Minute 1: Last major marathon standing
The list of 2020 Abbott World Marathon Majors has shrunk from a 6-pack to a single serving with the announcement this week that the Chicago Marathon cancelled its October race. Chicago joined the list of 4 other majors that have canceled: Boston, New York, Tokyo and Berlin. (Tokyo did allow a small number of elite runners to compete on the course, but not the normal 38,000.) That leaves the Virgin Money London Marathon as the last major standing. Originally scheduled for April, the Brits pushed their race back to October 4, 2020. Event Director Hugh Brasher has a well-deserved reputation for being innovative and persistent. Those who know him say that he embodies the Winston Churchill quotation: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Last month Brasher released an optimistic statement saying he is “coming up with innovative ways to socially distance the event.” His father, Chris, was the co-founder of the race and 2020 marks its 40th edition. The UK has suffered the largest number of Coronavirus deaths in Europe, although new cases and deaths are trending in the right direction according to the NYT. Brasher will also have to address a new report that says a resurgence of the virus this winter could produce nearly 120,000 UK deaths in a worst case scenario. Meanwhile, Hamburg and Venice are still hoping to produce marathons this fall in Europe.
Minute 2: Dogs are good for your health
Ever wonder why you see dog food ads in running and outdoor magazines? Clearly, market analysts have figured out a connection between people pursuing a healthy lifestyle and pet ownership. Apparently, it’s not just a Google algorithm that sees the linkage, but also research scientists as well. Men’s Health just published “Owning a Dog Is Good for You, Says New Research,” detailing a new scientific study on the subject. Benefits include higher levels of dopamine, better immune system strength, and increased motivation to exercise. This foots with WebMD’s analysis of the “Five Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.” The pandemic has only strengthened the bond between 2-legged and 4-legged runners, according to a survey published in USA Today, citing 84% of respondents who said they are more concerned with their pet’s well-being than before quarantine. The CDC reports that humans can actually spread the Coronavirus to dogs, but “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” Women’s Running came out last week with a list of “5 Tips to Make Your Dog a Great Running Companion,” including a helpful daily exercise calculator for various breeds and sizes. If you are considering adding a dog to your family, the American Kennel Club has a list of the top breeds for running, including a few surprises like the Dalmation and the Doberman. #Miler’sBestFriend
Minute 3: The Graduate, had it right: “Plastics”
If you are rooting hard for your local gym or boutique fitness studio to fully and safely re-open, you may want to shake a pom pom in the direction of Columbus, Ohio. That’s where the largest U.S. manufacturer of Plexiglass, Plaskolite, is headquartered. And Plexiglass, my friends, is what is needed to separate sweaty, hard-breathing athletes from each other inside gyms. We spoke to Barry’s Bootcamp this week and they told us that they are waiting for more sheets of the life-saving plastic to arrive before they can re-open all locations with proper protocols. Plexiglass is in short supply across North America as the magic plastic is being deployed in everything from face shields to coffee shop counters. Forbes recently reported that Plaskolite is on track for record revenue (this classic scene in The Graduate had it right after all), but it is 15 weeks behind in fulfilling orders. In Boston, equipment must be spaced 14 feet apart which dramatically lowers the capacity of gyms and has led many locations to postpone re-opening. As the Boston Globe explains, “Fitness studios are allowed to open in Phase 3, but several will remain closed. Here’s why.” Equinox, owner of the eponymous high-end gyms and Soul Cycle, just announced that it will furlough 3,000 employees because its business will shrink from pre-pandemic operations. BTW, for the price of one or two days of boutique fitness, you could get a month of membership at your local non-profit YMCA. We liked this recent essay, “How Your Local YMCA Could Save the World,” as it highlights the additional benefit of working out with a broad cross section of Americans, not just the hipster/Lululemon/Range Rover crowd.
Minute 4: First ever reader survey
Our favorite nerdy moment of the week occurs about 15 minutes after we send this email. That’s when we pull up our analytics app and see which stories resonated most with our readers. Whatever the first 200 readers who opened the email liked is almost always the same as what the last 200 openers liked. In order to bring you the most relevant content possible, we have created the first-ever Six Minute Mile reader survey. It will take much less than 6 minutes to complete and is a kinda fun opportunity to think about how you approach your athletic life. (Do you use a tracking app? Do you have a gym membership? How many half marathons have you run? Do you prefer funny videos or inspirational ones?) As if the Zen reward of getting to know yourself better isn’t enough incentive, we will select 10 lucky readers who complete the survey to receive a Six Minute Mile water bottle. Do not – we repeat, do NOT -- subject yourself to the embarrassment of offering only a blank stare when your run/ride/gym buddies ask how you filled out Question 7 on the SMM survey. Link to the survey is here.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
If you like to enjoy a cold beer after a workout, that’s fine according to a new study, just don’t have a second one. This week the official U.S. Dietary Guidelines have been tweaked to say that adult men should not consume more than one alcoholic drink per day. That is a revision from official guidance that allowed for two drinks per day. The recommendation for women remains the same at no more than one per day. Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: If I don’t have a beer on Wednesday or Thursday, can I have 3 on Friday? Nice try. That’s a no-no according to the experts. Whether you bend the rules or follow them, you may want to consult this story released this week on Insider: “5 Tips for Enjoying Alcohol Without Derailing Your Diet and Fitness Routine.”
If you like mixing runs and weight training into a potent HIIT cocktail, you may enjoy this list of “25 Running Workouts to Build Powerful Conditioning for CrossFit.” We are too restless to enjoy the lift-rest-lift-rest cycle of traditional gym workouts. That’s we’re fans of workouts like the Broken Arrow that mixes elements like air squats, pushups, a 3-mile run and a 10-mile bike ride.
Last week we announced that the world’s largest collection of digital endurance race photos has been uploaded to the cloud. Apparently our readers like reliving their races, as that became one of the most-clicked links in the history of Six Minute Mile. For more than a decade most of those images sat on idle hard drives, but now more than 200 million photos from 5K fun runs to world major marathons have been uploaded by our sister company, MarathonFoto. They created a new feature where athletes use their email address to search for images of their glory days.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
The first London Marathon in 1981 featured an epic duel down the stretch between American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonson. As they approached the finish line, they decided to join hands and cross the finish line together rather than allow a final sprint to define the previous 26 miles. They sat down for an interview a few years ago to describe the drama behind the finish that has been etched forever in marathon lore and held out as a remarkable display of sportsmanship. Video of their finish is below.