AUG 11, 2023
Minute 1: How to improve your heart rate variability
Your smart watch can track a greater number of health metrics than there are miles in a marathon. Stats like steps, miles, average pace and vertical climbing are as familiar to runners as the Boston, Chicago or New York marathons. Researchers have placed another metric on the podium, and it is not as well understood by everyday runners: “11 Expert Tips On How To Increase HRV (Heart Rate Variability).” HRV is an excellent indicator of cardiovascular and nervous system health, so following these techniques can improve both simultaneously. Perhaps the single biggest factor to address is the quality of your sleep. By keeping a consistent schedule, avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, and limiting screen time before bed, you should see a notable improvement in HRV. Your exercise routine will play a significant role as well. Poor heart rate variability could be an indication of either excessive or insufficient amounts of exercise, so pay attention as you dial in the right amount of activity for your body. While we’re on the topic, if you want to take a deep dive into what HRV really is, and where yours should lie based on your age, you can read this helpful piece from WHOOP: “Everything You Need to Know About Heart Rate Variability (HRV).” Fundamentally, HRV is a measure of how well your body adjusts to signals from your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, how quickly your body can activate or moderate its response to physical needs.
Minute 2: Do different races require different warmups?
There’s one thing that’s universally true in any type of race, be it on foot, on horseback or in a car – before you put the pedal to the metal, you should warm up the engine. Otherwise, you could blow a gasket (or pull a muscle, in our case). As science illuminates race preparation, we have learned that the perfect pre-race warm-up depends on the distance. One place to learn more is in this new piece from Canadian Running: “Should you warm up before your marathon?” The short answer is, yes, even though every bit of energy is precious on marathon day, you’ll still best off having some kind of warm-up before the race begins. Five to ten minutes of light jogging and a couple of easy strides should do the trick so that your muscles are activated, but you still conserve energy. In shorter races, you’ll likely want to go further, according to: “How to warm up for each distance race you’re competing in.” For races like a 5K or 10K, sandwiching a series of dynamic stretches between easy jogs is one approach to consider. That gets the blood flowing to the right muscles, and opens up your range of motion so your form will be on point when the race begins. If you really want to prime yourself for speed, you can run a few proper strides for 100 meters. For more on that, take a look at: “What Are Strides? Why You Need to be Running Strides.”
Minute 3: Will greens powders really improve your health?
Given what we do for a living, every time we explore our Instagram feed, we find a blenderful of ads for green powders promising to improve our performance. Indeed, some nutritionists say they’re a game changer for those who don’t eat enough daily servings of vegetables. Like any supplement, though, it pays to meet these claims with a healthy dose of skepticism: “Dietitians Say Greens Powders May Not Be Worth the Squeeze — Here's Why.” In Minute 2 of a recent issue, we covered the history of dietary supplements, and we found that you should look for third party certified supplements whenever possible. That’s because the FDA doesn’t have strict regulation on most of these products, and an organization like the NSF can help confirm your greens powders are made with real, uncontaminated ingredients. Assuming you’ve found a trustworthy brand, there’s evidence to suggest greens powders can improve energy levels, gut health, immune function, and detoxification pathways. You can check out the “6 Best Greens Powders Of 2023, According To Experts,” for a comparison of some high-quality options. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add nutrition to your diet without relying on supplements, you can try out some of these “10 Superfood Snacks to Stay Full & Energized All Day Long.”
Minute 4: Shoe Review: New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trail ($200)
Our shoe reviewer, Brian Metzler, is a fan of many different New Balance running shoes, but he notes that their commitment to trail running has waxed and waned. Despite a schizophrenic past, NB is demonstrating a new commitment to the category with the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trail. Brian calls this shoe “one of the best trail running shoes of the year with a stunning combination of comfort, traction, cushioning, propulsion and agility.” We share Brian’s highlights below and you can read his full review of the New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trail on our website.
What’s New: The neutral-oriented FuelCell SuperComp Trail, which hit running stores in late July, is a brand new trail running “supershoe” with all new high-end componentry. But, as with so many top-tier shoes, the overall experience I had running trails with it was much greater than the sum of its parts. Those parts include a stretchy, modestly reinforced and very breathable engineered mesh upper, a dual-density midsole foam and a forked carbon-fiber propulsion plate and a durable Vibram Megagrip Litebase tacky rubber outsole with a grippy array of 4mm lugs. While a $200 price tag is never anything to sneeze at, for a performance-oriented shoe with so many high-quality materials, it’s actually a relative bargain and a worthy investment.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it feels like a luxury SUV, but it handles with the agility of a high-performance sports car. In other words, it’s comfortable and remarkably well cushioned (especially for a shoe that has a moderate stack height), but it’s also light, nimble, flexible and capable of going fast on a variety of surfaces. It’s a speed merchant on smooth dirt trails and gravel paths and roads, but its superior traction and carbon-fiber plate system – which contributes both noticeable propulsion and underfoot protection – make it agile and dynamic enough to dance through rocks, roots and other obstacles on technical terrain. It feels cozy and secure running at any pace.
Why You’ll Love It: The FuelCell SuperComp Trail can be a versatile, do-everything trail running shoe for most types of terrain. Yes, it can be an amped-up racing shoe, but it just as easily can be a casual cruiser, too. It’s exceptionally comfortable and well-cushioned, offering a smart combination of agility and stability for expert handling and control, and it can also be infinitely speedy when you want it to be. It’s perfect for easy cruising on your favorite dirt loop in your local park, but it’s also well-suited for longer runs on mild to moderate technical trails with wet or dry terrain. Granted, it’s not really meant for running gnarly ridgelines in the mountains – mostly because its upper and toe box aren’t very protective – although I did wear it to run the rocky route up Mt. Sanitas and down the semi-technical dirt trails of the Lion’s Lair Loop in Boulder, Colorado, and it more than held its own. It compares well to the new Nike Ultrafly ($260) and Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 ($200) trail running supershoes, only with better cushioning and traction.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Gone and mostly forgotten, time hasn’t been kind to Google Glass. SNL did a hilarious spoof of the solution in search of a problem a few years back. The concept of smart glasses has intriguing potential, but nobody has found quite the right use for it. Until now. (Maybe.) A company called Minimis has introduced a pair of smart glasses geared toward athletes, and the idea is that they’ll eliminate the need to take your eyes off the road when checking your fitness tracker. Instead, you’ll have the option to constantly monitor things like heart rate, pace, distance, and more, all without compromising your form or attention. To get a look at the glasses, check out “These smart glasses are out to replace all other fitness trackers.”
If you had to pick the best type of exercise to lower blood pressure, what would you say? Our money would have been on some type of cardio, but apparently, we’d be wrong. That’s because a recent study found that isometric strength exercises could have the greatest benefit. That means things like planks or wall sits, and if you want to learn why, as well as see a few moves demonstrated, check out: “The isometric secret: 15 ways to get much fitter – without moving a muscle.” We’re not sure we fully buy into the concept, but it is a provocative idea.
For a lot of us, running is a mostly solo venture. While we value some “me time” as much as anyone, it can help to have a “peer review” of your habits so that you avoid mistakes – or even a toxic relationship with fitness. For one runner named Saanya, running was destructive and anxiety-inducing, and it wasn’t until she found the support of a community that she was able to relax and enjoy the process. If you want to see how run clubs can transform your relationship with running, take a look at: “Running and I Had a Toxic Relationship for Years, Until Run Clubs Healed It.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
As we just mentioned in the QI about run clubs, having strong teammates and supporters in your corner can make all the difference in moments of adversity. Derek Redmond knows this well, as he and his father were a part of Olympic history back in 1992. After tearing his hamstring in the middle of his 400 meter heat, Derek limped along in an attempt to complete the lap. Seeing that his son needed help, Jim Redmond elbowed past security and took to his son’s side, helping him the rest of the way. The emotional moment was celebrated with a standing ovation from 65,000 spectators. It’s moments like these that are a reminder to express your gratitude to whomever it is that supports your journey, and we’d like to acknowledge all the dads, moms, friends, coaches, and teammates who work hard to lift others up. Pass the video link below onto your supporters to let them know how much you care.