NOV 10, 2022
Minute 1: Alexi Pappas shows us how to enjoy a marathon
The night before your marathon is a good time to take inventory of everything you’ll need. Sneakers, energy bars, water bottles; the list goes on. If you’re Olympic runner Alexi Pappas, you’ll need to grab something extra: glitter. Last year, Alexi became injured before the NYC Marathon, but instead of pulling out, she decided to run with as much joy as she could, and that involved painting a big glittery star on her cheek. That experience changed the way she viewed racing for the better, and you can see how in “No, You Don’t Have To Take Your Workouts So Seriously, and This Olympian Running the NYC Marathon in a Sparkly Costume Is Here To Prove It.” Pappas returned to the NYC Marathon this year, sparkling harder than ever, and she says it’s her mission to show young girls that they can have fun with sports if they stick with it. Girls quit sports by age 14 at about twice the rate that boys do, but Pappas hopes that bringing joy to running can help close that gap. That’s just one of several issues in the athletic community she’s spoken about, and you can read more about her impact in: “Olympian Alexi Pappas Wants to Bring Mental Health to the Forefront of Sport.” Following the 2016 Olympics, she reported having feelings of anxiety and depression, which is all too common among elite athletes. As many as 35% report struggling with mental health issues. If you’ve ever experienced a mental low point during or after a competition, you might want to check out this story about the power of picking yourself back up: “It's what you do after you fall, as Hamblin and D'Agostino find out.” It’s the tale of one of Pappas’ Dartmouth track teammates who turns a huge negative into a positive on the biggest stage in the world.
Minute 2: These pads were made for walking
There’s a growing trend among treadmills these days, or perhaps “a shrinking trend” is a better word to describe it. Thanks to some viral attention garnered on TikTok, the world has regained interest in the “walking pad.” Imagine you took the essentials of a treadmill and sized them down into a portable, foldable package. As the popularity of these devices has ramped up, many are asking this question: “Is a Walking Pad Really Better Than a Treadmill?” As you might have inferred from the name, these tiny treadmills are better for slower speeds and controlled gaits than 10 MPH runs. They’ve got low power motors and shorter lengths, which makes a running stride unfeasible in most cases. The upside? Walking pads can fit right underneath a desk, or be taken in and out of an office space with ease. They’re the perfect option for anyone who likes to pace around as they work. Not to mention, they’re generally much cheaper than treadmills too. If you’re curious about the effects walking pads can bring, check out “Treadmill desks can benefit your health in these three key ways.” Research suggests that a bit of walking while you work can improve cognition and memory. In one study, walkers and sedentary workers were given a series of emails and texts they had to study for 40 minutes. They then took a true or false test about the information presented, and the walking group was 35% more likely to provide the correct answer. There are physical benefits to be reaped as well. Folks who walk at their desks experience less neck and back pain, and some research indicates they have a lower risk of early death. Who knows, maybe bringing a walking pad to work will be the start of a wellness transformation like this one described in The Onion: “Usain Bolt Recalls Discovering Talent For Running Through Corporate Wellness Challenge.” #TreadLightly
Minute 3: Do sports drinks actually replenish your sodium levels?
“When you give everything, Gatorade gives it back.” That is one of the many slogans the energy drink company has used over the years. Those marketing claims have sold a lot of Gatorade, but do they hold water? This week, Outside magazine examines whether replenishing electrolytes like sodium will keep our muscles moving and our aches to a minimum: “The Salt in Sports Drinks May Not Be As Crucial As You Think.” Sodium absolutely plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve function, but the relationship isn’t as simple as more salt intake = less cramping. In fact, most sports drinks have a lower sodium concentration than our blood at a healthy level. So if we are reaching dangerously low sodium levels, that bottle of Gatorade could exacerbate the problem by adding more fluids and not enough salt. Researcher Alan McCubbin of Monash University thinks that except in extreme cases like ultramarathons, planning for mid-race salt replenishment is counterproductive. Instead, we’re better off listening to our bodies. If you’ve got a salt craving, it’s time to “season to taste.” Outside of competition, there are several steps you can take to limit your risk of cramping, according to Harvard Health: “Take that, muscle cramps!” Magnesium and potassium also play a large role in muscle function, so you’ll want to be eating plenty of these “8 Foods High in Magnesium and Potassium for Healthy Blood Pressure.”
Minute 4: No, not all cookies are unhealthy
What’s a reward sweeter than the feeling of crossing a finish line? The cookies you bake for yourself in celebration, of course. They taste better than the finisher medal biting shot for your Instagram feed and provide more energy replenishment than that medal. After all that hard work, everyone deserves to treat themselves, and some of our personal favorites can be found on this list: “11 chocolate chip cookie recipes to satisfy every sweet tooth.” We wouldn’t be much of a fitness newsletter if we didn’t at least offer you a healthier alternative, so you should also try your hand at baking this “Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe.” This version of the American classic swaps out butter, milk chocolate chips, white flour and white sugar. Instead, there’s coconut oil, dark chocolate, whole wheat flour, and coconut sugar. These ingredients have a lot going for them, and we can start by looking at these “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil.” It is comprised of mostly medium chain triglycerides; a kind of fat that’s quickly and easily converted into energy by your liver. Switching to dark chocolate chips can bring benefits as well, according to: “8 Healthy Reasons to Eat Dark Chocolate.” It’s rich in antioxidants, which helps your body fight off free radicals which lead to inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s over time.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
If watching or reading about last Sunday’s TCS NYC Marathon inspired you to run the race next year, you may be wondering how to secure a bib for a race that is always oversubscribed. The New York Times weighs in this week with a guide that explains: “There are several ways to get one of the 50,000 spots in the New York City Marathon. Here’s a list of the possible options.”
In a rare showing of bipartisan support, the Sunshine Protection Act was passed in the U.S. Senate last March, aiming to stop the switch between standard time and daylight savings time once and for all. As we’re sure you all noticed, our clocks still turned back this weekend, so what’s the deal? Well, the bill has been stalled in the House because members can’t agree which time should be permanent: standard or daylight savings time. Supporters of DST say it will reduce our energy consumption, but sleep experts argue standard time aligns our circadian rhythms best with the rise and setting of the sun, improving our physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re curious about this ongoing debate, check out “Why daylight saving time hasn’t become permanent (and why sleep experts don’t want it to).”
Meditation and yoga have been praised in recent years for their positive effect on our mood and mobility. They’re not the only way to improve these areas, however, as there’s another low impact form of exercise that used to hold the spotlight some decades ago: Tai Chi. If you wait long enough, exercise trends recycle themselves, and Tai Chi just might be due for its resurgence. We certainly wouldn’t mind that, given all the benefits you can read about in: “Tai chi for beginners: 7 reasons you need to add it to your daily routine.”
We planted the seed of walking pads earlier this issue, and if there was anyone on the fence about getting more active during their work day, we’re pretty sure this article will put you over the edge: “The Daily Habit That's Just As Important for Your Health As Exercise.” The habit in question is sitting, and the complications you might face from sitting too much are no joke. Of course, you don’t have to rely on treadmills or walking pads to stay active during the day. Simply scheduling out a few activity breaks is one of many ways you can avoid the dangers listed in the article.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The Boston Marathon is famous for its hills, but anyone who ran the NYC Marathon last weekend in 70-degree heat knows that the ups and downs of the Big Apple are no joke. The placement of those hills makes the course tough to navigate. The high point of the race is within the first 2 miles, and it’s easy to burn too much energy too soon because of that. Then there’s the subtle but steady incline on Fifth Ave when you’re 22 miles into the race. That stretch has whacked more people than a season of The Sopranos. If you want to be prepared for whatever hills you come across, you’ll want to check out these tips from @whatrunsyou on Instagram. Her video covers important fundamentals like how to drive your hips, bending at the ankles and where to position your head and torso.