1. How to Survive the Most Frigid Winter Runs:
Get the formula right and you'll never have to resort to the treadmill again.
The recent frigid temperatures hovering over the Northeast meant that my New Year’s Eve run was (as I noted on Twitter) a “three-sock run.” I was surprised to discover that quite a few people—even men—couldn’t figure out where the third sock would go. It was a reminder that dressing for winter running is an art born of hard-earned experience. Forget the third sock once and you’ll never forget it again.
In the ensuing conversation, a few people asked whether I’d written any articles about the science of exercising in cold weather. I have—but the truth is that heat has received far more attention from exercise physiologists than cold. That’s partly because exercise itself produces heat that exacerbates the effects of hot weather and counteracts the effects of cold weather. Like an internal combustion engine, your body is 20 to 25 percent efficient at converting stored fuel energy into motion—so cycling at 250 watts generates about 1,000 watts of “waste” heat, while running six-minute miles produces about 1,500 watts.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
2. The Joy of Losing Fitness: Why Endurance Athletes Need a Break:
Don’t underestimate the power of a real off-season — it will make you a better athlete next yea
Building fitness is a good thing, whereas losing fitness is a bad thing, right?
Not always. There are times when losing some fitness now helps you gain fitness later so that you come out ahead in the long run. One of those times is the early off-season period (in other words, right about now) when you’ve just completed your last big race of the year, your fitness level is at or near an all-time high, and you may be sorely tempted to “keep the momentum going”. Instead of giving in to this temptation, however, I advise you to do just the opposite — not by just accepting the need to give away some of that hard-earned fitness, but also embracing the process and even enjoying it.
Losing Fitness for Next Year’s Gains
For less experienced athletes, this recommendation is counterintuitive. Most people come to endurance sports with some background in general fitness, where a “get fit, stay fit” mentality prevails. In a typical scenario, somebody decides they need to lose a few pounds, signs up for a gym membership, and starts working out. At first, they can’t handle a lot of exercise so they don’t do a lot. But as they get fitter, they do more and more, until they reach a point where they’re either seeing the results they want or they’ve run out of motivation to do more, so they lock into a routine and try to sustain it.
More...from Training Peaks.
3. Why Fitter People Drink More Alcohol:
My second-favorite running T-shirt quote is usually attributed to the versatile New Zealander Rod Dixon, whose range stretched from an Olympic medal in the 1,500 meters to a New York City Marathon victory: “All I want to do,” he said, “is drink beer and train like an animal.” (My favorite is from Noureddine Morceli: “When I race, my mind is full of doubts. Who will finish second? Who will finish third?”) I don’t even like beer all that much, but there’s something appealing in the simple clarity of Dixon’s ambitions—something, it turns out, that seems to resonate with a lot of runners.
Many different studies over the years have concluded that people who exercise a lot also tend to drink more. This is mildly surprising, because in general healthy or unhealthy behaviors tend to cluster together: exercise buffs are less likely to smoke but more likely to eat a lot of kale, for example. Admittedly, alcohol is tricky to slot into the “healthy” or “unhealthy” category because there’s (much debated) evidence that light or even moderate drinking may confer some health benefits. But I don’t think Dixon’s taste for beer was driven by a desire to lower his blood pressure.
More...from (Outside Online.
4. The Connections Between Overtraining and Underfueling:
According to a new study, overtraining and underfueling share pathways, symptoms, and diagnostic complexities. Those connections have important implications for long-term adaptation and health.
I think the most important workout I prescribe as a coach happens the day after many races. The workout is given in all-caps, shouted with urgency.
Or perhaps BURGERS. If we’re feeling spicy, BURRITOS. An athlete can make substitutions within the spirit of the plan, but if they eat a salad, it better be topped with enough bacon and croutons to qualify as a structurally-challenged BLT.
There are exceptions for athletes that have been told by a doctor or nutritionist to follow different guidelines. The main idea is that the post-race recovery window is a good reminder that eating enough food is the key to long-term adaptation in the context of a healthy life. So I might not always be writing PIZZA, but PIZZA is always implied. Pizza isn’t just a meal, it’s a lifestyle.
The rationale: eating enough is key for the healthy function of the nervous, endocrine, metabolic, and musculoskeletal systems, all of which are needed at full strength to encourage adaptation. Low energy availability—even within a single day during heavy training—is like pulling out an assortment of Jenga blocks from our physiology at random and then facing an earthquake. At first, things might not collapse with a few blocks on the ground. But eventually, when the quake comes (if not sooner), everything will come crashing down.
More...from Women's Running.
5. Should ‘heart-rate variability’ guide the intensity of your workout?
You’re scheduled to do a big workout today – maybe it’s a long run, maybe it’s Leg Day – but you don’t have the usual bounce in your step. Maybe you should just take it easy, let your body recover and go hard tomorrow. Would that be a smart move, or just lazy?
That’s a tricky decision even for elite athletes, and sports scientists have long sought some sort of impartial biomarker that would reveal whether you’re sufficiently recovered to train hard again. After experiments with options ranging from brain waves to body temperature, the hottest candidate these days is a parameter called “heart-rate variability,” or HRV – and a new review in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport gives it a cautious endorsement.
Even at rest, your heart never has a perfectly regular beat. If your pulse is 60 beats per minute, you’ll sometimes have 0.99 seconds between beats, other times have 1.01 seconds, and so on. HRV is a measure of how much your pulse is fluctuating from its average value.
HRV is interesting to sports scientists because it depends on the balance between two components of your autonomic nervous system. When the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, associated with the fight-or-flight response, is activated, HRV decreases. When the parasympathetic (or rest-and-digest) branch takes over, HRV rises. As a result, a high HRV when you wake up in the morning suggests that you’re recovered and ready to train, whereas a low value suggests you might need a break – in theory, at least.
More...from the Globe and Mail.
6. How to train during your menstrual cycle:
Angela Naeth shares a few tricks she's picked up in her triathlon career,
Real talk. Real life. I get my period monthly. I have PMS monthly. There are days when I’m so fatigued that the world seems to be ending. It’s almost like I’m drugged. I’m not rational. The days leading into my period, I become irritable and frustrated at minor things. I get the body changes – enlarged breasts, water retention and bloating. I know in the back of my head it’s PMS, but it’s almost as if my rational brain is in a fog. On top of this, I often find regular workouts harder. My power is low, and I have low motivation for harder efforts.
Most women can relate to the above. Our hormones change how we feel physically and mentally. I have to be honest though, after all the research and using a phone app to follow my cycle (best thing I ever did), the effects of my period still surprise me
More...from Triathlon Magazine.
7. Fitness: Can you always exercise the pounds away?
There's plenty about exercise and weight management that we still don’t know. Does a sedentary lifestyle make weight gain inevitable? If so, how much exercise is enough to avoid the dreaded middle-age spread?
The days of weight gain being linked only with eating too much and moving too little are in the past. Instead, obesity experts suggest multiple factors working independently and together, including genetic, behavioural, cultural, socioeconomic, environmental and biological influences. Where you live, how you’re brought up, who your parents are and your own unique biological makeup all contribute to the numbers on the scale. Adding even more complexity to the science of body weight is that some of these factors react differently with gained weight than with baseline weight.
More...from the Montreal Gazette.
8. Science of recovery: the importance of food, hydration and sleep:
Recovery these days is something that athletes simply do. In the past, recovery might have consisted of taking a day off from training, but it's now something that's actively undertaken.
In today’s day and age, there’s a recovery tool for every aspect of recovery - all delivered with guarantees of decreasing muscle soreness, aiding repair and facilitating a quicker bounce-back.
But we're taking a step back from the recovery gadgets and gizmos for this blog and focusing on the ‘core’ recovery practices of eating, drinking and sleeping.
Exercise depletes our muscles' glycogen stores (which is an important 'fuel reserve' for exercise) and it's well-established that consuming carbohydrates post-exercise plays an important role in replenishing these stores.
In the 1980s, Sports Scientist, John Ivy, proposed the idea that glycogen replacement could be enhanced by rapid post-exercise fuelling.
More...from Precision Hydration.
9. How to Run Like a Girl:
Women really do run the world. For nearly a decade, more women runners have been crossing the finish line than men. In the United States, women make up 57 percent of finishers — that's about 10.7 million women racing. Globally, female race participation is up 25 percent, compared to 7 percent for men. That’s a lot of girl power, which is why we’ve created this women-only guide to running. Here you’ll find advice about the big and small challenges of running while female, and how women can get faster and stronger in spite of them. So ladies, grab the sports bra, lace up your sneakers and let’s hit the road.
More...from the New York Times.
10. Exercising in very cold weather could harm lungs over time, researcher cautions:
High-intensity running or ski racing below -15 C can cause irreparable lung damage, says exercise physiologist who recommends three ways to prevent it.
People who enjoy exercising outside during winter need to be wary of the effects plunging temperatures can have on their lungs, according to a University of Alberta cold-weather exercise physiologist.
"If it's a really cold day in February, a high-intensity run or ski race could change your life," said Michael Kennedy.
He explained the problem with intense cold-weather exercise is that increasingly cold temperatures make it harder for the lungs to warm and humidify the air, which causes the lining of the airway to dry and, in some cases, become irreparably damaged.
"The inflammatory response is so large that the lungs never recover back to a healthy baseline," he said. "They basically remodel."
Kennedy said ski culture and Nordic culture are slowly changing, but for the most part there is still general acceptance that it's OK to race in -15 C or -20 C.
"It's not OK," he said. "We have a qualitative study planned on high-level cross-country skiers who have chronic cough and severe reduced lung function post-retirement."
More...from University of Alberta.
11. 6 Tips For Running A Marathon when Undertrained and Underprepared:
Feeling undertrained and underprepared for an upcoming marathon? We’ve all been there.
For most novice and amateur runners in the world, the lead-up to a race can be nerve-racking and full of doubt.
If you’re panicking that you’re not ready for an impending marathon, and are looking for some tricks and tools last minute, then fear not – we’ve got just the thing.
There are many ways to run a marathon when you are undertrained and underprepared, and all of them are about conserving energy and taking your time.
As the old adage goes, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint‘.
Consider this a survival guide on marathons when underprepared, guiding you through the ways of getting to the finish line of the marathon – and if you are patient enough, get there with a smile on your face.
This survival guide will discuss 6 tips and tools:
More...from the Marathon Handbook.
12. What is a Warm Up and How to Warm Up Properly?
Warm up properly and reduce the risk of sports injury with these warm up exercises and stretches.
The warm up exercises are crucial to any sports or fitness training program. The importance of a structured warm up routine should not be under estimated when it comes to preventing sports injury.
A proper warm up has a number of very important key components. These components, or parts, should all work together to prepare the individual for sports performance and minimize the likelihood of sports injury from physical activity.
More...from Stretch Coach.
13. Are my iron levels affecting my performance?
What is iron deficiency? how common is it? who is at risk? and how can you measure it? These are the questions we will deal with in this blog and the next blog will discuss the prevention and treatment of iron deficiency.
Iron is an extremely important mineral for athletes, yet iron deficiencies are not uncommon, particularly in endurance athletes. Iron has several roles in the body including the transport and delivery of oxygen, and energy production at the level of the mitochondria. It is also key for both cognitive and immune function. This highlights why iron is critical for performance, and why an iron deficiency could potentially have detrimental impacts. Symptoms indicative of an iron deficiency include tiredness, a lack of energy, shortness of breath, poor recovery and a reduction in performance (especially if experienced when training load is constant, or during a recovery phase).
14. A New Theory on Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Young Athletes:
The genes that make some people vulnerable to a fatal heart stoppage may be the same ones that give them an athletic edge, researchers suggest.
There’s been plenty of debate in recent years about heart health in endurance athletes. The current evidence, as I see it, suggests that it’s very, very unlikely that years of training for marathons will eventually damage your heart. But there’s another angle to this issue that’s often ignored: young, seemingly healthy athletes who drop dead during marathons or basketball games or soccer matches.
For these young athletes, their deaths have nothing to do with years of accumulated wear and tear. Instead, the most common cause of death is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a genetic condition leading to thickened and abnormal heart walls that are more susceptible to triggering fatal arrhythmias. Researchers now have a pretty good handle on how and why this happens (for more background, check out David Epstein’s classic 2007 piece for Sports Illustrated), but several mysteries remain.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online. [*Member Content]
15. Athletes Express Support for Abortion Rights in Supreme Court Case Over Mississippi Law:
On Wednesday, December 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case assessing a Mississippi law that makes almost all abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
More than 500 athletes across a range of sports, including running, have filed an amicus brief in the case, voicing their support of the right to abortion. They include 26 Olympians, 73 professional athletes, and 276 intercollegiate athletes. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, and Athletes for Impact also signed on as organizations. All say they have exercised, relied on, or support the constitutional right to abortion.
The athletes say in their brief: “Amici believe that, like themselves, the next generation of women athletes must be guaranteed bodily integrity and decisional autonomy in order to fully and equally participate in sports.”
More...from Women's Running.