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Surprising survey results

Minute 1: Our readers are anxious to race again

It seems that most of our readers are anxious to move past social distancing and back into distance racing. More than 2,600 of you participated in our survey last Saturday and the results surprised us. When we asked the question: “How comfortable would you feel running in a large, in-person race?,” nearly 1 in 5 respondents said they would toe the line right now, whether the race offered social distancing or not. 74% of people said they’d be willing to race before the pandemic is officially over. Here is how the responses broke out:

  • 26% - I will not participate until the pandemic is over

  • 27% - I would participate if strict social distancing protocols were in place

  • 28% - I would participate if some protocols were in place

  • 19% - I would participate if one was available with or without distancing protocols

Athlinks just posted a blog about the “Return to Racing,” citing 9 U.S. states where in-person racing is back. China, where the pandemic began, recently hosted a trail race with 6,000 runners. Spartan produced an event last week in China with nearly 10,000 racers and social distancing protocols in place. Given the recent difficulties in re-opening U.S. college campuses to date, it seems that American distance races are still many months away from a full recovery. BTW, the New York Times offers an interesting tracker of Covid cases on college campuses, ranking each school by number of cases recorded.

Minute 2: Saliva tests now open to everyone

If having a stranger “tickle your brain” with a Q-tip isn’t your idea of a good time, you may consider an alternative way to test whether you have Coronavirus. A reader just let us know that she used a saliva-based test from Vault Health and had a pleasant experience. Vault uses a saliva test developed by Rutgers University, similar to what the NBA and many college campuses have been using. The Today Show recently reviewed their experience with a Vault saliva test. A link to the Vault order form is here. The test currently costs $150, but Vault expects pricing to drop as more customers use the service. We wonder if this may be a key step in the return of running races in North America. #NoseThankYou

Minute 3: More news (and controversy) on gaiters

Nearly 50 years ago, Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story for the Washington Post. Earlier this week, the Post acknowledged that it had created “Gaitergate” with its controversial article: “Wearing a neck gaiter may be worse than no mask at all, researchers find.” After several scientists impeached the basics of the study cited by the Post, the newspaper published a retraction of sorts. The new story, published this week, cited a Virginia Tech professor who said: “We tested neck gaiters with more conventional methods, and I am pleased to see that they perform similarly to cloth masks and very well if doubled over.” We are big fans of the traditional Buff face gaiters, so we were also pleased to see that model perform well in the VaTech research. It’s also good to know that by doubling it over, we can increase the level of protection. For outdoor workouts in the heat, however, sometimes we find that gaiters make our necks extra hot and sweaty. Until cool autumn air arrives, we like this list of the “3 best facemasks for running,” featuring athletic models using the ear-wrap design. If you are a devoted capitalist, you may enjoy this take from the Economist and Goldman Sachs: “Why the Economic Value of a Face Mask is $56.14.” Their calculations estimate that if 15% more people wear face masks, that translates into a 1% reduction in the growth rate of Coronavirus infections.

Minute 4: Training table round-up

Good news for pizza-lovers who gave up the idea of a leftover slice for breakfast after they graduated from college. According to a respected nutritionist, pizza is actually a healthier morning option than many cereals. A slice typically has more protein and less sugar than granola, for example. Pizza also tends to make you feel more full than equivalent calories eaten with a spoon. We like our cereal with plenty of banana slices, which deliver potassium and help prevent leg cramps. That benefit isn’t enough to prevent this nutrition columnist from sounding off on new stickers placed on Chiquita bananas: “I Just Really Need to Vent About These Problematic Workout Stickers I Saw on My Bananas.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • As a follow-up to our story last week, Sister Stephanie Baliga completed her treadmill marathon to raise money for a Chicago food program for those in need. Baliga, a nun and former D-1 collegiate runner, covered 26.2 miles in 3:33 with a huge smile on her face. According to her fundraising page, the treadmill jaunt generated $113,000 for charity as of press time. We just made a contribution to the cause, thereby wiping out profits from our Six Minute Mile t-shirt sales, but generating priceless good karma.

  • Readers once again are diving into Brian Metzler’s latest gear guide: Budget-Friendly Shoes in which he uncovers 12 shoes that won’t break the bank. These aren’t bargain bins of size 13 models from two years ago, but rather high quality new releases that sell for $100 or less. 

  • Ultra runners normally don’t enjoy the same fame as other athletes, given that their exploits take place on remote mountain trails rather than camera-friendly stadiums. But Trevor Murphy’s training run has officially gone viral as he was filmed trying to stomp out a raging brush fire in Arizona that he discovered on his morning training run. The video of the running hero is here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Rising Phoenix, a remarkable new film released on Netflix this week, is arguably the best account in history of the passion behind the Paralympic Games. Ludwig Guttman, a German doctor who escaped Nazi persecution during WWII, created the games in 1948 at his hospital in England. He was treating severely wounded soldiers and civilians who were not expected to live long, according to conventional wisdom at the time. Dr. Guttman thought otherwise and believed in the power of sports to heal his patients. It turns out he was right. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist and considered the fastest female wheelchair athlete of all time, co-produced the film that is garnering rave reviews. An excellent account of McFadden’s career and her inspiration to make the film is here. The film’s preview, below, will tickle the hair on the back of your neck.


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