October 27, 2022

This is the abridged edition of my weekly “Run Long, Run Healthy” newsletter. It goes to those who are free subscribers.

CLICK HERE to upgrade to the complete, full-text edition ($4 month).  You can cancel at any time. Remember: "I spend hours searching the Internet, so  you can review the most important and informative new material in minutes.”

New fueling strategy: Carbo-load first, then have one high-fat meal

Runners and researchers have spent a lot of effort in the last 20 years looking for ways to maximize endurance performance by manipulating diet in the hours and days before a big race. The goal? To arrive at a point where the body burns optimal amounts of fat and carbohydrate. 

One approach that has been tried: Get keto-adapted with a high-fat diet, then switch to carbs for several days pre-event. That generally didn’t produce good results. A new paper proposes the opposite strategy: Carbo-load first, then consume fat for your last meal before racing. 

This seemed to work, with the researchers noting that “One high-fat meal following carbohydrate loading reduced muscle and liver glycogen use during the 60-minute exercise.” Conclusion: “This dietary approach may be applied as a strategy to optimize energy utilization during endurance exercise.” More at J of Strength & Conditioning Research.

Inspiratory muscle training extends respiratory endurance

Inspiratory muscle training continues to look good in recent research studies. In one 6-week training study, it proved successful at “lowering resting blood pressure and improving inspiratory muscle strength.” Thus it “extended the capacity for respiratory work and endurance in healthy, recreationally-active young adults. The outcomes have implications for athletic conditioning and for attaining and maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness.”

Another research project looked into the effect of a brief warmup with increased inspiratory muscle breathing on runner performance during 30 second sprints. The breath work was “effective in increasing the peak and mean relative running power.” The investigators “recommend this respiratory strategy to improve exercise and recovery.” More at Biology.

Carbon plates mainly benefit faster runners

The above-reviewed shoes have some form of a stiff plate running through the midsole along with a new super-foam as the main midsole material. So which of the two is providing the “super” burst of speed and endurance? Good question.

A number of top running biomechanists have hypothesized that most or all of the benefit comes from the new generation of super-foams rather than from the stiff plates. In this new paper, researchers specifically investigated how shoe-stiffness (from carbon plates) affected running economy in a varied group of runners.

Conclusion: Those rated “high level” runners [which I presume to mean “faster”] gained some benefit from running in stiff shoes. “Whereas medium-level runners did not.” Roughly one-third of all runner-subjects actually exhibited worse running economy in stiffer shoes. 

What does all this mean? First, to bend a stiff carbon plate and gain some energy return, you have to hit the ground hard. That’s what faster runners do vs slower runners. Second, and central to all shoe-runner interactions: “This study emphasizes the importance of individual response examination to understand the effect of footwear on runner's performance.” More at European J of Applied Physiology.s

Best lifestyle approaches to depression

As mental health becomes a larger and larger social concern across the country and globe, we try to learn more about underlying factors and possible action steps. Taking a wide view of running, I’d say we’ve largely agreed that it can be helpful but definitely not a guaranteed preventative. It’s like heart disease: Running is great, but there are other powerful factors as well.

Here’s a wonderful and looong (54 pages, free full-text) “Clinical Guidelines” review from several professional groups. When it comes to lifestyle therapies (as opposed to meds), it finds that the “recommendations with the highest rating” against Major Depressive Disease are: exercise, relaxation techniques, work directed interventions, sleep, and mindfulness therapies. “Interventions related to diet and green space were recommended, but with a lower strength of evidence.” More at The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry.

SHORT STUFF  you don’t want to miss

>>> For increased strength, “get to the gym, and get there regularly,” says expert Stu Phillips. Don’t worry about protein.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

NOTE: If you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text version of RLRH for $4/month, you would also have received news about:

# Does Strava boost your running or diminish it?

# How menthol “facilitates breathing comfort” during hard exercise

# The benefits of more sodium in marathon drinks and fuels 

# Should you PIMP your stride to avoid injuries?

# Why “Use it or lose it” seems solid advice for knee arthritis

# The truth about bread as a healthful food

# The International Olympic committee’s new guidelines on respiratory illness among athletes

# Why running provides better blood glucose control than cycling for those with Type 1 diabetes

# Dangerous outcomes when a mom consumes too much processed food during pregnancy and child-rearing

# A great endurance quote from Confucius

CLICK HERE to upgrade to the complete, full-text edition ($4 month).  You can cancel at any time.