MAR 11, 2022
Minute 1: Can you make your tendons tougher?
Although they don’t look as good in a tank top as vein-popping muscles, your tendons play a critical role in athletic performance. Like muscles, you really need to train your tendons to pull their weight within the musculoskeletal system. You’re probably scratching your head, thinking, “Can you even do that?” According to new research, the answer is “Yes, You Can Train Your Tendons.” Sure, having a particularly elastic tendon won’t garner the same compliments as a toned muscle, but bear with us, because thicker, springier tendons like your achilles heel can improve running efficiency significantly. Just how much improvement can be made? When comparing sets of twins, researchers found a 28% increase in achilles tendon stiffness among those who reported an active lifestyle, compared to their inactive counterparts. In general, moving around on your feet, running, and cycling are all good ways to bolster its strength, but to really hone in on your achilles, try the exercises and stretches in “Physical Therapy Exercises for Achilles Tendonitis.” Of course, there are tendons all over your body, and for athletes that participate in sports with lots of twisting and high impact, like skiing or tennis, you’ll want to cover all your bases. Take a look at “How to Strengthen Tendons and Ligaments for Injury Prevention.” One tip you can try in the gym is performing partial rep ranges with heavy weight. By performing only the eccentric portion of a lift, you expose your body to a higher level of resistance without overexerting your muscles trying to push it back up. #HollywoodTendon
Minute 2: New shorts for a new season
As we (M)arch our way into warmer weather, we need to not only reset our clocks, but also restock our gear closets. It’s time to spring forward with swapping out your running tights and sweats for a fresh supply of shorts. As you outfit yourself in the coming weeks, there’s a lot to consider, from material, to inseam length, to proper fit. For a little guidance, check out “The Best Running Shorts for Men,” or “Best Women’s Running Shorts for Marathon.” Polyester fabric is a popular option, and for good reason, since it’s non-absorbent and able to block UV rays. Combined with a long inseam length, these shorts will give you plenty of coverage on sunny days. Spandex offers maximum mobility and comfort: Perfect for tempo runs and workouts. There are a few other options for material, and you can learn the benefits of each in “The Best Fabrics For a Comfortable Run.” Once you know what you want, head over to Fleet Feet’s guide for Men and Women to make ordering quick and easy. While we’re on the topic of warm weather gear, running vests with built in flasks can really level up your game. Read the “USWE Pace 2 Running Vest Review” for a look into what utility these vests can offer for endurance athletes. #ShortStories
Minute 3: Melatonin and other natural sleep aids to try
Growing up, you probably heard the fairytale of The Princess and the Pea, where a young lady is kept awake all night by the mere presence of a pea under her stack of mattresses. Like most fiction, there’s a bit of truth to be found within, and most of us have a figurative pea that prevents us from getting 7 or 8 hours of REM sleep. Luckily, there are supplements and foods that can aid us on our quest for a good night’s rest, so let's start by asking “Does melatonin work?” The degree of melatonin’s efficacy depends on your personal situation, says psychologist Michael J. Breus. If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s worth getting tested for melatonin deficiency; a condition which can be treated very effectively with nightly melatonin supplementation. From the age of 40 onwards, your natural melatonin levels are prone to decline, so if your sleep has deteriorated as you’ve aged, you should take extra care to support melatonin levels. Supplements aren’t the only remedy, and there are lots of foods that contain melatonin and other sleep aiding minerals to try out. Here are “The Best Foods To Help You Sleep.” Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews contain magnesium and zinc, which were shown to help adult insomniacs sleep better according to one clinical trial. It’s important to note, what we’ve mentioned so far are sleep facilitators, but not directly sedative. One natural sedative that’s grown in popularity recently is CBD, so check out “CBD gummies for sleep: 7 top options.” #CBDeepSleep
Minute 4: Coming up clutch - How to perform better under pressure
Contrary to popular myth, more talented athletes tend to perform worse in big moments than their middle-of-the-bell-curve peers. That’s what research indicates about athletes’ performance in regular vs. postseason games, for example. The better the player ranks, the more their performance decreases in high pressure situations. The question is, are they mentally hindered from the high expectations placed on them, or physically drained from carrying their team to victory? Dive into this mystery in “Why Performance Under Pressure Isn’t All in Your Head.” The best athletes get the most playing time, which is great for building skills, but can leave you depleted after several weeks of competition. Similarly, runners who push themselves hard in training might arrive on race day with fatigue and injuries. Sometimes, you’ve got to check your ego, take things easy, and gradually take on more mileage. Follow the guidelines in “Running – Load Management” to learn how to listen to your body and avoid overworking in practice. We’ve covered the physical side of things, but what about mental? One study found that basketball players were between 2% and 6% more likely to miss a free throw in the last 30 seconds of a close game. Psychologists have identified 2 potential causes for poor performance under pressure, and you can read about them in “What High-Stakes Athletic Competition Reveals About Winning in Life.” One possibility is the increased likelihood of “self focus,” or the increased self consciousness that results in deliberate control of your skill’s execution. The other factor is increased distraction, as anxiety shifts your attention to worries about the task at hand, rather than focusing on the task itself. To avoid choking under pressure, prepare a mental strategy for yourself to combat these pitfalls. #PressureDrop
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
The TCS New York City Marathon will complete its comeback this year as the field expands to its traditional size of about 50,000 runners. If you want to join the fun, the window for entering the bib drawing opened on Wednesday, March 9 and will close on Wednesday, March 23. Once applications are collected, the drawing for non-guaranteed entries will take place on Wednesday, March 30. If you think you have a fast enough race to bypass the drawing, you can learn more here. A 45-year-old woman needs a 3:38 to automatically qualify while a 45-year-old man needs a 3:05.
Any time we hear of a way to improve our health, alongside the health of our planet, we jump at the chance to share. The next time you go looking for new vegetables to try, reach under the sea. Yep, you heard us right; seaweed could be the next health food craze, given its high vitamin, mineral, and protein content. Not to mention, it's got a highly sustainable growth process, so “If You Make One Nutritional Change This Year, Start Eating Seaweed.”
Making the decision to run a marathon is an exciting time, often followed by the most enthusiastic weeks of training of your life. But everything that goes up, must come down, and motivation often wanes during the middle portion of your training. As you prepare for a spring marathon or other race, know that you’re not alone in the ups and downs of preparation, and if you want to see what to expect, read “The five phases of training for a spring marathon.”
Most runners are all too familiar with the experience of sore feet after stomping the pavement. If you can relate, you’re also probably aware of just how many potential causes there can be. Getting to the bottom of why you’re having trouble starts by identifying exactly where the pain lies. Frome there, you can use this guide to determine the problem, and try out a few of the suggested solutions. Here’s “How To Treat Sore Feet After Running? The Ultimate Guide 2022.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
A scary incident at a Florida 10K last weekend has changed the way we think about law enforcement at road races forever. After viewing the video below, we are promising ourselves that every time we run a race, we will go out of our way to thank public safety officers who are helping with traffic control. Most of us take these folks for granted and assume that they will be just kinda chilling out at big intersections with their lights flashing. At the Skyway 10K, however, Trooper Toni Schuck of the Florida Highway Patrol risked her own life to protect the crowd of thousands of runners from a drunk driver. The Skyway 10K has a stunning course that traverses the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, high above the Tampa Bay. When Trooper Schuck received word that a BMW was zooming past roadblocks and about to enter the closed-off bridge, she realized she was the last line of defense between the drunk driver and the field of runners. Without hesitating, she drove her patrol vehicle directly into the path of the BMW, likely saving countless lives, but landing herself in the hospital with serious injuries. The dash cam video below is both frightening and inspiring.