Dropping some extra winter weight or jumpstarting your fitness goals for summer is no easy task, especially if you’re staring down something crazy like your first Ironman 70.3 or GORUCK Challenge. Sure, you could shell out some cash for a personal Jillian Michaels or Tony Horton lookalike at your local Globo Gym, but unless you want to feel like a boot camp recruit or Biggest Loser contestant, there are better options. We’ve been testing a few home workout programs this winter to help keep our edge. Here are a few of our favorites.
Less Space, More Power
Twenty years ago a home gym required an entire basement. This was ridiculous. Our ideas about fitness have progressed in breadth and scope — generally toward functional workouts that have real-world application — and the equipment required has diminished in size and price. If you’re looking to set up the perfect home gym that gives you the opportunity for a huge variety of exercises, it helps to have a few more tools in your kit.
Low Hanging Fruit
For anyone uncomfortable with pills, powders, shots and gels, Mother Nature offers an alternative way to stay healthy this winter. We’re talking berries, those tart little packets of juicy goodness. But beware: not all berries are created equal, and some go together better than others. Our resident fruitarian breaks down some of the most popular options.
The Sky's the Limit
Last week, London architecture firms proposed a plan to build the SkyCycle, a 137-mile bike superhighway that runs over existing rail lines. We break it down.
An Object in Motion Stays in Motion...
Founded in 1996 to develop footwear technologies for Nike, Adidas and Saucony, Boulder-based Newton Running now (according to its CEO, Jerry Lee) supplies shoes for one in every four triathletes. Though Newton currently makes two designated trail shoes, they’ll soon drop the Terra Momentum and offer only one: the sturdy, lightweight BOCO AT ($129). We took a pair out for a spin on a snowy day in Manhattan, which is nearly as rough as any beaten trail.
Two Toms, Three Sports
From the Pebble to the Toq, multi-tasking sports watches have recently gained popularity among the techie set. Among athletes, they’ve been used for over a decade. At their most basic functionality, athletic smart watches measure pace and distance, though most also have an optional heart rate monitor and offer enough technological bells and whistles to make Siri swoon. We got our hands on the TomTom Multisport GPS, an intuitive little offering that provides metrics for running, cycling and swimming.
Comfort and sturdiness, put to the test
Over the years we’ve owned a number of different hiking boots in a continuous search for just the right balance of sufficient support, stability, and grip without being so rigid and heavy that they feel like Tony Soprano concrete specials. Recently we had the opportunity to try the BIOM Terrain Plus ($230) from ECCO, a brand we knew only as the maker of grandpa’s “most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear!” Of course we were skeptical about where they would rate on that scale of comfort and stability — and, equally as important, whether we’d want to be seen wearing them on the trail.
It's never too cold
It’s not like getting up for that pre-work run was easy during the summer or fall. Now it’s pitch black, relentlessly cold and the streets are covered with ice, snow and salt. But a brisk jog before sunrise is a one-way ticket to a fulfilling day, not to mention a long winter of staying fit despite a dining regimen of braised short ribs and mashed potatoes. The right gear will keep you warm, dry and, most importantly, stable when the ground beneath you isn’t.
Gifts for the resident jock
Part of you doesn’t want to buy The Athlete any gift at all. He roughhouses at the Thanksgiving football game; he runs negative splits at the charity 5K; he seems to be toweling off every time your girlfriend is around. While we’re all worse for wear, he’s aging like a Rodin. But ultimately, he’s a good guy who just really likes to get the blood flowing. He whipped you into shape for Tough Mudder, remember? And who came along for a second opinion when you bought the used Cervelo? Who’s consistently willing to do an aerial chest bump? Yeah, that’s him. Go ahead, get him a little something nice for the holidays this year. We’ve got all the ideas you need.
The Bar, Raised
An active life is a fulfilling life, and part of maintaining an active lifestyle is eating healthy. In an ironic twist, one of the most challenging times to eat well is when you’re out exploring. Energy bars do their job, but usually with lots of sugar, saturated fat and other ingredients you can’t pronounce. Fractionated palm kernel oil while overlooking the North Kaibab Trail of The Canyon? Pass. Made from organic, humanely-treated beef, bison and turkey (both beef and bison are grass-fed), EPIC bars ($34) are also gluten-free, so those who’ve gone paleo can enjoy them without Grog turning over in his grave.
Not a treatise on Pink Floyd
There’s a lot happening in the body that’s implied by the catch-all word “bonk” (a.k.a. “hitting the wall”). While the resulting symptoms can occur at once as a symphony of pain and delirium, it’d be a mistake to think they all have the same cause and the same treatment. In my opinion, the the most valuable distinction for beginner long-distance runners is between dehydration and a glycogen bonk, or, generally speaking, running out of stored carbs to burn.
Run Forest, Run
In urban settings like New York, walking, let alone running, is hard enough. With the abundance of hazards — from reckless taxis to sharp-eyed grannies — hitting the streets in your new pair of kicks often means putting your life on the line. If you’re looking for a quieter run around the Big Apple, forget the Central Park Reservoir and Hudson River Park: when the only other New York residents you want to see are plants, birds and squirrels, check out these less frequently traveled trails.
More than a marathon
You’ve probably been hearing more about them: occasional murmurs of very long distance races, men and women running six marathons across the Sahara, a 3,100 mile race in Queens, NY, in the middle of summer. Ultrarunning, or running more than a 26.2 mile marathon in a single shot, seems an unlikely pursuit — and it is. But it’s also growing.
An estimated 60,000 people finished an ultra in the U.S. in 2012, up from about 10,000 in 1990. That number is still small compared to the 487,000 people who completed a marathon in the U.S. in 2012, but it’s still an awful lot of people running exceptional distances. And now you’re thinking about toeing the line for an ultra. Good for you. We’ve got a handy guide to help you through, complete with advice from a few pros at the top of the sport.
Alone in the Produce Aisle
Trying to get in shape? Most fitness gurus agree that unless you change your diet, you’re wasting your workouts. But fear not — we’ve got your back. In addition to finding you this inspirational video, we’ve put together a handy index of fruit nutrition, largely based on our experience at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. Why fruit? Unlike most supposedly “healthy” snacks, fresh fruits are digested easily and provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they deliver their sugars (i.e., energy) with a healthy dose of fiber, allowing you to digest glucose without the usual insulin spike and subsequent crash. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious.
Exploring a Fruit-Focused Diet
Over the course of four days, I ate little else but fruit. Such is the life of a fruitarian. If you’ve heard of the fruitarians, it’s probably because of their most famous devotee, Steve Jobs, who named the Macintosh computer after his favorite fruit — or it might be in connection with the paleo diet, which advocates eating only what our cave-dwelling ancestors could have procured. If you haven’t, let me fill you in: the fruitarians eat fruit. Lots of it. At the Woodstock Fruit Festival, where 562 fruitarians gathered for a weeklong conference on health, exercise and raw food, the average diet consists of around 80% fruit.
There are basically two schools of thought when assembling a kit for an ultramarathon: comprehensive preparation and more weight, or as minimalist as possible. For first-time ultra-distance runners, the decision can be a little confounding. You want to be very prepared and very light. This setup for the Vermont 50 — a trail run — reflects a good balance of preparedness and weight, with a bias toward the former in the choice of a hydration pack.
It doesn’t take a degree in developmental psychology to know that guys have an enduring attachment to backpacks. Messenger bags, tote bags, duffels — all great, but backpacks are hands-free, versatile and have more sophisticated storage options for gear and the lunch mom packed…or whatever. Faced with a quick international trip or a tough physical challenge, we’ve usually got a backpack in tow, and at the 20th anniversary of the Vermont 50 ultarmarathon, we leaned on the Geigerrig Rig 500 ($130) for our hydration and storage needs during an all-day run.
At age 12, Anton Krupicka ran his first marathon. He’s been running ever since. We caught up with the minimalist ultra-marathoner to talk sweet potatoes, Don DeLillo, and his degree in Physics.
In the marathon origin story, Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message of victory and then promptly dies. We’ve come a long way since 490 BC, and today most people run marathons to compete, challenge themselves physically or raise money for charity — and they rarely kick the bucket at the end. But they’re sometimes in a world of hurt, because running 26.2 miles is a feat, and doing it can be taxing on the body.
But with the right training anyone can do it. Looking to join the club? We’ve got some tips, tricks and advice from experts to get you most of the way there. You’ve still got to run the damn thing.
This summer, curious about the benefits of an 80% raw fruit diet, we joined a gathering of Fruitarians in upstate New York at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. While we didn’t convert to Fruitarianism (unless the ritual strawberry dance was an initiation), we did meet Chris Kendall, a holistic nutritionist, raw vegan athlete and all-around fruit guru, and tapped him for an easy juice recipe ideal for runners.
Gear worth its weight in...
Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.
One step closer to the open road
It’s a perfect day. You’re pedaling along between La Rochepot and Baubigny in France’s Côte de Beaune region, a wheel of epoisses and a baguette ancienne tucked in the front basket. A little tight on good wine. Sun warm on a crisp day. Your girlfriend rides alongside and looks at you affectionately. You do that thing where you reach out and touch fingertips. Then you hit a little bump in the dirt road: You don’t even know how to ride a bike, and now there’s spittle on your Macbook Pro trackpad. Fortunately, that’s all about to change, because you’re about to buy your first bike.
Run Like You Mean It
Summer heat waves are on the edge of winding down, and that’s good news: you can run without your shoes melting to the road. If you’ve been stuck all summer plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or running in the predawn hours to avoid scorchers, now is a great time to reassess your aging kicks and consider an update. We could go on about minimal vs. conventional, the merits of cushioning and drop angles and tread patterns, or we could just find the best shoes of the year to help you with one thing: working on your fast. Our search for the best running shoes of the year yielded more than a few contenders, and unless you plan on leaving them in your closet to collect dust, there’s not a single shoe here that won’t help you get to the front of the pack.
Tell people you begin the day with a swim and they’re bound to reply with a look that’s equal parts envy, bewilderment and awe. Who swims, for exercise, in the morning? Who risks certain athlete’s foot and doesn’t mind going to work with goggle eyes? How many people pee in the pool? Old people and triathletes, that’s who. And everyone. But the reality is that swimming is the perfect impact-free sport for long-term fitness and short-term ripped abs, and while you can do it with nothing but a pair of Speedos and a smile, having a stocked duffel can make the experience more fulfilling than a philosophical conversation with Ryan Lochte — much more.
Relax into weightlessness
It made me angry that the obese woman could swim faster than me. In my bubble of intense training for my first triathlon I’d fashioned an idea of justice that allowed fit people to just naturally be better than other people at everything. I raked and windmilled my arms through the water in the windowless, basement-level pool at the local YMCA. 5:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. By 5:45 a.m. I’d be winded, exhausted. Have a Gu. Adjust my goggles. Stretch the lats out. Out at 6:00 a.m., even more angry. There had to be a better way to learn how to swim.
Kings of the Hill
‘Tis the season to be tempted by a whole new model year of mountain bikes, and we’ve got some good news. Dialing in your own personal style of off-roading has never been easier — once you wade through the overwhelming amount of options, that is. There’s a different bike for just about every type of trail and rider, and even some that claim to do it all. You need a bike best suited to the kind of riding you enjoy, but that also won’t keep you from the occasional change of pace (or any surprises the trails throw at you). As part of our week-long series on bikes to celebrate the launch of Limits, we’ve picked our favorites for racing enduro, downhilling, or just getting out for a weekend adventure ride.
Nothing can stop you, save a dead battery
Gadget-obsessed as we are, even we sometimes bristle at the sheer number of fitness apps available for download. How much help do you really need with physical pursuits? It’s summer — run some laps; swim a bit; hike across an embargoed Caribbean country. There’s no substitute for sweat, no matter what version of iOS you’re running.
And yet, admittedly, sometimes it takes a little extra effort to get out of your seat, especially when your seat is on a patio in the sunshine and there’s a cold beer on the way. Since there really is an app for that, we’ve done the work for you, finding the best in three categories: apps that help you set and achieve goals, apps that help you maximize your workouts, and apps that help you maintain a healthy diet. We hereby endorse bringing your phone to the gym (or wherever it is you work out) this summer, because nobody can blame a guy for wanting to look good.
Ditch the hulk for some helpful tech
Most of us are out of touch with our bodies. We clueless about calories, how much we’re walking in a day, or even how to check our own heart rate. Luckily, there’s a host of new fitness trackers that make training truly personal. Strap them onto your wrist or toss them in your pocket and they’ll track your every move — every step you take, every minute you sleep, every calorie you inhale or burn off. Read on for our five best bets for prying you off the couch — and tracking your efforts.
Mr Hasemeyer tests gear, tries not to die
Scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, homestyle potatoes, a bowl of oatmeal and two cups of coffee: when preparing to take on Squaw Valley with Chris Davenport, simply a two-time World Champion skier who recently scaled and skied Mt. Everest, one must fuel up. So I did.
Sitting on 3,600 acres northwest of Lake Tahoe near the California and Nevada border, Squaw Valley offers skiers the chance to take on wide open runs (groomed and not) of greens, blues and blacks, most of which are clean of trees (death sticks), allowing the average skier to be more daring with less severe consequences. This range in terrain, altitude and weather presented the perfect setting to test my new gear — a Bern helmet, Gordini gloves, and Obermeyer jacket and pants — while being guided by this veteran pro.
Drink coffee, go really fast
Coffee and cycling go together like beer and brats. It may be because the local coffee shop is the ideal spot to hook up with your buddies for a ride, or because you want to get a quick jolt so you can drop them at the county line sprint. But the simplest explanation lies in the data, which strongly suggest that caffeine improves performance for endurance athletes — cyclists, triathletes, runners, you name it.