Minute 1: Eat more plants
As a kid, we never won an athletic MVP award, but we were absolute All Americans in the sport of making an end-around to avoid eating the vegetables on our plates. Steph Curry’s best head fakes and misdirection passes are weak imitators of our ability to hide uneaten carrots under a crumpled napkin or slip Birds Eye veggies to a hungry dog at our feet. A new study explains why we were so wrong not to appreciate our mom’s cooking and to miss out on a nutritional head start. Details are in this new piece: “Eating more plant foods may lower heart disease risk in young adults, older women.” The Journal of the American Heart Association recently published 2 studies that detailed the long-term positive impacts of consuming plant-based foods. The first study tracked the eating habits of more than 4,000 young adults for 30+ years. Participants were free to pursue any diet they chose, allowing researchers to analyze the effects of diet under real world circumstances. The study showed that participants who ate mostly plant-based foods were 52% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. A second study on postmenopausal women analyzed the “Portfolio Diet” which includes nuts, soy proteins (beans, tofu), high fiber foods (oats, barley, eggplant, apples), monounsaturated fats from oil (olive, canola and avocado) and limited consumption of saturated fats. Women in this study were followed for an average of 15 years, and researchers found: “Compared to women who followed the Portfolio Diet less frequently, those with the closest alignment were 11% less likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease, 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 17% less likely to develop heart failure.” As an adult, we now love eating veggies, but that’s not true of many friends who rely on carbs and meat protein to fuel their workouts. For the picky eater in your life (maybe that’s you), check out: “10 Simple Vegetable Side Dishes to Win Over Picky Eaters” or “20 Great Vegetable Recipes” which kicks off with roasted vegetable ideas, just in time for fall. If you need ideas more tuned to endurance sports, check out “Why 3 Top Trail Runners Choose Plant-Based Diets.” #PlantFood
Minute 2: Shadowbox workouts
It’s September, fall is nearly here, and along with that, the best running weather of the year. Nonetheless, we are always on the lookout for new ways to cross train and change up our routines. If you're hoping to engage new muscles and maybe exorcise some pandemic frustrations, check out this new story from Healthline: “Boxing Benefits: 6 Reasons to Try Throwing a Punch.” Boxing improves your heart health, similar to HIIT workouts, and provides a whole-body workout. You may also enjoy “Strength training: 5 full-body benefits of boxing” which details the perks of the sport, including how you can do a shadow boxing workout at home. The quick starting tip is that every time you throw a punch, you should exhale. Also, the strength from a good punch comes from the hips, not exclusively the arms. And finally, if you’re not fully convinced to give this workout a try, Runner’s World presents, “Yes, Boxing Can Benefit Runners—Here’s How.” #FitsOfFury
Minute 3: Heart rate training
Running has largely been the same since the first human decided “I’m going to go faster than walking because I can.” When running evolved from basic instinct to a billion-dollar industry, however, training plans became more than just a way to avoid predators and capture prey. With technology advancements, one approach favored by runners and wearables vendors is heart rate training -- targeting your workouts to stay within specific heart rate zones based on your age. A story last week reminded us that we should use our HR monitor more often: “How to Run Using Heart Rate Training.” Your heart rate will tell you how productive your body is and how hard it is working, allowing you to save some energy for a final push in races (think of a hot summer long run and why you felt sluggish). The foundation to HR training is your maximum heart rate that will let you know your target training zones. The simplest formula to determine your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. (Other formulas suggest subtracting half your age from 205 which gets you to about the same number.) There are 5 zones and you can determine your zone rate by multiplying your MHR and a zone percentage (details here: “Heart Rate Training Can Make You Faster—Here’s How”). For example, a 37-year-old looking to do a long run at 70% of MHR would look like this. 220 - 37 = 183. 183 x .7 = 128 BPM. So for their run to qualify as long slow distance, they should ensure their HR doesn’t exceed 128 BPM. Of course, there are some downsides to this approach too, including understanding that a lot of external factors can affect your heart rate at any given time, including; lack of sleep, weather, stress, and caffeine. For more pluses and minuses, check out “The Pros And Cons Of Training By Heart Rate.” #TheRateStuff
Minute 4: Too much cardio?
As Owen Wilson intoned with mock sincerity in Wedding Crashers: “You know how they say we only use 10 percent of our brains? I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts.” We’ve talked about the heart extensively in this issue, but is it possible to give your heart too much love? We didn’t think so until a few years back when a flurry of studies and stories appeared with titles like: “Is Running Good Or Bad For Your Health?” and “Why Too Much Running Is Bad for Your Health,” which warned of scary concepts like oxidative stress and free radicals that can bind with cholesterol. We received some reassuring news last week in this new piece: “Can Too Much Cardio Actually Be a Bad Thing?” The story addresses some cardio concerns that have arisen with prolific runners like Jim Fixx and Dave McGillivray suffering serious heart issues. Dr. Lutz Petersdorf of Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant, reassures: “An adult male in good physical health likely has nothing to worry about. Petersdorf cites a landmark study from 2017 as evidence. Out of 50 men who had completed a total of 3,510 marathon runs, heart scans ‘could not find a relationship between how much they had run overall and how much plaque they had in their arteries.’” While there were 10 subjects with significant plaque development in their heart, it could be attributed to preexisting external factors like smoking and high cholesterol. Essentially, runners who have been at it for a long time and have lived a healthy lifestyle, and do not have a genetic or familial medical history of cardiovascular issues should be OK. But suppose you are later to the game of running, and did so to improve your health after some early-life choices (like smoking). In that case, you should be more mindful of your heart health and continue to have conversations with your doctor about your training. Outside magazine offered this take last month: “There’s New Evidence on Heart Health in Endurance Athletes.” #90/10Rule
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We touched upon heart-rate training and the concept that training at a lower rate, or slower pace, can actually be good for you. Well, if it works for American marathoner, and Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel, then it’s good enough for us. A snapshot of her weekly running stats were broken down by pace, finding that half of her training was done at a less than 5K pace. 3% of her training during that week was speed, and 13% was at race pace. Most runners don’t touch the total distance that Seidel does, but the general idea can be scaled to a normal runner’s program.
One of the best things about celery for many people is that it’s a negative-calorie food, meaning it burns more calories to chew it and it actually provides. Right? Wrong. Welcome to a food myth. “The 7 Biggest Myths About Calories” includes this celery caloric conundrum and corrects things. Other myths busted include:
That fitness trackers and exercise machines accurately calculate calories burned
Cutting 3,500 calories is equal to 1 pound of weight loss
Calories are calories and there’s no real difference among foods. In truth, 100 calories from salmon is not the same as 100 calories from a can of soda.
Coconut water is so trendy. Maybe not White Claw/Truly/High Noon trendy, but it sure has its place. And unlike hard seltzers, coconut water actually does provide some benefits for you. It has been found to contain antioxidants, help lower blood sugar for those with diabetes, help prevent kidney stones, and can reduce cholesterol in lab rats similar to the effects of a statin drug. You can read more about it in “7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Water.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
William Jones III has been running since 2004, and today at age 38, his impact goes beyond just his feet pounding the pavement. He moved to Charlottesville, VA, in 2006 and began running regularly there, winding through predominantly black neighborhoods. His 5-mile loop led to the eventual formation of the Prolyfyck Run Crew, a diverse group of runners who hit the streets together in the love of sport and solidarity. Brooks Running pulled together this video on Jones’ story and it is really well done. It will pull at your heartstrings and motivate you to exercise your hamstrings.