AUG 25, 2022
Minute 1: Lactate measurement is having its moment, but is it the real deal?
When you cross the finish line of a race, you expect a medal, a bottle of water and a sign pointing out where you can rejoin your friends and family. A tiny fraction of finishers will be greeted by another sign: “Drug Testing This Way.” Even the cleanest of clean athletes don’t like that hassle, but they do it for the good of the sport. Many top athletes also understand that blood testing now goes beyond just proving they are not cheaters. They are instead voluntarily measuring their blood lactate levels for both racing and training to help pinpoint their ideal level of intensity. According to veteran running coach Matt Fitzgerald, “Taking up the practice could be transformative for many recreational endurance athletes whose training is currently all wrong.” He dives into the virtues and pitfalls of the practice in this new piece: “Is Lactate Measurement Essential for Endurance Training Optimization?” If you are interested in a simple device that you can take to the track, check out this handheld measurement tool from EKF Diagnostics. A pin prick and 10 seconds of analysis will let you know if you are training in the right zone. Olympic triathlon gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt deserves much of the credit for bringing attention to this method, and he considers it one of the keys to his success in racing. Coach Fitzgerald argues that Blummenfelt could have still won the gold medal without testing, since there are plenty of world class runners and cyclists competing against him who don’t use lactate measurement devices. If you are curious how to consider your lactate without fancy lab equipment, read the “Time Trial Method” in this Outside piece: “Do-It-Yourself Lactate Threshold Testing.” Of course, you’ll want an understanding of what a lactate threshold is in the first place, and you can find that out in this explanation from Training Peaks: “What is Lactate and Lactate Threshold.”
Minute 2: Running shoes belong on the road, not the gym
As a runner, you may consider carbon-plated super shoes to be nothing short of a minor miracle. That’s true to a point, but they are fairly specialized pieces of equipment, good for race day, but not the best choice for routine daily mileage and trails. The same principle is true for running shoes in general – great for runs, good for a walk to the coffee shop, bad for lifting weights. That last fact was underscored for us by this new story: “Never, ever wear your running shoes to squat or deadlift in the gym.” All that cushioning, foam, and carbon plating does wonders for absorbing impact, but at the cost of stability. When you’re lifting heavy weight, you want your feet planted firmly into the ground, not squishing around in a highly supportive sneaker. Instead, opting for thin soled, flat shoes (even Vans, Chuck Taylor’s and tennis shoes) is the way to go. Don’t be fooled by their modest construction – when it comes to squats and deadlifts, simpler is better. Now, there are shoes made specifically for weightlifting, and they can work wonders for improving your squat mobility. They aren’t necessary for everyone, but if you’re curious about the benefits they bring, read “What are weightlifting shoes?” By raising the ankle, you’ll have an easier time squatting lower and maintaining upright torso posture. #ThoughtsOnSquats
Minute 3: Your exercise gear is overdue for a cleaning
When it comes to our fingernails, driving record and writing style, we like the adjective “clean.” Our running shoes are a lost cause in this regard, but apparently we should be paying more attention to another piece of our training gear: “The Truth Is Your Yoga Mat Is Gross (and You Need to Clean It).” This rubbery surface can be a breeding ground for all sorts of nasty microbes. Close contact with your mat will leave it covered in oils, dead skin, sweat, and dust. That’s why you really should be doing a light cleaning after every use, plus a deep clean every few weeks. For your daily clean, a gentle or natural cleaner diluted in water is sufficient. Here are “The 5 best natural disinfectants to kill germs effectively.” Spray on and wipe away until dry, and if you want, add an essential oil to leave a pleasant aroma. For the deep clean, fill the bathtub or sink with a detergent and allow the mat to soak for at least 10 minutes. Your yoga mat isn’t the only thing that’s probably in need of a cleaning. We’ve given up on hygiene for our running shoes since they face sweat, dirt, and grime every time they get used. If you are more fastidious than we are and want to extend the life of your footwear, check out this guide from Adidas: “How to Clean Running Shoes.” If you just want to keep your family and roommates happy, here is a good shortcut: “RS Recommends: The Best Shoe Deodorizers to Keep Your Sneakers Smelling Fresh and Clean.”
Minute 4: Swim Like a SEAL
If you’re looking for a group of strong swimmers to mimic, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than SEALs. In some ways, these superfit warriors are better swim instructors than Olympians, since the SEALs come in all shapes and sizes and many had to learn proper swimming techniques later in life. Check out details in this new story: “Navy SEAL Kaj Larsen’s Guide to Becoming a Better Swimmer.” Kaj says swimming in difficult conditions is as much mental as it is physical. The discomfort of being in the cold and vast ocean will often cause swimmers to give up long before they’re at the point of physical exhaustion. What are his two biggest tips for coping with waterborne adversity? Breathwork and teamwork. Focusing on breathing deeply and practicing holding your breath while you’re out of the water will prepare you for underwater activity better than anything. As far as dealing with fear, use the buddy system. Whenever you’re swimming, you should be sure to have at least one person to count on looking out for you in case something goes wrong. If you’re looking for a reason to get into the water, you should know that swimming is a great exercise if you’re dealing with back pain. Find out why in “Is swimming good for back pain?” Whether you’re water jogging, or swimming with your stroke of choice, being in the water will alleviate the usual tension and pressure we put on our bodies, giving you a much needed chance to decompress. #TightSEAL
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
This may sound a little bananas or even a little kooky, but some nutritionists recommend adding banana peels to your cookies. Bear with us for a moment, because we were just as surprised as you to learn that the banana peel is one of the most nutritionally dense parts of the fruit. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stick whole chunks of the peel in your baked goods to get the benefits. Instead, you can infuse it into flour, so check out “Banana peel 'flour' may enhance nutritional value and taste of cookies.”
Professional athletes like Micheal Phelps, Conor McGregor, and Usain Bolt have all said they’ve used cannabis at one point or another in their lives. While any form of smoke inhalation can be detrimental to your health, many active people find that their cannabis use and active lifestyles can coexist. In some cases, they even enhance one another. If you’re curious how that could be, you should read this story from Triathlete: “The Endurance Athlete’s Guide to Training With Cannabis.”
Thor, the God of Thunder is the last person we’d expect to be dishing out meditation advice. You can tell with one glance that Chris Hemsworth spends a lot of time in the gym, but you may be surprised to learn he credits a lot of his athletic success to his meditation and breathing practices. See how to get the mentality of a Norse God in “Build mental strength in just 10 minutes with Chris Hemsworth's breathing exercises.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Based on our most recent reader survey, we know that a big chunk of our subscribers are middle-aged bada$$es. As a tribute to our “40 is the new 30” squad, we wanted to share an example of a 47-year-old who is still shredding his sport and looking shredded in the gym. Kelly Slater is no beach bum, and after earning 56 World Championship Tour victories, Slater still isn’t done. We could all learn from his longevity and dedication to the sport, which is why we’re excited to watch the new series that brings us behind the scenes of Kelly’s training process. Catch the wave in the link to the series below.