Minute 1: New report casts doubt on gym safety
“Can I get a spot?” That’s what gym owners across the country are asking as new studies and new regulations have dropped a dumbbell on their toes. A Northwestern University study released this week used anonymized cell phone data to detect superspreader hot spots. The conclusion: gyms, restaurants and places of worship are the biggest Covid culprits. In Chicago, for example, these three venue types comprised only 10% of sites analyzed, but 85% of infections. If your Sunday routine includes church in the morning, a quick workout before noon, and brunch at a local restaurant, you may be in the category of “no good deed goes unpunished.” New York responded by limiting gym hours and California has banned indoor gym usage altogether in a growing number of “purple” counties. Some gyms have reacted by reclassifying themselves as medical fitness centers, deemed to be an essential service in many states. As we mentioned earlier this week, the stock price of Planet Fitness jumped dramatically on the Pfizer vaccine news Monday, but it has leveled out after a soft earnings report the next day. Surprisingly, 95% of their locations are still open. Not surprisingly, downloads of their free mobile workout app are exploding. #GymNeighbors
Minute 2: Why you should prepare to brave the ‘bad’ weather
Now that we have you fearing gyms more than hotel room remote controls, we’ll remind you that there are other options to stay fit and sane with winter approaching. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of going outside and escaping the lockdowns with outdoor exercise. That’s why outdoor running is surging in popularity during the pandemic. But with cold rain, gray skies, bone-chilling wind, and an occasional blizzard ahead, you may need some extra motivation. Try this. British author Oliver Burkeman explains in a thoughtful New York Times essay: “Why You Should Brave the ‘Bad’ Weather.” The reward is often sweeter when it’s been earned under adverse conditions, he writes. “After a bracing experience of wind or rain, you get to come inside, warm up, dry out, and get cozy with a hot drink that would have held far less appeal if you hadn’t been frozen or drenched to the skin moments earlier.” If you do venture forth, consider tips like “How to Dress for Cold Weather Running” and “How to Eat for Cold Weather Exercise.” As Burkeman points out, British hill walker and writer Alfred Wainwright had the right attitude: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” #FeelsSoGoodWhenIStop
Minute 3: Peloton unveils smaller, cheaper option to Tread+
Peloton is pedaling furiously to break away from its reputation as a stylish amenity to the 4-car garage crowd. While some of the criticism of its controversial 2019 holiday ad was not justified, maybe the ensuing spoof videos had a positive impact after all. (Check out this one or this slightly more risquee UK parody.) There is promising news of an imminent price drop for Peloton treadmills. When the Peloton Tread+ first hit the market, it quickly won praise as one of the best treadmills for home gyms. And with widespread gym closures, the Tread+’s subscription base nearly doubled last year. But the state-of-the-art machine also came with a hefty cost, prompting many to wonder if it was really worth the $4,300 price tag. So in September, Peloton announced the launch of a cheaper alternative, and the new, more affordable treadmill is almost here. The Peloton Tread, which is available for testing in the U.S. at Peloton retail locations and goes on sale March 30, is not only smaller and lighter, but much cheaper — $2,495 compared to $4,295, plus the monthly subscription. It offers many of the same features, including a large HD touchscreen, built-in sound system, and access to Peloton’s live, on-demand classes. With many gyms closed, fitness equipment sales experienced huge growth in 2020. With more lockdowns and gym closures possible, that is likely to continue. So before you take the plunge, check out the “The Best Treadmill” review from WireCutter that praises the Peloton Tread+, but didn’t pick it as their favorite. #TreadAlert
Minute 4: Meditation and Running: ‘Breathe in, breathe out’
One of our favorite film characters of all time, Mr. Miyagi, once said: “When you feel life out of focus, always return to basic of life. … No breath, no life.” We may not have The Karate Kid master to remind us to “breathe in, breathe out,” but meditation can be a strong tool for endurance athletes. A new story this week explains “Meditation for runners – how to stay present and push yourself on the trails.” Used by such elite runners as two-time Western States champion Timothy Olson, meditation lowers anxiety and stress, helping you stay focused on your goals. It can also distract you from pain and struggle. The Headspace app provides Meditations for Running if you are a newbie in the growing trend of mindful running. The Peaceful Runner says running and meditation work so well together it’s a “A Marriage Made in Heaven.” Meditation is not just for yoga or sitting in a quiet room anymore. To help you get started, try these “5 Meditations To Do While You’re Running.” #OmRun
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
The running world expected British star Mo Farah to be training for the 2021 Olympics right now. Instead, the 4-time gold medal winner is taking a break from running as he bids for a TV crown in the British reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!” Farah, who is being paid more than $500,000 for the appearance, hopes to show the public a different side of himself. “I’ve watched it on telly and thought to myself, I would like to challenge myself and see what I can do,” he said. “I know a lot of people will be surprised as they don’t see me in that way.” Farah still plans to run the 10,000 in the Tokyo games next year.
American marathoner CJ Albertson broke the 50,000 meter world record in 2:42:30 Sunday by running 125 laps on a 400M track near Fresno, California. He topped South African Thompson Magawana’s record by more than a minute, but he was the only runner in the event, which was organized by Brooks and billed as an official world record attempt. Magawana set his record in a 1988 56K, which he won and set the world’s fastest 50K time in the process. Albertson’s record is odd because road and track results are typically kept separately, but that’s not the case with ultra distances. A 2014 rules change by the International Association of Ultrarunners states that world records are ranked by discipline “no matter what surface [they were] were achieved on.”
Many trail runners use lightweight poles on casual training runs as well as in prestigious ultra-endurance events like the UTMB or Western States. But now there’s some research suggesting that poles make ultra trail running more difficult. A recent study by the National Library of Medicine found that hikers who used poles showed an increase in cardiovascular output but a lower rate of perceived exertion. That means pole runners or hikers are getting a good whole-body workout, but may actually be working harder than other runners.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Jason Hardrath started running when he was 12 years old and became obsessed with breaking the 6-minute mile barrier. After a couple of years of hard work he managed the feat in his last PE mile of the year, running 5:57. “That sort of solidified a goal-setting mindset in me,” he said. Now he’s known as the man with 84 FKTs and counting. An elementary school teacher in Oregon, Hardrath has recorded the most FKTs on the official website of fastest known times, and hopes to reach 100. It has been a struggle, though. After he started running marathons and Ironman triathlons in high school and college, a brutal car accident left him with a collapsed lung, several broken ribs and tears in both his ACL and MCL. The injuries forced him to take up hiking and mountain climbing before he could eventually return to running. “I still can’t run like I used to but … now I have this cool set of mountaineering skills which made FKTs a natural fit to express that skill set,” he said.
Hardrath has his own YouTube channel, where he documents his quest to reach 100 FKTs. If you need a quick inspirational kick in the tail, check out his 1-minute video below.