1. You Need a Stronger Body, Not a Better Bike Part" 4
Mobility is essential for MTB performance, but many struggle with poor range of motion. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Lawrence Herrera explains how to incorporate mobility work into your daily training routine.
In the first three parts of this series, I explored how you can improve your mountain biking performance by getting stronger in the weight room, increasing your power production on your bike, and enhancing both your anaerobic capacity and skill at the pump track. Now that I’ve explored what it takes to go faster for longer, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin — what you can do to recover better.
Like with any other physical activity, adaptation and progress can only occur when you pair a challenging stimulus with giving your body the chance to bounce back. The tendency for younger athletes is to push themselves day after day until something breaks, which isn’t sustainable for very long. As you get older, your body starts giving you stronger signals that you need more recovery, including muscle soreness, joint pain, and, if you continually shortchange your recovery, even injury. In this article, we’ll look at some ways you can get ahead of these issues and take a more proactive approach to your recovery so you can feel better, bounce back quicker, and reclaim lost range of motion.
More...from Training Peaks.
2. How getting older affects your performance and what you can do about it:
Recently it seems like quite a few things have been conspiring to nudge me into writing a post about ageing and athletic performance.<
I've moved up to Veteran/Masters status for endurance events and I've been trying for a quite a while now (with a varying degree of success) to understand and come to terms with the decline in my athletic abilities as I get older.
Getting slower is a subject I think about often and it has been in evidence for me personally for about a decade now, but I do feel like I'm starting to get to grips with it and so I wanted to share my thoughts and discoveries on the slippery slope so far.
My hope is that some of it might prove useful to anyone else in the same boat, who's trying to derive satisfaction from training and competing when PRs and visits to the podium are largely a thing of the past...
More...from Precision Hydration.
3. Nike ZoomX Dragonfly Performance Review:
What You Need To Know
Weighs 4.7 oz. (133.25 g) for a US M9 / W10.5
Slab of ZoomX foam makes these maybe the comfiest spike out there?
Seems like this shoe is breaking records every other week
Wearing socks in these is a federal offense
MERCER: Nike has done it. The industry titan has brought ZoomX goodness to the track and, in Nike fashion, it’s fast. The Nike ZoomX Dragonfly is the brand’s newest distance spike. It has quickly stormed the professional and college levels and is even creeping into the high school scene.
This cushioned monster has taken two of Bekele’s world records in the 5K and 10K that stood for over a decade. Just last week the entire Oregon squad raced with this shoe, pulling in the top two all-time NCAA collegiate records (and a number six all-time) for the indoor mile. I have a feeling that, much like the Vaporfly/Alphafly NEXT%, the records will continue to fall through 2021 and beyond.
More...from Believe in the Run.
4. Fitness: Is there such a thing as too much exercise?
A team of researchers compared the mortality of elite athletes versus their recreationally active counterparts.
Given that regular exercise is associated with good health, it’s easy to assume that fit, strong elite athletes are healthier than the rest of us. Yet the adage that too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing is true of physical activity. Overtraining can stress the heart, depress the immune system, increase the risk of injury and have a negative effect on sleep and mood.
How much exercise is too much? No one knows for sure. But a few studies have suggested that the protective effect of physical activity on heart health may decrease among endurance athletes whose exercise habits are measured in hours rather than minutes per week. And given that most elite athletes devote decades of their life to training at intensities and volumes far exceeding the average exerciser, could it be that their extreme workout habits have a negative rather than protective effect on long-term health?
More...from the Montreal Gazette.
5. ‘Green exercise’ is crucial to reducing stress and anxiety, study finds:
Imagine a job interview in which you’re given five minutes to prepare an on-camera speech for a stern-looking panel of interviewers, then asked to count backwards by 17s from a large number.
It’s stressful, which is precisely why researchers at Britain’s University of Westminster inflicted the ordeal on a group of volunteers. They wanted to know whether a prior half-hour jog through a virtual forest would help their subjects handle the stress better than an otherwise identical jog through a virtual cityscape.
Sure enough, measurements of the stress hormone cortisol showed that the urban jog led to a blunted physiological response to the interview challenge, which is a potential predictor of poor health. The results, which were published in the journal Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, join a growing body of evidence about the positive effects of “green exercise,” a catch-all term for workouts undertaken with a soothing backdrop of rustling leaves and flowing water (or, these days, big piles of snow).
Here’s what you need to know about this emerging field of research:
More...from the Globe and Mail.
6. The key factor in heart-rate training:
Despite all the debate, babble, and science, there is only one factor that may be the most important aspect of using a heart rate monitor — the result!
Monitoring your exercise heart rate is more important than ever. Personalizing it is even more vital for true success.
Anaerobic threshold, lactate, VO2max . . . blah, blah, blah. This is the "exerbabble" that comes out when training heart rate evaluations are discussed. No doubt, these and other physiological measures are very important. However, most people don’t get adequately tested in a facility, as this is mostly reserved for professional, elite and college athletes. So there’s little relevance to these terms and conditions for the typical athlete. Most of those who do get tested don’t repeat their tests regularly so as to effectively monitor progress. And, as most studies are done on relatively small groups of select people, typically college students, and for very short periods of time, we can’t easily use this information to personalize particular needs.
More...from Dr. Phil Maffetone.
7. Reduce Strength Training Pre-Race, Says New Study:
Runners who stopped their strength training retained the benefits for four weeks, and got faster.
Runners and coaches have long known the importance of tapering speed workouts and volume before a big race. But what about strength training?
The case against too much of a strength-training taper is simple. Exercise physiologists know that the explosive power and neuromuscular recruitment from this type of training falls off rapidly when you quit doing it. “A trained individual very quickly reduces performance at that specific skill,” says Matt Walsh, a physical therapist and strength coach in Portland, Oregon. Among other things, he says, “tendons quickly lose elastic recoil capacity.”
But a study in the December 22, 2020, issue of Sports casts doubt on whether that’s as much of a death sentence for runners’ fitness as we might think — at least for distance runners not needing to explode out of the starting blocks. Instead, the researchers found, distance runners can retain the endurance-running benefits of strength training for at least four weeks, even after cutting off their strength work, cold-turkey.
More...from Podium Runner.
8. Exercise vs. Diet? What Children of the Amazon Can Teach Us About Weight Gain:
What we eat may be more important than how much we move when it comes to fighting obesity
When children gain excess weight, the culprit is more likely to be eating too much than moving too little, according to a fascinating new study of children in Ecuador. The study compared the lifestyles, diets and body compositions of Amazonian children who live in rural, foraging communities with those of other Indigenous children living in nearby towns, and the results have implications for the rising rates of obesity in both children and adults worldwide.
The in-depth study found that the rural children, who run, play and forage for hours, are leaner and more active than their urban counterparts. But they do not burn more calories day-to-day, a surprising finding that implicates the urban children’s modernized diets in their weight gain. The findings also raise provocative questions about the interplay of physical activity and metabolism and why exercise helps so little with weight loss, not only in children but the rest of us, too.
More...from the NY Times.
9. Why sodium is crucial to athletes performing at their best:
Sodium plays a key role in how your body functions as it helps maintain fluid balance and cognitive function, so it's important to replace the sodium you lose to some extent when your sweat losses really begin to mount up...
Why sodium is important
A 2015 study found that athletes who adequately replaced the sodium lost in their sweat finished a middle distance triathlon an average of 26 minutes faster than those who didn’t.
Whilst that sort of performance gain isn't going to be possible for everyone, it does highlight the potential impact of getting your hydration strategy right.
Your body contains lots of water - 50-70% of it is made up of the stuff in fact, depending on the amount of muscle and fat that you have. Around a third of that water exists outside your cells, in extracellular fluids like your blood.
What does sodium do?
The main electrolyte in this extracellular fluid is sodium and much of your body’s total sodium reserves are found here. This makes it rather ‘salty’ and the total volume of extracellular fluid in your body is directly related to the amount of sodium you have on board at a given time. So, more sodium equals more fluid; less sodium means less fluid.
More...from Precision Hydration.
10. How much dehydration can you tolerate before your performance suffers?
The guidelines regarding how much dehydration an athlete can tolerate before performance deteriorates has changed over the years, but what level of dehydration is acceptable and is it possible to avoid dehydration?
Early guidelines for dehydration
Not all that long ago, the prevailing opinion in sports science was that you needed to replace 100% of your sweat losses to maintain your performance when exercising. In 1996 the American College of Sports Medicine stated that...
"During exercise, athletes should start drinking early and at regular intervals in an attempt to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating (i.e., body weight loss), or consume the maximal amount that can be tolerated."
Now, granted, these guidelines were not written specifically with long endurance events in mind. But if taken at face value the statement seems to imply that during an Ironman, ultra-running race or long sportive, some athletes should be aiming to drink as much as 2-3 litres an hour in order to replace 100% of their sweat output.
More...from (Precision Hydration.
11.New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2: 100-Mile Rundown:
An all-new lightweight shoe from New Balance (despite the v2 name), the Rebel v2 delivers balanced cushioning and a smooth, responsive ride that holds up over the miles.
The second version of the New Balance FuelCell Rebel is a great example of a non-plated, next-gen lightweight daily trainer. It features plenty of cushioning, thanks to the FuelCell midsole, but that cushioning is balanced with just the right amount of responsiveness to keep the pep and pop in your stride. The ride is smooth — forgiving but still propulsive. The asymmetrical construction and wide forefoot work in sync with the foot’s natural motion. The midsole and outsole are exceptionally durable, making the shoe one of the better bargains in its class and price range.
What This Shoe Is
Let’s start with what this shoe is not: It bears little resemblance to version 1 of the FuelCell Rebel. The earlier iteration was an attempt at translating the geometry of New Balance’s road mile racing shoe, the FuelCell 5280, to a training shoe. It featured a flared midsole with a love-it-or-hate-it lateral flange meant to accommodate contact on the outside of the forefoot. Although versions 1 and 2 are roughly the same weight, the first was a few millimeters lower in the heel and forefoot. Most important, the first version had a firmer midsole and stiffer ride. I could never figure out where version 1 fit in my shoe collection — it was too unforgiving (and click-clacky loud!) to be a daily trainer, yet seemed to get in the way when I wore it in workouts.
More...from Podium Runner.
12. Improve your endurance by knowing what affects your heart rate:
This is an excerpt from Heart Rate Training by Roy Benson & Declan Connolly.
One of the most valuable long-term pieces of information you can gather is resting heart rate. When you wake up each morning, take a minute to get an accurate resting heart rate and keep a log. You'll find this an invaluable tool, providing feedback on injury, illness, overtraining, stress, incomplete recovery, and so on. It is also a very simple gauge of improvements in fitness. We know athletes who have gathered resting heart rate data for years and in a day or two can identify a 1 or 2 bpm elevation that precedes an illness or a bonk session. Some newer heart rate monitors have the capacity for 24-hour monitoring.
Several factors affect heart rate at rest and during exercise. In general, the main factors affecting heart rate at rest are fitness and state of recovery. Gender also is suggested to play a role, albeit inconsistently (more about this later). In general, fitter people tend to have lower resting heart rates. Some great athletes of the past have recorded remarkably low resting heart rates. For example, Miguel Indurain, five-time winner of the Tour de France, reported a resting heart rate of only 28 bpm. The reason for this is that, with appropriate training, the heart muscle increases in both size and strength. The stronger heart moves more blood with each beat (this is called stroke volume) and therefore can do the same amount of work with fewer beats. As you get fitter, your resting heart rate should get lower.
More...from Human Kinetics.
13. The Reason Behind the Runner’s High Isn’t What You Might Think:
Is it just an endorphin rush? A new study offers an alternate possibility.
According to new research, the runner’s high is a result of endocannabinoid receptors in your body, rather than the release of endorphins, which was previously believed to be true.
Here’s why that’s good news: Endocannabinoid receptors are in your your lungs, kidneys, and bone marrow, and they affect your immune response, reproductive health, and pain modulation.
Being able to get a natural boost in your endocannabinoid receptors through running is an excellent way to give yourself a “full-body tune-up,” while getting that burst of euphoria along the way.
For many runners, experiencing the “runner’s high” is one of the major perks of the sport. The prevailing belief has been that the release of endorphins causes this feeling, but a new study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology suggests that may not be the case.
More...from Runner's World.
14. The exercise pill: How exercise keeps your brain healthy and protects it against depression and anxiety :
As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active. Over the years, as I picked up boxing and became more active, I got firsthand experience of positive impacts on my mind. I also started researching the effects of dance and movement therapies on trauma and anxiety in refugee children, and I learned a lot more about the neurobiology of exercise.
I am a psychiatrist and neuroscientist researching the neurobiology of anxiety and how our interventions change the brain. I have begun to think of prescribing exercise as telling patients to take their “exercise pills.” Now knowing the importance of exercising, almost all my patients commit to some level of exercise, and I have seen how it benefits several areas of their life and livelihood.
We all have heard details on how exercise improves musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, metabolic and other aspects of health. What you may not know is how this happens within the brain.
More...from The Conversation.
15. When Pandemic Running Hits a Wall
On Monday, I went out on a run, as I usually do. I ran at the same time of day, to the same spot and back, because I like to see what’s new in the “Little Free Library” box that is set up one town over.
Except this wasn’t like every other run. It was one of the worst training runs of my life. I ran more than a minute per mile slower than usual. I wanted to toss my sneakers across the kitchen when I finished.
Why? Because of both everything and nothing. Physically, I was fine. But I had hit yet another pandemic wall, and I could not imagine how I’d get through another however many months of staring at these same walls, of doing the same things to tamp down a still ever-present anxiety, of running all the same routes, over and over and over again, no matter how many new books popped up in that Little Free Library — or the other three I run to. My tights were too tight. My hair was too gray. My dog was mad at me. I was mad at me. I tried to take my frustrations out on a run, which did nothing but frustrate me more.
I tell you this because I know I’m not the only one experiencing this right now. Living through this collective trauma, for almost a year now, is hard, even as case counts drop and the vaccine rollout continues. It’s like we’re in the third quarter of a marathon, that abyss between miles 14 and 20, where we’ve done a lot of hard work to get here, but can’t imagine how we’re going to do that many miles all over again to make it to a finish line we know is out there.
All of that frustration, anxiety, grief and sorrow may come out in your run. That’s frustrating and it’s also normal. It’s not forever. I went out again the next day and while my hair may not be less gray, I was back to my regular training pace and I didn’t want to throw any items across the room when I finished. My dog even greeted me at the door. Maybe she wasn’t so mad at me after all. Or maybe she knew if she looked cute I’d give her a treat (which of course I did).
I can’t promise that we’re all going to make it out of here OK. I know too many people who’ve died, too many friends who’ve lost parents and loved ones, and too many people who are still struggling months after “recovering” from this wretched disease. And right now, for millions of people in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, the impact of winter storms is compounding the misery.
I always end this newsletter with the words - run well,- and I especially mean it this week. Run well, whatever that means to you right now. And remember: There’s always another run up ahead to try again.
Jen A. Miller
Author, "Running: A Love Story"