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The Copenhagen plank – toughest in the world?

MAR 29, 2022

Minute 1: Ukrainian runners persist through the invasion

We used to think that training for Boston through frigid New England winters epitomized guts and commitment. Until we read this new story: “These Ukrainian Runners Are Still Training in a War Zone.” For many of us, running is a vital part of life. It’s the way we shake out our nerves, get some fresh air, and reset. Running can bring clarity and calmness, which is exactly why these Ukrainian runners persist in spite of danger. Dimitriy Guliaiev spoke about his experience, saying that “When you start on the second or third kilometer, you forget about all this madness and just run, like you're dreaming. Running helps to pull yourself together...” Another runner, Gregory Hrushchak, says that “after running, I can think about the current situation in some new way. I can overcome my emotion and feel so much better.” Running’s positive mental benefits aren’t just psychological, according to: “8 Ways Running Works Wonders for Your Mind.” Exercise increases the amount of norepinephrine in the brain, a chemical that plays a big role in our response to stress. For a breakdown of how this chemical works, and other ways you can regulate it for optimal levels, read “What Is Norepinephrine?” We’re rooting for everyone in Ukraine to find safety and some sense of normalcy in whatever way they can. Recently, Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray tipped us off to an endurance event supporting Ukraine: Pull Together For Ukraine. This week we learned of a man in New York, Dmitriy Boyko, who is trying to inspire his relatives back in Ukraine from afar. He is doing that through the Ukrainian Running Club. Their Instagram page is a good follow and details the fundraising and awareness runs they are hosting.

Minute 2: Try out the Copenhagen Plank and other variations

Planking doesn’t get enough love. And no, we don’t mean the 2011 internet fad; we’re happy to leave that trend behind. We’re talking about the core exercise that builds isometric strength and improves stability. Like wall sits and static squats, planks are a real test of discipline as well. If you think you’ve got what it takes, you should try out the variation described in “Few Exercises Are as Difficult as the Notorious ‘Copenhagen Plank’.” They resemble side planks, but they’re designed to blast your adductor muscles by elevating your leg on a bench, ottoman, or other raised surface. Begin by getting into a side plank position, and then rest your top leg on the surface while keeping your bottom leg off the ground. Immediately, you’ll feel the burn in your adductors (the muscles on the inner part of your leg), and this position can be so intense that it’s better to hold for 10 to 30 seconds, rather than the typical goal of 60 seconds for a normal plank. In addition to Copenhagen Planks, there are several other variations listed here: “12 Types of Plank Exercises.” We especially love ones like the side-to-side plank, which combines isometric strength with a bit of movement, developing your stability and overall strength at the same time. #WalkThePlank

Minute 3: How specificity will change nutrition for the better

The more we learn about nutrition, the more we learn that individuals have widely varied needs. The old days of a 1-size-fits-all USRDA seem pretty simplistic. Well, that’s starting to change, and many experts believe “The future of nutrition advice” according to CNN, will be a lot more precise. Working with a nutritionist may become like going to the tailor, where your “measurements” would include your genetics, metabolic rate, and response to exercise, among other factors. There’s also evidence suggesting our microbiome plays a large role in how our bodies react to food. For example, some will experience a larger spike in blood sugar from a banana than a cookie, says Professor Angela Poole. One obstacle to the precision nutrition movement is that these tests take time and money. One possible solution (Don’t laugh!) is a sophisticated toilet. Learn about the future of at-home diagnostics in “The Next Wave of Precision Health: Smart Toilets?” It may sound like a crappy idea at first (sorry), but what comes out of us is one of the easiest and most accurate ways to uncover what’s going on inside our bodies.

Minute 4: 10K and half marathon runners: Try this workout

As a rule of thumb, the longer the distance, the less speed work you need to do. Having said that, every runner can benefit from upping the tempo here and there. If you're looking for a way to boost your speed while preparing for longer distances, then “Test your endurance with this interval progression workout.” The workout will take about 38 minutes to complete, and it starts with a 10 minute run at a fast but comfortable pace. Then take a 90 second rest by walking or jogging. Now, drop your pace by 10 seconds (i.e. if you ran an 8:00 mile, aim for 7:50) and your interval time by 2 minutes, down to 8. Continue this pattern until you run the last 2 minute interval. The workout is designed to help you maintain speed through the end of your race, and that’s one of many reasons why “Why Every Runner Can Benefit from Interval Workouts.” It’s important to note, interval workouts are for beginners and advanced runners alike, since they don’t require a substantial increase in intensity to see benefits. By reducing the distance covered, or increasing the rest time allotted, you’ll still get faster without having to push it to the limit.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • We hope you tried the old man coordination test that we featured in a recent issue, and that you passed with flying colors. For anyone that didn’t do so hot, fear not. Balance is a skill like any other, and it can be developed and improved at any age. For runners, having good balance is especially useful for avoiding injury, or negotiating uneven terrain. Even if you’re not an old man, we recommend checking out: “Balance Exercises For Runners – Single-Leg Balance Exercises.”

  • 2 things we can do to improve the environmental state of our planet: Develop renewable resources and adopt more plant-based diets. One method of achieving this goal, known as regenerative farming, just so happens to bring health benefits at the individual level as well. Regenerative farming encourages the use of cover crops, increased biodiversity and livestock integration to preserve nutrients in the soil and support ecosystems holistically. As a result, this article title speaks for itself: “Regenerative Farms Boast Healthier Crops & Soil Than Conventional Farms.”

  • We’re always cautious to recommend supplements that promise major benefits, as it’s an industry plagued by lack of oversight and limited research. However, one herb supplement caught our eye this week that’s at least worth checking out, and it’s called Ashwagandha. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a root native to India that’s believed to lower anxiety levels and inflammation, while increasing testosterone / male fertility, among other benefits. Of course, you should consult a doctor or nutritional expert before taking any supplements, but if you want to learn more, take a look at “The Health Benefits of Ashwagandha” and watch “ASHWAGANDHA BENEFITS: What Ashwagandha Is And How It Works.”

  • Thanks to a flurry of recent purchases by super hip trendsetters, we are down to the last few SMM t-shirts in our inventory. These tri-blend t-shirts are stylish black with some lighter gray flecks woven into the material. They are slimming and have been known to cut 15-20 seconds off your mile splits. Perfect for your next training run, Zoom call or first date. A bargain at $14.99. (We lose a little on every sale, but we make up for it in karma!) Check ‘em out here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Well, this year’s Oscars celebration certainly won’t be forgotten soon – at least not without the help of a Men In Black Memory Eraser. We cap off our tribute to unforgettable Hollywood running scenes with 1 last running scene from the most prolific sports flick franchise in history. That’s right, today’s pick (below) is the iconic training montage from Rocky I featuring plenty of inspiring running scenes. Rocky’s upright posture and quick turnover in his sprinting segment show that Stallone may have had a little HS track experience along with his time on the school’s football team. Rocky’s chip-on-his-shoulder underdog demeanor was an offshoot of Stallone’s own childhood experiences. He suffered facial nerve damage during childbirth and turned to working out to take his mind off the teasing from his classmates. While you likely remember his iconic charge up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you may have forgotten this scene when he started his training, woefully out of shape. Enjoy his eventual triumph below, after lots of raw eggs and early morning runs.


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