APR 28, 2023
Minute 1: How much alcohol, if any, is ideal?
Back in the ‘90s, an alcohol researcher from France made a claim on 60 Minutes that had American viewers saying: “Oui, oui!” To age like a fine wine, Serge Renaud said, you should be drinking more wine. Aside from the obvious question of how we can get hired as a French alcohol researcher, we have always wondered if Renaud’s conclusion was too good to be vrai? Could higher alcohol consumption really account for the lower rates of cardiovascular disease around the world? After looking into the data recently, one skeptic just published this sad news: “Pour One Out: The boozy story of how we decided alcohol was a health boon in the ’90s – and how it all fell apart.” Tim Requarth dug into the research around alcohol, finding that a lot of the positive studies were funded and amplified by beverage manufacturers. Those biased studies led researchers to the conclusion that a few drinks a week was healthier than no drinks. But when the topic was reinvestigated, controlling for other factors like pre-existing heart conditions in those who quit drinking, the benefits of moderate drinking nearly disappeared. Of course, these studies are looking at data on a societal level, so they can’t be perfectly applied to individuals. One possible misinterpretation of the data is laid out in: “New Study Says There’s No Safe Level of Alcohol – But Wait.” It’s worth noting that while alcohol itself may appear to have a net negative effect on one’s health, many of the world’s oldest people are regular, moderate drinkers: “The Drinking Habits of the Longest-Living People in the World.” Some have theorized that while alcohol itself is harmful, it can bring positive secondary effects, like better digestion of plant-based meals which contain antioxidants. There’s also an association with consuming alcohol and dining with friends and family, and strong social bonds are a key ingredient to a long and healthy life.
Minute 2: Should endurance athletes perform fasted exercise?
If you want to participate in “fasted training,” don’t expect to run fast. That’s according to studies cited in this piece from Training Peaks: “Intermittent Fasting’s Effects On Endurance Results And Health.” One study cited had two groups complete 30 minutes of cycling, and the fasted group saw a 3.8% decrease in performance. While other research backs that up, there are also benefits to combining intermittent fasting with exercise. While your speed and power may diminish in the short term, you are likely to burn more fat. That’s our body’s best source of long term, slow-burning energy, and some experts feel that fasted exercise could be ideal if your goal is to go at a slow pace for hours. Those who intermittent fast typically show lower levels of inflammatory markers, better insulin sensitivity, and healthier cholesterol levels. However, long-term time-restricted eating habits were associated with lower testosterone levels and muscle growth. For more on that, check out: “Running on an Empty Stomach: Get the Facts.” Running without fueling up can cause the body to break down muscle, but that’s only after you’ve depleted your glycogen stores and are still trying to push harder than your fat metabolism can keep up with. In other words, it’s probably only a concern for the most extreme endurance athletes.
Minute 3: Can you benefit from sandals and other minimalist footwear?
No longer are sandals associated only with beach bums, soccer dads and retirees. There’s a growing trend among runners and hikers who have traded in sturdier footwear in favor of freedom and mobility. If you’re curious to see if this footwear will work for you, read: “Running in sandals: what you should know.” Proponents of minimalist footwear have touted their benefits, claiming the lightweight, unencumbered design allows your natural footstrike to propel you forward, but understand that it won’t happen overnight. If you’ve grown accustomed to supportive shoes, you’ll want to ease your way into running sandals, since you’ll be recruiting muscles and tendons that are likely a bit underdeveloped. Without giving yourself a grace period, you could increase your risk of injury and soreness. You’ll also want to be careful of slippage, especially when running offroad. If you’re not quite ready for that usage, you may find another new trend more to your liking: “No, ‘Recovery Shoes’ Aren’t Just Comfy Sneakers. Here’s the Scoop From Podiatrists – Including Their Recs.” Brands like OOFOs offer shoes designed with a whole lot of extra padding, arch support, and flexibility. They’re perfect to throw on after a long run when you need to take the pressure off your feet, but just keep in mind that the material isn’t designed to hold up against constant use.
Minute 4: Shoe Review: Hoka Tecton X 2 ($225)
Our friend and favorite shoe guru, Brian Metzler, is a big fan of Hoka running shoes. (So are we, BTW.) In prior issues, Brian has given props to the Hoka Mach 5, the Hoka Bondi 8 and the Hoka Clifton 9. Today Brian raves about the latest version of the Hoka Tecton X 2. The highlights are below and you can check out Brian’s full review of this new Hoka trail running shoe on our website.
Quite simply, I would consider this to be one of the best trail running shoes ever made. Whether or not you’re interested in running a race on trails, almost every runner enjoys trail running as part of their training. Whether you’ve run on trails once or hundreds of times, you know it pays to have a good pair of shoes with trail-specific features.
At first glance, the Hoka Tecton X 2 is a very expensive trail running shoe. But, while everyone has a budget to follow, don’t let sticker shock keep you from considering this highly advanced shoe. Like the original model released last year, it has dual, independent parallel plates embedded in its cushy dual-density midsole that provide energetic propulsion and protection from the trail. It’s a lightweight, comfortable, durable and versatile shoe capable of tackling a wide variety of terrain. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s an extremely good shoe.
What’s New: The biggest change to the Tecton X 2 is the new airy, hydrophobic upper, which is more breathable and less constraining than the upper on the first version. It’s made from a lightweight material called Matryx, which has high-tensile synthetic fiber strands across the midfoot for strength and durability. The lacing system has been updated slightly, too, helping provide a more locked-down fit.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it’s one of the only trail running shoes that successfully incorporates carbon fiber plates without being overly tippy in lateral edging or cornering maneuvers. Speaking from my own personal experience, trail running shoes with singular carbon fiber plates embedded in their midsoles can be downright dangerous because they can quickly lever your foot in a lateral or medial direction. To that point, I have rolled and sprained ankles more in the past two years than ever before while testing carbon-plated trail models. However, the Tecton X 2 (like its predecessor), with its dual/parallel plates, offers considerably more lateral variability and torsional flexibility that conforms and adapts to trail features instead of just tipping over quickly. In other words, it still offers the propulsive benefits of the plates, but without sacrificing stability.
Those are the bullet points, but to get the full memo on the new Tecton X 2, you can check out Brian’s review here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Spring is here, so hiking and trail running have emerged from hibernation. The only bad news is that our dog and our legs have picked up a few nasty hitchhikers this month. It seems like a good time to refresh everyone on some strategies on avoiding ticks and Lyme Disease: “What Most People Miss When Doing a Tick Check.”
As powerful as foam rollers can be, you’ve got to know how to use them to reap the benefits. Lots of athletes think that direct pressure on the area that’s bothering them is the solution, but sometimes, the pain is caused by tension in adjacent tendons and muscles. Knee pain, for example, can be a signal that your calves, IT band, and quads need attention. For a guide on how to roll most effectively, check out “3 Ways To Use a Foam Roller To Relieve Knee Pain in 10 Minutes.”
At this point, it’s been shown several times over that vegan diets and exercise can go together like peas and carrots. Sure, you might have to get creative in the ways you source your protein, but that can be made a little easier when you follow the advice in “How to Add High-Quality Protein to a Vegan Diet.” If you're a fan of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and more, these are the dishes for you.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Most of us would be happy to be able to walk a mile by the time we hit our 90s. Well, that certainly isn’t enough for one man named Charly who ran the 2023 Paris Marathon. He’s 93 years old, but you’d never guess it after seeing how quickly he came down the final stretch of the race. There were certainly faster runners among the 51,000 athletes crossing the finish line near l’Arc de triomphe earlier this month, but we’ll forgive Charly if he secretly wondered if that famous French landmark was a shout out to his own personal triumph. Check out the inspiring video below.