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How a 59-year-old woman ran 2:45 at the London Marathon

JUN 23, 2023

Minute 1: What we can learn from a twin who doubles his brother’s workouts?

We’ve always been fascinated by nature vs. nurture studies on identical twins separated at birth. Like James Arthur Springer and James Edward Lewis, who didn’t meet until they were 39 and discovered that they had both married a woman named Linda, worked as a sheriff, drank Miller Lite and were the same height and weight. (Details are in this piece: “Stories of Twins Separated at Birth.”) Ross and Hugo Turner are identical twins who were raised together and use their identical DNA to conduct fitness experiments on themselves. They are accomplished adventurers who once rowed across the Atlantic, so fitness is important to their careers. Their latest experiment was to perform the identical workouts for 12 weeks, with the only difference being that Hugo worked out for 20 minutes at a time, and Ross worked out for 40 minutes (essentially just doubling Hugo’s reps). “These twins did the same workout for 3 months — but 1 exercised for half as long each time. By the end, they saw almost exactly the same results.” The story is fascinating, although the headline is a little misleading. While it’s true that their basic strength metrics were the same, Ross enjoyed a significantly lower heart rate at the end of 12 weeks than his twin, indicating that his longer workouts improved his cardiovascular health.

Minute 2: Breaking records, young and old

We try not to be too much of a pom pom squad for our home turf of New England, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. Forgive us the \indulgence of giving a shout-out to New Hampshire prep star Byron Grevious who just won the national title in the boy's 5,000 meters at Nike Outdoor Nationals on Hayward Field. Grevious ran 14:24.04 to win by 18 seconds. That performance came two weeks after he ran 14:04.44 to match a New England high school record (previously set by Alberto Salazar) and breaking the Age-16 national record of 14:12 set by another former Olympian, Craig Virgin, in 1972. (Details are here.) Speaking of age group records, we were also heartened to learn about this man’s accomplishments earlier this year: “Colorado Man, 91, Becomes Oldest Person to Cross Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim.” John Jepkema’s five-day trek with a heavy pack earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Jepkema trained for four months prior to his hike by walking five to eight miles at least five days a week. “I did lots of walking with a full pack and as much trail and elevation changes as possible,” he told Guinness World Records.

Minute 3: Secrets of the best masters women

“Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” When Walt Disney spoke those words, he was probably trying to expand the audience for his theme parks, but two remarkable women seem to apply that wisdom to their running careers. 75-year-old Jeannie Rice and 59-year-old Jenny Hitchings both ran world record times for their age groups. Rice ran 3:33:15 at Boston while a week later Hitchings ran 2:45:27 in London. It’s worth noting that: (a) Hitchings was at the oldest end of her age group when she set a new record; and (b) it was actually a PR for her at age 59. So how did Rice and Hitchings pull it off? Find the answers in: “Training Advice from the Greatest Women Masters Marathoners Alive.” They share some common traits – like paying attention to diet and cross training – but they also differ on some key philosophies. Rice eschews any formal coaching advice, saying: “I’ve been approached by people who wanted to coach me, but they seemed expensive and had other demands I didn’t like.” She tends to log 50 miles per week and says: “Mostly I just train the way I feel. I’m still running strong and beating records, so I must be doing something right.” Hitchings is a coach herself, so it would be a little hypocritical for her not to hire a coach. “I could certainly coach myself,” she quips, “but you know what they say about doctors who treat themselves: They have a fool for a patient.” #AgingRapidly

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Craft Endurance Trail ($160)

Shoe reviewer Brian Metzler is at the Western States 100 this week and he’s reporting that the new Craft Endurance Trail is receiving a lot of buzz among the knowledgeable crowd out there. Runners like this unique design because it is tuned for use on gravel roads and tamer trails, where most of us amateur off-road enthusiasts do the majority of our work. The highlights of Brian’s review are below, but for the full story, hit this link.

Once known primarily as an apparel brand for high-energy endurance sports, Craft has been pushing hard into running shoes over the past four years. Working with celebrated athlete ambassador Thomas Puzey (aka, “Tommy Rivs”), the Swedish brand immediately went after the marathon racing segment of the market with carbon-plated road racing super shoes. And while those were well received and gave the brand street cred, its foray into trail running shoes, with the input of Puzey and elite-level American ultrarunner David Laney, is proving to be an even more successful venture.

(The brand also got loads of cred in the endurance community by sticking with and supporting Puzey – not canceling their partnership – when he was battling lung cancer in 2020. In what might seem like a rare move contrary to modern sponsorship deals, CEO Eric Schenker says his company never considered taking Puzey off retainer when he got sick. Now that Puzey has recovered and the cancer is in remission, the brand has unintentionally received a big boost of fans and followers and that, no doubt, is giving its shoe line some momentum.)

So far, Craft has excelled in the emerging category of road-to-trail gravel running. Yes, that’s kind of like gravel biking, but unlike the gravel-riding culture that has emerged in the cycling world, it’s mostly about the type of terrain the versatile trail shoes are made for (mild trails, gravel roads, pavement). Craft’s new Endurance Trail shoe is the latest in its off-road running line, but one that is more conducive to running a wider range of trails and distances.

Why It’s Great: There’s no carbon-fiber propulsion plate like several of Craft’s original trail shoes – and that’s good because a plate can be too much on trails sometimes. However, it still offers plenty of cushioning, a bit of responsive pop in every stride and very reliable stability. The secret sauce of this shoe is the low-density Px Foam midsole, which provides both shock-absorbing protection and a boost of liveliness. (Plus the manufacturing process has a legitimate green backstory.)

For Brian’s full review of the new Craft Endurance Trail, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • With summer hiking season approaching its peak, this story caught our eye: “Why Rucking Is the Best Exercise for Women.” If you’re not familiar with the term, “rucking” basically means going for long walks with a reasonably heavy pack. Your outing doesn’t need to be in the mountains, but can instead take place on flat ground within a city. It turns out that even with the extra weight from the backpack, rucking can be easier on your joints than running. And for women – who tend to lift weights less often than men – rucking can be a good way to combine strength training with cardio. According to a few credible studies, women tend to outperform men when lugging a heavy pack around. Regardless of your gender, if you are intrigued, check out: “Rucking Workout: 4 Benefits of Ruck Marching.”

  • Many healthy eaters tend to substitute honey for refined sugar, which is a good idea according to: “7 unique health benefits of honey.” Unfortunately, 2022 was a very difficult year for honey cultivation and the future of this natural fuel is at risk: “Struggling beekeepers stabilize U.S. honeybee population after nearly half of colonies died last year.” That’s troubling news not only for tea drinkers, but also for the environment in general. “Honeybees are crucial to the food supply, pollinating more than 100 of the crops we eat, including nuts, vegetables, berries, citrus and melons.” Bees are being harmed by parasites, pesticides, starvation and climate change.

  • As mentioned above in Brian Metzler’s review, Tommy Rivs has endured a horrific, but ultimately winning battle with advanced lung cancer. The popular runner and all-around great guy, was in a medically-induced coma for 84 days, but survived. His wife has written a moving book about their experience entitled “Everything All At Once.” We just ordered it on Amazon. As one reviewer wrote: “Everything All At Once is a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting reflection on resilience and a powerful reminder that we can find healing no matter how broken we are.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Martinus Evans, known on Instagram as @300poundsandrunning, is the best-selling author of “Slow AF Run Club.” His book is inspired by the online community he created which has a singular vision: “empower every person on this planet to become a runner in the body they have right now”. We can get behind that, since let’s face it, most of us will never be a Boston Qualifier, have perfect chiseled abs or even run a six minute mile. In this clip from a recent podcast, Evans reminds us of the importance of avoiding dreaded comparison traps and instead focusing on one’s own running journey. It’s a good reminder that runners come in all different shapes, sizes and speeds and what makes you a member of the sport is just showing up for yourself.


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