What’s a tweak and what’s an injury?



Minute 1: Know your limits, or your injuries will teach them to you

So many runners go into their workouts with a do or die mentality, expecting their toughness to pay off with big results down the line. But let's face it, we’re not all Army Rangers on a life-or-death mission. Those folks don’t have the option of calling it quits when the pain is too much, but we do. When we’re hitting the gym or training for a marathon, a “never quit” mindset can sometimes do more harm than good as described in this new piece: “Why Your Work Ethic May Be Sabotaging Your Success.” Discipline is what gets you into the habit of running in the first place, but it's also what will give you the ability to say “enough is enough” when something feels wrong. Running coach Richard Lovett explains why he was thrilled when one of his athletes bailed near the end of a workout due to hamstring pain. Lovett believes having the foresight to stop when needed is what separates great athletes from those whose careers are cut short by injury. Your body can send all kinds of signals to tell you it needs a break, so take a look at “4 Times It's Totally Okay To Quit Your Workout.” One of the keys is to differentiate between pain that's expected, and pain that could spell injury. Pay attention to all the sensations you experience when you train, so that when something out of the ordinary occurs, you’re able to decide quickly if it's your sign to call it quits for the day. #QuitToStayFit

Minute 2: Runners need to watch their iron levels

If you are what you eat, make yourself as strong as iron. If it worked for Popeye, it should work for all of us, too. Runners need to take extra care to get iron in their diet according to this new story: “Everything runners need to know about iron.” Iron deficiency can sap your energy severely, and it's a fairly common occurrence among runners. Without iron, your body struggles to transport oxygen through the body, causing fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, and difficulty maintaining body temp, just to name a few symptoms. Iron deficiency can only be determined with a blood test, but if you find yourself lacking the energy to get through your typical easy run, that could be a sign you’re not meeting the daily recommendation of 18mg for women or 8mg for men. If that’s the case, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with these “12 Healthy Foods That Are High in Iron.” It includes some common suggestions, like red meat and liver, but plenty of vegetarian options as well. One standout option is Quinoa, which contains about 3 mg of iron per cup in addition to a plethora of other valuable nutrients. Just because suburbanites can’t pronounce it in a Progressive ad, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it. #IAmIronman

Minute 3: How to identify ultra-processed foods

Many elementary school students are returning to classrooms with mask regulations pasted to the walls. What they won’t see is a poster explaining the classic Food Pyramid. That went out of favor a few years ago: “Why That Food Pyramid You Were Taught in Elementary School May Have Been Wrong.” While diets and nutritional guidelines come and go, one area of consensus is that unprocessed foods are healthier than their processed counterparts. That sounds right, but what exactly do these terms mean? Find out in “What are ultra-processed foods, and why are they bad for us?” Researchers from Brazil created the NOVA classification, which splits foods into 4 categories, in order of most to least healthy: unprocessed foods, processed ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods. Category 1 is food in its natural state, like a piece of fruit or fresh meat. Category 2 is ingredients that have been processed or extracted from nature, like oils, salt, or butter. These can still be quite healthy, and in fact, ingredients like butter have gotten a bad rap without a good reason. Read “Make it better with (Grass-Fed) Butter” to see why. Category 3 is comprised of foods made by combining ingredients from the 1st and 2nd categories, like a loaf of bread. Category 4 is an “industrial formulation” made from stuff extracted from other foods, synthesized, or pre-processed by being moulded or fried. Category 4 foods are the most harmful, and you can read “The Many Health Risks of Processed Foods” to learn why. #UnprocessedIsBest

Minute 4: Get ready to race like Ryan Hall

It's hard to believe that the jacked dude in this Instagram photo was once the fastest marathoner in U.S. history. Ryan Hall now eats 5,000 calories a day and deadlifts 500 pounds, but in 2011 he ran Boston in 2:04:58 and has clocked a sub-hour half marathon. So even though he spends more time picking things up and putting them down (and those things aren’t his feet), when a runner of his calibre speaks, we listen. That’s why we were intrigued by this new story in Men’s Health: “Olympic Marathoner Ryan Hall Shared the 7 Most Important Things to Do the Night Before a Big Race.” First, he recommends laying down before a race instead of sitting, which “creates all kinds of tightness and kinks that you want to avoid pre-race.” Next, he stresses the importance of fueling up the day before you race. You’re going to need lots of extra energy, so don’t be afraid to pack on the pasta the night before. For more good ideas, check out Polar’s “Ten Last Minute Marathon Tips for Race Day” or this Pre-Race Checklist from legendary running coach Jeff Galloway. BTW, Ryan Hall’s last piece of pre-race advice is no fun for a ski trip, but could help you PR in a marathon -- avoid hot tubs. They can make you a little too loose, pre-competition. For more on that topic, check out “Marathon Runners Want to Know: Is it Better to Hot Tub Before or After the Race?” #TooHotToHandle

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Researchers recently used a deep learning algorithm to uncover an advantage to being slim. The program analyzed participants' body shapes, uncovering “a statistically significant relationship between physical appearance and family income.” Essentially, thinner people are getting paid more. Don’t shoot the messenger, since we think the study points out a serious issue of bias in the workplace that should be addressed. To see the full story, check out “Deep machine learning study finds that body shape is associated with income.”

  • We can never get our fill of good news when it comes to coffee. Luckily, there never seems to be a shortage of it. We’re taking a slightly different angle this week though, as Livestrong.com has put together a short list of the ways your coffee habits could be doing harm. Make sure you’re practicing the best consumption habits by reading “Coffee Can Be Good for Your Brain, Unless You’re Making These 4 Mistakes.”

  • This will come as a very unpopular suggestion, no doubt, but we might need another kind of tax. Our trails and parks were conceived long ago, and designed for far less foot traffic than they receive today. Especially during the pandemic, where hiking was so popular, trail maintenance has become increasingly difficult. That’s where the “backpack tax” comes in. You can read more on the issue in the article from Outside: “Is It Finally Time for the Backpack Tax?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Most things in life, big or small, start by taking just one step. And it’s tough to take a step without engaging your toes. The little piggies play an important role in keeping our balance and supporting movement, and it’s vital we take good care of them as we put them to use. Otherwise, you could become vulnerable to injury. Watch the video below from The Run Experience to see how to keep your big toe in tip top shape, and why that’s so important.