APR 20, 2022
Minute 1: Plan your race day diet with these tips
Race day nutrition can be a major source of uncertainty for athletes. At the 2008 Olympics, the search for certainty drove Usain Bolt to rely on a 100% chicken nugget diet. He made that decision to avoid a bad reaction to unfamiliar food. We’re here to tell you no such measures are necessary, and you can enjoy a well-rounded diet before, during, and after your race without getting an upset stomach, provided you follow the tips in this new piece: “Q. & A.: How to Fuel Your Runs.” Long distance runners can avoid hitting the wall late into their race by having a mid-run snack. It’s important to choose something high in carbohydrates, which are quickly converted into usable energy. Eating foods high in fat close to race time can upset your stomach, as they’re slower to digest. Energy gels like the one offered by Maurten are designed to be the perfect snack on the go that will help you avoid GI distress. Find out why this product was all the rage at the Boston Marathon this week in “Nutrition Review: Why You Need to Try Maurten Gel and Caffeine Gel.” It contains plenty of carbs, and there’s a caffeinated option if you need an extra boost as well. It’s also what Eliud Kipchoge has relied upon in his quest for a 1:59 marathon.
Minute 2: Easy workouts can deliver a bigger mental boost
Generally speaking, nature rewards our toughest battles with the greatest spoils. Hard exercise will make you stronger, frightening challenges will boost your confidence, and so forth. However, it’s important to balance the easy with the hard, as there are some benefits that come from dialing back the intensity according to this new story: “Why Taking It Easier During Exercise May Be Better for Your Brain, According to a Neuroscientist.” Our bodies can’t really differentiate between voluntary and involuntary stress, so even choosing to do difficult exercise can have similar downsides to being confronted with an overwhelming problem. That means intense exercise can raise cortisol levels beyond what’s desirable, increasing your anxiety. On the other hand, 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise a few times a week has been shown to reduce anxiety. By keeping your intense workouts short and sweet, you can still reap the psychological benefits without overwhelming your system. Stress expert Dr. Jennifer Heisz recommends adding a 10-second all-out sprint to the end of your walks as a kind of exposure therapy to stressful stimuli. Combine your walk with a mindfulness meditation, and you’ll feel the mental health benefits in no time. Check out “What Is Mindful Walking Meditation and How Can It Impact Your Life?” Bringing your awareness to your sensations, your surroundings, and the present moment instead of getting lost in thought gives your mind a chance to reset, lowering stress levels and boosting mood. #BrainGains
Minute 3: Can humans run farther than a Tesla?
A Tesla Model 3 can go from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.1 seconds. That’s fast enough that we’d question the sanity of anyone willing to race one on foot. Over short distances, there’s no contest, but Ultrarunner Robbie Balenger bet he could stand toe to toe with the machine in an endurance race. Believe it or not, he was right, and you can follow his journey to victory in “U.S. ultrarunner outlasts a Tesla Model 3.” On a single charge, the car was able to drive 242 miles, and Balenger aimed to beat that distance within 72 hours. Although he fell short of the time constraint by a couple hours, he did cross the 242 mile mark with energy to spare, unlike the car’s battery. Hearing this story has us on the lookout for other human vs. machine challenges, like the “Beat the T” race from Marathon Sports and Brooks Running. Last Saturday, runners made their way through the streets of Boston, competing against the subway from Washington Square to Copley Place on the Boston Marathon course. A few runners managed to eke out the win. If you want to ramp up your speed, consider these new tips from Women’s Running magazine: “Not Doing Speed Work? Here Are 3 Easy Ways to Add It Into Your Training.”
Minute 4: Get more mushrooms in your diet
Make room for mushrooms. There’s a growing trend among healthy eaters who are adding more fungi to their diets. It’s not hard to see why, given their low cost, nutritional density, and simplicity to cook. Take a look at this story for details: “One Major Side Effect of Eating Mushrooms, Says Dietitian.” Mushrooms contain a lot of antioxidants and vitamins, which is why they’re often referred to as an “adaptogen,” a term denoting ingredients that aid your body’s response to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. (For more details, see “Adaptogens.”) Mushrooms contain fiber, B Vitamins, selenium, ergothioneine, and glutathione, and you can take advantage of this nutrition by cooking and eating mushrooms whole, or consuming a mushroom infused product. Check out these “3 Health Benefits of Mushroom Coffee – Based on Science.” The article notes that mushrooms support digestion by supporting your healthy gut bacteria. Additionally, mushroom infused coffee has about half the caffeine as a regular cup, making it a far smoother way to start your morning, for both your stomach and heart. While we’re on the subject of powerful mushrooms, we should mention some of the research going on around psilocybin mushrooms. We certainly don’t recommend putting these in your morning coffee before work, but when used in a therapeutic setting with a mental health professional, they have reduced anxiety and depression among terminally ill patients. To see the latest news on the subject, read “'Magic Mushroom' Drug Edges Toward Mainstream Therapy.”
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
We know how easy it is to get carried away as a runner. You step out on a beautiful day to log some miles, and your enthusiasm has you striding away faster than you intended to. That’s going to throw a wrench into the training schedule you’ve planned out, so it’s important to find strategies to help you stick to an easy pace when it’s time for a recovery run. Things like running with a partner or dog are just a couple of the great tips you can read in “How To Slow Down Your Runs? A Guide to Recovery Runs.”
Speaking of running with dogs, our SMM headquarters team was saddened last week when our close teammate, Cannon, took his last lap on earth and headed to doggy heaven. He lived 12 years with a wagging tail and a look in his eyes that seemed to ask: “Can I come, too?” For 10 of those years, he was a best friend on our local running trails, logging miles, watering tree trunks and chasing squirrels. We are deeply saddened, but have already re-read this list from Outside magazine: “The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners.”
It’s been estimated that only 5% of Americans are getting their recommended daily requirement of fiber, and that’s bad news for digestive function and blood sugar regulation. A quick and easy fix is to drink more smoothies, but there are a few ingredients you’ll want to be sure to include to maximize your fiber intake. Things like oats, avocado, and chia seeds are great for this, and for the complete list, take a look at “7 Clever Ways To Get More Fiber In Your Smoothies, According To Experts.”
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
On Monday, about 26,000 runners decided to take on the challenge of the most difficult of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Boston is not a PR course thanks to quad-pounding downhills and the infamous Heartbreak Hill, but runners have their reasons. For many it’s to test their physical limits alongside the world’s top endurance athletes. Others are there to raise awareness and funds for charitable causes dear to their heart. 26,000 runners and 26,000 unique stories. One that hit us hard was that of bib number 16985, Henry Richard. Henry’s younger brother, Martin Richard, was tragically killed during the 2013 bombings at the age of eight years old. His sister survived, but lost a leg. To honor his brother and to raise contributions for the Martin Richard Foundation, Henry Richard crossed the finish line on Boylston Street to complete his first ever Boston Marathon. Upon finishing, Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon winner and member of Team MR8 (Martin Richard Foundation) was there to give Henry his well-deserved medal. In a classy move, the BAA announcers called the crowd’s attention to Henry receiving lots of hugs in the finish area and asked for a moment of silence. Donations to the Martin Richard Foundation, which works to advance the values of inclusion, kindness, justice & peace can be made here. Video coverage of the moving story is below.