August 10, 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 to the complete, full-text edition here. Thanks. Amby

How to bust through that rut, and run faster than ever

Training for increased fitness and better performance requires stress, and recovery. Stress, and recovery. If you don’t stress enough, you can’t expect improvement. If you stress too much, without the required recovery, you run smack into overtraining--now often called over-reaching.

Is there a middle ground? Sure. But it’s also possible that the middle ground represents a level where you don’t improve as much as you’d like to. In that case, what’s your next move?

This article proposes a training adjustment called “overloading.” Translation: You train significantly harder, while making sure that you a stagger into over-reaching territory. 

To do this, you must limit the length of time that you overload--usually from 3 days to 3 weeks. For most recreational runners, I like a 4-day approach where day 3 is a recovery day. For example, if you’re training for a marathon, you might run significantly longer than usual on days 1, 2, and 4, with an easy day or rest day on day 3. 

Those 4 days would represent your overload period. Then you’d take several more easy days before sliding back into your normal routine.

However, in this study with free full text, triathletes followed a 3-week overload training routine. The ones who did about 30% more training than normal, improved performance by 5% after a taper. Another group that completed an additional 20% more training, clearly did too much. Their performance decreased, and several became ill.

There’s no proven recipe for organizing your own overload training. But the approach makes sense, and might be worth trying if you’re frustrated by your lack of improvement. More at Outside Online.

Surprise! 75 yr old female runners have super endurance

At last month’s Western States 100 mile, Courtney Dauwalter broke the female course record by an incredible 78 minutes, and finished just 5.5% behind male winner, Tom Evans. The usual male-female difference in distance racing is 10 to 11%, so Dauwalter’s performance fueled the old question: Are women relatively better than men in ultra-distance competitions?

A new report dove into that question with the help of 1.1 million Swiss race competitors over the last 20 years. It found a striking result in the 75+ age groups, where the women appeared to be closing in fast on the guys. “Elderly female ultramarathoners (75 years and older) displayed a performance difference of less than 4% compared to male ultra-marathoners.”

However, this could have been an artifact produced  by the very few female ultra-runners over age 75. If the only women left competing at this age were the very-best women, that would skew the results. Or maybe there’s a bio-physiological reason why 75-yr old Jeannie Rice beat the Boston Marathon men in her division by more than 20 minutes last April. More at Scientific Reports with free full text.

Keep your cool--Foods and drinks that help you handle the heat

Runners have long been advised about methods to avoid heat illness and dangerous heat stroke by paying attention to weather conditions, clothing choices, their fitness, and appropriate pace adjustments. Much less attention has been paid to nutritional approaches. But now a big new paper has tackled the subject. Here’s a brief summary of the key findings.

Carbohydrates are good, though a bit double-edged, because they might increase your energy and motivation in the heat, which could potentially push you over the edge. “Prior alcohol consumption should be avoided.” 

Dehydration is not as strongly linked to heat illness as many presume, and it’s always important to avoid overhydration that could lead to hyponatremia. Nevertheless, “individuals should ensure they begin exercise in a hydrated state.” 

Glutamine has been shown to reduce heat-stroke mortality in animal studies, but not in humans though there are some positive indications. Also, bovine colostrum supplementation may reduce small intestine permeability--a good thing. 

There’s little data and/or inconsistent data regarding antioxidants and probiotics. Sodium bicarbonate’s tendency to cause GI distress could cause dehydration and heat risk. Menthol mouth rinsing might lower your perception of the heat’s impact, thereby increasing danger. 

Creatine doesn’t appear to be a problem, but low energy intake could increase heat risk by lowering immunity and raising susceptibility to illness. More at Experimental Physiology with free full text.

SHORT STUFF you don’t want to miss

>>> I double dare you: Can you handle 5 minutes of core exercises for runners? Great video instruction.

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 on:

# Beat the hills. (Really!) Just use this one simple form tip

# All gain, no pain: The right way to “break in” super shoes

# Is sodium bicarbonate the next big endurance hack?

# Don’t drain your brain: It needs as much recovery as your legs

# You can “eat all day,” and still not get enough carbs, if you’re not eating the right foods

# The truth about muscle: There’s no difference in strength gains between free weights and machines

# Running to, or running from? “Mental health issues are common” among ultra runners

# An insightful quote from Buddha about endurance, the key to all victories

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