March 2, 2021

Run Long, Run Healthy

March 2, 2021

Maintain performance on just two workouts a week
It’s one of the essential running and fitness questions: When time gets tight, or maybe you’re injured, what’s the minimal training required to maintain your performance level? After all, you worked hard to get in shape; of course you want to preserve your gains. The answer, according to this narrative review, is two workouts a week of 13 to 26 minutes as long as usual exercise intensity (exercising heart rate) is maintained” or perhaps increased. More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Then keep it going through the decades
A group of 39 men and one amazing woman,  Joan Benoit Samuelson, have run a sub-3-hour marathon in five chronological decades (1970s-2010s). They slowed by an average of just 63 seconds per year. How? With high motivation that helped them maintain a consistent training program. More at Podium Runner.

Get your feet off the ground … fast as you can
While bouncy strides are thought to be wasteful, it’s nonetheless true that air-time is good, and ground-time is inefficient. A key running goal is generally to minimize ground-contact while maximizing your flight time. This study showed that Kenyan women use this approach to attain a high running economy. More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research.

CBD oil appears to reduce muscle soreness post workouts
A group of researchers from the University of South Carolina explored how consumption of a Cannabidiol (CBD) solution would affect delayed onset muscle soreness in trained subjects. It worked well, appearing to have “a significant influence on muscle soreness … when consumed immediately after strenuous exercise.” CBD is one of the non-psychoactive components of the cannabis plant. More at Int J of Phys Ed, Sports & Health. 

Caffeine for improved endurance? Yes! Supporting body and mind
A scientific consensus statement offers strong support for caffeine’s ability to improve endurance performance. “Aerobic endurance appears to be the form of exercise with the most consistent moderate-to-large benefits from caffeine use.” Take 3-6 mg per kg of your body weight (= 1.4-2.8 mg/lb) about 60 minutes before exercise. Caff from chewing gums might take less time. Caff is also “ergogenic for cognitive function” and works well in the heat and at altitude. More at J Int Society of Sports Nutrition.

And a little more caffeine (with three gels per hour) could knock 11 minutes off your marathon time
Top sports nutritionist Asker Jeukendrup explains a real-life experiment in which a group of marathon runners consumed 3 gels (with caffeine) per hour vs another (matched by performance) group who did not use this targeted approach. The gels + caffeine runners finished 11 minutes faster (4.7%). Practice in training before you try it. More at My Sports Science.

Marathon advice from “big data” and artificial intelligence
A big data group from the University of Ireland looked at the training and racing of 6000+ marathon runners. The runners did just over 3 workouts per week for 16 weeks and finished in an average time of 3:56. Those who “hit the wall” lost 10.5 minutes vs similar runners who didn’t. An even pace strategy is best if you want to avoid disaster. The researchers are still working to develop a “best possible time” strategy. More at IEEE 2020 Conference.

Whole eggs beat whites-only on several scores
Welcome news for whole-food fans. The grocery store offers a number of egg-white-only products, presumably to help us avoid the dreaded cholesterol in egg yolks. That could be a healthy approach, but apparently not for building muscle and strength. In this RCT with trained young males, whole eggs vs whites-only increased testosterone and strength while decreasing body fat. More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Masters runners suffer no heart damage in ultramarathons
While almost everyone accepts that running is a heart-healthy activity, there are special conditions. What about older runners (over 40) who choose to race an ultramarathon? This study looked at 68 such athletes after a 50K (32-mile) event. They exhibited no signs of heart damage. More at European Heart J Cardiovascular Imaging.

Post marathon collapse from more muscle and more heat
Post marathon collapse resulting from a rapid drop in blood pressure when a runner stops moving after reaching the finish line is a somewhat common but temporary and generally benign symptom. It can be resolved by raising the collapsed runner’s feet and pelvis above the head. Of course, it’s scary for participants, medical staff, and spectators. Here, researchers find it’s more common in muscular runners on warm days. More at European J of Applied Physiology.

Heavy strength training offers no increased benefit in knee arthritis
Wake Forest arthritis researcher Stephen Messier has been studying exercise and knee pain for 30 years. His newest paper suggests that there’s no benefit to heavy strength training to protect the knees post-arthritis-diagnosis. Groups who did moderate strength work (or none) reported about the same (slight) decrease in pain. Messier continues to believe in weight-loss and movement. Also, be sure you’re using good form if you do heavy strength work for the knees. More at NYTimes.

Aim for at least 7500 steps a day
Covid has made us acutely aware of how much exercise we’re getting--or not. And also of its importance, since lean, fit individuals seem to have lesser symptoms when infected. Sales of Fitbits and similar devices are soaring. So, do you really need 10,000 steps a day, roughly equivalent to 5 miles? Not always. In some populations, like women over 60, a total of 4,400 daily steps is enough to improve health. Other groups benefit more with 7500 steps a day. More at The Conversation. 

Galen Rupp is training different, and aiming for Olympic gold
In his first national interview since winning the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta in Feb, 2020, Rupp explained that he’s going for gold this summer, and feeling confident, due to a different sort of training. Earlier in his career, he concentrated on super-fast intervals so he’d have a big kick at the end of track races. Now, under new coach Mike Smith, he’s doing longer intervals--like miles, and 2-miles--with short rests. Good prep for his new distance, the marathon. More at Podium Runner. 

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. See you next week. Amby