MARCH 9, 2021

Run first. Feel good later
As I was about to send out this week’s newsletter, the NY Times published Lindsay Crouse’s essay about how she got started running again. The covid pandemic knocked the wind out of Crouse’s sails, as it did for many others, and she was feeling bad about sitting around on the couch so much while waiting for a brighter day. Then she contacted Brad Stulberg (see the “Build Your Motivation” headline and Stulberg's “Hardiness” article below), who told her basically: Action begets action, which begets better thinking and mood. Crouse started forcing herself outdoors to run again, and soon felt better. When we sit around reading about politics and watching Netflix, “We’re only getting more unhealthy, more miserable, more inert,” Crouse wrote. “We need to do something else.” There’s no groundbreaking science here. Just simple behavior that can bring powerful change. More at

Shoes with big “toe spring” can be helpful or not so much
This was news to me, so highly interesting. A podiatrist explains that as running shoes get thicker and stiffer, as they are with new foams and carbon plates, they may need to add more “toe spring” in the forefoot. Toe spring is that upward curve away from the flat ground at the front of the shoe, often paired with a similarly curved rocker heel. These shoes may be good if you have Achilles or ankle problems, but not so good for the knees and hips. More at Runner’s World.

Run monster mileage, low miles, or find your “sweet spot”
Everyone has to find the right training load for their lifestyle and goals, and Podium Runner offers the full monty here. Camille Herron and Nate Jenkins explain how to stay healthy while running monster miles; you can run efficient low miles with cross-training and water-jogging; or you can find the perfect balance between fast times and too-many aches and pains. Monster miles.  Low miles.  Sweet spot.

Preventing bone-stress injuries throughout your running career
Teens aren’t the only runners worried about bone injuries. (See “Youth Consensus, below.) We all are. This article states that all bone injuries are a result of training errors--too much at the wrong time. In youth, avoid premature sport specialization; play a lot of different sports “to induce bone adaptation.” As an adult, train with a modest, sensible increase in total load, paying particular attention to intensity, ie, speed work. If you have repeated bone injuries, consider a shorter stride. More at Current Osteoporosis Reports.

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Build your motivation. Every day.
This newsletter takes the official position that motivation is every runner’s job one. So I’ll always cover articles that might help us improve attitude and motivation. Lots of them. Like: Conscientiousness is a really important personality trait.  How exercise protects against depression.  5 science-supported steps to better motivation. How runners can find more motivation.  How hardiness can help you meet challenges.  The many benefits of group exercise. 

So many ways to measure your running route
I remember jumping in the car to “measure” my courses by driving them after a workout. I always had to add at least 10 percent to the odometer reading. Now, so many methods! This Runner’s World review taught me a few things I didn’t know about google maps and other tools. But didn’t mention my current fave online course-mapping tool, OnTheGoMap. More at Runner’s World.

First “Youth Running Consensus Statement” is released by expert group
A top-rank group of 20+ scientific and medical experts have compiled the first ever Youth Running Consensus Statement (mainly for ages 12 to 18) to guide coaches, doctors, and parents. It finds running a popular, healthy, and low-risk activity for youth. One area of concern: bone health, especially for females, who have a higher overall injury risk than boys. Free, full text at Brit J  of Sports Med. 

High glycemic diet (sugar, starch) linked to heart disease, death
A very large diet study across many countries was deemed important enough to gain publication in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. It found a significant link between consumption of high-glycemic index foods (such as non-legume starchy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages) and heart disease and death. The link with high-glycemic-load meals was much weaker. This means, essentially, if you’re going to consume high-sugar foods, have some fat or protein or fiber at the same time. More at NEJM.

Exercise is always good, but not always precise
Precision medicine proponents hope to develop specific, targeted strategies for individual patients. That might be hard with exercise. The Heritage Family Study has been digging into the genetics of exercise for almost 30 years now. In this new report, researchers found no consistent links between increased fitness and specific health targets (like vo2 max, body fat, cholesterol, insulin, inflammation, etc). Conclusion, in colloquial terms: Every exerciser gets healthier in uniquely different ways. So, just do it. More at Brit J of Sports Med.

If you train more, eat more, too
When 16 women runners were deliberately over-trained for a month, 9 responded by increasing their daily calorie intake in an appropriate manner. Seven did not, and these 7 exhibited “poor performance outcomes and suppressed ovarian function.” Message: If you’re going to boost your training, you need to do the same with your diet. More at Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism.

Training effects depend on training type, genes, and environment
Here’s one of those rare, interesting studies on twins, with each put into an endurance training program, mostly running, for 3 months, then a strength training program for 3 months (with a 3-month “washout” between). It’s the first such comparison of its kind. The running was slightly but not significantly better for fat loss. The strength training was significantly better for muscle gain. “Shared environment had the largest influence on changes in body composition.” More at Muscle & Science in Sports & Exercise. 

Aerobic and strength training both improve quality of life and “mental well-being”
The STRRIDE is a randomized trial that has been looking at independent or combined effects of aerobic training (AT) or strength training (RT), or both together. It generally finds that either AT or RT is good, and they tend to be even better when combined. Here that is shown true for “physical function, appearance, and mental well-being.” More at Frontiers in Sports & Active Living.

At home fitness without Peloton prices
I enjoy fiddling with various at-home fitness routines, mostly a series of floor-based strength-and-stability moves, and reading about other peoples’ DIY routines. A NY Times digital reporter decided to look into low-cost ways to rig your own Peloton-like experiences. Also free or inexpensive fitness videos and apps. It’s a fun tour, and instructive. More at NYT.

Should you be eating those meatless meats?
Plenty of runners would like to eat more vegetables and less meal while pursuing food selection that supports local, sustainable farming. Where does that leave meatless meats from Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and other companies jumping on the bandwagon. It’s an important question, with few solid answers at this point. The new concoctions aren’t bean burgers or “unprocessed.” The following article takes a look. More at Podium Runner.

Let’s take a wider look at our amazing sport
This newsletter is primarily about ways you can train better, eat healthier, prevent injuries, etc. But occasionally everyone should take a wider look at our amazing sport. That’s what these two articles do. One is about a mostly-Black high school xc team in Georgia--a great story with astonishing photos. The other explains what we can learn from indigenous running history and communities. Georgia at Bitter Southerner.  Indigenous at Podium Runner.
That's it for now. Thanks for reading. See you next week. Amby

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