August 17 Six Minute Mile

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Minute 1: My grandma is faster than your dad (and your XC coach)

Ever feel like your best days are behind you? Complain that your legs don’t feel like they used to? Begin conversations about your workout with qualifications like “back in the day…?” If so, you’ve likely never heard of Jeannie Rice, the 71-year-old grandma who’s taking a Sharpie to every world record book she can get her hands on. Rice already wears her age group’s crown in the marathon after running a 3:37:50 last year in Chicago — but while one world-best might be enough for your average grandma, Jeannie comes from a different knitting circle.

Last weekend, Rice ran a blistering 1:37:07 at the Akron Half, good for the age group world record. Despite the fact that she’s now her only competition, she plans on besting her marks in September at the Berlin Marathon, a race known for generating record-breaking times.  Not sure if she’s planned ahead to next June, yet, but she has to run Minnesota’s famous Grandma’s Marathon, right?

Minute 2: Dinner table conversation

This week in exercise, nutrition, and diet news ripe for a lively and healthy dinner table convo:

  • Ignoring your personality type when choosing the sort of exercise and training in which you engage can lead to less effective training. Seems self-explanatory, but Dr. Chris Friesen feels that not enough people take their dispositions into consideration when crafting a workout routine. Over on Verywellfit, Friesen lays out what personality type you are and what that says about how you should be exercising.
  • If you’re like us, you think about staying hydrated. A lot. This week, a list of common hydration mistakes and urban legends caught our eye. Coffee drinkers, celebration is in order…
  • Annie Weiss just finished, Badwater, the 135-mile running race through Death Valley in California. The race through torrid heat was the 28th ultra for Weiss. Since she is a registered dietician, we imagined her caloric intake consisted of nothing but items from the Whole Foods most popular list. Nope. Weiss ate donuts, Twinkies and heaps of other junk food. On a recent record-setting 21-day trail running jaunt, her training table included milk, pizza, burgers, white bread and more Twinkies. While we all know that processed food is unhealthy long-term, it is useful during endurance events because it is already processed, allowing the body to work less at mainlining it into the bloodstream.

Minute 3: The Great Training Debate: Intensity vs. Duration

Alex Hutchinson, a talented writer obsessed with the limits of human endurance, just published a short article on Outside Online outlining a heated debate within the physiology community: is training with greater intensity or for a longer duration of time more effective? We have written before about the benefits of high-intensity interval training and are big fans of mixing in some HIIT. Hutchinson graciously frames the complex scientific argument in layman’s terms (not sure about you, but we haven’t brushed up on mitochondrial release-measuring methodology in a while) and lays out the benefits of each approach.

If you enjoy Hutchinson’s writing, check out his 2018 book “Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.” Hutchinson’s style recalls Malcolm Gladwell’s blend of human storytelling and rigorously researched argument. Probably not coincidentally, Gladwell contributes the book’s foreword. For more from Gladwell – an accomplished runner – check out his appearance on Lance Armstrong’s podcast.

Minute 4: Gear Roundup

Calling all you dual parents/endurance athletes: our friends over at are hookin’ it up this week. That’s right: head over there to save 60% on one of the site’s best bike trailer and jogger combos. And if the prospect of crushing intervals and hills with a child in tow terrifies you (or if the prospect of “child” terrifies you), check out Gear Junkie’s non-child related picks for best outdoor deals of the week. REI’s Garage always has some deals that coax our credit cards out of our wallet. Here’s a link the fitness collection in the Garage. And for some reason, people keep finding their way back to our 12 Favorite Fitness Trackers review page.  Are folks finally realizing that training with an iPhone is kinda clunky?

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Think twice before you launch your next closet/garage cleaning project. Those stinky old training shoes you are about to lob into the dumpster may be more valuable than you think. Dave Russell of Sacramento found a pair of Nike Waffle Racing Moon Shoes in his garage and thought they may be worth something. He was right. He just sold the pair for $50,000. The full story and video have some great details about why these Bill Bowerman-crafted shoes were such a rare creation. If you’d like a terrific read on the wild early days of Nike, check out Phil Knight’s best-selling book, Shoe Dog.
  • The Grateful Dead told us decades ago that “women are smarter”, but did Jerry and Bob realize that women are also tougher athletes in ultra-endurance races? Elite men typically outperform women in distances like the marathon and below because they have innately better maximum output power. That quality is less important for multi-day events in difficult circumstances. According to a new report, women handle conditions like extreme sleep deprivation and fatigue with better emotional coping. Check out the full story here.
  • Ever wonder which state has the fastest distance runner? Well, yeah, neither have we, but now that you ask… Our friends at RunRepeat just completed an exhaustive analysis of marathon results showing that overall, American marathoners are getting slower. But if you live in Massachusetts, Washington or Indiana, you will be proud to know that those three states have the fastest average marathon times across all ages and genders. Massachusetts averages a 4:04 marathon with their men clocking an average of 3:54. Sorry Hawaii, you’re better surfers than runners, with the slowest marathon times in America at an average of 6:16. Check out the full list here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

You probably think that because you run or cycle a lot, you have a pretty darn good reason to skip leg day at the gym. Wrong! It turns out that strength training is especially important for runners, with benefits ranging from strengthening bones to improving form. If you don’t believe us, check out 6 Benefits of Strength Training from Runner’s Blueprint. If you want to up your leg day workout, check out the video below from a guy with bigger legs than any of us ever will have.  We like the 9 leg strength moves he demonstrates in the gym.

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