1. The Benefits of Explosive Training for Women:
Plyometric training can improve power, speed, and agility as well as improve metabolic and bone health in women of all ages.
Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements, such as jumping, hopping, and bounding, that help to improve muscle power, speed, and agility. Women often look aghast when they see that I put plyometric training front and center in my “Menopause for Athletes” programming. We’ve been taught that we should be taking it down a notch when we get older, not turning it up. But that is just not true. Women of all ages benefit from including plyometrics in their training.
And just to drive home that point about all ages: a 2019 systematic research review of the recent literature on plyometrics and older adults aged 58 to 79 reported that plyometrics often improved muscular strength, bone health, body composition, posture, and physical performance. None of the studies reported increased injuries or other adverse events from plyometric exercises among participants. The researchers concluded, “Plyometric training is a feasible and safe training option with potential for improving various performance, functional, and health-related outcomes in older persons.”
More...from Dr. Stacy Sims.
2. Why tall, leggy people run faster in the heat:
If you are a marathon runner in search of a personal best, your body shape could be just as important as your training, analysis suggests.
A study of 170 Ironman contestants found tall, leggy runners performed better in warm climates, while shorter, stockier people had the upper hand in colder temperatures.
But the effect is seen in men only, the researchers say.
Natural selection probably means the fastest men became the best hunters.
Study author Prof Ryan Calsbeek, a professor of biological sciences, at Dartmouth College, in the US, said his research was among the first to suggest human physiology may be adapted to climate to optimise physical performance.
"Global patterns of temperature and climate may have shaped human body types to look and perform the way they do," he said.
So even before athletes leave the starting line in Ironman triathlons, marathons and other endurance events, some men may be better suited than others to racing - based on their body type and the temperatures they are running in.
More...from the BBC.
3. My Take on “Gladwell’s Law” That Elite Athletic Achievement Comes at the Expense of Mass Participation:
I think his proposal for changing high school competition is great, but I disagree with the “law” underlying the proposal.
As regular readers of this newsletter may have noticed, I like haggling with Malcolm Gladwell over sports — especially track and field. (We were both competitive middle-distance runners.)
Malcolm recently attended the World Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon — the first time it has been held in the United States. The competition was incredible. There were world records in the 100-meter hurdles, the men’s pole vault (followed by a celebratory flip), and an absolutely bananas world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.
On the back of that excitement, Malcolm wrote his last Bulletin post on an evergreen topic among track fans: how to get more Americans interested in the sport. You won’t be surprised to learn that he has grounded his recommendation in a new, intriguing, and intriguingly named axiom: “Gladwell’s Law.” You also won’t be surprised to learn that while I love his suggestion, I also have a quibble or three with Gladwell’s Law.
More...from Range Widely.
4. Nnormal Kjerag Review: Way Beyond Normal:
MATT: This review of the Nnormal Kjerag is a bit of a companion piece, because if you get to train under Kilian Jornet’s watchful eye for a few months (check out the first installment of my training journal here), it’s only appropriate that you do it in his own shoes.
As part of my unique experience, thanks to Coros, I was also lucky enough to be outfitted in gear from Nnormal, Kilian’s company, capped off by my choice of footwear. I opted for the Kjerag, Nnormal’s max-performance model, rather than the Tomir, which is positioned more as an everyday trainer.
As mentioned, Nnormal is the brainchild of Kilian Jornet, arguably the greatest mountain athlete of all time, and a family-owned Spanish footwear company called Camper. Its name comes from the fact that the shoes were tested in Norway (Nor) and Mallorca (Mal). Toss in an extra N to make it a little less normal, and there you go.
Nnormal managed to hype up the release of its Kjerag in a way that no other brand could because no other brand has the GOAT as part of its ownership. While gearing up for the launch of Nnormal in 2022, Kilian pulled together a string of races, including Sierra Zinal, Zegama, Hardrock, and UTMB, winning the final three of those. Even more impressive was the fact that he wore the same pair of Kjerags for all of them — talk about a hype machine.
More...from Belive in the Run.
5. Can Women Outperform Men in Sports? That’s the Wrong Question to Ask:
n an excerpt from her forthcoming book, ‘Up to Speed: The Groundbreaking Science of Women Athletes,’ longtime Outside contributor Christine Yu argues that female athletes deserve their own benchmarks for athletic success.
Humans have long kept track of who’s the best—in the world, on this course, in this pool, in this incredibly niche event. Those benchmarks largely reflect what men have accomplished in sports. Men’s achievements have become the de facto measuring stick and framework to organize and understand athletic performance and progression, and women are judged by this standard too. Women have never been given the space to test their potential and to set their own benchmarks without the weight of expectations that have been tainted by what men have accomplished or misconceptions about women’s bodies.
What could women achieve if they were given a blank slate and nothing to compare themselves to? What if women were given the freedom to launch an entirely different athletic trajectory than men?
In the early 1990s, physiology professors Brian Whipp and Susan Ward looked at the progression of men’s and women’s world records in running events ranging from the 200 meters through the marathon. They found that men lowered their times at a fairly predictable rate across all events. Yet the rate of improvement for women, particularly in the marathon, was much steeper. Based on the data, they predicted that the gap in times between women and men in the marathon would cease to exist by 1998.
More...from Outside Online.
6. The best Saucony running shoes for training and racing:
From the Kinvara to the Peregrine, and the Tempus to the Endorphin Pro, these are the Saucony shoes worthy of a place in your rotation .
Looking for a new pair of running shoes and have Saucony in mind? You’re in the right place. The global running brand traces its origins back to 1898 when four businessmen opened the first factory in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Saucony Creek (it's pronounced ‘sock a knee’, FYI). The brand’s logo represents the Creek’s constant flow, and the boulders lining its bed.
By 1910, the company was producing around 800 pairs of shoes a day and introduced its first running shoe, the 7446 Spike. But it wasn’t until 1968, when the company was brought by Russian immigrant Abraham R. Hyde, that Saucony really started to gain its reputation in the athletics industry and cement itself as one of the world’s leading running brands. From the release of its pioneering, shock-absorbing Grid technology in 1991, to more recently, it's Speedroll technology in the Endorphin Pro and high-spec Endorphin Elite, which is now its 135th year.
More...from Runner's World UK.
7. Massage boots, oxygen chambers, and -200 degree temperatures! The EXTREME treatments and therapies elite athletes use to stay at the top of their game:
Athletes such as Erling Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo have bespoke routines
But using rare and expensive treatments to aid performance has become norm
Treatments such as cryotherapy and tecar therapy are also endorsed by clubs
Professional sport can be a case of fine margins. Commitment to putting in an extra hour in training or maintaining a tailored regime could prove the difference between competing at the highest level – or just missing out.
Erling Haaland is an excellent example of an athlete with a truly bespoke routine which oversees every aspect of his pre- and post-match preparations, and even allows time for the maintenance of his circadian rhythms.
So too is Cristiano Ronaldo, whose specific routines and treatments were once seen as an almost unusual addition to his club's training regime, but have now become the norm with the advancement of sports technology.
More...from the Daily Mail.
8. Exercise and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Fitness Explored:
Summary: The neuroscience of fitness explores how regular exercise profoundly impacts our brain and nervous system.
Exercise stimulates neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons – primarily in the hippocampus, influencing memory and learning while increasing key mood-regulating neurotransmitters. It also enhances brain plasticity, essential for recovery from injury and aging, and improves cognitive functions such as attention and memory.
Despite ongoing research, the current evidence underscores the powerful role of physical activity in promoting brain health and cognitive function, emphasizing the importance of integrating regular exercise into our lifestyles.
Aerobic Exercise and Brain Volume: Regular aerobic exercise like running can increase the size of the hippocampus and preserve vital brain matter, improving spatial memory and cognitive function.
9. The Quest for a Simpler Way to Boost Running Efficiency:
Plyometrics can make you a more efficient runner, and it turns out they don’t need to be complicated or risky.
It’s pretty clear, at this point, that plyometric training can make you a more efficient runner. There’s still plenty of debate about how it works. Does it streamline the signals traveling from brain to muscle? Does it make your tendons stiffer, enabling them to store and release more energy as they’re stretched with each stride? Does it alter your running style so that you take quicker and lighter steps? No one is sure, but there’s little debate that it does something.
As a result, studies like this one in Sports Biomechanics, published last month by a group led by Aurélien Patoz of the University of Lausanne, don’t garner much attention. They found a 3.9 percent improvement in running economy after eight weeks of either plyometric or dynamic strength training, roughly comparable to what Nike’s original Vaporfly 4% shoe produced. (They also found no evidence that either form of training altered running stride in any significant way, for what it’s worth.)
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
10. Fast Talk Femmes Podcast: How to Avoid Overtraining—with Dr. Trent Stellingwerff:
Learn how to get the most from your training and fueling—and avoid the pitfalls of overtraining—with advice from a leading academic.
Dr. Trent Stellingwerff is a leading academic in the field of endurance sports and energy availability—and in this episode of Fast Talk Femmes he talks in-depth about the importance of fueling your training as a foundation for success.
As Director of Performance Solutions at the Canadian Sports Institute and an experienced researcher who has published more than 120 peer reviewed papers, Stellingwerff has the perfect blend of academic knowledge and real-world insight. He is considered one of the top experts on RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports).
In this episode he talks about some of his published work on topics such as overtraining syndrome and RED-S, periodized nutrition for athletes, patience during puberty, and nutrition interventions to optimize performance in middle distance runners.
More...from Fast Talk Femmes Podcast.
11. Review: ASICS SuperBlast:
ASIC’s new mega-stack training shoe has cushioning for days. Welcome to the SuperBlast
ASICS SuperBlast $250
A dozen years ago, when the running shoe industry was caught up in a minimalist revolution, the shoe design ethos suddenly turned on a dime with the advent of maximalism brought about by Hoka. While a true running shoe geek might argue that Nike should be given credit for the first maximally cushioned shoes with the original Air Max shoes in 1987, a more prominent debate for 2022 is tied to the question of how big can maximal cushioning go.
A compelling answer might be found in the new ASICS SuperBlast training shoe with an enormous midsole, high-off-the-ground design geometry and smooth and responsive ride. The shoe launched on November 3 and will initially be available at the New York City Marathon expo before becoming available universally in early December.
While it’s not the highest-ever stack height in a running shoe, the SuperBlast definitely has a thicker midsole than most. A lot thicker! For comparison, its stack heights are considerably higher than the Hoka Bondi 8 (39/35) and On Cloudmonster (33/27) and Altra’s new ViaOlympus (33/33). But after running in it for a while, I’ve found it’s less about the massive size, but much more about the buoyant sensation produced by the complementary effects of the soft FF Blast Plus and energetic FF Blast Turbo cushioning foams.
More...from Women's Running.
12. Silencing Period Talk Hurts Athletes:
Mikaela Shiffrin was unstoppable this winter. The alpine skier won 14 World Cup races and ended the season with the overall, slalom, and giant slalom titles. Most notably, she notched her 88th victory to become the winningest skier in World Cup history—man or woman. But Shiffrin broke more than skiing records this season. She broke a taboo in sports, too—she talked about her menstrual cycle.
In interviews after the back-to-back wins that vaulted her past Lindsey Vonn to the top of the women’s all-time wins list, Shiffrin said she was exhausted. She didn’t sleep well and generally felt out of sorts before her race, mentioning that it was “an unfortunate time of my monthly cycle.” While Shiffrin didn’t shy away from talking about her cycle, she expressed some embarrassment, saying that she probably shouldn’t talk about it in her interviews.
The shame surrounding period talk, particularly within sports, isn’t surprising. It’s typical of the way that, for centuries, people have viewed the menstrual cycle as a weakness. Even in 2023, politicians in Florida want to keep girls from discussing menstruation. As Shiffrin has been soaring to new heights in her sport, the Florida House of Representatives proposed legislation to bar instruction on menstrual cycles before the sixth grade and prohibit talking about periods during the school day.
13. Why elite athletes love Maurten - Kipchoge's favourite sports drink:
It's the product fuelling some of the world's fastest marathons, but how is it different from a normal carb-based gel, and how does it work?
My friends and family have nicknamed me Paula Radcliffe: not because I’m a crazy fast runner, but because of an unfortunate incident at Chicago Marathon involving my rather unhappy GI tract. Not wanting misfortune to strike twice, I was persuaded to give Maurten a go for my next marathon block – and I haven’t looked back.
If you haven’t heard of Maurten, get to know it now. The Swedish-based company has worked with a number of elite endurance athletes, fuelled every World Major Marathon winner since 2017, as well as numerous Olympic gold medallists and world champions.
People just need to try it, and they’ll see a difference,’ Joshua Rowe, Maurten’s Performance Scientist, tells me. ‘It’s hard to communicate that because if you look at a Maurten gel and a traditional gel, or you look at a Maurten drink mix and a traditional drink mix, they look similar. But how they function and operate in the stomach is completely different.’
More...from Runner's World UK.
14. We need more research on women athletes:
To be an elite athlete, you need to follow the latest science and training routines — which, unfortunately, are built for men. Journalist Christine Yu joins host Krys Boyd to discuss the gender gap in sports science and how the rise in women’s athletics is finally changing the game. Her book is “Up to Speed: The Groundbreaking Science of Women Athletes.”
Listen to the podcast on Kera.
15. Why Are So Many Women Runners Kicking Butt in Their Late 30s?
Sara Hall, Keira D’Amato are benefitting from hard work, changing social mores and more equitable sponsorships.
When Sara Hall crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:25:48 on April 17, she set a new masters record and demonstrated something extraordinary is happening with women runners in their mid-30s and beyond.
Hall’s record for women runners aged 40 and older was just the latest data point in a growing trend. Last year, Keira D’Amato set the American marathon record by running 2:19:12 at the age of 37 (Emily Sisson broke that record again later that year). On the same day, Hall set a new American half-marathon record in 1:07:15 at the age of 38. And a month before that, Sara Vaughn ran one of the fastest debut marathon times ever for an American runner, clocking 2:26:53 at the age of 35.
All these women, all mothers, all over 35, all evidence of the current revolution in women’s distance running.
More...from Women's Running.