MAY 14, 2022
Minute 1: When it’s time to turn off your tracker
Did you hear about the runner who was too cheap to pay for a WHOOP? He took a ruler to bed to measure how long he slept. Dad jokes aside, sometimes we are all guilty of measuring our health in an illogical or unproductive manner. Fitness trackers can help you reach your targets, as long as you’re in the driver’s seat, not the passenger seat. If you’re doing all your exercise just to earn that “goal reached” notification, ask yourself if the tracker is helping you, or you’re serving it. Check out this cautionary tale: “How My Fitness Tracker Turned Me Against Myself.” Julia Craven writes that she became obsessed with quantifying herself, and the fear of missing goals left her feeling anxious and inadequate. Fitness trackers often contribute to the mindset that exercise is a rigid necessity, rather than a gift you can give yourself for a healthier and happier life. General fitness trackers aren’t the only technology catching flack for bringing mixed results. Recently, some endurance athletes have tried monitoring glucose levels in real time as a way to optimize diet and energy levels. See the details in this piece from Training Peaks: “Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Athletes Worth Considering?” The idea is, since glucose is the main source of energy for endurance athletes, tracking it in real time will let you know when to eat more. In reality, early studies have shown healthy people with well-rounded diets remain at a normal glucose level, requiring very little intervention or tracking to keep it that way.
Minute 2: How running affects testosterone
For anyone who hoped your hormone woes would end with puberty, we’re sorry to say that’s not the case. We may be past the acne and awkwardness stage, but our hormone levels are always in flux, changing significantly as we progress through life. Testosterone begins to decline in men around age 30, and low levels present challenges to an active lifestyle. Women need testosterone as well, as it affects energy levels, libido, bone density, and more. If you’re curious about natural ways to regulate testosterone levels, you should read this: “Does running increase testosterone?” The short answer is, yes. High intensity running for short periods of time can boost your T levels. If you aren’t going all out in some of your workouts, your levels may remain unchanged, and believe it or not, some forms of exercise may cause a drop. Excessively prolonged exercise may raise cortisol: a stress response that has a “see-saw” relationship with testosterone. It’s important to remember, more isn’t always better, and high amounts can present risks as well, so it’s about finding a balance. That’s part of the reason why testosterone replacement therapy isn’t always the right option, as you can see in this piece from Harvard: “Is testosterone therapy safe? Take a breath before you take the plunge.” Researchers found that men who underwent TRT had higher risk of cardiovascular problems, strokes, and deaths from heart disease. All the more reason to use natural methods like a healthy diet, sleep, and exercise to keep testosterone at an acceptable level. #PassTheTest
Minute 3: High nutrition for low costs
When we go to the grocery store, we are faced with a difficult choice. We can reach for the organic, non-gmo, free range stuff, or we can buy the reasonably-priced version. We’ve been conditioned to believe that healthy food must be expensive, but this new story from NPR suggests we are not really facing a Hobson’s choice: “5 steps to cooking healthy food on a budget.” One of the most important tips is to understand the terms used to market expensive foods, and see that they don’t always deliver on their promise. The term ‘organic’ has more to do with the way food is grown, and whether or not there’s an impact on nutrition will vary from one veggie to another. That’s not the only label to look out for, and you can find the rest in “5 'Healthy' Food Labels This R.D. Says You Can Basically Ignore.” Another easy way to get nutrition in your diet is picking up frozen fruits and veggies. You may think they’re inferior to fresh options, but often due to travel times, frozen food retains more nutrition over time. Take a look at these “5 Reasons This Nutritionist Buys Frozen Fruits and Veggies.” Not only are they packed with vitamins, but they’re versatile – easy to add to a smoothie, bowl of yogurt, or oatmeal.
Minute 4: Protect your pelvis
If you have pain in your foot, it’s logical to conclude that you have a foot problem. Sometimes that simple self-diagnosis misses the bigger picture. It’s important to view the body holistically to uncover the real source of an ailment. A joint with limited range of motion or misalignment can cause a domino effect of other problems. Pelvic dysfunction is an often overlooked issue for runners, but you may be surprised just how impactful it can be according to iRunFar: “The Runner’s Pelvis: Keep Your Pelvis Aligned and Mobile for Healthy Running.” The pelvis is part of what connects the lower and upper body, so a small misalignment can get amplified downstream. If you’ve experienced any sort of trauma, like falling on the back or side of the pelvis, it’s common to experience a loss of range of motion. That can lead to chronic hamstring pain, hip pain, and more. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do by yourself to alleviate pelvis issues without invoking your inner Shakira or Elvis. Proper stretching, foam rolling and massage therapy work. Read about these “5 Lateral Pelvic Tilt Exercises” to see how you can check for your own misalignment, as well as perform some exercises to help put things back in order.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
National Parks have seen a boom in popularity recently as the pandemic motivated people to seek Covid-safe recreation outdoors. However, there’s a lot of land out there, so much that it’s easy to get lost, so we hope you’re planning your trips with the help of maps and guides to ensure your safety. Since we’re past the days of Lewis and Clark, your expedition can be made easy with the help of the new app from the National Park Service. See how to “Explore Every U.S. National Park with Just One App. Here’s How.”
We’ve been blown away by all the stories of runners helping the people of Ukraine – raising funds and awareness. You can refresh yourself on that news in this SMM issue from a few weeks ago as well as this one. The the latest story to catch our eye comes from a volunteer in Switzerland. Organizing food, clothing, and other supplies, Amy Challenger interacts with refugees recently displaced from their homes in Ukraine. It’s a lot to take in, but to maintain a healthy state of mind, she says that “I Run to Process What Ukrainian Refugees Teach Me.”
More and more, people are waking up to the idea that “no pain, no gain” and “no days off” are unrealistic goals to set. Living by these mottos often ends up doing more harm than good in the long run, and the most effective training plans recognize the necessity for breaks. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s time for a day off, we’ve got a helpful list of “5 excuses for when it’s OK to skip your run.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If Hollywood hosted its own Olympic Games for movie stars, our money would be on Tom Cruise to dominate the 100M dash. He’s got more scenes running in movies than most actors have lines, and with all that practice, we’re sure he’s quick off the blocks. Not to mention, he’s got some iconic form to go along with it too. In fact, there are lots of actors who’ve developed a distinct running style for the silver screen. Some are serious looking, while others win our hearts and smiles, but certainly not any medals in a race. See how many you can recognize in the Instagram clip from @daniellabelle1.