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Saving a fellow runner’s life at the Boston Marathon

Minute 1: Running may be better for overall health than weightlifting

If health is wealth, then endurance training might as well be long term investing. Sure, you can profit from weight training, but according to a new study, that’s not as big a contributor to the bottom line: “Endurance exercise more beneficial to your health than resistance exercise.” To earn overall health and longevity, the study suggests that your time is best spent on the treadmill, not the bench press. Endurance training helps regulate your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and more, thanks to the impact it has on mitochondrial activity. If you paid close attention in high school biology class, you may remember that mitochondria form the powerhouse of the cell. If your high school yearbook was published prior to 2010, you may enjoy this refresher: “Why Should You Care About Your Mitochondria And How Does It Relate To Your Health.” Mitochondria play a key role in immune system function, sending signals for your body to produce white blood cells at the sign of infection. By keeping mitochondrial activity high with endurance training, you’re ensuring your cells have the capacity to respond to sickness that comes your way. Besides exercise, diet is the best way to keep your mitochondria functioning. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of micronutrients on a daily basis.

Minute 2: An interview with the runner who led Boston for 20 miles

Prior to 2004, men and women started the Boston Marathon on the same gun. The simultaneous start meant that the women’s winner often came down Boylston Street jumbled together with a bunch of dudes. They weren’t the elites, but many times these men liked getting on TV alongside the top women. We see the same phenomenon these days with Tour de France riders who streak ahead of the peloton to garner some exposure for their sponsors, only to implode later in the stage. At first blush, some could suspect that CJ Albertson was pursuing a similar strategy at the Boston Marathon last week. Albertson started fast and put a 2-minute gap between himself and the main pack. He led through the Newton hills and wasn’t passed until mile 21. At that point, most rabbits blow up and go out the back door, with nothing to show for their efforts but a few cool YouTube clips. But not Robertson. He continued to race and wound up finishing 10th at Boston. He explained his tactics and strategy in a fascinating conversation with I Run Far: “An Interview with CJ Albertson After His 10th Place at the 2021 Boston Marathon.” Regarding his fast start, CJ said that he was surprised at just how downhill the course is early on. Downhills are his strong suit, so he took advantage of the speed he could gain. Take a look at “The Secrets To Running Downhill Fast” if you want to mimic CJ’s success. One key is to minimize contact time with the ground. Try to spring off the surface with your forefoot and midfoot to keep your momentum rolling. CJ also took a different approach to training this time around. Typically, he’s done some extra long runs to prepare for race day: 27 to 31 miles. Before Boston, his longest runs were in the ballpark of 22 to 24 miles, emphasizing quality over quantity. To find out what’s right for you, read “How Far Should You Run Before A Marathon.”

Minute 3: Microgreens have a macro impact on nutrition and the environment

Sometimes, to answer life’s biggest challenges, you have to think small. How can we combat food insecurity, increase sustainability, and improve our nutrition all at once? One answer is microgreens. Check out “Microgreens: The health food trend that could provide global nutrition security.” The term denotes tiny edible greens that are typically harvested between 1 to 3 weeks after germination. They’re easy to grow at a small scale, low on water consumption, and require little to no artificial light, making them perfect for at home growers. Not to mention they’ve got tons of nutritional value. It’s easy to grow a wide variety which can be mixed together at mealtime, providing a range of vitamins and minerals. If you want to do the homegrown thing, check out “The step-by-step guide to start growing microgreens as a beginner.” Green thumb or not, you can follow along and improve your diet in no time. Not sure what to pick? Take a look at the “Top 4 Healthiest and Tastiest Microgreens” to narrow down your options. Radish sprouts offer multiple vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, amino acids, and more. Whether you’re growing them or buying them, check out ​​”30 Of The Best Microgreens Recipes Ideas.”

Minute 4: Are you a sleep procrastinator?

Even the most task-oriented among us fall prey to procrastination from time to time. From expense reports to thank you notes to oil changes, some things take forever to get crossed off the to-do list. There’s a specific kind of procrastination that’s been on the rise since the start of the pandemic though, and it's got to do with our sleep. Take a look at “Stop all the clocks: Why are we so bad at going to bed?” The term “revenge sleep procrastinator” is a thing, and it describes those who postpone their bedtime for extra freedom to do what they want. If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. One study found that about 70% of adults have experienced a sleep-related issue since the pandemic began. The increasingly common practice of living and working in the same space can lead to inadequate downtime, says sleep specialist Dr. Lindsay Browning. Delaying your bedtime to watch one more Netflix episode may provide short-term gratification, but it can lead to a domino effect the following day. You’ll find yourself procrastinating more on various other tasks, and lacking the energy to perform at your best, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, it can be hard to reestablish a healthy sleep schedule. Like running or any other habit, consistency is key. Take a look at “How to Get on a Sleep Schedule” for some good tips. If you like solving problems with technology, check out “7 apps and tools for a better sleep.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Researchers who study “Blue Zones,” the areas where humans live the longest, are working to unlock the secrets of the healthiest possible diet. One commonality they’ve found among most of these areas is a prevalence of legumes as a food source. Some have gone on to say that certain legumes, like beans, are “the cornerstone of a centenarian diet.” Why is that? Well, they’re high in protein and fiber, and low in fat, so eating them will make you feel full without packing on too many calories. Additionally, they contain an antioxidant called polyphenol, shown to ease the aging process. Read all about it in “The #1 Best Food to Eat to Live to 100, Science Says.” One of our SMM Podcast guests, Andrew Merle, is a nutritionist and big fan of the Blue Zones concept. Check out his thoughts on the podcast here.

  • Diet soda isn’t exactly marketed as a “health food,” but it's still supposed to help you avoid overeating. According to one study, it may not even do that. It's true, they do contain fewer calories than their non-diet counterparts, thanks to zero calorie sweeteners like sucralose. The problem is, these sweeteners confuse the brain, tricking it into expecting the energy boost that comes from natural sugars. To compensate for this unfulfilled expectation, the brain sends increased hunger signals, often causing you to eat more food as a result. Take a look at “Diet soda actually makes you hungrier than sugary drinks, says research.”

  • Super shoes are all the rage in the competitive running space right now, and they’re a far cry from a typical racing shoe from previous decades. Racing flats, spikes, and minimalist shoes were all about cutting weight and limiting support to improve speed, but did they actually work? Yes and no, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Special Operations Medicine. Researchers found minimalist shoes improve 5k times when used for up to 6 weeks. Beyond that, conventional shoes produced similar results, with a lower rate of injury. See for yourself in “How often should you run in minimalist shoes?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

If you ever question why endurance athletes are often referred to as a community or even a family, there was a scary, but poignant reminder of that concept at the Boston Marathon last week. Meghan Rock, an accomplished 2:44 marathoner, inexplicably went into cardiac arrest at mile 8 last Monday. The story could have been tragic if it had not been for some quick-thinking fellow runners who jumped to her aid. One of those runners was a firefighter from Oregon, Nick Haney, who performed chest compressions on Rock and watched her face turn from blue to pink. In a tiny world coincidence, as he was working on Rock, Haney realized that he had met her at previous marathons. When Rock awoke, she immediately thought of her young son at home in Minnesota and how close she’d come to never seeing him again. For details, check out the TV news coverage from Haney’s hometown station in Oregon.


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