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Four surprising benefits of stress

MAY 19, 2023

Minute 1: When should you start your marathon training?

The stoic philosopher Seneca once said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If you want your next marathon to be your lucky day, you should start preparing early. How early, exactly? Well, if you plan on running in the fall, there are some helpful guidelines to be found in this new piece from Canadian Running: “When should you start training for a fall marathon?” The first step to making a plan is assessing your current level of fitness. If you’re coming off a spring marathon, 16 weeks of prep time will be plenty. If you’re starting from scratch, you might be better off with 20 weeks or more. We know what you’re thinking – all that time sounds like an awful lot of wear on your body, but you can help alleviate some of the impact of your running by supplementing cardio on the elliptical. Take a look at “Elliptical vs. Running: Which Gives The Better Workout?” For low to medium intensity exercise, running and ellipticals are similar in many regards. One way they differ, however, is the physical stress on your body. Ellipticals are considered to be gentler on your bones, joints, and tissue, making them an excellent option for easy days when you need an additional focus on recovery. Having several months to train is ideal, but sometimes, life gets in the way. If your race is fast approaching and you feel underprepared, you can try some of these “Last-Minute Panic Training Tips For Procrastinators.”

Minute 2: It isn’t too late to build muscle

When it comes to muscle mass, you’ve got to use it or lose it. That’s especially true for older athletes, since 30% of adults age 60+ will experience a muscle loss condition known as Sarcopenia. If you take the right steps, you can protect yourself from this decline, according to: “Am I too old to build muscle? What science says about sarcopenia and building strength later in life.” Sarcopenia can hit you hard if you don’t take precautions, but the sooner you start, the easier it will be to maintain muscle mass. The good news is, even adults age 75 or above can make significant strength gains by adopting a resistance training routine. Using dumbbells, machines, or resistance bands are good ways to start, and if you’re looking for some exercises to get you started, try these “6 Easy Resistance Band Exercises to Give Your Whole Body a Workout.” Once you’ve got your footing with strength training and want to increase your output, you can start looking into more advanced techniques, like breath control. Take a look at “I Started Breathing Correctly While Lifting Weights, and It Changed My Workouts in 3 Major Ways.” Taking deep breaths before a lift, and performing a slow exhale during the rep, help us lift heavier weight for more reps, as well as acquire greater mental focus.

Minute 3: Not all stress is bad

We all know what it’s like to have too much of a good thing, but what about the inverse? Can you have too little of a bad thing, like stress? According to some research, you absolutely can, and that’s why some experts feel that “‘Eustress’ Is a Secret Superpower. Here’s How to Embrace It.” ‘Eu-’ is the Greek prefix for ‘good,’ and eustress refers to the challenging but manageable situations life throws our way. It can be mental hurdles, like delivering a presentation or going on a first date, or physical ones, like a particularly hard workout. These things aren’t easy, but completing them can have major benefits, like an increase in the presence of oxytocin in the brain. That’s just the start, and you can read about the other perks in “4 Surprising Health Benefits of Stress.” Researchers discovered that moderate stress could strengthen your neuron’s connections, improving memory and attention span. Not only that, but stress can promote the development of interleukins, a compound that activates your immune system to fight disease. If you’re looking to add eustress into your life, while cutting out the bad stress, you could benefit from learning how to distinguish between the two: “How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Stress.”

Minute 4: Gear review: 6 great road shoes for summer training

Our shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, is so excited about a batch of new shoes, that this week he is singing the praises of six different models. In Brian’s view, this is a strong quiver of shoes for all of your summer training needs. You can check out Brian’s full review of this six-pack on our website, but the highlights are below.

Although summer won’t officially arrive until June 21, the summer running season is already underway in many parts of the country. (And yes, it’s still snowing in some of the mountainous regions of the West, but May (snow) showers will still bring June wildflowers in those regions.) To me, summer running is all about fitness, fun and adventure, as well as creating a strong aerobic base for fall races.

No matter where any of us are on our training spectrum right now—either super fit, just getting started or somewhere in between—we can all benefit from a good pair of training shoes that can log a lot of miles during those summer months.

Here’s a look of six of the best durable, high-mileage workhorse shoes I’d recommend for summer running.

Altra Rivera 3 ($140) Best for runners who appreciate shoes with a level platform, the Rivera 3 can be a versatile, do-everything training shoe, a long-run specialist or even a fast-workout option in a pinch. I love this shoe for easy runs, but I did manage to do a spontaneous fartlek session that included 6 x 3-minute segments at an up-tempo pace.

Adidas Ultraboost Light ($190) I loved this shoe for long runs and recovery runs. While it’s not a shoe meant to run marathon race pace, it felt comfortable and energetic at moderate paces on two 10+ mile runs I logged, as well as the numerous shorter maintenance runs I did at slower paces.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 ($160) ASICS entirely revamped its GEL-Nimbus training shoe, most notably with 20 percent more FlyteFoam Blast+ Eco foam in the midsole than the previous version, a 4mm increase in thickness from heel to toe and a lower heel-toe offset (now 8mm, down from 10mm in the men’s version and 13mm in the women’s version). There’s also a new PUREGEL cushioning pod in the heel that improves impact absorption with less weight than the previous GEL pods.

Brooks Ghost 15 ($140) You can’t go wrong with a pair of Brooks Ghost in your quiver. What makes this shoe exceptional is that it’s good at everything but not extraordinary at anything. It’s great because it’s a comfortable, smooth-riding and reliable shoe that doesn’t have any major flaws.

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v13 ($140) This is a great everyday trainer built with a more traditional design of shoes that were popular before the advent of maximally cushioned shoes. It offers a lot of shock-absorbing softness, but it also has more proprioceptive feel for the ground and better agility than most everyday trainers. If you appreciate that old-school feel on the roads, this is a good one to consider.

Saucony Endorphin Speed 3 ($170) This shoe is truly a do-everything everyday trainer that is cushy and comfortable enough for long runs, but light and energetic enough for just about every kind of up-tempo workout. The PWRRUNPB foam midsole is so lively that it helped me run about 30 seconds faster per mile on my longer runs than I had expected and it provided loads of springiness for faster intervals and post-run strides. I’ve said this before, but this is by far my favorite shoe of the past year, and although I have run hundreds of miles in my latest pair, they still feel fresh and vibrant every time I run in them.

Those are the bullet points, but to get the full memo on these excellent summer shoes, you can check out Brian’s review here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • These days, it’s easy to take for granted how incredible some of our activewear has become. Sweat-wicking fabric, elasticity, breathability, and other features are all commonplace, but that comes at a price. The truth is, a lot of these fabrics require a bit of extra attention if you want it to last, and that means you should consider separating it from the rest of your laundry, as well as avoiding the dryer for some garments altogether. If you want a guide to getting the most out of your workout clothes, read: “Avoid Ruining Your Activewear With These Washing Machine Hacks.”

  • The way we connect as a society has changed pretty rapidly in the last few years. With smartphones and Zoom meetings becoming increasingly central to our communication, combined with more work-from-home positions and remote experiences, it’s no surprise that folks are feeling lonely. That’s too bad, because the effects of loneliness are no joke, and you can see why in Fitt Insider’s “Issue No. 234: Social Fitness.”

  • Recently, Brian Metzler took a look at the Suunto Vertical GPS Watch, a solid option among the high-end fitness trackers on the market today. If you’re looking for other options at different price points that still pack a ton of features, you should read: “Apple Watch vs Garmin: Which is better?” This guide will help you identify what’s most important for you in a tracker, offering several different models to pick from each of these stellar brands.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Today’s inspirational video is brought to you by Soh Rui Yong, a professional runner from Singapore. At the recent Southeast Asian Games, the leader in the 10,000 meters race missed his hydration check-in, but Soh, narrowly in second place at the time, offered half of his water cup. It was a move that cost him the gold on race day, but he finished first in the hearts of our Six Minute Mile staff. Maybe it’s not the prize he wanted, but we think it's important to spread his message of kindness and sportsmanship no matter the stakes. Click below to watch the whole video.


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