April 6, 2023

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Use downhill running to boost leg strength & performance

Many runners dislike downhill running. It can be uncomfortable and perhaps cause injuries. But it can also lead to rapid muscle adaptations that improve your running, especially if you’re headed to the Boston Marathon this month.

Here,10 subjects did 10 modest downhill workouts over a 4 week period. Result: The downhill training “promoted neuromuscular adaptations typically observed after high-intensity eccentric resistance training.”

The researchers observed no change in vo2 max, and didn’t conduct other performance testing. Still, they concluded: “These novel results suggest that short-term, moderate-intensity DR training is an effective method of promoting rapid gains in knee-extensor muscle strength, size and structure.” 

And there’s no doubt that you want strong muscles around the knees for efficient running. Or as the investigators stated: “The chronic use of downhill running can stimulate muscle hypertrophy of the main locomotor muscles, i.e. quadriceps femoris.” More at European Journal of Applied Physiology (free full text).

Sara Hall’s 6 steps to coming back from a long term injury

Sara Hall, now 39, is known for her longevity in the sport. In high school she won the national cross-country championship, and she has run a number of top marathons past age 35. But last year was a tough one, as an IT band injury sidelined her for 8 months. Last week wasn’t great either; she had Covid. 

So what did she do over the weekend? She took the top American spot in the 50th annual Cherry Blossom 10 mile--a rite of spring in Washington, D.C.

And in another 10 days she’ll be running the Boston Marathon. Here, Hall shares her advice on how to bounce back from a long term injury like her IT band issue. A unique tip: Hall takes an inquisitive approach, applying curiosity to the process. She enjoys digging into “the back story” of her running career to figure out what went wrong, and what she has to do to correct it. More at Runner’s World.

Maybe 90 is the new 50

Antonio Rao, 90, finished last month’s Rome Marathon in an age-record 6:14--beating the old record by more than 30 minutes. He also improved his own time from last year by 6 minutes. Rao, who still trains about 15 miles/week, said he enjoys running because: “When I run, I don’t think about problems. I feel free.” He reports that he has been running regularly since 14--that’s 76 years. More at Canadian Running.

In a new review article, senior author and exercise-heart specialist Ben Levine begins with an unusual title: “Exercise in Octogenarians: How Much is Too Little?” The paper notes that cardio fitness can remain quite high until age 70, but then begins to drop off more substantially.

What to do? That’s easy. Keep exercising, no matter how much you slow down. Why? Because: “Recent studies have provided compelling evidence that reinforces the favorable effects of prolonged and vigorous endurance exercise training and competition on the exercise performance of men and women in their late eighth to tenth decades of life.”

The ideal exercise program is one that you follow from your teens onward. But even if you don’t begin exercising until mid life, you get a significant late life payoff. It’s the decline in late-year exercise that must be avoided. In fact, that’s when you need it the most. More at Annual Reviews (free full text). Infographic and conclusion

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Going too far: Do ultra runners have more mental-health problems?

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 new articles about:

# How to exercise more without eating more (and gaining weight)

# Do running shoes prevent injuries?

# “Social fitness:” The surprising new way to boost your running

# Who knew? Exercise can undo bad-sleep harms

# LIttle evidence for diaphragmatic breathing

# Ultra runners may have more mental-health issues

# Coffee/caffeine don’t alter heart contractions

# New insight: Exercise protects against retinal disease

# A great “competition” quote from Dr. George A. Sheehan

Click here for details about subscribing to the complete, full text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

And remember: “I spend HOURS  searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in MINUTES.” Stay well. Amby