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How sprints can make you a faster marathoner

JUL 26, 2023

Minute 1: Can sprinting build muscle mass and endurance?

Sprinting is the fastest way to get around on your feet, and according to some experts, it could also be one of the fastest ways to build muscle. That’s because it can result in about 25% more muscle activation than resistance training. To learn how, check out: “Why Sprinting Is Strength Training in Disguise.” We should clarify, you don’t have to pick between sprinting and lifting. They both complement each other well when building muscle. With sprinting, you’ll get the added benefit of training your cardiovascular system too, which can even improve your ability to run longer distances. Some influential sprinters and coaches have found that for endurance athletes, building a base of speed can work wonders for your performance over time: “How To Improve Your Marathon Or Ultra By Training Speed First.” Before you dream big, you’ve got to think small. If your goal is to run a sub 3-hour marathon, it starts by being able to run a mile race well under 7 minutes. That’s the pace you’ll need to uphold, so getting fast enough to maintain it over shorter distances is a critical stepping stone to the larger goal.

Minute 2: Are light and noise hurting your health?

With Canadian wildfires covering much of North America with smokey air this summer, it’s easy to overlook other types of pollution. Noise and light pollution could have a bigger effect on our health than previously realized, according to recent research: “Light and noise pollution ‘are neglected health hazards’, say peers.” A study found that noise pollution results in a loss of 130,000 healthy years of life in the U.K, thanks to its negative effect on sleep and increased risk of heart disease. It’s a similar story for light pollution, which can disrupt melatonin levels, hunger, hormone production, body temperature, sleep cycles, and mood, according to: “Light Pollution: Everyone Sees It, But Nobody Knows About It.” The effects don’t stop at humans, either. Animals can also be thrown off by unexpected light, which can damage populations and hurt the overall biodiversity of an ecosystem. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the impact of pollution, follow the tips in “Protect Yourself from Noise Pollution.” There’s not a lot an individual can do about how noisy their location is, but by protecting your hearing with earplugs during loud events, keeping headphones quiet, and minimizing exposure to hazardous noise on the job, you can reduce your chances of hearing damage, and thus, your susceptibility to the impact of noise pollution. You can also try out these “21 Impressive Ways to Reduce Light Pollution,” like using red or amber colored lights in your house to reduce the impact on your circadian rhythm from blue light exposure.

Minute 3: Getting NEAT can improve your health

Is it possible to gain the benefits of a workout without carving time out of the day to break a sweat? Some experts say yes (to an extent) if you make use of NEAT: “There's a way to get healthier without even going to a gym. It's called NEAT.” The acronym stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which are all the calories one burns throughout the day outside of intentional exercise. Doing chores, errands, gardening, cleaning, and climbing stairs are all examples of NEAT, and their combined effect can have profound results on your health. That’s especially true for those who do a lot of screen-based work at a desk with long periods of sitting. Injecting some movement with frequent walking breaks has been shown to improve cardiovascular, joint, and mental health. It can also be an excellent tool for weight management. If you want to add some NEAT into your day, start with these “8 Ways to Sit Less and Move More Each Day.” Our phones and fitness trackers are able to prompt us to move, either by setting your own timer, or using an app designed to measure and encourage your daily activity. There are also decisions you can make to increase NEAT, like opting to walk to the grocery store or take a flight of stairs instead of an elevator.

Minute 4: These are some of the healthiest sources of fat

For athletes who do lots of LISS training and long distance events, it’s a fact that you need fats. Not all sources of fat are equal, however, and if you’re curious to learn about some top choices to consider, check out: “5 Ways to Get Healthy Fats in Your Diet.” By avoiding trans fats, seed oils, and other low quality sources, you can avoid the negative effects associated with fats like high cholesterol and heart disease. Instead, look for foods high in omega-3s, mono, and polyunsaturated fats, ample nutritional value like oily fish, free-range eggs, grass fed beef, organic dairy, and olive oil. In fact, olive oil is one of the primary ingredients used in the Mediterranean diet, which is full of healthy fats. If you want a fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine, you should check out “I'm a Dietitian with Syrian Roots - This Is the Mediterranean Diet That I Know and Love.” Author Rahaf Al Bochi writes that although the Med diet gets lots of positive press, a lot of the foods found in Syrian cuisine are overlooked. That includes freekeh, which you can read about in “What Is Freekeh? And How To Cook It!” Freekeh is a grain with plenty of carbs, protein, and iron in it. There’s also okra, which you can learn about in “What Is Okra?

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • If you’ve got the time and energy for it, double the runs are double the fun. Done properly, running twice per day can also result in some pretty remarkable performance boosts, according to some coaches, and although it seems like a technique reserved for the pros, beginner and intermediate runners can still take advantage of the daily double. To learn how, check out: “A Beginner’s Guide to Running Twice A Day.”

  • You never know when you’re going to hit your athletic prime, and for some of us, it comes way later than you’d expect. That seems to be the case for Jeannie Rice, who set not one but three records in the 75-79 age bracket at the USATF Masters’s Championship that took place last week. If you want a recap of how she pulled it off, take a look at this Instagram post and “75-Year-Old Jeannie Rice Sets 3 Age Group World Records.” She covered 5,000 meters in a snappy 22:41.

  • Earlier in this issue, we covered how to run faster as an endurance athlete, and to balance things out, we wanted to give some tips on how to run longer. Things like tracking your progress, prioritizing distance over pace, and fueling appropriately are three of the many tips to be found in: “How to Run Longer Distances: 20 Tips from a Run Coach.” And don’t forget to maintain proper form. As we stay on the road longer, our body can slump and our feet begin to shuffle. Instead, “focus on lifting your knees, keeping your chest up and shoulders straight, and engaging your core muscles.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Jeannie Rice isn’t the only one who’s had a groundbreaking performance at the USATF Masters Championship. Just last year, Robert Williamson Jr. ran a 100 meter dash that would look impressive regardless of age. His time of 16.89 at the age of 85 left the competition in the dust and spectators’ heads spinning. It sure has us feeling motivated to grow faster every year, and if you want to relive the historic moment, check out the video link from @usatf.


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