In this issue: how to stay healthy on the road, why we love running “short” races, the power of precision medicine, and thoughts on ice baths from a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
Earlier this month, I ran my first formal 10K. I’ve raced before, but I usually have a major “go-big-or-go-home” mentality when it comes to choosing an event. (The Detroit Marathon was the first race I ever signed up for, and at the time I’d never even participated in a 5K.) So, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that 6.2-mile race. I crossed the finish line with a newfound appreciation for “shorter” races like 10Ks and 5Ks.
Maybe that’s because this 10K helped me feel a sense of camaraderie and community without the crazy nervousness I usually experience pre-13.1 or 26.2. Or perhaps it was fun to run free and play around with my pace, knowing I couldn’t exhaust myself too far from the finish. Whatever it was, this event helped me to get out of a rut and back in the running world—in fact, I signed up for my next “big” race, a half marathon on November 5, just a few days later—so you can be sure I’ll keep coming back for more. And I bet there will be plenty of people by my side. After all, both the 5K and the 10K made the top three in terms of favorite race distances in Running USA’s 2022 Global Runner Survey.
-Erin Warwood, TORIAL managing editor
A word on…precision medicine
When I think about the future of health and fitness, what first comes to mind is precision medicine—basically, using genetics for preventative care and to optimize factors like your training and performance. So, for the last four months I have been working with Wild Health along with Spartan.
The process began with a call from a care coordinator explaining how everything works. I then logged into my account on their platform where I completed a thorough questionnaire so my care team would know as much about my background, health history, and lifestyle as possible. I then was connected with my health coach to discuss my questionnaire along with my fitness and health goals. From there I mailed in a spit test for genetic testing and went to a lab for blood work. Once all of my results came back, I was connected with my doctor along with my health coach to discuss the results and next steps. What was most interesting about the early part of the process was being provided a 40+ page personalized health report with fascinating amounts of information about my genetics and blood work—and what all of it means for me.
Fortunately, I’m a very healthy person, but everyone has their own genetic risk factors. At a high-level, on the genetics side, I’ve learned that I’m at risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. The heart disease risk is mitigated because of my fitness routine and eating habits. As for diabetes, my genetics put me at risk and my blood work confirmed the suspicion. My doctor prescribed me a continuous glucose monitor, or a CGM, to track how my blood glucose was affected by my eating habits. What we learned was that certain carbohydrates, more specifically, my favorite bread (which I thought was a more diabetic-friendly bread), was causing huge spikes in my blood glucose level. Over time that causes damage. Since then, I’ve eliminated anything that was causing huge spikes, and it will be interesting to see the results of my next blood test in another month or two. Without the help of Wild Health, I never would have made that discovery. Now I feel much more confident that my lifestyle is optimized, even though I thought it already was.
Some other learnings were that I was low in vitamin D (like many people are), so I’m on a daily dose of vitamin D. I also found that while my body doesn’t tolerate carbohydrates as well, it does well with fats, so my fish intake is now significantly higher.
-Mike Simone, TORIAL co-founder and creator of humanfitproject
A word on…staying healthy on the road
An expert once gave me advice that went something like this: If you usually follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to your day-to-day diet (so you eat 80% “clean” and allow 20% to be more about mindful indulgences), you can tweak that for vacation to whatever ratio you want. The key is to decide in advance so you 1) won’t feel any guilt around it (since you absolutely should not!) and 2) you can prepare for whatever percentage of healthy “normal” eating you do decide you want to strive for. I believe the same mentality could be applied to fitness.
On a recent trip to France, I decided to strive for 60 or 70% of sticking to my normal healthy eating and exercise habits and 30 to 40% enjoying pain au chocolat, Bordeaux, and bread from the seemingly endless basket that appeared on every single table we sat down at.
To help myself help myself, I packed some items that really came in handy:
1. EPIC Chicken Bars
Ok, so I have to credit Mike for this one. I was admittedly a bit weirded out by vacuum-sealed chicken but it’s surprisingly tasty and incredibly convenient and nutritious: A 90-calorie bar packs 11 grams of protein, so you could even double up.
2. No Cow Plant-Based Protein Bars
Mike and I both like that these bars contain plant-based protein since we get a lot of animal protein from chicken or fish. (It’s good to mix it up!) The fat content is relatively low, it’s sweetened with stevia and monk fruit (which is a better alternative to most), and of the 26 grams of carbs, 17 of them are fiber—so it’s not going to cause a huge blood sugar spike.
3. Single Serving Vega Sport Plant Protein
These came in super handy for quick breakfasts nearly every day we were in the South of France. We simply mixed the powder with some extra water into a bowl of oatmeal (easy to find in French grocery stores). I also like half a packet as a bedtime snack to ward off nighttime hunger that wakes me up.
4. Foldable Yoga Mat
This Gaiam yoga mat was a find. It’s super portable and functional and I took a couple Inspire Inner Power Flow Zoom classes while in France (the 1pm EST classes were at 7pm France time which was quite nice!). The mat was also handy for quick stretches any time during the day.
We also brought resistance bands and a lacrosse ball for some myofascial release, and stevia packets in my lululemon belt bag were a great alternative to the omnipresent sugar cubes at French coffee shops.
-Caitlin Carlson, TORIAL co-founder
If you are at all into health and fitness, you have likely seen an increase in ice bath popularity. Proponents claim improvements in both mental health and recovery. But before you jump on this latest trend, it’s worthwhile to consider some of the evidence, and what you hope to get out of it. Emerging research suggests the mental health benefits may outweigh improvements in recovery, particularly compared to other tried and true recovery modalities. Don’t let that stop you from taking the plunge, but hold onto your other best practices for now too.
DISCLAIMER: This content is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It’s not intended as medical advice. Consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes.