SEP 29, 2023
Minute 1: Grunt your way to a better workout
When you hear a Karate newbie shouting “hi-ya!” with every punch or an amateur tennis player grunting with each groundstroke, you are forgiven if you roll your eyes. That’s been our reaction for years – at least until we learned last week that bringing out your inner bear can actually improve athletic performance: “Can Grunting Give You a Better Workout?” One study found that grunting increased female tennis players’ grip strength by 25%, and that was enough to convince the author of this article to give it a try in her gym workouts. It started off feeling a little forced, but 20 minutes into the workout, she realized it was her natural inclination to grunt during exertion. Not only can grunting improve your power, but it can also help you find a rhythm for your breathing, release tension, and even distract an opponent. Those are some of the “9 Reasons why Tennis Players grunt.” Some players use grunting to gain a psychological advantage. For instance, grunting heavily while lightly tapping the ball over the net can confuse your opponent, making your shots harder to predict. Weightlifters can use grunting to their advantage as well, and some experts recommended the Valsalva technique to maximize your potential. To learn more about this breath control method, take a look at: “Does Grunting in the Gym Actually Make You Stronger?”
Minute 2: Here’s why you shouldn’t skip your warmup
Don’t expect to go on a hot-streak without a proper warmup. When you’re in a crunch for time or low on energy, warmups and cooldowns are among the first things too many runners triage. That’s unfortunate, because the benefits of warming up are undeniable, according to: “Do You Really Need To Warm Up Before A Run? The Science Is Surprisingly Clear.” First of all, warmups literally raise the temperature of your muscles, which increases your metabolic processes and allows for faster, stronger contraction. Warmups also deliver fresh blood and oxygen to your muscles, giving them the resources needed to perform at your best. Lastly, warmups can prime your nervous system, activating the pathways between your brain and muscles to enhance your coordination and explosiveness. Ideally, a warmup should involve two phases, which you can read about in this analysis from Training Peaks: “Why Effective Warm-Ups Are Important Before Training and Racing.” Ideally, the first step is 10-20 minutes of light cardio to promote blood flow. Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, engage in a short period of explosive movements; think plyometrics and dynamic stretches to engage the nervous system warmup we spoke about earlier. What about static stretching? To hear a discussion on that, read: “Should you stretch before running?” The short answer is, unless you’re in dire need of increasing flexibility or range of motion, static stretches don’t offer a ton of benefits for endurance athletes immediately prior to a run.
Minute 3: Can these supplements help with joint pain?
Many of us who have struggled with joint pain wonder whether there will ever be a safe and truly effective remedy for lasting relief. In recent years, joint pain supplements have hit the shelves promising to do just that, but do they really work? Part of the answer is in this new piece: “We've tested the best supplements for joints to help ease pain and reduce stiffness.” Some common ingredients among the most effective products include vitamin D, collagen, and glucosamine. If you’re not familiar with the latter, check out: “Do glucosamine and chondroitin supplements actually work for arthritis?” The article cites one study that found that glucosamine was no better than a placebo for reducing joint pain. Further research, however, disputes that report, with some doctors saying it's a worthwhile option to consider, especially if you’re unable to take NSAIDs. For more on that sanguine viewpoint, take a look at: “Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis Pain.” While we’re on the topic of reducing soreness, we should note that no supplement is a replacement for a proper, balanced diet when it comes to recovery, and that’s why you should know: “How to Fuel Your Strength Workouts: Triathlon Edition.” The key is getting an adequate supply of protein and carbs, and the article has lots of info about when you should consume both to maximize your recovery potential and minimize your lingering aches
Minute 4: Supershoes Analysis: Why modern marathon racing shoes should be legal and celebrated
As soon as we heard that the women’s marathon record was shattered last week in Berlin – thanks in some measure to a new pair of $500 Adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 supershoes – we reached out to Brian Metzler to see what was afoot. Brian responded quickly with some details on this new Adidas wunderschuh and then penned a terrific essay about the ethics of shoes that provide a measurable advantage to athletes. Most of the supershoe focus has been on their embedded carbon plates, however Brian points out that innovations in foam and shoe shape have had just as big an impact. A few highlights of Brian’s essay are below, but for his full take, check it out on our website.
There’s been a lot of chatter this week about Tigst Assefa’s new women’s world record in the marathon of 2:11:53 that she set on September 24 in Berlin. It was an amazing run to be sure, as she chopped more than 2 minutes off the previous record and won the race by nearly six minutes. Plus, she did it by running negative splits, running the first half in a blazing fast 66:20 (already well ahead of world record paces) and then coming home even faster in 65:33 for the second half.
But the biggest focus this week has been on her shoes. She was wearing the much-ballyhooed Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 racing shoes that the German footwear maker announced only a week before the race. It’s the brand’s next-gen marathon racing supershoe that is not only considerably lighter than every other shoe in that category (with a spec weight of just 4.8 ounces!), but it also has a different shape that helps create a hyper-responsive, energy-returning gait cycle.
Did the shoes help her break the world record? Yes, absolutely they did. Without the advanced technology of that shoe – a new formulation of Lightstrike Pro foam, a curvy carbon-fiber plate and, perhaps most importantly, a revamped geometry with a first-of-its-kind forefoot rocker, placed at 60 percent of the length of the shoe – there’s no way she would have run as fast as she did.
Should those types of shoes be banned? Absolutely not! But there are some caveats.
My take has always been that the shoes should be legal based on three separate criteria. First, the shoes need to be vetted by World Athletics and posted on its approved list before anyone runs in them. Second, to ensure a level and fair playing field at every race, the shoes need to be readily available to everyone and not proprietary to a singular brand that’s making them only for their sponsored athletes. (Whether runners choose to wear a model made by the brand that sponsors them or another brand’s shoes is up to them.) And third – most importantly – the shoes cannot provide additional energy to a runner’s stride.
If each of those criteria are met, then these supershoes should be legal and celebrated as the technological advancement of sporting equipment that can benefit both elite runners and age-groupers like you and me. From a pure footwear point of view, Aseffa’s Adidas Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 racing shoes have taken marathon running to the next level.
For Brian’s full analysis of the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1 and its competitors, check it out here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Our friend Rebecca Trachsel, publisher of the popular blog, Running With Music, is back this week with another recommendation for your playlist. This HS XC coach has legs built for speed and an ear for running tunes. Here’s her latest pick: Today's song is MØ's newly released version of The Raveonettes' 2002 classic, “Attack of the Ghost Riders.” I love The Raveonettes and have been listening to their old school, alt-rock music for many years. But this recent twist on what was already a killer tune is borderline jaw-dropping. I also happen to love MØ and have a plethora of her songs on my various running playlists. This particular collaboration is off their most recent album ‘The Raveonettes presents: Rip It Off’ which is a celebration of their original album "Whip It On" released 20 years ago, on which they invite friends to join them for covers of their songs. The entire album is worth your time but "Attack" got my blood pumping and had me picking up my pace without even realizing it. Check it out here. #turnitup
About 1 in 5 Americans have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, and we’d love to see that number come down. Some promising prescriptions are included in this new piece: “Study Identifies 7 Ways to Cut Depression Risk in Half.” Included on the list are routines that are near and dear to almost all of our readers: quality sleep, social connections, and regular exercise.
There’s nothing wrong with just going out and running when you feel like it, how you feel like it. However, if you want to get serious results, you’ll need to modify your approach as you progress. Using periodization to meet your body’s adapting needs can make a big difference, and if you want to learn how, check out: “Building a Training Plan to Optimize Adaptations.” Novice runners will want to work through progression of first running more days per week and then adding more volume per day. Advanced runners training for an upcoming race need more specificity to meet the demands of a particular event.
We’ve spoken before about the Norwegian Method for training, as in Minute 1 of this issue. There’s a lot more we can learn from our Norwegian friends, however, starting with the concept of friluftsliv. That roughly translates to “free-air life,” and it represents the spiritual connection to nature that’s embedded in Norwegian culture. Adopting a friluftsliv-inspired mindset in your own life can improve your wellness and happiness, so check out “The Norwegian secret: how friluftsliv boosts health and happiness.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
What’s the best part of running a marathon? Flexing on all your friends, family members and co-workers, of course. We joke, but chances are we’ve all known someone (or been someone) who can’t resist bringing up the topic of running a marathon at every opportunity. It’s hard work after all, and when you commit so much time and energy toward one goal, it understandably starts to take over your life. @walksauce42_ hit the nail on the head in his latest parody video, spouting off just about every running cliche you can think of in his short but hilarious video. Click the link below to check it out.