June 1, 2023

Here’s the free but abridged version of RLRH for June 1, 2023. Thanks for subscribing and reading. Amby

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

The best pace strategy (and gel plan) for your next marathon

From this new report I learned that differential equations run faster with ever-higher consumption of carbohydrate gels, but people don’t. Actual people like you and me stumble to the sidelines and puke when we take in too many carbs on the run.

All joking aside, this is a cool paper. How can you not love a research group that says “Our overall goal is to determine the best nutrition and pacing strategy to use when running a marathon (or other long distance race) in order to finish in the shortest amount of time.” That’s your goal, too.

The study authors didn’t attack the problem in the usual manner--by measuring runners in the lab or in actual racing conditions. Rather they strung together a bunch of equations that modeled what happens when runners race at different speeds with and without taking carb-energy en route. 

And their math seemed pretty good. When they compared it to Eliud Kipchoge’s actual 1:59:40 marathon, they arrived at a 1:59:09. That’s only one second per mile different from Kipchoge, or 0.4%

So much for the math. What you really want to know are their suggestions about race-pacing, and carbohydrate gel ingestion for your next marathon. To begin, run even pace through. Always. 

Next, they say that taking five 100 calorie carb gels could help you run 7.75% faster. That’s a big number--roughly 14 minutes for a 3-hour marathoner, and 18 for a 4-hour.

If you can’t manage 5 gels, 4 is a good target. Conclusion: “We found that the optimal trajectory for marathon runners was to run at a steady state velocity for the majority of the race and take in at least four 100 calorie supplements spread evenly throughout the event.”

They also fed their equations 11 gels, and 24 gels. The equations appreciated the extra energy, and “ran” faster. You and I would likely have different reactions, which the researchers understood. They stated that consuming 11 or 24 gels would “most certainly upset the runner's stomach and all of those carbohydrates would struggle to make it to the muscles due to imbalances in the stomach. The body does not handle the amount of accumulated energy in the nutrition compartment without a negative reaction.”

That’s for sure. More at Frontiers in Nutrition with free full text.

Rx for injuries: Rest is not enough. You need PT as well  

Here a top American running physician, Adam Tenforde, and a German colleague explain how they go about their medical practice with runners, primarily the treatment of injuries. They note that many runners won’t consult with physicians for fear of being told to stop their running. 

This is a necessary step for bone stress injuries (stop running), but not necessarily for Achilles tendinitis. In fact, evidence from management of Achilles tendon disorders “suggests pain below 5 on a scale of 0 to 10 can be acceptable during running for long-term recovery.” Just be certain to also follow “a structured tendon loading program to restore tendon function.”

For most injuries, rest alone is not the best approach. Rather, “physical therapy should be standard for any running-related injury, as relative rest does not reliably treat the underlying impairments that contribute to risk of the injury.”

Mental health of runners is important to address, as many runners practice the sport “to deal with life stressors.” Finally, cross training “can provide alternative forms of physical activity to maintain cardiovascular fitness and enjoyment of physical activity.” More at German J of Sports Medicine with free full text in English.

Doubts about “superfood powders.” But multivitamins improve memory

Oops. About half of my favorite running podcasts are sponsored by Athletic Greens, a powdery supplement that claims it “promotes gut health, supports immunity, boosts energy, and helps recovery.” There are several other “superfood powders” that appear to be quite similar. But when the NY Times asked a handful of nutritionists what they thought of the powders, the reviews were cynical.

“This is like throwing the kitchen sink into a powder,” said one nutrition expert. Another responded: “Why not just eat spinach?” Representatives from the companies admitted they had “no rigorous, independent studies” to support their marketing pitches.  More at NY Times.

Many supplements face a similar fate when evaluated in population trials. But wait, some do succeed. One recent supplement paper actually reached a positive conclusion, and made big headlines in the act. A multiyear study “of 3,562 older adults” showed that use of a popular multivitamin pill (Centrum Silver) vs a placebo pill resulted in significantly better scores on a memory test after 3 years. 

Conclusion: “Multivitamin supplementation holds promise as a safe and accessible approach towards maintaining cognitive health in older age.” More at The American J of Clinical Nutrition.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Motivational tip: Beginning your workout with a hard effort and ending it slower and easier might improve enjoyment and motivation.

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:

# Creatine is proven to build power. Can it also boost endurance?

# How to use HIT intervals to break through a training plateau

# 6 nutrition mistakes you need to avoid

# What is your best race weight, and how much does it matter?

# Female triathletes (more than males) need to beware of hyponatremia

# Minimalist shoes can reduce knee injuries

# Do hormonal contraceptives decrease muscle and bone injuries?

# Lululemon is copying the Eliud Kipchoge sub-2 promotion, but in a 6 day race for females only

# A great Abraham Lincoln quote on the importance of “discipline”

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