Minute 1: A guide to post-Covid exercise
Despite the at-home exercise boom created by the pandemic, Covid has also shut down millions of amateur athletes. If you do contract the virus, depending on various factors, fatigue and other symptoms can linger for weeks, even months, making physical tasks difficult. If you’re trying to make the adjustment back to an active lifestyle after contracting the virus, take a look at “Exercise After Covid: Bounce Back Healthy” from Polar. Part of your recovery strategy should involve setting new goals, since your previous ones may have fallen into an unrealistic timeline. If you had been hoping to PR in your next race, give yourself permission to treat it as a warm-up instead. Your speed will come back, but not if you push yourself too early and aggravate your enduring symptoms. As we have mentioned before, diet can play an important role in your Covid comeback: “Best Diet for COVID Recovery Explained.” Scientists are still learning about the most recent variant, but here is “What We Know About Omicron Symptoms So Far.” The chances of developing “Long Covid” from an omicron infection are low, like previous variants, but there will be an unlucky few who experience fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms for months after exposure. To make matters worse, omicron has higher environmental stability than previous variants. See the details in “Omicron survives longer on plastic, skin than prior variants; nose swabbing found best for rapid tests.” Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer is more important than ever, so stay clean out there.
Minute 2: Build your bone strength by following this chart
A building is only as strong as its frame, and our bodies are the same way. Without healthy bones, you’ll be at risk of injury every time you push yourself on a run. Diet is directly related to bone strength, and this chart explains it all: “Follow this bone-building pyramid to avoid stress fractures.” Calcium and Vitamin D are the most significant nutrients for your bones, and dairy products like milk and yogurt are a good source for both. In addition, it’s recommended you drink mineral water that contains high levels of calcium. Mineral water doesn’t just support strong bones, as you can see in “What are the health benefits of mineral water?” Magnesium and other minerals work to regulate blood circulation and lower blood pressure. The chart also lists isoflavones, which was a new piece of vocab to us, until we checked out this article: “What Are Isoflavones?” They’re a kind of phytoestrogen found in soybeans and other legumes. Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, but isoflavones can help you mitigate the risk by improving bone density. Finally, look for sources of folic acid. To see why, check out “What are the benefits of folic acid and which foods can it be found in?” Leafy greens like spinach are a great option, which is partly why the chart recommends 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. #BoningUp
Minute 3: How to get the most out of a workout
We spend lots of time prepping for a big client meeting or a big race on our calendar. Details matter and whether we’re chasing a new deal or a new PR, we wouldn’t dare walk into the arena unprepared. But for everyday training runs and gym work, most of us don’t spend much time thinking about preparation. That’s not a great strategy, as we invest a lot more time, miles and sweat in training than in races. The truth is, even if you’re physically ready to workout, you will short change yourself if you don’t bring the right mindset as well. Motivation and focus are training variables, just like your physical energy level, but there are some tricks you can perform to keep yourself sharp and engaged during every set. Take a look at these “11 Workout Tips to Make Your Exercises More Effective.” One of the simplest ways to get yourself in the zone is with a deep breathing exercise. Deep breaths saturate your body with oxygen, lowering stress levels. They also provide an opportunity for you to come to the present moment. Focus on the sensation of breathing in and out, allowing yourself to leave any worries on the back burner so that you can give your full awareness to your exercise. Sometimes, getting in the right mindset to work out means being your own cheerleader, so get used to hyping yourself up! Taking a moment to tell yourself words of encouragement is a simple but effective way to get inspired. Speaking of inspiration, we’ve got a story from iRunFar about how you can cultivate it for yourself: “Runspired!” The author argues that inspiration doesn’t arrive randomly, but rather, strikes those who faithfully show up to do the things they love. Cultivating a mindset where you’re receptive to sudden bursts of inspiration is the best way to make them happen more often.
Minute 4: Nordic curls and other strength training techniques for runners
There’s a misconception that strength training requires machines and equipment to be done effectively. Exercise machines are great, but with the right kind of movements in your arsenal, you can grow your strength just as well using minimal equipment. Don’t know where to start? We suggest nordic curls. Here is “Why You Need Nordic Curls - The Best Leg Exercise You Aren't Doing.” To perform a nordic curl, all you need is a mat or soft surface beneath you, and something to hook your legs under for support. A partner can hold your legs down as well. Start on your knees, and lower your torso toward the floor, maintaining core stiffness. Once you’ve descended as far as you’re able to, tighten the hamstrings and pull yourself back up. It’s a difficult exercise to complete, so feel free to use your hands for support until you’ve got the technique down. As a result, you should develop stronger hamstrings, improving your explosiveness and reducing your risk of injury. If you do have access to a gym, try these “4 leg machines all runners should be using.” The leg press will pair great with nordic curls, as they’ll target your quadriceps: the antagonistic muscle to hamstrings.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
A good pair of running shoes ain’t cheap, so it's important you do everything you can to improve their longevity. Once they are broken in, that means only wearing them when you run, not just banging around the house or running errands. Get used to properly tying and untying them too; just slipping them on and off will stretch things out and cause a faster breakdown of material. To see the rest of these tips, read "How To Make Running Shoes Last Longer.”
Running in snow certainly has its downsides, but there are a few benefits as well. Trail runners can enjoy the opportunity to learn what kind of wildlife has been sharing their path, since snow lets you find and identify animal tracks with ease. Each kind of animal will have a different walking pattern and imprint size, so with a little research, you’ll be calling out species left and right. For a guide on what to look for, and when you’ll have the most success, take a look at “Your Guide To Identifying Animal Tracks On The Trail.”
Lately, we’ve been promoting the importance of taking it fairly easy for the bulk of your training (“When Lower Intensity Leads to Higher Results”). Oddly enough, taking it easy isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It can make you feel like you’re not making progress, and it’s hard to fight the urge to push yourself once you get moving. If you need some reassurance that even the low intensity workouts make a big difference in your fitness, take a look at “How Adding as Little as 17 Minutes of Power Walking to Your Day Can Improve Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
If you’re like us, sometimes your favorite running companion is a pup not a person. They are always happy out on the trails and almost never critical of our style or pace. We always like to give a shout-out to our furry friends when they perform at an exceptional level. The dog featured in the video below, Sailor, shows agility, speed, and grace on her way to a new world record. She is the first dog ever to complete a 109-yard frisbee catch at a live sporting event. Sailor bounded down the field to the sound of cheering fans on all sides, making running dogs everywhere proud.