OCT 11, 2023
Minute 1: What is an activation exercise?
You only need to learn how to ride a bike once. Muscle memory, we know, is a powerful and useful tool for athletes. That’s why we were a little surprised this week to learn that muscle amnesia is also a thing. That doesn’t mean that a muscle group will completely forget how to fire if you haven’t used it in a while. However, certain kinds of warm-ups and exercises can still strengthen the mind-body connection with neglected muscles, boosting your coordination and performance in the process, according to this new story: “When You Need to Do 'Activation Exercises' (and When You Don't).” Activation exercises are warmups that target specific muscles, as opposed to general movement that simply raises your heart rate. They even add extra volume to your exercise routine that can help push your development forward. Just be sure to keep the intensity low as you’re “activating” for the best results, according to this piece from Fleet Feet: “Why Runners Should Do Muscle Activation Exercises.” The goal of activation exercises is to prepare your muscles for more intense exercise later on, so they can work alongside other movements as part of a dynamic stretching warm up. If you’re looking for some ideas to get you started, try these: “6 Essential Muscle Activation Exercises to do Before Your Next Workout” and these “Seven Running Drills You Should Be Doing.”
Minute 2: How Ozempic will affect food and alcohol cravings
Stock car racing legend Richard Petty once said: “If you ain't trying to cheat a little, you ain't likely to win much.” Most of our readers believe that Lance Armstrong took this maxim too far, but they also think that the new generation of carbon-plated shoes ain’t really breaking the rules. When it comes to weight loss drugs like Ozempic, readers have written to tell us we shouldn’t focus on weight loss – especially when it means taking drugs – at the expense of living healthy and being content with our various sizes. We explored the dilemma back in Minute 1 of this issue. Without judging the morality or safety of these new drugs, we have been fascinated to learn about the profound impact they will have on the world’s economy. If the 40% of the American population classified as obese were to take the drug, for example, we would likely see health care costs drop – along with the stock prices of fast food restaurants. With less obesity, there will also be a drop in the need for knee and hip replacements and lower incidence of heart disease. Analysts have even begun to calculate the impact on fuel consumption for airlines if their passengers are 10% lighter on average. For a forecast on the “Ozempic Effect” and the food industry, check out these stories: “Ozempic is on the rise. That could be a problem for food companies” and “How weight loss drugs like Ozempic could radically reshape the food business.” The big picture takeaway is that users of Ozempic will consume an estimated 20% fewer calories. Analysts expect about 7% of the U.S. population could begin taking these drugs over the next 10 years, meaning a reduction in total U.S. calorie consumption of roughly 1% to 2%. This trend is paying off in a huge way for Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company that manufactures Ozempic and its companion drug, Wegovy. The company’s market capitalization is now larger than Denmark’s entire GDP: “How Ozempic and Weight Loss Drugs Are Reshaping Denmark’s Economy.” In addition to creating immense wealth, another positive impact of these drugs on the world’s physical and mental health stems from the fact that: “Ozempic seems to curb cravings for alcohol. Here's what scientists think is going on.” Doctors and patients who’ve worked with Ozempic and Wegovy found reduced cravings for not only food, but also alcohol, nicotine, and opioids. Additionally, certain compulsive behaviors like gambling and online shopping were also reduced. Doctors don’t yet fully understand the mechanisms at play here, but for a look at the potential risks, check out: “What Clinical Research Says About The Long-term Safety of Ozempic.”
Minute 3: Should you zone out on a run?
Most sports require your undivided attention to succeed, but that isn’t necessarily the case for endurance athletes. Some folks have the habit of going into autopilot, focusing on distractions to avoid the discomfort of running. That’s got us wondering, can these mental distractions affect performance? The answer can be found in: “Should I Tune In or Tune Out During My Run?” To find the optimal strategy, sports psychologists have been looking at everyone from amateur joggers to Olympic runners since the 1970s. They’ve found that generally speaking, the pros tended to focus on their bodily sensations a lot more than casual runners. They’ll read their bodies and actively tell themselves to stay relaxed when needed. When it comes to boosting performance and speed, the pros’ method of focused attention is best. However, if lowering perceived difficulty is your goal, tuning out of the physical sensations of running could be the right choice. Allowing your mind to wander, listening to the sounds of nature or putting on music to distract yourself can help you ignore discomfort, and researchers say that often provides an easier, more comfortable run. If you’re looking for ways to distract yourself while running, consider practicing gratitude: “3 ways gratitude can support you as a runner.” Picking out a sight or event that occurs on your run that you’re grateful for can make your training more memorable and satisfying. In fact, some people find it useful to express their gratitude in a concrete way, and that’s why you should check out these “8 Reasons You Should Start Gratitude Journaling.”
Minute 4: Superfood savings you need to check out
Superfoods at the supermarket don’t need to be super pricey, according to this new piece: “12 Superfoods You Can Add to Your Diet Even if You’re on a Budget.” One of the most intriguing items on the list is mushrooms, which contain tons of vitamins and rare antioxidants that protect against cognitive decline. Not only that, but when prepared correctly, they can also be used as a meat substitute, according to: “9 Types of Mushrooms You Can Eat Instead of Meat.” Also on the original list is carrots, which can be purchased for as little as 6 cents per ounce. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, since you’ll get to reap the “6 Amazing Health Benefits of Carrots.” Just like mushrooms, carrots can fight against cognitive decline, but that’s not all. They’re also useful for improving eye health, immunity, heart health, and more. Last but not least, for a cheap and healthy source of protein and omega-3s, crack open a can of tuna. Just be sure to choose the right brand, and to see your options, you can read: “15 Grocery Store Canned Tuna Brands Ranked Worst To Best.”
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Apparently, the only thing our readers enjoy more than running and working out is finding good deals on fitness gear. We shared our list of the Top 10 Amazon Prime Deals for Runners yesterday, and saw one of our largest open rates of the year. Discounts on Garmin watches, Beats earbuds and Theragun recovery tools were particularly popular. While we always feel a little guilty steering traffic away from local specialty run shops, these Amazon deals on Prime Days are hard to resist. You still have a few hours left to take advantage of the products on our Top 10 list here.
Running a marathon is a complicated endeavor that requires months of preparation. There’s a lot that can go wrong, which is why we like to focus on a few simple guiding principles to help us along. Whether you’re a marathon veteran or a first time participant, we think everyone can learn a few things from these tips provided by Marathon Handbook: “How To Train For A Marathon: The Building Blocks For First-Timers.”
We’re always on the hunt for ways to extend our lifespan, like with this comparison of strength training vs cardio from a recent issue. Once you’ve gotten the big picture from that minute, it's time to talk specifics, like which exercises in particular can improve longevity. Lucky for us, we found a few options that require no equipment, and are even suited for all ages. Check it out in: “The 5 Longevity Exercises a Physical Therapist Recommends To Stay Strong and Pain-Free As You Age—No Equipment Required.”
No running schedule is complete without some interval training. It’s one of the most effective ways to prepare yourself for race speeds, but the question is, how much is too much? Speed workouts can put a lot of stress on your muscles, so it’s a good idea to consider the question of: “How Many Days A Week Should I Run Intervals.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
After 5 years of domination by Eluid Kipchoge, a new king of the marathon has been crowned. This past Sunday, Kelvin Kiptum broke the world record by finishing the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:00:35. The Kenyan runner is only 23 years old, and in a sport where athletes peak in their late 20s and beyond, it has us dreaming of what Kiptum’s career may bring. For now, we’re happy to focus on the present as we celebrate this remarkable achievement that you can watch in the clip below.