NOV 1, 2023
Minute 1: Why give up alcohol for a month?
Sober October ended at midnight on Halloween. Whether you celebrated the end of your temporary abstinence with some spooky spirits or resented your former drinking buddies who ghosted you last month, there are reasons to celebrate the phenomenon. Sober October has raised awareness that even a little bit of booze can slow your running progress. If you did it successfully, we bet you felt a difference in your mood and energy levels. If you’ve never tried cutting back on alcohol and want to see how your body adapts after just 30 days, check out: “When you go sober for even a month, your body will change. Here’s how.” It’s no surprise that drinking alcohol puts you at risk for developing liver disease. The liver processes alcohol into acetaldehyde, which itself is a carcinogenic toxin that needs to then be expelled. Luckily, all but the worst cases of liver damage are reversible. Not only that, but even light drinkers stand to benefit after a month of sobriety. You can expect to see improvements in things like blood pressure, gut health, sleep quality, skin, and beyond. Even if you only have a drink a day, a sobriety break can improve brain health, according to this respected study: “Brain Volumes Shrink With One Daily Drink.” Remember, you don’t need to quit cold turkey to make a big difference; it’s all about finding the balance that works for you. Some scientists have hypothesized that small amounts of alcohol consumption fit well into the lifestyle of “blue zone” inhabitants, helping them create strong social bonds that improve their longevity. For more on that, read “Longevity Link: How Wine Helps You Live Longer.” If you’re worried about cutting out alcohol while maintaining social connections, try the tips found in “Staying Social When You Quit Drinking.”
Minute 2: How long does it take to become a faster runner?
To develop speed and endurance, you need lots of consistency and loads of effort. According to Thomas Edison: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” That may be a good t-shirt motto, but it’s harder in real life when you’ve hit a plateau and you stop getting faster. If you manage to push through the hard times, greatness awaits on the other side, according to this new piece from Polar: “How Long Does It Take to See Results From Working Out?” The first 1-2 weeks of a running program are an exciting time where you can expect pretty significant improvements in energy level, mood, and sleep quality. Some of the real magic arrives 3-6 months into training where your body can more effectively adapt to higher volumes of running thanks to an increased ability to recover. That may have you asking: “When Does Running Get Easier?” Many coaches and experienced runners warn that it never really gets “easier,” but rather, you can simply go faster for longer. In fact, running often has ups and downs, rather than a simple trajectory from hard to easy. Some months will feel like you’re progressing quickly, and others feel sluggish.
Minute 3: Tips for sprinting in your 30s and beyond
At the elite level, sprinting is a young person’s game. By the time you’ve taken your 30th lap around the sun, your best sprinting days are well behind you. Because of that, many runners give up all-out runs as a part of their training. That’s too bad, because sprinting can put you on the fast track to a healthier lifestyle and faster distance race results, according to: “A Guide to Sprinting After the Age of 30.” Fast interval workouts, particularly those in the 30-second range, have been shown to strengthen the heart, optimize blood sugar levels, boost VO2 max, increase power output and burn fat. If you’re looking for a workout to hit that target, try running 6 repeats of 100 meter sprints at about 90% of your max pace with 2 minutes of rest between each rep. If that sounds like a little too much work at high speeds, we like the philosophy behind the Feed the Cats program, which emphasizes minimum effective doses of sprints. Athletes in the program do as few as 10 sprints per week of only 20 meters. A good video collection of FTC drills is here. Whichever sprint program you pursue, be sure to remember a warm-up, which is one of the keys for: “Training to prevent hamstring injuries.” Hamstring injuries are one of the biggest concerns for sprinters, but the article describes strength training and drills to protect yourself. The goal is to correct pelvic positioning, strengthen key supportive muscles like the glutes, and correct imbalances by performing both concentric and eccentric movement with the hamstrings. If that’s not enough, you may want to look into the benefits of acupuncture for athletes: “Does Acupuncture Help With Sports Injuries? Experts Weigh In.”
Minute 4: Japan’s healthiest foods
Magic beans may be the stuff of folklore, but edamame is about as close as you’ll get to a nutritional fairy tale ending. It’s a plant-based protein that is packed with fiber, vitamins, isoflavones, and other nutrients, according to: “6 Expert-Backed Health Benefits Of Edamame.” When it comes to building strong bones, edamame is hard to beat. These beans offer phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can all support bone health. Not only that, but edamame is a type of soybean, and soy products have been found to lower the risk of osteoporosis. Recently, edamame has been growing in popularity in the United States, but it’s long been a staple in Japanese cuisine, which is why it made this list: “Healthy Japanese food: 11 Japanese dishes you must try.” Also included on the list is miso soup, which is a light way to start your meal that supports a healthy gut microbiome. If you are a fan of sushi, it's worth noting that not all kinds are equally healthy, according to WebMD: “Best & Worst Sushi for Your Health.” Salmon, avocado, and tuna are some of the top ingredients to try, while shrimp tempura might be one to avoid.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Before you ask how to train, you’ve got to know why. Whether you’re looking to reduce injury risk, improve performance, or enhance your overall experience, strength training is a powerful tool. That goes for runners and cyclists alike, which is why bikers should look into these tips from Training Peaks: “5 Ways Strength Training Improves Cycling.”
When someone claims to have found the “world’s greatest” of anything, we respond with a healthy dose of suspicion. After doing a little research, however, we’ve got to admit the “world’s greatest stretch” could have actually earned that title. It will work your whole body, improving mobility, functional fitness, and flexibility, so to learn how to do it, read: “I did the world's greatest stretch every day for a week—this is why I'm going to stick with it.” A related yoga move you may consider (for obvious reasons), is demonstrated in this video: “How To Do A Perfect Runner’s Lunge.”
Since resistance training is one of the most effective ways to build muscle, it shouldn’t surprise you that resistance bands can be an effective tool for the job. They’re often cheaper than dumbbells, and they offer versatility thanks to the dynamic training loads they provide. If you want to get the most out of your bands, follow the advice in: “Expert reveals the best way to build muscle with resistance bands.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
From a non-runner’s perspective, it may be hard to see why runners get so stoked about merely finishing a marathon or other distance event. Skeptics may channel Ricky Bobby, who famously said: “If you ain't first, you're last.” While we believe that finishers deserve medals even if they didn’t land on the podium, we also appreciate a good joke at our own expense. This video is a pretty hilarious take on why our accomplishments may not be as grand as we think. Click here to watch.