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Helpers (part 2), training tips, and Coronavirus symptoms in runners

Minute 1: Helpers (part 2)

We have been humbled, grateful and enlightened by your responses to our “Helpers” piece in the last issue of SMM. We have no intention of turning our newsletter into a political forum, but with frustration and emotions running high, we wanted to provide at least a quick follow-up. One reader told us:  “What a fantastic segment on ‘helpers.’ I remember as a 12 year old watching the Mexico City Olympics and Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and not quite comprehending the significance of their message.  Your story on Norman, as the third man on the podium was insightful and inspiring.” While many of you were encouraged by the video of the NYC Chief of Police embracing protesters, we understand and acknowledge others who felt the emphasis was misplaced. We sincerely appreciated the reader who shook us from our slumber with this message: “I found this newsletter to be incredibly tone deaf, highlighting the white ‘helpers’ and negating the righteous anger and unrest of black protesters, current and from the past. This quote is being used frequently right now, but ‘Riots are the voice of the unheard.’ Those smashed windows are hundreds of years of anger at systemic and systematic degradation, marginalization, and death. Yes, there are some moving moments of white solidarity, but they should NOT be the focus. Raise up the voices of those in need of lifting -- which are definitely not white men.” Still others pointed us to the work of people like Alison Mariella Desir who penned this story last month: “Ahmaud Arbery and the Whiteness of the Running World.” Even one of our favorite nutrition bloggers, Kevin Curry, founder of the site Fit Men Cook, has blended his soulful healthy recipes with social justice messages recently. One of the many reasons we’re so passionate about sports is we believe in its power to heal more than just our bodies. That’s why this USA Today story caught our eye: “For Black Running Groups, Hosting a Community Is Key in Times of Stress.” While other media sites are dedicated to these prominent topics, we find it important to use our voice in the endurance community continue these discussions as it impacts all of us. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts. #WithRespect

Minute 2: Training table

Whether you are looking to shave a few seconds off your next virtual race or feel more confident stepping onto a re-opened beach, this is the time of year when many athletes promise themselves to finally shed some excess weight. After all, the very rough rule of thumb is that each pound you drop will speed up your pace by about a second per mile. (Useful calculator for the correlation between weight loss and speed gain is here.) One place to start could be this piece on “25 Easy Ways to Lose 5 Pounds, According to Experts.” Number 1 on the list is using an app to record your food intake. We agree. We are much less likely to add fried chicken strips to our salad or reach for the extra IPA when we know we will have to record those calories on Lose It or MyFitnessPal. We also agree with Number 3 – drink 6-12 cups of water daily – although we sometimes only manage 6-12 ounces. (Do IPAs count as water???) For those who don’t live life with an S’Well bottle glued to their hands, there are other ways to hydrate. One tasty way in hot weather is to consume fruits that naturally contain lots of water. We like this guide to “7 Naturally Hydrating Foods to Pair with a Sweaty Summer Workout.” And as you deal with ongoing stress or ramp up training in a post-quarantine world, keep in mind that inflammation often results from both factors. Consider these 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods from NYT Best-Selling author Elyse Kopecky. #EatDrinkBeMerry

Minute 3: Coronavirus symptoms for runners

With the world gradually reopening for business, education, and sports, we may soon expose ourselves to more risk than if we’d stayed quarantined at home. By now, many of us are familiar with the symptoms of Coronavirus infection asdescribed hereby WebMD. There is one symptom not on the list that intrigued us – a drop on the Strava leaderboards. A New York City runner just published this piece in Men’s Health: “A Slower Running Pace Told This Doctor She Had COVID-19.” Gabriela Rosas-Garcia noticed during her runs through Central Park that not only had her mile splits increased, but also that her heart rate was much higher for the same amount of workload. She warns that “Runners—or any type of athlete—sometimes don’t listen to our bodies the same way other people do, because we’re used to pushing through pain.” She also provides a moving account of her time spent as a volunteer in New York’s COVID-19 wards during the height of the pandemic.

Minute 4: Gear locker

One thing we’ve figured out over the past two years is that our readers love new gear ideas. Our curated collection of 6 new pieces of innovative running gear was one of the most popular posts in our last SMM. Since we’re all getting used to working out with face masks, there was a lot of interest in a mouthpiece that has been shown to increase VO2 max for endurance athletes by 4.1% according to this study. 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. And although it’s sad that many running shops have been hit hard by the pandemic, that also means there are many good deals available online. Don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of summer sales from places like online specialty run shop JackRabbit Sports at their sale site. REI has some great fitness gear deals in their online outlet and’s wicked good deal site Steep & Cheap has enough bargains to keep your mudroom or closet stocked with new stuff all summer. We also continue to pump the tires of our local run shops. Check out this list of The 20 Best Running Shops in America to keep things close to home. By all means, also please support your local bicycle retailer, but they have experienced a welcome boost in business with gyms closed and people going a little stir crazy from quarantining.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • One of our readers shared a remarkable story this week about how running can bring hope to situations that appear hopeless. Jorja Flaherty is a nurse and mom living in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Despite a diagnosis of terminal breast cancer and debilitating chemo treatments, Jorja has continued running, defying the predictions of one doctor who gave her only 3-6 months to live. "It's blow after blow. Definitely periods of depression, wanting to give up. But I wouldn't give up. Just have to keep trying. It's just like with running, just keep going," she told the Berkshire Eagle. "To know that I can get to the next mile, you know, I'm training to be a runner, but also training in my journey with cancer, training to get to the next step mentally, to get through the next treatment."If you do make it back into the gym soon and want to make it a legs day, you should consider this new Livestrong story: “5 Leg Exercises That Are a Waste of Time – And What to Do Instead.” If you’re sprinkling in some core work, check out this list of 7 Static Holds which includes more than just planks and wall sits. To crank up the intensity knob a few more notches, here’s a list of workouts from Brooke Ence, a former professional dancer turned CrossFit star. The 1.4 million followers of her Insta account can’t be wrong.

  • If you are itching to get back into racing, but realize it may be a few months before we can all toe the line, check out this list of 10 Virtual Runs to Get You Through the Summer.

  • Speaking of getting back to racing, USA Track & Field just released its plan for returning to safe running events. The governing body encourages races to tailor its safety protocols according to state regulations.

  • We liked this provocative piece from Runner’s World this week: “In Defense of Walking More and Running Less (Just Hear Me Out)” As our ultrarunner buddies tell us, time on your feet is an important training metric.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Red Bull’s video production crew is known worldwide as one of the slickest squads in the industry. Normally they chronicle dudes on skateboards and dirt bikes risking life and limb in pursuit of glory on the ‘Gram. We were surprised and delighted to see them focus their sophisticated story-telling talents on an unlikely subject, ultrarunner Mira Rai. The visuals of her training runs in her native Nepal are reason enough to watch the new film. But the back story is even more jaw-dropping. Mira got her start in endurance sports after she joined a Maoist rebel military group at age 15 to help support her impoverished family. Check out the brief film below.


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