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How the Force-Vector Theory can help runners

JUL 28, 2023

Minute 1: How the Force-Vector Theory can inform your exercise

We saw Jerry Seinfeld do a stand-up routine a few years ago and he observed that most men continue to dress in the same manner as they did during the best year of their life. If that was college in the ‘90s, it may involve a Seattle grunge look on weekends. If that peak occurred 10-15 years ago, you probably have a closet full of athleisure apparel. Bear with us as we stretch the concept to cover how we prepare for runs. Chances are you are doing the same stretching routine for years, despite advances in research on this topic. If you want to build a more informed approach to stretching as a runner, you can consider the Force-Vector Theory that’s discussed in “Joe’s Pigeon Exercise for Hip Extension.” The theory says that “the most optimal performance-enhancing exercises are those that align with the specific plane of action in which we perform our sport.” In other words, since running is a horizontal movement with relatively short ranges of motion, the most effective stretches and exercises will also be horizontal and short. That means exercises like bridges, all-fours hip extensions, and the modified pigeon pose described in the article could be just what your hips need to improve stability and propulsion. Since Instagram seems to know us better than we know ourselves, that may explain why we keep seeing ads for hip flexibility programs. Here are some good tips if the algorithm puts you in a similar category: “6 Hip Mobility Stretches for Runners and Ultrarunners.” If you’re looking to build a full yoga and stretching routine to help with your running, these “Top 7 Yoga Poses For Runners” will get you started. The article also covers when you should integrate your yoga. Some runners prefer to use it as a warmup or cooldown, while others prefer to give it its own day and use it as a kind of cross training.

Minute 2: Life’s challenges are a powerful motivator

For some people, being told you’ll never be able to run safely would scare them away from ever trying. For Jacky Hunt-Broersma, it was more of a challenge. Jacky lost her left leg to cancer back in 2001 and initially gave up hope of running again, but six years ago she gave it a shot and her accomplishments since then have been inspiring. We have mentioned Jacky in the past, but this new story prompted us to write about her again: “‘Running changed my life’: Amputee runs 104 marathons in 104 days.” Running that many marathons in a row earned Jacky the world record of most consecutive days to run a marathon distance (female) – LA2 (an impairment classification). Even if your roadblocks are not as serious as losing a leg, they can still be frustrating and demoralizing. For some ideas on how to recover like a pro, see: “How To Deal With Setbacks Like An Elite Athlete.” The article lists five tips for getting back on your feet, and among them is building connections. If you’ve belonged to a running group, or been a routine participant in races in the past, it can feel like you’ve been left behind when you have to stop competing. Finding ways to interact in whatever ways you can will keep your spirits high, as well as motivate you to recover and get back in the game.

Minute 3: What are prebiotics, and which should you eat?

Most of us are familiar with probiotics, but how about prebiotics? No, they are not named for Steve Prefontaine, but they are nonetheless important for runners. Prebiotics, and they can be instrumental in improving gut health. If you want to learn about their benefits, as well as see the best option to add to your diet, check out: “What are the 5 best sources for prebiotics?” You can think of prebiotics as a food source for the good bacteria in your digestive system. It can’t be digested by our own bodies, but microbes will feed off of it to stay strong. Recent research found that dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks, and onions have some of the highest prebiotic content of any food, and it won’t take much of any of these to reach your daily requirement. Of course, prebiotics work best when taken alongside probiotics themselves, so be sure to pick up some of these “12 Best Probiotic Foods for Your Gut Health.” As you might expect, the list contains lots of fermented foods which have active bacteria cultures. One unexpected addition to the list is sourdough bread, and it turns out there are “11 Reasons Why Everyone Should Be Eating Sourdough Bread.” Not only does it contain some healthy bacteria, but it’s also easier to digest and has a lower glycemic index than most rival breads.

Minute 4: Trail runner bear attack tragedy

We received some sad news this week as avid trail runner and adventurer Amie Adamson was the victim of a grizzly attack last Saturday: “Bear kills runner near Yellowstone National Park.” Adamson was 47 years old and the veteran of marathons, ultras and a 2,000-mile through hike. In a heartbreaking Facebook post, her mother shared this: “This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to put on here. Yesterday morning we lost our beautiful, smart, talented daughter, Amie. Our first born. … She was a free spirit adventurer that loved the outdoors, hiked, ran and explored. She died doing something she loved in a place she loved.” Local officials have closed the area surrounding the attack and are searching for the bear. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department provides these tips for hikers and trail runners in bear country:

  • Carry bear spray and be prepared to use it immediately.

  • Travel in groups whenever possible and make noise.

  • Stay away from animal carcasses, which often attract bears.

  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Leave the area when it is safe to do so.

  • Never feed wildlife. Bears that become food-conditioned lose their natural foraging behavior and pose threats to human safety.

This tragedy occurred on the same day as another bear attack in which a Utah trail runner escaped with puncture wounds and bruising delivered by a black bear. According to the local conservation officer: “Based on the investigation thus far, we believe this was a defensive encounter as a result of surprising the bear at very close range.”

These attacks remind us of the terrifying video of a Utah trail runner being pursued by a mountain lion for six minutes in 2020. The 26-year-old was out for a 10-mile run in Slate Canyon when he stopped to take a video of what he thought were bobcats. They turned out to be mountain lion cubs and mama was not happy. She stalked him along the trail while the runner shouted and tried to look big until the big cat eventually turned and ran in the other direction.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • The recent news that LeBron James’ son Bronny experienced a cardiac arrest during a team practice reminds us that even highly-conditioned athletes are not immune from heart issues. As unsettling as this story is, we should remember that without preexisting conditions, it’s quite rare to push yourself so hard that you have a heart attack: “Study shows risk of sudden cardiac arrest from exercise is low among older adults.” To learn more about what happened to Bronny James, see: “LeBron James' son is released from hospital days after suffering a cardiac arrest.”

  • Summer is far from over, and that means so is your risk of getting a sunburn. We don’t need to remind you that you should be applying sunscreen frequently while you’re out and about on a sunny day, but we did come across some concerns you may want to hear about. Take a look at these “Three Surprising Things That Can Make Your Sunscreen Less Effective.” One tip we hadn’t heard before is to avoid storing sunscreen in a hot car, since the heat can decrease its efficacy and speed up its expiration date.

  • When you’re feeling burnt out, sometimes all it takes is an extra rest day to get back on track. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and there are times when an extended “detraining” period is necessary. That can mean either a complete break from exercise, or a calculated reduction in intensity and volume over a period of time. If you want to learn how to use detraining most effectively, check out this new analysis from Polar: “The dreaded detraining: why you shouldn’t fear it.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

If your goal is to improve running economy, plyometrics and stair work are your best friends. That's what @schonherrdavid and @katja_runs reminded us of in a recent video. They showcase some fancy footwork as they use different techniques to make their way up a flight of stairs. In the description of their post, they note that those exercises will develop your stabilizer muscles, reduce ground contact time, and grow a mind-muscle connection.


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