June 29, 2023

Here's the free but abridged version of this week's RLRH newsletter. I hope you enjoy it, and learn something new. Please consider upgrading with one of the below links. Thanks. Amby

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

Note: RLRH is taking a week off around the July 4 holiday. The next issue will be posted on Thursday, July 13.

Peak performance: Get the most from your hard days

When you’ve got a hard day coming up on your training schedule, which probably means some intervals at 5K pace or faster, it’s reasonable to think you should go easy the day before. That way you’ll be more likely to crush the hard-day workout, right?

Not necessarily, says coach Matt Fitzgerald. There’s another approach that could be even more effective. Run moderately hard the day before. This will “prime” your body for the following hard day, and also allow you to log a bit more solid training in your week.

What makes for a moderately hard run? Good question. Fitzgerald suggests several specific workouts. The simplest is 30 to 50 minutes of easy running, followed by 10 minutes moderately hard to finish up. This is like a short tempo run at the end of your easy day.

Fitzgerald offers a cautionary rule of thumb. The “priming” approach only succeeds with those who are relatively fit to begin with. He suggests if you’re training 7 hours a week, you’re ready. 

If you train less than 7 hours per week, don’t try “priming.” You’re probably better off training lightly or resting the day before a big workout. More at Training Peaks.

Painful truths: When to stop running, when to keep on

Here, a running injury physician explains what you should know about running in pain. Every runner has experienced some at one time or another, and we’ve all wondered what to do about it.

The big, lingering question is generally the same: Can I continue running, perhaps a little less and slower, until the pain goes away? Or should I stop entirely to prevent more serious injury?

The answer, of course, is “It depends.” Sometimes you can “run through” your injury, though you should also be prepared to take time off when that’s the smart reaction.

Worth knowing: A “dully, achy” pain probably means you have a minor injury. A “sharp, stabbing” pain may require more serious appraisal. 

Also, if your pain decreases or disappears during your run, as your body warms up, that’s a good sign. If it gets worse, you need some rest and recovery.

Does your pain persist all day and extend into your other activities? That’s another indication that you need time off, and perhaps some strength training. More at Believe in the Run.

In other pain-related news, here’s an unexpected twist. According to new research at Plos One, regular exercise reduces “chronic pain,” which is now “more prevalent in the U.S. than either depression or diabetes.” Additionally, “even though exercise may be the last thing a person living with pain wants to do, it could be a critical element to recovery.” More at Time.

Oh, my: What happens when you PUT runners on a low energy diet?

The topic of Low Energy Availability--the frequency, and impact of eating too little--is one of the hottest in endurance sports. It’s known to affect many athletes (male but primarily female, in weight-bearing sports like running, dance, gymnastics, and cross-country skiing), and it can have devastating effects on both performance and lifelong health.

Now a Danish group has gone where no research has gone before. They somehow got ethical approval to impose a LEA condition on 15 subjects in a 10-day randomized controlled trial. (They presumably convinced the review committee that 10 days would not be long enough to affect their participants’ health.)

The subjects were 30 healthy, menstruating, exercising females in their mid-20s. During a 5-day “run in” period, all consumed a weight-maintaining diet of about 2400 calories/day. 

During the next 10 days, half of the group continued on the same diet. They ended up consuming 2403 calories/day on average. The other half saw their food intake cut almost in half. They consumed an average of 1349 calories/day. All food was provided by a research kitchen.

Despite the calorie differential, all subjects received the same (substantial) amount of protein each day. The researchers were primarily interested in “protein synthesis” rates among their subjects, and wanted to make sure both groups had plenty of protein on board throughout. All subjects followed a vigorous cardiovascular and strength-training regimen during the 10-day trial--again, to make sure that a cessation of their training did not influence results.

Key outcomes: The LEA subjects lost 3.7 pounds over 10 days, including 0.9 pounds of muscle. The full-calorie group maintained body weight, and gained 0.9 pounds of muscle. 

Also, the major finding of the study: The LEA subjects “suffered marked reductions in myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic muscle protein synthesis.” They also saw drops in “urinary nitrogen balance, free androgen index, thyroid hormone, and resting metabolic rate.” The latter declined by 65 calories/day.

Conclusion: “These findings suggest that LEA may negatively affect skeletal muscle adaptation in females performing exercise training.” The project did not include a performance test. In other words, there was no pre- and post-diet time trial or other fitness test. More at The J of Physiology with free full text.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> Who’s got the right answer: How many extra calories/day do you burn if you add 1 lb of muscle?


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:

# Training tips of the world’s best marathon runners

# Race your best: 5 steps to a perfect taper

# How Courtney Dauwalter ran the greatest Western States 100 mile ever

# Exercise proven successful against depression in major research report (Coffee helps, too)

# Road to recovery--Coming back from an Achilles injury

# Time to rewrite Pheidippides: Running won’t kill you

# The fitter you get, the more flexible your arteries (that’s a good thing)

# A great Hal Higdon quote on the rewards of running

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