OCT 14, 2022
Minute 1: How much exercise is too much for your heart?
Saying that endurance sports can cause problems for your heart is like saying that smiling can be bad for your mood. It’s just too counterintuitive to take seriously. But there is long-established research showing that it could be as serious as a heart attack. Many long-time runners have an abnormally high coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, which is scary news because high CAC scores reliably predict an elevated risk of serious (and potentially fatal) heart problems in the general population. A recent analysis of this data, however, will warm the hearts of our readers: “Two Promising Updates on Heart Health in Endurance Athletes.” The key finding is that not all calcium is equal. Runners’ plaque build-ups are often smooth, hard, and unlikely to rupture. That means even if they score high on a CAC test, they’re not necessarily at risk in the same way that inactive people can be. Experts feel that a “bad” CAC result doesn’t mean you should stop exercising, but it’s one factor to consider. Another one is the “reverse J curve” of mortality rates in response to exercise. What this means is that as you work out more, your mortality risk drops. Studies have uncovered a turning point in some athletes, where they start coming back toward increased risk as they push beyond their threshold. Here, there’s debate as well on whether or not the studies’ methodologies were flawed, but it's something to keep in mind. If you’re worried about exercising too much, keep an eye out for these “Warning Signs That You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In the Gym.”
Minute 2: Mythbusting your water worries
How can something as ancient and simple as water cause the tempers of dieticians to boil? Some think we should all carry gallon jugs with us, while others say a few cups a day is fine, as long as you feel quenched. Diving deeper into this debate pool, here is: “Busting 5 common myths about water and hydration.” Researchers looked into the whole “8 cups of water a day” rule and found that its origins were ambiguous. In fact, drinking that much water could be detrimental for some, depending on their fluid expenditure rate. Taking in that much H2O without considering the electrolytes your body requires can disrupt muscle function. If that sounds familiar, check out: “Best Supplements to Keep You Hydrated, According to Dietitians.” These bring similar benefits as sports drinks like Gatorade, while allowing you to have more control over your sugar intake. We’re headed to the bathroom to cover the next hydration myth. You’ve probably heard advice that if your pee is yellow, you’re dehydrated. According to some research, that’s not necessarily the case. Yellow urine means your body is expelling less water, but it’s not the final word on your hydration levels. The real way to measure that would be to look at sodium content in your blood. WebMD explains how to do this in: “What Is a Sodium Blood Test?” #WaterBreaks
Minute 3: Fall is the perfect time to prep for the ski season
Anyone who’s hit the slopes after 8 months away from snow understands that just being a runner or cyclist in the off season is not enough to prepare for our favorite winter activity. Skiing triggers some odd stabilizers that pretty much only get used for that sport. If you want to increase enjoyment and decrease the risk of injury, check out: “The Best Skiers Have Serious Power Endurance. Get There With This Workout.” This workout is designed to improve your stamina and strength, targeting the specific muscles you’ll use as you carve your way down the mountain. There are bodyweight exercises, like the skater hop, and weighted ones, like the Romanian deadlift. Whichever on the list you try, you can be sure that your core and legs will be getting a serious boost in power, which can help skiers, runners, and cyclists alike. If you want to learn how to improve your recovery at the end of your outing, check out “Why Skiing Makes You Sore? (7 Tips to Recover Fast).” Hydration can be easy to forget since you may not feel thirsty in the cold winter air. Long ski outings can have a high cardiac demand which require fluids to avoid cramping and soreness. If you’re prone to forgetting, try setting reminders on your phone to take a break and grab some water the next time you’re on a ski day.
Minute 4: Shoe review – Atreyu The Base Trail ($115)
Our shoe review guru, Brian Metzler, weighs in for the first time on Atreyu, a quirky, but rapidly-growing running shoe company. Unlike the vast majority of its competitors, Atreyu does not sell through traditional channels like specialty run shops. Instead, it has chosen to keep costs down by selling only direct to consumers through its website. Atreyu just released its first trail running shoe and Brian hits the highlights below. If you want all the pluses and minuses, please click to see the full review on our website. Here is Brian’s take:
When it comes to running shoe brands, Atreyu is like a hot new alt-rock band on an indie record label. Their shoes are simple and extremely functional, but they also serve up plenty of small-brand creative swag and a distinctive quirky cool. The Austin, Texas-based company famously launched by former hot dog restaurant entrepreneur Michael Krajicek three years ago, only offers three models: The Base Model everyday trainer; The Artist carbon-fiber racing model; and, now, The Base Trail off-road running shoe. How does a microbrand like Atreyu develop a lightweight trail running shoe with a supercritical EVA foam midsole that’s so chock full of runnable zest when most big brands can’t figure it out? By keeping things simple. If you’re looking for a cushy, comfortable shoe for running mild to moderate trails, gravel roads and grassy fields, it’s definitely one that’s worth a look.
What’s New: This is a brand new shoe from Atreyu, but it doesn’t have all of the new bells-and-whistles of many other contemporary models you’ll find at your local running store. (And you won’t find this one at your favorite local running store because Atreyu only sells direct.) The best component is the supercritical hyper-responsive foam midsole, but it’s also how the shoe is put together that makes it special. The Base Trail was purpose-built to be a comfortable, lively and reliable trail runner with materials that are effective and affordable, even if those components are not cutting edge.
Why It’s Great: Like all Atreyu shoes, The Base Trail is noteworthy for what it’s not. It’s not heavy, not overbuilt, not clunky and not expensive. Instead, it’s a well-cushioned off-road cruiser with reliable traction and an affordable $115 price tag. Does that mean it's a cheap, flimsy or insufficiently designed shoe? Heck no! It means it’s a smartly designed, just-what-you-need shoe that’s worthy of running on a variety of surfaces. It may not be a shoe fit for gnarly, rocky routes, but it can hold its own on small sections of that kind of terrain and is adept at hopping rocks while crossing streams.
For more pros and cons on the brand new Atreyu Base Trail, check out Brian’s full review here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
In recent issues, we’ve been extolling massage as a tool to improve athletic performance and recovery. We’ve mostly been focusing on full body massages, but what about more targeted work geared toward runners? Foot massages, for example, go far beyond just making sore feet feel better, according to: “7 Benefits of Foot Massage and Reflexology to Athletes.” Manipulating certain points in your foot can actually relieve pain and stress in muscles throughout your body. To find out which parts of your foot are connected to other body parts, check out: “The Benefits of Foot Reflexology for Athletes.”
Anyone who's attempted to plan and coach their own marathon training understands that having a real human coach can be a big help for their process. That’s a luxury not available to everyone, but luckily we’ve found the next best thing: “7 tips for New York City Marathon first-timers from an Olympian running coach.” There’s solid advice for taking on any large scale running event, not just the NYC marathon, so you don’t want to miss this one if you’ve got plans to compete this fall or next year.
We’ve shown love to most food groups at one point or another, but we may have been overlooking one pretty broad category: Herbs. To get us started on showcasing just how useful herbs can be for improving nutrition we’re bringing you the “Health Benefits of Cilantro.” Since cilantro is a staple of Mexican cuisine (our fav!), we thought we’d share this advice about how to eat to south of the border: “5 Dishes You Should Avoid (and the 5 You Should Order) at Mexican Restaurants.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Super shoes, track spikes, minimalist footwear, and straight up barefoot running have all had their share of the spotlight. Now, we’re checking out some unconventional choices, courtesy of a pretty dang funny Instagram video from @daniel.labelle. He’s a committed distance runner who now makes a living doing comedic running-themed videos. Okay, we’ll be honest, we don’t have high hopes for the potential of ski boots or diving flippers as a high performance running shoe. Nonetheless, we got a kick out of Daniel’s video giving that footwear a shot. Check out Daniel doing some serious sprinting in some not-so-serious footwear in the link below.