SEP 16, 2022
Minute 1: Three ways to fix your form
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” That’s one of our favorite training aphorisms – probably coined by a football coach, but even more relevant to endurance athletes. We would only offer one small amendment: Smart, hard work is even better. We consider working on our running form to fall in the category of smart work. You can grind out miles forever, but if your mechanics are off, you may be wasting energy and risking injury. That’s why this story caught our eye a few days ago: “Three easy ways to fix your running form.” The recommendations make sense to us since they rely on a natural self analysis rather than a golf-instructor-styled micro tweaks to your form. Developing a strong and consistent stride can be done through the use of speed workouts and interval training. To go fast, your body will naturally tighten up its form to be as efficient as it can. Once you’re at high speed, pay attention to your posture, knee height, and cadence, and then try to maintain a similar position even at lower speeds. If you need a few ideas on workouts to try, look at “5 Speed Workouts for 5K Success.” Next, footwear has a huge impact on the way you run, and going barefoot can be like taking the training wheels off: it'll really show you where you need to improve. Barefoot running can be quite risky if you don’t ease into it, but by starting with short barefoot walks or jogs on a soft surface, you’ll build up the muscles and tendons in your feet over time. To learn more, read “The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Barefoot Running.” The last tip is to try running in a perfectly straight line. Unlike in most sports, lateral motion is an unnecessary dimension of endurance running that can reduce your efficiency. Keep your head steady and your feet on a narrow line so that you learn to go forward, and not side to side.
Minute 2: Smartwatch companies are ticked off
The watches may be on, but the gloves have certainly come off. Apple and Garmin are now duking it out to win over your wrist. Last issue, we covered the new Apple Watch Ultra, which boasts enough rugged features to impress even the skeptics in our office. The same can’t be said for other active watch manufacturers, and one rival seems particularly ticked off: “Garmin pokes fun at Apple Watch Ultra's 36-hour battery life – does it have a point?” Garmin, the incumbent leader in the GPS watch battle, Tweeted this at the Cupertino behemoth: “We measure battery life in months, not hours,” questioning whether Apple’s Ultra has what it takes to be a serious endurance fitness tracker. When you look into it, the discrepancy can be explained by the features each includes. Apple’s watch has LTE connectivity, an always-on AMOLED display, and a broader list of apps to run. It’s more on the smartwatch side of the aisle, compared to Garmin’s products, which are activity & GPS trackers above all else. We think there’s a case to be made for choosing either brand, but if Garmin has swayed you, it’s a good time to pick something up from the “Garmin Birthday Sale: Save Up to $200 on Fitness Trackers, Watches and More.” #WatchOutShotsFired
Minute 3: Make your diet race-day ready
Building a race-winning nutrition plan is a lot more complicated than firing up some Tasty videos. In fact, there are even registered dieticians out there who struggle to pick the right plates leading up to a race day. That’s what Natalie Rizzo learned during her attempt at the New York City Marathon and if you’d like to learn from her errors, read: “I'm a dietitian — but these 4 diet mistakes sabotaged my fitness routine.” Her missteps included watering down her sports drinks (hmm, we do that) and eating fiber at the wrong time. Rizzo also reminds us that not all foods are equal when it comes to a pre-run snack. Protein and fats take a long time to digest, and burn more slowly when converted to energy for the body. Carbs, on the other hand, have a quick turnaround and rapid release. Foods like bananas, dates, granola, or raisins are a perfect snack for a boost before you exercise. On the other side of your runs, recovery meals should be eaten soon after the work is done, and that can take getting used to. By replenishing your carbohydrates and taking in protein to aid in muscle growth, you’ll wake up the following day feeling ready to train all over again. Speaking of recovery, there are a few key vitamins you should consider if you’d like to limit chronic inflammation: “Which vitamins are good for sore joints?” Research has shown that turmeric can reduce inflammation and help with osteoporosis, so pick up a jar of the spice or look for a supplement in pill form to try it out for yourself.
Minute 4: Are you an “active couch potato?”
A lot of us tend to think that the health benefits of exercise are like taking vitamins – do it once per day and you’re all set. Unfortunately, even for people working out every day, you will quickly undo those benefits if you spend the rest of the day hunched at your desk or chilling on the couch. The Washington Post describes a new study from Finland with some bad news for many of our readers: “How sitting all day can cause health problems — even if you exercise.” The recent study looked at about 3,700 participants using an activity tracker, and four groups emerged. The least active group, dubbed the “active couch potatoes,” got the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, but went on to sit uninterrupted for upwards of 10 hours a day. When compared to other groups that either exercised longer, or had periods of light activity between the time spent sitting, the active couch potatoes “had the worst blood sugar control, body fat percentage and cholesterol profiles.” The study highlights the benefits of inserting just a bit of movement into your work day, and the good news is, it doesn’t take much. Try walking over to your window for a quick break, or doing one of these “30 Office Exercises to Try Right Now.”
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We’ve been in a battle with Covid for a couple years now, and the fog of war remains. Brain fog, that is. If you’re unfamiliar with this particular symptom of Long Covid, consider yourself lucky, because those suffering from brain fog have an almost impossible task of trying to hold focus and engage with cognitively demanding problems. If you want to learn what the experience has been like for one former AI researcher named Hannah Davis, read “One of Long Covid’s Worst Symptoms Is Also Its Most Misunderstood.”
Different exercises require different amounts of a warmup for optimal results. For example, researchers have found that a proper amount of warm up before a bench press varies dramatically from the right length of preparation for squats. See the details in: “The Science-Backed Method To Properly Warm Up Before Lifting Weights.” This issue also raises the basic question of whether stretching decreases athletic performance. For a good overview on this subject, check out: “To stretch or not to stretch before exercise: What you need to know about warm-ups.”
Being based in New England, we’ve certainly got a bias on the matter, but we believe that autumn is the most beautiful time of the year. The turning leaves offer visual entertainment on our runs and the cooler temps make long outings more comfortable. Autumn is a time for appreciation of the spaces we’re able to move in, and if you want to read a nice little reflection on the topic written by an avid runner, see: “Changing Leaves.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
As many as 80% of runners report getting into the sport because they wanted to lose weight. That was the case for Kim, aka @trackclubbabe, when she started training for her first marathon and also hoping to overcome feeling insecure about her body. It didn’t take long for her attitude to change, and as she continued to log the miles, she developed an appreciation for what her body could do rather than what it looked like. She’s a good follow, according to nearly 200,000 fans, as she mixes technical running advice with insightful takes on healthy living, like the one in her brief video below.