Minute 1: Fitness enthusiast twins put plant and animal protein to the test
We like to tease our engineer friends with this tale of twisted logic. There once was a famous scientist studying house flies. He placed his first specimen on a lab table and then said loudly: “Fly, fly.” Not surprisingly the insect flew away. He then placed a second fly on the lab table, carefully removed its wings with tweezers, and once again commanded: “Fly, fly.” When the bug didn’t budge, the engineer dutifully recorded the following in his lab journal: “Flies with no wings are deaf.” In fairness to scientists everywhere, dealing with multiple variables in experiments can lead to imprecise conclusions. That’s why exercise physiologists love The Turner Twins. They are effectively human variable eliminators as identical twins who use themselves as living laboratories to test theses on human performance. Their latest experiment sought the perfect protein supplement for athletes and the answer to this question: “Which is Best: Animal Protein or Plant Protein to Build Strength? A Twin Study.” The fitness enthusiast brothers adhered to the same diet and exercise routine for 12 weeks, and the only factor they changed was the source of their protein supplement. They recorded stats at the start and end of the trial period, and concluded that for the average gym goer, there was no significant difference to speak of between the 2 supplements. They nonetheless voiced a preference for the plant-based option because of its anti-inflammatory and recovery aid benefits. There’s no shortage of success stories among athletes and plant-based diets, like Tom Brady and Cam Newton. Brady says he eats an 80% plant-based diet, and Newton is a vegan, so it seems like the way to go for aspiring Patriots QBs. Check out “So, What Does Tom Brady Eat? Introducing the TB12 Diet” to learn more. Also on the list is Lewis Hamilton, the first Formula 1 driver to reach 100 race wins as of last sunday. If plant-based diets can allow you to endure fighter pilot levels of g-force for an hour at a time, then it's probably enough to get you through a weekend run with energy to spare. #PlantPower
Minute 2: The science and psychology behind running longer
Some of the most famous people in history created their legends by pushing limits. We remember the names of the farthest-sailing explorers, the record-shattering athletes, and the boldest, most innovative creators. It makes sense, then, that pushing your own running limits would be so gratifying. Raising your max distance can be one of the hardest things to do, both physically and mentally, which is why you should read “How to run for longer without getting tired: increasing stamina and mental resilience.” Understanding what causes discomfort on long runs is one key to overcoming it. Mental blocks can be just as challenging as physical ones on a long run. Keeping motivation high and boredom low will propel you onwards. Listen to a favorite playlist, pace yourself with friends, or challenge yourself against competitors. As you fatigue, it is important to maintain form -- eyes up, shoulders back and engage your core. You may also find inspiration from the Runtastic division of Adidas in their guide: “6 Tips on how to master the long run” or this post from Long Run Living: “11 tips for becoming a better distance runner.” It's important to remember the reasons why long runs are so beneficial, and for that, you should check out “After Struggling Through My Long Training Runs for the Chicago Marathon, I Asked 2 Coaches for Help.” #GoLong
Minute 3: Find your Goldilocks zone for 5k warmups
When you ask dedicated runners about the ideal pre-race warm-up plan, you may find more differences of opinion than a Cards Against Humanity match between Fox News and MSNBC. There’s a wide range of approaches to warming up among runners. Some play it safe and stick to a light jog and stretching. Conversely, some folks take a more intense approach, insisting your legs should feel almost as if you’ve already run a race as you step to the starting line. If you need help figuring out what works for you, read this: “Should You Warm Up Before Running 5K? Warm-up & Cooldown Exercises.” The article breaks things down according to your pace, offering suggestions for those expecting a time over 25 minutes, between 20 and 25, and under 20. If you’re in the first category, you’ll want to jog for 5 to 10 minutes, combined with some light dynamic stretching. The 25 to 20 recommendation is 5 to 15 minutes of jogging, as well as some strides. If you need a refresher on how to do them, check out “What are Strides? Why You Need to Be Running Strides.” For those aiming to run under 20 minutes, you can do the same as the second group, but be sure that you max out above race pace as you run your strides to prepare your heart and muscles for high level exertion. We reported last week that dynamics are your best friend before you run, but if you missed it, check out Minute 3 of this issue to see why.
Minute 4: Volunteering and other off season activities
Although the largest marathons in the world are all oversubscribed this fall, many other race directors are reporting that registration numbers are down compared to pre-pandemic levels. No doubt some runners are leery of toeing the line with thousands of strangers, despite vaccination and testing requirements. Others may have become used to virtual options or just want some downtime after a stressful year. If for whatever reason you haven’t signed up, you may want to check out this new piece from Women’s Running: “Not Racing this Fall? Here are 5 Things to Do in Your Off Season.” We particularly like option 2: “Volunteer at a race.” With the uncertainties of Covid, many races are hurting for volunteers this fall and there are plenty of tasks that don’t require close interactions with 30,000 athletes with no masks. We always feel a little jealous of the competitors every time we volunteer, but we also feel closer to the community and the sport on those days. Beyond altruism, you can also reap some tangible benefits like cool swag and automatic entry into sold-out races. New York Road Runners, for example, rewards volunteers with bibs at prestigious events like the NYC Marathon, the NYC Half and the Brooklyn Half. Details are here. Chicago offers some pretty slick volunteer uniforms, but if you are interested, you need to move quickly. Volunteer registration closes at noon on October 1 this year. Looking for additional motivation? Check out: “6 Reasons You Should Volunteer at Races.” #VolunteerArmy
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
A logistical blunder by 2 runners turned into a surprise win for a college XC coach last weekend at the Quad Cities Marathon in Illinois. The leaders of the race at the halfway mark, both accomplished Kenyan runners, followed a bicycle guide down the wrong street during the race, causing them to be disqualified. “I messed up royally,” said the teary cyclist following the race. Details are in this story: “Pence breaks 20-year U.S. drought in controversy-marred marathon.” One of the Kenyan runners, Elijah Mwangangi Saolo, has been struggling financially to stay in the U.S. with his wife and children. The only silver lining for the descendent of a legendary Kenyan star is that his GoFundMe page totals have climbed significantly since race day thanks to sympathetic supporters.
We have mentioned before that remarkably small bursts of intense exercise can have a big positive effect. If you need more evidence, here’s a new piece that underscores that point: “5 Major Effects of Exercising Just 15 Minutes Per Day, Says Science.”
Most runners have at least experimented with apps like Strava or MapMyFitness to track their runs and workouts. Even many dedicated endurance tech geeks, however, don’t venture past basic tracking functions. If you’d like to broaden the measurement of your healthy lifestyle beyond just mileage, pace and heart rate, check out “The 9 Best Health Apps of 2021” from LIVESTRONG.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Perhaps GPS tracking wasn’t enough to motivate one Chicago woman to run faster. Apparently she sought to outrun massive waves crashing along an embankment. We’re not exactly sure who captured this video, but it’s gone viral and the water-logged runner is now a minor Internet sensation.