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Nutrients that promote better sleep

Minute 1: Real stair climbing -- beyond the Stairmaster

Back in the late ‘80s, a family friend helped develop Stairobic, one of the first stair climbing machines for gyms. He was an engineer and a former colleague of Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway scooter, a device once overhyped as “maybe bigger than the Internet.” In our biased opinion, Stairobic did more for humanity than Segway, not counting mall cops, of course. Even though Stairobic was quickly overtaken by the stronger marketing team at Stairmaster, it helped launch an aerobic fitness craze that continues to this day. While Stairobic unplugged a long time ago, Stairmasters are still cranking, albeit at a slower pace. Sadly, Men’s Health did not include Stairmaster in this recent list: “The 18 Best Cardio Machines to Push Your Workout's Pace.” Part of the appeal of step climbers is that they break up the monotony of running on a treadmill. The same concept applies to outdoor stair climbing as well. We are lucky enough to live near a large college football stadium that is often left unlocked. When we’re bored with our usual running routes, we swing by the stadium for a few sets of climbs to the top. It hurts our minutes/mile ego on Strava, but we are building leg strength and buying a vowel in our running routine. A new story out this week gave us some further inspiration: “3 Stair Workouts To Get Your Heart Rate Up and Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness Over Time.” The piece points out that stair workouts strengthen your posterior chain -- calves, hamstrings, and glutes -- and features Olympian Carrie Tollefson who says she mixes in stair workouts a couple of times per month. If you’re looking for a fun and free way to get into outdoor stair workouts, we highly recommend the November Project. (See Minute 6 below.) And rather than running windowless staircases inside an office building, we would also recommend outdoor stairs with a view. Every time we visit San Francisco, for example, we hit the long staircases leading to Coit Tower. If you want more inspiration, check out the “10 Best Stair Climbs for the Views -- Where the View Outweighs the Burn.”


Minute 2: Breakfast of champions

Our global HQ is in Boston. That means we are terrible drivers, but are never more than a couple of blocks from our next Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. We’re not sure if America really runs on Dunkin’, but Boston sure does. While we love the joe, we don’t recommend eating the food at Dunks if you’re planning on a run or workout later that day. Casey Affleck showed us what not to do when he made his morning program famous in this classic SNL sketch: “Grab a crullah, have an extra lahge, 3 Parliaments and take a big dump. That’s kinda the routine.” These days we are favoring breakfast table protein over crullahs, so that’s why this new story caught our eye: “Five High-Protein Breakfasts That'll Power You Through The Morning, According To A Dietitian.” There are some new ingredients on that list like chia seeds and collagen peptides that make sense to us. The idea of protein for breakfast was also reinforced in Beijing this summer: “11 Best Breakfasts Olympic Athletes Eat to Stay Fit.” Again, no one listed donuts on their menu, but several Olympians did include avocados, which is good by us. Whether paired with wheat toast in the morning, or onions, limes and a side of Casamigos in the evening, we appreciate the protein, taste and nutritional value of the single seed fruit: “12 Proven Health Benefits of Avocado.” The only problem with avocados is that if you don’t eat the entire thing at once, it turns brown very quickly in the fridge. According to this story, even that’s a solvable problem: “3 Tricks to Keep Your Avocados From Turning Brown.” #ProteinForPros

Minute 3: Where does running end and walking begin?

A few years back, a bucket lister guy in our office made a big deal about signing up for a marathon. For months he crowed about his training and showed up on the Monday after the race with his finisher’s medal around his neck. Needless to say, none of his followers on social media missed the fact that he’d just run a marathon. When we learned that he ran a time that was nearly triple the race winner’s, we couldn’t help wondering if the term “run a marathon” truly applied to a healthy male in his late 30s. It may be more accurate to say he walked 26 miles. It’s not that we’re insensitive to those inspiring stories about people who overcome personal adversity and finish the 26.2 mile course in darkness, with only the thought of a departed loved one willing them onward. We tear up at those as much as a good story of a lost puppy reuniting with its 12-year-old master. But the tale of our work colleague got us wondering about where the line is drawn between walking and running. One practical definition is that when we are running, both feet leave the ground simultaneously at some point in our stride. Walkers always have a foot on the ground. That definition breaks down somewhat on hills, where both knees can be chugging up and down, but a foot stays on the ground because of the incline. Details and strategies are in this piece: “Yes, Walking Is Sometimes Faster than Running Uphill.” Another way to separate runners from walkers is to analyze how many steps it takes to cover a mile. If you are 5’ 6'' tall and run a 9-minute mile, you will take about 1,480 steps to travel a mile. The same person would need 2,160 to go a mile in 18 minutes which is considered a brisk walking pace. That means the walk/run gray zone in a marathon is probably around the 14 minute/mile pace that will land you at a 6:07:04 finish time. Details on those calculations are in this story published last month by Marathon Handbook: “How Many Steps In A Mile Running Or Walking?” Healthline breaks down the analysis by age and gender in this piece: “What Is the Average Walking Speed of an Adult?

Minute 4: Food that improves sleep quality

We are hitting the snooze button twice in 1 week. In our last issue we shared news about people who have a hard time ending their day and beginning their night’s sleep: “Stop all the clocks: Why are we so bad at going to bed?” Now we are pulling up the coverage of 2 new stories on slumber. “5 Nutrients to Eat for Better Sleep—and How to Incorporate Them Into Your Diet” didn’t surprise us when melatonin was at the top of their list, but we didn’t know that Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids also promote sleeping. We also learned why some nights we are inexplicably sweaty in bed while others we are grasping for extra blankets. This story explains reasons and remedies: “Always Sweating in Your Sleep? Here's What Your Body's Trying to Tell You.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • In our last issue we described the remarkable scene at Mile 8 of the Boston Marathon last week. That’s where veteran marathoner Meghan Roth went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated by fellow runners on the course. The story continues to get happier as Meghan just did an interview from her home in Minnesota where she is thrilled to be out of the hospital and back with her beloved young son Jackson. Not just content to be alive, Meghan already has her sights set on the 2024 Olympic marathon qualifier. “Runner Who Suffered Heart Attack During Boston Marathon Hopes To Come Back Stronger.”

  • With many large endurance races requiring proof of vaccination, we think it’s a safe bet that for 2022, those events may also require proof of a booster shot. The CDC announced this week that you can mix and match the type of vaccine you received and one you’ll receive as a booster. If you’re trying to make sense of this, check out: “Which vaccine booster should you get: Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson?

  • A new story in Sports Illustrated examines how athletes are playing much later in their careers than ever imagined possible. Even if you can’t afford to spend $1M per year on your body like LeBron, there are still some lessons in here for all of us. If you’d like to take advantage of a very high tech tool used by the pros, you can have your DNA analyzed by a company named AxGen which will tell you where your highest likelihood of injury lies. Check out details in: “How Long Can We Play? Inside the quest to prolong athletic mortality.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

As we mentioned in Minute 1, we are big fans of the November Project. After adapting to the pandemic with virtual workouts, NP is back to its normal routines of group runs and workouts. The movement was started by 2 former collegiate rowers who missed the camaraderie and intensity of team workouts. They started gathering a few friends to run the stairs of Harvard Stadium and the movement exploded to 53 locations across the globe. There is no fee to participate and usually not even a waiver to sign. It is rare to watch a major marathon in the United States these days without seeing someone in the iconic hand spray-painted November Project t-shirt. To learn if there is a November Project location near you, check out this venue list. For more background on NP, check out the CBS News video below entitled “Inside the November Project, a free fitness movement with ‘well-aimed’ F-bombs.”


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