May 11, 2023

Here's the free, abridged version of this week's RLRH newsletter. Click here for details about subscribing to the complete, full text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

How to boost your mental endurance

Mental fatigue decreases endurance performance, and mental training can increase performance. So how do you do that mental training? Here researchers showed subjects a 10-15 minute mental training video for 3 weeks. 

A control group didn’t watch the videos or receive any other preparation.

Subjects were randomly assigned to their groups, and all took vo2 max and threshold tests before and after the 3 weeks, and a Time To Exhaustion test (TTE) at the end of the three weeks. Researchers also measured  electrical muscle activation. The videos, which were watched for nearly 3 hours per subject, included exercises designed to: reduce stress, improve breathing, teach positive self-talk, and visualize success.

Results: The video-trained subjects improved their TTE by 10%. They needed less muscle activation to attain this result. Conclusion: Three weeks of mental training improves performance by reducing EMG, decreasing activation of the muscle and reducing metabolic factors during the latter stages of exercise.” More at European J of Applied Physiology (free full text).

Short, quick strides can lower injury risks

Anyone who tries to predict which runners will get injured is playing a fool’s game. Of course, there are some indicators. The strongest has always been prior injury. Overstriding is another, often measured as low stride rate.

Predicting which runners will get injured is a fool’s game, but there are some indicators. The strongest has always been previous injury, and overstriding (with low stride rate) has shown up in several injury studies. 

Here 171 active duty soldier-runners wore a shoe pod for 6 weeks to collect key biomechanical data. Twelve months later, their injury records were analyzed. Who got injured?

Those with a low stride rate had more injuries than high-frequency runners, but the biggest stride factor was a long contact time. “Participants with the longest contact time were at a 2.25 times greater risk for a running-related injury.” To the extent that you can manage to do so, it’s generally good to run with a light, quick stride. More at Sports Biomechanics.

How diet affects your sleep … and everything else

We don’t hear much about this, but your sleep is affected by what and when you eat. And of course your sleep impacts everything else, especially mental and physical performance. A high protein diet with plenty of tryptophan is helpful, as are low glycemic index carbs, fruits like cherries and kiwis, and keeping a watchful eye on your caffeine and alcohol intake. It’s also smart to not eat too close to bedtime. More at Cureus (free full text).

Sleeping too much or too little are both linked to shorter lifespans, but performing more exercise reduces this risk. More at European J of Preventive Cardiology. Exercise of various types, including low-intensity housework and walking, “is an effective and safe non-pharmacological intervention for sleep disturbance.” More at International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Lost hours of sleep impair endurance exercise the next day. When well trained cyclists were deprived of 3 hours sleep, their performance the following day suffered even though some measures like heart rate, lactate, and glucose were unchanged. More at J of Sleep Research.

Lastly, exercise physiologist Brady Holmer notes the “profound link between sleep and cardiovascular aging.” Even the American Heart Association is paying more attention to sleep. The AHA recently added sleep to its “Life’s Essential” list, now numbering 8 items. The other 7: diet, exercise, nicotine, weight, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure. Holmer suggests: ‘Think of every night of sleep like an exercise training session--an opportunity to rejuvenate your body and grow stronger.” More at Substack/Brady Holmer.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Mile after mile: 7 ways a marathon changes your body.

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:

# Des Linden’s new approach to training

# The best warmup for a 5K race

# Skinny? No worries. You can still get strong

# 3 new ways to run cool in summer heat

# How to use Relative Perceived Exertion to guide your workouts

# Who returns to running after hip/knee replacement?

# An inspiring Ben Franklin quote on sticking with it

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