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Tricks from masters runners we can all use

SEP 2, 2022

Minute 1: How to fall back asleep

In our last issue we shared news about a small subset of humans whose bodies are genetically programmed to need only four hours of sleep. Unless you hit that DNA lottery at conception, you are probably relying on 7-9 hours of sack time per night and maybe a nap here and there. When we were in college, we had trouble waking up for a 9:00 am class. Now we are lucky to sleep much past 5:30 or 6:00 am. Part of that phenomenon is explained here: “Your Sleep Needs Change as You Age: Here’s What You Need to Know.” As we get older, deep REM sleep is harder to sustain. Pair that with the increased stress of careers, mortgages and parenthood and you may find yourself rising well before the alarm goes off. If you do wake up way too early, a new piece just published may help you out: “How to fall back asleep in 2 minutes if you wake up in the night.” According to sleep expert Dr. Guy Meadows, it is a normal human experience to wake up during the night: "Various hypotheses exist as to why we wake intermittently including allowing us to check for danger (survival theory), aiding the onboarding of large memories (memory theory) and allowing us to feed our young or stoke the fire (basic theory).” The U.S. military has used a technique for years to get personnel back to sleep under difficult circumstances. They recommend consciously relaxing your body from head to toe while breathing deeply and visualizing a serene image, like a canoe floating on a placid lake. #RollOverAndREM

Minute 2: Why older runners succeed

Now that our 20s and 30s are in the rear view mirror, we often think about one of our grandfather’s favorite aphorisms: “Youth is wasted on the young.” As runners in the second half of our careers, we now realize how little we appreciated pain-free joints, quick recoveries and much faster times. Our internal “Check Engine” light seems to come on a lot more often than it used to. Our spirits were lifted this week when we read this new piece from Trail Runner: “My Lessons From Five World Class Masters Mountain Runners.” These “ripened” athletes are competing in the 21st annual World Masters Mountain Running Championships this weekend in Ireland. In addition to some inspirational nuggets from the runners, we enjoyed a few practical suggestions as well. These include finding a great physical therapist, using fun cross training as recovery and continuing to enter races as motivation. There are dozens of other nuggets of value if you check out the full story. #MastersClass

Minute 3: Can rock stars run?

Although we don’t subscribe to People or Us magazines, one of the things we enjoy about the fall marathon season is seeing how the celebrity entrants fare. Oprah and Zuck have each run a marathon. So have retired NFL stars and Hollywood starlets. (For more bold-faced names, check this out: “Celebrities Who Have Run Marathons: Ryan Reynolds, Andi Dorfman, Kevin Hart and More.”) It’s always a little surprising to us when musicians complete 26.2 miles, given stereotypes around the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Alicia Keys finished New York in 2015 while Marcus Mumford ran that race in under 4 hours last year. So much for the excesses of the “hotel trashing” crowd. Just to renew your faith in bad behavior, however, a rock mag called Louder published this story yesterday: “What happened when Joe Strummer drank 10 pints of beer then ran the Paris Marathon.” Now that’s more like it. Strummer was the frontman for The Clash, the most popular post-punk band in the world in the ‘80s. To get away from feuding bandmates, Strummer treated himself to a multi-week tour of Parisien pubs, well beyond the range of prying English paparazzi. On a whim, Strummer decided to jump into the Paris Marathon in 1982. Here’s how he described his race prep: “You really shouldn’t ask me about my training regime, you know. Okay, you want it, here it is: drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race… But make sure you put a warning in this article: ‘Do not try this at home’. I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson, but it might not work for others.” Strummer claims he ran about 3:30, but friends put him in the 4:00 range. His accomplishment was all the more remarkable considering that he was running with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Sadly, that condition led to an early death in 2002. #OriginalRock’n’RollMarathoner

Minute 4: Bad food is worse than smoking

NPR just shared some news that is as scary as it is unsurprising: “The U.S. diet is deadly. Here are 7 ideas to get Americans eating healthier.” Citing various studies, the story explains that "The data are stark: the typical American diet is shortening the lives of many Americans. Diet-related deaths outrank deaths from smoking, and about half of U.S. deaths from heart disease – nearly 900 deaths a day – are linked to poor diet. The pandemic highlighted the problem, with much worse outcomes for people with obesity and other diet-related diseases." At the federal level, new initiatives include proposals like expanding access to nutritional counseling and treating food as medicine. At the individual level, most folks know the good foods to seek out, but regularly indulge in the bad stuff as well. For a comprehensive list of no-no’s, check out: “100 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet.”

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Mike Reilly, arguably the most famous race announcer in the history of endurance sports, just told his Instagram followers that he is unplugging his microphone for good this year: “Mike Reilly, “Voice of Ironman,” Announces Retirement.” He is probably best known as the guy who greets triathletes crossing the finish line with an enthusiastic: “You are an Ironman!” You can watch his emotional video message on Instagram here.

  • The comedian Daniel Tosh does a very irreverent, but very funny bit about people flexing over their half marathon results. “When did that even become a thing? A half marathon? Ooooo,” he says mockingly. His observations come at the 1:30 mark of this video. If you know anything about Tosh, you know he likes to push boundaries, so consider yourself warned.

  • For most of our readers Labor Day marks the informal finish line for the season of summer (technically we still have 20 days till left till the autumnal equinox). We’re sad to say goodbye to beach days, evening runs, and our beloved 3 inch inseam short shorts. To soften the blow a bit, we’ve been shopping for terrific deals on running gear through Amazon Prime. Some of our top picks are still heavily discounted. Check out our whole list here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

It takes about 1,500 steps for an average person to run a mile and about 40,000 steps to complete a marathon. As anyone struggling to get off the couch can tell you, often the very first step is the most difficult. True, but it’s not as complicated as the very first step of our lives. After all, that requires about a year of training, excellent nutrition, and plenty of sleep. Normally we use this space to pay tribute to exceptional athletes who can shred mountain trails and major marathons. But in the spirit of first steps, we wanted to share an amazing milestone from Grayson, the 1-year-old son of our colleague Kristen. Mom was working a race with us and was petrified that she would miss the little guy’s first walk. Luckily, he has a good sense of timing. He also listens to his mom, which is a major life skill. Check out the video below to see how Grayson responds to: “Come see Mama!”


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