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Minute 1: Helpers

The tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd strike at the core of what it means to be an American. Peaceful protest is a tradition as old as our Constitution and can salve wounds that won’t heal on their own. Our faith in that tenet was shaken Monday morning, however, when we walked to our office building in Boston to find most of the first floor windows shattered. The mom & pop restaurants, small delis, and cash-only newsstand incurred deep financial and emotional damage from protests gone terribly off course the night before. As Fred Rogers once said, at times like this, look for the helpers. Indeed, workers boarding up the windows represented many threads of the American tapestry, all toiling with solemn diligence to repair the damage. We also look to history to remind us that we are evolving, even if movement is as difficult to perceive as the hour hand of a clock. Fifty two years ago, African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists on the podium after medaling in the 1968 Olympics. Their homage to Black Power in the wake of the MLK assassination earned them an immediate trip home from the U.S. Olympic Committee. It took more than 50 years for the men to eventually be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (as chronicled in this CBS video), but they are now regarded as heroes rather than pariahs. 

Largely overlooked that day was a white Australian runner who won the silver medal and shared the podium with Smith and Carlos. Peter Norman was a devout Christian who believed deeply in equality and had witnessed oppression of native people in his home country. Rather than raising his fist with the Americans on the podium, they suggested that he wear a badge from the Olympic Project for Civil Rights. That modest protest ended Norman’s career. Although he qualified for future Olympics, the Australian track governing body barred him from participating.  Smith and Carlos served as pall bearers at Norman’s funeral in 2006. (Full story from the History Channel is here.) 

This week in New York we were encouraged to see another unlikely “helper” who bridged a gap many thought too wide to connect. NYPD Police Chief Terence Monahan, backed by hundreds of officers, confronted Black protesters in the streets. Uh oh. Monahan had seen his share of tragedy during his tenure, including the murder of Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo in 2016 while confronting an armed felon. Last fall, Monahan ran the first three miles of the NYC Marathon with Tuozzolo’s widow, Lisa, to raise money for the families of fallen officers. Standing toe-to-toe with protesters, Monahan grabbed a microphone to bellow his message. He didn’t call for law and order, but instead used his toughest Irish cop voice to condemn the Floyd killing and promise to work with protesters for peace and justice. Coronavirus be damned, Monahan hugged the protesters and led the group in joining hands and taking a knee together. 

Minute 2: Our latest gear guide

The latest installment of our Six Minute Mile gear guide is now live. This curated collection from Brian Metzler highlights 6 new pieces of running gear released in 2020 that range from the quirky to the essential. We love the two new tools that will analyze your gait and help you increase performance while preventing injury. There are new waterproof ear pods from Soul Electronics along with a mouthpiece that has been shown to increase VO2 max for endurance athletes by 4.1% according to a study from the American College of Sports Medicine. Our prior guides like 10 new pieces of trail running gear and our Top 8 Shoes for All Types of Runners are still live on our site. Speaking of our site, we recently strained our right arm patting ourselves on the back for a redesign of our gear pages. If you know how our intern can apply for a Webby Award, please let us know.

Minute 3: Grow the sport

Global Running Day is on Wednesday, June 3, and this may be the year we need it most. Launched in 2016, millions of veterans and newbies alike have participated in this celebration of the simplest of sports. The easiest way to pay your respects is just to go for a run on Wednesday. An even better way to engage is to join the New York Road Runners #Run1Tag1 movement. Perhaps drawing some inspiration from the Ice Bucket Challenge, the idea is just to run a mile and then tag a friend with that hashtag to encourage them to do the same. This helps grow the sport as every year lots of adults get off the couch and kids go for a fun run that they may not have done otherwise. If you register for free, you have a chance to win prizes like a private coaching session with Meb or a free Strava subscription. As our own shout-out to endurance sports, we convinced our sister company, MarathonFoto, to open up their archives for the first time in more than a decade. More than 200 million running photos are on their servers, all searchable by email address. They caution that this is just a beta version of the archive release, but click here to see if they have images of you in action. Eventually, this collection will be open back to 2006, but there are millions of shots available now. If you find some worthy of posterity, use the code GRD30 to receive 30% off your purchase.

Minute 4: What will races look like in the fall? 

The Boston Marathon has survived terrorism, snow, torrential rain and two World Wars since 1897. Coronavirus was the one obstacle it couldn’t clear, however, and last week the race announced that it would cancel the 2020 edition of the nation’s oldest marathon. Boston is offering a virtual race instead that awards a medal to anyone finishing under 6 hours. Details will be released on their website. As of now, other big fall marathons in New York, London, Chicago and D.C are still scheduled to go off. If they do fire the starting gun on those events, they are likely to look different than in prior years. Likely precautions may include smaller waves over longer start intervals, self-service water stations (no handing out of cups) and masks. The LA Marathon was the last significant race to take place back on March 8. Their precautions included deferring the entries of runners from high-risk countries until 2021 and offering hand sanitizer by the gallon in the start area. We also wonder if races will take a cue from theme parks around the world that have slowly re-opened. One role model may be Disneyland Shanghai that required masks, health status QR codes, social distancing, and infrared temperature scanners at entry points. Video highlights of their procedures are here. Requiring runners to pass by a temperature scanner feels a little creepy, but the technology does detect fevers. For a balanced perspective, check out this piece from Wired: “Infrared Cameras Can Spot a Fever, But May Not Slow Covid-19.” Ironman triathlons just released protocols for safe operations that may also provide some guidance to what the future of other endurance races may look like.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • You high school gym teacher was wrong, it turns out, about how to regain your breath after a hard run. The traditional advice from the folks who wore track suits to the office was to stand up straight – maybe with your hands on your head -- rather than follow your natural inclination to hunch over, hands on knees. According to a study reported in Triathlete magazine, you will regain lung and heart capacity more quickly if you trust your instincts.

  • As Bostonians, we are big fans of hill workouts, perhaps because of our history with Bunker Hill and Heartbreak Hill. They also happen to be good for your endurance levels in addition to your sense of tradition. According to one coach last week, hill sprint workouts are like “broccoli for runners.” Check out this story for basics on hill workouts either outdoors or on a treadmill. For a bigger challenge, you can look to a Kenyan expert on how elites are using hill training.

  • In the silly section, an American runner just broke the world record for the fastest mile in blue jeans, clocking 4:06. On a more inspirational note, 9-year-old Tobias Weller completed a 26.2 marathon journey over 70 days in Sheffield England, despite the fact that he has autism and cerebral palsy. He raised more than 60,000 pounds for charity.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We are honored to welcome Vuori as a new partner in Six Minute Mile. We love the brand because it fits the diverse passions and lifestyles of our readers. Yeah, we’re all endurance athletes and fitness enthusiasts, but we’re also hikers, beach folks, students, parents and professionals. Vuori makes clothes to power a Saturday afternoon that looks something like this: walk to the beach, decide to break into a 4-mile run on the sand, dive in the water, and grab a beer at the closest bar. All in the same pair of shorts. The brand was born in 2015 in Encinitas, CA, as an alternative to yoga leggings as fashion.  It’s activewear that doesn’t look like activewear. They also remind us of our coolest friend who always has the best suggestions for new music. Case in point: Louis II who provides the theme music for Vuori’s newest promo video. 

CAUTION: If you don’t enjoy getting fired up for a workout by watching impossibly fit athletes sweating to funky, upbeat music in gorgeous settings, then please don’t watch the pump-up video below. It will only confuse you.


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