2. Drinking Beet Juice Before a Race is Gross. It’s Also Awesome:
Nitrates - found abundantly in beets, beet juice, and beetroot supplements - have been found to boost athletic performance. But how much should you take, when, and why? Scott Tindal digs in to the science.
Growing up, one thing that was a given in my Australian household was hearing my mum say, “Eat your greens! They are good for you!” The technical reasons for eating a varied diet full of fruit and vegetables relate to their macro and micronutrient components, along with their fiber content – all of which are critical to consume for good health. What mum did not realize, however, was another reason why eating your greens may be beneficial: Leafy greens contain a compound called nitrates. Turns out these little gems do have a whole lot of benefits, and mum probably never even knew about them!
Nitrates (NO3-) are inorganic components of vegetables that are converted in the human body to nitrites (NO2-) and then Nitric Oxide (NO). NO is a gaseous signaling molecule that results in various critical physiological functions, such as improved blood pressure, neurotransmission, enhanced blood flow to muscles, improved muscle efficiency and better sexual health.
Natural sources of nitrates include celery, arugula, radishes, and spinach. But perhaps the best-known source of nitrates for endurance athletes is the humble beet. This red root vegetable is increasingly found in supplements that promise to deliver a punch of nitrates for better athletic performance – but how does the NO effect work?
More...from Women's Running.
3. 9 Exercises to Increase Strength and Mobility in Your Feet:
You need flexibility and stability to train effectively. That starts in your toes.
When it comes to training, your feet tend to be an afterthought. But they shouldn’t be. As athletes, you require balance, bodily awareness, and motor control to excel at running, climbing, and hiking. That all starts in the feet.
Certain exercises can strengthen the little muscles of your feet (your foot intrinsics) and increase mobility among your metatarsals, a critical group of bones in your feet. They also support the arch of your foot, helping to keep plantar fasciitis or general inflammation of your plantar fascia at bay.
Your feet need to be strong, stable, and flexible not only for their own sake but also in order to keep your ankles, knees, and hips supported and safely aligned.The following exercises can improve mobility in your feet and ankles. With these movements, you’ll increase your stability and balance, providing you with the tools you need to succeed in the sports you love. You can opt to practice them individually or all of them at once. I typically recommend doing each exercise in three sets of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise twice a day.
More...from Outside Online.
4. Can exercise help brain health? What two conflicting studies tell us:
The World Health Organization lists it as one of their “Key Facts” about physical activity – that it “enhances thinking, learning and judgment skills.” The link between exercise and brain health is an article of faith among health researchers and policy-makers, not to mention among health journalists like me.
So a pair of studies published last month was whiplash-inducing: first, a major critical review suggesting that hard evidence for the brain-boosting effects of exercise is thin to non-existent; and second, a few days later, a massive study with more than a quarter-million subjects using a cutting-edge new technique to affirm that the benefits are, indeed, real. With the dust still settling, here’s where we stand.
For years, observational studies have pointed to the benefits of exercise in warding off cognitive decline. Take a large group of people, assess how much they exercise and then check back to see whose cognitive performance has dropped fastest. One meta-analysis found that even low-to-moderate exercise levels reduced the risk of subsequent cognitive impairment by 35 per cent; another concluded that one in seven cases of Alzheimer’s disease could be prevented by meeting minimum exercise recommendations of 150 minutes per week.
More...from the Globe and Mail.
5. The Cold, Hard Evidence on Better Breathing for Athletes:
There’s plenty of hype about ways of boosting your respiratory system. Some—but not all—of it is real, according to a new review.
I’m a big fan of breathing, both as an endurance athlete and in my daily life. Sucking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide are both absolutely vital to health and performance. But what I don’t know, even after decades as an athlete and years writing about sports science, is whether it’s possible to breathe better.
The standard take on the human respiratory system is that it’s overbuilt, meaning that it’s never the limiting factor in your ability to sustain exercise. Sure, you’ll breathe heavily if you run a 5K race—but even if you were magically able to breathe 5 percent harder, you wouldn’t run any faster, because the real limiters are the beating of your heart, the circulation of blood, the metabolic byproducts accumulating in your muscles, and so on.
More recently, though, researchers have concluded that there are situations where the respiratory system—the upper airways of the nose and mouth, the lower airways leading to the lungs, along with the lungs themselves and the muscles powering them—struggles to meet the demands placed on it. Most notably, for our purposes, highly trained endurance athletes and people visiting high altitudes sometimes push their breathing system close to its limits.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
6. Chasing the runner’s high: the elusive buzz scientists are still figuring out:
The promise of a runner’s high hovers tantalisingly on the horizon, but pinning down exactly what it is – and where else you can get it – is tricky
I’m a reluctant runner. Two or three times a week, I stagger around the streets and pathways of my neighbourhood, motivated only by the company of my running buddy and by the anticipation of the food I will enjoy when I get home.
The idea of a runner’s high hovers tantalisingly on the horizon, like a neurochemical mirage. Maybe once on a longer run I felt it, like my feet had grown wings and for the first time in my running life I actually wanted to keep going.
The promise of an exercise high sounds like a cruel joke made up by personal trainers, but some runners talk of drug-like addiction, and scientists think there is something there: they’re just not exactly sure what it is.
Neuroscientist Dr Hilary Marusak from Wayne State University in Detroit, US, is a runner who has taken chasing the runner’s high to the next level. Her research explores how exercise interacts with brain chemistry, with a view to ultimately making use of that knowledge to help understand and treat mental health disorders.
More...from The Guardian.
7. The science of tapering: how should you taper before a race?:
In a sports setting, a taper refers to a phase of reduced training load that you might undertake in the lead up to an important competition.
The purpose of this taper is to optimise competition performance by reducing the negative impact of daily training (i.e. accumulated fatigue) without suffering a loss of the training adaptations (i.e. detraining) you’ve spent many weeks or months gaining.
With well-planned training, by the time you start tapering you should have achieved all or most of the expected physiological adaptations so, as soon as the accumulated fatigue diminishes, your peak physiological and psychological performance can rise to the forefront...
How to design your optimal pre-race taper
Tapering broadly means reducing an athlete’s ‘training load’ - described as a combination of the training volume, intensity and frequency.
More...from Precision Hydration.
8. The 6 Best Zero-Drop Shoes For Balanced Support:
Though the idea of running in zero-drop shoes can be intimidating, they may keep your feet level and more comfortable.
Whether you’re looking for more stability in your stride or added comfort for your feet, zero-drop running shoes might be the solution. Whereas traditional shoes have more cushioning under the heel than they do the toe (the difference in which is referred to as drop), these shoes have uniform stack heights front to back, meaning your foot has a stable, flat platform across the entire sole.
Zero-drop shoes are designed to facilitate the natural movement in your running stride by replacing an elevated heel with an even one, similar to if you were walking barefoot. They do tend to take some getting used to, with your muscles, tendons, and ligaments building strength as your foot acclimates.
Zero-drop shoes come in a wide range of designs and styles, with many skewing closer to a barefoot feel while others offer significant cushioning under your entire foot. So, whether you train on concrete streets or out on trails, and you find your current shoes lacking, check out one of these best zero-drop shoes, which could offer a stable, balanced alternative.
More...from Runner's World.
10. The RTÉ Running Podcast: Getting an edge from technology:
Over the course of 12 weeks, the RTÉ Running Podcast with Brian O'Connell discusses everything from how to run your first couch to 5k, to what are the best runners to wear, how to avoid injury and detailing the ups and downs of marathon training.
With just a week to go until his marathon in Rotterdam, Brian talks to a triathlete, Eddie Butt, about the latest advances in technology and science and which gadgets can help with your training and performance.
Listen to the podcast on the RTÉ Running Podcast.
11. The Best Post-Race Beer and Food in Boston:
Your guide to the best bars, parties, and brews following the Boston Marathon.
Running 26.2 miles is wicked fah!
If you run from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, all the way to Copley Square in Boston, you’ll definitely work up a good appetite and earn your beverage of choice.
It’s too bad the late Tommy Leonard can’t serve you a cold draft at the old Eliot Lounge. Located three-quarters of a mile from the Boston Marathon finish line, the erstwhile Massachusetts Avenue bar was a runner’s hangout for two decades before it closed in 1996. That was largely due to Leonard, once the marathon’s official greeter, who had also been voted Boston’s best bartender—even though, legend has it, he was never known to serve anything more than a shot and a beer.
With a nod to Leonard and an assist from local runner Natalie Obssuth, lead Run Concierge at The Westin Copley Place, Boston, we present the best post-race hangouts within a few miles of the finish line, plus some notable post-race parties and a few of the best beers brewed in Boston.
More...from Outside Online.
12. Experts said it wasn’t possible. They set out to prove otherwise: Inside the quest to run a sub-two-hour marathon:
Eliud Kipchoge’s achievement — he ran 1:59:40 in 2019 — was as much science as it was athletic ability.
For the better part of five years, Robby Ketchell had spent a lot of mental energy on an idea that was hard for the running world to fathom. But in March 2018, as he spent night after anxious night at the neonatal intensive care unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, that idea was the furthest thing from his mind.
Ketchell could think only about his newborn son. He and his wife, Marya, had already chosen his name, Wyatt.
While he was at the hospital, Ketchell would get calls from an old friend, Sir Dave Brailsford. Since 2010, Brailsford has been the manager of the British pro cycling team Team Sky, and he brought Ketchell into the fold in 2014. They developed a close bond, even after Ketchell left in 2017 to take on a running project at Nike.
More...from the Boston Globe.
13. The Science of Fatigue:
Mental and muscle fatigue is part of every sporting endeavour. But what is fatigue? What happens in the body when we get tired and is it possible to push beyond our perceived limits?
Listen to the podcast on The Real Science of Sports.
14. Behind the Game: Science, sport team up to improve athletes’ wellbeing:
UW sports-science research promotes new initiatives to better support student-athletes, greater community.
The roar of the crowd on a beautiful fall Saturday, the thumping of “Jump Around,” students counting Bucky’s pushups and Badger fans joining in arms to sing Varsity are all staples to a quintessential game day at Camp Randall.
The thrill of the game draws people from across the country to the University of Wisconsin, the home of Badger Athletics and the epitome of the Wisconsin Idea.
But, behind the scenes is a conglomeration of special people dedicating their lives to Bucky’s success.
School of Education professor Peter Miller has dedicated his career to the nuances of sportsmanship, wearing several hats within the athletics realm at UW. Miller understands the implications of athletics beyond the game itself.
“Athletics are a point of durable connections for kids and durable connections for families — even as maybe some other things are not always going as we want them,” Miller said.
More...from The Badger Herald.
15. What would it take to crack the elusive 2-hour marathon time on Boston's course?
Until about a decade ago, any talk of a human finishing a marathon in less than two hours — especially on a more challenging course, like Boston’s — was largely written off as a pipe dream.
But then elite marathoner Eliud Kipchoge emerged on the global stage, breezing through long-held records and stunning the world by redefining the human body’s capacity for endurance. Kipchoge is scheduled to run the Boston Marathon for the first time this weekend, begging the question: what would it take to crack the elusive, 120-minute time code on this iconic course?
The GOAT’s debut in the Boston Marathon
The 38-year-old Kipchoge is often heralded as the Greatest of All Time in the marathon: He holds two Olympic gold medals in the event, four first-place finishes at the London Marathon, another four at the Berlin Marathon, a first-place finish in Tokyo and one more in Chicago, for good measure.