March 24, 2022

THIS WEEK: Eat healthy--but not always. Get fast, stay fast. Training help from Dathan Ritzenhein. Does Daylight Savings Time affect runners? How to build a training week for optimal recovery. Lower your risk of respiratory illness. Super shoes and average runners. What happens when you run to work? More.

Eat healthy. Food first. But not always

No doubt you’ve heard the saying: Don’t let the perfect be enemy of the good. It can apply to runners and our habits. Here veteran endurance nutrition researcher Ron Maughan and colleagues list six reasons or circumstances that justify deviating from the usually smart “food first” approach. Good points all around. It’s also true that eating lots of veggies is generally recommended … unless it’s limiting your carb and calorie intake. In which case you could be running yourself down rather than building up. Be careful what you eat. But not too careful. More at Outside Online. 

Get fast, and stay fast

There’s good research to show that short fast runs--anything from post-workout “strides” to 20- to 30-second hill sprints--can build running economy and endurance. Here’s a roundup of several studies in the field. I’ll only add this: Remember that more isn’t better. Small is beautiful. More at Trail Runner.

What runners can learn from Dathan Ritzenhein

Two years ago there was no On Athletic Club, sponsored by the Swiss shoe company, On. And most of us had never heard of Alicia Monson, Olli Hoare, Joe Klecker, or Geordie Beamish. Now these and other On AC athletes, coached by former U.S. great Dathan Ritzenhein, are winning races and recording fast times. How? Ritzenhein’s not claiming any secrets. Just a strong belief in consistency and a favorite fartlek workout. More at Outside Online.

Is Daylight Savings Time good for runners?

The national press has been full of stories about a bill in Congress that would make Daylight Savings Time permanent. That is, there would be no “turning back” our clocks in the fall. However, sleep and chronobiology experts argue that this would be bad for our health. What about our running? Strava reports that nearly 50 percent of runners do their workouts in the mornings, which would be very dark in winter. Also, a study of marathon performances in Nov and April revealed that finish times were worse in April just after we turned our clocks forward. More at Chronobiology International.

How to organize your training week for optimal recovery

Training theory and systems tend to seesaw a bit, depending on who’s hot and who’s not. These days we’re in a period that emphasizes recovery. You often hear statements like “The recovery is when the magic happens.” Here, a French endurance expert explains how to build a recovery-based training program like Swedish speed skater Nils van der Poel, the sensation of the recent Winter Olympics. He often takes the whole weekend off. More at Alan Couzens.

The risks of respiratory illness are “modifiable”

Runners and other endurance athletes may be prone to respiratory illness (colds, etc), and of course they always strike at the worst time--when you’re increasing training or peaking for a big event. An IOC scientific subcommittee looked into these illnesses, concluding that they are often caused by “increased training monotony, endurance training programmes, lack of tapering, training during winter or at altitude, international travel and vitamin D deficits.” What to do? Look into “Modifiable training and environmental risk factors” and “consider assessing and treating specific nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin D.” More at Brit J of Sports Medicine.

Do midpackers run faster in super shoes?

Here a study team compared various running and biomechanical variables among non elites who ran in either a traditional Nike Pegasus shoe or the Nike Next% super shoe with a carbon plate and super foam. The Next shoe pushed runners slightly more to a forefoot strike, gave them a longer stride, and increased their ground-reaction force, but didn’t change leg stiffness. Conclusion: The super shoes “were found to improve running performance in non-elite runners.” This is a bit strange because the paper’s abstract didn’t report any performance results. More at Int J of Exercise Science.  

The kid-neys are okay

Researchers have long wondered about kidney (renal) function after marathon running though it hasn’t been studied nearly as much as the heart and the skeletal muscles. Here the study group was surprised that, “Contrary to our expectations, the use of elliptical machines for marathon recovery delays renal function recovery.” So they recommend light-intensity continuous running from 48 h after finishing the marathon.” Or you can just rest. You deserve it. More at Frontiers in Physiology.

Hard-training triathletes seem to avoid injury

You have to wonder about studies like this one that show the most serious, hard-training athletes have the fewest injuries. Does that mean more training reduces injury incidence? Seems unlikely. Or that those who don’t get injured can train harder? Possibly. Here, in a systematic review of triathlete injuries, researchers found that overuse injuries were more frequent than “acute” injuries (likely from accidents). Knee injuries were the number one issue, and running and cycling caused the most injuries. Conclusion: “Long distance triathletes may have a lower incidence” of injuries. More at J of Human Kinetics.

The benefits and hassles of “running with a bag”

It’s hard not to appreciate a first-ever running study. This is one, and I really love it. A young British researcher with a PhD in “human geography” decided to investigate that hardy breed of runners generally known as “run commuters.” They run to and/or from work, often with a rucksack or backpack to carry clothes and other essentials. These are admirable folks. Their practice keeps them in shape while reducing pollution. Unfortunately it’s not inherently pleasurable since bags or packs are “often disruptive and constricting, altering the ordinary eurythmia of bodily movements, breaths, heart rates, and form.” As a result, “bodily capacities, bag choice, packing skills and speed changes led to rhythmic retuning” by the run commuters. Still, they stuck to their practice! But, c’mon designers, can’t you produce a better bag? More at Social & Cultural Geography.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

> With menthol mouth wash vs cold water or placebo, “participants produced higher relative power for longer durations.”

> Flat feet, pigeon toes, bowed legs not as bad as you might have thought.

> Weird science: Probiotic from Olympic female weightlifting gold medalist improves exercise performance and increases weight loss in mice.

GREAT QUOTES make great training partners 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”--Benjamin Franklin

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well, and see you next week. Amby