JUL 14, 2023
Minute 1: Can you run a sub-3 hour marathon?
When it comes to setting goals, you’ve got to be SMART about it. That stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, and for a more in depth explanation, check out “SMART Goals.” The acronym helps you aim at a reasonable target, rather than setting impossibly high standards. You can see how it applies to endurance athletes in this blog post from ASICS: “What are SMART Running Goals?” But if you want to apply this concept to a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), check out this new piece from Polar: “Dreaming of A Sub-3 Hour Marathon.” Running a sub-3 hour marathon is about as lofty as goals get for an amateur athlete. Fewer than 5% of marathoners will clock in below 3:00, and it takes years of hard work to accomplish. At first, that might sound unachievable for most of us, but by using smaller SMART goals to make incremental progress, you just might get there. Eduardo Alonso has made the sub-3 hour marathon his ultimate fitness goal, but he recommends first attempting a 3-hour pace in a 10K, and then a half-marathon. You can use this “Marathon Pace Chart – Miles” to figure out how fast each needs to be, as well as how close you are to your overarching goal.
Minute 2: Beach runs can transform your performance this summer
A day at the beach, like a box of chocolates, is a phrase meaning something that’s easy and relaxed. While we’re all for summer chill time, we usually get too restless in a folding chair and look for a way to burn off some excess energy and work up a sweat. Beach running can be a way to enjoy the sun and sand while pushing your underdeveloped leg muscles in ways that road running can’t. If you’re concerned with injury prevention and handling the social media “shame” of slower-than-usual paces on your Strava feed, check out: “Everything To Know About Running on Sand (Including Why It Feels So Much Harder).” Paradoxically, the soft sand texture is the reason why beach running is so hard on your muscles. There’s a lot more stabilization your leg and feet muscles will have to do, and that can make it hard to find your stride. Over time, your feet and ankles will become stronger, which can help prevent injury while running on any kind of surface. Additionally, running near the coast can bring mental benefits thanks to the “blue zone” effect, as we mentioned in Minute 4 of our last issue. The benefits of beach running are similar to trail running, as each can be a tool to avoid overuse injuries that are most common among road runners. Here is “How Your Body Handles Trail Running Versus Road Running.” Just like beach running, the uneven terrain of trails will work your feet and ankles more. They’ll get stronger over time, but be careful in the early stages of beach or trail running and pace yourself.
Minute 3: These foods can improve your vision and athletic performance
This might sound like an oxymoron, but some nutrition experts will tell you to eat with your eyes, not your mouth. Okay, not literally speaking, of course, but the message is that our intuition about our food’s appearance can help create a healthy and complete diet. For example, the color of your food may indicate what nutrients it contains, according to: “Can the colour of your food affect your running performance?” Lutein and zeaxanthin are both a kind of compound known as a carotenoid, and they can make or break your vision. This yellow pigment is used by the eye to help block out blue light, the kind of light emanating from the sun and our phone screens, allowing for a sharper, more contrasting image of the world. That means you’ll have an easier time spotting potential disruptions on your running path, leading to a safer and faster run. As you might expect, foods that appear yellow and orange in color will contain these carotenoids, and that’s not the only visual cue you can use while planning a meal. If you want tips on where to find other healthy phytochemicals in your food, take a look at “The Nutrition Of Colorful Fruits And Vegetables.”
Minute 4: Shoe Review: Nike Ultrafly ($250)
Our shoe reviewer Brian Metzler explains that Nike has been a little schizophrenic when it comes to the company’s dedication to trail running shoes. The Beaverton behemoth has been in and out of the market for more than 20 years. It seems that Nike is now fully devoted to the segment and according to Brian, the Nike Ultrafly has the potential to be one of the best performance training/racing shoes ever made for trail running. The shoe won’t be on store shelves until August, but Brian was able to get a hold of a pair recently. He hits the highlights below and you can read his full review of the Ultraflys on our website.
Nike unveiled a prototype version of the Nike Ultrafly last summer for athletes, select retailers and media/influencers to test out and, honestly, I thought it was pretty good but far from perfect. It was lightweight and had a hyper-responsive foam midsole, but it lacked sufficient traction and stability. To its credit, Nike’s trail shoe crew took the constructive feedback and went back to make several key tweaks, and the final product is exceptional. No matter if you’re a frequent trail runner who likes to run races or just an occasional trail runner who likes to meander, this is definitely a shoe worth checking out when it hits stores in early August.
What’s New: The Ultrafly has the same full Zoom X midsole as its Vaporfly and Alphafly road racing models and a similar curvy carbon-fiber propulsion plate embedded in the middle. Although the foam is soft and responsive, it’s not marshmallowy mushy because it’s been tightly wrapped by a thin, durable fabric material that protects and stabilizes the foam upon impact with the ground. The other key element of the Ultrafly is the Vibram MegaGrip Lite Base outsole for lightweight traction. (It’s the first time Nike has ever partnered with Vibram, which is a good sign that Nike was all-in on designing a near-flawless shoe.)
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it because of the energetic vibe it serves up in every step. Several brands have tried to implement carbon-fiber plates into trail running shoes, but so far only a few have got it right. (Hoka’s Tecton X 2 and Summit Vectiv Pro are two of the best so far.) Nike hasn’t released details about the shape or configuration of the Flyplate inside the foam midsole, but, as always with trail running shoes, it’s less about the actual components and more about how the sum of the parts and how they all fit together when you’re running over dirt, mud, rocks, roots, gravel and other debris. Suffice to say that Nike has figured it out with the Ultrafly. (Tyler Green wore a pair of Nike Ultraflys on his way to finishing second at the Western States 100 in June, but he wore a custom version without the plate.)
For Brian’s full review of the forthcoming Nike Ultrafly, check it out here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Have you ever wondered: “What’s the Best Sport for Increasing Life Expectancy?” Some researchers are now saying that your best bet is a racquet sport like tennis or pickleball. That’s largely due to the fact that it’s easy to learn and inherently social, according to research done by the Copenhagen CityHeart Study. Pickleball players appeared to increase life expectancy up to 9.7 years, but it’s worth noting critics of similar studies aren’t totally convinced. They’ve argued it’s not the racquet sports themselves having an impact. Rather, it just so happens that it’s a popular sport among wealthy people, and that wealth is the more significant factor in extending one’s life.
There are all sorts of reasons for lower back pain among runners, including muscle imbalances, lack of core strength, and SI joint inflammation, just to name a few. The good news is, if you suffer from back pain, we’ve got just the stretching routine to help you out. Here are “10 Lower Back Stretches to Relieve Back Pain, According to Experts.”
Endurance athletes generally focus on the development of slow-twitch muscle fibers. They’re more efficient at saving energy and won’t burn out too quickly – exactly what you need to cover longer distances. But that’s not to say you won’t benefit from building up some fast twitch fibers as well. They can make you faster, more agile, and less injury prone, which is why you should read up on “Fast Twitch Muscles: About, Benefits, Exercises & More.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
It’s not often you find an ordinary person in their 90s still challenging themselves with fitness goals, but Dave Keaggy is anything but ordinary. He’s 97 years old, a World War II veteran, and a lifelong athlete who’s stayed in great shape for decades. It started in his 20s, when he would challenge himself to do as many pushups as possible on his birthday. The tradition lived on, leading him to go skydiving in his 70s, benching 225 pounds in his 80s, and this year, he performed a 100-pound farmer’s carry all the way around his gym’s basketball court. It’s that tenacious attitude that has him confident he’ll live to 100 years old and beyond. After watching his birthday celebration workout video below, we wouldn’t bet against David hitting the century mark in full stride.