June 16, 2022

THIS WEEK: 3 key rules of training distribution. The growing importance of WHEN you eat. Motherhood doesn’t slow marathon moms. How much recovery do you need? The Pros and Cons of changing your running form. Whoop sports strap reveals Covid vaccination effects. Is strength training risky for female runners? Slow down on uphills. More

3 key rules of training distribution
It’s nice when the authors of a deep, complex paper about training intensity distribution (TID), the hot topic of the year, include an unusual section at the end of their analysis. They call it “Novelties”--that is, “Stuff we figured out that no one else has figured out before.” (My words, not theirs.) This sounds like the kind of juicy material we want.

They write: “Three different novel aspects have been found in the present systematic review.” Oh, boy, let’s get at ’em. First, milers train differently from marathoners. Both do a lot of easy distance work, but the milers spend more time on relatively short, fast intervals, while the marathoners favor tempo runs and cruise intervals. Okay, that’s not going to win anyone a Nobel. 

Second, a recent study revealed the following success pattern: When tapering for a peak performance, reduce mileage, keep doing easy runs, but also do a modestly increased amount of training at or near-race-pace.

Third, “This is the first systematic review on training characteristics of distance runners” [ie, half-marathon and marathon types] to show that “moderate training volume” in Zone 2 “is recommended to improve performance optimally.” That is, half-marathoners and marathoners benefit from regular (but not excessive) training at about their 10-mile to half-marathon pace. Again, not a “Eureka! moment” but a useful reminder. More at Int J of Sports Physiology & Performance.

The growing importance of WHEN you eat
When I see John Hawley’s name on a paper, I pay attention. He’s one of the world’s most insightful physiologists, and married to one of the top sports nutritionists (and great marathon runner, Louise Burke.) Here Hawley and co-authors dig into Time Restricted Eating (not eating during a significant portion of the 24-hour day, usually late night and early morning).

They make a number of fascinating and perhaps important points. The biggest is the idea that the many biologic processes connected to our circadian rhythm (day and night) are perhaps meant to be aligned with our eating. The entire history of human nutrition has been focussed on what we eat. Now it might be time to consider when we eat; and what/when combinations.

Because TRE occurs on a 24-hour cycle, Hawley and colleagues consider it entirely different from the also popular Intermittent Fasting regimens (such as the 5 day:2 day approach). They concentrate on hours (16 hours of no eating:8 hours of eating).

Both animal and human research to date indicates that TRE improves key outcomes like insulin sensitivity, glucose control, and heart health. These appear to hold true in TRE even when there is no attempt to limit calories, and there is no subject weight loss. In other words, TRE alone might be an independent mechanism that inclines us toward better health.

As Hawley and co. conclude: “It is vital that we consider that the timing of meals plays an important role in determining metabolic outcomes.” This is a cool, innovative idea, and you can read all about it at the free, full-text link. More at Advances in Nutrition. 

How much recovery do you need?
Three decades ago I was lucky enough to attend the sports conference where Dr. Eric Bannister first explained his TRIMP system of TRaining IMPulses. Bannister offered an answer to the age-old question: What’s harder--a fast 3-miles or an easy 6-miles? Which therefore requires more recovery?

These days, with myriad digital tools, we’re still trying to answer the basic question, and also determine how best to recover from each workout. In this article Alex Hutchinson reviews recent work in the field, concluding that we don’t have perfect answers yet, but are perhaps making progress. Running is simple; even running hard workouts is relatively simple. Deciding what you should do next is infinitely complex and fascinating. More at Outside Online.

Maternity/motherhood don’t slow marathon moms
I remember when Miki Gorman won the NYC Marathon after her daughter was born, and Ingrid Kristiansen set multiple world records after her son was born. Of course, Sara Mae Berman won three Boston Marathons after having three children. Those were quite famous individual cases or anecdotes at the time. Now we’ve got broader evidence. When researchers looked at 150 top women marathon runners, and selected out those who had mid-career children, the moms suffered from no decline in their performance development. That is, “Competitive marathoners can still perform at their best level after pregnancy.” More at European J of Sport Science.

Whoop straps reveal physiology effects of Covid vaccinations
The Whoop strap is known primarily as a physiology tracking device started by athletes for athletes. Now we see how it can be used in an unexpected and revealing manner for health insights. In this study, more than 69,000 Whoop users were followed after they received Covid shots. The shots definitely impacted their resting heart rate, respiration rate, and sleep status for up to 4 days. The biggest changes were seen: after the first dose of AstraZeneca and the second dose of Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech; in younger vs older individuals; and in females vs males. I doubt any physicians will be surprised by this except for the way in which the data was collected. Also, it doesn’t imply anything bad about the vaccines, which have been proven effective. More at Journal of Applied Physiology.

The Pros and Cons of changing your running form
This article is actually a few years old, but it turned up in one of my recent searches, and I was surprised to find such a clear, helpful summary at an acupuncture website. The question is: Should you change your running form, especially if you’ve had injury problems? The answer: Maybe. First, consider shortening your stride. Second, there’s some indication that a forefoot landing can reduce knee injuries, and that a rearfoot landing can reduce Achilles pains. Otherwise, use the form that feels natural and comfortable, as “the runner is almost always the best judge at choosing the right running form.” More at Acupuncture Today.

Cool it on the uphills
Some runners excel on the uphills, some take off on the downhills. All of us have to regular our effort on the ups and downs. Here, researchers looked at 18 years worth of results data from a 10-mile road race with an uphill first half, and a downhill second half. They analyzed final times in terms of the up vs down pace ratios. The question: How hard should you push on the uphills? The answer: Don’t burn more than 10% greater energy than your average expenditure. In other words, “Avoid overly aggressive uphill running.” More at Int J of Sports Physiology & Performance.

Strength training could increase injuries in female runners
These days we’re all encouraged to do regular strength training to support the lower-leg muscles so important to running performance and health. Women, being generally smaller and weaker than men, are even more strongly advised to do strength training. But, as with all training, caution is important. Here’s the first-ever Randomized Controlled Trial of strength training by female runners. 149 subjects were followed for 18 months. Result: 55% of all runners reported an injury of some kind, and the strength trainers were 28% more likely to get injured than those who didn’t strength-train. Proceed carefully. Always. More at Wake Forest Univ.

How running shoes make you faster
At this point, most of us are pretty sure the new “super shoes” are improving performances across the board. Which leaves the question: How? Some believe in carbon plates, some in the new super-foams--light weight but with excellent energy return. This journalistic investigation quotes several key research papers and several European biomechanics experts. The scale seems to tilt toward the foam. The article ranks the Asics Metaspeed Sky second to Nike’s supershoes, likes Saucony’s Endorphin Pro as a lower-cost alternative, and disses barefoot running. More at Live Science.

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss
>>> Foot orthotics with a medial wedge might contribute to knee arthritis.
>>> On the other hand, “Motion is lotion:” Walking great for knee arthritis.
>>> Whey protein and Vitamin D beneficial for muscle “before or after” sleep

GREAT QUOTES make great training partners
“Not less than 2 hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be little regarded. If the body is feeble, the mind will not be strong.”--Thomas Jefferson
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. Stay well, and see you next week. Amby