Minute 1: The secret to feeling strong on hills
Our headquarters is only a short jog from Heartbreak Hill, and most days it’s just a fun little diversion from our normal pavement pounding. The iconic climb rises only 91 feet on the Boston Marathon course, but it is nonetheless one of the most difficult half miles in competitive running when you tackle it on Marathon Monday rather than on an easy training jaunt. It’s not the 91 feet that gets you, it’s that those 91 feet of vertical arrive at Mile 20 of the race. That’s the distance where many runners hit a wall, even on a pancake flat course. Most marathoners understand that challenge from their first Google search of “Boston Marathon course map.” What we didn’t understand until this week was that the mental challenge of Heartbreak Hill is amplified dramatically because runners are already fatigued by the time they hit it. This new story explains that “Tired minds see hills as larger than they are.” The article refreshes a 1999 UVA study that explains this running phenomenon. The study showed that runners were much more likely to overestimate the pitch of a hill if they encountered it mid-run or if they felt they weren’t in good cardiovascular shape. Avoiding hills is not the answer to this conundrum. The study suggests incorporating hills at the beginning of your workout. This simple switch will help you accurately depict future hills ahead. If you’re looking to change up your hill training routine, check out this article by Strength Running: Three Hill Workouts for Strength, Speed and Injury Prevention. #MentalHurdle #Mountains&Molehills
Minute 2: Shoe wars
We mentioned last month that runners sponsored by other shoe brands had started using a Sharpie to black out the Nike swoosh on its Vaporfly shoes so they could secretly run in the record-setting shoes. Adidas athletes can now ditch their FOMO and their magic markers since the German shoe giant finally released its own carbon-reinforced shoes and promptly set a new world record in the half marathon. Peres Jepchirchir just ran 1:05:34 in a pair of Adidas Adizero Adios Pro shoes to set a new women’s standard. Instead of carbon plates used by their arch rival, Adidas employs EnergyRod technology that is meant to mimic the metatarsal bones of the foot. If you don’t want to drop $200 on the new Adidas shoes, check out our guide to 12 high quality running shoes for $100 or less. In unrelated, but important shoe news, we enjoyed this new guide to “The 5 Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.” Been there, suffered from that, so we wish we’d had this guide 3 years ago. #CarbonCopies
Minute 3: Boosting your VO2 max
For endurance athletes, VO2 max can be a more important number than an ATM PIN or Social Security Number. After all, when was the last time you provided your Social Security Number as part of doing something fun? At the same time VO2 max can be trickier to measure and understand than something simple like resting heart rate. When combined with lactate threshold and running economy metrics, VO2 max is an excellent predictor of running performance. That’s why we like this new story entitled “How to Boost V02 Max: Billat 30-30 Interval Workout.” Designed by a French physiologist, this workout includes simple bursts of 30 seconds at VO2 max and won’t leave you gasping for air. BTW, you don’t need to travel to a fancy lab and wear a gas mask contraption to get a rough read on your VO2 max. Here is a list of 4 VO2 max tests you can administer at home.
Minute 4: Here’s a virtual event we can get behind
Despite postponing the 2020 Boston Marathon from April to September -- and eventually to next year -- the BAA has pulled together a very impressive virtual race expo. There are special deals and swag from big name sponsors like Adidas and Gatorade. Even better are the live online discussions they have scheduled this week from some of the biggest names in endurance sports. Check out their schedule of free presentations here, featuring Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers and Galen Rupp. We recently curated a list of our favorite virtual races, since it’s often hard to tell one race from another when you’re running around the neighborhood, tracking yourself on GPS. We pulled our list together in part because we dearly miss the old CoolRunning site that was deactivated by Active earlier this year. Our virtual race site is still in Beta (and loads a little on the slow side), but we are doing this as a first step toward a bigger race directory project. Thoughts, suggestions, deep-pocketed investors are all welcome.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Last month we wrote about Lynn Rathjen, the 75-year-old Nebraska XC coach who just broke the American mile record in his age group by clocking a 5:59 in August. Although she’s just a spring chicken compared to Lynn, Nancy Hobbs is getting it done on the roads and trails at age 60. Nancy is Executive Director of the American Trail Running Association and she has podiumed at big events like the World Masters Mountain Running Championships. Nancy shares some of her insights and philosophies in this great interview with I Run Far.
200 miles south of Lynn Rathjen, another runner just set a new record in the mile. Aaron Yoder, a college cross country coach in Kansas, ran 5:30 -- backwards -- to break his own record of 5:54 set in 2016 on a track. This time, Yoder ran on a straight, flat Kansas road that probably helped his time and secured another entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Yoder started running backwards after a successful conventional running career left him with serious knee injuries. The full story is here and a video of him in action is here.
Tell someone you run once a day, and they may wonder why you don’t just go to the gym. Tell someone you run twice a day, and they may wonder why you don’t see a psychiatrist. iRunFar broke down The Pros and Cons of Running Once or Twice a Day in one of their latest articles. Many experts think you are better off with 2 high quality runs at peak focus and exertion than 1 slow slog with bad form.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If you’re looking for some extra motivation to turn your next run or ride into an adventure, Diamondback Bicycles have got you covered. This 5-minute film follows Mike Hopkins, a professional adventure athlete, while he transforms his normal ride into a quirky off-road experience he won’t soon forget. Whether it inspires you to plan an epic adventure of your own, or simply get outside today, it’s worth a watch.