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Does walking boost your running performance?

DEC 8, 2023

Minute 1: Consistency and routine can improve your running

The most significant benefits of exercise come after long-term, dedicated work. That’s why healthy routines can be such a powerful tool, according to: “The Secret to Becoming a Runner Is a Good Routine.” Planning a solid foundation makes building a house a lot easier. In the same way, writing down your goals and schedule can help solidify your routine. Additionally, some athletes like to organize their gear ahead of time to keep things running smoothly. Pre-planning a running outfit is especially effective for those who like to run first thing in the morning, and for more tips on that, you can check out: “10 Tips for Running in the Morning.” A good morning run starts with a commitment to a good night’s rest, so put away the screens and caffeine well before your bedtime. Be sure to hydrate as you wake as well, because after 7 or 8 hours without a drink, your body sure will need it. Consistency is key for a solid morning routine, and there have been a lot of remarkable people throughout history who are proof of that. To see what we’re talking about, just look at: “What’s the best morning routine? History may have the answer.” What did Marcus Aurelius, Ben Franklin, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Beethoven all have in common? A commitment to waking early and starting the day with methodical and decisive action.

Minute 2: How fast should you walk to improve your fitness?

Here at Six Minute Mile, we are big fans of walking as a form of exercise. Chances are, if you schedule a work call with us, we will pop in our headphones five minutes in advance and do our phone call while we move our feet. We are certain that it’s better to walk than to slump at our desks, but just how much better? Answers to that question are here courtesy of Polar: “Is Walking Cardio? Yes, if You Do It Right.” Any type of walking can help, but if your goal is improving your cardiovascular capacity, you’ll want to get your heart rate into Zone 2 or more. That means reaching at least 60% of your max heart rate, and that typically requires a brisk walking pace of about 3-4 miles per hour. Walking faster isn’t the only way to up the difficulty, and some folks swear by rucking and adding some weight to your body: “Weighted Vest vs. Rucking: Which Is More Effective For Building Endurance And Strength?” Both options will put a greater demand on your body, which means higher heart rate and more strength gains. A weighted vest will distribute the load more evenly, keeping you agile, while a weighted rucksack will put a greater amount of strain on your back and core. If neither of those options suit you, you can’t go wrong with the “Run Walk Run” method to up the intensity. Invented by legendary coach Jeff Galloway, the run-walk-run method helps runners find a pace that they can hold for extensive distances, improving their efficiency and helping them enjoy the process of exercise and its natural reward systems.

Minute 3: Boost your brain power with these foods

In Minute 3 of our last issue, we talked about how scary dementia can be, and how we want to avoid it at all costs. We gave you a handy checklist from Mass General Hospital to keep your brain in tip-top shape, but now we're going to dig deeper into the delicious details of brain-boosting foods. Here are "7 Foods for Better Brain Health," including blueberries, olives, nuts, and chocolate. But if you're feeling hungry for more, why not whip up some eggs or fish that are packed with omega-3s? Salmon, herring, and anchovies are all great choices, according to "Fish High in Omega-3 and Low in Mercury." Eating well for your brain is not only about adding the good stuff, but also cutting out the bad. For every drink you skip, your brain will thank you, according to: "One alcoholic drink a day linked with reduced brain size." Don't worry, one drink won't shrink your brain too much, but the more you drink, the more you lose. The researchers found that "going from one to two or two to three units per day was associated with reductions in both gray and white matter." So, when it comes to booze, less is more. It's never too late to quit a bad habit, and there are many benefits of ditching alcohol that can improve your health, according to "Reverse Alcohol Damage - What Happens When You Drink Alcohol Everyday?".

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Hoka Challenger 7 GTX ($160)

Our favorite shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, lives in the Colorado mountains, so he knows a thing or two about running in snowy weather. At HQ here in Boston, we actually look forward to our runs after a fresh coat of snow. It can add a little cushioning to our footfalls and drops a hush over our running routes. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, you will probably be faced with a few tough decisions this winter about whether to run or whether to pull the covers back over your head. According to Brian, the new Hoka Challenger 7 GTX takes away any excuses to take a zero. A few highlights of his review of this remarkable winter warrior are below, but for his full take, check it out on our website.

If you live in a northerly region of the U.S. (or anywhere in Canada!), it’s the time of the year when you have to think twice about the shoes you’ll wear on your daily runs. You might have a specific run planned, but it will behoove you to look outside to see if it’s snowing or check your weather app to see how cold it is. I have to be honest, I don’t often wear weatherproof running shoes. But I live in Colorado and there are definitely days where I’m grateful for the protection of a Gore-Tex-lined shoe. If you live in a place where you have to maneuver over snow-packed roads in sub-zero temperatures on many days between mid-December and late-February (I’m looking at you, runners in Duluth, Minnesota!), then you’ll certainly appreciate a shoe like the Hoka Challenger 7 GTX. It’s a neutral-oriented trail running shoe, but it is as comfortable as a road running shoe and the Gore-Tex liner and toothy outsole make it an ideal shoe for running on snowy conditions in the winter.

What’s New: The Hoka Challenger 7 GTX has a slightly higher and softer compression-molded EVA midsole, a new engineered mesh upper for improved fit and support, and a Gore-Tex Invisible Fit liner for enhanced protection in inclement weather. The outsole has been enhanced with smaller, tightly spaced directional lugs under the middle of the shoe, and larger, more aggressive lugs around the perimeter. (There’s also a greater nod to sustainable materials, including the upper fabric that is made from 70% recycled polyester.)

Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it because it’s a great winter trail and road running shoe! Aside from the protection against snow and cold, the outsole tread provides really good traction on a variety of dirt trails, but it’s especially grippy in snowy and slushy conditions on paved roads, bike paths, gravel paths and dirt trails. It can be slippery on icy surfaces—what shoe isn’t? – but it’s great in newly fallen snow, wet snow, packed snow and slushy snow. (You can improve the grip with after-market traction devices like Yaktrax or by drilling eight hex-head sheet metal screws around the perimeter of the outsole as a DIY traction solution.)

For Brian’s full analysis of the new Hoka Challenger 7 GTX, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

Any time we come across the word “detox” in a fitness article, our alarms start ringing. It’s a buzzword that’s often used to sell unhealthy cleanses, teas, and other unsustainable attempts to rid the body of junk. Typically, we say the only thing that can really “detox” your body is a healthy GI, kidney, or liver, but we may have found an exception: Saunas. If you want to see for yourself, read “Do Infrared Saunas Actually Help You Detox?”

For a lot of runners, a treadmill is seen as an acceptable substitute to the real thing. Something to help you avoid bad weather or save time on a busy day, but deep down, you might feel like you aren’t getting the full experience and benefits of running. Well, we think that treadmills are a bit underrated. Not only can they be useful when dealing with certain injuries, but their dynamic, programmable functionality makes them a sort of one size fits all solution to your training needs. To see how to make the treadmill the centerpiece to your running, read “Treadmill Training: Welcome to the Machine.”

When we’re diving into our fitness trackers’ data for a quick and easy health checkup, we often look at heart rate variability. That’s a measure of how quickly your heart can respond to stimuli, and researchers are finding it more and more useful to paint a picture of our overall health. The folks over at Marathon Handbook have created “The Definitive Guide To Heart Rate Variability (HRV) For Training: Part I,” which was a great read. They’ve just put out part 2, so check out: “The Definitive Guide To HRV Part II: How Do We Measure Heart Rate Variability?”

Our fast friend and running music DJ, Rebecca Trachsel, is back this week with not only another good playlist tune, but also a super generous holiday giveaway featuring many of her favorite running products. We are honored and humbled to have a few SMM items in her gift bag. You can enter the giveaway here. As for this week’s featured song, Coach Trax is recommending “What Now” by Brittany Howard. This talented artist, of Alabama Shakes fame, has one studio album to her name and will be releasing her second, also titled "What Now," next year. She took her solo path back in 2019 and snagged a Grammy for her song "Stay High" in 2021. She's back with this powerful, almost dark lyrical masterpiece that legitimately makes you want to dance – a combination that's wild and oddly magical. It kind of feels like there is nothing this woman can't do. I will be waiting anxiously for the full album. Until then, I will have this single gem playing daily. You can find it on Spotify here and on Apple Music here. #turnitup

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Ultrarunning is an extreme activity, and with that comes some pretty extreme personalities. We have to admit, there have been times when ultrarunners’ dedication feels a little overbearing. If you know what we mean, we bet you’ll find @mattslyon’s latest parody video to be some much needed comic relief. Running 50-100 miles at a time develops a whole lot of endurance, and with that often comes a chip on your shoulder. That’s when it's time to turn to comedians to bring us back down to earth. So if you or someone you know needs a reminder to chill with the humble brags, check out this hilarious clip.


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