Minute 1: Too cold to run? Try shoveling snow or running stairs
The first major winter storm is slamming the Northeastern United States this week, turning our favorite running paths into ankle-twisting obstacle courses and butt-slamming ice slicks. Many of us will enter a goose egg in our training diary and head out to shovel snow instead. To get an idea of how that makes most people feel, check out: “Hilarious video shows boy learning why we all hate shoveling snow.” It may even make you as profanely mad as Tom Cruise in the viral audio snippet of him reaming out the crew on Mission Impossible 7. But shoveling snow doesn’t have to be completely miserable. Along with cold fingers and aching backs, it also delivers some surprising fitness benefits. Shoveling snow can pack an intense winter workout as Women’s Running points out in its post “Can’t Run Outside? Try These Winter Workout Alternatives Instead.” Shoveling provides a full-body workout that also revs your cardiac motor. A person weighing 185 pounds will burn more than 500 calories per hour shoveling snow. But before tackling that mound of snow piled up in your driveway, check out these “Snow Shoveling Tips” and please take some precautions, because “Shoveling snow wrong could be dangerous.” Even the National Safety Council has some serious snow-shoveling advice, raising the question “Why do People Die Shoveling Snow?” If you are blessed with family members with strong backs who handle the chore of clearing the driveway, you can opt for an indoor workout of running some stairs instead. Check out this story explaining: “How It Will Make You A Better Runner.”
Minute 2: Strava proves that pandemics promote exercise
In Silicon Valley-speak, a unicorn is a private company that is valued at more than $1 billion. According to the authoritative website, UnicornYard.com, more traditional unicorns “love to challenge themselves and each other, and they will race on any terrain.” Fortunately for Strava, millions of humans also love challenging themselves across the globe by running and cycling in record numbers in 2020. Already this year, 1.1 billion activities have been uploaded onto Strava, a 33% increase from 2019. That boosted the fitness level of those athletes and also propelled Strava to enter the ranks of tech unicorns. They just raised $110 million at a reported valuation of more than $1 billion. The numbers in Strava’s “2020 Year In Sport Data Report” are pretty staggering. Hundreds of thousands of runners logged solo virtual marathons this year, a 3X increase over 2019. Women aged 18-29 displayed the most impressive growth, with that cohort increasing their activity level on Strava by 45%.
All of that is wonderful news for those athletes as well as Strava’s investors. The only downside is that it has led to overcrowding on some popular trails and paved paths. AmericanTrails.org documented those issues in its post “How COVID-19 is Affecting the Trails Community.” With walking and running trails suddenly overcrowded, another concern has emerged: Contracting the virus from fellow runners, walkers and cyclists. The University of Minnesota is leading a national study to determine how many people are actually following safe-distance rules while exercising outdoors: “Challenges of social distancing on trails revealed in University of Minnesota study.” Its initial findings concluded that more than half of trail users did not allow enough physical distance between themselves and other runners or walkers. On the flip side, outdoor activities are still pretty low risk, as explained in this story: “Why you’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from runners and cyclists.” To stay on the safe side, check out tips like “How to Stay Safe During Outdoor Activities” or “Using Trails and Outdoor Spaces Safely in the Wake of COVID-19.” #BillionaireUnicorns
Minute 3: Cooking for endurance athletes
Whether you are searching for the perfect life partner or the ideal personal chef, your list of desired character traits may be very similar: funny, engaging, athletic, smart and a whiz in the kitchen. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay checks all of those boxes. Of particular interest to our readers, Ramsay has run the London Marathon 14 times and finished the 2013 Kona Ironman in 14 hours despite a ruptured hamstring. Men’s Health just profiled the chef in this piece: “How Gordon Ramsay Uses Fitness and Nutrition to Put His Health on the Front Burner.” Ramsay plans to run five ultra events next year and fuels his training on 3 or 4 small-portion meals per day. “Trust the skinny chefs,” he quips, “Because the fat ones have eaten all of the good food.” Ramsay reveals his diet of vegetables, beans, salads and protein shakes, and his aversion to protein bars. “I’m very lucky that I can train and still eat pretty much what I want,” he says. “How can a chef get into protein bars and say they taste delicious, when they taste f------ disgusting?” For more insights into healthy fuel, check out our latest Six Minute Mile Podcast interview with Andrew Merle, a New Balance executive turned certified sports nutritionist. Merle explains his interest in the Blue Zones -- the 5 areas around the world with the highest percentage of people who live to be 100. There are some similar behavioral traits in those areas -- including exercise, social engagement and sleep -- but the biggest common denominator is a diet rich in leafy greens, olive oil, beans and sweet potatoes. Tune in for the full details.
Minute 4: The new Apple Fitness+ is for real
When it comes to workout tracking, we typically prefer purpose-built watches like a Garmin or Suunto over the Apple Watch. The model from Cupertino always struck us as more Google Glass than everyday workhorse. It’s kinda like dressing in Lululemon for a trip to the Peoria YMCA. It works, but it feels a little out of place. At least that was our opinion leading up to this week’s release of Apple’s Fitness+ app that pairs with the Apple Watch. The new app offers enough at-home workouts to ride out the rest of the pandemic, all easily displayed on your iPhone, iPad or TV. Perhaps more interesting, when combined with an Apple Watch, your current iPhone can now light up with data like resting heart rate, blood oxygen level, and even VO2 max. (If you’re wondering where you stack up on that last metric relative to pro endurance athletes, a good guide is here.) To get a feel for the new capabilities in iOS 14.3, just tap the Health icon on your current iPhone, and then click “Browse.” For more information, check out this story: “Here’s how and why you should set up Cardio Fitness on iPhone and Apple Watch.” Fitness+ is not super cheap at $9.99 per month, but it can be shared with up to 6 family members and you receive a few months free if you purchase a new Apple Watch. It’s no wonder that Nike, whose board of directors includes Apple CEO Tim Cook, abandoned their FuelBand years ago. Despite inventing one of the earliest fitness trackers, not even Nike can compete with Apple.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
If you’ve procrastinated on your holiday shopping and are worried about one of those Amazon Sprinter vans making it to your house on time, may we recommend the best gift ever for the runner in your life: a photo of them crossing the finish line of a marathon. Earlier this week, we convinced our sister company, MarathonFoto, to offer a one-time only discount for Six Minute Mile readers. Other than Black Friday, they have never offered a better deal than this 35% off coupon. MarathonFoto has uploaded 240 million photos to the cloud and they are available now for the first time in decades. Just head to their site and search by email address for photos of your or the special person on your shopping list. At checkout, enter the code SMM35 to lock in your bargain. But please act quickly, this offer expires at the end of the weekend.
If you are still in a retail frame of mind after buying race photos, you also may want to check out the 2020 Holiday Gift Guide from Runner’s World. Or better yet, you can support a small business whose name rhymes with “sticks win it pile.” These struggling entrepreneurs are hawking soft, tri-blend cotton t-shirts that are perfect for sleeping in cold winter nights. Please check out the Six Minute Mile tee here. $1.00 of every purchase goes to support a freelance writer who is fighting caffeine deficiency symptoms. And last week we mentioned that the most popular gift item for runners at e-tailer Gone For A Run is their Runner's 2021 Daily Desk Calendar. Every page contains inspirational quotes, illustrations and a space to record your daily activity.
After a summer run, we can’t wait to get our hands on a healthy cooldown beverage. Protein shakes are good for you after running and often pop up on the “10 Best Recovery Drinks for Runners.” But shakes, smoothies and most other protein drinks are made for warm weather, offering something cold and refreshing to help you cool down. That’s why Outsideonline.com is recommending “The Best Cold-Weather Protein Drink Recipes.” The site surveyed both dietitians and elite athletes and came up with such tasty treats as Mocha Spice Recovery Drink and Pumpkin Spice Smoothie, along with such traditional favorites as chocolate milk and apple cider.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Billy Yang is a trail runner, ultra marathoner, and filmmaker. While he had logged thousands of miles on the trails of California, he had never completed a significant through-hike. Fighting off pandemic boredom, he took a Covid test and set off with 2 friends on the 211-mile John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Yang is an excellent storyteller, but his film is so beautiful that you could hit “mute” and lower your blood pressure by 10% by just watching his video play. For more ideas on bucket list journeys on foot, check out this list of “10 Epic Long Distance Hikes Around The World.” Billy’s John Muir Trail video is below.