April 27, 2023

 Surprising training methods of the world’s fittest 75-yr-old

(Disclosure: I wrote the below-linked article.) In a recent lab test, Hans Smeets broke the unofficial world record for the highest vo2 max by a 75 year old. His score was roughly equivalent to that of a young man in his mid 20s. And Smeets isn’t just a lab rat. He has won dozens of world championships in his age group, excelling in particular in the 800 meters and 1500 meters.

How can an old guy be so fit? Smeets admits that probably 50% of his success comes from good genetics. The other 50%, according to exercise physiologist Bas van Hooren, is Smeets’s consistent training through the last several decades. Surprisingly, much of this training has been slow. Smeets says he often walks up several of the biggest hills on training routes near his home. 

“Speed training produces more damage,” notes Van Hooren. “By doing higher volumes of easy training, masters athletes might gain positive adaptations with less damage and need for recovery.”

More at Outside Online.

What shoe company won the Boston Marathon?

Or could I have prevented my post-Boston soreness by racing in a different shoes? (I wore a pair of Saucony supershoes.) 

Everyone’s talking about the fact that the top 3 male finishers at Boston wore Adidas shoes, not Nikes. Meanwhile, the female winner wore shoes from “On,” a company that has enjoyed big market success due to the street appeal of its shoes, and has also sponsored a visible elite team. However, its earlier running shoes were a bit clunky. Apparently that has changed.

Now comes the question: Have other brands caught or even surpassed Nike, the leader since its stealth introduction of super shoes in 2016? Here’s a shoe count from Outside Online. It tallies who wore what among the top 25 male and female runners at Boston. The podium looked like this: Adidas--16; Nike--14; Asics--8.

A British newspaper story drew fascinating comments from England’s 42-year-old elite marathoner Chris Thompson, and runner-biomechanist Geoff Burns. Thompson said he’s hearing about runners logging 160+ miles a week in training, because the super-foams provide dramatic recovery-benefits. “There’s no shying away from it: super shoes have a huge impact on performance,” says Thompson, who pegs that impact at 4 minutes for an elite male marathoner.

Burns says the benefit is relatively more for slower runners. Why? Because the fast folks encounter greater wind resistance, which subtracts from any performance gain. Slower runners don’t face much wind resistance, so they don’t have to subtract anything from their shoe-enhanced boost. More at The Guardian.

Not for women only (but mostly)

More research is beginning to focus on women-only subject groups, as women may react differently than men to exercise and other stressors. For example, it’s fairly well established that women runners have twice (or more) the risk of bone stress injuries. What to do?

This study measured the effect of strength training on bone mineral density (BMD) of college-age female runners. When the runners added 16 weeks of strength training to their typical training program, they increased their total body BMD. This could lead to a decrease in bone injuries. More at The J of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness (free full text).

Another paper looked at ways female runners change their stride, through an “internal focus” or an “external focus.” The goal was to lower impact forces of each stride when the foot hits the surface. Result: Participants were most successful at lowering impact forces when they employed an external focus, such as looking around at their surroundings. The researchers hypothesized that this approach worked better because it helped maintain a relaxed running form, which lowers impact forces. More at J of Sport Rehabilitation.

Speaking of forces, females apparently run with less pain and greater efficiency when they restrict breast movement. Researchers asked 13 recreational women runners (average age 37, average cup size “C”) to perform 3 separate treadmill running trials in a lab. The women ran with: 1) no bra; 2) a low-support bra; or 3) a high support bra.

Subjects ran most comfortably and efficiently with high-support, which increased their knee “stiffness” (usually associated with higher running economy) while decreasing their “knee joint excursions,” or bending. The authors stated that their paper emphasized “the importance of proper breast support in female runners.” More at Frontiers in Sports & Active Living (free full text).

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> The eyes have it: Exercise produces molecular changes that “may confer protection against retinal degeneration.” (free full text).

That’s all 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 get the most out of interval training workouts

# Two proven ways to boost your running economy

# The many benefits of downhill run training

# The 6 worst foods you can eat (and the 5 best)

# What happens when you run on a side-to-side tilting treadmill

# How to find the right heart-rate training zones

# What’s wrong with carbs? Nothing. (But you have to choose the right ones.)

# An insightful marathon quote from Frank Shorter

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