March 23, 2023

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Some running shoes claim a 4% payoff. This one hits 11%

Sports scientists at Adidas headquarters in Germany recently decided it was time to answer an important question: What is the range of performance improvement in world-class runners when they wear different flavors of new super shoes? We know that shoes being advertised for a 4% advantage in running economy can produce a 2-3% faster race time. But who says that 4% is the limit?

That’s the subject investigated below, but here’s the really big question behind it: What if someone can design a pair of super shoes that are customized to the runner who’s wearing them?

If Nike’s not already doing this for its most famous runner, the Boston-Marathon-bound Eliud Kipchoge, I’ll eat a pair of carbon-plated running shoes for lunch.

In the new report, Adidas tested 4 different shoes on 7 top Kenyan runners. One of the shoes was a racing flat from the Dark Ages (5 years ago) and the other three were variations on Adidas super shoes the company is developing.

The Adidas test shoes produced a modest average improvement in running economy for the 7 runners, but one lucky guy got an 11% gain from one shoe. That would be roughly equivalent to a 7% improvement in a marathon time--from 2:10 to 2:00:55. (Note: Some of the super shoes led to worse performance for some of the runners. Be careful what you wish for.)

This means that if you tested Eliud Kipchoge in several different pairs of super shoes, you’d likely find one that seemed best “tuned” to his particular running. As I said, this has likely already happened. And will certainly happen more often going forward. More at Sports Medicine.

Does Time Restricted Eating harm muscle growth?

Medical journals are spilling over with studies on the effects of Time Restricted Eating. Few apply specifically to runners or other endurance athletes, but here’s one that does. A group of male runners followed a normal diet and a TRE diet for 4 weeks, with a “washout” period between diets. Their caloric intake was the same with both diets. 

The main study goal was to check the runners’ ``cardiometabolic health.” It didn’t change between diets--a good outcome. However, the runners did lose more weight on the TRE protocol. That could be a good thing, depending on your goals and strategy. Conclusion: “TRE is not detrimental to cardiometabolic health in endurance-trained male runners but could be beneficial on exercise performance by reducing fat mass.” More at Nutrients (free full text).

Another TRE study on older men and women (65-74) found that both sexes lost significant weight and visceral fat on a 6-week TRE diet, which was easy to follow for 98% to 99% of subjects. More at Experimental Gerontology (free full text).

Given some of the positive results associated with TRE, especially weight loss, a crack research team thought someone should answer an important question: What about protein mobilization? It wouldn’t be good if TRE also caused a potential loss/lack of muscle health by lowering protein availability.

But it doesn’t seem to, at least not after 10. Conclusion: “Short-term TRE does not impair rates of muscle protein synthesis in adults with overweight/obesity.” Still, more work needs to be done over the long term to make sure “TRE-induced weight loss can be achieved without compromising muscle health.” More at Obesity (free full text).

3 ways tuneup races can sharpen you for the big time

There are a lot of different opinions about how and when to utilize shorter-distance races during a marathon training cycle, or even whether to use them at all. Chris Lundstrom, coach of the Minnesota Distance Elite squad, sees three variations on a theme.


You can ”Race with a taper.” This will supply the “single best training stimulus available.” 

You could also “Race Without A Taper,” which will simulate the tired feeling of a marathon. But this approach has risks: injury, overtraining, and the mental challenge of dealing with a possibly poor performance.

You might try “Running Goal Marathon Pace,” usually in a half-marathon tuneup. A potential pitfall: Many “find it difficult to stick to the plan, and get carried away by the excitement of the event,” which overturns the most basic tuneup rule: It’s prep, not a race. Lundstrom works around this by telling athletes to run the first 9-10 at marathon pace then close faster if they feel good.

He doesn’t say that one of these strategies is better than the other. All can be useful, so long as they meet your needs, and you stick to the plan. More at Fan Hub TF.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

 >>> Stretching the truth: Stretching for runners continues to be a highly debated topic.

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

# “The hills are alive” … with super training sessions

# How far should you run at “Marathon Pace?”

# 3 smart ways to run tuneup races

# The power of protein-carb recovery drinks

# How to beat the procrastination trap

# Sodium Bicarbonate: Worth the risk?

# How to run 100 marathons in 100 days

# Another good reason to sleep well: Insomnia linked to increased heart deaths

# An inspiring “get going” quote from Mark Twain

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