How common spices can improve your health



Minute 1: Masks, vaccination, and the state of gyms in 2021

The stop-and-go ride on the Covid train seems to produce as many jerks as a college fraternity party. Just when we thought it was over, new cases are popping up faster than back acne on a 1980s East German swimmer. Even though deaths from Covid have not risen as quickly as new infections, some locales have imposed new restrictions on gym usage. Check out: “New York becomes first U.S. city to order COVID vaccines for restaurants, gyms.” If you want to understand some of the science behind mandates like these, you can find more info in this story from Men’s Health: “This Is How Safe It Is to Go to The Gym Right Now.” We learned early on in the pandemic that the gym can be a dangerous place -- lots of people in a tight space, exhaling heavily for long periods of time. Given the rise of Covid variants with higher transmission rates, should you go back to wearing a mask at the gym? The answer depends, says Dr. Edgar Sanchez, as areas with higher vaccination rates will pose less of a threat. If you and those around you are all vaccinated, the risk is greatly mitigated. Many experts suggest visiting your gym outside the peak usage hours of early morning and right after work. It is also important to seek a facility that is well-ventilated. Ideally, the gym’s HVAC system should trade out the air every 10 minutes. If your gym owner can’t answer a question about their facility’s air exchange rate, it’s a good bet that they are not well-ventilated. #HealthyClub

Minute 2: Short on time for marathon prep? We’ve got you covered

An optimistic single person is one who believes their bed is half full. An optimistic runner is one who believes their half marathon will indeed take place this fall. Based on feedback from the race director’s conference we attended this week in Chicago, the optimistic runner is probably correct about fall racing and has also likely been preparing accordingly. 100% of the event production professionals we interviewed this week said that the big fall races we’ve all been waiting for will go off as scheduled, albeit with safety precautions in place. While that’s good news for all runners, it also means that pessimistic athletes may have failed to train properly, believing they wouldn’t be racing again this year. Fear not, according to Podium Runner, there is still time to prepare with this “8-Week Marathon Training Plan.” It’s got long runs, fartleks, and everything in between so you can build endurance and get up to race pace. It goes without saying, the plan is geared toward more experienced runners, and if you’ve been couchbound for the last year, consider other options, like a half-marathon. Not sure what to do? Read “Which should I run? Half-Marathon vs. Marathon.” Half-Marathon prep can be an effective stepping stone as you work up to the full 26.2, so if you’re on the fence, start there. If you’re dead set on a full marathon, but haven’t reserved a spot yet, consider running for a charity. Here are links to sign up for the NYC, Marine Corps, Boston, and Chicago marathon charity teams. #8WeeksToPeak

Minute 3: A free diet is a good diet

Pick any diet, and the odds are you can find a long list of critics explaining why it's a recipe for disaster, and what the better menu items are. It’s a touchy subject, prone to causing us stress, and even negatively impacting our health if taken to the extreme. We’ve never quite landed on a consensus “best diet.” Maybe that’s because we’re approaching the topic from too rigid a standpoint, and what we really need is the “anti-diet.” Learn more in “Why you should ditch your diet, and what to do instead.” In a culture obsessed with thinness, it’s easy to get carried away counting calories and grams of carbs. Losing weight gets prioritized over your health, and that’s when trouble arises. Nutritionist Dalina Soto advocates for intuitive eating and for ditching restrictive habits. Her method is about adding nutrition when your body needs it, not taking away the food you enjoy. Speaking of adding nutrition, consider using these “8 healthy spices everyone should have in their store cupboard.” There’s turmeric to fight inflammation, cumin to aid digestion, and nutmeg to promote better sleep. If all this diet talk has you wanting to dive deeper, there’s no better place to go than the SMM podcast. Check out our episode with Nancy Clarke, author of The Sports Nutrition Guidebook, or listen to Ridge Davis (from about 43:30 on) dish out the nutrition advice that gets Hollywood actors into the best shape of their careers. #TheSpiceOfLife

Minute 4: Try going solo on your next run or hike

Solo running and hiking tap into the lone wolf in all of us. While either activity in a group setting can be a lot of fun, sometimes it’s nice to unplug from your social circle and fly solo. According to 1 runner survey, more than 50% of respondents said they prefer to run alone. Solo hiking also has its advocates, for the reasons detailed in this new story: “Hiking Alone: Solo Hiking Benefits and Safety Tips.” Learning what you can accomplish on your own can be a self-confidence booster. And knowing that you’re the only one you can rely on to chart a path puts a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, and makes finishing the hike even more rewarding. That being said, solo travelers should look for well-marked trails and let someone back home know where they’re going to be. The tale of a Berkeley, CA, runner came to a sad end earlier this week when his body was found about 250 yards off a local running trail he frequented: “Remains of Missing Berkeley Runner Philip Kreycik Likely Found In Pleasanton.” Wherever you live, there’s probably a trail close by to provide you with the perfect solitary experience. Here are “Ten Ideal Hikes for the Solo Adventurer.” The list takes you everywhere from Yosemite, to Alaska, Wyoming, Oregon, and beyond. If they’re all too far, your local trail or park is a good enough place to start and the website AllTrails.com is an excellent place to find those trails. #TrailOrPark

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Last week, we broke down the kind of bites you need to look out for, and how to avoid them. Perhaps the most important on the list is mosquitos, who carry a plethora of potential diseases with them. Well, we’ve got one more tip to keep you safe this summer: DEET. You might be wondering, “How Bad Is It Really To Use DEET?” The answer is, not bad at all, according to quite a bit of research on the subject.

  • It takes a special kind of athlete to run the steeplechase. It’s a long distance compared to most track and field events. You need the agility of a hurdler, and you can't be afraid to get wet either. Any chance we get to learn from the best in the sport, we’re all ears. That’s why we loved reading about “5 Ways Olympic Steeplechaser Emma Coburn Keeps Her Focus on Race Day.”

  • It's become a bit cliche to say, but there’s truth in the adage: “Life is not about how many times you fall down. It’s about how many times you get back up.” Nobody has proven that better than Sifan Hassan during her 1500m trials in Tokyo. Toward the start of the bell lap, a trip at the front of the pack caused a chain reaction, resulting in her tumbling over as her competition pulled away. Against the odds, she got back to her feet and chased them down, pulling into first place as they neared the finish. The video has gone viral. She burned way more energy than expected, but still managed to win the gold medal in the 5,000m final later that day.

  • We attended a conference this week that was put on by the organizers of the Chicago Marathon. The main theme of the program was returning to racing. The big question circulating among the top race directors in the U.S. was whether the jam-packed fall race calendar would go off as planned, or whether we may see more postponements. The headline is that these races should take place in the fall, but they may look a little different from past years. For the details on what expos, start corrals, mask requirements and post-race parties will look like, check out the podcast interview we did with 6 of the top RDs in the business.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games come to a close this Sunday and even with the absence of fans, athletes across all sports put on incredible performances and gave us fans some wild finishes. Perhaps no event left us more speechless than the Men’s High Jump Final, when Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi both won gold medals. After outlasting the rest of the field by clearing 2.37 meters, the two were unable to clear 2.39 meters on all three of their allowed tries. The officials consulted the two about a “jump-off” to decide who the winner would be, but instead Barshim asked “can we have two golds?” To which the official replied, “It’s possible. It depends if you decide…” and before getting a chance to finish, the two athletes embrace without even considering another attempt for sole possession of the gold. It was one of the top feel good moments in recent Olympics history as the two breakdown in tears as the realization of a dream sets in. It’s a bizarre scenario we don’t ever recall happening before. While the video gives us goosebumps, the hyper competitors in us wonder if this was the best decision given that it was the largest stage in all of athletics. Naturally we want to know what you think!

Should the gold medal have been shared?

Yes, sportsmanship and international cooperation are what it's all about.

No, there should have been a jump-off to determine one winner.