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Super Spikes? New Balance FuelCell Sigma SD-X Impressions

Super Spikes? New Balance FuelCell Sigma SD-X Impressions

Last week, I got my hands on a pair of New Balance’s sprint spikes for 2021, the FuelCell Sigma SD-X. Although not as hyped as Nike’s Air Zoom MaxFly, New Balance’s sprint team has been running some ridiculous times in the SD-X: Trayvon Bromell is the fastest man in the world this year, and Sydney McLaughlin set the 400mh world record wearing New Balances.

Like other super spikes, the SD-X has an extremely stiff carbon fiber plate and a layer of foam in the midsole designed to maximize energy return on the track. The foam layer makes for a taller ride than most spikes—the stack height is comparable to trainers. That said, it’s definitely not a training spike: its spikes are non-removable.

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Bitrot

I’ve spent the last couple hours trying to rebuild my mood tracker—although notifications still work, opening the app throws the error “‘mood’ Is No Longer Available”. I think this is because I last built the app a year ago, and apps installed with a paid developer account only last for a year. (Sidenote—it’s ridiculously hard to find definitive information about this. Instead, I had to trawl through the Apple Developer Forums and Reddit to try to figure out what’s going on.)

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June 2021 Review

Just as I’ve settled into a pretty good groove in Atlanta, I spent the past few days driving across the country again, this time to Livingston, Montana where I’ll be spending the next two months! It’s the best time of year to be in Montana, and we absolutely loved it when we visited neighboring Wyoming last fall.

Goal Tracking

  • 🟡 Get 1% faster. I raced once in June—a 100 in a rainy 11.05. I only have one more chance this season to set a big PR, at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships in a few weeks. I have my taper planned out—I’m confident that weather permitting, I’ll have some great races.
  • 🔴 50% less discretionary spending. I spent 22% less on discretionary things than my 2020 average. It’s been death by a thousand cuts—I’ve just been spending more on little things. Hopefully I do better in July.
  • 🔴 One hour of solitary free time a day. Despite my work-life balance being better than it’s been in a while, I haven’t been spending my extra time very wisely. Mostly it’s been mindless browsing.
  • 🟢 Twice-weekly live conversations with friends. Back into the green!
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My Sleep Stack

Sleep is a competitive advantage: good sleep is associated with improved short and long-term memory, muscle synthesis, and muscle recovery, while sleep deprivation impairs cognitive performance and increases injury risk. Said differently: how much money and time would you spend on a panacea that significantly improves both mental and athletic performance?

Because sleep is so important, I’ve assembled a stack of habits and tools for measuring and improving my sleep quality:

Habits

  • No caffeine after noon. Caffeine’s half life is 5 hours long. The average espresso shot has 63mg of caffeine, while doses as low as 9mg are psychoactive. That means it takes your body more than 10 hours to clear a single shot from your system! Given that I tend to sleep around 9-10 every night, I stop all caffiene intake after noon.
  • Consistent bed and wake time. Sleep regularity is associated with stonger academic performance. I make sure to sleep and wake within a 30 minute window every weeknight. Although I try to keep my bedtimes consistent on the weekends as well, I’m admittedly much worse at that.
  • Nine-hour sleep opportunity. I’m in bed for at least nine hours a night. Focusing on sleep opportunity instead of time slept helps me break insomniac’s anxiety—I can’t sleep because I’m worried about not being able to sleep.
  • No NSAIDs or antihistamines at night. NSAIDs disrupt sleep. Antihistamines interfere with deep sleep. Simple enough to avoid both of these before bed.
  • No devices in bed. Devices in bed can affect your circadian cycle and are generally stimulating instead of relaxing. I’m had trouble sticking to this habit, but my sleep quality is demostrably better when I do manage to put away my phone before bed.

Tools

  • WHOOP. My WHOOP strap measures time spent asleep, resting heart rate, and heart rate recovery, and synthesizes that into a Recovery score from 1-100%. Impressively, my Recovery score generally matches how I feel. More impressively, when they don’t match up, my workout performance is better predicted by Recovery than qualitative feel.
  • Awair Glow (discontinued). The Awair Glow measures ambient temperature, CO2, relative humidity, and VOC concentration, and synthesizes that into an air score from 1-100. The most important metrics out of those are CO2 and ambient temperature: high nighttime CO2 concentrations decrease sleep quality, ability to concentrate, and cognitive performance, and ambient temperature is an important personal preference to keep consistent.
  • Eight Sleep Pod Pro. The Pod Pro regulates my bed temperature. It’s adjustable—I keep my bed cooler than ambient while I fall asleep, and have it warm up throughout the night. The Pod Pro also does sleep tracking: it measures time spent asleep, time to fall asleep, sleep and wake times, tosses and turns, ambient temperature, resting heart rate, and HRv, and synthesizes that into a sleep fitness score from 1-100% (sound familiar?). I’ve had my Pod Pro for a couple of weeks now—I was skeptical at first, but it’s had a really noticeable effect on my sleep quality and WHOOP Recovery!
  • ZMA. The link between ZMA and sleep quality is weak to non-existent. Supplementing ZMA does give me really vivid dreams, however, which I enjoy.
  • Sleep mask & blackout curtains. These help me fall and stay asleep, especially during the summer when I go to sleep when it’s still light out. Using a sleep mask also helps me avoid devices when I should be trying to sleep.
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