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: Find your best super shoes. Powerful positive reframing. Proof that you should increase your stride rate. More knowledge on the microbiome. Beat foot pain and stress fractures. Should you rehydrate with beer? Best recovery strategies after long runs. More.
Find the right super shoe
I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll want to try one or more of the 10 new “super shoes” reviewed here. I know I do. Of course, you don’t work for a running magazine, nor do I, so we aren’t going to get the chance. Still there is plenty of good info: cushioning, “rocker” action, heel-to-toe drop, weight, price. This can help guide you to the right shoes. Also, I appreciate that the author/wear-test runners make no outrageous claims, and understand that your personal pace, biomechanics, and preferences are more important than anything else. More at PodiumRunner.
The power of positive reframing
Recently I complained to a very smart friend (a university PhD) that our current hyperspeed digital world makes us all feel like we’re constantly falling behind and not getting enough done. He replied: “You could reframe that as: The sense of not reaching your goals is what keeps you focused on pursuing them.” Hmmmm. Then I saw what Sara Hall posted on Twitter — basically that she reframes her bad runs to find something good in them. “When my pace slows in a workout because I’m tired, I tell myself it’s simulating the end of a marathon.” I don’t like glibness and oversimplifying, but this is powerful stuff if you learn to use it. Here’s more on positive self-talk and reframing from Women’s Running.
Olympic updates from around the Outside network
The biggest story in Tokyo is Simone Biles’ withdrawal from the women’s gymnastics team competition and all-around event. Three-time gold medalist long jumper and sprinter Tianna Bartoletta has a powerful message for fans about why mental health is more important than gold medals. Elsewhere, Tokyo 2021 rolls on: Anniemiek van Vleuten obliterated her rivals by more than a minute to claim gold in the women’s time trial bike race. She says she bounced back after her second-place disappointment in the women’s road race by doing what maybe more of us should do: tuning out the bad vibes of social media. After abandoning the Tour de France and sputtering out at the men’s road race, Slovenian Primož Roglič found redemption by steamrolling the field to take gold in the men’s time trial. “I had nothing to lose,” he says. So far without a medal for the first time since 1976, USA Cycling’s hopes now turn to BMX and track. As we await the mixed triathlon relay, aspiring triathletes can race toward a perfect day by digging deep on the reigning individual champions’ stats and techniques. Thursday, track and field gets going in Tokyo — here are five reasons you should watch.
Winning by Knowing Your Strengths
Emily Sisson knows she doesn’t have the fastest closing speed in the field. Which means she can’t sit in a pack and wait until the last lap to make her move. What she’s very good at is hammering a strong pace lap after lap, mile after mile. To capitalize on this, she and her coach developed a plan for her to lead the 10,000m early, control the pace, then kick with 5 laps left in the race. They practiced this strategy in races and she did workouts to simulate the stresses she’d face. It worked admirably in Eugene. Tokyo will be a different story, with a far faster field, but it’s a good bet Sisson will optimize her strengths and strategy to place as high as she’s capable. Find more details on her training and strategy on PodiumRunner.
How to limit foot pain and stress fractures
When it comes to runner injuries, we mostly hear about the knee, the calf-Achilles, and maybe hip issues. But wait, the foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and a whole lotta tendons and support structures that can develop injuries from running. Here’s a good article on how to avoid foot pain. It includes everything from “socks matter” to strengthening exercises for the foot. More at Trail Runner. Fifty years ago, I developed a metatarsal stress fracture in the foot. These stress fractures can happen anywhere in your lower half, and here’s good advice for preventing and dealing with them at Women’s Running.
The microbiome may be the “next frontier,” but we still have lots to learn
The microbiome — all those bacteria in your gut — has been heralded as “the next frontier” of big health-medical advances, but it still feels like we understand almost nothing. A skeptical NY Times article concluded that the promise is well ahead of the delivery, especially when you consider “microbiome rewilding” to restore your system to a sort of paleo state. I almost had to try this a half-dozen years ago, via a fecal transplant from one of my children, when I had a bad case of clostridium difficile. Fortunately, I got better before I needed to take that step. I remain interested in this topic but can’t find a simple, take-home message beyond: Consume more fiber by eating more plants and veggies. More at NYT.
Proof that increasing your stride rate can decrease injuries
The University of Wisconsin’s Bryan Heiderscheidt has been a leader in research on the potential of higher stride frequencies and shorter lengths. Here he and colleagues followed 54 Wisconsin cross-country runners prospectively over three seasons to investigate their strides, bone densities, ground forces, and links to injuries. In a simple analysis, risk of bone stress injuries was strongly related to prior bone issues but not related to sex or body mass index. In “multivariable analysis,” low stride frequency (ie, over-striding) was the only variable linked to bone injuries. Risk of bone density stress injuries “decreased by 5 percent for each 1 step/minute increase in step rate.” There were additional trends for stride bounce, ground reaction forces, and bone density score. More at Brit J of Sports Medicine.
Molly Seidel, the surprise Olympic marathoner, has some great tips
There’s something about Molly Seidel that’s easy to like. Apparently GQ magazine, not your usual go-to running resource, feels the same. Here GQ interviews Seidel, the surprise second-place finisher in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Surprise, because it was her first marathon. Surprise, because a few years back she checked herself into an eating disorders clinic. Seidel talks about how she deals with pain, copes with the boring side of running, uses runs to slow down an often-buzzy brain, and keeps an open mind and expectations over her Olympic race on August 6. More at GQ.
The army is always looking for an edge — and finding many
Folks who have been following me for a while know that I like studies performed by the military. The researchers can control and manipulate their captive subjects better than those working with, for example, college students. Also, the armed forces are highly focused on performance, cost-effectiveness, and simple-but-useful solutions. In Food Science & Nutrition, a military research group found that a food ration bar with beta-alanine, L-arginine, and Nigella sativa could “improve anaerobic performance and reduce inflammation following intense physical activities.” Also, what goes around, comes around. I remember when Lasse Viren and other top Scandanaivan runners from the 1970s were supposedly getting a boost from bee pollen. Now a new study on military cadets reports that bee propolis “might have beneficial effects on oxidative stress and inflammation following intense activities.” More at Food Science & Nutrition. Lastly, at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a high-quality, multi-component protein supplement increased muscle more than a single-ingredient supplement.
Is beer a good rehydration beverage?
I know a few runners who talk more about beer than their favorite carbohydrate foods, so it was inevitable that some researchers would eventually investigate beer and exercise. (The senior author, Patrick Wilson, is a frequent PodiumRunner writer and recognized expert on the athlete’s gut.) Here’s the first. “Despite beer’s popularity, no review has explored its effects on exercise performance, recovery, and adaptation.” The findings, particularly with regard to post run rehydration: Non alcoholic beer is probably a better choice than high-alcohol beer. If you choose the latter, you’d be smart to alternate non alcoholic beverages along with your preferred brew. More at Int J of Sports Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. In another article, here at Trail Runner, some arguments against alcohol for recovery.
SHORT STUFF you’ll want to know
GOOD QUOTES MAKE GREAT TRAINING PARTNERS
|“Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater.”—Emil Zatopek, winner of the 5000, 10,000, and marathon at the 1952 Olympics.|