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Launching our new shoe review site

MAY 18, 2022

Minute 1: Is Barre class helpful for runners

Barre classes have made a big comeback, as devotees have jumped at the chance to “sauter” back into shape. Following a setback during the pandemic, last year more than 3 million Americans paid up to $40 a class for the privilege of sweating through their $120 leggings. For runners looking to expand their cross-training options, is barre more fad or fundamental? According to this story from Runner’s World, “I did a month of barre classes - here’s what happened to my running,” barre delivers much needed benefits for runners. One veteran barre instructor explains that “runners are notorious for having weak glutes and tight hamstrings, and some struggle to engage their abdominals, which can make a massive impact on running efficiency.” Barre works these muscles in a small range of motion. Think inches of pulsing your legs rather than a full lunge. The goal is long lean muscles and flexibility which can help avoid running injuries. If you need more convincing, check out this recent piece: “Top 6 Health Benefits of Barre Workouts.” According to the Barre Blog, about 95% of classes are typically female, but companies like Pure Barre are trying to change that for obvious business reasons. They have introduced Bring On The Men! events at most locations and allow first timers of all genders to try a class for no fee. If you’d like to experiment with a variety of barre studios, you can take advantage of the Class Pass 30-day trial which they offer for no charge and apparently no strings attached.

Barre has its roots in classic ballet, which “mainstream” professional athletes have turned to for decades. Back in the ‘70s, Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann used ballet to prepare for the rigors of the NFL according to this story from the NYT: “Ballet Dancer On a Ball Field.” Swann’s tradition continued decades later when a burly Steelers’ nose tackle had this to say: “Steve McLendon: Ballet is 'harder than anything else I do'.” If you really want some athletic inspiration, check out this ad produced by Under Armour for star ballerina Misty Copeland, eventually viewed more than 3 million times across all channels. Copeland’s back story is just as inspiring as her dancing, having gone from living in a motel with a single mother and 5 siblings to worldwide fame. The New Yorker profiled her in this moving piece: “An Unlikely Ballerina.”

Minute 2: How to return to running the safe way

If you’re among the 50% of runners who have been injured in the past year, or you’re among the 100% of athletes who have experienced work/life/sports balance issues, chances are you will need to plan a return to running at some point. The New York Times provided a confidence boost last week with this story: “Getting Back Into Running Is Easier Than You Think.” If you’ve developed muscle before, it will take you less time to regain it after a break than it took to build in the first place. That’s true for short layoffs, but some experts believe this benefit will persist through several years of inactivity. Even though your progress will be faster, you still need to adopt a schedule designed for beginners. Jumping right back into a high level training program may cause injury, so consider using a combination of walking and running to give yourself time to adjust. That’s one of the tips you can read about in this guide from Strava: “How to Return to Running After an Injury.” Another useful method is to increase the frequency of runs before you increase the volume. One 10K run will put a lot more strain on your body than 2 5Ks on back-to-back days. It’s typically best to ramp up to 4-5 days a week before you take on any major volume. #RunBack

Minute 3: Make the most of your meal prep

Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Granted, he was probably speaking to an audience of patriots fighting for their freedom, but the maxim applies whether you are preparing your flintlock musket or 5-day meal plan. When it comes to your diet and health, meal preparation can make a surprising impact. If you want to give it a shot, check out these “6 Best Meal Prep Habits Recommended By Dietitians.” Modern meal prep means preparing, cooking and storing your food ahead of time. By doing so, you’ll ensure that you are fueling with nutritious food, not just whatever is quickest after a busy day of work and family obligations. You will also spend less time overall at the stove and it can help you select healthy portion sizes. Everyone knows that you shouldn’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry; think of meal prep as the same tip, but on a smaller scale. Rather than listening to your stomach, which can often bring us to eating more than we need, meal prep allows you to dish out food according to what you know is healthy. Meal prep has been shown to help maintain a healthy weight. That benefit and more are described in “8 Scientific Benefits of Meal Prepping.” It’s a pretty easy habit to pick up, since all you really need to do it is food and some containers, like the ones in “The Best Meal Prep Containers to Buy for 2022.”

Minute 4: Shoe review: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12

We are very fired up to launch a new feature in Six Minute Mile that we expect to bring you several times per month. Our friend and shoe expert Brian Metzler will be diving into new running shoe releases periodically, beginning with this new edition of the New Balance classic 1080. Here are the first 2 paragraphs of Brian’s review. For the full details, head to this link on our website.

The Shoe. The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12 is one of those shoes that just makes running feel good. It’s cushy, comfortable, consistent and it has a cool, clean look. It’s an opulent shoe that you’ll be inspired to lace up because you know it has a plush, cozy interior and serves up a buttery-smooth, resilient ride. As I wear-tested it this spring, I was left wondering why all of the shoes in my quiver weren’t this good. There’s a $10 price bump over the previous version — as is the case with almost every shoe in 2022 — but you definitely get what you pay for.

Why It’s Great: The 1080 has always been a superlative maximally cushioned trainer, but, generally speaking, New Balance keeps finding a way to make it marginally better every spring. The premium Fresh Foam X midsole compound has been a key part of its makeup for years, but now there’s a little bit more of it. And more is definitely better! The small refinements, creature comforts and long-haul durability also play a big role in making this shoe so exceptional.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Finding the right pace in a marathon is a daunting task. There’s a lot of ground between you and the finish line, meaning a lot of opportunity to go too fast, causing yourself to burn out. Many coaches like the idea of running even splits – the last mile should be done in the same time as the first. On the other hand, pro ultra runners like Nick Coury think that a negative split, running the second half of a race faster than the first, limits your risk for a pacing error, and helps you mentally overcome the hardest parts of the race. See if you agree by reading “Why you should aim for a negative split in the marathon.”

  • It’s no secret that Peloton has been having a rough year, financially speaking. Their early pandemic sales boom has long since faded, and investors doubt they’ll return any time soon. They’re probably feeling like they need to try something new, which could be the reason behind their latest rumored addition to the lineup of fitness smart devices: a rowing machine. Financial woes aside, we’ve always been impressed with the products and service Peloton provides, and we’re excited that “Peloton Hints That an Interactive Rowing Machine Is On the Way.”

  • Did you know that when you run, a force equivalent to 3-8 times your body weight is delivered to your skeletal system? One of the most important muscles involved in absorbing that impact is the calf. In addition to injury prevention, strong calves can make or break your stride length, as they provide you with that last bit of propulsion at the end of each step as you run. If you want to build calf strength, check out “The 5 Best Leg Workouts for Men to Get Sculpted Calves.” (Of course the moves apply to women as well.)

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Even though the pace of treatments or a cure for autism is moving too slowly for our liking, at least society has made progress about how we consider those with the condition. Of course it can present profound challenges, but we have learned to appreciate folks like those profiled in: “5 top athletes with autism.” A close friend just published this book about how a passion for skiing saved the life of his son who had been diagnosed with autism and placed in a nightmarish institution: “Without Restraint.” And this week we came across the story of Elizabeth Bonker, who is affected by non-speaking autism. What she can’t say out loud, she more than makes up for with the thoughts she types and shares with her community. Her valedictorian speech at Rollins College last weekend has now gone viral. She expresses the value of service to others, and it’s a powerful motivator for all of us, whether we’re looking to find a reason to run, or more broadly, a path to take in life. You can watch her speech in the link below, and if you’re curious to see more of her story, check out this brief TED talk her mother gave that covers her journey through education, poetry, and beyond. That journey included ignoring her high school principal who once said: “The retard can’t be valedictorian.” (OMFG!) If you can watch these videos without getting choked up, please seek out the nearest defibrillator.


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