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Is heel strike running dangerous?

Minute 1: Let these apps guide you off the beaten path

Albert Einstein once said “You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.” We’re inclined to agree. For runners, that means using all the technology at your disposal to find the best trails and routes around. Not sure where to start or tired of your same old routes? Take a look at “How Do I Find Running Trails Near Me? Try These Apps” from Polar which listed the top 3 apps for trail discovery along with a couple of back-up options. For detailed maps, GPS watch compatibility, and even turn-by-turn guides, Polar suggests Komoot. For increased social function and some healthy virtual competition, Strava is probably the way to go. With Strava Routes, you can see where your friends and other runners have been so you can find the most popular trails and the hidden gems. The last option is Alltrails, which doesn’t have the same level of smart device connectivity as the previous 2, but can still be a game changer. It’s a crowdsourced database of trail info, reviews, and maps, so you know exactly what you’re getting into with each new trail. Trail running is most popular in the warmer months, but don’t let the cold impede your adventure. For tips on how to stay safe, read “Winter Trail Running: How to Tackle Mud, Snow, Ice, and More.” One key factor is to watch your fluid intake, as dehydration can drop your core temperature. If possible, bring a thermos with a warm beverage to minimize your risk.

Minute 2: Should you run with a forefoot or heel strike?

Chris McDougall really poked the hornet’s nest when he published his book Born to Run, igniting the debate between forefoot and heel strikers. Both sides claim their method improves performance and reduces injury. If you want a refresher on the topic, check out this new piece published last week: “Forefoot Running vs Heel Strike – Which Technique is Best?” The forefoot proponents’ thesis is that by wearing overly padded shoes, our gait is altered, and instead of landing on the ball of our feet, we land on the heel. The energy is therefore absorbed in the knees, rather than dispersed throughout the foot, ankle, and calf. Does that make forefoot striking superior? Well, minimalist running shoe companies would certainly say so. Their opposition, however, claims that forefoot striking doesn’t remove the risk of injury, it just relocates it. What does the scientific literature reveal? For that, see “(Uninjured) Heel-Strikers, Rejoice! Change to Forefoot Striking Not Necessary, Research Shows.” According to the study referenced, if you’ve been heel striking without abnormal injury frequency thus far, there’s no need to change things up. What about performance? In the short term, switching your running form in any way may reduce running economy, since you’ll be using different muscles that need time to adapt. The counterpoint, however, is that an abundance of elite runners (but not all) at various distances are forefoot strikers, including the world’s fastest marathoner. To see an analysis, watch “PERFECT RUNNING FORM - 5 Tips ALL Runners Can Learn from Eliud Kipchoge.” If Eliud is doing it, there must be something to it. #FootFetish

Minute 3: 2 workouts a day isn’t just for pro athletes

In a world full of #riseandgrind motivational posts, hardcore fitness influencers, and photoshopped models, it can start to feel like healthy living is only for a select few. Many of those folks work out multiple times per day, because that’s their job. Those of us with a day job sometimes struggle to fit in 1 workout, let alone multiple sweat sessions. But maybe that’s because we’ve been approaching it the wrong way. Take a look at “How (and Why) to Do Two Workouts a Day.” Instead of using it as a method to exercise longer, it can be the opposite. Let’s say you exercise for an hour a day right now. You could probably swap that out for a couple 20-minute exercises, and see similar results. By breaking things down into smaller segments, you’ll have more energy to ensure the quality of your workout remains high throughout, and the total time you have to commit will reduce. The second approach is to do 2 workouts at a lower intensity. No, this isn’t much of a time saver. However, if you’re someone who struggles to find motivation, splitting up your exercise workload makes the challenge more manageable, helping you stay consistent day in, day out. Two workouts a day can also allow you to grow in the areas of physical activity you’ve been neglecting, like flexibility or balance. That’s what 1 fitness advocate reported in “I Exercised Twice a Day for 75 Days — Here’s What Happened.” Workout number 2 doesn’t have to be a several mile run or heavy lifting session. Yoga, stretching, or light bodyweight exercises are all good options to supplement your routine and achieve new heights.

Minute 4: Should cars be eliminated from major cities?

What if we told you there was a simple solution to make cities greener, quieter and less congested -- while also promoting the fitness level of endurance athletes. We would have to make just one tiny sacrifice: No more cars. Okay, that’s not a tiny sacrifice. That’s a big ask, we know. But many environmental groups are promoting the idea as a practical improvement to city life. During our visit to New York for the marathon earlier this month, we were impressed with the number of Citi Bikes and electric scooters on the streets. We were also a little spooked. Those are safer vehicles than cars in every sense, except when they are mixed on the same streets as cars. We saw 1 nasty bike/car crash over that weekend and several more near misses. If you want to daydream about a safer and healthier city experience, check out this new piece: “‘What if we just gave up cars?’: Cop26 leaders urged to dream big.” At a recent climate summit in Glasgow, several nations and major automakers pledged to fully replace fossil fuel cars and replace them with electric vehicles. In their view, EV adoption is progress, but it's still ignoring the optimal solution: A focus on designing cities for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation. Car-free zones are a dream come true for many runners and bikers. Some areas have already found success in a limited capacity: “Cities experiment with car-free streets.” Cities in the United States have a long way to go if we decide to pursue this direction, but in the meantime, we’ve got lists for “The Best Cities for Cyclists,” and “Best Cities for Runners – 2021 Edition,” to help you figure out the best options as of now.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • In last week’s issue, we brought you up to speed on naps. If you’re ready for your next sleep knowledge drop, you’ve come to the right place. This time, we’re looking at how the winter alters sleep habits. Of course, shorter, darker days mean less exposure to sunlight, which plays an important role in circadian rhythm regulation. There’s also the temperature issue -- your house may get too cold as winter temps drop, or even too hot if you overdo it on the thermostat. Both can affect the quality of sleep. To learn how to address these and other sleep challenges, read “5 ways winter affects your sleep” from Canadian Running magazine.

  • How many people do you know who went from running their first 5k to completing a marathon in their first year of running? Spencer Dukoff recalls his experiences in a compelling write-up, showing us just how far you can get with a clear goal and a bit of hard work. If you want to learn what worked for him, read “My Goal Was to Run a 5K. One Year Later, I Completed the NYC Marathon.”

  • Flu season, booster shots, and covid variants continue to dominate the news these days, and it has us wondering: what can we do to help our immune systems fight their battles? Lucky for us, CNN is on top of it with their latest all-encompassing guide. They cover everything from anti-inflammatories, the role of vitamins and minerals in immune function, and more. If you want to learn how to use food as your medicine, take a look at “How to use food to boost your immune system.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We’ve got to give props to @sole_treadmills this week. Like most runners, we have a strong preference for running outdoors over logging miles on the hamster wheel. It’s nice to see that even a treadmill company agrees with that sentiment and is even willing to broadcast that opinion through a paid advertisement. The new ad from Sole not only professes a love for “real” running, but it also contains some good footage of runners enjoying the outdoors. Their video lists 4 truths of running that are simple but effective reminders of why we do what we do. Whether it’s an intentional reference to Buddhism or not is a mystery to us, but in any case, we hope the lessons they share help you reach your own running enlightenment this week.

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