Searching for an advantage in the field of athletic accomplishment – whether there’s wealth, fame or just personal pride on the line – is nothing new. Ancient Olympians stuffed themselves with wine, hallucinogenic mushrooms and animal testicles in the search for a (legal) edge. By 1904, marathon runners had graduated to a (still legal) dangerous mix of brandy and strychnine. These days, things are a bit more sophisticated – as you’ll read in this issue, £ 2,000-a-litre ketone drinks are the new goat’s balls – but one thing remains: the promise of getting better, with less effort, is a hell of a motivator.
This can be a good or bad thing, depending on just how you approach it. It’s certainly depressing, for instance, to see the Commission for Reform in Cycling report that Masters races are now being won by middle-aged businessmen on EPO – men who have very little to gain, risking their health for a podium space.
On the flipside, this relentless push for improvement doesn’t always have to be harmful, and its trickledown effects could benefit us all. The research into transcranial direct current stimulation by Red Bull labs, for example, ought to teach us more about how the brain works as well as helping elite athletes.
It’s a fascinating area but if it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t worry. The rest of the issue’s packed with much more conventional ways to improve, although naturally we’ve mercilessly sought out only the most efficient techniques and mined them for the essentials. On p54, for example, you’ll find out how Jon Albon took an unconventional approach to become the world’s fastest obstacle racer, and on p28 Born To Run author Christopher McDougall explains why parkour will make you a better runner.
We also explain how an anabolic diet can teach your body to run on fat (p96), give you a plan that’ll double your dip numbers in less than a month (p110) and introduce the drinks that can make you a better endurance athlete (p102). It’s a hell of an issue, and the only performance-enhancer we needed to make it was good, strong coffee.
Have you been beaten by a ‘gentleman’ cyclist on EPO? Let us know what you think about this or any other fitness issue @MensFitnessMag