SEP 27, 2023
Minute 1: Running on grass can refresh your step
Years ago we visited New Zealand and quickly learned that it was our kind of country. From the window of the shuttle bus to our hotel, we spied the first grass running track we’d ever seen. The turf would make the greenskeeper at Augusta National jealous and the lanes were crisply marked with fresh white chalk. After changing at the hotel, we ran back to this Auckland oasis and enjoyed some running geek nirvana. It reminded us of the champagne hurdling scene in Chariots of Fire. We hadn’t thought about that track in a long time until this story hit our feed: “5 reasons to run on grass this fall.” Most marathoners race and train primarily on the road, but research suggests that you should vary your running surface from time to time – and grass just may be the perfect choice. For starters, it can reduce the impact forces of running. Grass is soft and forgiving, making you less prone to things like shin splints or joint pain. Just beware of twisted ankles, because the uneven surface can surprise you with divots if you aren’t careful. The irregular surface can be a benefit, too, causing you to recruit more stabilizer muscles and develop your balance. That's true whether you’re running or walking, and for more on the subject, check out: “Why You Should Add Uneven Terrain to Your Walking Routine.” Believe it or not, many races used to take place on grass tracks, and we even dug up a report of a sub-4 minute mile run on grass all the way back in 1965: “May, Keino produce thrilling Mile clashes during New Zealand tour.” That story got us wondering, has a faster mile been run on grass since then? If any of our readers know the answer, please send us an email to fill us in!
Minute 2: Simplify your running to stay on track
In the U.S Navy, they follow the acronym KISS: “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” When stakes are high and you need to deliver, you don’t want to overcomplicate your processes, and some experts think that advice is applicable to runners and sailors alike. That’s why you may want to follow these: “Three Golden Rules to Keep Your Running Simple.” It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the data at our fingertips thanks to fitness trackers and smartphones. That can be a real trap for anyone who’s prone to seeking perfection, and you might get caught up trying to optimize the small details like running cadence or flight time. There are times when it makes sense to dive into the details, but according to coach and pro ultrarunner Liza Howard, most of the time “you just need to get out and run.” The advice can be boiled down to this: “Run regularly. Not too fast. Mostly trails.” It’s not just runners who can benefit from simplifying. If your workout routines could benefit from getting back to basics, try some of the tips listed in “5 Ways to Simplify Your Exercise.” According to the article, targeting large muscle groups with short but intense exercise is one of the fastest ways to make major gains in your fitness level.
Minute 3: When should you supplement probiotics?
What do the nutrition pros think about probiotics? Well, it’s a nutrition category that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, as probiotics show a lot of promise for improving your overall health. However, some benefits are more certain than others, as you can see in: “The 2 Times You Should Take Probiotic Supplements, According to Gastroenterologists.” This may come as no surprise, but when taking an antibiotic, your doctor may recommend pairing it with a probiotic supplement. Since antibiotics wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in your body, you’ll need to help rebuild your microbiome to get back to normal levels. Probiotics are also used after getting J-pouch surgery, aka, ileoanal anastomosis surgery, which is a treatment for severe IBS and certain cases of color or rectal cancer. Beyond that, probiotics may help with general GI issues like bloating or constipation, but there’s no guarantee they’ll solve the problem. If you want to learn more about how probiotics can help, check out “Probiotics” from Cleveland Clinic. While we’re on the subject of treating ailments with food, we should mention these “7 Foods That Fight Back: Immune System Boosters.” Now that flu season is back, we’re on the lookout for natural ways to improve our resistance to infection, and foods with Omega-3s, protein, and magnesium are some of the most effective choices.
Minute 4: Is it okay to sleep in?
On a typical college Sunday, we managed to snooze until the sun was already high in the sky. Sleeping in was – and is – one of life’s simple pleasures. With the responsibilities of work, family and fitness, however, it’s hard to sleep much later than 6:30 or 7:00 am without feeling a twinge of guilt. According to this new story, this weekend indulgence is actually quite productive: “Actually, Experts Now Recommend Sleeping in on Weekends—But Only for This Much Time.” Getting adequate sleep means getting enough quality, quantity, and regularity in your schedule. Our WHOOP data constantly reminds us that going to bed and waking up at the same time can have a significant positive impact on your sleep quality. However, if you’re not getting enough hours of rest, research suggests it’s worth shifting your wakeup time a little later to compensate. The key is getting out of bed within 2 hours of your normal wakeup time, or else you risk disrupting your regularity and altering your circadian rhythm. For some folks, napping is the best way to re-energize on a busy day, but just like changing your wake time, napping can disrupt your sleep schedule. For more on that, read this piece from the NYT: “Can Napping Make Up for Lost Sleep? What to Know About Health Benefits.” Since sleep cycles occur in 90-minute intervals, it’s not really possible to enter deep sleep during a quick nap, and that’s when most of the restorative processes from sleep occur. Even still, napping after a night of poor sleep can improve your memory and reaction time, making it a useful tool to get through the workday.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
In Minute 2 of this issue, we took a look at an antidote to muscle cramps – pickle juice. One of our readers wrote to tell us that we should also mention another culinary remedy for cramps. It seems that Brian and many other runners swear by mustard as their cramping cure, and researchers are trying to find out how it works: “Is Mustard Good for Cramps?” There are a few different theories, such as the presence of electrolytes like sodium and potassium, or its anti-inflammatory action thanks to turmeric.
The world runs at a breakneck pace these days, and it’s important to take a moment to slow things down. For some, standard yoga is calming enough, but there’s a version known as yin yoga that’s even more gradual in its flow. Poses can be held for upwards of 10 minutes, and if you want to see how to get started, read: “How to master the art of yin yoga for beginners.”
Most of you have probably heard the advice that you should wait an hour after eating before you go for a swim. Well, it turns out some dieticians recommend a similar practice for runners, since failing to give yourself time to digest can result in cramping, heartburn, and more. Everything you need to know about pre-run meal scheduling can be found in “What Happens if You Run Right After Eating? Debunking the Myth.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Sometimes, the most rewarding victories aren’t the ones we earn alone, but rather, the ones we record together. There are three young cross country runners who know this well, and their remarkable display of sportsmanship was captured at a recent event in Michigan. A runner was on his way to a second place finish when he fell to the ground right before the line. Two competitors passed him and then – to the surprise of onlookers – they returned, helped the fallen runner to his feet, and allowed him to retake his place as they all crossed the line together. Just in case you needed another reason to be grateful for the running community.