Why naps are good for endurance athletes



Minute 1: The power of the nap


If you are used to a busy office with constant stimulation, your afternoon energy may sag when you’re working alone in a home office or sitting by a warm fire in comfortable sweats with your computer in your lap. (Insert hand wave emoji.) It’s hard to be productive when your chin droops onto your chest every half hour. A new study says you should set aside your guilt instincts and succumb to the snooze. According to the British Medical Journal, “Adding a nap to your afternoon routine can be a productivity gamechanger.” An afternoon nap can lead to stronger mental agility, better awareness, and improve both memory and verbal fluency. It can also help you save money on coffee. WebMD says there are many “Health Benefits of Napping” and a deeper dive is available in this story: “The Physiology of Naps and the Impact on Athletic Performance.” So if you feel the urge to nod off, check out the Sleep Foundation’s “Tips for Your Best Nap.” #PillowTalk


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Minute 2: Why flat-running might be more effective than uphill climbs


Our corporate HQ is about ½ mile from the top of Heartbreak Hill. Normally at this time of year, the fear-inducing section of the Boston Marathon course is filled with weekend warriors prepping for the April marathon date. That makes sense as a form of exposure therapy, in which “repeated exposure to the source of your specific phobia and the related thoughts, feelings and sensations may help you learn to manage your anxiety.” In plainer English, “The Benefits of Hill Running” also include boosting your strength, speed, intensity and calorie burn. Training on hills, though, puts strain on your lower body, and downhill running brings even more dangers and injury risks. Many trail runners, who race in the mountains, have begun exploring level ground for their training. I Run Far examines the theory in “The Advantages of Training on Flat Terrain.” Ultra runner and two-time UTMB podium finisher Tim Tollefson says flatter running is the most underrated training method for trail runners. “People get caught up in the sexy Strava weeks with ridiculous totals, but average speed wins races,” he says. Tollefson contends that too much vertical training “is likely to drive someone into overtraining, underperforming, and total burnout.” While flat-running might be sound advice, you still need some elevation training to prepare for uphill challenges, and it’s important to make sure you are doing it safely and properly. Check out these “6 Steps to Run Hills Properly” or “The Proper Technique for Running Uphill and Downhill.” #RacingFlats


Minute 3: If your running routine falters, make it a habit


Runners love their routines. We run at the same time each day, eat the same pre- and post-run snacks, and go through the same recovery processes. Then we do it all over again during our next workout session. But what happens when that routine is disrupted? What if it’s suddenly too cold to run outside? What if your treadmill or bike breaks? Or what if COVID or another illness sidelines you for a week? If your routine is not a habit, or a regular practice, your health and fitness might suffer. Inc.com explores the issue in “What People With a Success Mindset Do Instead of Follow Morning Routines.” The post illustrates the case of a fitness buff who had the same workout routine every morning for 2 years — until a pedal on his bike broke. Suddenly his entire routine fell apart and all his healthy habits went out the window. Routines are great until something goes wrong to disrupt the cycle. Instead, we should turn our routine into a practice. “Routines are what you do. Practices are also what you do, but are, more important, who you are.” For tips on how to develop a good running or workout practice, check out “How to Make Running a Habit” at RunnersBlueprint.com. To get in the right mindset, check out The Psychology Behind Lasting Habits. #RoutineTest


Minute 4: You may need to wait awhile before running after eating


Remember when your mom insisted that you wait 30 minutes before swimming after eating? Her intentions may have been nurturing, but they weren’t really based on science. Health experts have debunked that swimming myth, but many still advocate calling mom regularly. (Check out: “Relax, You Probably Call Your Mom Enough.”) While it may be safe to eat right before splashing around in the pool, the same science doesn’t necessarily apply to running. Runner Click recently raised the issue in “How Long Should You Wait To Run After Eating?” The answer is complicated and depends on how much you eat and when you run. The author doesn’t recommend, for instance, running after scarfing down a giant enchilada and a large margarita. (“Let’s just say the enchilada ended up in a reversal, as they say in the competitive eating world.”) It suggests instead having a small meal before you run or a light snack if you’re having Runch (running during lunch). For more tips on how to fuel your run, check out VeryWellFit’s nutrition guide for “What to Eat Before/During/After a Run.” Healthline also has some helpful tips for “What to Eat Before Running.” #EatAndRun


Minute 5: Quick Intervals


  • If you’re feeling fatigued or experiencing shortness of breath, it’s easy to be alarmed during the middle of a pandemic. For runners, however, it could be a false alarm created by an iron deficiency. In a recent post on “Iron Deficiency in Runners,” Runners Connect points out that low levels of iron is one of the most common reasons for poor results or a lull in performance, with as many as 56% of runners suffering an iron deficiency that hampers their training. Lean meat, egg yolks and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of iron. RunFastEatSlow also has some great advice on “Why You Need More Iron in Your Diet,” while our friends at Fleet Feet explain “What Every Runner Needs to Know About Iron Deficiency.” For help boosting your iron levels, check out these “Foods to Fight Iron Deficiency” at EatRight.com.


  • According to a Neilsen analysis, the sale of alcohol soared during the pandemic, with a 54% increase in March alone. Last month we wrote about the popular trend of Dranuary, in which many people swear off booze to start the year. But does a dry month actually help? For one sports nutritionist, it did. Scott Tindal shared “What a Month With No Alcohol Did to His Body.” Tindal saw improvement in his sleep patterns, workout recovery, energy levels and mental clarity. It also significantly lowered his resting heart rate, the leading indicator of cardiovascular health. “Contrary to my previously held opinions, I do not believe alcohol has any place in a program designed to maximize health and performance,” he writes. Even a glass of red wine, he says, had a negative impact on his sleep patterns and resting heart rate. For more information on the effect of alcohol on health and training, check out “The Relationship Between Alcohol and Fitness” or “How Does Alcohol Negatively Affect Your Fitness?

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration


In a world still reeling from a global pandemic, there is no more noble mission than supporting healthcare workers. London’s Simon Kindleysides is doing his part by walking 4 miles every day in February to raise money for the National Health Service in England. Kindleysides, who was paralyzed after suffering a brain tumor in 2013, completed the 2018 London Marathon in 36 hours, 46 minutes in an exoskeleton suit donated by an anonymous benefactor. His effort set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a robotic walking device. The father of 3 is embarking on his latest journey in 4-mile increments because that is how far he can travel before recharging. “The NHS has kept me alive,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the NHS I wouldn’t be here now.” Kindleysides, 36, hopes the funds he raises will be used to buy oxygen supplies for COVID patients. For more on his remarkable story, check out the video below produced by Guinness World Records.