Minute 1: Fall marathon Covid protocols
In disappointing news for the running community, the Marine Corps Marathon just cancelled its race scheduled for October 31, 2021, due to Covid concerns. While the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run went off successfully in D.C. on September 12, the Army 10-Miler changed its fall race to virtual-only the next day, leading us to believe that the Pentagon may (understandably) be holding race organizers using its properties to a very high standard. Other than the MCM and the Army 10-Miler, however, health officials and fall marathon organizers are breathing a little easier now that Covid infection rates are once again falling in the U.S. according to the CDC. And runners don’t have to worry about breathing through a mask on course at the 3 U.S. World Marathon Majors in Chicago, Boston and New York this fall. That’s not to say race organizers lack concern for Covid at their races. All 3 events have implemented thoughtful safety plans that are largely similar. If you want to run one of these races, you will be required to show a vaccination card (original or mobile phone photo) or a negative test shortly before race day. Chicago, Boston and New York will all hold their popular pre-race expos where runners can pick up their bibs and view products from industry brands and vendors. Masks will be required at the expos as well as on buses to the starting line. Requirements vary among the races regarding whether masks are required in the pre-race and finish areas, so check out full details at these links: Chicago, Boston and New York. Probably the best news for runners is that the field sizes will be smaller and in some cases the wave times will be spread over much longer intervals than normal. While that means more room on the course and less jostling with crowds in the first couple of miles, runners should also be aware that more space and fresh legs coming off a taper can set a trap for people who go out too fast. For some practical advice on the topic from coaching legend Dr. Jack Daniels, check out: “How To Prevent A Late Marathon Slowdown.” #ShotOfJack
Minute 2: Walking correlated with income levels
Along with being able to wear your favorite sweatpants every day while working from home, one of the few benefits of the pandemic is that Americans increased the average number of miles they ran and walked every week. Like most things in America, however, the results are somewhat barbelled according to income levels. Based on data from MIT, we found this new story fascinating: “Study: More people walked during the pandemic, but how much depended on their income level.” Folks living in wealthier neighborhoods took more leisure walks, while people in less affluent zip codes tended to walk primarily for utilitarian purposes like getting to work, the grocery store or a train station. Part of the issue is that nicer neighborhoods tend to have better parks and inviting facilities for walking. Sadly, people living in urban neighborhoods are much more likely to be hit by cars, and overall we have seen an increase in the number of pedestrians struck. In 2019, vehicles killed 6,205 Americans on foot, up 51% from the prior decade. Details are in this Vox story: “America’s car crash epidemic.” Perhaps counterintuitively, the number of car accidents increased overall during the pandemic, despite a significant decrease in traffic. Researchers hypothesize that with more room on the roads, drivers felt free to travel at higher, unsafe speeds. Particularly as the days get shorter, you may want to consider this list of “The 11 Best Running Safety Gear Items.” And while you’re walking safely, you may also want to consider walking swiftly. According to data from the UK, slow walkers have a 3.75X greater mortality rate than “normal-paced” pedestrians. Details are here: “Covid: Slow walkers 'more likely to die', study finds.” #CrossingToSafety
Minute 3: Are super cushioned shoes really faster?
Earlier this week we reported that the winner of the Vienna City Marathon was disqualified for wearing a new Adidas shoe with excessive cushioning. The Adidas Adizero Prime X contains rigid plates in the sole along with 50mm of foam cushioning which is 10mm more than the limits established by World Athletics. You may be thinking that you could get away with wearing the shoes in your own fall marathon since you probably won’t be scrutinized on the podium after the race. Even if your conscience allows you to wear the “illegal” shoes, would that even help? Women’s Running tries to answer that question this week in this piece: “They Can Get You Disqualified, But are Thicker Shoes Faster?” There is no doubt that due to the higher quality of foam used in today’s running shoes, more foam means more energy returned -- or springiness -- with every step. The advantage gained through physics, however, faces a hurdle with another rule of running science: the more weight you put on your feet, the slower you’ll run. For every 100g added to a shoe, running efficiency decreases by about 1%. That can add up to a couple of precious minutes over a marathon course. If you want to cut through the confusing array of options in your local shop, you should check out this thoughtful guide from RunRepeat: “10 Best Marathon Running Shoes in 2021.” We have to agree with their inclusion of the new Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 on the list. Our crew just loved the forward propulsion and smooth feel of these kicks when we tested them last month. #ChangeBetweenTheCushions
Minute 4: Training table
In today’s Double (Jeopardy) Entendre category, we explore “table” as in dining options and “table” as in the furniture used by physical therapists. On the diet front, we were intrigued by: “The MIND diet is nutrition's best-kept anti-aging secret.” Far from a fad diet, MIND is based on the well-respected Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet, incorporating whole grains, leafy vegetables and lean protein. We also noted a new story in Podium Runner: “Runners Take Note: Glucosamine-Chondroitin May Help You Live Longer.” The supplement has normally been associated with easing joint pain for athletes, but at least one study found a correlation between taking GC and a 27% lower rate of mortality. As for the other type of table, we enjoyed: “What is sports massage? The benefits and techniques of soft tissue manipulation.” No longer seen as a spa day indulgence, massage therapy produces tangible results. We tend to use it only when nagging injuries flare up, but as the article points out, it is most effective when used regularly. It can correct muscle imbalances from overuse and help prevent injuries. #TableStakes
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Shalane Flanagan may be past the point in her career where she can win another World Marathon Major, but that doesn’t mean she won’t continue to challenge herself on the world stage. Check out the details of her ambitious new quest in this story: “Retired Elite Runner Shalane Flanagan Announces Her Goal to Run 6 World Marathons in 42 Days, Each in Under 3 Hours.”
For Mid-Atlantic runners who had hoped to run the MCM, there are a few other ways to use your fitness in the local area. Of course you can always elect to do the MCM virtually, and garner some sweet swag in the process. Or the Bay Bridge Run 10K on October 31 features one of the most dramatic views of any race in America as runners cross the iconic Chesapeake Bay Bridge. And if you want the full 26.2 experience, Richmond is only a short drive from D.C. and will host the VCU Health Richmond Marathon on November 13.
One of the most engaging guests we’ve hosted on our Six Minute Mile podcast has been Jim Knoedel. Although most runners have never heard Jim’s name, he is a longtime coach and very engaging conversationalist. He is also an accomplished author, having just published his second fictional book on running. Check out our conversation with Jim here and find out more about his new book here.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Erin Azar has become one of the most popular running influencers on social media. No, she doesn’t run a 4-minute mile or do core workouts with a 2% body fat physique. She’s a mom of 3 who’s grown a massive fan base on Tik Tok and YouTube where she’s affectionately known as Mrs. Space Cadet. Fans adore her realistic and hilarious journey from not being able to jog a mile to now training for a marathon. Self described as a “a slightly overweight person who drinks too much beer trying to train for a marathon," it’s refreshing for athletes to log on and see someone who celebrates their flaws instead of trying to hide them. Erin was a guest on the TODAY show this week to share her ascension to stardom and give everyone an update on her training regimen. She did not disappoint.