May 5, 2022

THIS WEEK: Blood-flow-restriction training improves endurance. Let’s all try Norwegian training. Amputee runner completes 104 daily marathon runs. Exercise is best option for knee arthritis. Should teens run marathons? Objective proof that exercise limits Covid. TV news anchor suffers heat stroke at chilly Boston Marathon. More.

Blood flow restriction training improves endurance and strength 

Don’t be surprised if you begin to see your fellow runners working out with tight bands around the upper thighs. In a recent trial of blood flow restricted (BRF) training, “endurance athletes” trained for 8 weeks with the straps while a “pair matched” group trained without. Result: The BFR subjects gained significantly more vo2max and knee extensor strength. They also had a better testosterone:cortisol ratio after training. Conclusion: “BFR may be a practical training strategy for promoting cardiopulmonary function and muscle strength in endurance runners.” More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research. 

Let’s all try Norwegian training

Just kidding. But Norwegian training is currently the rage in endurance sports, so we can expect to see any number of articles in coming months and years. Here’s one from an editor who decided to see what would happen if she trained like a Norwegian. That means, in the shortest possible summary, doing a lot of very slow running, tackling some days of “double threshold” workouts (morning and evening), and doing just a little fast running. The editor, Emma-Kate Lidbury, says she’ll be finished with her personal experiment at the end of this month, when she’ll report on her pre-program and post-program test results. That’s nice, and interesting to read about, but also doomed to be meaningless, because it’s an anecdotal, non-controlled “experiment of one.” ANY new program would produce results from her modest base. More at Outside Online.

Everything you need to know about training programs

There’s no link for this item, as it comes straight out of my head under the topic, Principles of Training Programs. It’s provoked, of course, by the previous item. Here goes. 1--The worst training program is no program at all. 2--Any program is better than no program. 3--All equal-volume programs produce relatively equivalent results. 4--The best training program is the one you like the best, and will stick with. 5--At least until you decide to change. Changing programs is cool, and may increase variety and motivation. Just be sure you’re on a program. 

Amputee runner Jacky Hunt-Broersma completed a marathon on 104 days in a row

Amputee runner Jacky Hunt-Broersma just completed 104 consecutive days of running at least 26.2 miles. Day #92 was the Boston Marathon, which she finished in 5:05:13. The next morning, she ran a marathon on a treadmill at a nearby hotel. Her achievement pretty much erases any “I don’t feel like it today” excuses the rest of us might dredge up from time to time. You don’t have to run a marathon a day. But don’t let too many days pass before your next workout. If Jacky did it, so can you. More at ESPN and NBC Nightly News.

Exercise therapy best choice for knee osteoarthritis

You can try NSAIDS and opioids if that’s what you think you need for your knee arthritis, but a new meta analysis and systematic review of RCTs concludes: “Exercise therapy ranked as the best treatment for knee osteoarthritis pain, followed by NSAIDs and opioids.” Granted, “The difference between treatments was small,” but think of all the additional benefits that come with exercise, particularly in the emotional and mental-health domains. More at J of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy.

Should teens run marathons?

The Students Run L.A. program has been enrolling Los Angeles teens into a training program and then marathon participation for more than 35 years now. But is this a good idea for adolescents? What about the injury risks? A new paper found that only 18% of the teens got injured--lower than what’s often observed for adults. In fact, the younger runners--in middle school--were less injured than the high school runners. “Ninety-nine percect of marathon participants completed the race.” Conclusion: “This study represents one of the largest descriptions of injury prevalence in adolescent distance running and highlights a lower injury rate than adults during marathon training.” More at Clinical J of Sports Medicine. 

Tylenol doesn’t provide performance boost among college 3000-meter runners

Previous studies have produced different, conflicting results regarding the use of Tylenol (acetaminophen, paracetamol) to improve endurance performance. I have always leaned toward this positive paper from running expert, Andy Jones. However, a new and nicely controlled study from Western Colorado University finds no improvement in running economy or time-trial performance for collegiate 3000-meter runners after using Tylenol. Conclusion: We must understand that “ACT’s benefits have yet to be significant amongst well-trained runners.” And we need more additional investigations over longer distances. More at Int J of Environmental Research & Public Health. 

Objective Evidence: Exercise Protects Against Covid

Mountains of data show that regular exercise protects us from various chronic illnesses, and now we can add Covid to the list, based on results from more than 65,000 patients who contracted Covid. Their prior activity levels were measured by accelerometers, road race participation, or gym attendance. Result: The high level exercisers had a 34% lower rate of hospitalization and a 42% lower risk of death. The benefits extended to those with “concomitant chronic medical conditions,” ie, underlying disease. Conclusion: “Adults with high and moderate physical activity levels had significantly better outcomes” than others. More at British J of Sports Medicine.

Taking up to 10,000 steps/day increases heart health

Devices like Fitbits and the Apple Watch are so popular these days that everyone is publishing articles that relate daily step counts to health outcomes. Step counts are important because they are so easily understood by so many (vs, say, vo2max results). This makes them useful in public health discussions. Some studies have indicated that 4400 steps/day is a good count for older females, while others have indicated few if any health benefits beyond 7500 steps. A new and rigorous paper, using hard data from more than 4600 middle-aged subjects (younger than subjects in prior papers), found “a linear risk reduction” in heart-disease risk up to about 10,000 steps a day (roughly 5 miles/day). Also, consistent with other papers, intensity didn’t matter much. Just step it. More at Scandanavian J of Medicine & Science in Sports.

Boston Marathon Results Among Fastest Ever

According to, the average finishing time at Boston was faster this year at 3:45:09 than it has been since 2002 when a much smaller starting field likely meant fewer slower runners. Even in 2011, with the persistent tailwind that produced Geoffrey Mutai’s course record 2:03:02, the average finish time was 3:49:54. No doubt this year’s strong performances were due to near-perfect weather and, of course, more super shoes on more feet. More at Marathon Guide.

CNN news anchor suffers heat stroke in chilly Boston Marathon

CNN news anchor John Berman was hospitalized for three days after dropping out of the Boston Marathon at 25 miles with heat stroke and rhabdomyolysis. He provided a long explanation on the air though he seemed to describe “rhabdo” as “rambo.” Marathon medicine expert Bill Roberts told me this was a textbook case of how heat stroke can occur even under cool conditions. (There were two other heat stroke cases at the generally chilly, dry, headwind 2022 Boston.) Also, one of Boston’s medical co-directors is co-author of a paper finding that the downhill Boston course may increase “acute kidney injury biomarkers.” More at Frontiers In Physiology.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>>  Canadian docs now prescribing outdoor time in nature--call it green health or eco-health.

>>>  Maximalist shoes do not reduce impact shock while running.

>>>  Single leg squats beat core training for improvement of drop vertical jump.

GREAT QUOTES make great training partners

“The men who learn endurance, are they who call the whole world, brother.”--Charles Dickens

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