Minute 1: Sleep well, live long
If you want to keep running into your 60s and beyond, you will need more than good genes and an ample shoe budget. LIVESTRONG just shared a few other must-haves in this new story: “If You Want To Age Well, This May Be the Most Important Habit to Stick With.” Of the 6 keys to healthy aging identified by doctors, sleep is the most vital. The idea is that all the benefits of sleep manifest themselves in nearly every other part of your life. A good night’s rest will give you more energy, letting you exercise more often. More energy also means more motivation to cook your own healthy meals and socialize with friends -- two things that keep your body young and mind active for the long haul. Sleeping well also helps you confront daily challenges, keeping stress levels down. Along these lines, we’ve been testing out a Whoop for the past 30 days and the device provides some pretty remarkable data on rest and recovery. We get daily reports on time spent in bed, sleep disturbances, sleep efficiency and respiratory rate while sleeping. Whoop maps the data against the training you’ve done that day to recommend how much sleep you need. They are giving a significant discount to SMM readers that you can check out here. #WhoopThereItIs
Minute 2: Sleep advice 2.0
Whoop can tell you how much to sleep, but there’s some fascinating new research explaining when you should sleep. “Want to reduce your depression risk? Wake up an hour earlier.” The story cites new research published in JAMA Psychiatry confirming that night owls are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression as early risers. This became an even bigger problem during the pandemic as people have tended to stay up later as their commutes were eliminated. Regardless of when you set your alarm, sometimes getting a good night’s rest is easier said than done, but here are “17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night.” One of the most important steps to take is regulating light exposure. That means getting as much sun as possible during the day, but limiting your exposure to blue light later on by turning on night mode on your devices. That extra daylight is part of the reason that early risers are typically happier and confirms lots of research that Vitamin D is good for your immune system. Dr. Anthony Fauci is a big believer in the value of Vitamin D and takes a supplement daily. #DTrain
Minute 3: High school 1500M record setter is also an elite rock climber
Qualifying for the 1500M Olympic trials as a high schooler is almost unheard of. Hitting that standard while competing at an elite level in another sport simultaneously is borderline impossible. Unless your name is Hobbes Kessler. You can read about his monumental season in “Introducing the Country’s Fastest High Schooler” from Outside. Recently, Kessler broke the high school all time best in the 1500M, crossing the line at 3:34.36 and surpassing Alan Webb’s record, which had stood for 20 years. If that’s not enough to impress you, he also competed as a 5.14+ rock climber in the IFSC Climbing World Youth Championship in Italy in 2019, and continues to climb alongside his running endeavors. Participating in both sports at a high level poses a challenge, but Kessler says he thinks “climbing really helps running.” We’d have to agree, after seeing these “5 Health Benefits of Indoor Rock Climbing.” Lifting yourself up takes a lot of strength, but unlike running, it can be relatively low impact (assuming you’re properly harnessed, that is.) As the climbs get harder, you have to extend and stretch your body further, which can be great for developing flexibility. The world spotlight will be on sport climbing soon, as it will make its Olympic debut this year, making it the perfect time for you to learn about the sport and give it a shot. Here’s “Olympic Climbing 101: Everything You Need to Know About Climbing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.”
Minute 4: Where do Ultras go from here?
TikTok, avocado toast and ultramarathons. We don’t think those 3 topics have ever appeared in the same sentence together, but they share the common denominator of meteoric growth. Given the focus of this newsletter, we are most impressed by the 1,600% increase in the number of ultra participants over the past 2 decades. All the details and stats are available in this recent report from RunRepeat: The State of Ultra Running 2020. In 2018, more than 600,000 people ran an ultramarathon. It is now safe to officially classify ultramarathons as mainstream. With more and more people running races longer than 26.2 miles, the NYT just raised the question: "Where Do Ultramarathons Go From Here?" The piece dives into the new fascination with the sport. Races are getting longer, more demanding, and sometimes more dangerous. We have written before about the recent race tragedy in China, which had a small silver lining when a shepherd saved 6 runners during the storm. Part of the growth is driven by a basic human instinct, as described a few years ago in Psychology Today: “How Greater Challenges Help You Grow.” As the article points out, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” The International Trail Running Association website offers some excellent resources as well as a thoughtful piece by its President, Bob Crowley. “There’s room for everyone in our quirky and wonderful sport,” writes Crowley, “and our ethos isn’t going anywhere thank you very much.” #UltraFun
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
No matter how much you love running, we all slip up on our routine here and there. When you’ve been inactive all day, the biggest hurdle to overcome is that initial adjustment period at the beginning of exercise. If that’s something you struggle with, take comfort knowing you’re not alone, and check out “The first 10 minutes of running are the worst (for everyone).” Your muscles aren’t warmed up, and you haven’t done enough for your brain’s reward system to be firing yet. Recognizing this challenge is the first step to making sure it doesn’t get in the way of progress.
Runners and weightlifters are sometimes viewed as 2 different groups, but combining those disciplines is good way to build both strength and cardio. There’s debate about how often you should perform each activity for the best results, and this has us asking the question “Should You Run on the Days You Lift Weights?” The story provides tips on building a schedule that works, and learning about the timeframe in which you can expect to see results.
Strava just rolled out 2 impressive new features: Group Challenges and Personalized Segment Suggestions. In both cases, users on the paid version of the app will see much fuller functionality. This is part of Strava’s strategy to steer users toward the paid version of the product. Frankly, the free version was just too good for too long. The new strategy has helped Strava become a “unicorn” with a valuation exceeding $1 billion.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Sorting through the mailbag is always one of the highlights of our week. We are lucky to have a thoughtful and engaged readership that keeps us honest when we screw up and doles out nice compliments when we do it right. The best email we’ve received so far in 2021 arrived this week from Greg Callow, a subscriber from New Jersey. In addition to being an avid runner, Greg also spends lots of time hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where his parents have a vacation home. Greg just sent us a picture of him rocking his Six Minute Mile t-shirt atop 5,000 foot Mount Lincoln. No doubt we have Greg to thank for a recent surge in SMM t-shirt sales as we are down to only XLs and smalls in our inventory. If either of those fit you, check out our shirts here. If those won’t fit, fear not. We should have inventory replenished within the next 2 weeks. If you already own one of our t-shirts and think you can handle digital fame, send along a photo of you repping SMM in an interesting place and we’ll do our best to make you a star.