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What runners really mean in their Strava posts

FEB 3, 2023

Minute 1: Climbing flights of stairs is an underrated workout

The November Project is one of our favorite grassroots running groups. It was founded in 2011 in Boston by a couple of former rowers who worried that their fitness levels had dropped after they graduated from college and racked their oars. Word spread to a few friends and eventually spread around the world to dozens of locations. The beauty lies in its simplicity – they don’t charge a penny to join and the basic workout is to run hills and stadium stairs as a group. Perhaps unwittingly, the founders’ instincts are supported by science. Numerous studies have concluded that stair workouts are a lot like inclined running, meaning you can expect them to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. They are efficient and highly accessible. Running stairs can also impart lower impact than a lot of other cardio forms, making it safer for those with joint issues. The November Project’s original Boston chapter relies on the grandeur of running the concrete steps of historic Harvard Stadium, but the stairs in our homes, workplaces, or nearby parks can also get the job done. In a new story this week, the Washington Post put it this way: “Climbing stairs in an apartment or office building rarely comes to mind as an exercise routine. But it should.” If high intensity workouts aren’t quite your speed, you can modify them by slowing the pace. That’s one of many suggestions covered in “8 Benefits Of Climbing Stairs + Helpful Tips To Get Started.” Walking up stairs burns about the same calories per hour as jogging at a 12 minute per mile pace, according to “Walking Inclines Vs. Running for Fast Weight Loss.” If you’re running up the stairs, however, you can expect to burn at the same rate as a 6:30 minute mile.


Minute 2: How to meal prep like a pro

A home-cooked meal is one of life’s greatest pleasures – at least when mom or dad is doing the work. But if you are the parent yourself, or your personal chef is on holiday, cooking can be more work than pleasure. Many cooks and nutritionists find it useful to do all the preparation ahead of time. That can save hours and promote healthier eating when you’re hangry and craving instant gratification. For ideas on the subject, check out: “A meal prep influencer shares 6 of his favorite cooking hacks.” To get plenty of variety throughout the week, Kevin Curry recommends prepping individual ingredients that can be mixed and matched, rather than a bulk portion of one recipe. Also, try using different kinds of a similar ingredient week by week. For example, making a dish with brown rice one week and quinoa the next can give it an entirely different flavor profile. If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, these suggestions are derived from a highly recommended diet: “Here Are 11 Weeks’ Worth of Mediterranean Diet Meal Plans.” You can expect to pick up lots of chickpeas, kale, and salmon for these dishes, and if you’re looking for an even easier alternative, cut shopping out of the process with one of the “Best Meal Delivery Services for Fitness.” A couple of these services offer Mediterranean plans specifically, while others offer similar alternatives like the paleo and keto diets.


Minute 3: This list has got something for everyone trying to improve their wellness

When it comes to cooking oils, there’s a lot of slippery messaging. Some say they’re too high in fat, or refined in an unhealthy way. That’s true in some cases, but not all oil is alike, and you can find out which kinds to avoid in the “8 Healthiest Cooking Oils: The Definitive Ranking (And Which Ones To Skip).” All oil contains fat, but research suggests that the ones high in mono and polyunsaturated fats are best, given that they help reduce inflammation, improve cholesterol, and support cardiovascular health. Additionally, look for oils marked “unrefined” or “naturally refined,” since they’ll retain higher levels of phytochemicals and nutrients. With all that in mind, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil are some of the most recommended options. Lots of runners swear by a combination of pasta with olive oil to give them all the carbs and fat they need to perform. If you are looking for the tastiest topping for your training table spaghetti dinner, the Washington Post just did a comprehensive taste test that has our mouth watering: “We tested 12 supermarket marinara sauces. Only one was a clear winner.” Spoiler alert: Rao’s Homemade Marinara took the win, with Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce close behind at a much lower price. When we are cooking Italian at home, we can’t resist some crusty sourdough bread dipped in olive oil. As it turns out, it’s actually a reasonably healthy combination: “Bread and olive oil: five reasons to have it every day.”


Minute 4: Shoe Review: Altra Rivera 3 ($140)

If you have been reluctant to try “zero drop shoes,” today’s review from shoe expert Brian Metzler may change your mind. This style of shoe, made famous by Altra, features a heel that is the same height as the toe, unlike most running shoes which have an elevated heel. Brian writes that the newest version of the Altra Rivera is suitable for use on paved roads and is versatile enough to convert non-believers. The highlights are below, but you should check out the full review on our website. It’s been about a dozen years since Altra showed off the initial models of its uniquely designed shoes at a trade show to curious retailers in Salt Lake City. While some store owners were immediately interested in the quirky new shoes with a foot-shaped toe box and what was then called a zero-drop platform (but now called “balanced cushioning”), few figured the tiny startup brand conceived by Golden Harper and Brian Beckstead would grow to a sizable brand.

Not only did the brand – aimed at producing better running form – blossom dramatically, but, now under the umbrella of VF Corp, it’s become one of the biggest brands in trail running. It also continues to make headway with its road running shoes. No matter if you’re a fan of Altra or if you’ve never laced up a pair of its shoes, I’d recommend giving the new Altra Rivera 3 a try. It’s one of the most moderate and accessible shoes in the Altra line – by shape, feel, look and ride – and a shoe a lot of runners could benefit from by having in their quiver. A few minor updates have helped make noticeable improvements and turn a good neutral trainer into a great everyday workhorse.

What’s New: The biggest changes to the Rivera 3 are a slightly thicker foam midsole (about 2mm higher from heel to toe), a new layered mesh upper, a padded, breathable (but not gusseted) tongue that provides a more secure fit, and a molded heel collar that provides enhanced rear-foot security. There’s also a sleeker version of Altra’s Slim-Footshape Fit, giving it both a lower volume interior and a slightly narrower footprint. Those changes are subtle, but collectively they provide an enhanced fit, a softer feel and a cushier, more agile ride.

Why You’ll Love It: New runners will appreciate it for its versatility, while experienced runners will like it for its moderately light and agile feel. With such a luscious combination of cushion, lightweight vibe and upbeat performance, the Rivera 3 can be a versatile, do-everything training shoe, a long-run specialist or even a fast-workout option in a pinch. It’s also a great shoe for tempo runs, progressive long runs, fartlek workouts and longer interval sessions. It’s probably not the best choice as a racing shoe, but you could definitely cover a 10K or half marathon at an upbeat pace while wearing a pair of these.

For the complete rundown on the new Altra Rivera 3, check out Brian’s full review here. #RiveraGuide


Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Our friend Dara Zall Kelly recently explained in her SMM blog how she chose her shoes for the 2023 Boston Marathon. This week she applies her energetic writing style to choosing, well, energy gels for a mid-race pick-me-up. As the veteran of many marathons, she has made nearly every bad decision imaginable when it comes to re-fueling on the course. In this post, she describes in graphic and self-deprecating detail how those choices turned out. Fear not, for those with a gentle constitution, Dara’s story has a happy ending as she discovered that Huma gels produce the boost she needs without the embarrassing gastrointestinal side effects. Read all the details here.

  • Looking at most football players' body types, you wouldn’t expect them to have much in common with marathoners. According to an analysis by WHOOP, however, despite taking lots of breaks between series and between quarters, the strain level in an NFL game resembles a marathon effort. WHOOP dove into data from Patrick Mahomes’ wrist band last game, and it turns out that he exerted quite a bit of energy: “Fitness tracker shows strain on Patrick Mahomes’ body Sunday equivalent to marathon.” BTW WHOOP is giving readers of Six Minute Mile, one month free of subscription, band included.

  • If you’ve been following Six Minute Mile closely, you’ll be well acquainted with the work of Brian Metzler, author of our gear reviews. That’s not all he does, as he recently caught up with ultrarunning legend-in-the-making Candice Burt, who’s been running 50K every day for more than 80 consecutive days. If you want to learn how she keeps such a remarkable streak, even in the face of subzero winter temps, check out: “50K a Day? Revelations from Candice Burt’s Epic Running Streak.”


Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

The wild world of endurance sports social media is filled with cryptic captions and humble brags as far as the eye can see. We’re not passing judgment, since a new Instagram post from the hilarious @lauramcgreen had us cringing about some of our own past Strava posts and captions. She shreds the egos of many athletes who will subtly use captions to make excuses for why their run was too short or too slow. Laura sees right through them, and provides a translation of what runners REALLY mean by their Strava posts in this new “Strava Decoded” video.


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