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How your resting heart rate compares to the pros

Minute 1: How low can you go? Resting heart rate and athlete performance

Many of our super fit readers have probably caused their doctors to stare at their watches in disbelief after taking a resting heart rate (RHR) measurement. While the average American sits somewhere between 60 and 100 BPM, endurance athletes enjoy much lower numbers. Lance Armstrong in his prime reportedly had a resting heart rate of 32-34 BPM. Other than bragging rights and amused looks from hospital staffers, what can you really learn from your RHR? According to this new story, “Does Your Resting Heart Rate Determine How Long You’re Going to Live?,” it can tell you a lot about your health, but it doesn’t paint the full picture. First of all, if you’re aiming to lower your heart rate, you should try to beat the average, says fitness expert Michael Matthews. Unfortunately, the average American isn’t exactly the pinnacle of health, so a target of 50 to 80 BPM is a more ambitious goal. It’s important to realize that every heart differs in size and efficiency, so don’t get caught up on the exact BPM. Track your RHR over time, and if you see it decreasing, you’ll know your training is paying off. Getting within the healthy range is a sure sign of progress, but it’s only one part of the equation. Another metric worth considering is heart rate variability (HRV). Having strong HRV means you’re able to raise your BPM from low to high easily when you exercise. Improving HRV can be done by training in a variety of heart rate zones. Take a look at “Exercise Heart Rate Zones Explained” for tips. By calculating your maximum heart rate based on age, and then training at various percentages of your BPM limit, you can ensure your heart is ready for the increased workload you throw at it. To see how you stack up against your age group and world record holders alike, check out this “Resting Heart Rate Table.” You may also want to investigate the tables that WHOOP compiled from actual user data: “What is a Good Resting Heart Rate by Age and Gender? #BeatingRecords

Minute 2: How anxiety affects your nutrition

Getting butterflies in your stomach is the description we often give to express feelings of anxiety. It’s no coincidence, then, that anxiety can have a notable effect on your stomach and digestive system. If you feel like you’re giving your body everything it needs with your diet, but still feel symptoms of nutrient deficiency, you should read “How Anxiety Affects Nutrient Absorption, From A Nutrition Expert.” Humans react to stress with the fight or flight response. In prehistoric times, stress meant you were in danger, and the bodily resources needed to perform digestive function gets redirected to your muscles so you can defend yourself or escape. Certainly a useful feature when you’re living in the wilds amidst predators, but it probably does more harm than good in the modern age. How do we counteract the negative effects of stress and anxiety? One simple thing you can do is adjust the way you eat to evoke calmness at mealtimes. Check out these “7 Ways to Slow Down and Really Enjoy a Meal.” Practice mindfulness as you eat, and make an effort to identify and enjoy all the flavors you can. Step away from your workspace when you take a lunch break if possible; leaving the stresses of work on pause while you eat will let you recharge, and approach them with a clearer head when you return. Lastly, enjoy the company at mealtime. Pause to chat and use refueling as a time to foster relationships. Of course, what you eat is just as important as how you eat, so stock up on these “Nine foods to eat to help reduce anxiety.” #KeepCalmAndDineOn

Minute 3: Gain back some stability this winter with traction devices

Even experienced runners can fall victim to the dangers of snow and other unpredictable winter weather. We have previously shared the viral Portland news broadcast that ended in an on-camera spill. To help avoid the embarrassment of the bruised runners in that video, consider “Best Winter Running Traction Devices of 2022” from iRunFar. Whether you are a newbie to winter running or a seasoned veteran of the microspike circuit, you are likely to find something useful in this list. If you’re going to be in deep snow the whole time, pick a traction device with large metal spikes. If you’re looking for a more flexible option, try something like the Yaktrax Run Ice Grips, which use a combination of metal coils, rubber, and removable spikes to give you the stability you need over ice, snow, or pavement. #AllTerrainTraining

Minute 4: What is a reasonable 5K goal, and how do you get there?

When explaining his philosophy on goals, Michelangelo once said: “The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Most of our readers have learned over time that training motivation increases dramatically when you have a goal in mind. But how can we establish our goals without aiming too high or too low? All endurance athletes start at different levels, and will end up at different places, so there’s no one-size-fits-all PR goal out there. Last week we shared tips on a fairly audacious goal of a 5-minute mile. This week, we’re showing you how to hit a “20 Minute 5K Pace: Sub 20 Minute 5K Training Plan & Tips.” If that’s still too ambitious of a target, don’t worry, there’s a chart included that breaks down 5K times by age, sex, and skill level to help you zero in on a goal that would make Michelangelo proud. The article has tips that are useful for all skill levels. For example, don’t expect your progress to come all at once. Plan to participate in several races, and use each finishing time as a barometer to figure out how much faster you should aim for the next race. Breaking your PR by 1 minute 5 times is a lot easier than breaking your PR by 5 minutes 1 time. For more tips on learning how to run your absolute best, regardless of skill level, take a look at “The Slow Runner’s Guide to a Fast(er) 5K.” #GoalGetter

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Run like the wind, but don't run into the wind if you can help it. That’s the conclusion researchers drew recently when studying the impact high wind speed has on your pace. It turns out, headwinds will slow you down more than tailwinds will speed you up. If you’re just going out for a casual jog, that’s not too much of a problem, but if you’re doing a timed workout, your results are sure to be thrown off. See the details in Canadian Running: “Is it worth running on a windy day?”

  • Nothing will burst your running bubble of running bliss quite like a blister. Not only are they annoyingly painful, but they can also be dangerous if left untreated. Infections are common, particularly when the underlying cause of the blister is left unresolved. To make sure that doesn’t happen, there are a few things to look out for as you gear up to run. Proper shoe choice, socks, inserts, and moisturizers will make a big difference, so find out what works best in “How To Prevent Heel Blisters From Running Shoes.”

  • Not all energy gels are alike. Some have got caffeine, some don’t. Some have flavor options, others are unflavored. Some are cheap, and some break the bank. To find out what’s best for you, here’s a list of the “11 Best Energy Gels and How to Use Them, According to a Dietitian.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Running by feel is one of the most important skills you can develop as a runner. While fitness trackers and watches are useful tools, they aren’t always available. They can also discourage you from connecting with your body and figuring out intuitively if you need to go faster or slower. So, this week, leave the gadgets behind for a run and find your pace naturally. If you’re not sure how to get started, watch the short video below to see an exercise that will develop your ability to run by feel: “This 5 Minute Test Will Transform Your Running Forever.”


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