Minute 1: Squatting - a simple position with a big impact
Normally when we break bad news to someone, we recommend sitting down so their knees don’t get wobbly. The thing is, sitting itself might be the problem. We’re not talking about the whole “sitting is the new smoking thing.” The issue is that when we do choose to take a load off, research has shown that we should avoid using a traditional seat. The details are in this new story: “Why everyone should learn to hold a deep squat position to get fit and live longer.” Researchers studied the habits of Tanzanian hunter gatherers known as the Hadza, and found some surprising results. They got daily exercise, but also rested quite a bit every day -- as much as 10 hours. That seems like a lot, but the Hadza showed no signs of disease associated with a sedentary life. So, what is it they do differently? Resting in a deep squat position, rather than sitting down. The researchers theorize that squatting “allows the body to rest, but still encourages flexibility and uses our muscles to keep us upright.” This muscle activity keeps the body healthy even through periods of relative inactivity. The findings line up with what we already know about the “Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle,” which include weight gain, loss of muscle mass, and a weakened immune system, to name a few. Squatting sounds simple enough, but a proper deep squat with your feet flat on the ground can be difficult for those not used to it. Try your best to get into position, and if it causes strain, hold it for a short amount of time. Repeat this enough, and eventually, the position will be as natural and comfortable as sitting feels. #InSitu
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Minute 2: The Boston Marathon’s qualifying times just got harder
Despite a little bump in the road at the 20-mile mark, Boston typically produces some fast age group finish times. That’s not because the course itself is fast -- it’s not -- it’s because the field itself is faster than most big city marathons. Boston is unique among major marathons in that the BAA requires entrants to have run a fairly fast time in the prior year. For example, to apply for a bib, a 40-year-old man needs a 3:10 marathon result while a 40-year-old woman needs a 3:40. The full standards are here. Just meeting that threshold, however, doesn’t guarantee you a bib. The BAA then sorts through all of the applicants and takes only the fastest among them to fill the spots, accounting for age and gender differences, of course. After last year’s hiatus, the 125th Boston Marathon is back this October, but with only 20,000 runners, down from the usual 30,000+, in order to comply with social distancing restrictions. With fewer bibs available, that meant that this year, runners needed a time that was 7 minutes and 47 seconds faster than the qualifying standard of their age group. Details are here: “The Boston Marathon Field Is Really Fast.” In addition to the smaller field, other measures will be taken to ensure safety. Now, only elite runners will start with the gun. To avoid crowded start corrals, the majority of participants will begin in waves, and only their net time will be recorded. With the vaccine taking hold and Covid infections continuing to plummet, some races have signaled that they may increase field sizes if the trend continues. In New England, part of that vaccination success is due to the Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray, who has been putting his immense organizational skills to work by organizing vaccination clinics at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium. His heroics and logistics were highlighted on a recent HBO Real Sports segment.
Minute 3: Running with your phone instead of a watch
If you’ve worried that the 2021 Olympic Games will be canceled for a second straight summer, we’ve got good news for you. A test event held in Sapporo, Japan went exceptionally well, according to IAAF chief and former Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe. He was referring to a successful half marathon held last week: “Coe gives stamp of approval to Tokyo Olympic test event.” The race was held as a proof of concept to ensure the Olympic marathon can take place, just 3 months later when the Games begin. Athletes who participated remained in their hotel rooms, unless training or competing, and they nonetheless reported a positive experience. To hear what they had to say, check out: “International Athletes at Olympic Test Event Praise COVID-19 Protocols.” The success of the safety measures has organizers feeling confident, but the problem of public support still remains. About 75% of Japanese citizens oppose hosting the Olympics, according to recent polls. The country only has about 2% of its population vaccinated, and recent surges in areas like Tokyo and Osaka have contributed to hesitancy around hosting the event. The organizers will not allow foriegn spectators to attend, but whether or not local fans are welcome remains undecided.
U.S. Olympic trials are proceeding as usual, though things were shaken up when Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf stepped onto the track on Sunday to compete in a 100M dash in an attempt to qualify for the trials. Many predicted an embarrassing result, but it was anything but. Metcalf crossed the line at the back of a very close pack, clocking a respectable 10.36 seconds, ranking him 84th fastest so far this year. Watch his remarkable run in “DK Metcalf finished last in 100M race, but with respectable time.”
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Minute 4: Sisu - why Finnish runners are so tough
Finland is a special place. It's known for topping the list of “The 10 Happiest Countries in The World” several years running, so you might think of it as an easygoing region. However, the country has a spirit of toughness that is such a vital part of their culture, there’s a specific word for it: Sisu. People have struggled to translate exactly what the term means, but Podium Runner recently interviewed 4 Finnish runners to get to the bottom of it in “You Can’t Be a Champion without ‘Sisu’.” Minttu Hukka dreams of being Finland’s first Olympic triathlete. When asked to give a meaning, she said that “When things get tough and the odds are against you, do you shy away and accept the defeat, or do you put your head down and keep pressing forward? The person with sisu keeps fighting.” It’s this sort of mentality that propelled her forward through injury in the 2013-14 season, where she underwent surgery and still managed to make it to the finals of the IAAF World Junior Championships. Sisu is about exceeding your limits, according to Antti-Pekka Niinistö. He thinks sisu comes from Finland’s history, particularly the Russo-Finnish War, in which his country fought against overwhelming odds and held off the larger invading army for several months. Middle distance runner Johanna Sällinen says sisu comes out at the end of long races. The final kilometers of the Finnish Championships 10K tested her, but she was determined to impress her home crowd with a strong finale. Juha Hellsten says that embodying sisu can be powerful, but dangerous if you push yourself too far. He says the best example of sisu in his career came at the Indoor Finnish Championships 2002, where he broke away from the field to chase his own personal record, and managed to break it. Perhaps sisu explains how a tiny country has produced such strong distance runners like Lasse Viren and Paavo Nurmi.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
Here’s another sign that the world is returning to normal -- road races in New York are making a comeback. Check it out in “NYRR to allow increase in runners after easing COVID-19 restrictions.” For the Mastercard New York Mini 10K, the expected finishers has been raised from 1,200 to 3,000, and similar leeway has been granted to other small scale races. The 2021 NYC Marathon remains uncertain about its exact field size, but the fact that it is the last major marathon of the year, taking place in early November, gives organizers a little more leeway.
Most trail runners probably have a go-to favorite snack to fuel their adventures. Part of the fun of a long hike is rewarding yourself with a victory lunch at the summit and delicious trail mix along the way. But those looking to optimize their experience should check out “I Wrote an Equation to Find the Perfect Adventure Snack.” The author considered every variable with this one -- ideal number of calories, carb to protein ratio, and even the snack’s density. It's laid out in a spreadsheet you can examine to find out the best food to carry on your next outing.
We’re always anxious to hear tips from a battle-tested pro. There’s a lot to learn from “Ultrarunner Magda Boulet’s Hard-Earned Nutrition Tips.” Boulet has made the podium of several top races around the world, and along her journey, she’s picked up some key tactics to make your diet part of the recipe for success. If you want to know when to eat what in the leadup to a race, this is the article for you.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The Canary Islands sound like a perfect place for a getaway as we emerge from our pandemic hibernation. The islands are gorgeous and hilly, with miles of rugged beaches. But not everyone who travels there is looking to chill and enjoy the scenery. The island is home to El Hierro training camp, where athletes go to run, cycle, and dive their way to serious performance gains. Salomon TV documented their team’s training, showcasing the island's dramatic landscapes and ecosystems. If this highlight video doesn’t inspire you to run along the nearest trail with a view, perhaps you should stick to the treadmill and Seinfeld reruns. (Before the hate mail rolls in, we are big fans of Seinfeld. Mostly because without Seinfeld, we would have never experienced the joys of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Veep. Tying back to Minute 4, you can check out the greatest hits of one of our favorite characters on Veep, fictional Finnish Prime Minister Minna Hakkinen. End of non sequiturs.)