Chasing 42

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Archive for the tag “endurance research”

Latest Running Research- Listen to your Damn Body!

I just completed a multi-year study of running and endurance, and the findings are going to completely redefine the sport! This study is probably bigger than the Harvard Love Study and the Kinsey Reports combined! Are you ready to be amazed and completely rethink everything you know about running?

Here are the important take-away findings:

1. Speed and distance are inversely proportional: All of my recent PRs have come on the heals of long runs the previous day. Forget what you know about tapering, and head out for that 20-miler the day before your marathon. Watch the magic happen!

2. Hydration and gastrointestinal Distress are related: I’ve been playing around with my diet for quite some time, trying to figure out why the threat of the runs occurs on my long runs. Then, it hit me. Hydration! I’ve consumed water every single time I’ve had to make a pit stop at a gas station, in the woods, or behind a dumpster. The obvious solution is to simply stop drinking water. You’re welcome, internet!

3. Wind impacts pace: You’ve probably all thought about this anecdotally, and now you have the scientific proof to back up those hunches. Your pace does in fact decrease when running into the wind. That is, unless you push harder and increase your pace to compensate.

4. Bodyglide suppresses lactation in men! This was a rather unexpected finding, but the facts don’t lie. I do my best to avoid chafing on longer runs and apply my Bodyglide consistently. Surprisingly, I’ve never lactated on those days. Now, to my knowledge, I’ve never lactated period, but we’re just talking about running here.

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5. Black socks make you run faster: We all know that darker colors absorb more energy from the sun, and solar energy is becoming more and more important as we rip through our remaining coal reserves. It then stands to reason that the solar energy entering my legs is providing more power and energy, and I’m running faster as a result. I went back and looked at race pictures, and sure enough, I’m wearing black socks for all of my fastest races.

Now, you’ve probably figured out by now that these findings aren’t EXACTLY scientific, but they are none-the-less true…at least for me. Sometimes. In the right conditions. If I think hard enough about them. My point here is more of a response to what seems like a constant onslaught of articles, commentaries, and studies that suggest running will do this or that to your body, or running too far will hurt your body, you need this much recovery, or you need to eat this balance of foods. The messages we receive are endless in a media-saturated, social-media intensive society. What’s more, we’ve been trained by Western medicine to assume everything is objective, has a solution, and more than likely involves a pill.

I hate to break it to you but there is no such think as objective research. Everyone involved in every research study made decisions about how to go about their work, what and who to include, and what questions to ask (and thus what questions not to ask). The reality is that humanity is amazing, infuriating, sometimes terrifying, and mostly beautifully diverse. Thus, there are as many “ways” to do something as there are people to do them. Running is simply one of those things.

We’ve gotten away from listening to our bodies. Really stopping to pay attention to not only what hurts so we can tell our doctor, but what feels good, how long something lasts, and what differences exist when we try new things. The beauty, of course, is that we can start doing this any time. It may take some time to flip that switch in your mind, but the benefit is well worth the time. Just as we invest time in hill work, speed work, intervals, and endurance training, we should invest time in listening to our bodies.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with reading the articles that flood our news feeds every day. The trick is not to get so wrapped up in what other people are saying that we stop trusting ourselves to know what’s best for our running, our goals, and our bodies. The findings of that study may just surprise you, and will certainly prove more beneficial to your overall performance!

 

 

Running Research to Consider

I’ve been in school for 26 of the 34 years I’ve been alive. In many ways, who I am has been defined by my presence in the classroom for as long as I can remember. I have three degrees, two certificates, and a nice balance of general and specialized knowledge to show for my troubles. I’ve made a career out of the classroom and enjoy my time there, whether as a student or a teacher. Either way, I’m always learning. Heck, if I could find a wealthy benefactor to support me, I’d probably spend the rest of my life in school. As it stands, I’ll have to “settle” for the joy of constant learning. I always happen to be juggling a dozen different topics in my mind, and my “great” reading list would make Robert Maynard Hutchins proud.

All of this is a long way of letting you know that my thirst for knowledge clearly spills over into my passion for running and endurance sports. This means I end up doing what I can to stay as up-to-date on current running-related research, and pouring over journal articles I’m not technically qualified to interpret. Nonetheless, I pick my way through them, look up what I don’t know, and add it to my bank of training knowledge as I constantly shape and reshape my training decisions. Luckily for me, I live in a university community with a wide range of like-minded academic runners, and we have access to a ridiculous amount of research due to our university affiliation. So, I thought I would share a few articles you may find interesting, and that may (or may not) have an impact on your future choices, or the sport as a whole.

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As a mainly qualitative researcher, I’m comfortable with small sample sizes and different notions of reliability and validity. In many quantitatively focused fields, of which I would include exercise science and related disciplines, samples garner a great deal more scrutiny. For this reason, I’ve found it interesting that much of the seemingly relevant literature on running related topics typically involve relatively small sample sizes. There is of course no single definitions of credibility, validity, and reliability. However, I offer this observation as you consider any research you come across.

I’ve also noticed that running research seems to focus on three main areas:

1. The impact of running on health/mortality (generally speaking): this may include specific questions about potential correlations between running and various diseases or physical ailments, or may more generally explore links between running (physical activity) and life expectancy. It may also look at the impact of such variables as heat, cold, and distance on the body or more specific portions of the body.

2. Running Nutrition & Hydration: What products offer the best fuel during a run? How do our bodies process energy while running? Is there a benefit to carb loading the day before a race (probably not)? Is there a perfect fat/carb/protein balance for endurance runners? Should you cut gluten from your diet (not necessarily)? Does the paleo diet benefit runners (not generally)? What is the proper electrolyte balance? How much sodium should you take in during a race?

3. Shoes, Shoes, and more Shoes (and maybe some other gear thrown in for good measure): The debate over the perfect running shoe has been raging for decades and shows no sign of letting up. Companies continue to try and stay ahead of the “next big thing” in running, as they offer minimal, and now maximal products to meet the needs (really, just the interests) of as many runners as possible. Much of this research is (gasp!) sponsored by the shoe companies themselves as they seek the scientific proof that their new, proprietary toe box/sole compound/upper weave, etc. best aids runners in as wide a group as possible.

Photo Credit: Runners Connect

Photo Credit: Runners Connect

Shockingly (ok, not really), the most important thing that all of the reading I’ve done and continue to do has taught me is that running is a personal, individual experience. I can say that it’s clear we’ve lost touch with our bodies over the years as we become more dependent on external products, and less dependent on the ability to listen to what our bodies have to tell us. The only silver bullet that will always universally benefit EVERY runner is training. If you put in the miles, you’ll see results, no matter what your goals might be along the way. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t see value in the wide variety of running-related research being done. Obviously I do, or I wouldn’t be reading it. I think much of the research being done, regardless of the results, can help us learn how to listen to our bodies, understand our bodies, and become more in touch with our running.

With that being said, here are a few recently published articles that may surprise you (or not, if you already knew this about yourself because you are listening to your body).

1. Researchers found that the level of cushion in the mid-sole of the  shoe had no impact on running-related injury rates. This certainly calls into question various shoes trends, eh?

2. The role of increased carbohydrates on endurance performance is being studied as well. Researchers stated  “We conclude that altering total daily carbohydrate intake by providing or withholding carbohydrate during daily training in trained athletes results in differences in selected metabolic adaptations to exercise, including the oxidation of exogenous carbohydrate. However, these metabolic changes do not alter the training-induced magnitude of increase in exercise performance.” In other words, carb-loading doesn’t seem to have a significant impact on performance.

3. Remember the tales about the impact of running hurting your bones? It turns out that impact may have the opposite effect and encourage bone strength and growth, especially as we age. Run on! On a side note, the title of this article is “Physical Activity and Bone: May the Force be With You”. How can you not love a group of researchers that produce titles like that?!

I’ll try to pull in more research as I come across articles that I find interesting, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you pay much attention to the research? Have you made different running choices? Is there amazing research happening out there that you’d like to share?

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