AUG 17, 2022
Minute 1: Can prehab help your running?
This website headline just caught our attention: “Strava has acquired Recover Athletics! The future of running will be injury free.” OK, you had us at “injury free,” since we always seem to be among the 75% of runners who get injured every year. The corporate lawyers were probably out for a lunchtime run when the marketing team made their bold prediction, but Recover does rely on some proven techniques and analysis to help athletes avoid injury. The idea is to reduce your risk of injury with personalized exercise routines based on training and soreness data gleaned from your Strava activities. Recover collaborated with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Mass General Brigham in Boston to build their content library and algorithms. This is part of a larger initiative at Strava to tap into the wild popularity of devices like Oura or WHOOP. In this May podcast interview, Michael Horvath, the Co-Founder and CEO of Strava took a modest victory lap on the phenomenal growth of the app, but he also sounded as if they were playing a little bit of catch-up with sleep and recovery measurement companies. Recover is one way to close that gap. The idea of “Prehab” has been around for a long time before Recover turned the concept into a popular app. For more info, check out “Marathoners: Could ‘Prehab’ Help You Run Better?” and “The Best Prehab Exercises For Running Injuries.”
Minute 2: Meditation app usage plummets
As optimists by nature, we took this headline as good news: “Meditation app user sessions fell 48% from their height in Q2 2020, and are continuing to fall.” When stress and mental health issues reached record levels during the pandemic, mindfulness and meditation app usage skyrocketed. Now that most people are back to a somewhat “normal” lifestyle, they have weaned themselves off these apps. (Of course we may feel differently about this news if we were part of an investor group that put $218 million into Calm or $216 million into Headspace.) Overall, the user sessions on the top 10 meditation apps have fallen 48% from Q2 2020. Calm announced recently that they will lay off 20% of their employees. One theory behind the declining usage numbers is that people are busier now than they were in 2020 and just don’t have as much time to devote to meditation. Exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety, but that is not a full substitute for meditation. Even if we are past the crisis point, there is much to be gained from these apps. In part, exercise and meditation can help insulate us from a new concern of mental health experts: “How to Manage Post-Pandemic Stress and FONO (Fear of Normal).” Even if you don’t feel susceptible to FONO, the story contains more than 10 practical suggestions to maintaining good mental health, like spending time in nature and eating proper foods. #MindTheApp
Minute 3: Is fastpacking right for you?
Accomplished athletes who etch their names in record books seem strong and confident to us. They are celebrated on social media and run through life with bodies perfectly tuned to their sport. When we read the headline below, our first thought was “Damn, Josh must be mentally super tough, with a high threshold for pain.” His record for completing the 2,600-mile trail in 55 days is chronicled here: “PCT FKT: Josh Perry Demolishes Self-Supported Record.” The most fascinating part of his story, however, isn’t the fact that he averaged nearly 50 miles per day over rugged terrain. Instead, our jaws dropped when we learned that shortly before setting the record, Perry wanted to take his own life. His Instagram page juxtaposes anguished thoughts with spectacular scenery from the PCT. While thinking about Perry’s remarkable journey, we also came across these recent stories: “Best Ultralight Tents and Tarps of 2022” and “The Ultimate Fastpacking Gear Guide.” For our readers who enjoy hiking and running, fastpacking is somewhat of a hybrid. By carrying only ultralight gear, you can enjoy overnight excursions without lugging around a 40-pound backpack. A good overview that also provides some inspiration is here: “What is Fastpacking?” The gear is not particularly expensive. Essentials include waterproof trail running shoes, jackets, and snacks for quick energy on the go. Many fastpacking tents cited above are in the range of 30 to 40 ounces, and the most minimal options dip below 20. They’re easy to carry while still offering waterproofing and shade.
Minute 4: Shoe review – New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer ($180)
Brian Metzler is daring you to break the rules by lacing up the latest release from New Balance, the FuelCell SuperComp Trainer. This carbon-plated shoe is stacked with more foam than a Starbuck’s Grande Latte and delivers a high energy ride that will leave you feeling like you’re running away from the authorities at high speed. Brian hits the highlights below, but if you want all the pluses and minuses, please click here to see the full review on our website. Here is Brian’s take:
Want to do something against the law that will feel so good you’ll want to do it over and over again? No, I’m not talking about committing a crime. I’m just suggesting that you lace up a pair of New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainers — a training shoe enhanced with a carbon-fiber propulsion plate — and go for a run. Your first reaction will be something like, “This feels so light, lively and bouncy that it must be illegal!” The gigantic FuelCell SC Trainer technically is against the law because it exceeds the 40mm stack height regulations the World Athletics governing body has created for race-day shoes. How big is it? The FuelCell SC Trainer is 47mm in the heel, 39mm in the forefoot, so it takes maximalism beyond the max!
It’s not the first oversized shoe made since those 2020 shoe regs were put in place, but it’s certainly one of the best. Strictly speaking, the fast athletes in the elite wave of marathons would be prohibited from wearing the FuelCell SC Trainer in a race, but you and I would not. (Ethiopia’s Derara Hurisa was stripped of his win after wearing a pair of excessively high Adidas Prime X.) It’s truly a training shoe – albeit with some race-day zest – so you probably wouldn’t wear it in a race, but it’s a heck of a long run shoe with an unbelievably bouncy ride. And c’mon, the intrigue of wearing something illegal — or at least something that goes beyond limits — can be downright appealing, right?
What’s New: The FuelCell SC Trainer is one of three new shoes from New Balance that incorporates a curvy carbon-fiber plate embedded within a hyper-energetic FuelCell foam midsole. While the other two models are for short- and long-distance racing, the SC Trainer is made for training at an up-tempo pace for moderate to long distances at moderate to faster paces. It’s built on what New Balance calls Energy Arc technology, which includes a hollow channel through the middle of the bottom of the shoe. As a runner’s foot rolls from heel to toe, the plate is momentarily flattened into that hollow void and as the plate regains its original shape it instantly returns energy as forward propulsion.
Why They’re Great: The FuelCell SC Trainer is one of the liveliest shoes you’ll ever run in. There’s an extremely soft feeling when your foot hits the ground, but that quickly turns into a distinct bouncy feeling that coincides with what feels like an enormous boost of energy the moment your foot starts to roll forward. The SC Trainer weighs at least 2 ounces more than most contemporary performance training shoes, but you’ll barely notice that extra weight with the peppy ride this shoe serves up.
For more pros and cons on the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer, check out Brian’s full review here. You can also shop the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We are fans of a cold beer after a hot run, but a blog post caught our attention this week: “Why Does Alcohol Keep Me Awake All Night?” The post comes from a woman named Nat, AKA TheMindfulMocktail, who is a sobriety blogger and designer of delicious alcohol-free drink recipes. She points out that even though alcohol is a depressant, it can mess with your sleep, since your body will be busy metabolizing the alcohol in your bloodstream, often leading to sleep disruption. For more info, check out this piece from the NYT: “Why Does Alcohol Mess With My Sleep?”
With only a couple of weeks left until the end of summer, there is some bitter sweetness to this excellent new list from Outside: “The 25 Best Hikes to Beaches in the U.S.” Sure, a hike to a mountaintop delivers a nice reward at the summit, but a trail to the beach can be just as rewarding. Plus, most of these routes are more suitable to a run rather than a hike. The list contains options from Maine to California and offers both lake and ocean beaches.
Thank you to all of our readers and followers for entering last week’s Marine Corps Marathon social media contest. Best of luck to Jessica, Nadia, Karen and Worth! Stay tuned for more upcoming giveaways.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Going for a bike ride in the mountains can be a great way to cross train, relieve some stress and clear your mind. Unless of course you are competing in the “Mountain of Hell” race located in Les 2 Alpes, Vénosc, France. We covered this race a few years back but every time we see new clips from the competition, they never disappoint. Every year, roughly 700 fearless riders take on the 15-mile course that drops over 8,500 feet in elevation. While we are certainly sympathetic when we see big wrecks like the one in the video below, we aren’t too surprised when they go down. As entertaining as these videos are, there is absolutely no FOMO here. We’re good on the mountain bike trails near our house or a few leisurely summer miles on our beach cruiser.