JUL 6, 2022
Minute 1: Not all inflammation is bad
In general, most of us try to avoid inflammation like a bad haircut or a parking ticket. Swelling can cause discomfort, prevent you from being active, and is often the marker of serious underlying conditions. We’re quick to grab an anti-inflammatory drug or ice pack to get things under control, but is this always the right thing to do? The latest research says no, especially as an athlete aiming for a speedy recovery. See the details in “The Truth About Inflammation And Injury Recovery.” The first thing to note is there are essentially 2 kinds of inflammation: chronic and acute. Chronic inflammation is a daily occurrence that persists over a long period of time, and it’s recommended that you use whatever tools at your disposal to manage it. Acute inflammation, on the other hand, occurs over short periods of time, often as a result of injury or strenuous exercise. Despite our preconceptions, this inflammation may be exactly what the body needs to return to form. The redness and swelling of an injury is brought on by increased blood flow and immune response, where neutrophils, monocytes, antibodies, protein, and other fluids are brought to the damaged tissue to jumpstart the healing process. By taking an anti-inflammatory drug, you may be blocking your body from its natural recovery process, according to: “Oral Ibuprofen Interferes with Cellular Healing Responses in a Murine Model of Achilles Tendinopathy.” Does that mean you should never take ibuprofen after an injury? Probably not, as you have to find a balance between pain management and recovery time. It’s a similar story for icing an injury. Here are “The benefits and dangers of icing injuries for recovery and pain management.” Icing for long periods of time can have a similar detrimental effect on recovery as NSAIDs, but most experts agree that 10 minutes of icing at a time is a good way to reduce pain without significantly impeding your restoration.
Minute 2: Why you need to try trail running if you haven’t already
Trail running can seem like a daunting task, even for an experienced road runner. Like teenagers getting stressed out over report cards or finding a prom date, the fear of the unknown and unexpected can be intimidating for adult athletes. Everyone knows what will happen during a run on a treadmill or on paved roads. But trail running combines the already difficult task of running with the challenging terrain of hiking. It can often involve encounters with wildlife and unmarked paths. Not to mention, trail running is too often associated with ultra marathon events, as many take place off road and up mountains. Trail running, however, can be as hard or as easy as you make it. There is no shame in going for a 2-mile run in the woods. Leaving the pavement can be a great way to switch things up and get lost in a relaxing natural environment. For tips, check out “The Kickstart Guide To Trail Running” from Polar. Running on softer terrain like dirt and grass reduces impact on joints and bones compared to roads and sidewalks. The uneven surfaces can help to develop balance and stabilizer muscles, while decreasing your likelihood of an overuse injury by adding variety into your stride length and running style. Much like the practice of forest bathing, which we covered in our last issue, trail running can be a meditative activity that brings you into the present moment. Paying attention to the landscape around you is rewarding in its own right, and research has shown it’s a great way to relieve stress. If you’re unfamiliar with where to start, there are lots of clubs dedicated to trail running around the country. Take a look at this list of “Trail Running Clubs” to find one near you. #TrailingIndicators
Minute 3: Add this to your diet for better antioxidants and gut health
If you’ve ever seen The Departed, you won’t soon forget this scene letting you know that cranberry juice is a natural diuretic. (Who knew nutritional advice could provoke such a violent response?) That’s only one of many health benefits to be had from this fruit juice, and you can learn a few more in the “Surprising Effects of Drinking Cranberry Juice, Says Science.” Cranberry juice is an excellent source of antioxidants. More specifically, it contains lots of polyphenols, a compound that occurs in various fruits and vegetables which are thought to lower your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. For more details on that, read “What Are Polyphenols? Types, Benefits, and Food Sources.” Cranberry juice has also been shown to bring a positive effect on our microflora gut population. Gut health has a major impact on the rest of our wellbeing, so pair your glass of cranberry juice with a food that contains artichokes for an even better gut bacteria boost. See the details in “Artichokes Are a Super Source of Fiber and Gut-Boosting Prebiotics—Here Are 6 Delicious Recipes To Use Them In.” If probiotics are the main course for healthy gut bacteria, then prebiotics are like the appetizer. Getting a mix of both will provide you with the optimal results for your GI tract.
Minute 4: Should you start your fall marathon training in the summer?
Procrastination can slow down your career, but it can really affect your pace as a marathoner. If you try to jump into a long distance race with only weeks instead of months of serious training, you’re likely going to have a rough day on the course. Cardiovascular strength and aerobic capacity take time to develop. Rushing that process can lead to training injuries and bruised egos when friends see your finish time. So the question is: How early is too early to begin preparing? You may find the answer in “When should you start fall marathon training?” From Canadian Running. Of course the answer will vary depending on the individual and it has a lot to do with your experience level. Beginner and intermediate runners may need as much as 6 months of training to be fully prepared. If that sounds like you, then you better get used to training in the summer heat. That can be difficult, but also rewarding, according to “The Surprising Benefits of Running in Heat.” It turns out that training in hot weather and humidity isn’t so different from training at altitude. Both of them put greater demand on your cardiovascular system, and as your body adapts to perform in the heat, your heart will get stronger. When the weather cools off for that fall marathon, your body will have extra energy to spend that would have otherwise gone toward maintaining a healthy body temperature. For more advanced runners, you can likely get away with between 2 to 4 months of training, so long summer runs may be optional for you.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Athletes who’ve contracted Covid know that it can lock down your exercise routine just as it can lock down your hometown. If you’ve had a bout with Covid and started your recovery, only to find you’re not as far along the way to normalcy as you thought, you’re not alone. Even if it produces symptoms akin to an average flu, it can often take twice as long to recover – and in some cases, far longer. If you want to know what to expect about running after an infection, check out: “The Race to the Start Line: Returning to Running After Having Covid-19.”
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by heart health advice these days. Heck, in this issue alone, we’ve mentioned several foods and behaviors that will have an effect on your ticker. By looking at just 8 metrics, you can get a snapshot of cardiovascular health in a few minutes according to this new piece:“Improve Your Heart Health With This Checklist.” There's now an eight-point checklist from the American Heart Association to let you know how your heart health compares to your peers. You can take their quiz here.
Speaking of heart health, one of the most underrated ways to improve it is through yoga. “Improve your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and overall wellness with yoga and fitness trackers.” We’ll be the first to admit, fitness trackers and yoga are not an obvious pairing, the way they are with running or cycling. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of useful info they can provide as you go through a vinyasa: “No, tracking yoga with your Fitbit or Garmin isn't completely useless.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
We’ve been fortunate to enjoy some excellent views as part of our hikes and trail runs. The vistas always seem more enjoyable when you have earned your way to them rather than “cheated” by looking out the window of an airplane or skyscraper. This quick video caught our eye as it showcases a hike through a waterfall, a cave exploration, and the lush green foliage of the Pacific Northwest. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a cold adult beverage at a popular beach or lake to toast our nation’s birthday, but we hope your holiday weekend included a few experiences like this, away from the madding crowd.