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The perfect formation for drafting in a race

AUG 23, 2023

Minute 1: Precision could guide the future of nutrition

To build a bigger and brighter future for nutrition, dieticians are thinking small. How small, exactly? Well, one of the most intriguing technologies is at the microscopic level, uncovering info about your cells and DNA to identify individualized vitamin deficiencies and food sensitivities. More details on these developments are here: “Best Personalized Vitamin Subscriptions in 2023: Top 5 Brands Reviewed.” Although multivitamins contain trace amounts of the vitamins we need, they often don’t meet the threshold for an effective therapeutic dose. With personalized vitamins, tests are run to identify where you’re lacking so you can supplement exactly what you need while eliminating the excess ingredients. That’s according to: “Personalized multivitamins: Worth it or no better than store-bought?” While the technology has lots of potential, it’s worth noting that many experts feel it’s still in its infancy, and the efficacy of these services is unproven. For a critical look at vitamin subscriptions, check out “Are personalised vitamins the key to good health?” Critics note that the body of research around vitamin supplementation is somewhat inconclusive. Since vitamin subscription services can be quite expensive, you might be better off investing that money into high quality foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, according to: “The Truth About DNA-Based Diets.”

Minute 2: You don’t need super shoes to have super running mechanics

If you think back to high school physics lectures, you might remember the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy can’t be created or destroyed – only transferred. That’s good news for runners, because in theory, it means that energy from each step can be conserved and recycled into the next. Super shoes take advantage of that fact by storing energy and releasing it back via a springboard motion of their carbon fiber plate. While that technology has been proven to increase performance, our feet provide an even more powerful springboard, according to: “Run Faster – No Super Shoes Needed!” Improving your passive energy preservation can be done by training your tendons, and for runners, the Achilles tendon is of particular importance. By increasing the Achilles’ stiffness, you can increase the amount of elastic potential energy it stores with each step, reducing your oxygen consumption by about 4% according to one study. Improving Achilles stiffness can be done by resistance training your calf muscles, and for a few exercises to get you started, follow along with “Runner Exercises: How to USE the Achilles Tendon Better To Run FASTER!” The video includes a few plyometric exercises, and you can supplement those with weight training, according to: “Tendon stiffness: what is it and why is it important for runners?” The article notes that the eccentric portion of your lifts (like the descent of a squat, for example) are highly effective at increasing tendon stiffness.

Minute 3: Carry running essentials with these belts and vests

These days, the average runner has a lot to carry, including a cell phone, credit card, keys, energy gel and water. Finding a pair of shorts with enough pocket space can feel like an impossible task, but there might be a better alternative to consider: running belts. The technology of this gear category has improved well beyond embarrassing first-generation fanny packs that were better suited for a visit to Disney World or a senior center bake sale. To expand your cargo space without weighing yourself down, check out: “I Tested Runs With the Flipbelt and SPIbelt so You Don't Have To.” The SPIbelt is about as minimalist as they come. It’s got a stretchable pouch that can fit a phone and a couple other small items; perfect if you like to pack light. On the other end of the spectrum is the Flipbelt, which features four separate pouches and a buckle-free design for sleekness and comfort. Both belts are solid options for shorter runs, but if you plan to go on longer outings, a running hydration vest might better suit your needs. Here is one reviewer’s list of the “Best Running Hydration Vests of 2023.” In addition to holding several liters of liquid, these vests have between 6 and 12 additional pouches in which to stuff gear. If you’re unsure if a hydration vest is necessary, you can follow the advice in: “How Long Should You Run Without Water?” Temperature, windiness, and body weight can all affect how quickly you’ll be at risk for dehydration, but generally speaking, you shouldn’t go beyond an hour of running without replenishing some fluids.

Minute 4: Running with friends? Use this formation to reduce drag

Running headlong into a stiff breeze can help your hair look like it belongs in the Baywatch intro video, but it’s not good for your running performance. Not only is it uncomfortable, but the added resistance will slow you down big time. In fact, wind resistance can impact a runner’s pace even on calm days, which is why researchers are geeking out on “Optimizing pacer formations in front of marathon runners to reduce run times.” Think back to 2019 and you might remember Eliud Kipchoge making headlines for breaking the 2-hour barrier in a marathon distance. It didn’t qualify as an official marathon, however, partly due to the fact that he used the help of pacers which he drafted behind. Their formation was quite successful, shaving off an estimated 3 minutes of time, but new research has found an even more effective drafting formation that resembles the shape of a lowercase ‘t’. That’s great news for Kipchoge if he wants to improve upon his own record, but it could make a difference in your races as well: “Drafting Isn’t Just for Elite Marathoners.” A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that drafting can reduce your marathon time by about the same amount, regardless if you finish in two hours or five. Wind resistance is greater at higher speeds, but since slower runners are experiencing wind resistance for a greater duration, they can still reap a significant benefit from drafting. Grab a few of your friends, get into formation, and see for yourself.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • It’s hard to make progress as a runner without an effective way to measure it. As the business cliche goes: You don't get what you expect, you get what you inspect. One of the best ways to inspect your progress is by using a benchmark run. That’s a timed trial over a set distance at max effort to gauge your speed. If you choose a mile to be your benchmark, run that distance at race pace to determine your progress over time. To learn what kind of benchmark distance is right for you, as well as how often to run them, take a look at: “Benchmark Run 101: How to Measure Your Running Progress.”

  • The Cleveland Clinic defines “superfoods” as “natural foods that are especially nutrient-dense while generally being low in calories.” (“What Is a Superfood, Anyway?”) If you’re wondering whether superfoods are healthy or hype, check out this new piece: “Top 19 Superfoods for Runners: Fueling Your Performance.” Included on the list are things like oats and sweet potatoes for high quality complex carbs, as well as berries and oranges for a healthy dose of vitamins and antioxidants.

  • Muscle-ups are a surefire way to up your fitness, but they’re not an exercise you can jump into and expect to perform with ease. For those of us who don’t spend a lot of time in CrossFit or gymnastics facilities, a bar muscle-up is a move in which you start from a dead hang on a pull-up bar and then, in one fluid motion, move to the top of the pull-up bar with your arms extended below you, hands near hips. They require a lot of upper body strength, agility, and timing, which is why you may want to follow a guide before trying one out. If you’re able to pull it off, though, you can expect one heck of a boost to your explosiveness (and social media accounts), so take a look at: “How to Do a Muscle-Up to Take Your Upper-Body Strength to the Next Level.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

A runner’s stride is as unique as a fingerprint; no two are exactly alike. However some styles stand out more than others, and it doesn’t get more unusual than @daniellabelle1. Well, that’s because he’s got a knack for parodying the strides of various kinds of runners, and he does so to hilarious effect in a recent video. If efficiency is your goal, you probably don’t want to copy his form, but it sure is entertaining to watch him transform into various kinds of athletes on the move. Click here to watch.


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