March 23, 2021

TOPICS: Run like an Ethiopian. Careful how you sleep. Why you should hop, skip, and jump. Yoga or strength? Kiwi fruit! Running: good today, better in 8 yrs.

New book reveals  Ethiopian training methods

Scottish anthropologist Michael Crawley was a 66-minute half-marathoner before he traveled to Ethiopia for 15 months. That meant he could bring up the rear in training groups there. He learned that they always train together, take long bus rides to run in different environments, and practice a philosophy of Enkulal kes ba kes be egirua tehedalech. Which means “Step by step an egg learns to walk.” If that doesn’t help, try this one: “Take your time, and trust in the process.” More at Podium Runner.

After heart attack, just keep on moving

Of course, you’re hoping never to have a heart attack. But stuff happens, particularly with increased age. This study followed heart-attack individuals (men only) for 14 years after their incident. The ones who maintained a high activity level, or increased activity post-heart-attack, had a 30 to 40 percent lower mortality during the 14 years. More at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Yes, you can manage your liquids and calories

At the 2019 World 24-Hour Run Championships, researchers measured fluid, calorie, and carb intake of 12 top racers. Most were able to meet or exceed fluid and calorie-carb recommendations, though their calorie-carb intake still trailed their output.  Total distance covered “positively correlated with energy intake and negatively with fluid intake.” More at J of the Int Society of Sports Nutrition.

Careful how you sleep

Top British Olympic hopeful and 2:10 marathoner Jonny Mellor suffered a weird injury when he wore compression stockings to bed. He was hoping the socks would alleviate sore muscles. Instead, one rolled down to his ankle, and caused a severe gout reaction that caused him to miss significant training time. Moral of the story? Take your socks off at night, I guess. More at Athletics Weekly.

Boston Marathon has 40 percent lower heat stress with earlier start time

When I started road racing in the 1960s, every race started at high noon--July 4, Labor Day, no matter. Thank you Boston Marathon for setting such a bad example! Boston changed its ways in 2007 after 110 runnings, and the result has been a 40 percent lowering of odds “that runners will be exposed to environmental conditions associated with exertional heat illness.” More at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Practice a little hopping, skipping, and jumping

For this systematic review with meta analysis, researchers found 26 studies of medium to high quality that explored how plyometric training affects performance of athletes in different, unique sports. The benefit was statistically significant for “endurance performance.” None of the studies “reported adverse effects related to the PJT[plyometric jump training] intervention.” More at PeerJ.

The first systematic review on transitioning transgender athletes

Two years ago I traveled to the James Joyce Ramble (near Boston) primarily to meet transgender runner Joanna Harper. I consider her one of the most important (and smartest) people in our sport. She’s now studying for a PhD in exercise science, with a focus on transgender athletes. Here she reports her systematic review of muscle and hemoglobin changes. It concludes that hemoglobin drops rapidly among trans women on hormone therapy, while muscle strength decreases more slowly. This subject is exploding all over the place in regional and national news (see NY Times). More at Brit J of Sports Medicine.

Kiwi fruit may boost exercise recovery

In a recent Japanese marathon, 42 runners cracked the 2:10 barrier in the same race, beating the previous record by 12. How did they do it? Certainly with intense training. Possibly with kiwi fruit. A recent study of Japanese runners found that kiwi fruit “may reduce oxidative stress levels and increase antioxidant activity.” More at Sports.

We are the lucky ones. Stick with your program

The running media tends to write stories about all the people who have started running or cycling in the last year, and buying running shoes, and so forth. As if we’re experiencing a national health and fitness boom. Not true--not on a larger scale. 

The American Psychological Association reports that people are hurting: eating poorly, gaining weight (an average of 29 lbs among weight gainers!), exercising less, skipping doctor visits, sleeping too little (or too much). If you’re feeling the stress too, you’re not alone. As much as possible, try to stick with healthy routines. Unless you’re an Olympian, this isn’t a time to aim for record performances. It’s a time to be satisfied with every health-fitness habit you can maintain. More at American Psychological Association.

Why run today? Answer: For your life 8 years down the road

Scientists measured the physical fitness of 600+ men over 65. Eight years later, the same subjects were assessed for their quality of life. The top one-third by prior fitness enjoyed the highest-quality lives. And  “Aerobic endurance was the variable that showed to be significant for most of the HRQoL predictions.” More at Experimental Gerontology.

Your lucky number: 13 benefits of running

Here’s a nice article that doesn’t let an unlucky number diminish its message. You’ll recognize many of the benefits. I liked two that don’t get mentioned every day: Running can “anchor” many other healthy practices; and running can serve as an “avenue for activism.” More at Self.

Sometimes, you need a chill pill

I often observe about runners, “That which makes us successful also leads to many of our problems.” You know--too much discipline, too much sticking-to-the-schedule when we need more rest and recovery. Canadian Running seems to agree. Here’s a story titled “5 mistakes overly motivated runners make.” Pay attention. And if you recognize a bit of yourself, try to chill. More at Canadian Running.

Should you do yoga or strength work?

Running coach Amanda Brooks knows that many time-limited runners wonder about yoga and/or strength training. She takes you on a personal tour of the benefits of each. She likes both, concluding, “Yes,  yoga has improved every area of my fitness.” More at Run to the Finish.

Heart rate variability training improves high school runner performance

Training by heart-rate variability is becoming more common, thanks to wearable tech that may provide training guidance. Here, two groups of high school runners were trained traditionally at a 2-week camp, or with HRV. The first group performed well afterwards. The second group looked even more impressive, with all setting personal bests, and 75% qualifying for national championships. More at Biosensors. And here’s a Training Peaks article explaining more about HRV.

Did you know that socks could change your foot strike?

Me neither. But what we don’t know, the Army has of course figured out. Nineteen previously injured service members were given “instrumented socks” to run in, and the socks helped them transition to a non-rearfoot landing with a lower average force. The Army doesn’t say here, however, if the new footstrike decreased injuries. It often doesn’t, but just moves them around More at Frontiers in Sports & Active Living.