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Predicting your marathon finish time

MAR 22, 2023

Minute 1: Peak performance at the peak of your life

There’s a reason we call older athletes “Masters.” As we age, we gain greater control and mastery over our lives. And we’re not just talking about paying for your own car insurance and crushing home improvement projects. Experience can play an important role in succeeding as an older athlete, according to these: “Rules for sustaining peak performance as we grow older.” Some of the rules include: move around a lot, de-stress regularly, have robust social ties, eat well – meaning, eat mostly plants and not too much of anything – and try to live with passion, purpose, and regular access to flow.” Living this way can help us offset: “The Nine Hallmarks of Aging.” The peak performance advice comes from Steven Kolter, the executive director of the Flow Research Collective, a neuroscience-based research and training organization. He’s tuned into the fact that our 50s are a time where our brain function shifts, allowing our critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and collaboration to skyrocket. It won’t happen all by itself, though, which is why you should consider: “10 Strategies to Boost Your Cognitive Health and Fight Brain Aging.” Many experts recommend increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet, which are associated with maintaining greater brain volume. Not only can we stay mentally sharp with age, but by maintaining enough activity and intensity, we can also limit the physical declines in performance. Aging causes the number of fast twitch fibers in our bodies to reduce, but by performing resistance training, we can “overdevelop” the remaining fibers to maintain strength. Here is a guide to “Preventing Muscle Loss as We Age.”

Minute 2: Should you run a marathon?

The first person to run a marathon did so in ancient Greece to deliver a message of grave importance. He had little choice in the matter, and no time for self-doubt. Modern runners are more prone to hand-wringing as they debate whether to run 26.2 miles for fun. They are apt to channel another famous Greek, Plato, who once wrote: “The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.” If you want to know if you’re ready for the big race, check out: “Can I Run A Marathon? How To Know If You’re Ready To Run a Marathon.” The first step in your decision to do anything is to determine your “why.” Over 1 million people finish a marathon every year, and everyone’s motivation is unique. You may discover a few that resonate with you in: “Why do people run marathons?” Once you’ve uncovered your “why,” you should then consider some practical realities. Most coaches and trainers recommend that you’ve run consistently for at least six months before taking on a marathon. That will give your body an appropriate base to build on without and reduce your risk of injury or burnout. Then, you need to make sure you’ll have enough time to maintain a training routine. Here is “How to Find Time for Marathon Training When You Think It's Impossible.” Some runners find that a long weekend is a good time to start their schedule and build momentum. A big part of finding motivation is defining your goals, and if you need help defining a finish time goal, try this “Race Time Predictor.” This calculator differs from older models, like the Peter Riegel formula from 1981, since it factors in your age and gender to provide greater accuracy.

Minute 3: Greens for your gains and gut health

If you think Popeye’s spinach-based pre-workout routine is hard to swallow, a new story may change your mind: “This St. Patrick’s Day (and Every Day), Eat More Greens – and Build Muscle.” Leafy greens could be a key component to building muscle, and researchers think it’s because of one particular ingredient: nitrates. We’ve written before about the benefits of nitrates for endurance athletes, like in Minute 3 of this issue, but they do more than just boost your cardio capacity. Nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels, giving your muscles the resources they need to perform during intense resistance exercise. That’s not all leafy greens are good for, though, according to: “Chew slowly, keep moving and eat 30 plants a week: 12 rules for gut health.” Greater diversity of plants in your diet has been associated with a healthier microbiome, which leads to better digestion, lower risk of various diseases, and an improved overall mood. Pair that with at least 30 grams of fiber a day and your gut will be in great shape. If you want to start every day’s meal plan on a good note, you may want to ditch your bowl of cereal and upgrade your breakfast with one of these “40 Quick & Easy Breakfast Ideas.”

Minute 4: Preventing plantar fasciitis

As a middle-aged runner, we would much rather volunteer for an elective colonoscopy than endure a bout of plantar fasciitis. They are both uncomfortable and leave you walking funny, but the foot ailment is more painful and it’s exacerbated by the fact that you never know how long it will endure. For some prevention and relief ideas, check out this new story: “The Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, According to Podiatrist Guidelines.” Before we jump into the recommendations, let’s talk about the condition itself. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band that runs from your heel to your toes, and it causes pain in the bottom of your foot, especially the heel. The cause is typically an abnormality in your foot structure and gait, so speaking with an expert who can diagnose your problem is the first step to finding the right shoe. In addition to footwear, there are a number of techniques you can use to reduce your symptoms, as described in: “What is Plantar Fasciitis?” Building strength and flexibility in your feet and calves can offer extra protection, and in fact, plantar fasciitis is often related to “Calf Pain When Running - Common Causes and What To Do.” Some runners find that swapping out multiple shoes can solve the problem, and there are a few extra options in this Runner’s World piece: “Run or Walk in the Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • It’s only fitting that one of the best sneaker companies of all time would be the subject of one of the best sports movies of all time. Well, that’s how one critic described Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s new movie, Air. The film chronicles the birth of the Air Jordan shoe that helped establish Nike as the footwear behemoth it is today, so be sure to keep an eye on screenings for “'One of the best sports movies ever made': Read early reviews of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's new movie 'Air'.” The trailer is here.

  • Hitting a PR on race day takes a lot more than logging a few workouts in the weeks prior. It can be as complicated as rocket science if you really dig into it, but to keep things straightforward and effective, you can try out these “5 ways to hit a PB at your next race.”

  • In the old days, we were told that to make any gains lifting weights, we had to work to the point of muscular failure. Modern research, in contrast, has shown that you only need to approach – but not reach – your max number of reps. To keep track of intensity, trainers use something called RIR: Reps in reserve. We think runners could learn from this concept when designing their own workouts, and to see just how effective it can be to workout without burnout, see: “Understanding RIR in Fitness: What It Means and How to Use It.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Happy Women’s History Month! We can’t think of a better time to pay tribute to some of the most impactful women athletes ever, and the @olympics Instagram account is on the same page. They broke down some of the most iconic moments of women’s track and field over the years, starting with their debut in the games in 1928. Of course, women runners have achieved plenty beyond the Olympic Games, and that’s why we’re shouting out these “Women Runners Who Made History” as well. There’s the heroic act of Kathrine Switzer, who participated in the Boston Marathon before women were allowed despite being pulled off the course repeatedly. There’s also Pam Reed, an American Ultrarunner who took first place among all men and women at the Badwater Ultramarathon in California. That’s just the start, so check out the clip below to take a tour through women’s running history.


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