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Improve your running by working on your central nervous system

FEB 24, 2023

Minute 1: How the central nervous system affects run performance

We hope this minute doesn’t get on your nerves with too much scientific jargon, but the CNS is a topic that deserves your attention. The Central Nervous System can be just as important to athletic success as a strong cardiovascular system. The CNS is critical to engage your heart, lungs and muscles and for it to do its job properly, it needs to be warmed up, according to: “How Activating the Central Nervous System Before a Workout Improves Performance.” The CNS communicates from our brain to our muscles, causing them to fire when we want to move. Engaging your CNS while you warm up allows you to increase the number of motor units recruited, producing greater force when it comes time to run or to lift a weight. By adding in a bit of high intensity movement into your warmup, like plyometrics or explosive skips, you’ll prime the CNS to give 100% effort. Of course, you’ll want to be careful about CNS burnout, and you can learn all about that in “Central Nervous System Fatigue: Effects on Speed, Power Athletes.” Prolonged exercise or excessive high intensity workouts are the main causes of CNS fatigue, which will limit our ability to achieve and sustain peak performance. Researchers aren’t exactly certain what causes CNS fatigue, but they suspect it could be a feedback mechanism based on the amount of muscle metabolites or neurotransmitters remaining in your system. You should be aware of these: “7 Strategies To Fight CNS Fatigue (Yes, Laying on the Couch Is One of Them).”

Minute 2: Spring is around the corner

As we write to you from our snow-covered Boston office, it’s safe to say we’ve just about reached our limit for winter weather. There’s nothing we want more than to lace up our shoes, step outside, and feel a warm breeze on our cheeks as we run. Outdoor exercise is more than just an added comfort, as it brings all sorts of perks to your health and wellbeing: “What are the benefits of outdoor exercise?” Studies show that exercising in nature can boost your mood and self-esteem, particularly for young people and those with mental illness. You can expect to see lower levels of heart rate, blood pressure, and stress after your outings as well. Those benefits can be a motivating force, since they lead to a more enjoyable experience that increases the time you’re likely to spend working out. If going outdoors in winter is non-negotiable for you, Peloton is dropping its subscription prices and could be the solution: “The Peloton Tread brings personal training to your treadmill.” For anyone that planned on running a spring race, we hope your training has remained on schedule. For anyone that’s fallen off, don’t panic. Here are “7 ways to cram for your spring race.” A common mistake runners make when they’re training at the last minute is overscheduling. If you only have a few weeks to get ready, you shouldn’t start filling your routine with intense workouts every other day. That could lead to burnout and injury. Instead, trainers suggest you redefine your goals and remember this is only one of many races you’ll run.

Minute 3: These foods are healthier than you think

Nutritionists arriving at a unanimous conclusion is about as likely as Democrats and Republicans agreeing on a bill. For every article you find touting a food as healthy, you’re bound to see someone making a contradictory claim elsewhere. In the pursuit of truth, we want to look at some counter arguments on behalf of foods that get a bad rap: “15 Foods That Aren't as Unhealthy as You Think.” It’s not uncommon for recipes to call for egg whites only when making a low-calorie omelet, but is the whole egg really something to avoid? After all, the yolk contains the bulk of its nutrients. Sure, it’s got cholesterol too, but researchers are doubtful that dietary cholesterol found in eggs directly impacts serum cholesterol in a negative way. Then, there’s the question of fresh vs frozen or canned produce. In an ideal scenario, fresh is best, but its nutritional value will decay far faster than other options. Fresh veggies are flash frozen right after being picked, and that preserves the majority of nutrients for up to several months after purchase, provided they’re stored correctly. If you do go the fresh route, consider opting for sprouts and microgreens, which are often faster to grow and more nutritionally dense than their fully grown counterparts. If you're curious about healthy sprouts, read: “Why Broccoli Sprouts Support Brain Health + How To Eat More Of Them.” Broccoli sprouts are one of many options you can grow and eat, but here are a few other options: “What Are Microgreens?

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Saucony Endorphin Elite ($275)

We have never seen our SMM shoe expert Brian Metzler get as excited about a new shoe as he is about Saucony’s Endorphin Elite. It ain’t cheap, but according to Brian, it’s worth every penny. The highlights are below and you can check out Brian’s full review on our website.

Just when I thought Saucony had already produced two of the best high-energy training and racing shoes, it drops another one without warning. The Endorphin Elite released on February 21 and, like the brand’s exceptional Endorphin Pro 3 (racing) and Endorphin Speed 3 (training) models, it’s a best-in-class racing shoe that immediately is on par with the best models on the market.

What’s New: The Endorphin Elite is an entirely new shoe and the new materials that make this shoe what it is are the PWRRUN HG high-rebound midsole cushioning and an articulated carbon fiber propulsion plate with a slotted fork design for adaptive toe-off.

What makes this shoe so special is the energetic ride. In addition to the extremely responsive PWRRUN HG midsole cushioning and springy footbed (made from PWRRUN PB foam), it also features a very aggressive version of SpeedRoll geometry, which means it has a sharp toe spring design that creates a snappy sensation that promotes forward propulsion. Unlike the Endorphin Pro 3, which creates a plush, rolling sensation, the Endorphin Elite creates a feeling like your foot is falling off an edge just before you reach the toe-off phase of a stride. The forked design of the plate — which is a solid piece under the heel but separates into four long narrow flanges under the forefoot — allows your foot to move with its own natural dynamic movement patterns instead being forced into a specific pattern dictated by a solid plate.

Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s one of the most energetic and efficient shoes I’ve ever run in. The moment I slipped them on and laced them up I was inspired to run fast. And in fact, after a mile warm-up, I did a 6 x 300-meter uphill workout that was one of the best and most effortless training sessions I’ve ever done. The extraordinary combination of the responsive foam and very aggressive rocker shape seemed like it was doing all of the work for me. I felt so fast and light on my feet I could barely feel the resistance of running uphill.

For the complete rundown on the new Saucony Endorphin Elite, check out Brian’s full review here. #EliteForces

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • You can’t expect to kick butt as a runner if you’re ignoring your glutes. They play an important role in our running mechanics, but unfortunately, our frequently sedentary world is not ideal for proper development. If you need to check yourself for muscular weakness and get things back in shape, keep an eye out for these “4 Common Signs Of Weak Glutes + How To Strengthen Them.”

  • We feel like bone broth has a bit of a branding challenge. It sounds spooky, and even a little gross, which is too bad. Some experts believe bone broth is one of the most effective ways to combat illness with your nutrition, thanks to its vitamin, mineral, collagen, and amino acid contents. If you’re looking for a way to boost your immunity and bone health, try one of “The 8 Best Bone Broths of 2023.”

  • Technology isn’t always the best thing for our stress levels and mental health. We’re fed heaps of pessimistic news at a steady rate, and that can eat away at our happiness. Is there any hope of technology reducing our stress levels? Polar thinks so, since devices like their watches can track important metrics related to sleep, breathing, and activity so you can fine tune your stress busting lifestyle. Ask yourself this: “Can Technology Help With Managing Your Stress?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We love finding creative ways to get outside during the winter, but truth be told, we’d rather be running in the sun, wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Some hardos like to pound their chilly chests in winter to tell us how much they love cold weather expeditions. Most of us have that one friend or acquaintance who insists they feast on brutally cold winter air – not waiting until spring to wear shorts and a t-shirt. @mattslyon has a funny parody on winter tough guy hikers. Check out his hilarious clip in the link below.


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