MAR 18, 2022
Minute 1: It’s all downhill from here: A guide to eccentric training
The Boston Marathon is only a few weeks away, and we hope everyone participating has a healthy respect for hill running. Otherwise, you’re in for a long, heartbreaking race. Having a plan to take on the uphill stretches is important, but you need to be ready to handle downhills as well. For that, all runners from Boston to Beaverton can benefit from reading: “Boston Marathon runners: time to add some eccentric work to your training.” Last week, we covered the benefits of eccentric movement in the gym, which allows you to put more weight on the bar as you complete only the downward portion of a lift. Similarly, downhill running will put a greater demand on your quads, given the change in stride style and increased speed. Taking advantage of the downhill speed can shave off a lot of time, but you have to be careful not to overexert yourself with the unfamiliar motion. To be ready for Boston’s downhill race opening, you should practice both downhill running and eccentric strength training. Just don’t get carried away with it, since the increased force you’ll experience can more easily result in injury. To get you started, we’ve got a few instructional videos in “Eccentric Exercises: Why Are They Important?” #DownhillRacer
Minute 2: Eating your way past fatigue
When we experience fatigue, we’re often quick to blame the issue on lack of sleep or too much physical activity. The truth is, there’s another major contributor to energy levels that’s often overlooked: diet. If you think you’re getting enough rest, but still find yourself trudging through the day, then you need to read: “Sluggish and Low on Energy? You Might Be Missing One of These Key Nutrients.” Magnesium plays a role in everything from ATP synthesis (a major source of energy) to electrolyte balance (allowing muscle contraction & relaxation). Magnesium deficiency has been linked to depression and anxiety, which drain your energy levels substantially, so it’s vital that you’re getting plenty of this mineral in your diet. There are lots of natural sources you can look to, like spinach, almonds, and cashews, and supplements are available over the counter as well. Read “Magnesium - The Nutrition Source” for details. B vitamins help your neurotransmitters and nervous system. They are water soluble, meaning they aren’t stored in the body over time, so you’ll need to find a source for daily consumption. For that, pick some options included in these “15 Healthy Foods High in B Vitamins.” #VitaminMix
Minute 3: What you can learn from Dathan Ritzenhein, Olympian turned coach
There’s no better teacher than experience, which explains the newfound success of On Running coach Dathan Ritzenhein. As a middle and long distance runner, he competed at the elite level for over a decade. That experience loaded him up with a wealth of knowledge to bestow on his new team. Luckily for us, he’s sharing some of the central philosophy and methods that led his athletes to victory at the Millrose Games, so check out “What All Runners Can Learn from Dathan Ritzenhein’s Coaching.” The core of Ritzenhein’s program is consistency; he pairs lots of low intensity running with a few key workouts to simultaneously build speed and endurance. Try out his signature fartlek run, which alternates between fast and slow stints in a ladder. 1 minute fast, 1 slow, 2 fast, 2 slow, etc... in this pattern: 1/2/3/2/1/2/3/2/1. Finding the physical energy to stay consistent is only half the battle, and Ritzenehin puts an emphasis on setting goals to help keep runners mentally focused and motivated. Having a big, far off goal to work toward is great, but it helps to set smaller targets along the way to provide a steady feeling of accomplishment. For a discussion on what makes a goal effective, read “Your Science-Based Approach to Setting Running Goals.” An important detail to note is, the more specific a goal is, the more impactful it can be on your training modality. However, having less specific goals that allow for some leeway can be easier to maintain, and result in greater overall satisfaction. #GoalPosts
Minute 4: The key to overcoming stress is... more stress?
After a stressful day, sometimes we just want to grab some comfort food, pour an adult beverage, and dive into a well-earned Netflix binge. Giving yourself time to unwind can be essential to balance your mental wellbeing. On the other hand, new research suggests a more effective cure for stress may actually be MORE voluntary stress. Confusing, we know, but the thesis becomes more clear if you read: “Hormetic stress: could HIIT, hot saunas, and cold showers be the anxiety-busters we need in difficult times?” The key here is, “the dose makes the poison.” Too much stress will leave you drained, but the right amount, dubbed “hormetic stress,” improves your resilience when times get tough. If you’re an active person, chances are you’re already getting hormetic stress in the form of exercise. HIIT is particularly useful in this regard, pushing your body to its extreme, but only for a short period to avoid overuse. Another common source of hormetic stress is a cold shower, but if you’re not willing to commit to the full experience, you can still reap the benefits by ending with a 30 second burst of cold water. Take a look at “How a 30-second blast of cold water at the end of a shower may boost immunity.” Studies suggest this can raise white blood cell count, improve skin and hair health, and even improve alertness. #SayYesToStress
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
For anyone affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, know that our hearts go out to you. We were reminded of the power of the endurance sports community this week when we saw this post from our friends at DMSE, the folks who serve as race directors of the Boston Marathon. They are promoting Pull Together For Ukraine, a challenge for all rowers to travel 100 million meters together in support of the Ukrainian people. While it began as a rowing event, it has been expanded to use running miles toward the goal. For a live update of the progress made and donations collected, take a look at this map.
The older we get, the more at risk we become for bone conditions like osteoporosis. What we eat plays a big role in avoiding these afflictions and new research points to prunes as a dietary weapon. They’re packed with potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, and polyphenols, which boost your bone density. See the details in “The #1 Best Food for Keeping Your Bones From Aging, Says Dietitian.” It turns out they’re good for more than just bone health as detailed in: “7 Health Benefits of Plums and Prunes.”
What’s the difference between jogging and running, anyway? For some, the added gravity of the term “running” may act as a deterrent to ever getting started. That’s what one running club discovered after changing their name to the Knob Creek Jogging Club. The lower pressure of the term “jogging” seems to be a kind of trojan horse, so if you’re looking to invite newcomers to the sport, consider the language you use to create a welcoming and low stress environment. See the details in “Stop Trying to Become a Runner. There’s Nothing Wrong With Jogging.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The 94th Academy Awards will take place on March 27, and to celebrate, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite Hollywood running scenes over the next 2 weeks. It doesn’t get more inspiring than the film Unbroken, which follows the life of Olympic 5,000 meter runner and World War II veteran Louis Zamperini. Louis remains the youngest American Olympican ever to qualify in the 5,000 meter which he did at age 19. We don’t want to be spoilers of the clip below, but we will share that he set a record by running a remarkably fast final lap of 56 seconds. That was enough to capture the attention of Adolf Hitler who met with Zamperini after the race. You can read about his military service in “Sports Heroes Who Served: Olympic Runner Louis Zamperini,” and watch the re-creation of his historic Olympic performance in the clip below.