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Shake up your pandemic workouts

Minute 1: Reader survey results

To paraphrase our favorite scene in Good Will Hunting: “Our readers are wicked smart.” We just reviewed the responses to our first-ever SMM reader survey, and a remarkable 50% of you have earned at least one graduate degree. That’s a demographic that rivals Scientific American or the New York Review of Books. Maybe we need to invest in a thesaurus to keep up with y’all. You are also very dedicated athletes with 81% of you working out 4+ days per week. Overall, 850 people completed the survey which was about 2X what we had hoped to see. Here are a few more fun facts on your tastes and habits:

  • 83% say running is their favorite activity

  • Other passions include hiking (77%), skiing (26%), paddling (22%) and golf (14%)

  • 54% have a gym membership (perhaps down from 4 months ago?)

  • 64% use fitness apps every time they exercise

  • Hundreds of people suggested podcast favorites – stay tuned for a recommendations list in our next issue

  • 52% would like to see more race reviews and recommendations (Yes! We need to get on this one.)

  • 73% of you are married

  • Many cited Meb, Shalane, Deena, Des or Kipchoge as their favorite athletes, perhaps not surprising given our editorial focus

  • There were some favorite athlete names we didn’t expect that showed up several times including Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Simone Biles and several women’s World Cup soccer stars

We offered 5 free Six Minute Mile water bottles to participants, but because you exceeded our expectations, we are sending them out to 10 lucky winners. Feel free to join in the fun and take the survey here. OK, fine, we’ll offer another 5 water bottles as incentive. #MENSARunningClub

Minute 2: Workout ideas

There isn’t much to like about the pandemic overall, but we tend to hunt down silver linings the way our dog seeks food dropped by the kids. Amidst the suffering of so many, lots of us have found time to enjoy more family, reduced commuting time, and a newly flexible schedule that allows us to sneak in runs, rides and workouts at unusual hours. We have also uncovered new ways to break a sweat over the past 4 months. This week, several good ideas crossed our desk that are worth sharing. “The 5 best hill running sessions to work into your routine,” seemed like a good fit given our home office is only ¾ of a mile from the top of Heartbreak Hill. We will test drive at least one of these before the weekend, although their indoor treadmill version isn’t appealing at this time of year. This story helped convince us to leave the hamster wheel behind: “Does running on a treadmill change your stride?” (It’s actually a pretty measured account of the pros and cons, but we occasionally let our personal bias slip through.) If you really want to shake things up, you could consider the 4X4X48 Challenge designed by former Navy SEAL David Goggins. The idea is to run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 straight hours. That’s a total of 48 miles in 2 days. Here is the recent account of one woman who completed the challenge and offered 10 pieces of practical advice for those brave enough to give it a shot. 

Minute 3: The Graduate, had it right: “Plastics”

Last week we referenced the classic scene in The Graduate in which Dustin Hoffman’s character is urged to pursue a future in plastics. (The gym industry, you see, needs pallets of Plexiglass to reopen safely.) Continuing the theme, the running “nation turns its lonely eyes to you,” London Marathon. That line from Simon & Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson is even more fitting this week because the Marine Corps Marathon just cancelled its October race. London was already the only Abbott World Marathon Major to remain on the calendar, while MCM is somewhat of an unofficial 4th major in the U.S. The Marines were battling hard to put on an in-person race with a thoughtful plan to stagger waves, but “could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines.” That leaves slim pickings in the U.S. for fall marathons, although Des Moines and St. George (Utah) are still accepting registrations. As for London, the race received good news Friday from Boris Johnson. The UK Prime Minister set October 1 as the re-opening date for sports venues and even indoor concerts. We think it was not a coincidence that Johnson chose a date just before the scheduled October 4 running of the Virgin Money London Marathon. France, BTW, is currently allowing up to 5,000 fans into soccer stadia, and is proceeding with the Tour de France, scheduled to launch August 29 with a Coronavirus plan in place.

Minute 4: Running with face masks

If you are struggling with the risk/convenience/performance balance of wearing a face mask while running outdoors, this CNET story provides one of the simplest summaries we’ve seen recently: “How to exercise with a face mask – and what not to do.” Regardless of mask design, it will restrict airflow somewhat. That means less available oxygen to convert glucose into sugar. That leads to quicker onset of fatigue and reduced performance, although your body should adjust over a few weeks. If you’re not convinced you need to wear a mask while exercising outdoors, this piece from the Cleveland Clinic provides a balanced take: “Should You Wear a Face Mask When Running Outdoors?” We like this list of the 12 Best Face Masks for Running and Cycling. The bottom line is if you're running somewhere where you regularly encounter other people, you should be wearing a mask.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We are not huge horoscope disciples, but you could include us in the camp of “There’s probably something to it.” While we don’t make key life decisions using the stars, we find that a surprising number of times the general attributes of our sign fit our real life experience. However much Zodiac floats your boat, you may enjoy this new piece: “Which workout style is best for you as per your zodiac sign?” Apparently, Capricorns like running while Leos enjoy HIIT.

  • Avid trail runner Alyssa Clark was disappointed when several ultras she’d planned to run in 2020 were cancelled. Instead, she decided to use her remarkable base of fitness to run 26.2 miles every day until the end of quarantine. She surpassed her original goal of 65 consecutive days and wound up doing 95 straight marathons, many in the spectacular scenery of Italian hills near her husband’s U.S. Navy station. Unfortunately, while Clark broke the Guinness World Record for consecutive marathon distances covered, she wound up with all the symptoms of COVID-19. She is now recovering, but she was forced to abandon during her 96th marathon jaunt. 

  • The world’s largest collection of digital endurance race photos remains popular with our readers, chalking up almost as many clicks as our survey last week. For more than a decade most of those images sat on idle hard drives, but now more than 200 million photos are live on the website of our sister company, MarathonFoto. They created a new feature where athletes use their email address to search for images of their glory days. They tell us that personal finish line videos from several marathons will be uploaded next week and will be free to download. Stay tuned.  

  • From our housekeeping staff, here’s a reminder to move SMM from your Gmail Promotions tab to the main inbox. The Google algorithm is a clever beast, and it apparently loves nothing more than to see this dragging and dropping. So if Six Minute Mile has been landing in your Promotions tab rather than in your Primary inbox, please just drag and drop this email into your Primary tab. Once you do that, Gmail may ask you whether you’d like to filter future messages into the inbox. If so, please click yes. This will improve deliverability of SMM for you as well as burn calories and improve index finger dexterity. That is all.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Paul Tran, the founder of Manscaped, is leading a mission to clean up men worldwide. According to Forbes, it’s working for guys, their partners, and Tran’s company. Revenue at Manscaped is up 40X. Tom Selleck and his ‘80s hairy chest are long gone, replaced by a cleaner look under the shirt and below the belt. The trend has been adopted by athletes worldwide -- and not just swimmers and cyclists who have shaved down for decades. We suppose that’s why the company approached Six Minute Mile to promote their product with our active readership. The first time we ran an ad for Manscaped, it was a big hit with much of our audience, but also left many folks asking: “Man what???” and “Trim what?” We realized from our reader survey that 24% of you are between the ages of 55 and 64. That’s outside the typical Instagram ad-buying demographic for the company, so you may not have seen their promotions before. But we have assured Manscaped that our readers have the energy levels of folks 20 years younger. The video below is a hilarious attempt by Manscaped to educate the Tom Selleck crowd on the benefits of their product.


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