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How to run tangents and save time on a race course

NOV 22, 2023

Minute 1: Run the best racing line in your next marathon

If you’re a speaker who’s prone to going on tangents, you’re content to meander before reaching your point. (Pretentious non sequitur? Qui, moi?) Paradoxically, if you’re a runner who “goes on a tangent” while racing, it means you’re optimizing your path for the shortest distance. This new story provides good advice on: “How Running Tangents Can Shave Down Your Race Time.” In a geometric sense, following the tangent of your race course means taking the most direct path possible to minimize your race distance. When a race organizer says that their marathon is 26.2 miles long, that is measured by the shortest possible legal route – the “race line” – tracking close to corners as the race unfolds. Of course that’s not always possible when you’re stuck in a big pack and forced to the outside of a turn. Those extra steps are why your GPS watch may read: 26.4 miles when you’ve crossed the finish line. For some good visual examples of tangent strategy, check out this analysis: “Running Tangents.” It’s not always as simple as just hugging the inside of your race course, since you can get pinched at a corner with all runners converging on the “race line.” Instead, it may be faster to run a little further on the outside edge of the course to avoid a mosh pit. The racing line will be different for every course, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the important twists and turns you’ll have to take. Looking far ahead to stay aware of the path to come can help you plan the optimal route, and it’s one part of the perfect “Race Strategy for the Marathon.” Proper positioning at the starting line can also make things much easier. Generally speaking, faster runners should go to the front, and slower runners can hang back to minimize the chances of bunching up. For more on that, check out: “How to Deal With Crowds at Races.”

Minute 2: Goals and community can push you to run your best

We’re always quite impressed when we hear about running streakers – the kind who crave consistency and tradition, not an indecent footrace across a stadium field. Clothed streakers challenge themselves to run a certain milestone repeatedly and consecutively. Sometimes, that means running every day for a year or doing the same local turkey trot for decades. Other runners like the challenge of hitting a milestone in every race, like Chris Farley, owner of the Pacers Running stores in D.C who has run a sub-3:00 hour marathon every year since 1999. Sadly, his streak is in jeopardy since he had a bad day earlier this month in New York: “His 24-year marathon streak ended. But his fans wouldn’t let him quit.” Chris missed the mark by only 4 minutes in this year’s NYC Marathon. He was understandably distraught over his shortcomings, but some fans of his may have taken it even harder. They started writing to him encouraging Chris to give it another shot, and that’s exactly what he plans to do in December. If you’re curious about other streakers who measure themselves by races finished, not finish times achieved, check out: “Two Mainers part of Boston Marathon's elusive Quarter Century Club.” The Quarter Century Club, or QCC for short, is comprised of about 100 active members. That means they’ve all run at least 25 Boston Marathons in a row, while managing injuries, ailments, and family commitments.

Minute 3: Watch out for fat-soluble vitamin supplements

Generally speaking, the more vitamins you get, the better. That’s particularly true for water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B, since they’re processed and expelled from the body with ease. However, not all vitamins are alike, and it’s important to understand the risks of overconsuming fat-soluble vitamins like A and E: “How these two vitamin supplements could do more harm than good.” Unlike water soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissue for long periods of time. That makes us vulnerable to reaching toxic levels of each, which can bring an array of nasty side effects. For vitamin A, that means an increased risk of joint pain, liver damage, and birth defects. For vitamin E, you could face an increased risk of prostate and lung cancer, as well as higher instances of blood clotting. For most of us, eating a balanced diet will be enough to ensure we aren’t reaching dangerous levels, but if you supplement vitamins on a regular basis, please exercise some caution. Speaking of balanced diets, we came across an article that reminded us just how important fiber can be: “Use This High-Fiber Food ‘Cheat Sheet’ To Balance Your Microbiome Without Confusion.” Dietary fiber regulates our digestion, which helps keep our guts healthy. In fact, it only takes about 6 grams per meal to make a positive impact, so pick a few items from the list of foods to make sure you’re getting all you need.

Minute 4: Keep your workouts short and sweet this winter

Lately, we’ve been researching how to do less with more in our running. In last week’s issue, we recapped the Run Less, Run Faster method, and took a critical look at the pros and cons of long runs. Given that it's nearly winter, you may be looking for a way to reduce your time out in the cold, so here are some ideas from Canadian Running: “3 winter running workouts to keep fitness at the max.” These workouts are as short as a winter day and sweet as a gingerbread house, starting with Surge sets. Begin by warming up for 10 minutes, then do the following intervals: 2 x 90 seconds at 10K pace, 4 x 60 seconds a bit faster, 4 x 30 seconds hard, and finally 4 x 15 seconds at max pace. After each interval, take a recovery period the same duration as the previous interval. For instance, after your first 90 second 10K interval, walk or jog for 90 seconds before resuming. If you’re looking to avoid the cold entirely, you can make use of some of the “22 best HIIT workouts for all levels, from 5 to 45 minutes long.” Many of the workouts featured can be done from the comfort of your living room, and all you need is a yoga mat and a couple dumbbells to get the blood pumping.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • What’s one thing that Einstein, Salvador Dali, and Thomas Edison all had in common? Napping on the job, apparently. Let us clarify, we’re not saying they were lazy workers. Rather, they figured out a mental trick that ignited their creativity and problem solving, and it involves waking yourself up as you’re drifting off to sleep. We’ve previously covered some of the health benefits of napping in minute 4 of this issue, but if you want to read up on one more, check out “The Dead-Simple Life Hack That Einstein, Edison and Dalí All Had in Common.”

  • When we hear Peloton, we think premium, for better or worse. It’s a premium experience that comes at a premium price, and it has us wondering if there’s a cheaper way to reap the rewards of this exciting tech. Some folks have found great deals on used bikes or financing options, but you should also consider “MacGyvering” your own solution: “'Get a Peloton,' They Said. My Spin Bike Was Half the Price, and I'm Thrilled With It.”

  • If you asked most runners, they’d probably tell you cannabis and running mix like oil and water. Perhaps surprisingly, some athletes feel that cannabis use and exercise are more like peas and carrots. These days, as many as 16% of U.S adults admit to smoking marijuana regularly, while nearly 50% admit to trying it at least once, according to Gallup: “What Percentage of Americans Smoke Marijuana?” Among those tokin’ adults are some athletes trying to go beyond just a “runner’s high.” In fact, a recent study found that cannabis use could improve feelings of enjoyment during a run, while reducing post-run pain levels. That has us asking the question: “Does Running While High Feel Good?

  • Black Friday has seemingly morphed into Black Friday Week over the past few years. While that’s bad news for those who dislike the commercialization of the holiday season, it’s good news for runners looking for an early start on shopping deals. We pulled together our Six Minute Mile’s Best Early Amazon Deals for Runners. You will find several fan favorites at once-per-year prices for things like Apple AirPods, Garmin watches and Theragun massage tools. Check out our full list of early bird specials here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

The NYC Marathon never fails to disappoint, but this year was one of our favorites yet, partially because we got to watch Kayleigh Williamson achieve her dreams. She’s one of the first women with Down Syndrome to ever complete a marathon, and watching her take in the moment as she crossed the finish line was as moving as it gets. It reminds us of Chris Nikic’s finish at the Ironman World Championship last year, where he became the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete that event. We were lucky enough to be working at the NYC Marathon finish line when Kayleigh approached and we still get chills every time we think of witnessing her tears of joy. Grab the Kleenex and check out her emotional finish line video below.


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