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,” Burfoot says.
This Week: Heatstroke research. Time trials to boost your fitness. Run mentally tough. Prevent injuries with neuromuscular training. Who should you draft behind? Try “cutdown” workouts. Dealing with black toenails. Appreciating Des Linden. And more.
Summer must be coming. Heatstroke’s in the news
At Outside Alex Hutchinson writes about several studies of heat issues at the Boston Marathon, including this one, from the Marathon’s medical team, that found 50 heatstroke runners among 136,000 starters in 2015-2019. There were 16 hospitalizations, but no deaths. Most cases were among faster runners under 30. Elsewhere, it was reported that certain anti-psychotic meds raise the risk of heat stroke. Here’s a nice 2-page pamphlet from New Jersey explaining more. There are good reasons not to take NSAIDs before/during a marathon, but little evidence thus far that they increase the risk of heat illness. Did you know there are few heatstroke deaths during organized sports (in Australia, anyway), with many more among the hiking population?
How to use time trials in your training
We used to run time trials way back in the last century when there weren’t so many races. Then came Covid, and time-trials reappeared in many runners’ routines. I used to hate ’em. Now I do them occasionally as shorter, faster tempo runs. Like maybe a 5K at 90 to 95 percent effort. Here, at irunfar,are some other effective ways to use time trials in your training. And in PodiumRunner one runner describes how he runs PRs in time trials while another details how he creates the context to take the task seriously enough to put in an honest effort.
5 ways to run mentally tough
We’d all like to improve our mental game, especially when the going gets tough, and here’s a good list of approaches. Missing, and important if you ask me: “Run the mile you’re in.” That is, break every workout and race into small, manageable chunks. In Runner’s World, Becky Wade argues that you should almost never drop out of a race, certainly not for “a missed goal, bruised ego, poor outcome, or something of that nature.” Potential injury, however, is another matter.
Fatigue resistance — the new secret to endurance success
Exercise physiologists are increasingly interested in an endurance factor that is not vo2 max, lactate threshold, or running economy — the traditional triumvirate. This new factor is often called “fatigue resistance.” It refers to your performance late in the game, and is somewhat the opposite of “bonking.” You might be able to improve your fatigue resistance with longer training runs … or with super shoes. An early article by Tim Noakes, a new one with Stephen Seiler, and a recent column by Alex Hutchinson.
Female college runners lose bone mineral density
We might have hoped that the risk of bone loss in young female runners would end after the crucial high-school years. But apparently not. Twenty-one 19-yr-old men and 18 women of the same age were followed through a full 12 months of cross country and track running at their Division 1 college. Subject snapshot: They had similar low BMIs (20-21). More men than women followed a very-low-calorie diet. The men had more prior bone injuries than the women. Women reporting irregular menses = 28 percent. After 12 months, the male runners had significant increases in bone health at several sites, while the females suffered decreases. “Distance running may be beneficial to aBMD [an estimate of bone mineral density] and hip structure in college-age males but not females.” More at Bone Reports.
Neuromuscular training could help females (and everyone)
One way forward with young female athletes may be judicious use of neuromuscular (NM) training which involves functional, sport-specific stability training of muscles and associated joints (ankles, knees, hips). It’s basically what soccer provides in simple game or play format. Also, in this study of 15-year-old female track athletes, those who performed NM training for six weeks reduced injuries by more than 60 percent over those who did conventional strength work. More at J of Sport Rehabilitation.
Who should you draft behind?
In a marathon, it’s pretty clear. Get yourself behind whatever woman is nearby, running your goal pace, and looking strong. The below paper, like others, found that women are less likely to slow during the second 13.1 miles than men. However, the same is not true in a 10K, where men perform very-slightly better. Also, younger and older age-groups are poorer pacers than those in the middle. Perhaps because the young are inexperienced and start too fast, while older runners are simply out there longer, which, you know, makes everything harder. More at Medicina.
Probiotics limit post-marathon infection
In a randomized trial (RCT) investigators gave a probiotic capsule (or placebo) to 14 marathon runners for 30 days before their race, and then asked about respiratory infections after. Symptoms were significantly lower in the runners who had taken the probiotic — which was not a commercial product but compounded in a local pharmacy. With probiotics, it’s hard to know which of a seemingly infinite number of “strains” might have been effective. This formulation had several Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium strains. More at Nutrients.
Regular exercise lowers Covid depression and anxiety
Let’s face it, this Covid pandemic has been tough. Even those of us not directly affected — and I’ve been lucky — can’t escape from the onslaught of global news. What’s going on in India anyway? Fortunately, it appears exercise can provide some relief. A review of studies of 42,000 individuals from five continents found that those who remained active “on a regular basis with higher volume and frequency” experienced 12 to 34% lower symptoms of depression and anxiety. More at Sports Medicine.
A “cutdown” fartlek workout can improve your pace
A cutdown workout is one in which your repeats get shorter as the workout progresses. The goal is to hold pace, or maybe even increase it a little. You get a mental boost from knowing that each repeat will be shorter than the previous one. Here’s a good cutdown workout, with a first hard repeat that’s 8-minutes long, from Gear Junkie or try this classic “half-time fartlek” from Mario Fraioli on PodiumRunner.
How to deal with and prevent black toenails
The warmer weather to come means that our sometimes-gross toenails will be more on display. So here are several articles telling you how to deal with or prevent black toenails. I’ve had reasonable success, and some pain relief, with inexpensive slip-on silicone gel “toe caps.” More at Run to the Finish and Runner’s World.
No one likes running with a cloth mask
I haven’t heard anyone say they just loved running with a cloth mask over the nose and mouth. Me neither. And here’s why: It can lower your vo2 max by 29%, and reduce total exercise time 14%. Subjects reported “feeling increasingly short of breath and claustrophobic.” Yup, that’s it. Icky. More at Brit J of Sports Medicine. Fortunately, the CDC now says vaccinated people need not wear masks outside.
In appreciation of Des Linden
It’s impossible not to like and admire Des Linden. She seems a genuine introvert, and never toots her own horn. But she isn’t afraid to tackle big goals that bring more attention to the sport (and, yes, her). Last October she ran one mile on Oct. 1, 2 miles on Oct. 2 … 30 on Oct. 30, and 31 on October 31. Some called it the “Destober,” others an “Octoberthon.” Take a look at those last 7 days that add up to a 196-mile week: 25-26-27-28-29-30-31. It apparently left her well-prepared for the world-best 50K she ran on April 13. The RLRH newsletter is mostly about you. But this week I include Des Linden as well. She says she seeks challenges that are fun. I hope she keeps finding them for many years to come. She elevates the sport and all of us. More in an interview at Outside.
Let’s hear it for composting
I’ve been reading running publications for a long time, and I believe this is the first article on composting. Three cheers! File it in your “Save The Planet” folder. Joan Samuelson has been doing this almost as long as she’s been running marathons. (I’ve seen her garden and compost pit.) Samuelson’s secret ingredient? Seaweed. More at Clean Eating.
SHORT STUFF you should know
GOOD QUOTES MAKE GREAT TRAINING PARTNERS
|“It’s May, it’s May, the lusty month of May / That darling month when everyone throws self-control away.” —Alan Jay Lerner|