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Do you only need 4 hours of sleep?

AUG 31, 2022

Minute 1: Should you run if you need a break from worrying thoughts?

Of all the criticisms Mark Zuckerberg has received over the years, one of the most frequent relates to his robot-like demeanor. He’s may not be the first person that comes to mind when you’re seeking emotional guidance. So it came as a surprise when he raised quite an interesting point on a recent podcast appearance, and runners should take note. Take a look at: “Mark Zuckerberg said he gave up running as exercise to take his mind off work because 'the problem with running is you can think a lot'.” Let’s start off by noting that if you’re between running and no exercise, the former is certainly preferable if you’re trying to find space and mental clarity. Mark’s point, however, is that running doesn’t take things far enough. Instead, he opts for a sport like mixed martial arts; if your mind begins to wander and worry in that arena, you might get punched in the face. Fair enough, Zuck, that’s a powerful incentive. If you’re open to trying a more cognitively demanding sport, try one of these “Most Difficult Sports In The World.” Just to play devil’s advocate, we want to stress that running and other more simple activities can still make quite a difference on your mental well-being. Just look at “How Running Helps Fight Anxiety and Unlock Mental Clarity.”

Minute 2: Why do some folks only need 4 hours of sleep?

Have you ever spotted an influencer or entrepreneurial social media account advocating for the “rise and grind” lifestyle and thought to yourself, “there’s no way that’s healthy, right?” Well, your intuitions may be correct, and those advocating for little to no sleep in pursuit of extra work hours are probably doing themselves more harm than good. That is, unless they’ve got the rare genes for it, according to: “Who Are These Mythical “Short Sleepers” Who Only Need Four Hours a Night?” It turns out, about 3% of the population have a genetically controlled ability to sleep as little as 4 to 6 hours per night and feel fully rested with no repercussions. As if these folks needed any more advantages, research shows they’re also blessed with higher pain thresholds, longer lifespans and jet lag resilience. What conclusions do the experts draw from this? First, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by chasing an unrealistic work/life balance. If your body is telling you to get more rest, you should probably listen. Second, be on the lookout for gene targeting tech that could level the playing field. It’s still in the realm of science fiction, but some experts believe we’re less than a decade away from engineering our own minds and bodies. For that, see “Could We Really Increase Human IQ via Genetic Engineering?” While we’re waiting for science to catch up with our ambitions, the rest of us will have to make do with a quick power nap to keep our minds alert. Take a look at “The Benefits of Napping.” #NoRestForThe3%

Minute 3: Try out this Blue Zone inspired exercise

We have highlighted “Blue Zones” in previous issues – those places in the world with the highest life expectancy. Most research into these locales focus on diet and lifestyle, but we were intrigued this week by a new story on how these long-living folks exercise. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot less intense than you might expect. Check out “I Exercised Like the Longest-Living People on Earth, and It’s Changed How I Think About Working Out.” Folks in Blue Zones do quite a bit of gardening, casual walking about town, and housekeeping. That’s a far cry away from HIIT workouts and hill repeats, but when it comes to long term health benefits, the results are still quite good. You may also want to consider this piece: “The Research Is In: Yes, Gardening Totally Counts As Exercise.” Not only does gardening burn a moderate amount of calories, but it also improves your range of motion and exposes you to fresh air and sunlight, which is great for both your physical and mental health. Walking around town is a great option as well, but you should know that where you do your walking can have a significant effect on the outcome, according to “When it comes to walking in a park or down a city street, a study finds not all exercise is created equal.” Walkers who strolled down a park instead of a highly trafficked street saw greater benefits, particularly in regard to their arteries and vascular function.

Minute 4: What is the ideal running temp?

As Boston-based runners, we have a particular appreciation for running in the summer months. Instead of layering up to fight through slush, snow and short days, summer running sure is convenient. All you need are shorts, a t-shirt, plenty of water, and you’re on your way. The only downside is that you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with heat. Anyone who’s been running in 80-degree weather will know, it can be a hot mess. That has us wondering, “What Is The Ideal Temperature For Running?” On average, temps between 45 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for running a marathon, according to one study done in partnership with the Boston Marathon. Hotter than that, and your body will use lots of energy circulating blood and oxygen in order to cool off. On the opposite end of the spectrum, running in the cold requires energy to keep you warm, and the cold, dry air can potentially damage your lungs. We’re certainly looking forward to cooler fall days and fast splits, but until then, be sure to consider: “The Best Cooling Running Gear, Recommended by A Running Coach” and “10 Ways to Keep Cool While Exercising or Running in Summer Heat.” Even as summer winds to a close, avoiding dark colors while the hot sun is out is essential. You’re also going to want a hat, visor, or sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Fans of ultrarunning will have probably heard the name Priscilla Forgie by now. She recently set the course record at Canada’s Near Death Marathon, and she’s not stopping there. Believe it or not, a lot of her practices and training tips are as useful to the average runner as they are to the pros, so if you want to learn about her approach to getting ultra-fast ultramarathon times, read “This ultrarunner is on fire (and she’s only getting started).”

  • There’s nothing like a couple years of virtual races only and mandatory social distancing to make you appreciate the joy of an in-person race. Lining up with your fellow competitors, moving as a group, and celebrating with a hug and a drink after you cross the line are all part of the wonderful experience that is racing. We’re excited that things are picking up again for in-person racing, and if you want a little motivation to see why it’s time to make your comeback, watch this cool little video compiled by race directors who are thrilled to be getting their athletes to the starting line again: “#togetherwemove - the joy of taking part together.”

  • We’ll wrap this issue up on a similar note that we started on: the power of exercise to equip you to take on life’s challenges. Whether you’re sparring, surfing, or setting out first thing in the morning for a jog, there’s nothing quite like breaking a sweat to clear your head and prepare you for the day. Andrew Merle, a New Balance executive and certified nutritionist, knows this well, and he writes about his experience in “The 1 Habit That Has Improved My Life More Than Anything Else.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

There are few goals as ambitious in the world of running as a win at Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. It’s a 106-mile course with tremendous elevation changes and punishing terrain. It takes courage to even step up to the starting line, never mind pushing through to the end. Ryan Sandes is a veteran world class runner who has dared to attempt UTMB four times, but the finish has eluded him each attempt. Against the odds, he’s still working to conquer the race, and you can watch a short documentary following his journey to the 2022 event. It’s inspiring to see how he turns shortcomings into the motivation to push onwards, and we can’t wait to see where his determined attitude brings him next. The team at Solomon helped put together this excellent short video on Ryan and his quest. The stunning scenery alone is worth a watch.


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