1. No sitting allowed. “I rarely sit,” Karnazes said, and explained how he avoided sitting as much as possible because of the damage it can do in terms of weakening posture and wrecking the body. His home office is equipped with a stand-up desk which he uses when writing and churning through e-mail. In addition to the biomechanical benefits, there’s evidence suggesting that reducing the amount of time sitting during the day fine-tunes the metabolism even for those who exercise regularly. (Source:“Television time and continuous metabolic risk in physically active adults.” Healy, G. N. et al. 2008. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise)
2. Cross-training. “I think total body training is essential, at least for what I do,” Karnazes said. He injects six quick circuits of a Navy SEAL routine into his normal day. “Between emails. Whenever I’m starting to bonk I’ll pop out a set,” he explained. The routine includes push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. Karnazes believes it was because of this cross-training he was able to net his 9th finish in 10 tries at Badwater this past summer despite a low amount of running volume going into the race due to a heavy travel schedule. Karnazes also admitted that when he travels the first thing he does upon walking into a new hotel is to check out the gym for a pull-up bar. If there isn’t one he’ll improvise—even if he’s stuck with using the shower curtain rod in a bathroom.
3. Avoiding overbuilt running shoes. “I tell runners to listen to everyone but follow no one,” Karnazes said. He recalled that as a high school runner back in the 1970s he would run to the beach, stash his shoes in bushes and run barefoot in the sand. “Minimalism is nothing new to me,” he said, talking about the new wave of barefoot-simulating running shoes on the market. “I remember meeting with Nike 10 years ago ago and they brought me in to see all of their new medial posts and other widgets and gadgets. I said, ‘You’re overbuilding these shoes. Just let the foot be the foot. You’re causing injuries because you’re forcing these people with poor biomechanics into a good biomechanical position but their bodies aren’t aligned for that.’ What happens is they end up compensating with a weird gait because they’re maligned. When Nike came out with the Free they hit the nail on the head.” That said, Karnazes counsels runners to be careful when jumping into a minimalist shoe. “Try it and see if it works,” he advises. “But I don’t think we’re engineered to run barefoot on the asphalt.” His ultimate advice for starting on the path toward stronger, more injury-proof feet? Start by adding some foot-strengthening work into your routine with occasional short barefoot runs in the sand or on the grass. Plus, use time at home as a conditioner. “When you get home walk around your house all day in bare feet.” Karnazes said that you can add this to the habit of not sitting down. “Stand up more and bounce on your toes a lot.”
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