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Running uphill is hard, but downhill can be a killer

Minute 1: How to stay strong near the end of COVID ‘marathon’

For nearly a year, medical experts and government officials have warned that the pandemic is “a marathon, not a sprint.” They have preached patience and perseverance as scientists develop a vaccine. With innoculations growing every day, sometimes we feel a little like a lottery ticket holder who found out Friday night that they won big, but have to wait until Monday to cash in the winning numbers. The reality is that because of delays and limited supplies, it may be summer or fall before everyone receives the COVID-19 vaccine. At press time, the CDC vaccine tracker showed that only about 17 million shots have been administered in the U.S. Though the finish line may be in sight, just like in a marathon, the last few miles are usually the hardest. “The brutal paradox in a marathon is that right when you can sniff the finish line, usually between mile 20 and mile 22, the race invariably feels the longest. The same is likely to be true with COVID-19,” writes Brad Stulberg, the best-selling author of “Peak Performance,” Stulberg has some suggestions for how to approach the last few miles (or months) in “The Pandemic is a Marathon. Here’s How To Stay Strong.” His suggestions for maintaining your pace include: adjust your expectations; remain positive and optimistic; stay connected; and keep moving. Annie Gaudreault, a nutritionist and 12-time marathoner, also has some helpful tips in “Prepare for 2021 Like a Marathon.” It’s also a good idea to remember the early advice from doctors and health experts about “How to stay fit and healthy during coronavirus” or “Lifestyle tips to stay healthy during the pandemic.” As Stulberg writes, staying patient and cautious will mean that “At the end of this marathon,you don’t get a medal. You get a shot (or two) in the arm. But it’ll still be great.” #PandemicAmericanGames

Minute 2: Why the Empire State Trail may be America’s next great trail-running adventure

The Japanese repair broken pottery with gold, creating beautiful Kintsugi art in the process. Many runners have adopted a similar philosophy during the pandemic, using extra time freed up from commuting and dining out to log extra miles and pursue new goals. In the process, many runners have escaped crowded, locked-down cities and hit the rural roads or mountain trails for a more scenic and serene experience. New Yorkers now have a new great escape with the opening of the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile trail that runs from New York City to the Canadian border and from Albany to Buffalo. A map of the trail looks like strands of gold holding together a state that was hit harder than most during the pandemic. Called “America’s longest multi-use state trail,” the system is divided into three routes — the Hudson Valley Greenway, the Erie Canalway Trail and the Champlain Valley Trail — and connects hundreds of villages and communities across 27 counties. “There’s no trail like it in the nation,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said when the trail officially opened on Dec. 31. While the trail system is ideal for hiking and biking, it also appears to be well suited for both road runners and trail runners. That stands in contrast to more famous routes like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail which are not ideal for running because of the rugged, often-dangerous terrain and unpredictable weather. The Empire State Trail consist of 75 percent off-road trails made of stone dust and asphalt, and 25 percent asphalt road. endorses it in “Why Your Next Trip to New York Should Include Riding the Empire State Trail.” With the trail offering numerous scenic routes, including some that cross the Appalachian mountains, it may soon join lists of “The Best Running Trails in the US.” As an added bonus, New York has also launched “The Empire State Trail Brewery Passport,” which showcases 200 craft beer breweries close to the trail. #PsychoCeramics #JosiahCarberry

Minute 3: Running uphill is hard, but downhill can be a killer

Trail runners pursue a runner’s high both psychologically and geologically. As points out in “How to power up the hills,” the reward at the top makes the mental and physical challenge worth it. But running back down that hill can quickly bring your euphoric high crashing back to earth. Though running downhill seems easier because you’re not breathing as heavily or challenging your cardiovascular system, it is much harder on your muscles and joints, causing more wear and tear on your body. Though many fitness experts debunk the myth that running downhill is bad on your knees, using the proper form and technique going downhill is crucial. Canadian Running Magazine has some great tips in “How to run downhill the right way.” They suggest leaning forward instead of backward; use your arms for balance; and make sure you use the right foot strikes and stride length. Their best advice, though, is to relax and practice running downhill. “Many runners feel some stress when faced with a steep decline because they’re afraid of going too fast, losing control and falling. Remember to stay relaxed on the downhill and not worry so much — gravity is doing a lot of the work for you.” For more tips on the art of the descent, check out “How to run downhill like a pro” or “It’s All Downhill Running: Tips to Save Your Knees and Quads.” #BlackToenails

Minute 4: Why moderate exercise might be better for you than HIIT

For years fitness experts have sung the praises of high-intensity exercise, explaining how “Interval Training Workouts Build Speed and Endurance.” But a new study shows that longer, more moderate workouts may have an even greater impact. In “The Benefits of Moderate Exercise,” The New York Times cites a “provocative new study” by the University of Guelph in Ontario that shows that more traditional aerobic workouts like jogging, brisk walking or biking may have a greater impact on your blood pressure, body fat and other aspects of your metabolism. The study concludes that while short, high-intensity workouts like HIIT may produce quicker fitness and performance results, a more traditional, moderate plan can produce other healthy benefits. “All exercise is good, but there are nuances,” says Dr. Jamie Burr, a University of Guelph scientist who participated in the study. For more science on the benefits of moderate exercise, check out these “7 benefits of regular physical activity” or “The Science Behind the Benefits of Moderate Exercise.” #LSD

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Reader’s Digest has declared for decades that “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” Now it seems that having a good chuckle while exercising can also have significant health benefits. Laughing yoga, a series of movements and breathing exercises designed to reduce stress by initiating deliberate laughter, is one of the world’s hottest new fitness trends, being taught in more than 5,000 fitness clubs worldwide and now being offered on college campuses and in work places around the globe. Created in 1995 by Mumbai physician Dr. Madan Kataria, laughter yoga helps lift your mood, reduce stress and strengthen your immune system, all while increasing energy levels. Kataria believes that “learning to laugh on cue can help you deal with stressful situations by promoting optimism and positivity.” In a recent post called “Laughing Yoga: What Is It and Does It Work?” says laughing yoga “aims to cultivate joy, bring out your inner child, and help you let go of daily life stressors.” For more on the hip, happy routine, check out “The science behind laughter yoga” or “20 Laughter Yoga Exercises.”

  • While a fruit or vegetable smoothie might sound like a healthy midday snack, it might not be the best choice prior to a run. Neither is that milk-based, high-fat latte from Starbucks. recommends staying away from high-fiber and high-fat drinks in “The 4 Worst Pre-Workout Drinks (and What to Have Instead).” Livestrong recommends more traditional pre-workout drinks like water, pure fruit juice or even coffee or tea. Also check out “7 of the best pre-workout drinks” from Medical News Today. For the best post-workout options, check out WellAndGood’s “Definitive ranking of popular post-workout drinks.”

  • If you’ve given up on exercise spaces and workout facilities reopening soon and finally decided to bite the bullet and set up your own home gym, you have a big decision to make. Do you go with a treadmill or elliptical? Both can be expensive and take up a lot of space, so your decision is crucial to not only your fitness but your comfort and peace of mind. breaks down the choice in: “Treadmill vs elliptical: Which is the best full body workout machine?” VeryWellFit also measures the pros and cons in “Treadmills vs. Elliptical Training.” If an exercise bike is in the mix, check out “Is a Treadmill or a Stationary Bike Better to Lose Weight?”

  • Our friends at Fleet Feet recently asked their Instagram followers what they hate most about winter running. Not surprisingly, 25.8% said the cold temperatures, while 25.3% hate running in the dark. Another 20% said simply getting motivated is the biggest challenge. But despite all that, 81% of survey participants still prefer running outdoors instead of inside on a treadmill, even in frigid temperatures. Fleet Feet examines some of the reasons why in “5 Reasons to Run Outside in the Cold.” Not surprisingly, friends, fun and running with your dog all serve as motivation.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Kaitlin Goodman is an elite runner, having qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials four times and running a 2:32 marathon. More importantly, she is a public health consultant with a keen interest in pandemics. Since last year, Goodman, who has a master’s degree in public health, has used her Running Joyfully website and platform as a professional runner and coach to share credible information about the virus and encourage other athletes to follow proper health and safety protocols. By using her Instagram account to encourage others to “mask up,” Goodman has become such a key influencer in the running world that Women’s Running says “Kaitlin Goodman is the Running COVID Crusader We Need.” When Goodman is not sharing helpful health and safety advice on social media, she helps fellow runners with great fitness videos on YouTube. Check out one of her latest below which demonstrates an effective way to activate your glutes properly before a run.

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