Jan. 19, 2021

Improve your training with a mix of Habituation and Confusion
Jason Karp has great credentials in running science--more than just his PhD degree. Among other things, he did some of the earliest research on chocolate milk for recovery, and authored the definitive data based paper on the training of U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials runners. Now, in an excerpt from a new book, he writes about Habituation and Confusion in training. He argues that you need both, in the right balance. You need to keep doing the same-old same-old to build consistency and strength. But then you need to confuse your body a bit, and force it to adapt to a new and higher level of fitness. A great concept. More at PodiumRunner.

How sex and footstrike influence injury rates
I keep reading injury studies, hoping someone will eventually come up with an answer. What causes them? What can prevent them? But this stuff is incredibly difficult to do, and rarely provides a simple answer. Here, the folks from the influential National Running Center at Harvard at least find some strong trends. Men have more Achilles injuries, women more trouble at the lower leg and hip/groin. A midfoot strike was linked to Achilles issues, and a forefoot strike to posterior lower leg problems. Greater peak vertical forces were weakly associated with hip injuries. It's good to know what kind of runner you are, and, of course, to respond appropriately when you first notice pain and inflammation. More at MSSE. 

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36 best treadmills, according to Runner’s World 
For most runners, a treadmill is likely to be the biggest running equipment expense of a lifetime, so you want to get it right. Few places have the capacity to test many treadmills, so it’s hard to find good, wide ranging reviews. That’s where Runner’s World, the big dog, comes through, claiming here to have run-tested 36 new treadmills, and particularly recommending five with price ranges from $1799 to $16,944. Brrrr. At that last price, I’d be willing to suffer through a few frigid outdoor runs. I do like treadmills all the same, and think safety is a particularly important issue during the dark, slippery winter months. More at Runner’s World.

The more you move, the lower your risk of developing heart disease or stroke
This study got quite a bit of mainstream coverage, often under the headline "There is no limit to the healthy amount of exercise you can do." That's not quite what the study said. It didn't look at exercise in the sense of 10-mile tempo runs or marathons. Rather it looked at total movement --like walking the dog and vacuuming the house. The good news is that the study had 90,000 subjects and used accelerometers (think Fitbits) to measure their movement. So it was more accurate than many previous studies. And, indeed, the more participants moved, the lower their risk of heart disease. Bt a whopping 30 to 60 percent. Still, you can't use this report to justify running a marathon every weekend. We don't actually know if that is healthy or not. My story at Podium Runner.

World record runner, Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins, gets vaccinated at age 104
If she can do it, you can too. Hawkins took a day off from her regular 30 minutes of “fast walking” to get her covid vaccination. She holds multiple world records, and is hoping she can soon visit again with her children. Aren’t we all. Don’t miss the great video. More at WBRZ.

But we can’t all run fast like Julia, you know
This is a great article by Erin Strout because it balances out all the super fast race times that have been recorded in 2020. Those performances are good for the elites … and fun to read about. But the rest of us aren’t full time pro athletes, and few can expect personal bests during a Covid pandemic. Life gets in the way--time after time after time again. So don’t get depressed if you’re not running fast. Pat yourself on the back if you’re merely maintaining. You’re slow? That’s okay. Just keep moving.This is a tough, tough thing we’re all going through. Stay as positive as you can, and be good to yourself and others. More at Women’s Running. 

I try to resist Listicles but … 17 great longevity tips got to me
I decided to include this link because the tips are largely evidence-based and the advice comes from experts. Also, they put exercise at the top of their list. This article is a little long, but it’s info packed, so helpful. More at Well + Good.

Here’s some good advice for your next pre-race taper
The language is a little confusing because the researchers talk about “cessation” of a certain kind of training before your next race. What they mean: Stop doing this. And “this” is high-intensity, explosive plyometric training. It’s good during your big buildup period. But then you should lay off it during your taper. It will help your running economy improve. More at MDPI.

When you hit the hills, consider taking a walk break
In my first Comrades Marathon in the mid-1990s, I got mad at the other runners when they all started to walk on the first long incline. I had to dart and dodge to get around them, which took a lot of extra effort. Stupid me, a Comrades rookie. The vets who were walking intuitively knew what Alex Hutchinson recently explained in a "Sweat Science" article: On hills, walking can often beat running for pace and efficiency. More at Outside Online.

Run now, less psoriasis later
This gets a mention because it’s a fitness-health connection I’ve never seen before. The study was conducted with results from more than one million members of the Swedish military. The results showed that the lowest-fit male recruits were 35 percent more likely to develop psoriasis later in life. Of course, you have to remember that running outdoors raises skin-cancer risks. So cover up, and use sunscreens. More at PLOS ONE. 

Great new running books, and a handful of “classics” as well.
Elite runner Becky Wade has been doing nice book-review roundups for Runner’s World for a couple of years now. Here, she surveys the best of the recent crop while also taking a look at a few classics. (It’s always tough to beat the classics.) She seems to find a lot of nutrition/recipe books among the newcomers, but also likes The Genius of Athletes for any runner interested in improving their thinking and mental skills. Among the classics: Endure, Once A Runner, and of course Born to Run. More at Runners World. 

Fast shoes make fast runners. Doh. But this article has good stuff
At first I wasn’t very interested in an article claiming that all the recent fast marathons (and other top performances) were achieved by better shoes--not better training, not human evolution. Doh. I already knew this, and didn’t need a science paper to convince me. But the report is well argued, and includes a great Table that compares many of the current carbon-boosted shoes. Here’s the table. More at Sports Medicine.

That's it for now. Hope to see you again next week. Amby

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