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RUNNING - page 3

Strength Training For Distance Runners

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/USA

‘Core work’ is a term thrown around a lot in the world of running, and for a pretty good reason. When firing correctly, the muscles that make up the core can increase efficiency and decrease your chance of injury.

Runners need to be strong, and the key is to perform exercises that are running-centric. Below are 8 movements devised by Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy specifically for distance runners to help you run faster, for longer.

1. Hot Salsa

Step into a wide lunge and reach a weighted ball as far out in front of you toward the ground as you can. Keep the back as straight as possible. Shift your weight forward on your front foot. While keeping the ball forward, lift your back leg off the ground and rise up to a perfect running position.

2. Runner Pulls

Balance on one leg and grab a pulley system or elastic band in front of you with the opposite hand. Raise the free knee up toward your waist while simultaneously pulling the weight down 90-degrees and rotating toward your opposite leg. These should only be undertaken after you have mastered the previous drills, as any lingering hip or core weakness or control deficiency will reinforce the wrong movements here.

3. Side Plank Knee to Chest

Begin in a side plank. Let your shins rest on a BOSU ball and balance on the ground using your lower arm. Keeping your body level to the ground, drive your top knee toward your chest while moving your upper arm back in a running motion. If your left elbow is on the ground, your right knee will move forward in a “high knee” position and the right arm will swing behind, parallel to the ground. The motion recruits the core, scapular stabilizers, and muscles down the leg. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Reverse Clamshell

These may feel like they are the same as the clamshell, but they control the hip in a different way. Whereas the clamshell opens on the front side of the body, this exercise opens on the backside. Lie on one side with your knees bent and your lower legs behind you at a 90-degree angle. While keeping your knees together, lift your top foot away from the bottom foot as high as you can, hold it for a two-count, and then bring it back down slowly. The target muscle is the deep internal hip rotators.

5. The Clamshell

Lie on your back and bend your knees to 90 degrees, keeping your feet on the ground. Then hold that position and roll onto your side. Keeping your feet together and your femurs slightly in front of the midline of your body, lift the top knee away from the bottom knee using the glutes to drive the action. The upper foot will turn down to “stand” on the other foot and the motion will engage the external hip rotators.

6. Mountain Climbers

Drop to a plank position with your forearms on a medium-sized stability ball. Keeping your core tight, bring a knee to the ball. Try to keep the ball and torso as steady as possible. Alternate knees to the ball throughout the exercise. The movements integrate every muscle used during a stride.

7. Runner Touch

Strike a pose in perfect running position with one leg in high knee position. Balancing on the one leg, bend at the hip and touch the toe that’s on the ground with the opposite hand while the leg in the air rotates under and back. Make sure the standing leg remains stable and as straight as possible while enabling you to touch the ground. Be sure to prevent the moving knee from crossing midline while that leg straightens out behind you. Come back up to running position quickly without losing balance, pause for a second or two, and repeat. Switch legs and repeat.

8. The Jane Fonda

Lie on your side and place your bottom hand behind your head. Put your top hand on your upper hip pressing your pelvis forward to make sure it does not rotate back during the exercise. Use your core muscles to stay steady. Keeping the top leg straight, lift it up and then back using your glutes to lift the leg. By keeping the outside of your foot level to the ground, you should feel the fatigue in your gluteus medius.

Why Does Lactic Acid Build Up in Muscles? And Why Does It Cause Soreness?

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/TRIATHLON

Stephen M. Roth, a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, explains

As our bodies perform strenuous exercise, we begin to breathe faster as we attempt to shuttle more oxygen to our working muscles. The body prefers to generate most of its energy using aerobic methods, meaning with oxygen. Some circumstances, however—such as evading the historical saber tooth tiger or lifting heavy weights—require energy production faster than our bodies can adequately deliver oxygen. In those cases, the working muscles generate energy anaerobically. This energy comes from glucose through a process called glycolysis, in which glucose is broken down or metabolized into a substance called pyruvate through a series of steps. When the body has plenty of oxygen, pyruvate is shuttled to an aerobic pathway to be further broken down for more energy. But when oxygen is limited, the body temporarily converts pyruvate into a substance called lactate, which allows glucose breakdown—and thus energy production—to continue. The working muscle cells can continue this type of anaerobic energy production at high rates for one to three minutes, during which time lactate can accumulate to high levels.

A side effect of high lactate levels is an increase in the acidity of the muscle cells, along with disruptions of other metabolites. The same metabolic pathways that permit the breakdown of glucose to energy perform poorly in this acidic environment. On the surface, it seems counterproductive that a working muscle would produce something that would slow its capacity for more work. In reality, this is a natural defense mechanism for the body; it prevents permanent damage during extreme exertion by slowing the key systems needed to maintain muscle contraction. Once the body slows down, oxygen becomes available and lactate reverts back to pyruvate, allowing continued aerobic metabolism and energy for the body’s recovery from the strenuous event.

Contrary to popular opinion, lactate or, as it is often called, lactic acid buildup is not responsible for the muscle soreness felt in the days following strenuous exercise. Rather, the production of lactate and other metabolites during extreme exertion results in the burning sensation often felt in active muscles, though which exact metabolites are involved remains unclear. This often painful sensation also gets us to stop overworking the body, thus forcing a recovery period in which the body clears the lactate and other metabolites.

Researchers who have examined lactate levels right after exercise found little correlation with the level of muscle soreness felt a few days later. This delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS as it is called by exercise physiologists, is characterized by sometimes severe muscle tenderness as well as loss of strength and range of motion, usually reaching a peak 24 to 72 hours after the extreme exercise event.

Though the precise cause of DOMS is still unknown, most research points to actual muscle cell damage and an elevated release of various metabolites into the tissue surrounding the muscle cells. These responses to extreme exercise result in an inflammatory-repair response, leading to swelling and soreness that peaks a day or two after the event and resolves a few days later, depending on the severity of the damage. In fact, the type of muscle contraction appears to be a key factor in the development of DOMS. When a muscle lengthens against a load—imagine your flexed arms attempting to catch a thousand pound weight—the muscle contraction is said to be eccentric. In other words, the muscle is actively contracting, attempting to shorten its length, but it is failing. These eccentric contractions have been shown to result in more muscle cell damage than is seen with typical concentric contractions, in which a muscle successfully shortens during contraction against a load. Thus, exercises that involve many eccentric contractions, such as downhill running, will result in the most severe DOMS, even without any noticeable burning sensations in the muscles during the event.

Given that delayed-onset muscle soreness in response to extreme exercise is so common, exercise physiologists are actively researching the potential role for anti-inflammatory drugs and other supplements in the prevention and treatment of such muscle soreness, but no conclusive recommendations are currently available. Although anti-inflammatory drugs do appear to reduce the muscle soreness—a good thing—they may slow the ability of the muscle to repair the damage, which may have negative consequences for muscle function in the weeks following the strenuous event.

What Do You Track? Key Metrics To Monitor And Improve Performance

in AMERICAS CUP/ATHLETES/AUSTRALIA/BLOGS/NEW ZEALAND/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/SPORTS/TRIATHLON/UK/USA

“If you’re not testing, you’re guessing” is a revolving yet relevant saying within the world of sport. This isn’t to say that basing training on feel is over, far from it. Perception and ‘sensory data’ of how your body is responding is the most critical and influential piece of the athletic-puzzle. However, in the midst of heavy training it becomes natural to associate tiredness as the new everyday norm, which often makes it difficult to determine when that thin red line has been crossed… until it’s too late.

For decades physiological testing and monitoring was reserved for the few, given its cost and invasiveness. The bio-tech revolution has changed that, putting physiological tools into our hands in the shape of smart-phones and watches. With a few apps, metrics can now be monitored to allow any level of athlete to get closer than ever before to reaching their potential.

Unfortunately your phone cannot (at least yet) draw and analyse your blood or provide physiological testing, so the lab maintains a pivotal place. Still, in terms of day-to-day monitoring there are several key performance indicators which can be tracked, as explained by Dr. Kevin Sprouse of Podium Sports Medicinewho is also  the team physician and Medical Director of the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team.

Daily Measures

I recommend that you track some metrics every day.  For some, this seems onerous.  If you are one of those who are not inclined to delve into daily metrics, I’d suggest you start with some very basic ones.  Here’s a list that starts with the most basic and moves toward the more involved.  Every active person with a goal-driven training plan should be following one or more of these metrics daily!  If you use software like Training Peaks, you can even journal your data for the purposes of trending.

Resting Heart Rate – Simply a measure of your heart rate when you first wake up, before leaving bed.  Can give you information on your overnight recovery and whether you may need to alter your training plan to avoid illness or injury.  You can even get free smartphone apps that will measure your heart rate with the camera!  No excuses!

Subjective Evaluation – What does that mean?  Basically, it’s listening to your body.  Easy, right?  Too many of us start the day by looking at our email inbox and text message stream before even getting out of bed!  By that time, who knows how you are really feeling!?!  Take the first 30 minutes of every day (at a minimum) to ease into the day and get in touch with yourself and your body.  (Sounds like crazy hippy talk!)  Seriously, sports science research shows that your subjective evaluation is very predictive of your current readiness for training.  How did you sleep?  Are you sore from yesterday?  Starting to feel a little sick?  Ready to tackle Mt. Everest?  Those feelings are important.  Even sophisticated software for gauging recovery (like RestWise) puts significant emphasis on this data.  You should too.

Sleep – Many fitness trackers will now also track your sleep patterns, some with much greater accuracy than others.  This is a simple metric which can be collected, quite literally, while you sleep!

Heart Rate Variability – Without going into a long explanation, HRV is a measure of the time difference between heart beats.  A high level of variability generally indicates a high level of recovery.  Measuring HRV is a bit more involved and “scientific” than some athletes care to bother with.  But for those who spend the extra 3-5 minutes each morning, this can be something that can truly help to guide training.  You can now get smartphone apps that do this in a rather inexpensive but accurate manner.  If you are not interested in manually taking the time to collect this data each day, some advanced fitness trackers are now doing this while you sleep.  I’ve been using a WHOOP band which measures sleep, HRV, temperature, physiologic strain throughout the day, and more.  It’s pricier than a smartphone app, but it does all the work for you.  There are other devices that will do this as well (the OURA Ring is one which is less expensive but that I found less reliable when measuring sleep), and many of the more advanced sports watches are starting to implement some of this technology.

Weekly / Monthly Measures

Body Weight – I don’t see much utility in measuring your weight daily, but it can be a useful metric when collected at the same time each week.  If your sole goal is weight loss, you may not want to even check it that often.  But for those athletes who are following a performance-oriented training plan, you’ll want to see that you are not gaining or losing weight too quickly.  Weight gain could indicate water retention and inflammation.  Excessive weight loss could be due to inappropriate nutritional fueling.  Both are undesirable.

Body Composition – With the advent of technology that makes body composition measurement simple and accurate, many athletes will want to follow this monthly.  Most people want to decrease fat mass in increase muscle.  Using something like an inexpensive ultrasound measurement of body fat (MuscleSound) can give you regular data to assess whether your training plan is working.  If you are loosing weight but much of that is muscle, you are setting yourself up for failure.  Take a look to see how you are responding to your training.

Training Load / Training Stress – Most of the metrics I’ve mentioned look at how your body responds to training.  In order to know how to modify that training load, you must have some objective measure of it.  The most ubiquitous measure is TSS (or “Training Stress Score”).  I’d guess that most training software and online training diaries now use this metric, or some variation of it.  We won’t delve into its meaning here, but you can read about it on Training Peaks’ website if you are unfamiliar or need a refresher.  Whatever you follow, you need to know the intensity and duration of your training.  Without these metrics, you’re just making blind adaptations, which probably won’t go well.

Quarterly / Semi-annually

Body Composition – This deserves a place here as well.  If you are not tracking this metric every 4-6 weeks, then you’ll definitely want to check it a few times per year!

Blood Tests – After your initial blood work at the beginning of the season, you’ll surely have some things you need to reassess.  If your iron levels were low and you’ve been supplementing, you’ll want to recheck that.  Likewise, athletes need to ensure that an increased training load has not led to any problems.  A quick test every 4-6 months is warranted for any active individual with a goal of health and athletic performance.

Strength and Movement Assessment – You underwent this assessment at the beginning of the year, were prescribed some personalized corrective exercises, and have been diligent in doing them regularly.  But increased training load and the rigors of competition (and of life in general) can often lead to changing mechanical stressors.  A mid-year checkup is often well worth it!

Physiologic Testing –  Your goal is to get fitter.  You’ve spent months strictly following a training plan with the aim of increasing your aerobic capacity and the speed at which you can compete.  How do you know you’ve been optimally successful?  You need to retest!  A repeat lactate threshold test, +/- VO2max, at mid-season is crucial to ensuring your training plan is responsive and continues to stress you appropriately.

Do You Need To Refrain From Coffee To Get The Maximal Effect Of Caffeine?

in ATHLETES/AUSTRALIA/BLOGS/EUROPE/NEW ZEALAND/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SPORTS/TRIATHLON/UK/USA
Peter Kennaugh of SKY Procycling enjoys an espresso ahead of first stage of the Tour de France 2013, in Corsica.

A very popular belief in sports is that in order to get maximum effect of caffeine in competition you need to withdraw from caffeine in the days or even weeks leading up to it. The theory is quite attractive, because it seems to make sense that some caffeine habituation will take place.

It is believed that non coffee drinkers or those that drink very little coffee will benefit more from caffeine. However, a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology appeared recently that seems to dispel this myth.

The study performed at the University of São Paulo in Brazil used a double-blind, crossover, counterbalanced design. Forty male endurance-trained cyclists were allocated into groups according to their daily caffeine intake:

Low (58 ± 29 mg/d or approximately 1 small cup of coffee), moderate (143 ± 25 mg/d or roughly 2-3 cups of coffee), and high consumers (351 ± 139 mg/d or roughly 5 cups of coffee per day). Participants performed 3 time trials (lasting approximately 30min) each before which they ingested a moderate dose of caffeine (CAF: 6 mg/kg body weight), placebo (PLA), or no supplement (CON). Caffeine and placebo were administered in capsules and ingested 1h before the start of the time trial.

Caffeine supplementation improved exercise performance by 3.3% compared to CON and 2.4% compared to PLA. These data are comparable with other caffeine studies. More importantly, performance benefits with acute caffeine supplementation during a ~30 min cycling time trial were not different between the groups with low, medium or high habitual caffeine intake. In other words: caffeine worked equally for everyone, low users, medium users as well as high users.

It is always important to discuss single studies in the context of the existing evidence, because one study does not necessarily mean that our views should change. Recently there was a well performed study that suggested that 4 weeks of caffeine supplementation diminished performance benefits of acute caffeine supplementation in low habitual caffeine consumers (< 42 75 mg/d). However, giving low habitual users caffeine for 4 weeks, may be quite different from a habitual, high intake. The study can also not exclude the possibility that high habitual users can still benefit from caffeine. Finally, it does also not mean that refraining from caffeine products will increase the effects of caffeine.

Athletes are often encouraged to refrain from caffeinated products for up to 4 days before supplementing with caffeine to enhance the efficacy of acute supplementation. Despite this, a study by Irwin, et al. showed similar improvements in exercise with caffeine in habitual consumers regardless of a 4 day withdrawal period. Another study by Van Soeren, et al. (the first study that directly addressed this question) showed equal exercise improvements with acute caffeine supplementation in habituated consumers after no, 2-days and 4-days of caffeine withdrawal. In a study we performed many years ago, I remember the observation that the largest performance improvements with caffeine were actually observed in the athletes with the higher caffeine intakes. We did not publish those findings because the number of subjects was probably too small to make firm statements, but the observation is interesting nonetheless.  

Thus, it is fair to conclude that the balance of evidence suggests that caffeine withdrawal to get a better effect of caffeine is a myth. The recommendation from us is therefore to maintain your normal caffeine consumption during the preparation for your competition. You will still be able to benefit from the effects of caffeine in competition, and you will avoid any possible withdrawal symptoms in the days before.

via MySportsScience.com 

Travel Tips From A Frequent-Flyer Athete

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/SPORTS/TRIATHLON/USA

Whether they like it or not, athletes often find themselves as frequent flyers. Racing overseas can look glamorous, but what people often don’t see on social media is the struggle of being cramped in an economy-class seat for 16 hours.

As one of the worlds top Ironman triathletes, Sarah Piampiano is no stranger to the struggles of long-distance travel and the impact it can have on performance. This is her routine for making the best out of her time 40,000ft in the sky.

Here the 8 things I think about (and in some cases failed on!) on a long journey:

Clothing

An obvious tip and widely in practice in the world of travelers, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of comfortable clothing. I typically wear my Saucony compression tights, a soft, loose-fitting t-shirt, and a pair of shoes (like my fav Saucony Jazz’s) that are easy to slip on and off. I also bring a sweatshirt and usually a jacket of some kind – you never know how hot or cold the planes will be, and when worse come to worse, using the clothing as an extra pillow is great!

I also bring a change of clothes in my carry on. After sitting in the same clothes in stale air for 30 hours, it is nice to put on something fresh and clean!

Food

I have ALWAYS brought my own array of snacks with me to either replace or augment the food offered on the plane, but on this trip we brought it to a whole new level. Prior to my departure my nutritionist, Phil Goglia, created a detailed plan as to exactly what I would eat and when during my trip. When I read the plan, it looked like an incredible amount of food and frequent small meals, but he assured me that it would help with the body’s ability to cope with the travel, as well as retain an eating pattering similar to what I do when I am at home.

For my 28 hour journey I pre-packed the following: 7 hard boiled and peeled eggs; 5 “mashes” (1 mash = ¼ cup dry oats, 1 tbsp almond butter, 1 tbsp jam (only sweetened with fruit juice, not sugar), ¼ cup apple sauce all mixed together….sounds gross but is actually delicious!!); 1 lb grilled chicken cut up into slices; 2 cans of tuna mixed with hummus and veggies (modified tuna salad); 1.5 cups cooked rice and 1 medium sweet potato cooked in coconut oil; 1 large bag of carrot and celery sticks; 3 Justin’s single-serve Chocolate Hazelnut packets; 2 pears; 1 Clif Builder Max bar (Cookie Dough); 1 Clif Builder Bar (Cookies & Cream), 1 Clif Bar (Sierra Trail Mix)

When I prepared what I was supposed to eat I never thought I would get through it all. That is a lot of food! But…shockingly, I’ve never been so happy to have each and every meal. I’ve been hungry throughout the journey and rather than eating foods that only hurt my recovery, I’ve kept a plan I feel great about. And there is really nothing worse than being on a long flight and either starving and being cranky, or having access to food that isn’t great for you. Bottom line – on long flights plan ahead and don’t under-estimate how much food you might eat!

Hydration

A pillar of travel for me and key to alleviating stress on your body. When I am awake, I strive to drink at least 1 water bottle of water with SOS Hydration every 45 minutes to 1 hour, which allows my body to absorb 3x more water than drinking water alone and limits trips to the bathroom.

Compression and recovery

I have a sensitive body and pretty much anything I do makes me swell. I eat too much junk food. I swell. I don’t move enough. I swell. I fly. I swell. I do an Ironman. I swell.

As a result I do whatever I can to help maximize blood flow and minimize the swelling and negative impact on my body. I always wear my Saucony Compression tights when I travel.

On this trip I have done a combination of other recovery and blood-flow-promoting things. First – I used my MarcPro almost continuously throughout the trip. The MarcPro is like electric-stimulation. You attach pads to your body and select the strength and frequency. It causes fast muscle contraction and helps to flush the lymphatic system. Second – I wear my Saucony Compression socks. And third, if I can (not always a possibility) I try to elevate my feet for at least some portion of the trip

A post shared by Sarah Piampiano (@spiampiano) on

Movement

Movement is another key one that I use in conjunction with my frequent trips to the bathroom and to bide time during layovers. Keeping the body moving is really important, so on every trip to the toilet, I do calf raises and stretch my quads, abductors and hamstrings. In my seat I have a small stretch band, and loop that around my knees and do some resisted leg movements. I have two lacrosse balls I use to massage my back and hamstrings in my seat. And during layovers I pull out my foam roller and roll like crazy. I also do my rehab exercises and glute, core and hamstring activation exercises. Don’t worry about the funny looks! Your body will thank you for it later!

Sleep

When you fly, the best thing you can do is let yourself relax. I was laughing to myself earlier because I felt like a newborn baby on this trip. Pretty much my schedule has been, sleep, eat, toilet, sleep, eat, toilet, etc etc etc…flying is a perfect opportunity to try to get some extra rest and truly let your mind and body detach from the stresses of daily life.

Minimizing the white noise

You may not realize it or think about it, but that white noise you hear the entire plane flight is really hard on your body! It is a constant stimulant and doesn’t fully let your body relax. The best way to shut that out is through using noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs.

Access to the bathroom

Until I became a triathlete, I loved the window seat. I liked to be able to look out over where we were flying and liked being able to use the plane wall to rest my head. Nowadays, the aisle is the way to go! I have to get up so frequently to move my legs and use the toilet and refill my water bottle, the aisle is the best way to have easy access and avoid ticking off your seat mates.

A post shared by Sarah Piampiano (@spiampiano) on

Nick Symmonds: From Half Miler To Marathoner

in ATHLETES/BLOGS/INTERVIEWS/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/SPORTS/USA

It’s not uncommon for an athlete to go up in distance throughout their career. Some go from the 1500m to the 5,000m, or the 10,000m to the half marathon, but few have ever increased the distance by over 50-times! Yet that is exactly what former World 800m Silver Medallist Nick Symmonds will endeavour to do when he runs the Honolulu Marathon this year.

Brooks Beast Nick Symmonds is hanging up his track spikes, but his racing flats still have more miles ahead. For his last professional race, Nick will compete in the Honolulu Marathon this December with a goal of running under 3 hours.

For the athlete who specializes in the two-lap, 800-meter run, training for and running 26.2 miles will be a test and an exciting new challenge. Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey will continue to coach Nick through this event.

“I work with middle distance runners on the Brooks Beasts, but the marathon might be my favorite event personally, so I’m excited to coach him in it,” said Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey. “Nick is naturally competitive and goal oriented so I know he’ll commit to the training, but the marathon can be an equalizer and it will definitely test him.”

A post shared by Nick Symmonds (@nicksymmonds) on

Nick will adapt his training by:

  • Increasing his mileage per week by more than 25 percent to a minimum of 70 miles per week,
  • Modify his lifting workouts from being explosive with heavy weights to being strength oriented, dropping weight and increasing repetitions, so his body can hold up for more than 2 hours of hard running,
  • Increase the amount of long threshold and tempo runs instead of the shorter, speed intervals he currently focuses on,
  • Begin to incorporate marathon race pace speed work into his long runs,
  • And, to fuel for a race that’s longer than 2 hours when he’s accustomed to racing for fewer than 2 minutes, Nick will begin consuming simple carbs during long training runs to keep his energy up and prepare for the race.

“This is uncharted territory for me. I’ve met hundreds of runners throughout my career who have completed marathons, but I’ve never done one myself,” said Brooks Beast Nick Symmonds. “The challenge is exciting and I’m eager to begin training for it. I’ve got the help of Brooks Beasts Head Coach Danny Mackey, our team nutritionist and other Brooks resources to see me through to the finish line!”

Check out how Nick fuels for training

Keeping Your Cool: How To Race Well In The Heat

in ATHLETES/AUSTRALIA/BLOGS/NEW ZEALAND/RECOVERY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/SPORTS/UK/USA

Summer is great, but performing in the heat can be tough – especially when you’re not adjusted to it. Heat is an issue that effects all levels of athlete and competition, but there are a few proven ways to maximise your performance in hot weather and potentially get an edge on the competition.

The study below from the Australian Institute of Sport is a randomized controlled trial developed to investigate the benefits of pre-cooling strategies for hot and humid environments.

The importance of hydration is exponential in severe heat, and so is the temperature of what you’re consuming. Add crushed ice to your SOS to make a super-charged SOS slushie and enjoy it while wrapped up in a towel that’s been soaked in water then put in the freezer overnight. Unless you’re currently out in the sun, that might sound pretty miserable, but with the weather heating up (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) it will be well worth it.

Australian distance runner Lee Troop with
the pre-cooling ice vest used by many athletes
prior to the 2004 Athens Olympic
Marathon.

Pre-cooling strategy enhances time trial cycling in the heat.

PURPOSE: To develop and investigate the efficacy of a new pre-cooling strategy combining external and internal techniques on the performance of a cycling time trial (TT) in a hot and humid environment.

METHODS: Eleven well-trained male cyclists undertook three trials of a laboratory-based cycling TT simulating the course characteristics of the Beijing Olympic Games event in a controlled hot and humid environment (32°C-35°C at 50%-60% relative humidity). The trials, separated by 3-7 d, were undertaken in a randomized crossover design and consisted of the following: 1) CON-no treatment apart from the ad libitum consumption of cold water (4°C), 2) STD COOL-whole-body immersion in cold (10°C) water for 10 min followed by wearing a cooling jacket, or 3) NEW COOL-combination of consumption of 14 g of ice slurry (“slushie”) per kilogram body mass  while applying iced towels.

RESULTS: There was an observable effect on rectal temperature (T(rec)) before the commencement of the TT after both pre-cooling techniques (STD COOL < NEW COOL < CON, P < 0.05), but pacing of the TT resulted in similar T(rec), HR, and RPE throughout the cycling protocol in all trials. NEW COOL was associated with a 3.0% increase in power (approximately 8 W) and a 1.3% improvement in performance time (approximately 1:06 min) compared with the CON trial, with the true likely effects ranging from a trivial to a large benefit. The effect of the STD COOL trial compared with the CON trial was “unclear.”

CONCLUSIONS: This new pre-cooling strategy represents a practical and effective technique that could be used by athletes in preparation for endurance events undertaken in hot and humid conditions.

 

Covered Up: The Effect Of Tattoos On Sweat Rates

in BLOGS/COLLEGE/LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY/RUGBY/RUNNING/SOS PRO'S/USA

The following is the abstract from The Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 

Skin Tattoos Alter Sweat Rate and Sodium Concentration

LUETKEMEIER, MAURIE JOE; HANISKO, JOSEPH MICHAEL; AHO, KYLE MATHIEW

Abstract 

The popularity of tattoos has increased tremendously in the last 10 years, particularly among athletes and military personnel. The tattooing process involves permanently depositing ink under the skin at a similar depth as eccrine sweat glands (3–5 mm).

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the sweat rate and sweat Na+ concentration of tattooed versus nontattooed skin.

Methods: The participants were 10 healthy men (age = 21 ± 1 yr), all with a unilateral tattoo covering a circular area at least 5.2 cm2. Sweat was stimulated by iontophoresis using agar gel disks impregnated with 0.5% pilocarpine nitrate. The nontattooed skin was located contralateral to the position of the tattooed skin. The disks used to collect sweat were composed of Tygon® tubing wound into a spiral so that the sweat was pulled into the tubing by capillary action. The sweat rate was determined by weighing the disk before and after sweat collection. The sweat Na+ concentration was determined by flame photometry.

Results: The mean sweat rate from tattooed skin was significantly less than nontattooed skin (0.18 ± 0.15 vs 0.35 ± 0.25 mg·cm−2·min−1; P = 0.001). All 10 participants generated less sweat from tattooed skin than nontattooed skin and the effect size was −0.79. The mean sweat Na+ concentration from tattooed skin was significantly higher than nontattooed skin (69.1 ± 28.9 vs 42.6 ± 15.2 mmol·L−1; P = 0.02). Nine of 10 participants had higher sweat Na+ concentration from tattooed skin than nontattooed skin, and the effect size was 1.01.

Conclusions: Tattooed skin generated less sweat and a higher Na+ concentration than nontattooed skin when stimulated by pilocarpine iontophoresis.

 

5 Reasons Why You’re Hungry On Rest Days

in BLOGS/LIFESTYLE/RECOVERY/RUNNING/TRIATHLON

WHY AM I SO HUNGRY? 

It would seem logical that exercise is associated with increased energy expenditure and therefore increased hunger and drive to eat, so why is it that we often feel extra hungry on days off training?

Firstly, let’s revisit some basics of metabolic physiology. Several factors contribute to your hunger levels, not just the amount of activity that you do. There are a number of major players in appetite regulation including:

  • Your body composition (especially muscle mass)
  • Resting metabolic rate
  • Gastric response to ingested food
  • Changes in appetite hormones (e.g. insulin, ghrelin, cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1 and Peptide YY, leptin)

Here are some possible explanations to consider why we feel hungrier on rest days.

HUNGER HORMONES AND EXERCISE

There is evidence that exercise influences all of these components. For example, during times of energy deficit (e.g. the day after a big training day), our appetite hormones are signalling for us to eat more, and this may contribute to increased hunger levels.

POST-EXERCISE SATIETY

On days of high training load/volume, hunger is often suppressed after exercise (especially after vigorous exercise), most likely due to redistribution of blood flow to the extremities, away from the gastrointestinal tract.

There appears to be a delayed compensatory response, whereby a lag of 1-2 days, or longer, seems apparent in order to ‘even out’ days of high(er) energy expenditure. Interestingly, some people are compensators and others not. That is, some eat habitually (the same thing which doesn’t change from day to day) while others eat according to hunger and/or based on the activity completed (or not).

EXERCISE MAY IMPROVE THE SENSITIVITY OF SIGNALLING SYSTEMS TO EAT

The theory (called the ‘glycogenostatis theory’) suggests that glycogen availability has a central role in feedback signals to the body to restore energy balance. After glycogen depletion (which occurs during exercise), one of the body’s priorities is to restore carbohydrate levels in the body. This theory suggests that after exercise the glycogen depletion of the muscles exerts a signal to the body to trigger compensatory eating, which in turn, restocks carbohydrate in the body. The specifics of this signalling pathway are currently relatively unknown and further research is required to fully understand the mechanisms involved.

EXERCISE COULD ALTER MACRONUTRIENT PREFERENCES AND FOOD CHOICES 

Another prominent theory suggests that there is a biological drive to seek particular foods to replenish blood sugars or glycogen. This effect could also relate to preferences for particular tastes associated with certain nutrients (e.g. sweetness which is often associated with carbohydrate rich foods).

CATCHING UP FOR MISSED TIME 

Some research says that often people don’t always feel hungrier in the couple of days following a bout of exercise, but do feel hungry if they have missed a meal. Translate this to real life and we have the scenario where training may replace time spent eating food, which then leads to an increase in appetite and drive to eat in the days afterwards.

So the good news is that fluctuations in appetite are completely normal. For best health and wellness, it’s a good idea to tune in to your hunger levels and then adjust your eating accordingly.

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