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Each week, Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, also the world’s most experienced running editor, curates the latest and most useful content on running and health from around the internet. “I spend hours finding the best new research and articles, so you can review them in minutes.”
THIS WEEK: 25 rules of marathon training. Plus, 10 ways to build fatigue resistance. Use cold water immersion only at the right time. Ladies: Swing those arms. Three great year-round workouts. Get younger with VO2 Max training. Simple guidelines to recover from shin splints. Here come the transgender stories. More.
You can’t ask for more than a solid year-round workout
Dathan Ritzenhein was one of the best U.S. runners for two decades, starting with a sensational high school career. Now he has transitioned to coaching (for the On Athletic Club), and already two of his athletes have made the U.S. Olympic team at 10,000 meters — Alicia Monson, and Joe Klecker. Clearly Ritz is still doing things right. Here he offers 3 staple workouts that you can do at any time of the year. I like the way he snuck a few hill repeats into two of them. More at PodiumRunner.
25 rules of marathon training and racing
Yikes, it’s only 10 weeks to Boston and other fall marathons, so a good time to review all your marathon plans. There’s nothing radical on this list, which is good news, because simple and proven is the way forward with marathon training. Put this list on your refrigerator or otherwise nearby for weekly checkups. You can’t do everything, and shouldn’t try. I hope to run an October marathon and will focus more on long runs, and less on marathon pace. I’ll plan more for cross training and hills, since I’m running a hilly course, and worry less about training my gut. A healthy taper is a big deal in my book, but sleep and carbs less of an issue (doing fine there already, thanks). And of course, know your race day pacing goal, and stick with it from the very first mile. More at Runner’s World UK.
10 ways to increase your fatigue resistance
If you’re going to race long distances — which starts with 5Ks, but gets dramatically harder at the half marathon and marathon — you need to periodically push your fatigue horizons. There are many ways to do this — run longer, run harder, run hills. This article provides a nice list of 10 ways to build your fatigue resistance. I particularly like numbers 5 and 8, but all are good, and the list is handy to have around to cross reference with the 25 rules of marathon training. More at Trail Runner.
Recovery? Yes! Cold water? Only at the right time
Cold water studies continue to pop up, because everyone agrees on the importance of recovery — some like to say, “That’s when the magic happens” — and cold water immersion is supposed to improve recovery. The arguments break out over the pros and cons of cold water, and also over the timing. In a new mini review, the authors find no evidence that CWI decreases aerobic conditioning, but some evidence that it shouldn’t be used after strength testing. They further propose a “periodized” approach to cold water: Use it acutely for an injury or after very-high-intensity training, but not as a daily approach after normal aerobic training. More at Frontiers in Sports & Active Living.
Ladies: Get those arms moving to smooth out hip adduction
Women runners tend to get more knee injuries than men, perhaps because they have wider hips and exhibit more lower leg adduction (crossing to or over the midline) than males. As a result, women are often advised to strengthen the hip muscles. A new biomechanics study suggests another alternative that hasn’t been considered before: “I would suggest that if women can create more angular momentum with a more active arm swing, they may be able to run with less hip adduction,” says Maurice Mohr, first author of the paper at Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. He adds, “Of course, this is only one option. Another could be to alter muscle activation of the hip muscles.” Here’s video of Bridgid Kosgei running a world-record 2:14:04 with a smooth stride and lots of arm swing.
Tour de France riders also “dance” on the pedals
When great cyclists want to speed up or to climb steep mountain slopes, they perform a movement known as “en danseuse,” or dancing/swaying back and forth on their pedals. Many observers assumed all that extra motion was stupid and wasteful. They advised other riders to stay calm and stationary. Now University of Colorado experts have shown that the pedal dancing allows cyclists to boost their power output 5% higher. As is often the case, elite athletes arrived at the truth ahead of the scientists. More at Colorado Edu. And this PodiumRunner article suggests pedal dancing can enhance how cycling engages your core — improving the workout for runners.
Get younger by increasing your VO2 Max
Well-known author-athlete Joe Friel packs a lot of VO2 Max info into this blog post. He provides your likely max based on your 5K time, explains why you are quite a bit “younger” than others your age who have lower maxes, and tells how a 101-year-old French cyclist improved his VO2 Max over two years, eventually setting a world record for 103-yr-olds. You can improve yours too. It “is not only critical to your racing performance,” Friel writes, “but also plays an important role in your life.” More at Joe Friel’s Blog.
How to recover from shin splints and low risk bone-stress injuries
This short summary describes a nice routine. First rest for at least 7 days, taking NSAIDs if necessary “but only for resting pain or night pain.” Maintain fitness with cross training that doesn’t cause pain. Return to running after you are “pain free during daily activities for 5 consecutive days. Start slowly and increase distance covered before attempting faster workouts. When back to normal running, consider “jump training and/or gait retraining to reduce subsequent bone stress injury risk.” More at J of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.
Kenyan distance elites have very low body fat
In 2012 the International Olympic Committee established a working group on Body Composition, Health, and Performance, concerned that certain sports like distance running might put pressure on attaining an unhealthy, low body weight. A new paper looked at body fat, BMI, and mass index of 32 elite Kenyan runners (7 females). The females (average half marathon time of 1:14) had an average BMI of 18.6; the males (1:04) had an average BMI of 19.1. Most were particularly thin on the arms and legs, which lowers the “cost” of moving these limbs forward and back. A few had more body fat on the torso than expected. The authors note that the low fat masses “possibly mark a dangerous hazard toward increased health risks” and that “extremely low fat levels may be disadvantageous for both health and performance.” A little torso fat could theoretically fuel endurance performance. More at Int J of Sports Medicine.
You say GUMMI and I say GORRI
I’ve read and heard a lot in recent years about runners who enjoy GUMMIS for fuel during long races. Now we’ve got a new similar sounding but very different acronym — GORRIS, a.k.a. “gradual onset running related injuries.” A new study of more than 2800 trail runners found that 13% suffered from a GORRI in any given year. The major independent risk factors included “longer race distance, a higher chronic disease composite score, and a history of allergies.” More at Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.
Shoes keep getting faster, now on the track as well as the roads
As we all know now — let’s call a spade a spade — the Rio Olympic Marathon represented an unfair competition. The three male medalists, including Eliud Kipchoge and the U.S.’s Galen Rupp, and the winning woman, all wore new Nike super shoes not available to others. In fact, other runners and spectators didn’t even know about the shoes in 2016. Now super road-running shoes have evolved into super spikes that will be worn in Tokyo. These shoes have new foams and geometries. Other companies may be catching up with Nike, particularly on the roads. That means this year’s Olympic Marathon should be fairer than the last one. More at Outside Online.
Olympic preview: Here come the transgender reports
With the Tokyo Olympics on tap, we’re going to see a lot of reporting on transgender women competing in sports. That’s because New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter, is about to become the first male-to-female transgender athlete in the Olympics. Three years ago I traveled to a Boston 10K to meet Joanna Harper, a trans athlete herself. Once a 2:26 marathoner, Harper (now in her 60s) transitioned about 15 years ago, and then continued competing (well) in USATF age-group competitions. She’s currently studying for a PhD in exercise physiology in England, with a concentration on transgender athletes. She’s as knowledgeable as anyone in the field, and more balanced in her viewpoints than 99%, driven by science and reason, not politics or religion. The result, she says, is that she’s often maligned by folks on both sides of the heated debate. Harper will be high on everyone’s interview list during the Olympics. Here’s an excellent interview with her at WebMd.
Berlin Marathon runners get faster and slower at the same time
The Berlin Marathon is considered the world’s fastest major marathon course. The city sits at roughly 100 feet above sea level, the course is flat, and the average temperature on race day is about 59 F.
In 1974, its first year, Berlin attracted 236 men and 8 women. In 2018, the corresponding numbers were 28,373 men and 12,268 women, and Eliud Kipchoge ran the official marathon world record, 2:01:39. A new analysis of all 696,225 Berlin finishers through the years shows that the fast are getting faster, and everyone else is getting slower. That’s because more marathoners today are recreational runners, older runners, and women. You can look at these trends several different ways, but I believe more is better, as it implies greater population participation and health. All the numbers at Frontiers in Physiology.
SHORT STUFF you’ll want to know
GOOD QUOTES MAKE GREAT TRAINING PARTNERS
|“Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude — they were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.”—Herb Elliott, winner 1960 Olympic 1500 title with new world record time of 3:35.6|