FEB 18, 2022
Minute 1: Does your shoe match your stride?
They say baseball is a game of inches, but running might have that adage beat on at least 1 metric. When it comes to selecting footwear, running is a sport of millimeters. That’s because of heel to toe drop, where a change of only a few mm can significantly alter your stride and running experience. Before you buy your next running shoe, check out RunnerClick’s new story: “Heel To Toe Drop: What It Is & How It Impacts Runners.” Heel to toe drop is a measure of the difference in height between the padding on the heel and forefoot of your shoe. Higher heel to toe drops are more common, and are in the range of 10 mm, while lower drops are 4 mm or less, with some minimalist shoes even having a 0 mm drop. Lower drops cause a proclivity for midfoot and forefoot striking, and shift the mechanical load from your hips and knees to the ankles, calves, and feet. Does that improve running economy? It depends on the individual, but with a gradual transition, it can quicken your pace. At the other end of the spectrum, there has been some criticism of highly cushioned running shoes because they may dampen the natural shock absorber effect of your feet. This article from Training Peaks outlines that case: “When you're upping your miles, you might notice some more aches and pains. But are more cushioned shoes the answer? Some studies suggest otherwise.” For all you Hoka devotees out there, fear not. For every study there’s a counterstudy. The latest examination from the University of Buffalo busts the myth that cushioned shoes are bad for you. Details are here: “Previously unknown aspects of running shoe design uncovered.” Researchers investigated the degree to which different shoes caused sub-optimal leg stiffness and fatigue, and found no correlation between extra padding and increased stiffness. So go ahead and get a shoe with a high heel to toe drop if it’s what feels best to you. #DropTheOtherShoe
Minute 2: Potato milk is a healthy and sustainable option
It seems like every year, there’s another milk substitute that gets its moment on the top shelves of the dairy aisle. Right now, potato milk is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. Given all the nutritional benefits over its plant and bovine-generated competition, it's not hard to see why. Take a look at “How Does Potato Milk Stack Up, Nutritionally?” Compared to oat milk, potato milk will give you the same amount of protein, but fewer carbs and fat per serving. That’s good news for people looking to put on lean muscle mass. It's also got about 92 calories per cup, as opposed to regular whole milk, which has 156. The macronutrients look good, but what else do potatoes have to offer? For that, read “Potato nutrition facts & health benefits.” A potato has more potassium than a banana, and that means there’s plenty to be found in a cup of potato milk. They’re also packed with Vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. Last but not least, potatoes are quite environmentally friendly. See “Is Potato Milk The Most Sustainable Milk Alternative?” They require less land and water to grow compared to an equivalent amount of oats or almonds, so they’re as good for the planet as they are for your body. Potato milk is here to stay. #AltMilk
Minute 3: How long should you rest between sets?
If you’ve ever felt guilty for taking an extra break during a workout, don’t worry; you might have done yourself a favor. You can find all sorts of competing theories on the subject, but one recent study is offering compelling evidence that at least 75 seconds of rest between sets is ideal for building muscle. Take a look at “How to finish your workouts 37% faster but still build muscle, according to research.” The 8-week study compared weightlifters who rested for 75 seconds between each set to those who rested as long as they liked. The 75 second group generally performed fewer repetitions, but in spite of this, they showed the same improvement in strength level, all while completing their workout 37% faster than the self-selected rest group. For runners, dialing in rest between intervals may be even more important to get right. If you rest too short between intervals, you probably won’t be able to maintain the desired pace. If you rest too long, your heart rate will drop and you may run faster than your desired workout goal. That’s a fun ego flex, but it contradicts the goal of, say, doing 800M repeats at 5K race pace. The rule of thumb for many coaches is that your rest should be 50-100% as long as your interval. So is you are running 90 second 400M repeats, your rest should be 45-90 seconds. More detail is in this story: “How Much Recovery Should You Take Between Speed Intervals?” Runner’s World also weighs in on the subject with this piece: “How Much Rest Should You Take During Your Interval Workouts?” The article breaks down some recommended workouts for distances of 5k, all the way up to a marathon. There’s also a comparison between short, medium, and long rest lengths, and an explanation of when each should be used depending on the phase of training you're in. #BodiesAtRest
Minute 4: How to avoid Piriformis Syndrome
We’ve all heard of the common culprits for running injuries: shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and runner’s knee. Not to scare you, but there’s a lesser known condition you should also look out for: “Piriformis Syndrome – Runners Injury Prevention.” It’s got a name that’s hard to pronounce, but the symptoms are fairly straightforward. Piriformis Syndrome is a spasm or contraction of a muscle located behind the glutes, which can cause pain and a limited range of motion. What can you do if you develop the condition? A combination of rest, anti-inflammatories, and ice are helpful, but if conditions worsen, you may need an anti-inflammatory injection. Like most conditions, prevention is the best medicine, and you can achieve this by avoiding overtraining, and incorporating stretching and foam rolling into your cooldown routine. You should also avoid cambered running surfaces, which can push your leg muscles past their point of tolerance in some cases. See “Does running on a slanted road cause injury?” Strengthening the muscles in your lower leg can increase your maximum load tolerance, so try banded tibia raises, calf raises, and split squats. There are examples of each move inside the article. #PiriformisPeril
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We’re rejoicing at the fact that the days are getting longer again, which is great news for those who prefer to do their runs in the evening. Even still, if you’re going out late on the roads, you should take extra precautions to keep yourself safe and visible in dark conditions. Choosing the right route, clothes, and accessories all make a big difference, so for a quick guide, take a look at “How to Run in the Dark Safely.”
If there’s one thing every nutritionist can agree on, it's that antioxidants are a good thing. There’s no better way to slow aging and prevent disease than by making sure you’ve got plenty of antioxidants in your diet, and we may have found the most important one, according to one expert. It’s called glutathione, and you can find it in spinach, avocado, eggs, chicken, legumes, and seeds. See the details here: “How To Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Glutathione, the ‘Mother of All Antioxidants’”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all looked as graceful as Olympic athletes when we ran? It would seem like common sense that looking that good contributes to running so fast; “perfect” form equates to your fastest possible performance. The truth is, there may be no one perfect style of running, and some great runners may even look a bit awkward in their stride. If it works for you, it’s good enough, and there’s data to back that up here: “On the Beauty of Great Running Form.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Speaking of great running form, Nick Willis certainly deserves some recognition. He’s in the latter part of his career now, and at the age of 38, he continues to chase down amazing performances. Recently, he aimed to break the 4:00 barrier in the mile, and his attempt was captured in astonishing detail at a recent New York competition on New Year’s Eve. Watch him ring in 2022, his 20th year of pro running, showing us that consistency and experience are some of the most important virtues to aspire for as an athlete.