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Pyramid workouts to build speed

AUG 18, 2023

Minute 1: What are the best and worst running surfaces?

Here at Six Minute Mile, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we only provided surface-level analysis. Unless, of course, we’re literally talking about running surfaces. That happens to be the topic of today’s discussion, but don’t worry, we plan to bring all the depth and insight we can, starting with this new story: “Each Surface You Run on Affects Your Body in Different Ways—Here’s How, According to a Sports Physician.” Hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt help you maintain speed, but they’re unforgiving on your joints. (Concrete sidewalks more so than asphalt roads.) Running on hardtop too much can result in shin splints or overuse injuries. On the opposite end of the spectrum are dirt trails, grass fields, and sand. The varied, softer surfaces are easier on your joints, but they’re filled with unpredictable divots, roots, and other irregularities that increase your risk of sprains and twisted ankles. Surfaces like running tracks, treadmills, and boardwalks offer a pleasant balance between softness and regularity. The downside? Not everyone has easy access to these types of surfaces, and even if you do, they can be a repetitive or limiting place to run. Each type of surface comes with pros and cons, so many experts feel the best approach is to vary your terrain frequently. Being able to run inside and outside is a blessing, especially when the weather gets nasty, and if you’re thinking about picking up a new treadmill, consider some of “The Best Advanced Treadmills for Runners.”

Minute 2: What are pyramid workouts, and how can they improve your running?

Not every pyramid scheme involves hustling your friends like an Amway rep or Bernie Madoff. The ones we prefer involve this concept: “Simple pyramid sessions to supercharge speed and mental toughness.” Pyramid sessions are workouts that start small and build up. For instance, you can begin with one minute of hard running and one minute of easy running, then two minutes each, and so on. Once you’ve reached your target distance, you can start to reduce your timing and intensity in the reverse manner. If you visualize the interval durations in a graph, it resembles a pyramid. To learn why a pyramid workout could be right for you, this sto

ry includes a good primer: “What Is A Pyramid Workout?” Like we said before, pyramid workouts can build speed and endurance, since you can alter the intensity of your hard intervals as needed. The shorter intervals can be run close to your top speed, while the longer ones can be just a minor uptick from your normal training pace. That means pyramid workouts are highly adaptable, allowing you to familiarize yourself with a variety of speeds. They can work well for runners, but some coaches feel that pyramid workouts are counterintuitive for building strength in the gym. You can learn more about that in: “Why Pyramid Training Is Massively Overrated.” Simply put, spending too much time warming up with lighter loads can fatigue your muscles before you’re lifting your heaviest set. That makes it difficult to achieve a progressive overload which is vital for increasing your strength week after week.

Minute 3: What kind of milk is healthiest?

If you’ve spent any time at a trendy cafe in the last couple years, you’ve probably been overwhelmed at the sheer number of milk alternatives available for your coffee or tea. Oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, and more. Lots of options, yes, but are any of them lots healthier than cow’s milk? To answer that, we’ll look at: “Got Nutrition? Why Cow’s Milk Still Reigns Supreme Over Plant-Based Alternatives.” In an analysis of more than 200 plant-based milk alternatives, only 12% contained as much or greater amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and protein when compared to cow’s milk. Most of the time, regular milk will be your healthiest option based on those metrics, assuming you don’t have any dietary restrictions. If you’re determined to find a dairy alternative that’s on the same nutritional level as cow’s milk, check out: “The 7 Healthiest Milks, According to a Dietitian.” One cup of unsweetened soy milk actually has more protein, less sugar, and almost as much calcium as cow’s milk, making it a solid runner up. Next is almond milk, which is often fortified with calcium levels even greater than cow’s milk. While we’re on the topic of nuts, we should mention a recent study which found that “Eating nuts on a daily basis linked to 17% lower depression risk.” All it takes is about a handful of nuts to get a significant amount of phytochemicals. They’re full of antioxidants that fight aging and inflammation, and as a result, can improve your physical and mental wellbeing simultaneously.

Minute 4: Shoe Review: Brooks Launch 10 ($110)

Our shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, gets frequent access to free demo pairs of the latest running shoes. That doesn’t mean he lacks respect for the budget constraints of the rest of us runners who are not quite as lucky as Brian. When he uncovers a good value that is also an above average shoe, Brian is quick to send us a review of that model. His latest credit-card-friendly model is the Brooks Launch 10. It’s a capable everyday trainer with a price tag that doesn’t begin with a “2.” We share Brian’s highlights below and you can read his full review of the Brooks Launch 10 on our website. I’ve said for years that you don’t need expensive, tricked out running shoes to be a runner of any level. Mostly, you need a capable pair that feels good and doesn't inhibit your stride. That being said, running shoes have never been better, as the current crop of kicks offer next level comfort, cushioning and responsiveness so there are some amazing shoes to choose from. Plus, the average price is probably north of $150 per pair and that’s real money, no matter if you’re operating on a tight budget or not. But there are still a few cost-conscious, high-performing alternatives, including the Brooks Launch 10. Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s a very good shoe for $110. Yes, it’s definitely a no-frills model that lacks the modern bells and whistles and interior creature comforts of most modern training shoes. But it doesn’t have a bare-bones feel or serve up a low-quality vibe. It’s always been a pretty darn good shoe that’s ideal for moderate mileage, faster workouts and everyday running. Plus, I’ve always found it to be a durable shoe that doesn’t show wear and tear until after 400 or so miles.

Why You’ll Love It: You’ll love it because you’ll feel foot loose and fancy free running it. It’s light and a little bit responsive, but mostly it’s the uninhibited vibe that you’ll love. Basically, it’s a shoe that doesn’t get in the way of how your foot wants to flex and move as you roll through the gait cycle. It’s a lightweight model with great proprioceptive feel for the ground, which allows it to be agile, fast and easy on your feet for tempo runs, 10-mile long runs, long intervals and even recovery runs.

For Brian’s full review of the new Brooks Launch 10, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • For some folks, an early morning run is the best way to start their day off on the right foot. For night owls, late runs are the only way to soar. We hesitate to say that one way is better than the other, and it probably has more to do with you as an individual. If you’re thinking about changing up your running time and want to see the pros and cons of each option, look no further than “When Is the Best Time to Run? Tips from a Run Coach.”

  • It has been well established that running can protect you against the risk of heart disease. It makes a lot of sense – a strong heart can stand up to the stress of ailments more effectively. But did you know that running can help lower the risk of other life threatening conditions, including certain kinds of cancer? That’s according to new research that you can read about in Healthline: “Cardiorespiratory Fitness Lowers Risk of 9 Types of Cancer by 40%, Study Finds.”

  • One of the first things you were probably told about running was that you should stretch beforehand to avoid injury. Oftentimes, that gets interpreted as an endorsement of static stretching – reaching as far as you can in a certain pose and holding that position for 10+ seconds. Contrary to popular belief, some research doesn’t support the hypothesis that static stretches before a run reduce the risk of injury. In fact, they may even hamper your performance, which is why you should consider the advice in: “How You Should Actually Warm Up Before Your Runs” instead.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

For a lot of runners, training is a solitary endeavor. It’s all up to you to get your butt out the house and onto a road or trail to log some miles. That’s great for fostering a sense of independence, but it’s important to remember you shouldn’t have to do everything alone. In fact, a lot of the best athletes build a team around them they can trust, and that’s especially true for long distance trail runners like @mathieu__blanchard. When you’re competing in an event that requires a lot of gear, mid-race refueling, and moral support, the friends in your corner are as essential as a pit crew in a Formula 1 race. In fact, Blanchard’s helpers are so efficient that they have been compared to an auto racing pit crew. Check out the short clip below to see how impressive and impactful a solid race crew can be.


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