. Remember that ginger contains anti-inflammatory and nausea-reducing compounds that have been used for centuries to combat sickness. Pair ginger tea with honey for a seriously effective throat soothing tonic. We have also found through personal experience – but without medical endorsement – that doing a quick workout of going for a run can speed up our recovery process from a cold. For a more official medical take from the Mayo Clinic, check out: “Is it OK to exercise if I have a cold?” #SeasonFluPremiere
Minute 3: Which super shoe reigns supreme?
After watching a dude run a marathon wearing Crocs in Minute 6 of our last issue, we were all reminded of the importance of proper footwear when running a marathon. Not only will the right shoe help you prevent injury, but the latest innovations in carbon-plated “super shoes” can work wonders for improving your stride efficiency. At the moment, there are two companies taking the lead in super shoe popularity, and if you want to see them go head to head, check out “Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 vs. Adidas Adizero Adios Pro 3: Which Marathon Shoe Leads the Pack?” First thing’s first: when it comes to price, Adidas is coming in at $100 cheaper at the moment. That may change come Black Friday sales, but for now, if value is important to you, Adidas just earned quite a few points. How about performance? Well, Nike may have a slight edge here. They were the shoe of choice when Eliud Kipchoge ran his unofficial sub 2 hour marathon a few years ago. That’s about the most convincing endorsement for a shoe we can imagine. Adidas is battle proven as well, given that they were worn by about 60% of World Major Marathon winners in 2021. Nike and Adidas may be ahead of other manufacturers by the numbers, but there are still lots of great options from other brands. For more ideas about which shoe is right for you, check out this analysis from our own Brian Metzler: “Tips on how to find the best pair of carbon-plated shoes for you.” For more inspiration, you can read about 2 amazing runners on Hoka’s team as they prepare to take on the NYC Marathon this Sunday in “‘We Both Want To Be on the Podium’: Runners Take on Training, Motherhood and More, Side by Side.” As sponsored athletes, you can bet they’ll be wearing one of Hoka’s high end racing shoes.
Minute 4: Shoe review: Altra Via Olympus ($170)
Our resident shoe expert, Brian Metzler, weighs in this week with a review of the Altra Via Olympus. This shoe was just released and to the best of our knowledge, Brian’s review here is the first ever on this new shoe. If you want all the pluses and minuses, please click to see the full review on our website. Here are some highlights from Brian’s initial impressions of this shoe that is already generating some buzz.
When the maximally cushioned shoe category emerged a dozen years ago, the original shoes looked gangly and cartoonish. Many runners laughed and exclaimed: “What?!” That was way back in 2010 when the running shoe world was consumed by minimalism. But as soon as runners felt the soft cushy feeling in maximal shoes, most realized they loved cushioning. Thus was the genesis of maximally cushioned training shoes and suddenly every brand had at least one model with a high-stack profile.
Fast-forward to 2022 and next-gen cushioning is all the rage, both in training shoes and in carbon-plated racing shoes. After years of evolving its max-cushioned Olympus trail running shoes, Altra has just recently launched its new Via Olympus model for road running with a similarly thick and cushy midsole. As soon as I laced them up and ran about 5 miles, my only question was simply: What took so long?! After my initial wear-tests, I’ve found it to be a soft, buttery-smooth cruiser (but also inherently supportive) and one of the best new models of the year. It looks good, it feels good and it runs very well.
What’s New: Everything about the Via Olympus is new, but mostly it’s about Altra combining some of its best materials and brand-defining qualities (wider toe box and level cushioning platform) into a new rockered midsole shape with a higher stack of its Altra Ego MAX foam. As far as maximally cushioned shoes, it falls into the moderate zone with its 33mm/33mm heel-toe heights. In other words, it’s not a mega-stack shoe like the new ASICS SuperBlast (45mm/38mm heel-toe offset) or the Adidas Adizero PrimeX Strung (49.5mm/41mm heel-toe offset. But it’s the tallest shoe Altra has ever made, even if it’s only slightly higher than the Torin 6 (28mm/28mm), Provision 7 (28mm/28mm) and Paradigm 6 (30mm/30mm). Although it has “only” a 33mm height, it still feels like an exceptionally cushioned shoe.
Why It’s Great: The Via Olympus is great because it's light for its size, smooth and very consistent. The midsole foam has a semi-firm makeup and flex pattern, which gives it a feeling of inherent stability amid the soft, shock-absorbing sensation when the foot hits the ground. The level cushioning (or zero-drop platform as the brand used to call it) helps promote a quicker cadence and consistent, natural form. The rocker-shape of the midsole/outsole chassis, combined with the horizontal flex grooves in the outsole, gives it a feeling of toe spring as the foot rolls forward to the toe-off phase. It’s not a bouncy vibe, but more of a smooth, rolling feeling.
For the complete rundown on the Altra Via Olympus, check out Brian’s full review here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you gotta chill out. No, literally; stick your head in the freezer for a minute. That sounds a little crazy, we know, but sleep expert Dr. Aric Prather swears by it. Cold therapy can be used to trigger dopamine, adrenaline and energy release in the body, so the idea is, you can do a little cranium cooling instead of having that afternoon cup of coffee so that the residual caffeine doesn’t impair your sleep later on. Read the details of this bizarre but potentially effective method in “An Insomnia Cure Awaits…in Your Freezer?”
Looks can be deceiving, and the model with washboard abs doesn’t necessarily have the strongest core in the world. The way your abs appear has a lot more to do with your body fat percentage and morphology, not the functional strength of the muscles themselves. There are all sorts of mistakes we make when training our core, and to set the record straight, you should look into these “3 Common Misconceptions About Core Strength.”
As technology advances, we have a tendency to demand more and more of our products. We want our smart watches to measure every health metric there is. Our treadmill should come with hundreds of workout videos preloaded. Of course, cyclists want bikes with a gear ratio available for every conceivable situation. We forget that there’s beauty and reliability in simplicity, and that is one of “6 Reasons Why My Stable Always Includes a Singlespeed Bike.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The Antrim Coast Road Half Marathon will take you around some of the most scenic roads Europe has to offer. Not only that, but you’ll probably clock a blazing fast time as well. The course is mostly flat, with a nice downhill to bring you into the finish line. That makes for some exciting race finishes, but that’s not the highlight of the course. The best part is crossing through the Black Arch, where it’s tradition to yell at the top of your lungs until you’re out the other end. @stephenjreid on Instagram recorded his passage through the arch, and it’s the kind of enthusiasm and midrace shenanigans we love to see. Check out some footage of the famous tunnel through the arch in the clip below.