Minute 1: If you want to live longer, don’t rely on diets or weight loss
Most of us enjoy staying fit for its own sake, but we also like the prospect of living longer by working out. Who doesn’t want to play bingo, make inappropriate comments without repercussion, and yell at kids to turn down their damn music in our later years? While there has been some research in the past tying thinner bodies to longer lifespans, for those of us who like a pre-dinner snack as much as a pre-dawn run, there is good news about weight and longevity: “Want to Live Longer? New Study Shows You Should Focus More on Exercise Than Weight Loss.” Researchers reviewed more than 200 studies on the subject, finding that exercise lowered premature death rates in previously sedentary people by about 30%. That’s about twice as effective as weight loss can be. In some cases, weight loss through dieting seemed to have no effect on mortality at all, so calorie counting and strict dieting rules should be taken with a grain of salt. For a more intuitive approach, read “How to Eat Healthier Without Tracking Calories.” Combined with exercise, sources of lean protein are an excellent way to fuel up and build muscle, while eating plenty of vegetables keeps you feeling full while providing nutrition, rather than empty calories.
Minute 2: How running surfaces change our experience (or don’t)
Like the Daft Punk song says, sometimes you’ve got to go “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Well, maybe not all the time, but you can’t be afraid of hard work if you want to see results as a runner. Running hard is essential, but what about hard surfaces? Are they too taxing on your legs? The answer might surprise you as described in “Does running on soft surfaces decrease your risk for injury?” You’d think that a softer surface would impose less force on your joints and muscles, and therefore lower the risk of injury. Some research indicates that is not the case, hypothesizing that the body adapts to the softer surface by stiffening up, causing you to apply more force to the ground to make up for its own softness. That can actually increase your risk of achilles injuries, for example, not reduce it. That’s something to watch out for, but assuming you’re injury free, you shouldn’t stop running on soft surfaces altogether, as dirt paths bring their own benefits, according to “3 Reasons Trail Running Can Prevent Your Next Injury.” One benefit is the introduction of roots, rocks, and other uneven surfaces, requiring you to shorten your stride for stability. A shorter stride means a lower chance of falling. Additionally, the softness of the dirt returns less energy from your footstrike, slowing you down. That natural speed limit makes trails a great place for recovery runs.
Minute 3: The right way to replenish post-run
In addition to tendonitis and texting drivers, one of the dangers of running is that following a workout you believe you’ve earned the right to eat and drink whatever you’d like. We have certainly rewarded ourselves after a hot summer run with a cold summer ale, but we should really be keeping hydration much simpler according to “Drinking Water After Running - Why Is It Important.” According to this piece, the sooner you can hydrate, the better. Another rule of thumb is that for every 1 kg of water weight lost from sweat, you should drink 1 liter of water after your run. If you’re wondering how much you perspire during a run, you can learn more in this guide published by Runner’s World a few years ago: “How to Find Your Sweat Rate.” Of course, water isn’t all you need to replenish. If you’re feeling particularly fatigued or cramped, that’s a sign you need electrolytes. Look for a sports drink with potassium, sodium and magnesium to rebalance your levels. Finally, be sure to address your body’s macronutrient requirements. Running burns up carbs; your main source of energy. You’ll also want to get protein, which provides the building blocks for muscle repair. Luckily, there’s a simple drink that covers both of these: Chocolate milk. If you want to go beyond just macronutrients, here’s support for the idea that using your blender is the way to go: “This Is The Smoothie Tom Brady Drinks Pretty Much Every Day.” The walnuts, almond butter, protein powder, and blueberries form a recovery cocktail that the NFL’s all time leading passer consumes on the regular.
Minute 4: Beginner tips that will help veterans
As we finish up this issue tucked behind a sponsor booth at the Boston Marathon expo, we are struck by how happy this sea of very fit people look. Clearly, the 18-month hiatus from Boston 2019 hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm. Boston is somewhat unique among large marathons in that most people must hit a qualifying time in order to get a bib. That means there are relatively few newbies among the field. Even so, we are confident that even these folks clad in blue and yellow will enjoy this new piece: “12 Distance Running Tips For Beginners.” We like almost everything about this list from Joanna Thompson -- a professional runner and top-10 Boston Marathon finisher -- except maybe the title. She shares her wisdom on strides, intervals and the right way to do an easy day. Thompson also agrees with the results of a recent study showing that the perfect pair of running shoes for you are typically the ones that feel most comfortable. (Shameless sponsor plug: you can check out the latest fall shoe arrivals in this guide from Fleet Feet.)
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Cooler temps deliver not only beautiful foliage, but also perfect running conditions. The only bad part of this season is that there’s not enough daylight to fully enjoy it. Fear not. Our friends at Fleet Feet want to extend your running hours and ensure you make it home safely. Check out their pre-dawn and post-dusk essentials in this helpful guide.
Advances in health monitoring have evolved remarkably in the last few years. It started with heart monitors, calorie trackers, and GPS devices. Now, technology that was once reserved for diabetes treatment is available to all, letting you track your blood sugar levels quickly and painlessly. Shalane Flanagan just endorsed InsideTracker, a blood analysis solution for athletes. These are powerful tools, but they come at a cost. Where is all that data ending up, and can it be exploited against you? Take a look at “Intimate data: can a person who tracks their steps, sleep and food ever truly be free?”
We always appreciate constructive criticism and corrections from our readers. We receive lots of these notes from all of you, but we have never received a correction from someone as respected as Roger Robinson, one of the most prolific masters runners and authors in the history of the sport. Robinson pointed out that we incorrectly stated that Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Rome Olympic marathon in the stadium, when in fact that race finished under the Arch of Constantine. Robinson is the author of “When Running Made History,” which Outside magazine has called “one of the best running books ever written―if not the very best.”
We’ve got a low impact exercise showdown: biking vs walking. There’s a lot to consider, like the rate of calories burned, percentage of max heart rate reached, etc. Ultimately, what’s best for you will probably depend on your goals, as well as your other fitness habits. For the full breakdown, read “Is bike riding better for you than walking?”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Feet are integral to healthy and successful running. But let’s be honest, how much time do you spend thinking about the strength and flexibility of your feet versus your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips? That ratio is probably way out of whack, especially considering a human foot has 26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Feet are central to human locomotion, and it’s essential you take care of them if you want to perform and stay healthy. California physical therapist JP Gloria, DPT, breaks down how to care for a runner’s most complex appendage. His video on the subject, below, gives important training tips. If you want to expand your knowledge, you may also want to check out this story: “Foot Strengthening Exercises For Runners.”