June 8, 2023

Here's this week's edition of the free-but-abridged RLRH newsletter. I hope you enjoy, and learn. Stay well. Amby

Bad diets leave Boston Marathon runners slower, more injury-prone

When we think of Low Energy Availability (insufficient calorie intake), we tend to worry about high school and college runners. They’ve been the focus of most studies to date, and are also at a particularly vulnerable age when bone growth and development are super important.

But it seems that LEA is widespread among some adult runners. At the 2022 Boston Marathon, researchers conducted the first-ever study of Low Energy Availability (LEA) “where the outcomes could be directly linked to real-world performance and medical consequences in a specific competition.”

The results were rather surprising, or at least I thought so. I would have imagined that Boston’s typically-well-educated and middle-aged runners had few problems with fueling issues. Of course, Boston Marathon participants are elite by dint of the necessary qualifying-standards. They are performance-oriented, in other words, and those are the types of runners often affected by LEA.

In this abstract, supported by the Marathon’s medical team, subjects included 1030 Boston runners, about half female. Most were in their 40s or early 50s. All completed a pre-marathon questionnaire “related to training, nutrition, and performance history.” The questionnaire revealed that 42.5% of the female runners and 17.6% of the males appeared to have LEA characteristics. 

The LEA runners performed significantly worse than their peers, although the study abstract didn’t report times.

Rather it used “division place rankings compared to healthy controls.” For the females, that was 1377th place vs 949 for non-LEA runners; for males, it was 1262th place vs 795. 

The LEA runners were also much more likely to require support from the marathon’s medical team. They had a ”1.95-fold greater relative risk” of requiring some kind of med support, and a “3.55-fold greater risk of a significant medical event” such as a DNF or transport to a local hospital after finishing.

Conclusion: “Our novel findings confirm the performance and health implications of problematic LEA in both female and male athletes.” More at American College of Sports Medicine abstracts.

Best new running shoes under $120

After several years when running shoe companies were primarily touting their newest super-shoes (which are of course super-expensive as well), they are edging back to more-modestly-priced shoes. Best of all, some of these shoes include the new super-foams, but without embedded plates, rods, fingers, and the like. 

That’s a good option since many biomechanists believe it’s the foam, not the plate, that makes super shoes so “super.” Here are 7 new models that cost less than $120. More at Triathlete.

Need inspiration? Read about these amazing runners

Reading about other runners, sometimes quite similar to ourselves, but often very different, helps boost motivation for all of us. The mega-watt Western States 100 is just about 3 weeks off, and I’m eager to see how several old friends perform there.

Pam Reed hopes to complete her eighth WS 100 and just keep on ultra-moving, as she then tackles the Badwater 135 and Hardrock 100, all within a 20 day period. Also, Gene Dykes aims to become the first 75 yr old to beat the 30 hour cutoff at WS. 

Dykes last made headlines when he turned 70 and ran a 2:54:23 marathon age-group record in 2018 . Now, on the plus side of 75, he’s hoping to add new age-group accomplishments to his impressive career. It won’t be easy. He’s got a few medical demons to stare down. More on Reed and Dykes at I Run Far. 

Martinus Evans seems to be having more fun on the run than your average 300-pounder, and his “Slow AF Run Club” and similarly named book are introducing many new runners to the sport. “I want everyone to know that they can run in the body they have right now,” he says, a powerful and inclusive message. He also recommends doing most of your runs at a “sexy pace.” I’m not sure where that falls on the max-heart-rate continuum, but … hey, why not? More at NY Times.

Someday I hope to be just like 96-yr-old Rejeanne Fairhead who recently ran 51:09 for 5K. That gave her a new world record for the age group. Be like Rejeanne. Stay well today, and think and plan for the long term. More at Canadian Running.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Fitness pays: Companies with physically-active employees can expect lower healthcare costs and improved productivity ranging form $2000-$4000 per employee-year.

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:

# The case against wearing super shoes in training

# Vegans, vegetarians run strong in half marathon through ultramarathon races

# New supplement yields big performance gains in trained athletes

# 8 ways to boost your running economy

# Secrets of successful foam rolling

# Coffee timing: You need an 8-hour break to avoid sleep-loss

# The female Roger Bannister--first sub-4:00 miler--is coming soon

# A great “joy of running” quote from 1984 Olympic Marathon runner, Julie Isphording

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