April 14, 2022

THIS WEEK: "Positive splits" workouts. Train harder for better female orgasms. The best training pace when you're peaking. Simple tape technique to reduce knee pain. How Camille Herron reached 100,000 miles at age 40. "Training is principally an act of faith." Why runners sometimes die in races. The truth about cherry juice for recovery. More

Should you run positive splits in workouts?

You know what works best in races: even splits or maybe even “negative splits.”. But a few researchers have begun to suggest that positive splits might work better in training. Why? Because they would more quickly fatigue the muscles, giving you more opportunity to train in the fatigued state you’ll encounter at the end of your races. This method is called “stepwise load reduction training.” And it might “simultaneously increase maximal aerobic power, anaerobic capacity, and aerobic capacity.” More at Sports Medicine.

Train harder for better female orgasms

And, no, I don’t make this stuff up. An obstetrics-gynecology team from Israel asked 180 female runners to rate how hard they trained, and also their pelvic floor dysfunction, sexual function, and quality of life. Then they segmented respondents into a “high effort” training group and a “moderate effort” group. The High group “reported experiencing higher intensity orgasms” and there was also a “correlation between weekly running distance and intensity of orgasm.” More at Int Urogynecology Journal.

The best training pace when you’re aiming to peak

This one’s not new, but I stumbled across it recently (happens a lot), and found it highly interesting. Also, it’s co-authored by two of my favorite running physiologists--Jonathan Esteve-Lanao and Stepen Seiler. Here, they wondered what was the best training pace when you’re peaking for a big race: 90% of vo2 max (approx 10K pace) or 105% (approx 1600m pace). The answer: Both yielded “similar performance gains” in a 10K race. The former did more for running economy (making it the better choice for marathon runners), and the latter did more for vo2 max (better for short track races). Originally published at the Asian J of Sports Medicine.

Simple tape technique to reduce knee pain

Knee pain is a common runner problem, and this article offers a simple taping technique that could prove helpful. You apply the tape just below the knee, on the inside or outside of your leg, and then wrap it around the leg, over the knee, and to the opposite side (from your beginning point) of your thigh. In a test of subjects (nonrunners with Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), both internal and external taping “were effective in improving pain in individuals.” Video here. Original article at Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport. 

“Training is principally an act of faith.”

I like this tweet from endurance expert Alan Couzens because it slams home an eternal truth: Gains in training and performance are slow, slow, slow. They take time, time, time. Couzens says improvement should be “so gradual that it’s unnoticeable. If it’s noticeable, it’s not sustainable.” As an athlete, this kinda sucks. (Who doesn’t want big, fast improvements?) That’s why you need “faith” in your path. It was Roger Bannister’s coach, Franz Stampfl, who first uttered the “faith” quote. As the  first to break 4 minutes in the mile, Bannister needed a boatload of faith. First, believe in your training. Second, give it time to produce results. More at Twitter/Alan Couzens

Camille Herron, 40, has passed 100,000 miles of running

And she’s figured out how to do it with almost no injuries. I wrote recently about Herron who runs (since junior high) and runs (multiple ultramarathon world records) and runs (she just passed 100,000 miles at the young age of 40). Most interesting: While she’s obsessive about tracking her miles, she’s not that way about the rest of her life. She seems to be smiling all the time, and loves the Southern home cooking her mom raised her on. She’s got lots of other good tips about running hard without injuries. More at Outside Online.

Woman dies at half marathon

At last month’s Los Angeles Marathon, a 46-yr-old woman died of an apparent heart attack just after finishing the Charity Challenge Half Marathon. This happens on rare occasion at distance races, though men have significantly higher mortality rates than women. At such times, it’s always good to review the evidence. Veteran sportsmed doc Gabe Mirkin does a great job in this article. The American Heart Association cautions that exercise “can acutely increase the risk of sudden cardiac death,” particularly among the unfit. “Acutely” means: while you’re actually exercising. Paradoxically, a lifetime of regular exercise lowers risk of heart attack and cardiac death. Always check with your physician if you experience pain or discomfort in the chest, neck, jaw, or arms; or any unusual shortness of breath. More at Dr. Mirkin.

How to succeed in ultramarathon trail races

We’re pretty sure that fast-twitch muscle fibers contribute to sprint success, and a high cardio fitness (vo2 max) and running economy to distance success. But what about ultra-distance? When researchers investigated runners who competed in a 50K race, an 80K race, and a 160K race, they found that cardio fitness predicted good performances in the two shorter distances. At 160K (100 miles), not so much. That’s unexplored territory where less traditional measures might play a bigger role. Conclusion: “Performance in longer-distance races appears to be less influenced by such physiological parameters.” More at Int J of Sports Physiology & Performance.

Cherry-picking study results, and post-exercise recovery

You’d find it difficult to locate a running journalist more skeptical than Alex Hutchinson when it comes to the free-for-all area of single foods or nutrients and runner benefits. And that’s a good thing. Recently the Sweat Science guy surveyed the oft-reported connection between cherry consumption and improved recovery, concluding that the results were “stubbornly ambiguous.” But he dug deep enough to turn up something I didn’t know. If there are any benefits from anthocyanins found in dark red and black fruits, they require “pre-covery” (taking them for several days to a week before a major effort) not simply drinking a glass or popping a pill post-run. More at Outside Online.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

> Here are the average marathon times for runners of your sex and age group.

> Mothers to be: Your exercise program can actually influence the health of your future grandchildren (mouse study).

> Catechins, mostly from tea, can reduce systemic inflammation, but be careful not to overdo green tea.

GREAT QUOTES make great training partners

“Running gives you freedom. When you run, you can determine your own tempo. You can choose your own course and think about whatever you want. Nobody tells you what to do.”--Nina Kuscsik, winner, first official women’s race at the Boston Marathon, 1972

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well. Next update in two weeks, on April 28, as I'm taking next week off to recover from the Boston Marathon. AMBY