Minute 1: How to survive Thanksgiving
Maybe a virtual turkey trot ain’t your jam. Maybe being locked indoors with your immediate family for days on end makes you long for an important Zoom call with the folks in accounting. Maybe Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving this year. Our survival plan includes a couple of quiet morning runs, yelling at the kids to get off their phones, and some retail therapy. We will have plenty of company on that final idea. Last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales both set records and with families limiting travel this year, they should reach new highs once again. Brands and retailers have responded by starting their sales earlier than ever, and that includes some excellent deals on products for endurance athletes. Check out our Guide to 6 Early Black Friday Deals for Runners to establish an early lead over your competition. Our list includes bargains on GPS watches, running shoes and winter apparel. And in case that doesn’t cheer you up, we recommend checking out our favorite take on the holiday, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” #TrackFriday
Minute 2: JFK 50 runs despite COVID-19 risks, criticism
While most major running events have been canceled or run virtually this year, officials in Washington County, Md. were determined to hold the 58th annual JFK 50, the oldest ultramarathon in the country. The November 21 event went off without a hitch and 629 competitors finished the race — including a men’s race winner Hayden Hawks who set a record time. Despite the precautions of the race organizers, the event generated plenty of controversy with cases spiking 5X in the local area. The Washington Post warned of the risks of running the event as the coronavirus tears through rural Maryland. Maria Valeria Fabre, an assistant professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine warned that “this doesn’t seem to be the best time to hold such an event. … We know a lot more now than we knew in March about how Covid-19 is transmitted, and we know that people gathering in this way is a major factor in transmission.” There is at least some encouraging evidence, however, that shows that such events do not lead to the spread of the virus. A study by the Japan Association of Athletics Federation evaluated nearly 700,000 runners over 787 events since July and found just 1 case of COVID-19 linked to running. The JFK 50 published a COVID-19 Action Plan that included masks and social distancing and had about 500 fewer runners than normal. Organizing the race under such difficult circumstances was challenging and risky but race director Mike Spinnler called it “arguably the greatest ultramarathon on the planet this year.” Race winner Hayden Hawks concurred, saying, “It’s been a hard year for a lot of people, including us as professional athletes. … I need to be grateful … because, really, this might be the first and the last race for a while for me.” #UltraConservative
Minute 3: Get ready, you’re built to run in the cold
When the alarm goes off at 6:00 am in August and you can already see warm sunlight streaking through your curtains, it’s a little weak to smash the snooze button repeatedly. But when that same alarm chimes in late November and your bed is 60 degrees warmer than your front porch, we’re not gonna judge. Go ahead, turn the alarm off and tell yourself “I’m just going to close my eyes for like 60 seconds and then get out of bed.” Before you strike that Faustian Bargain, however, remember that medically speaking, it’s really not too cold to run. As Women’s Running points out, “Science Says We’re Built to Run in Extreme Conditions.” Studies have shown that our bodies are uniquely built for running in high and low temperatures. Running keeps our core warm and, as warm-blooded creatures, we can reduce blood flow and retain heat when we need it most. “Because exercise generates heat as a by-product, the cold isn’t deleterious to doing exercise,” says professor Lewis Halsey, who studied our ability to run in heat by pitting humans vs. horses. The key to running in the cold is clothing, which Women’s Running points out in their “Favorite Women’s Running Gear For Winter.” For more help getting out of your warm bed or leaving that relaxing fire, check out these “Tips for Running in Cold Weather.” If you’re considering an old school post-run reward, consider “7 Fun Things To Do While Sitting Around a Campfire,” or “Why Sitting By a Fire Has Proven Health Benefits.” #50WaysToLeaveYourCover
Minute 4: Holiday food strategies
Everything in moderation. Including moderation. That’s our usual approach to Thanksgiving feasts, but with a much smaller family gathering this year, it seems easier to avoid our aunt’s pies and mom’s pork stuffing. A typical Turkey Day meal can approach 4,000 calories according to this story: “How Much Weight Could You Actually Gain on Thanksgiving?” If you’re seeking inspiration for moderation on Thursday, you may consider this list of “16 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes” or “14 Healthy Desserts that Put Grandma’s Pie to Shame.” As for the main course, this Healthline story says that turkey is a good source of protein and is healthy for you, particularly if you avoid the skin: “All You Need to Know About Turkey Meat.”
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
With in-person racing still scarce, many runners are starved for competition. For some, their only outlet is virtual races and challenges on Strava. But the digital app has also made it easier for some to covertly cheat. If you suspect that’s happening check out this new guide on “How to spot cheating on Strava.” The story offers helpful tips for identifying accidental or intentional cheating and advice on how to report cheating on Strava.
The Wall Street Journal just documented the “Coronavirus’s Toll on Marathons and Other Races,” citing a 95% drop in participation. The pandemic has been tough on big and small events alike. Industry experts have warned for months that some events may not survive the pandemic. As you consider the importance of endurance events in your life, please consider virtual options that support the industry. Check out our guide to virtual events here.
Dr. Bill Mason has proven that it’s never too late to start a new workout, even if it’s a CrossFit routine. The retired physician from Prince Edward Island, Canada, took up CrossFit to celebrate his 96th birthday. “I find that the time sort of hangs heavy on one’s hands at this stage in life,” he said. Mason was looking for something new after a stroke two years ago inspired him to improve his stability. As Men’s Health documents, he rocks a CrossFit workout that includes a deadlift, 200-meter row, situps, pushups, pullups and shoulder presses. Trainer Mike Ives says Mason’s progress has been “motivating and humbling.” Video evidence is here.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Running a 10K in under 30 minutes is hard enough, as it requires clocking 4:49 miles. But another 30-minute standard is considered even more difficult, although it only covers 1K. That’s because the 1K measures the vertical covered, not just the course length. One of the most famous vertical 1K challenges in the world is the infamous Fully Vertical Kilometre in Fully, Switzerland. The course climbs an abandoned railway in the Swiss Alps and is one of the most brutal in the world, covering 1,000m of elevation in less than 2K. The climb is so difficult that only three runners have ever broken 30 minutes, including mountain running phenom Killian Jornet. When Swiss trail runner and mountaineer Remi Bonnet attempted the feat earlier this month, he brought along a camera crew from Salomon. Sadly, he came up just 9 seconds short (30:09) and declared “never again” at the end of his run. But a week later, he went back on his word and gave it another shot. This time he made the climb in 29:53. Bonnet’s first attempt was recorded by Salomon Running and the inspiring video is well worth watching. (You may want to click on the subtitles button for a few portions of the film if your high school French is less than magnifique.)