1. How Female Athletes’ Nutritional Needs Differ From Men’s:
For years there’s been a dearth of scientific research on what female bodies need for optimal performance. Here’s what we now know about how women runners should fuel their bodies differently from men.
One of the most consequential biases in exercise science has been the historical use of male athletes for studies and the application of those research findings to the body of female athletes. Fortunately, during the past decade, researchers have sought to rectify that scientific research bias, and there is now a substantial amount of current research being done specifically on female athletes, emphasizing some of the physiological and adaptational differences that female athletes experience leading up to competition and in the recovery period.
As it turns out, men’s and women’s bodies respond differently to exercise and nutrition — and thus have different fueling needs.
“Physiologically, women’s bodies tend to have more fat than men,” states Julie Mancuso, Registered Dietitian. “This can result in different energy needs, even without running thrown in the mix.”
More...from Trail Runner.
2. What UPenn's female swimmers can do to win against Lia Thomas:
The women on the University of Pennsylvania’s swim team are having their titles and records taken from them by a biological male who claims to be a woman. Two of the girls have spoken up anonymously about the unfairness of the NCAA’s transgender policies, but they must do more: The entire squad should refuse to compete until the school kicks Lia Thomas off the team.
Thomas, a transgender student, competed as a male for three years before deciding to identify as a female. As part of the Quakers' men’s team, Thomas earned all sorts of accolades. So it should come as no surprise that he is smashing records left and right now that he is competing against women, who literally cannot compete physically. In the 1,650-yard freestyle final, for example, Thomas beat the second-best swimmer, Penn’s Anna Kalandadze, by 38 seconds. That’s like putting a teenage girl up against a 250-pound linebacker and expecting her to hold a block: She wouldn’t even have a chance.
"They feel so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they’re going to lose. Usually, they can get behind the blocks and know they out-trained all their competitors and they’re going to win and give it all they’ve got," a source told Outkick. "Now they’re having to go behind the blocks knowing no matter what, they do not have the chance to win.”
More...from the Washington Examiner.
3. Quantifying the Benefits of Drafting for Runners:
A new aerodynamic analysis runs the numbers on exactly where to run when you’re behind someone else.
For a brief moment back in 2017, drafting for runners was a sizzlingly hot topic. Eliud Kipchoge had just narrowly missed the two-hour barrier in Nike’s Breaking2 marathon, and speculation was rampant about the supposed aerodynamic benefits of the big digital clock mounted on the pace car in front of him.
In the end, an independent analysis concluded that the car probably didn’t make much difference. Instead, it was the runners themselves—rotating teams of six pacemakers in an arrowhead formation—who eliminated most of the air resistance. At least, that’s what a couple of studies from nearly half a century ago suggested. But how much difference did the pacers actually make? No one could agree, and there was surprisingly little scientific data to shed light on the question.
Researchers apparently took note. A new study in the Journal of Biomechanics, from a group led by Fabien Beaumont at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, is one of several recent attempts to bring new science to the debate, providing more evidence that drafting really can make a difference even for marathoners.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
4. Transgender Women in the Female Category of Sport: Perspectives on Testosterone Suppression and Performance Advantage:
Males enjoy physical performance advantages over females within competitive sport. The sex-based segregation into male and female sporting categories does not account for transgender persons who experience incongruence between their biological sex and their experienced gender identity. Accordingly, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) determined criteria by which a transgender woman may be eligible to compete in the female category, requiring total serum testosterone levels to be suppressed below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to and during competition. Whether this regulation removes the male performance advantage has not been scrutinized. Here, we review how differences in biological characteristics between biological males and females affect sporting performance and assess whether evidence exists to support the assumption that testosterone suppression in transgender women removes the male performance advantage and thus delivers fair and safe competition. We report that the performance gap between males and females becomes significant at puberty and often amounts to 10–50% depending on sport. The performance gap is more pronounced in sporting activities relying on muscle mass and explosive strength, particularly in the upper body. Longitudinal studies examining the effects of testosterone suppression on muscle mass and strength in transgender women consistently show very modest changes, where the loss of lean body mass, muscle area and strength typically amounts to approximately 5% after 12 months of treatment. Thus, the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed. Sports organizations should consider this evidence when reassessing current policies regarding participation of transgender women in the female category of sport.
More...from Springer Link.
5. Dangerous games:
A troubling number of Canadian Olympians are binging, purging and starving themselves. Inside the eating disorder problem in elite amateur sports.
In the fall of 2020, Taylor Ruck sat in a restaurant staring at a plate of barbecue ribs. It was the kind of meal she often looked forward to – comfort food. But as she ate that night, the Canadian Olympic swimmer felt a looming sense of dread.
Two years earlier, Ruck had been at the pinnacle of her sport. She’d won a record eight medals at the Commonwealth Games and beaten some of the world’s best swimmers.
After emerging as a teenage phenom at the 2016 Rio Olympics – one half of Canada’s remarkable 16-year-old duo with Penny Oleksiak – Ruck’s sights were now set on the Tokyo Summer Games. It seemed as though nothing could stop her ascent.
But in the years following her remarkable success, Ruck had veered terribly off course.
Convinced that any extra weight would slow her down, and hearing coaches make offhand remarks about whether she had gotten bigger, Ruck began to fixate. She ate less and trained more, eventually developing a debilitating eating disorder that took hold of her mind and body. Now, even comfort foods brought no happiness
More...from the Globe and Mail.
6. The sports tech that actually makes you faster (but is it ethically right to use it?):
British Cycling’s pursuit of ‘marginal gains’ and the success they enjoyed at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games has been well documented. However, many of us can get caught up in the search for our own 'marginal gains' by agonising over the best choices of kit, tech and equipment.
Some are good choices, some are bad, and some merely fads.
My own questionable decision to race IRONMAN South Africa in 2006 in a full silver wetsuit whilst the other 2,000 competitors merely wore the conventional black (leaving me looking like a 6'3" fishing lure in the shark capital of the world) definitely falls into the 'fad' category.
In contrast, a prime example of an athlete who was ahead of the curve when it comes to technical innovation was Greg Lemond at the 1989 Tour De France, where his "early adopter" approach to using aerobars turned a 50-second deficit going into the final stage into an 8-second win. His adversary, Laurent Fignon, helmetless, riding bullhorn bars and ponytail flapping in the wind was probably physiologically every bit as strong as the American.
More...from Precision Hydration.
7. Why and When to Use Low-Cadence Intervals in Cycling Training:
Base training is the perfect time to start incorporating low-cadence training to improve your strength and power.
Low-cadence intervals: some swear by them while others say they’re a waste of time. They’re designed to build strength on the bike, but, realistically, this remains in question. Strength is defined as one’s ability to produce force, and even at extremely low cadences, the forces produced while cycling are far less than what can be achieved in the gym with heavy resistance training. I’m not here to discuss the “strength” aspect of low-cadence training, but rather to talk about how low cadence training can improve your fitness by another mechanism.
Understanding Cycling Cadence and Power
The body’s natural tendency while cycling is to select whatever cadence requires the least amount of muscle activation to maintain a given power. The fewer muscles you need to activate, the fewer muscles you will fatigue. This preferred cadence range is different for everyone and it changes depending on how hard you are riding.
As power increases, the preferred cadence range increases as well. For example, at 200 watts a rider’s preferred cadence that will require the least amount of muscle activation might be around 80 rpm. If the same rider does an interval at 400 w, their preferred cadence might increase to 95 rpm. This pattern holds true for almost every rider regardless of what their preferred cadence ranges are. You most likely ride at a higher cadence during a 4-minute, all-out effort than you would at endurance pace.
More...from TRaining Peaks.
8. Is it always advantageous to be resilient?
Lloyd Emeka is back with another sports psychology insight, this time into the role of resilience and how being vulnerable can be a positive experience.
“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall”.
The above quote from Serena Williams is an example of the importance that is associated with having the ability to overcome adversity within a sporting context.
In our everyday lives, human beings experience a multitude of obstacles and challenges which varies from daily hassles to life-changing events, which has arguably been exacerbated by Covid-19. A combination of these factors has led to an ongoing narrative of resilience as an ideal human trait and skill to cope with difficult life challenges.
More...from Fast Running.
9. Barbara Kay: The case for an 'open' category to welcome trans athletes in sports:
A recently released report recommends a new paradigm for how athletes compete that would make sports fairer and safer for women.
In 2006, Canadian downhill mountain bike racer Danika Schroeter found out the hard way what happens to female athletes when they protest against unfair policies in sports.
Standing on the podium following a race won by transgender biker Michelle Dumaresq — Canadian women’s champion in 2003, 2004 and 2006, amongst other triumphs — Schroeter received her silver medal in silence, but everyone present could see the Sharpie-drawn message on her t-shirt: “100% Pure Woman CHAMP 2006.”
For her chutzpah, Schroeter was handed a three-month suspension. She offered a personal apology, but it broke her as an athlete, and the sports world hasn’t heard from her since. Following that incident, no female athlete has uttered a word of public protest against trans-identified males who are increasingly dominating women’s sports.
Athletes should not be tasked with such martyrdom in the battle for a level playing field in sport. Even though they are the primary victims of ill-considered transgender policies, female athletes did not sign up for political activism, and we have no right to ask them to jeopardize their scholarships and ambitions in the struggle to reverse those policies.
More...from the National Post.
10. Eating for Performance Should Be Simple—and Cheap:
Overcomplicating sports nutrition wastes money and time. It also perpetuates privilege
Eating well isn’t cheap. At least, not according to the sports-nutrition industry. For $220 a month, Renaissance Periodization will pair you with a credentialed coach who will tell you what and when to eat based on your body composition and training goals. For $100, you can have a fitness influencer set macro targets for you (which you can then track yourself for free via MyFitnessPal). And for a comparatively minuscule price of $20, you can learn to eat exactly like seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady—although his supplement bundle will cost you $147.
We’re constantly being marketed products that promise us better workouts, bigger muscles, improved circulation, and more. Caffeinated beverages, sugary gummies, and even vegetables have all been reformulated and rebranded as performance-supporting foods.
More...from Outside Online.. [Member Content]
11. 12 Benefits of Stretching – Backed by Science:
The truth about how stretching and flexibility training really prevents sports injuries and improves athletic performance.
A USA Track & Field (USATF) research study of 2,729 volunteers set out to answer the question: Does pre-exercise stretching prevent injury in runners?
Here’s what they found…
When adjusting for all potential risk factors, there remained no significant difference between the two stretching groups.
When comparing injuries which prevented running in excess of 1 or 2 weeks, there is no significant difference between the stretch and no stretch groups whether adjusting for other risk factors or not.
There was no statistically significant difference in injury rates between the stretch and no stretch groups for any specific injury location or diagnosis.
And finally; over a three-month period there was no statistically significant difference in injury risk between the pre-run stretching and non-stretching groups. Stretching neither prevented nor induced injury when compared to not stretching before running.
More...from Stretch Coach.
12. Can COVID-19 Hurt Your Running Performance Long-Term?
While fitness seems like a protective factor, doctors urge everyone to remain vigilant against getting sick.
For the data junkies out there—those more likely to be glued to their smart watches and checking their progress on Strava—any amount of performance decline post-COVID may have them searching for answers.
Economists at the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf believe they’ve dialed those performance declines into a quantifiable percent when it comes to professional soccer players. The discussion paper (not a peer-reviewed study, mind you), published in August, is a statistical analysis comparing the performance of over 1,000 players before and after having COVID.
By looking at the number of passes made, the researchers believe that they could account for physical (acceleration, condition, endurance) and cognitive (strategy and position on the pitch) aspects of performance likely to be affected by having the virus.
More...from Trail Runner.
13. Very-low carbohydrate, high-fat diet outperforms high-intensity interval training in lowering body fat:
Cardiorespiratory fitness improved with exercise and was not impaired by the VLCHF diet
A very-low carbohydrate high-fat (VLCHF) diet, either in isolation or in combination with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been demonstrated to induce a significant reduction in visceral adipose tissue (belly fat) mass and body composition variables. HIIT alone did not cause such effects.
A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, found that the VLCHF diet intervention, less than 50 grams per day, had a greater effect on improving body composition than exercise alone, and that a VLCHF diet can be an effective strategy for reducing excess body fat. The incorporated HIIT program had no additional effects on reducing body composition variables, and in particular, belly fat. HIIT alone, and when combined with VLCHF, did improve cardiorespiratory fitness.
More...from Dr. Phil Maffetone.
14. What Women Runners Need to Know About Bone Health:
Here's how to be proactive about your bone health before a break sidelines you.
As kids, we are told to have a glass of milk with dinner to grow strong bones. Seemed simple enough at the time, but that advice doesn’t seem to reflect a traditional supper-time routine for adults.
In fact, ten million people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones, runners included. Because while running is a weight bearing sport that helps strengthen the bones, it is also a sport with a high incidence of stress fractures. All runners, especially women, should know how to protect their bones and ensure good bone health throughout their lifetime.
Here’s what all women runners should know about how to keep their bones strong and healthy.
More...from Women's Running.
15. Project Eclipse: How Shalane Flanagan Relied on InsideTracker to Run Six Marathons in Six Weeks:
Chasing big, wild, audacious goals is nothing new to Shalane Flanagan. This four-time Olympian, Olympic silver medalist, TCS New York City Marathon champion, World XC Bronze medalist, American record holder, Nike Bowerman Track Club coach, three-time New York Times best-selling cookbook author, and proud mom inspired runners and non-runners across the globe with her recent incredible running journey known as Project Eclipse.
After the announcement of a stacked schedule of fall dates for six major marathons, Flanagan saw this "total running eclipse" as an opportunity of a lifetime—she would run them all, in extremely quick succession. She set this goal to challenge herself and "to do something that makes others feel they can do anything." With a strong team behind her, including InsideTracker to help guide her nutrition, performance, and recovery, Shalane set out to run six marathons in six weeks: Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo (virtual), and NYC.
The racing began on September 26, 2021, when she toed the line at the Berlin marathon—but her inside story started weeks prior with baseline blood analysis from InsideTracker. Here’s what Shalane learned from testing with InsideTracker five times throughout Project Eclipse.
More...from Inside Tracker.