JUN 9, 2023
Minute 1: Tips from the happiest place on Earth
If you are a big fan of Finlandia vodka, you may already practice the tradition of “pantsdrunk,” the ritual of boozing sans friends and sans pants. (No really, it’s a thing, according to NBC News: “Embracing päntsdrunk, the Finnish way of drinking alone in your underwear.”) That only partially explains why Finland was once again just ranked the happiest country on earth. According to this new story, there are a couple of less exciting reasons why these folks are so darned content: “2 Top Tips From Finland’s New ‘Masterclass of Happiness,’ Straight From the Happiest Country on the Planet.” The first tip is about making the most of every meal. Author Alex Nurmi says that “happiness is a byproduct of contentment,” which can be cultivated by appreciating the simple things in your life. Eating with a mindfulness of the flavors of your food is easy to do, but can go a long way in delivering a feeling of satisfaction. The second tip is about immersing yourself in nature. Finding ways to get outdoors and be active is a cornerstone of Finnish culture, and it’s also quite common among the world’s sharpest minds: “What SuperAgers show us about longevity, cognitive health as we age.” The term “SuperAgers” refers to those 80 years and older who show little to no cognitive decline. Many of them have better memories than those 30 years their junior. By eating like a centenarian, challenging your mind and body, and maintaining social connections, you give your brain a much better shot at fighting conditions like dementia.
Minute 2: Wildfire smoke and running are a bad combo
All over North America, residents have woken up this week to hazy, orange skies that look like they belong on planet Arrakis, not Earth. As you might expect, these conditions present several health concerns for runners and other athletes spending time outdoors. If you want to understand the risks, check out this new story from the NYT: “Is It Safe to Go for a Run in Wildfire Smoke?” The particles that are thrown into the air from wildfires can be miniscule; as little as 1/30 the width of a strand of hair. Despite their size, they can have a big effect on your respiratory health, especially if you’re breathing through your mouth while exercising. Particles won’t pass through the natural filtration system in your nose, so they will move right into your lungs and bloodstream. The issue is exacerbated for anyone with respiratory conditions like asthma, and if that sounds like you, you’ll want to keep your time spent outdoors to a minimum during periods of poor air quality. To get a better understanding of your city’s air quality, read up on “How to Use the Air Quality Index.” The scale ranks air quality on a 500-point scale, with lower values being safer. It considers five pollution factors: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. If you have to go outside during a period of high pollution, we hope you still have a few masks on hand: N95 masks are most effective, but even scarfs and surgical masks can help, according to CBS News: “What to do during an air quality alert: Expert advice on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.”
Minute 3: Do partial plant-based diets work?
When people talk about plant-based or vegan diets, there’s a tendency to speak in absolutes. Those folks may be full of beans, since even a partial shift toward plant-based eating can bring benefits, without sacrificing flexibility, according to: “Study Shows Plant-Based Diets Are Good for Heart Health—Do You Need to Go Entirely Vegan?” Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of your arteries due to plaque buildup, is one of the main contributors to heart disease. Studies have found that plant-based diets are exceptionally good at reducing your risk, but some experts believe you can have three servings of meat per week without putting yourself in danger. Of course, there are benefits to eating meat too, especially for athletes who need more iron: “Why Do Athletes Need Iron: The Vital Mineral for Performance.” Iron plays a key role in oxygen transport and energy production. That means athletes use a lot of it while exercising, and a deficiency can hasten fatigue, as well as impair immune and cognitive function. If you’re looking to add iron to your diet, in both plant and animal-based form, look no further than these “10 Healthy Foods That Are Great Sources of Iron.” Eggs, red meat, oysters, chickpeas, and edamame have some of the highest iron content per serving of any food.
Minute 4: Shoe Review: Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX ($190)
When we did a reader survey last year, we asked all of you to list your most popular outdoor activities. Not surprisingly, running was the #1 choice with hiking being the silver medalist. (Sorta like when the bartender in the Blues Brothers movie explains the joint’s musical genres: “We got both kinds – we got country and western.”) OK, so maybe what we lack in athletic diversity, we make up for in passion. This week Brian Metzler dives into a shoe that can fuel both of your loves: the new Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX. It’s a hiking boot that you can actually run a few miles in out on the trails. Brian loves the line-blurring utility of this new shoe. The overview is below, but check out the full review on our website here. And don’t forget that you can catch up on every shoe Brian has reviewed at this link.
Modern hiking boots are more flexible, less rigid, lighter, cushier, grippier and more comfortable than the old-school boots you might still have stashed in your basement or garage. While you can still find well-made, traditional leather hiking boots made for backpacking and rugged mountain trails, Saucony’s new Ultra Ridge GTX is a performance-oriented boot built for hikers and trail runners who are seeking the same comfort, agility and handling of their trail running kicks for exploring more rugged trails or “peak bagging” on high mountain summits. I’ve taken these light and cushy boots out on numerous outings this spring – including up 14,439-foot Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado. If you’re a runner who also enjoys hiking on moderate to extreme terrain, the Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX is definitely worth a look.
What’s New: The Ultra Ridge GTX is a brand new shoe that’s built on a lightweight trail running platform with some of the best components in Saucony’s arsenal of materials. It incorporates the same soft and responsive PWRRUN PB foam in its midsole that’s found in some of Saucony’s top road and trail running shoes, including the best-selling Endorphin Speed 3. It also features a waterproof, mid-cut Gore-Tex upper to keep your feet dry and protected against mud, water, and trail debris. Lastly, it has a similar super-grippy PWRTRAC outsole – with an array of aggressive 4.5mm lugs – that Saucony puts on its Xodus Ultra 2 trail runners. It’s the same quality construction you’d expect from Saucony’s trail running shoes, only it’s intended for a slightly different application.
Why It’s Great: It’s great because it feels and flexes like a running shoe, but it’s sturdy and protective like a hiking boot. While that might seem like the obvious intent of a shoe like this, it’s easier said than done. Several other running shoe brands have come up short in their attempts to create this kind of athletic-minded hiking boot. The Ultra Ridge GTX serves up the soft and energetic sensations of Saucony’s light and agile Peregrine 13 trail running shoes with all the protection, traction, stability and support you need hiking for long hours on soft dirt trails or technical mountain trails. And yes, it’s sturdy and secure enough for backpacking.
Why You’ll Love It: You’ll like this shoe for the fit and traction it provides, but you’ll love it because it’s light. At just 12 ounces for a men’s size 9 and 11 ounces for a women’s size 8, it weighs less than 2 ounces more than some of Saucony’s popular trail and road shoes. (But it’s about half the weight of most traditional hiking boots!) Plus, it’s a shoe that actually feels even lighter when it’s in motion out in the wild. That lightweight vibe helped me overcome the considerable fatigue I was experiencing on my hike/run down from 14,000 feet, and it also contributed to my ability to make precise foot placements on technical trails without stumbling.
As a team that loves hiking in Colorado and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we can’t wait to take a pair of the Saucony Ultra Ridge GTX shoes out on the trails based on Brian’s recommendation. You can check out Brian’s full review of these excellent hybrid transports on our website.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
For quite a while now, fitness enthusiasts have been debating HIIT vs. LISS training. If you need a reminder, those are acronyms for short and intense vs. easy and steady exercises, respectively. Well, it turns out there’s a third option, and it’s even more extreme than HIIT. It’s called Reduced-Exertion High-Intensity Training, or REHIT for short, and it’s all about packing the most exercise into the shortest time frame possible. If you want to learn about the pros and cons, check out “Get More From Your Workout in Less Time With Reduced-Exertion High-Intensity Training (REHIT).”
Last issue, we talked about the benefits of choosing a savory breakfast over a sweet one. Well, there are two sides to every story, and today, we’re here to give you a heads-up on the dangers of a “salt tooth.” Like a sweet tooth, those of us with a salt tooth get savory cravings, and excessive sodium consumption is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. If you want to understand the risks of a salt tooth, as well as learn some tips to fight cravings, read: “Do you have a ‘salt tooth’? How to recognise it – and feed your cravings healthily.”
Have you been meaning to try out yoga, but keep running into excuses? For some of us, yoga doesn’t seem like a “real workout,” since it won’t result in big cardio or strength improvements. For others, the flexibility requirements seem daunting. Whatever the reason, we’re here to challenge naysayers to leave their assumptions at the door. If you need a little extra convincing, take a look at these “Yoga misconceptions debunked: Everything people get wrong about this exercise.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
There’s nothing like a great running partner to push you the extra mile in a race. Usually, that means someone running alongside you every step of the way, but for one proud dad, that wasn’t the case. @morganlockhart was 26 miles into the Vancouver Marathon when he spotted his baby girl on the sidelines. He picked her up and they ran together through the finish line. The crowd roared on all sides, acknowledging what a special moment it was for the father and daughter. It’s a powerful reminder for all of us to share the joy of running and victory, and we hope Morgan and his daughter finish many races together in the future.