1. Let’s Talk About Menopause and Running:
Women don’t stop training after age 40, so why aren’t we openly discussing how to adjust and adapt as our bodies go through seismic shifts?
Sasha Gollish, a 41-year-old Canadian elite runner, can reflect on a precise moment, five years ago, when she knew her body was going through some things. She was in the call room for the 1500 meters at the Payton Jordan invitational track meet, an annual event at Stanford University, when she unexpectedly got her period.
She didn’t just start menstruating, though. It was more of a gush.
“It was just like a fire hose that opened up,” Gollish says.
Typically, athletes aren’t supposed to leave the call room before they line up for a race. But an elderly male race volunteer could see it was an emergency. He uttered, “I can’t help you,” as Gollish responded, “No sir, you cannot help me. I need to go and change my clothes.”
“He just said, ‘You do what you need to do,’” she says.
Surprisingly, Gollish ended up having a decent race, until she had about 200 meters to go. Then her legs started flailing as her hips splayed, her lower half just unable to respond in her normal stride. She slowed as she made her way around the final bend, into the finish line, bleeding through her shorts again.
More... from Women's Running.
2. Empowering Female Athletes. Part 2:
Digging into the rest of the International Society of Sports Nutrition Female Athlete Position Stand. Here’s what you need to know.
In the last blog, I discussed the first part of the International Society of Sport Nutrition (ISSN) Position Stand for the Female Athlete. In case you missed it, we covered menstrual cycle tracking, the importance of adequate energy availability, and carbohydrate needs. This week, we dig into protein, supplementation, and the other key points from the Female Athlete Position Stand.
And in full disclosure, the lion’s share of this discussion revolves around protein, specifically the call for higher protein intakes, which can be a pretty polarizing discussion in sports nutrition circles. So here goes!
The Protein Perspective
First let’s level-set the basics: The current RDA for protein intake for women is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. At this point, this is fairly common knowledge. What’s less known is how the RDA arrived there. They derived this recommendation using nitrogen balance studies. Your body commonly gets nitrogen, which is essential for human life, from amino acids that make up protein. The concept of nitrogen balance is that the difference between nitrogen intake and loss mirrors the gain or loss of total body protein. If you take in more nitrogen (protein) than you lose, you are considered to be anabolic or in positive nitrogen balance. If you lose more nitrogen than you take in, you’re considered catabolic or in negative nitrogen balance.
More...from Dr. Stacy Sims.
3. Managing the competing tensions of social media as a high performance athlete:
Social media has had an enormous impact on the sport sector, economically and culturally
Athletes may use social media as a platform for personal updates or activism, or as a venue to work with sponsors in a financial relationship, however, it may also be a space in which athletes face abuse and harassment, and which has an impact on their body image
This article outlines challenges that high performance athletes face within an increasingly digital world, and offers advice regarding how sport organizations can best support athletes
When it comes to the relationship between sports and social media, it’s hard to know where to start. Athletes have never been more visible and accessible than they are now. As a result, social media has become an increasingly commercialized space within the sporting industry, with brands and sponsors seeking to reach consumers through athletes’ platforms.
On the one hand, social media can be a tool in the hands of athletes to engage and inspire sport participation. In some cases, athletes use social media to create community, provide information, or undertake activism or philanthropic work.
On the other hand, social media has demonstratively negative impacts on mental health and may place undue pressure on athletes to look or act in certain ways to be “marketable” online. Social media is rife with harassment, abuse, and sexualization, but many athletes feel as though they can’t opt out of social media, as it has become entrenched within the economic system of sport when it comes to sponsorship.
4. Nike and Adidas Lead Brands With Most-Placed Products in TV & Film, According to New Study:
Films and television shows are known for integrating branded content — whether a character is wearing a specific shoe label or entering a store, for example. A new study is breaking down those on-screen labels with the greatest reach.
British platform Merchant Machine has analyzed 2,227 movies and 890 TV shows (encompassing all episodes and seasons) as seen on the blog Product Placement, and is showcasing its findings in a new analyzed study. The site’s results reveal how often certain brands appear throughout the media — categorized by brand names, product and more — as of July 2023, with the most frequent brand placements appearing in movies including “Back to the Future” (1985), Sweet Home Alabama ” (2002), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006) and “Sex and the City” (2008).
Within the study’s clothing and shoe findings, Nike led the pack overall with 912 branded film placements, followed by Adidas (590), Ray-Ban (273), Converse (148) and Under Armour (137). Nike’s shoes and sneakers were also the top branded products seen in films (507), third overall beneath Apple’s MacBook computer (867) and iPhone models (623).
More...from Footwear News.
5. Large scale study finds cardio fitness is associated with lower risk of nine cancers - but an increased risk of two:
Endurance athletes have yet another reason to feel smug, but it’s not all good news.
It’s probably not a surprise to hear that exercise is good for you, but it is interesting to see it clearly quantified. Plus the result that men with good cardiorespiratory fitness - the aerobic fitness which is developed by cycling - are associated with an increased risk of two specific types of cancers is a curious finding itself.
First of all, let’s go over how this study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was conducted, to better understand the context.
The cohort consists of Swedish men who were conscripted into the military between 1968 and 2005, totalling just over one million individuals being tracked for an average of 33 years. As part of their conscription, the men were given a detailed medical assessment, measuring - amongst other metrics - their aerobic fitness using a variant of a ramp test.
This provides a huge and detailed data set which researchers can delve into and pull out notable trends. As Aron Onerup et al notes: “There is a paucity of studies with a sufficiently large sample size and sufficiently long follow-up to assess the associations between CRF [cardiorespiratory fitness] and the development of site-specific cancers.”
More...from Cycling Weekly
6. Nike React X InfinityRN 4: Shoe Review:
The new hotly anticipated running shoe from Nike looks a bit like a hovercraft and is guaranteed, like all Nike products, to turn heads. There’s just something different about Nike, a golden halo, perhaps, and the brand, since Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, the advent of carbon plates and super shoes, that demands attention.
If it’s good enough for Kipchoge, it feels special, nearly mythical, when worn by you.
So how’s the shoe? The InfinityRN 4 ReactX is made with the ReactX foam, which apparently provides 13% greater energy return than than the previous Infinity iteration. It’s hard to quantify what that actually means but, in layman’s terms, the shoe is comfortable. It feels bouncy. Now, this is not a super shoe. The Infinity series is different than the Vaporfly, and it has a price tag to match. The Infinity is $100 less expensive.
More in line with the company’s ever-popular Pegasus series, I found the InfinityRN 4 to be stretchy and elastic, energetic—if that word makes sense. I could feel the energy return and, in their white, black and red colour scheme, I felt like I looked fast and sleek, and thus it helped me run that way. (That my race crew oohed and aahed when I first broke them out, didn’t hurt).
More...from Precision Hydration.
8. Camille Herron Opens up about Perimenopause and Running:
The world record-setting pro ultrarunner is sharing her experiences so others don’t have to go through it alone.
Research and information on women’s health still remains a fairly unexplored area as it relates to running and performance. Many outspoken athletes and experts are working to change that though, and are finding that simply sharing their own experiences can help others. That’s why pro ultrarunner Camille Herron decided to share some of her experiences with perimenopause—the two to 10 year period when ovaries gradually stop working—in an Instagram post this week.
Explaining what the past few months of perimenopause—months that have included world record setting performances—have been like, she said, “It was like I had my period 3 times in 5 weeks between June-July- even while taking my longtime oral contraceptive.”
Herron has been working with her doctor and dietician, and says she’s felt immensely better after discontinuing her oral contraceptive. “I’m going with the flow (literally ??) and focusing on feeling good and consistent most of the time,” she wrote.
More...from Runner's World.
9. Running on empty: Female athletes’ health and performance at risk from not eating enough :
When energy intake is reduced by too much for too long the consequences for exercise performance, muscles and health can potentially be severe
For athletes and highly physically active individuals, a well-planned and executed nutrition and exercise training regimen are critical to maximizing training and pursuing peak performance.
Many people are aware that habitually consuming more calories than is expended can lead to weight gain. It also increases the risk of developing obesity and other metabolic health concerns such as Type 2 diabetes.
However, female athletes and highly active women are at an increased risk of quite the opposite problem; that is, not eating enough.
When energy intake is reduced by too much for too long, or not increased to match the demands of their training, the consequences for exercise performance, muscles and health can potentially be severe.
More...from the National Post.
10. Free weights vs. machines: Which is better?
There’s a pecking order in the gym: Experts hoist the barbells and other free weights, while beginners stick to the machines. This makes sense. The machines are, after all, explicitly designed to minimize your risk of getting pinned under a heavy load or accidentally dumping weights all over the floor.
But this pattern has also led to the assumption that free weights are better than machines – that, pound for pound, you get more benefits from bench-pressing a barbell than you do from the same exercise on a machine.
“This idea has become a widespread belief,” says Jesús Garcia Pallarés, a researcher at the University of Murcia’s Human Performance and Sports Science Laboratory in Spain, “snowballing unchallenged.”
More...from the Globe and Mail.
11. Why we get side stitches while running and how to get rid of them:
Try practicing these techniques to avoid getting a side stitch next time you head out for a run.
We have all been there, you are on a run and immediately hit by pain in the side of your abdomen. This sharp pain digging into the side of your body can spoil any run or workout. What you have is a side stitch, which is scientifically called exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP), but why do we get side stitches? And how can we get rid of them?.
The answer is from the friction and pressure from your stomach. Humans have a two-layered abdominal lining called the peritoneum, which wraps around the diaphragm, covering your stomach and other organs. There is supposed to be space between the two layers, but when there isn’t a space, the two layers rub together with movement, creating a sharp pain. This can happen if you exercise right after you’ve eaten a big meal, for example, or if you have consumed too much sugar.
More...from Canadian Running Magazine.
12. What a Newly Banned Painkiller Tells Us About the Limits of Endurance:
Tramadol has a long history of suspected abuse among cyclists, and now there’s enough to data to put it on WADA’s banned list.
On January 1, 2024, a new World Anti-Doping Agency rule will kick in that officially bans tramadol, an opioid painkiller. It’s been a long time coming: the abuse of tramadol has been an open secret in cycling, with rumors swirling about its use by Team Sky and British Cycling. “It kills the pain in your legs, and you can push really hard,” former Team Sky rider Michael Barry claimed. WADA testing in 2017 found tramadol in 4.4 percent of all samples from cyclists, leading to worries that tramadol-addled riders would cause crashes in the peloton. For some athletes, like British soccer goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, tramadol was a gateway to full-blown opioid addiction. The International Cycling Union banned it in 2019, but WADA continued to take a wait-and-see approach.
The data that finally changed WADA’s mind has now been published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, where it’s free to read. A group led by Alexis Mauger of the University of Kent in Britain put 27 highly trained cyclists through a series of performance tests with either 100 milligrams of tramadol (a modest dose: Kirkland was taking as much as 20 times that amount at once) or a taste-matched placebo. The riders were, on average, 1.3 percent faster in a 25-mile time trial when taking tramadol. WADA’s rules require that a substance fulfill two of three conditions to be banned: it enhances performance, has the potential to harm the athlete, and violates the spirit of sport. Mauger’s data sealed tramadol’s fate.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
13. Transgender athletes in sport: 'It's about safety and fairness:
Sports must consider both safety and fairness when deciding whether transgender athletes should compete against women, according to a World Rugby sports scientist.
Ross Tucker was speaking after the IRFU denied claims it advised a Northern Irish women's rugby team to pull out of an amateur tournament because the opposition included a transgender player.
The actions of Lurgan Rugby were described as "transphobic" in a full-page report in a German newspaper, which outlined complaints from the Berlin Bruisers – a team for LGBTQ+ players.
The inclusion of trans women athletes in sports has become a contentious topic, with some arguing it may give players a natural advantage.
On The Pat Kenny Show, Dr Tucker, who has a PhD in exercise physiology and is currently working as a research scientist for World Rugby, said "all sports" have to face up to the issue.
14. Everyone should be lifting weights. Here’s why:
I was lifting a pair of dumbbells in my garage when my daughters barged in and immediately began peppering me with questions. “What are those?” “Why are you doing that?” “Why are you so sweaty?” Too short of breath to explain the muscular benefits of overhead pressing and the science of perspiration, I responded with a question of my own: “Do you think I can press you overhead?”
Their faces lit up. I already knew I could handle their weights (35 and 40 pounds) in dumbbells, but dumbbells don’t giggle, wriggle or kick. “Hold your arms tightly to your chest and stand as still as a statue,” I instructed my younger daughter, before wrapping my hand around her crossed arms, bracing my core, squeezing my quads and glutes for stability, and slowly raising her from the ground to overhead as she squealed with delight.
At 42 and with a five- and a three-and-a-half-year-old, many would consider me an “older mom.” To some, that might mean I have fewer years of getting to do things like this with my kids. To me, it means fighting that much harder to eke out a few more. Strength training as I get older means I can stave off some of the negative effects of aging, such as loss of muscle mass and strength, for a little longer. But it can also make me better equipped to handle outside stressors such as anxiety, and boosts my cognitive function. It gives me the confidence to look at almost anything and think “bet I’m strong enough to lift that.”
More...from the Globe and Mail.
15. Do You Need to Rethink Your Training?
Intensity can be a slippery slope for endurance athletes—there is a temptation to push harder and longer. The real recipe for performance might entail some new priorities.
I recently began a lecture by flashing a number prominently on the screen: 314. I addressed the audience saying, “This number is really important to me.”
I watched them engage in mental acrobatics to figure out what is so special about 314… Is it a target for FTP?
I quickly let them off the hook, “This is the number of workouts I completed last year.”
A recipe for performance
As athletes, we have access to an unprecedented amount of data, which can make it really hard to see the forest for the trees. I’ve been an endurance athlete for many years, and despite all of my own research, it has taken me a long time to identify the recipe for endurance training:
And the order conveys the importance. To build a foundation for performance, you have to start with frequency. Once I have built up both the habit of getting out the door “X” times per week, and the ability to recover and manage the stress of this habit in my life, only then can I start lengthening some of these training sessions. After I extend the duration—and I am able to recover and manage the stress of this habit in my life—from there, I can begin to work in more intensity.
More...from Fast Talk Laboratpries.