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: Jared Ward jolts his training. How to bounce back. Total carb-loading program. Post-marathon recovery. Health risks of ultra-running. Limit minimalist shoes to 35%. Exercise is better than weight loss for health and longevity. Beat travel fatigue and jet lag. “Stubbornly devoted to running.” More.
Jared Ward aims for more miles and more ZZZs
Yikes, Jared Ward finished 16th in the New Haven 20K after hoping to be upfront. Not exactly what he wanted in his buildup to the NYC Marathon. So what did he do? He decided to increase his training mileage as well as his napping and sleeping time. Good combo. More at PodiumRunner.
How to come back from a setback
Matt Fitzgerald has written an entire, new book about the situation Ward just faced. How do you bounce back from a bad workout, race, or season? Everybody runs into this hurdle at some point or another, so it’s an important and universal topic. Fitzgerald says he has a three-step answer: Accept, Embrace, Address. Don’t turn away from underlying issues; turn toward them, and dig in. More at Trail Runner.
Three cheers for the Nobel Prize and capsaicin
A University of California-San Francisco professor, David Julius, just won a Nobel Prize for his work investigating capsaicin and pain receptors. That’s interesting because some physiologists believe capsaicin, the key “hot” ingredient in chile peppers, can improve endurance performance. A recent systematic review concluded: “In humans, 8 studies were included, of which 3 demonstrated significant acute endurance benefits and 2 acute resistance exercise performance benefits. Therefore, the available scientific literature appears to suggest that these compounds could be considered as a potential new nutritional strategy to improve exercise performance.” More at International J of Sport Physiology & Performance.
The low-down on carbing up for your marathon
Asker Jeukendrup is one of the top experts in the world on endurance nutrition, and in this article, he pretty much pulls together everything you need to know about marathon fueling. This includes a handful of colorful, summary infographics. I like where he starts. Avoid these three problems: no plan, an overly rigid plan, an experimental plan. Also smart: You don’t need to over-eat to carbo-load; in fact, you should avoid overeating. More at My Sports Science.
Plan now for your post-marathon recovery
A group of sportsmed experts in Boston want you to keep moving after you reach the finish line. Maybe that’s why the bag-reclaim area is so far away. The continued movement will prevent fainting and might flush out the legs a little. I also like the suggestion to put on compression socks to prevent blood clots. A second article notes that any blood test taken after a marathon will show that your body thinks… you just ran a marathon! It’s stressed out. But the results normalize quickly. A good idea: Don’t overdo the post-race alcohol. More at Inside Tracker.
Soy protein lowers “stress response” post-marathon
In this RCT, one group of marathoners consumed extra protein (a soy supplement) for three months before running a marathon vs. a matched group that didn’t get the extra protein. There was no subsequent performance difference between the two groups in their marathons. However, “the protein supplementation regime reduced the exercise-induced muscle stress response” post-marathon. Also, there appeared to be a better response when protein intake was equal to or greater than 20% of total calories. More at Nutrients.
Frequent ultra-running could carry health risks
Researchers continue to wonder if frequent ultra-running might represent a step too far. This review paper defined ultra races as those lasting six hours or longer. It noted that these events “rarely evoke serious adverse events,” but there’s growing evidence about “implications for long-term health.” These refer specifically to the cardiovascular system and the kidneys. Females may be at greater risk due to “interactions between energy-availability and sex-hormone concentrations,” and may need sex-specific training programs. More at Sports Medicine.
Limit minimalist shoes to 35% of your running time
You don’t hear much about minimalist running shoes these days, but the Army and other groups are still evaluating them, primarily for any decrease in injury rates. This update didn’t find any. “There were no significant differences in injury incidence” between conventional and minimalist shoes. Runners in minimalist shoes experienced more pain, and risk of injury increased among heavier runners in minimalist shoes. On the other hand, minimalist shoes were linked to faster 5K times. Conclusion: “Most runners should limit running in minimalist shoes to 35% of training time and situations where optimal performance is desired.” More at J of Special Operations Medicine.
Exercise beats weight loss for health and longevity
Here, longtime fitness researcher Glenn Gaesser argues that we’ve basically failed to help people lose weight, so why not switch gears to promoting exercise? To support his case, he analyzed the independent benefits of weight loss and exercise. Both are good, but exercise is better in Gaesser’s view. Gaesser proposes a “weight neutral” approach: Let your weight go where it will, but be sure to get enough exercise every week. In particular, he wants frontline physicians to “consistently emphasize to their patients the myriad benefits” of regular physical activity. More at NYT and Cell.
The best ways to deal with travel fatigue and jet lag
Travel fatigue and jet lag are real physiological-biological phenomena that impact your physical and mental performance after crossing three or more time zones. Going East is roughly twice as bad as going West. The effects are mainly caused by changes in your body’s time of lowest core temperature (the time when you should be asleep.) Sleeping while traveling can help, and low-intensity aerobic exercise can improve your adjustment to a new time zone. So can appropriate stimulation and sleep aids. This is a very helpful, free, full-text article. More at Sports Medicine.
“Stubbornly devoted to running”
I generally only link to stories about health and performance with an authoritative voice and/or scientific evidence. However, the best essays can motivate our running even more than solid advice. Here’s one such example. I particularly love that the writer, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and is battling to get back to running, isn’t at all fast or competitive. She’s not trying to win or set PRs. Yet her feelings about running are 100% the same as mine. And, I’m betting, yours. Take a look. Be thankful for your run today. More at NYTimes.
SHORT STUFF you’ll want to know
GOOD QUOTES MAKE GREAT TRAINING PARTNERS
|“If I can show that a woman can run 26 miles, and run it well — stride for stride with the men — that is going to throw out all the rest of the prejudices and all the misconceptions and all of the so-called reasons for keeping women down that have existed for the past how many centuries? And so I chuckled to myself and thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be fun! I’m going to turn the whole thing on its head.‘” —Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb, first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966|