June 13, 2024

Below is the abridged version of my “Run Long, Run Healthy” newsletter for this week. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE to get the much longer and more complete, full-text edition. Thanks for reading. Amby

Shoe Store Science: How To Find Your Best Shoe At Retail

Selecting and buying a new pair of running shoes at retail is no easy process. Not when you consider the vast number of choices on that big, impressive-looking shoe wall. 

And then there’s the sales person attending you. You’ve got to give him/her your close attention. After all, that’s why you came to retail. To get specialized help from a running expert.

For example, the sales person might inspect the way you walk or jog around the floor, or even offer “gait analysis” on the store’s treadmill. That sounds mighty impressive. 

But is it? That’s one of many questions raised by a new paper that analyzed shoe-purchasing behavior of 101 runners at 8 specialty running retailers in the Seattle area. It also contrasted differences between the prospective shoe buyers (you!) and the salespeople advising them. 

There’s a lot of information here, and it’s all freely available at the below link, so take a look yourself. I was most interested in the buyer vs sales person comparison.

For example, on average, the sales person was 11 years younger than the buyer, and a faster, more serious runner/racer. Retail sales people place great value on the in-store training they’ve received, and also on promotional materials from shoe companies and shoe sales reps. Buyers tend to lean on friends and family for advice. 

A big difference occurred when the researchers looked at gait analysis. Let’s face it: Everyone likes this approach in principle. But shoe buyers are rightfully dubious, with only 37% saying that gait analysis influenced their eventual purchase. 

The sales people? They love gait analysis, with 74% believing that it influences purchase decisions. 

Conclusion: “We caution runners to carefully consider the advice from salespeople as many employees make recommendations that are not evidence-based and may have limited experience.”

Also, if you’re a bit confused, don’t feel bad. No one has truly figured out how to pick the right shoe. “While there is little scientific evidence to support shoe selection based on comfort, gait analysis, and individual biomechanics or anatomy, there is no alternative consensus best practice.”

So buy your shoes according to a good fit first, and their overall comfort second. Also, listen to your running friends. More at Footwear Science with free full text.

Chew On This: Energy Bars Don’t Need Lots Of Extra Chewing

Most endurance runners get their midrace carbs from drinks and/or gels. These tend to go down smoother than bars, which require chewing, and may also upset the stomach more than less-solid foods. 

However, until now, no one had actually studied “how food chewing time and number of chewing cycles affect physiological and perceptual responses to exercise.” So let’s take a look. Our guide is well known runner-GI response expert Patrick Wilson, author of The Athlete’s Gut.

In this trial, 15 experienced male runners performed a time to exhaustion treadmill test while receiving an energy bar containing 180 calories. On one occasion, the runners were instructed to chew the bar 20 times. On another test, they chewed 40 times. 

Wilson and colleagues hypothesized that 40 chews would be better than 20. After all, it would produce more and smaller food particles. These ought to pass through the stomach with less distress, and get into the bloodstream faster. 

But the differences weren’t significant--not on blood glucose, carb vs fat oxidation, GI symptoms, or time to exhaustion. Conclusion: “Runners partaking in ultra-endurance events likely do not need to concern themselves with how thoroughly they chew solid foods during competition.” More at European J of Applied Physiology with free full text.

How To Keep Your “Body Battery” 100% Fully Charged

Garmin, the GPS watch company, wants us all to run more … and presumably to buy more of its digital products. So it recently produced a long list of “Smartwatch data highlights” connected to health and wellness scores. 

Some of these might raise an eyebrow. For example, at your next annual physical, ask your doc about your “Body Battery” score. I think you’ll get a “Huh?” look and reply.

That said, I rather like the Body Battery metaphor. We all want our health and physiology to be fully charged--not running on low or sinking to “no charge.” And Garmin says that running 50 miles a week will charge your Body Battery more than 10 miles/week. 

Sounds good. The more you run (up to a point), the more health benefits you receive. 

Garmin also says that running up to 50 miles/week will improve your sleep, lower your resting heart rate, lower your stress, and make you 7 years younger than your chrono age. I don’t think Garmin’s wrong on any of these claims--just a little bit too confident of its numbers.

The company is on much firmer ground when it offers a couple of running metrics by country. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that the French run longer per workout--5.43 miles--than runners in any other country. 

That could be a good thing for this summer’s Peoples Olympic Marathon in Paris (“Pour Tous”). I just learned about this. It will be an “open” marathon race beginning at 9 pm on August 10th. The Peoples Marathon will use the same course as that morning’s Men’s Olympic Marathon, and the next morning’s Women’s Olympic Marathon.

In other words, there will be three marathons on the same Paris marathon course in just a bit more than 24 hours. Nice. I hope the U.S. does the same at the 2028 L.A. Olympic Games. Though we’ll have to pick up our training volume. At this point, Garmin doesn’t even give U.S. runners a Top 20 ranking for distance/workout.

The French may run long, but they don’t go fast. They placed 19th in the speed category with their average pace of 9:34 per mile. The Irish are quickest at 9:06/mile, with the U.S. placing 14th at 9:31. More at Garmin.

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Is your running shoe legal? World Athletics has unveiled a tool, “CertCheck,” that lists all shoes legal in World and Olympic competitions (track and roads). You’ll be amazed by some of the brands you’ve never heard of. 

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.

# Foam rolling heals leg muscles, but avoid these 5 mistakes

# New track trick--Wear heavy road shoes

# Believe it or not: Fruits & veggies can improve your sleep time

# The simple form fix that stops knee pain

# Combined intermittent fasting and exercise “may improve strength and endurance”

# Power up your pace with heavy weight lifting

# Unlock the mysteries of Achilles pain and muscle cramps

# A motivational “you can do it” quote from famed Univ. of Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman

DON’T FORGET: I spend hours searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in minutes.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

February 23, 2024 ... And Beyond

The most recent content from Amby Burfoot's "Run Long, Run Healthy" newsletter is now available each week from our partner, MarathonHandbook.com
Here's the link.

This link gives you access to the free, but abridged version of "Run Long, Run Healthy." You'll also find an Archive of past issues.

To subscribe to the complete, full-text version of RLRH, go here and consider the options. You'll find an offer for 20% off the normal subscription price.

I hope you'll consider the full-text version. I think you'll find it a great value at $1/week. Remember: "I spend HOURS searching the Internet to bring you the best, most-actionable new articles to review in just a few MINUTES."

Thanks. Amby Burfoot

February 15, 2024

Every Day, Every Year Strength Training Becomes More Important For You

With every year that passes, strength training becomes more important to your overall fitness program. That’s the conclusion from two recent studies, which confirm many others.

The first doesn’t say anything about improving your 5K or marathon times. But it contains an important message nonetheless. “It is evident that aged muscle displays delayed, prolonged, and inefficient recovery. These changes can be attributed to anabolic resistance, the stiffening of the extracellular matrix, mitochondrial dysfunction, and unresolved inflammation as well as alterations in satellite cell function.”

In other words, with advancing years, you need to double down on strength training. It contributes to “fostering healthy aging”--the essential first step to better performance. 

The authors recommend that your program should consist of “both concentric and eccentric contractions.” Also: While you work hard at your strength training, you also need to allow sufficient recovery between sessions, especially as you age beyond 65. More at Cells with free full text.

A separate paper looked into differences in strength and biomechanics among female runners. It compared runners in their 20s with those in their 60s. This was important because “the relationship between age and running biomechanics specifically in female runners had not been well-studied prior to this research.”

The good news: While older runners are slower than younger ones, “there are no significant relationships between age and variables of running biomechanics.” That is, the older runners are able to maintain good running form. 

However, the ladies don’t have a get-out-of-jail-free card. They do lose strength with age, and need specific exercise regimens to slow the loss. Particularly useful: isometric knee extension and hip abduction.

Conclusion: “Female runners should consider strength training, particularly the muscles of hip abduction and knee extension, to help mitigate age-related declines in muscle strength and physical function. In addition, plantarflexion and hip-extension strengthening may contribute to preserving running pace into middle- and older-age.” More at Old Dominion University with free full text.

Add Cranberries To The Dark Red Foods That Might Boost Performance

I’m not surprised that the first study to measure the effects of cranberries on running performance produced a positive result. After all, other dark/bright red foods like beets and tart cherries have often been found to do the same. All are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and flavonols--plant substances thought to have many health-enhancing benefits.

Cranberries rank near the top for these substances. Furthermore, according to this new paper: “Their polyphenol content stands out because of the high concentration in rare A-type PAC, which is believed to be the main contributor to their beneficial effects.” Okay, enough of the fruity nutritional jargon.

To test the impact of cranberries on endurance, researchers asked a group of veteran, well-trained runners to consume a cranberry drink for 28 days. Before and after this period, the runners completed time-trials at 1500 meters and 400 meters.

They improved by 14 seconds on average in the 1500, dropping from 5:21 to 5:07. There was no change in 400-meter times, although the cranberry drink “buffered the post-exercise lactate response.”

Conclusion: “The faster time to completion of the 1500-m time trial was associated with a 1.5% increase in speed, which is important for competitive runners.”

The study was not funded by a cranberry company, although the researchers received a free supply of a freeze-dried cranberry mix. Also, the time-trials could not be “blinded,” as the drink had a distinctive taste. More at More at Physical Activity and Nutrition with free full text.

How Much Would You Run For Free Burritos? Or A $100 Running Certificate?

I try to keep 95% of the items in this newsletter focused on scientific studies and authoritative articles from the best sources. That’s what most interests me, and it’s what draws subscribers to RLRH.

That said, it’s impossible to skip important news like Kelvin Kiptum’s death, below. Also, you gotta have a little fun every once in a while.

That’s why I’m including two short summaries of unusual (and very smart) marketing efforts by running-related companies. First, Strava recently announced that it would be awarding free Chipotle burritos to the runners who complete Strava “segments” (each about 300 meters long) during the month of January. In Washington, D.C., the very persistent winner covered the local segment 1345 times. “It was quite a time out there in the rain, sun, snow, and icicles at all hours of the day and night,” he said. More at Marathon Handbook.

Also, the running apparel and shoe company, Tracksmith, is awarding a $100 credit to any runner (not a newbie) who sets a personal record (including an age-group PR) in a standard track or running event before April 30th of this year. I wonder what they’ll give to my friend, 75-yr-old Jeannie Rice, who has already broken her age-group world record for the half marathon in 2024?

I can’t wait for TrackSmith to announce the overall results of this giveaway later in the year. Here’s a great chance for all your amateur runners to turn professional. Just run faster than you ever have before. More at Tracksmith.

>>> “High”ly unlikely: CBD oil fails test for recovery and reduction of muscle soreness

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.

# The simplest--and now proven--injury prevention strategy you can possibly imagine

# Best new Super Shoes of 2024--as shown at the Marathon Trials

# And, do females benefit more from Super Shoes than men? (Yes!)

# A surprisingly smart new way to run “doubles” 

# Tired of black toenails? Here’s how to prevent them

# Unexpected boost: Male sex drugs lower Alzheimer’s risk

# RIP Kelvin Kiptum: Just 24, the marathon world record holder died in a car accident in Kenya

# Fat but fit? Retired National Football League players are often obese, but have “decreased mortality compared to community controls”

# A compelling “dream it to achieve it” quote from all time Olympic great Emil Zatopek

Don’t forget: I Spend HOURS Searching The Internet For The Best, Most Authoritative New Running Articles, So YOU Can Review Them In MINUTES

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

February 8, 2024

 Eat Early To Avoid Early Stroke And Heart Disease

Studies on meal timing or “periodized nutrition” have produced varied results on a variety of important body metrics like glucose, insulin, and even endurance performance. Sometimes it’s instructive to look beyond these to hard-stop events like strokes and heart attacks.

That’s what Dr. Gabe Mirkin does here, summarizing several large, impressive studies that, in sum, seem to conclude: Eat breakfast fairly early in the day, and definitely eat dinner early in the evening--well before bedtime. 

One big review (with free full text)  recently followed 103,000 subjects for more than 7 years. “The researchers found that each hour of delaying dinner after 5 PM was associated with a 7 percent increased risk for a stroke, and that eating dinner after 9 PM was associated with a 28 percent increased risk for a heart attack, compared to eating before 8 PM.” They also found that eating breakfast after 8 am “was associated with increased risk for both heart attacks and strokes.” 

Mirkin cites other papers that have reached similar conclusions, and explains why late dinners can be harmful to your health. To put it simply: You need to move after you eat, and you probably aren’t moving much after a 9 pm dinner.

Based on these papers, the following seems a good approach: Eat dinner early, then take a 12 hour break until you break your fast relatively early the next morning. More at DrMirkin.com.

7 Ways To Run More And Better In 2024

Some things are complicated, some aren’t. Brain surgery belongs in the first category. Running falls into the second. This is a 10 second “read” from a running physiotherapist. It might be slight, but it carries a big potential impact.

You can’t do any better than Scott Carlin’s first piece of advice: “Start with identity. You’re a runner.” This means: Even if you just run 8 miles a week, you take your running seriously, along with all the other health-fitness habits that you know should be part of your overall lifestyle ( good nutrition, occasional strength training, etc).

I also found another of his tips quite powerful: “Sign up for a race.” This underlines the fact that you’re a serious runner, and, as Jeff Galloway has often noted, it will “scare” you a bit. It will scare you in a good way, putting more motivation in your training program as you see that race date edge closer on your calendar. Since motivation is job one, races help you get the job done. More at X/ScottCarlin.

Yoga Breathing Boosts Running Efficiency

Yoga is a popular alternative activity among runners, particularly females. Many find that it helps reduce stress, and may also build strength and flexibility. 

A new study asked a different question about yoga for runners: Can “yoga breathing techniques” improve running efficiency?

Experienced runners (both male and female) of “various fitness” were assigned to 3 weeks of instruction in 3 types of yoga breathing technique: “Dirgha (breath awareness)), Kapalbhati, and Bhastrika (high frequency yoga breathing).” A control group received no instruction of any kind.

Before and after the instruction period, both groups ran on a laboratory treadmill at a “prescribed relative perceived exertion (RPE).” Okay, this is not exactly the most vigorous test of running economy I’ve ever seen. It’s not the way serious running physiologists go about it.

Nonetheless, after the yoga breathing instruction, those runners ran at a significantly faster pace while maintaining the prior RPE. The control group did not change pace.

Conclusion: “Yogic breathing technique positively influences running velocity regulation during self-selected running.” More at International J of Exercise Science with free full text.

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Find the right shoe: Researchers at MIT have developed a model that “predicts” which shoe will be fastest on your feet

GREAT QUOTES Make Great Training Partners

“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”


HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

# Here’s what evolution can teach us about distance running

# Secrets of the “Super Masters” runners

# Progress at last on prevention of running injuries

# Yes, you can “spot reduce” belly fat

# Should you be following the Paleo Diet?

# Flossing not required: Moderate exercise produces “superior” gum health

# Gut-check time: How to tell if you’re drinking too much water

# What Confucius can teach us about success in running

Don’t forget: I Spend HOURS Searching The Internet For The Best, Most Authoritative New Running Articles, So YOU Can Review Them In MINUTES

Click here for info about subscribing to the full-text RLRH for just $4/month--20% off!

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby 

February 1, 2024

 “Move It To Improve It”--How Exercise Makes Almost Everything Better

How long has it been since I reminded you that “Motivation is job one.” Too long, I think. 

Happily a recent New York Times article gives me good reason to return to a favorite topic.

The Times asked a group of experts why we make so many exercise “excuses” and/or erect “mental blocks” that interfere with our fitness plans. And how can we overcome these blocks to increase our workout consistency?

For beginners, says How To Change book author, Katy Milkman: Stop calling them “excuses.” That self-critical term leans too close to shame, an unhelpful burden. Instead, plan, plan, plan. Devise a complete strategy or series of action steps. 

That is, always know what you’re going to do next. Forget about the excuse that’s pushing you toward not doing. Forge on to Plan B.

Also, don’t obsess about the cold, the expense, the time-crunch you’re feeling, or various aches and pains that might accompany your exercise program. With all the fitness alternatives surrounding us these days, there’s always a way to deal. Again: Be prepared.

The best advice of all came from Edward Phillips, a Harvard professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. “If you remain sedentary, your risk of deleterious health effects is 100 percent,” Phillips said. 

Now, that’s telling it like it is. Anything you do, even 5 minutes, is better than nothing at all. More at NYTimes.

Related: Last week I wrote that we needed a variation on the venerable  “Use it, or lose it” phrase that’s popular among regular exercisers. “Lose it” is a negative thought that might not prove helpful to some. 

With an assist from RLRH reader M Hanlon, I’ve now got a good variant. Here it is: “Move it to improve it.” It’s a maxim that would be supported by a wide range of health-fitness professionals from orthopedic surgeons to physical therapists to cardiologists to strength and marathon coaches. Last and perhaps most important--mental health counselors.

Tell your friends: “Move it to improve it.”

Running Builds Strong Bones In Mid-Life Athletes

Running generally builds stronger bones, particularly of the lower body … except when it doesn’t. Bone fracture risk is high in teen runners, especially among  females who don’t fuel sufficiently. Under-eating male adolescent runners also face higher risks. 

But what about in midlife when one wants to build strong bones as a hedge against any future osteoporosis? How are those runners doing in the bone-health arena? A recent paper looked at bone mineral content and density in 212 runners (average age in the early 40s) vs 110 age-matched non runners who did not meet global recommendations for physical activity.

The reviewers analyzed the two groups in terms of “cumulative loading rate” on the bones. This cumulative load was almost twice as high in runners vs non runners. We often call this “pounding.” It can lead to some injuries, but it can also promote greater bone strength and health. 

Result of the current comparison: Bone mineral content and bone mineral density of the runners was significantly higher than the non runners. That’s important because “the objective of the middle aged population is to maintain or slow the reduction in bone mineral density.” The enhanced bone health was true only in the lower body, not in  the lumbar spine.

Conclusion: “We recommend running as a suitable physical activity, supplemented with other activities, such as building muscles, including the back muscles, to promote

bone strength in the spine.” More at J of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness with free full text.

Maybe Ketones Are A Functional Brain Food--Not A Body Fuel

The Keto or ketogenic diet gained much of its early notoriety for its potential to enhance weight loss and endurance performance. The first of these has produced modest supporting evidence, but the second not so much--at least not for endurance athletes. Now the field seems to be shifting from the body to the mind. 

This shouldn’t be a big surprise, as the strongest support for a keto diet comes from studies of epilepsy, a brain disease. 

Researchers are currently digging into other possible links between a keto diet and our mental states. In his newsletter, Physiologically Speaking, Brady Holmer explains that ketone esters could limit brain fatigue, thus improving ultra-endurance performance in events where your mental focus is just as important as carbs-glycogen to keep you going. 

A deep new report at National Public Radio quotes a number of experts in the field of psychiatric medicine. They are intrigued by the possibility that ketogenic manipulations could reduce symptoms of bipolar and depressive disease. This is a long way from hard science, but there are a number of serious trials under way.. 

Proponents of “functional nutrition” believe we might someday come closer to understanding how specialized diets could improve the health of individuals with specific conditions. This is a long step from carbohydrate-loading for marathon runners, but it’s an area receiving increased attention.  More at NPR. 

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Risk-benefit ratios: Although the benefits of midlife running “always outweigh the risks,” it’s only smart to know your limits

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.”

# Better Breathing PROVEN To Boost Your Performance

# Should you let ChatGPT Coach You?

# Don’t Get Stuck In A Rut: Yes, You CAN Improve Your Marathon Time

# The Latest On Marijuana & Running: You Might Get “High” And Feel Groovy, But You’ll Run Slower

# Can Elliptical Training Simulate A Treadmill Workout? 

# How To Run Smart In The Heat

# Sorry, Ladies: Dark Chocolate Won’t Help You Run Faster

# Double Check Your Therapy: There’s Little Evidence For Graston Technique Or Prolotherapy

# An Inspiring Hal Higdon Quote About The Joy Of Marathon Running

And Remember: I Spend HOURS Searching The Internet For The Best, Most Authoritative New Running Articles, So YOU Can Review Them In MINUTES

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby 

Click here for info about subscribing to the full-text RLRH for just $4/month--20% off!