Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Is Ryan Hall a Victim of Prolonged High Altitude Training?

October 23, 2010

This week Ryan Hall had announced his departure from the Mammoth Lakes Track Club and Coach Terrence Mahon. Hall decided to leave the club and coach due to recent poor performance at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon (14th place) and extreme fatigue. This is very shocking to hear since Hall is a such great runner. He has set the American record for the half-marathon (59:43) and has the second fastest marathon time by and American (2:06:17). But, what could be the actual cause for Hall’s poor performances and fatigue? In July this blog had reported prolonged altitude training could reduce endurance. According to the study: an extended stay at altitude can bring a loss of the muscle’s ability to use oxygen to carry out work. The number of mitochondria, the oxygen-using powerhouses of the cell, falls with a prolonged stay at high altitude. Is Hall a victim of prolonged high altitude training? It’s a possibility. Hall rays he will be spending less time at the high altitude Mammoth Lakes: “Though we do intend to spend time training in our home, Mammoth Lakes, this change will allow us greater flexibility in both our day to day training and in our location. Sara and I will plan to train in a variety of locations at both sea level and at altitude, whatever makes most sense for the time period as I prepare for a spring marathon. We will likely not be training in Mammoth until the spring or summer due to the long winter. I believe this flexibility will give us a greater capacity to maximize our training.” Let’s hope for the best for Ryan Hall. The London 2012 Olympics are right around the corner.

Compression-only CPR found effective

August 3, 2010

Being a RRCA running coach, I am required to be certified in CPR. It’s also a great skill for anyone to know so they may save a life. The CPR that I had learned from the American Red Cross requires there to be two breaths followed by 30 chest compressions. Now research has determined that compression-only CPR is effective. The research concludes there is no significant difference in survival for patients that received compression-only CPR from bystanders. Hopefully, this finding will lead more bystanders to take action and give life saving CPR with the compression-only method.

Runners and caffeine

July 3, 2010

Caffeine has once again made it’s way into the headlines as a performance enhancer. Even after it has been disclosed that caffeinated runners have been running their way to the emergency room. Maybe the careless New York Times article had contributed to those incidents.

Before any runner thinks they are going to improve their performance by 6% by taking a caffeine supplement, you need to be aware of the potential consequences. Running on excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to cardiac arrest during endurance events. if you do not drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis then you are even more prone to cardiac arrest during endurance events.

My advice is not to use caffeine as a performance booster just because some researcher’s mouse received a 6% performance boost from it. Instead the best performance booster should be a well constructed training plan and then trust your training when the time comes to race.

This doesn’t mean you need to cut caffeine out of your routine entirely. As the Running Doc said, it is fine to have a cup of coffee (200mg of caffeine) prior to a running activity or race. Just don’t over do it.

Chocolate milk is a ‘natural’ for post-exercise recovery

July 3, 2010

Chocolate milk had already been a topic on this site. I think I had said chocolate milk saved my childhood, or something to that extent, and it needed to be available as an option on our nation’s schools’ lunch menus. Now there is evidence that chocolate milk is an excellent post-exercise recovery drink.

From the article:
“Chocolate milk’s combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein first made researchers take notice of a potential exercise benefit. The combination of carbs and protein already in chocolate milk matched the ratio found to be most beneficial for recovery. In fact, studies suggest that chocolate milk has the right mix of carbs and protein to help refuel exhausted muscles, and the protein in milk helps build lean muscle. This new research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting milk can be just as effective as some commercial sports drinks in helping athletes refuel and recover.

Milk also provides fluids for rehydration and electrolytes, including potassium, calcium and magnesium lost in sweat, that both recreational exercisers and elite athletes need to replace after strenuous activity. Plus, chocolate milk is naturally nutrient-rich with the advantage of additional nutrients not found in most traditional sports drinks. Penny-for-penny, no other post-exercise drink contains the full range of vitamins and minerals found in chocolate milk.”

Is there anything chocolate milk can’t do?

Study: Prolonged altitude training could reduce endurance

July 2, 2010

A study by Oxford University has revealed prolonged altitude training could reduce endurance. This is very interesting since many elite athletes train at altitude in places such as Mammoth Lakes, CA. If these athletes’ performance starts to degrade, will we see a change in the way these athletes train by limiting the time spent at altitude?

From the article:
Athletes from many endurance disciplines use altitude training as part of their yearly training programme. England footballers, as with many of the teams in the World Cup, spent time at altitude acclimatising for the competition in South Africa.

The body reacts to the low levels of oxygen at high altitude, first of all by breathing harder and the heart pumping more blood, but then through producing more red blood cells and increasing the density of blood vessels in the body’s muscles. All of this serves to get more oxygen and fuel to the muscles.

However, an extended stay at altitude can bring a loss of the muscle’s ability to use oxygen to carry out work. The number of mitochondria, the oxygen-using powerhouses of the cell, falls with a prolonged stay at high altitude.