Newsletter Archives: Volume18, June 2000
Want to Speed It Up A Little?
Fall is a popular time for marathoning. If your autumn plans include
one of these increasingly popular pastimes and would like to better
any past marathon times, now is the time to get going on some speed
PLAY. Jeff recommends that first-timers concentrate on finishing,
not on a particular finishing time. But if you are a veteran, here
are some thoughts from Jeff on how to get started on a plan to pick
up the pace - all taken from his new Marathon! (Phidippides Publications,
2000) pp.138-140. Next month, we'll get more specific on Mile Repeats.
Where: A track is not necessary. Road segments,
a park, well-packed trails or other safe venues are just as good.
Wherever you run, make sure that the mile is accurately measured.
During the first few sessions, a track can help by giving regular
timed feedback, usually every quarter mile. This helps to set the
internal pace clocks more quickly. \When choosing a road segment,
avoid downhills that are too steep or give you too much advantage.
Likewise, avoid uphills which are too steep and will force you to
either slow down or overwork to maintain pace.
Speed and Endurance . . . Simultaneously: Running
faster in the marathon requires that you develop a special type
of speed-endurance. This means that the actual pace of the speed
segments is only slightly faster than marathon goal pace. You're
developing the capacity to maintain a moderate pace over a long
distance. Compared with speed sessions for shorter distance racing
goals, those for the marathon emphasize building endurance by running
longer repetitions (usually mile repeats) increasing the number
of repetitions: up to eight, 10 or 12 mile repeats (Faster marathons
require more repetitions).
Learning How To Pace Yourself: You'll gain a sense
of pace at the same time you're developing the capacity to run mile
after mile in the time you need. It's actually detrimental to run
the mile repeats faster than your schedule prescribes (20 seconds
faster than goal pace). If you exceed this speed limit, even in
the beginning of the speed session, it becomes difficult for your
internal pace clock to acquire the pace judgment needed in the marathon
itself. A fast start will either leave you struggling at the end
of the session or produce tired muscles which require a long recovery.
Recovery, Recovery, Recovery! Finally, the need
for recovery cannot be overemphasized. Because the long runs and
the speed sessions are long and fatiguing, everything possible should
be done to speed up this important process.
- Strict adherence to the pace of the speed repetitions to avoid
going too fast
- Lots of walking as rest between each mile repeat - when in doubt,
walk some more
- Enough easy days (and easy running) between the weekend sessions
How Often? To encourage the adaptations and improvements
in form, rhythm, etc., speed sessions must be done regularly, that
is, on most of the non-long weekends starting about 16 weeks before
the marathon (see the schedules in Marathon! for specific frequency).
By adding some other innovations to your program, such as tempo
or pace runs during the week, you'll maintain and extend the faster
running form and performance benefits gained from mile repeat sessions
into all of your runs.
Picking Your Goal: The most important part of
the speed development is the very first step: picking a goal which
is realistic for you. It's okay if your goal is slower than you
are capable of currently running. This is a strategy which has led
to many personal records. By setting yourself up for a performance
that has some challenge but is realistic, you will take pressure
off, stay in your right brain longer, and often achieve at a much
If your goal is too far ahead of your ability level, then you set
yourself up for disappointment and fatigue. By overestimating your
capacity, you'll force yourself to run the speed sessions too fast.
You just won't recover between speed days and long runs.
You'll be fine-tuning your racing form and technique after you've
run two or three 5K events. If the courses were hilly or the weather
conditions were adverse, you may conservatively estimate the time
you honestly believe you could run under better conditions. The
prediction table (in the back of Marathon!) gives equivalent performances
for many race distance, including the marathon, which have been
What a great reality check! If your 5K performances don't predict
the time you'd like, swallow your pride and select a less ambitious
time goal. This means that you'll be slowing down the pace of the
mile repeats and the early pace in the marathon.
Always be conservative in choosing your goal. If the 5K performances
predict a 4:30 marathon, shoot for 4:40 or 4:45. It's always better
to finish the marathon knowing that you could have run faster: you've
already started the momentum and motivation to do it.
Warm-Up: Whatever speed play format you choose,
get the blood flowing through the muscles in a gentle warm-up. This
introduction to exercise allows the tendons, ligaments and muscles
to warm up together and begin working as a team. A good warm-up
will decrease the chance of injury and increase the intuitive cooperation
of components within the muscles.
- Walk for five to 10 minutes.
- Jog VERY slowly for five to 10 minutes.
- Jog another five to 10 minutes at a comfortable pace.
- Do four to eight acceleration-GLIDERS.
- Walk for five minutes.
- Tune in next month, same time, same place, for specifics on
using Repeat Mile Intervals for your speed PLAY. If you can't
wait that long, look at pages 141-148 in Jeff's new Marathon!
(online ordering now available on this website).
The Athlete's Kitchen
Copyright May 2000: Nancy Clark, MS, RD
Y2K Sports Nutrition News from ACSM
At this year's annual meeting of the American College of Sports
Medicine (May, 2000), over 4,000 health professionals gathered to
learn the latest exercise and sports medicine research. The following
are highlights of some of the latest sports nutrition news.
- Some athletes dilute their sports drink, thinking a weaker solution
will empty from the stomach faster than does the full-strength
beverage. (Not true.) A study with athletes who drank diluted
(half-strength) Gatorade during 85 minutes of moderate cycling
followed by a time trial indicates no benefits with either gastric
emptying or performance. In fact, the times for the 3-mile time
trial tended to be slightly faster with the full-strength beverage:
7:59 minutes for standard Gatorade, 8:13 min. for diluted Gatorade,
and 8:25 min. for water.
- Athletes who exercise for 3 hours or longer commonly hold off
from consuming carbohydrates until the second half of the event.
A study that compared performance in cyclists riding for 3 hours
followed by a 20 km time trial suggests those who delayed eating
hindered their performance (about 1 minutes slower) as compared
to those who consumed carbs up-front. Fuel early for best results!
- Training on an empty stomach is an out-dated and performance-limiting
practice. The best way to improve performance is to consume carbs
both before and during exercise. Cyclists performed best when
they drank a high carb beverage 30 minutes before and/or a sports
drink during 2 hours of moderately hard exercise followed by a
time trial. If you personally can't tolerate carbohydrates before
exercise, at least consume them during exercise.
- Double workouts are a common part of an athlete's training program.
A study of 10 high school swimmers training twice per day showed
reduced performance in their second workout. This raises the question:
If performance improves most when an athlete works harder or longer,
are double workouts (with reduced performance) worth the effort?
Would more sleep in the morning be a better performance booster?
- A survey reports high school athletes believe more players on
the opposing teams take performance enhancers then do their own
teammates. Such beliefs likely influence supplement use...
- A survey of 31 freshmen college football players indicates 50%
incorrectly believed 1) protein supplements were necessary for
growth and development, 2) protein was the primary source of fuel
for muscles, and 3) vitamin and mineral supplements increased
their energy levels. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Nutrition education
could save these athletes considerable sums of money!
- Creatine continues to be scrutinized by exercise scientists
and athletes alike. No wonder--it's a popular ergogenic aid! Questions
arise: Does CREATINE cause adverse physiological effects, such
as stressing the kidneys? No. A 56-day study (10 gms CREATINE/day)
on kidney function in 18 active, healthy young men and women showed
no indication of kidney problems.
- Does Creatine cause muscle cramping? One study looking at 6
days of CREATINE loading (about 20 grams CREATINE/day) indicates
the athletes reported no problems with muscle cramping. Another
study showed no significant difference in cramping between a placebo
and a CREATINE group (5 days of CREATINE-loading plus 5 grams
CREATINE/day for 11 weeks). The CREATINE group did report slightly
more cramps (37% vs placebo 22%), but this was not statistically
significant. Three individuals cramped frequently with the CREATINE,
suggesting great individual variability.
Calorie and Weight Management
- Daily activity plays a significant role in burning calories
and influencing body fatness. A study looking at the effect of
physical activity on obesity in 218 women (ages 35-45) who wore
an accelerometer (measures body movement) indicates the more active
women had 16% less body fat than those who were less active. Inactive
women were 3.6 times more likely to be obese compared to active
women. This means: Keep moving; every step counts!
- Some exercise machines offer reasonable estimates for calorie
expenditure. For example, during 30 minutes of exercise on an
elliptical trainer (10 mins x level 6, 8 & 10 of 20 levels), the
subjects burned 245 calories and the machine estimated 250 calories.
- Some athletes drink caffeinated fluids, believing the caffeine
enhances fat-burning. A study confirms this is true, but continues
to say that during a 40-minute step aerobics session, the subjects
burned no additional calories with caffeine, thus did not create
a bigger calorie deficit. Too bad burning fat differs from losing
- If you wonder how many calories you expend during exercise,
here's a sampling of some popular activities--
Kickboxing: 6.5- 8 calories/minute (based on 128-lb women)
Martial arts aerobic work: 9-10.5 cals/min (based on 175-lb men)
Taebo: 7-10 cals/min (based on 145-lb exercisers)
Elite soccer players: 850-1,200 calories in an official soccer
match. (Expenditure varies according to position played.)
- Active people often want to know the best way to measure body
fat. In particular, they wonder if the new, relatively inexpensive
Tanita scale (a type of bioelectrical impedance analyzer) offers
valid information. A study with 48 healthy men and women (average
age, 33 years) indicates the scale underestimated body fat. The
group averaged 25.5% fat with the Tanita scale, as compared to
28% with DEXA (a highly reliable research method to measure body
fatness). The biggest discrepancies were seen at the extremes,
in the subjects who were either very lean or obese.
- Discrepancies commonly occur among the different ways to measure
body fat. A study with 44 college students shows average body
fatness ranged from 24.5% fat with calipers and RJL bio-electrical
impedence to 19% fat with Tanita, and 17.5% with Omron (a handheld
bioelectrical impedence unit). The discrepancies were larger for
women then men. Comparing RJL with Omron, the women had a 10%
difference; the men, a 4.5% difference. The best use of any method
of measuring body fat is to compare changes in repeated measurements
taken over the course of the year.
Nancy Clark, MS, RD is Director of Nutrition Services at Boston-area's
SportsMedicine Brookline. Her best-selling book, Nancy Clark's Sports
Nutrition Guidebook, Second Edition, is available by sending $20
to Sports Nutrition Materials, 830 Boylston St. #205, Brookline
MA 02465 or via www.nancyclarkrd.com.
Injury of the Month: IT Band
Here are three IT Band stretches that Jeff suggests:
Standing next to a wall, cross your ankles, outside ankle over
inside ankle, and lean your hip into the wall. You'll be able to
feel this more in your hip, at the top of your IT Band.
Sitting down, cross one leg over the other and pull it across.
Maneuver it until it stretches your IT Band as you need to stretch
Lying down on your side on the bed or sofa, stick your top leg
over the edge and let gravity pull it down. Your knee should be
slightly bent but keep your leg fairly straight.
From the American Running Association (www.americanrunning.org)
May 2000 issue of Running
& Fit News, "Fitness and Performance: Is It In The Genes?" p. 1:
Body Fat - Count on Activity to Beat the Genes
Can you run your way around heredity? Running or other physical
activity can help you escape your genetic luck of the draw - no
one needs to settle for being overweight just because it runs in
the family. New research on twins shows that being overweight is
largely independent of genetics, having more to do with how active
you are. In this study, physical activity was the strongest independent
predictor of total body fat and central abdominal fat. Even for
study subjects who had an overweight "identical" twin, higher levels
of physical activity were still associated with lower levels of
body fat. (Annals of Internal Medicine, 1999, Vol, 130, No. 11,
At Any Weight, Physical Activity Keeps You Healthy
Even if you remain a bit of an endomorph (more round than thin)
exercise can help you avoid many of the health problems associated
with being overweight. In a study with twins in Finland, a lack
of physical activity was associated with increased hospitalizations
after taking genetic and other confounding factors into account.
And, in a literature review, The Cooper Institute in Dallas determined
that physical activity could help offset the health problems associated
with obesity. Overweight individuals who exercise have a better
risk profile than individuals of normal weight who are sedentary.
(American Journal of Public Health, 1999, Vol. 89, No. 12, pp. 1869-1972;
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1999, Vol. 31, No.
11, pp. S646-664)
What's the best temperature? Although there is no conclusive evidence
regarding temperature and absorption rates, most studies show that
athletes drink substantially more when fluids are cold. (American
Running Association's "Beat the Heat" brochure - For information
on ordering, call 800/776-2732 or go to www.americanrunning.org)
Cool Down, Stay Healthy: A good cool down of jogging or walking
not only helps your muscles recover more quickly, but it also speeds
your immune system's recovery. In a recent study, runners who actively
cooled down for 15 minutes had better white-blood-cell counts after
exhaustive exercise than those who went from hard running to a complete
stop. ("Health & Fitness" edited by Alisa Bauman, Runner's World,
July 2000, p. 28, www.runnersworld.com)
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