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Is the new Apple Watch Ultra worth it?

SEP 14, 2022

Minute 1: The Apple Watch Ultra brings smartwatch capability to the extreme

We attended a wedding a few years ago where the best man was from Texas. His belt buckle was one of the largest we’ve ever seen and his vocal twang was even bigger. “Tim,” he said to the groom, “You’re about to live in a house with pillows that ain’t really pillows and towels that ain’t really towels.” We were reminded of these sage words while reading about the latest Apple Watch – a watch that ain’t really a watch. Apple’s new version is made for endurance athletes of all types, not just those wanting to see what time it is: “Meet Apple Watch Ultra, the new watch for endurance athletes.” This new release offers up to 36 hours of battery life (18 in GPS mode) and has Titanium casing and a sapphire front, making it more durable and scratch resistant than a typical smart watch. We have always been partial to more traditional GPS watches from companies like Garmin and Suunto, but the Apple Watch Ultra is hard to ignore. It now measures key running metrics like stride length, ground contact time and running power. Unlike the Suunto currently on our wrist, Apple provides six metrics at a glance, including segments, splits and elevation. They are able to do that thanks to a larger and higher resolution screen than you can find on standard sports watches. Like its predecessor, the Ultra has a heart rate monitor, ECG, and other tracking features to keep you informed on how your body is doing. If you need a tour of how to get these features going, read “How to get the most out of Apple Health on iPhone and Apple Watch.” By combining with Apple Fitness+, you can get a look into daily calorie expenditure, hours spent standing, and more. Not to mention, there are video workouts included in the service that provide inspiration and guidance. For another take on the Ultra, check out this new review: “Apple Watch Ultra hands-on: Big screen, big battery, big price.”

Minute 2: Unwind with these stretches for better sleep

We always relish the tapering of late August when professional tasks, traffic and family obligations are running at their slowest pace of the year. Then, right after Labor Day, we experience a form of postpartum depression, as the speed of life doubles and our fun in the sun gets cut in half. The only benefit to operating at this higher frequency is that we are often so busy, we don’t have time to inventory our physical aches and pains during our hectic days. Ignoring these little ailments seems to end at bed time, however, when we finally lie down. That’s not just mental, it’s actually hard-wired into our biological clocks. Circadian rhythms control not just our deep sleep cycles (a good thing), but also our hormone and pain regulation. These systems are heightened at bedtime, meaning we are more likely to be aware of pain and discomfort. One solution to this phenomenon is some light physical activity before bed, says sleep expert Carleara Weiss in this new piece: “4 Stretches to try the Next Time You Can’t Get Comfortable Enough to Fall Asleep.” To ease your way into bed, start with a slow walk around your house or yard, and then find a comfortable place to stretch. First, there’s Cat-Cow. Get on your hands and knees and alternate between arching your back up and down. Round your spine, and then tip your head up to relieve back tension. Then, try Child’s pose. This one is good for opening up your hips and posterior chain. Next is Butterfly stretch: While sitting, fold one leg over the other, rest your elbow on your knee, and twist the spine. This should help with upper back and shoulder pain. Last up is Puppy pose. It’s like Downward Dog, but on your knees so that it’s a little more gentle. While we’re on the topic of sleep, Forbes put out a great summary of research answering “How Does Alcohol Impact Sleep?” To put it simply, alcohol can cause you to fall asleep faster, but the quality of sleep you’ll be getting will be worse, so it’s not conducive to rest after all. #SleepingDrills

Minute 3: A guide to effective rest

Speaking of restful recovery, if you ask any coach or pro athlete, they’ll tell you that off days are a necessary part of any exercise schedule. You shouldn’t feel guilty or lazy, they say, for taking time to recover. In fact, it’s the very act of resting that will unlock your full potential as an athlete down the line. If you want to see why, read this new story: “Boost recovery time to become a stronger runner.” As fatigue sets in, we’re often tempted to take half measures in our recovery, opting for a medium intensity run instead of taking the full break we need. According to research, this approach will end up requiring more recovery time in general, and prevent you from ever regaining your full strength. What can you do to avoid the pitfalls of half-measure recovery? First, experts recommend you take at least one full day of rest a week. Depending on your skill level and proximity to a race day, more might be needed. You should also be flexible in the degree of rest you take depending on your circumstances. Spotting signs of injury or completing an especially hard race or workout are all legitimate reasons to increase your time off. If you need help determining how much rest is right, follow the tips in “How Much Should I Rest Between Workouts? | Balancing Training and Recovery.” Measuring various data points can take the guesswork out of your process. A sleep tracker, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability monitoring system can give you insight into how your body is holding up under the stress of training, making it clear if any adjustments should be made.


Minute 4: Boston Marathon registration closes this week

Although it’s too late to sign up for high profile fall marathons like New York, Chicago and Marine Corps, there are still bibs available for excellent U.S. marathons this year. We are highlighting these three since they are late enough in the season to allow for 60+ days of training if you start now: Philladelphia (Nov. 20), Seattle (Nov. 26) and Memphis (Dec. 3). If you have your heart set on running a World Marathon Major, your next opportunity in the U.S. will be in Boston on April 17, 2022. Don’t delay, since the registration window closes this week: “Registration opens for the 127th Boston Marathon.” Generally speaking, you need to run a qualifying time to enter the race and those standards are competitive. A 40-year-old woman needs to have run a 3:40 and a 40-year-old man needs to have a recent 3:10 on his resume. The full qualifying standards can be found on the BAA website here: “Qualify for the Boston Marathon.” Currently, there’s no proof of vaccination requirement to register, but the BAA recommends being fully vaccinated if you plan on attending or competing. #MarathonPlan

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Ripped action movie stars Zach Efron has become quite outspoken about the unrealistic body image expectations for the big screen. This has negative impacts on both actors and viewers. To learn about Zach’s journey to a more realistic lifestyle, check out: “Try Zac Efron's Kettlebell Blaster Workout.” To get ready for films like Baywatch, Efron often woke up at 4 a.m to squeeze in a workout before shooting. The intense workouts and dietary restrictions left him feeling depressed and sleep deprived, so he made a pledge to himself to let go and take on a more balanced approach to fitness.

  • What if we told you there’s a way to make your recovery runs more fun while simultaneously improving your hand/eye coordination and balance? We have former MLS player and fitness Instagrammer Hellah Sibide to thank for this tip: Bring a tennis ball with you. The act of dribbling while running can take a little getting used to, but stick with it and Hellah says it’s the perfect training tool to keep your speed low without boring yourself to death. To learn more, read “Why You Should Try Running With a Tennis Ball.”

  • We’re suckers for long runs on cool fall days. As part of our recovery time spent on the couch watching college football, we like to include a warm bowl of soup balanced on our lap. Soups are a great way to pack extra nutrition in your diet, since it’s easy to fill them up with veggies and muscle-building proteins like chicken or beans. If you’d like some inspiration, take a look at this list of “13 Nourishing and Delicious Fall Soup Recipes.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

As fun as social media can be, it’s no secret that content creators have a tendency to sugar coat their journeys in an unrealistic way. It’s discouraging watching someone thrive in every workout, while knowing all too well just how difficult your own routine can be. Well, we’ve got to give kudos to Cody Ko for his recent training vlog covering his first ever ultramarathon, because it sure wasn’t frictionless. Cody typically makes comedy videos, and while there are plenty of jokes slipped in here, there’s also a healthy amount of honesty regarding the difficulty of the race. It’s worth noting, Cody hadn’t been running much at all before training, and he only gave himself 6 weeks to make it happen. We certainly don’t recommend trying to replicate that timeline, but it’s pretty dang inspiring to watch him take on the challenge. Check out the video in the link here.


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