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How long does it take to break a bad habit?

FEB 2, 2022

Minute 1: What runners can learn from dogs

Ever wonder why you see so many dog food ads in Runner’s World magazine? That’s because runners skew much higher in dog ownership than the population at large. Dogs are often a runner’s best friend. Not only do they make great running companions, but there are also a few things they do we could all look to replicate in our own running. So take a look at these “6 lessons runners can learn from their dogs.” Dogs know how to appreciate what they’ve got. It doesn’t matter if this is the first time, or the thousandth time you’ve taken them on a walk around the block. They will run around in excitement, chasing squirrels, sniffing rocks, and doing whatever else makes them happy. If you can bring some of that same enthusiasm to your own runs, you’ll have more fun than ever, and you just might discover something new about your route. What goes up, must come down. After all that excitement running about, dogs are quick to crash on their favorite pillow for a nap. If you do the same, it could aid your recovery, so check out “A Guide to Napping and Avoiding Post-Run Sleepiness for Frequent Runners.” One crucial step is to refuel and hydrate before you take a nap, otherwise you might awake feeling even more drained. There’s no better way to learn than by watching dogs in action first hand, and if you’re thinking of adopting a canine companion, you should read “The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners.”

Minute 2: Try these stretches after shoveling snow

We hope our readers in the Northeast made it through last weekend’s blizzard unscathed. We’re relieved there haven't been many major disruptions, given the news that “Boston ties 1-day snowfall record.” The roads may be plowed, but record breaking snowfalls mean back-breaking shoveling. An hour of shoveling snow burns more than 500 calories for a 185-pound person according to LIVESTRONG: “The Number of Calories Burned Shoveling Show and How to Do It Safely.” If you spent your day clearing driveways and sidewalks, you may need some recovery work. Check out this timely piece: “These Are the Best Stretches for Back Relief After Shoveling Snow.” These moves also apply more generally to good back health. The first stretch you should try is called the kitchen sink. It’s like hanging from a pullup bar, which decompresses your spine and relieves shoulder tension, but uses the sink instead. Place your hands on the corner of the sink, bend your torso and use your body weight to “hang” and stretch your arms. Next, try the head tilt. Tilt back and look at the ceiling, holding this position for 10 breaths. Then do the same as you tilt to the left, and then the right. You should also give yoga poses like cat-cow a try. Get on all fours, and alternate between rounding and arching your back, synchronized with your inhales and exhales. In fact, there are lots of yoga poses that can aid with back pain, so if you need extra relief, take a look at “The 10 Best Yoga Poses for Back Pain” from Healthline. #SnowGainSnowPain

Minute 3: Find your flow with Chi running

Sometimes, the simplest advice is the best you can get. Practitioners of Tai Chi will tell you, “go with the flow,” but that’s not just useful for martial artists. It can be applied to running as well, and that’s exactly what Danny Dreyer did when he invented Chi running. Never heard of it or need a refresher? Then you should read “Chi Running Technique & Method – Can It Help Your Running?” The technique aims to reduce stress on your bones, joints, and ligaments, and it achieves this by making a few simple but impactful changes to running form. Simply put, you follow the method by running tall, leaning forward slightly, landing with a midfoot strike, and engaging your core. Chi running is similar to another method that’s growing in popularity: natural running. (Check out this story from ASICS: “What is natural running?” for an explanation.) Like Chi running, it’s about utilizing a midfoot strike, but with an emphasis on choice of footwear. Some shoes are designed for natural running, while other advocates of the technique recommend going barefoot. Making the transition to natural running can increase your risk of injury, but the folks at Newton know a thing or 2 about how to do it safely. Here is “Running 101: Transitioning to Newton Running Shoes.” It’s important to use a natural running shoe only a couple times a week if you’re new to them. Over time, the muscles and ligaments in your foot will strengthen, and you can run with natural form whenever you please.

Minute 4: Quit these eating habits for an easier and healthier diet

Healthy eating isn’t easy, and to make matters worse, a lot of the advice commonly given on the topic is counterproductive. Extreme diets, strict rules, and other practices turn nutrition into a chore, so that’s why we’re highlighting “7 dangerous eating habits you should stop this year.” The story contains a provocative thesis: it’s time to drop the mindset that exercise counteracts the calories you consume in a simple mathematical formula. Your diet and exercise should be working together to build your health, not trying to cancel each other out. Using exercise as simply a calorie furnace can provoke feelings of guilt, especially when you miss a workout. Another practice you should reconsider is imposing a ban on certain foods from your household outright, without a medical reason. Cookies, chips, and other snacks are easy to huff down, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging once in a while. Allowing yourself to keep snack foods in the house is an empowering vote of confidence in your own self control. Besides, who wants to live in a world without cookies? Not us. These habits, as well as the 5 others listed in the article, are tricky to drop, but with the right approach, you’ll be just fine. Take a look at “How long does it take to break a habit? 5 science-backed tips to change unhealthy habits.” Research indicates it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to break a habit, depending on how ingrained the behavior is.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Per the CDC, cloth and surgical masks are out, N95s are in. If you’re able to get your hands on one, they’ll offer the best protection from Covid you can get. The only downside? They’re a bit pricier than the other options, so if you do decide to use them, you’re going to want to make them last as long as possible. To see how, take a look at “Yes, You Can Reuse N95 Masks. Here's How to Do It Safely.”

  • Weightlifting isn’t just for bodybuilders trying to pop veins out of their biceps. There are lots of movements you can do that are designed to make daily tasks easier. By performing “functional fitness,” you’re strengthening the muscles you use to take out the trash, move furniture, or any other physical chore you can think of, all while improving your form to prevent injury. Learn how to put function over fashion with “Functional fitness: 3 strength moves to make lifting and carrying easier.”

  • Nothing can revitalize your running like switching distances. Sara Vaughn (the runner, not the singer) can attest to that, having recently switched from the 1500M, all the way up to the marathon. She was met with immediate success as well, clocking a time of 2:26:53, which is the 5th fastest marathon debut by an American woman ever. She’s got lots of advice for those looking to take on a new challenge that you can read about in “How Sara Vaughn Went from a Miler to an Elite Marathoner in Three Months.” Also, if you’d like to try a new distance, but don’t know what a realistic goal is, try out this race finish time predictor. You can plug in your 5K time, for example, and it will spit out how fast you will likely run a marathon.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

It's hard to find an athlete that embodies the spirit of endurance sports more than Sage Canaday. He’s found success running at the collegiate and professional level, and he’s amassed quite the YouTube following on his channel, dishing out great advice for runners of all levels. His success has come against a few speed bumps, though. He was recently diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, and his road to recovery has been gradual. Luckily, he says he’s feeling like his old self after conquering a 37-mile run around one of Maui’s volcanoes. Check out his crazy run and admire the breathtaking views it offers in the short video below


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