November 10, 2022

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Run long and healthy. Amby

Plyometric training boosts 5K time in already highly-fit runners

This running specific training experiment gets high marks for the quality of the subjects investigated. They were all capable of 5K times around 15:00. And there were a lot of them–60–for a trial of this kind.  

Here’s what happened. The all-male subjects were divided into four groups who, for 8 weeks, did pyramidal training, polarized training, or one of these with plyometrics added to the mix. Meanwhile, “training load was kept constant.” 

And the winner was? Basically, it was the plyometrics, which made both pyramidal and polarized training more effective. After the two month intervention, runners in the PYR+PLY group improved their 5K times by 2.4% and in POL+PYR by 2.1%. The researchers concluded: “Including plyometric training once a week appeared to be more efficacious in maximizing running performance.” More at Scandinavian J of Medicine & Science in Sports. 

Small temp differences have a big effect on marathon finish times

Sunday afternoon in New York City, I sat on the finish-line grandstands for about an hour as many midpack runners were churning, sprinting and sometimes walking the final 50 yards. Most looked pretty good–not like a mid-summer sweatathon–although more than usual seemed to be suffering from leg cramps.  

No question, it was unseasonably warm and humid in NYC all weekend. Great for tourists and spectators, but suboptimal for race times. reported that the average finish time of 4:50 was about 13-14 minutes slower than in other recent years.  

Chinese researchers recently checked out the performances of 610 runners who completed 3 straight versions of the Singapore Marathon. And, yes, a couple of degrees of temperature difference (plus humidity) had a significant effect on their finish times. When the wet bulb temperature (incorporating the dry bulb temperature and the humidity) rose by 1.5 degrees C, times slowed by more than 9 minutes for both men and women.  

The study also uncovered a bit of marathon-weather cruelty, and one modest tip. Cruel: Bad weather is likely to hinder your performance more than improved training could boost it. Tip: On warm days, don’t run with a pace team or other group. Get away from the group heat pump, and put yourself in position for maximum air circulation. More at Temperature. 

For time-efficient workouts, try a few hard bike intervals

Sometimes you just don’t have time to log the run you were planning. Or maybe you’ve been feeling a niggle or two, and want to make sure they don’t turn into full-setback injuries. In these cases, a few short “sprints” on an exercise bicycle could help preserve your fitness. 

Researchers used the following protocol with highly fit NCAA middle distance runners. For 4 weeks, they asked the runners to drop several of their typical 4 to 6 mile runs. Instead, on those days, the runners performed 4 nearly-all-out, high-resistance 20 second intervals on an exercise bicycle. They took long recoveries–4 minutes–before and after the intervals.  

Pre- and post-protocol testing showed no difference in subject vo2 max. The investigators interpreted this in a positive light, especially since there were no changes in stride frequency and length despite much less time spent with run training “The study shows how training could be modified to be more time-efficient,” they concluded. It’s also possible, though not studied here, that some interval training can be done on a bicycle rather than with full body weight, thus reducing likelihood of injury. More at Sports Medicine. 

Have an “activity snack” every 30 minutes

We’ve known for a while now that prolonged sitting is bad for our health. Even if you’ve done a solid 30 to 60-minute workout sometime during the day, many-hours of sitting can wipe out some of the exercise benefit. The American Diabetes Association and others recommend that we at least stand up every 30 minutes or so to improve glucose levels. 

But simply standing up doesn’t engage much muscle, burn many calories, or affect your physiology. To do that, you’ve got to move more. For instance, you could take a brisk 2-minute stroll, or do 15 chair-squats right in your office or from your favorite TV chair. 

In fact, exercise physiologists are now recommending that we do this all day long–and you get a few bonus points if you follow the recommendation in the hour or two after a meal. And they’ve got a catchy new name for such regular, short-duration exercise–”activity snacks.” You shouldn’t be snacking on junk food, but you should definitely include activity snacks in your total-health routine. 

Why? Because 2 minutes of solid movement is enough to increase “amino acid utilization for myofibrillar protein synthesis.” In other words, it stimulates your muscles enough to improve insulin sensitivity and boost strength. More at J of Applied Physiology

SHORT STUFF you won’t want to miss

>>> Late afternoon and evening exercise protect against diabetes.

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


NOTE: If you were a paid member at "Run Long, Run Healthy," you would also have received these summaries.

# Were we “Born To Run” on the forefoot/midfoot?

# How to train like a 9-time NYC Marathon winner

# Proven tips for cross-training on an elliptical

# You may not need extra salt in marathons

# A surprise! Strength training better than cardio for migraines

# Little evidence for calcium and Vitamin D for stronger bones

# Pollock protein beats whey for muscle

# A motivational quote from Fred Lebow

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