Has Purell and social distancing hurt your microbiome?


Minute 1: Train like Pre with this killer workout

Steve Prefontaine is one of the most adored figures in track and field history. His bold tactics, confidence, and iconic ‘stache are the inspiration for not 1, but 2 feature films. (The preview for “Prefontaine” is here and the preview for “Without Limits” is here.) Runners looking to emulate his greatness are in luck, as one of the secrets to his success is actually quite public: “Not Just for Gods: You Too Can Do Pre’s 200s.” The concept for the workout is pretty straightforward. Simply alternate your pace every 200 meters, either for a set distance, or as long as you can keep it up. Pre himself would hit 30 seconds on the fast splits, and 40 seconds on the slow ones, but you can alter the numbers to whatever suits your needs. As a rule of thumb, aim to have the fast 200s run at just below your fastest mile pace. This workout is the perfect way to improve your body’s response to lactic acid, so when you start to feel the burn, you know you’ve got the right pace. Keep at it, and one day you could become a legend too, and that's good because “Running Needs Another Steve Prefontaine.” If the next U.S. legend is in the pipeline, we will likely see him or her next month when Pre’s alma mater hosts the U.S. Olympic trials for track and field at Hayward Field. Competition begins on June 18 and the new complex is a far cry from the legendary covered wooden grandstand of the original Hayward Field. Thanks to Nike’s Phil Knight, the new version of Pre’s house is jaw-dropping, as you can see in this reveal video when the Duck’s were shown their new $270,000,000 pond. #PreAdvice

Minute 2: Are resistance bands the new dumbbells?

This week, the idea that pumping iron is the only way to build muscle has been met with a little resistance. Today.com thinks it could be time to ditch the weights, asking “Should you strength train with resistance bands or dumbbells?” First of all, bands are a lot cheaper than traditional weights. If you want to expand your home workout routine without breaking the bank, they’re the way to go. See for yourself, “Check out 28 Best Resistance Bands to Pack in Your Gym Bag.” But do they provide the same results? Not exactly, but that might be a good thing. Resistance bands cause what’s known as isokinetic contraction; the force needed to complete a motion changes at different stages of the rep. As a result, your stabilizer muscles will really have to engage as you reach the final part of the movement, where resistance is highest. The other main advantage is the flexibility they provide - no pun intended. If you want less intensity, just lower the range of motion a bit. The workload will automatically reduce, making bands a great tool to reintroduce injured muscles to exercise. If you need some inspiration on a routine, take a look at “How to Get a Full-Body Strength Workout With Just Resistance Bands.” #I’mWithTheBand

Minute 3: How pandemic precautions have altered our microbiome

Over the past year, you’ve probably seen a lot fewer people, and used a lot more hand sanitizer than you normally would. All of this clean living does wonders for avoiding disease, but there could be unintended consequences according to some biologists. Find out what “A Year Without Germs” could do to your microbiome in a story from The Atlantic. The microbiome is the term used to describe the sum of all bacteria, fungi, and even viruses that live inside and on the human body. That sounds a little gross, but have no fear, most microbes are either harmless, or even helpful to us. Researchers are still attempting to understand the microbiome and how its diversity affects our overall health, but it’s assumed that limited diversity can be harmful. Over-sanitizing and limiting contact among people could lead to a decrease in microbiome diversity. If you’re concerned, here are “11 Probiotic Foods That Are Super Healthy.” If you haven’t hopped on the bandwagon and given kombucha a try, now might be the perfect time. Its fermentation process is suspected to yield probiotic effects. #PurellReign

Minute 4: Fight chronic inflammation with these tips

The relationship between exercise and inflammation is a bit confusing. It can both cause, and reduce it, depending on the circumstances. And not all inflammation is bad. Acute inflammation occurs after exercise or during normal immune system response to repair muscles and fight infection. That’s the good kind that is part of the process of pumping out more white blood cells to heal the body. Chronic inflammation is your immune system going overboard. That’s what you want to avoid, and you can do that with “The 6 Best Types of Exercise to Reduce Inflammation.” There are some obvious candidates, like yoga or walking, and some more inventive choices, like water aerobics. The bottom line is, you want to find an activity that can be low intensity and low impact. Give inflammation the 1-2 punch by coupling exercise with “The 13 Most Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Can Eat.” Foods rich in antioxidants, as well as omega-3 fatty acids are key. If that’s not enough, you can even try these “8 Natural Supplements to Help Fight Inflammation.” #FireFighting

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • The fact that your smart device can tell you, down to the fraction of a mile, how far you’ve run is a remarkable feat of engineering. It presents the opportunity for some of us to get a little hung up on numbers, though. If you’re anything like Brendan Leonard, that means the end of every run involves taking some laps around your block or a parking lot until a nice even number reads across the screen. He describes his philosophy in comedic fashion in: “Why I Run Parking-Lot Laps.” Does this benefit you in any way? Probably not, but we won’t judge you if you do it. Particularly since we maybe, kinda have done this ourselves.

  • Something tells us there are a few Californians running things at the Olympics these days, as skateboarding and surfing are two of the latest sports to be eligible for Olympic medals. In fact, there are a few more additions, and you can read about them in “Tokyo Olympics: All 6 new sports explained.” Karate and sport climbing will also make their debuts, while baseball and softball will return for the first time since 2008. Of course, this is all assuming the games are held as planned, and some are worrying about the growing pushback from within Japan, where Covid progress has been slow and frustrating.

  • One muscle in the body that never gets a break is the heart. That’s one reason why we are capable of growing cardiovascular capacity in a short period of time. As your heart gets stronger, however, it's important to reign in your expectations in order to avoid maladaptation in your muscles. Confused? Then you should read “Tissue Adaptation: why it’s important to runners.” This is your guide to knowing how fast to progress in your workouts, and the warning signs to look out for that will minimise risk of injury.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We just posted some Usain Bolt material a few weeks ago, but when a reader shared another video of the Lightning man, we couldn’t resist. The theme of this one isn’t about running greatness -- it’s about one of the greatest using his valuable pre-race time to thank volunteers, officials and everyday working folks who are helping to produce major track meets. Guaranteed to brighten your day.