106 Running Upgrades Easy ways to get better
A cornucopia of simple tips, tricks and tweaks to improve and upgrade every aspect of your running life in 2017
1 Feel the burn
Can’t make the mountain training camp this weekend? Training in hot conditions delivers similar fitness gains to training at altitude, according to research from the University of Coventry, so grab some extra layers and run in your own mobile heat chamber.
2 PUMP UP YOUR ENDURANCE
It sounds counterintuitive, but performing heavy leg-resistance work before you run could improve your speed and stamina, according to a Brazilian study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research. This ‘post-activation potentiation’ effect delivered a six per cent performance boost for cyclists in a post-weights 20km time trial.
3 WORTH THE WEIGHT
Still not hot to squat? Here’s a health bonus… weight training promotes uniformly sized red blood cells, an indicator of low heart disease risk, according to recent research at the University of Mississippi, US.
4 GET IT ‘ OM’
Time for flexible thinking: A 10-week programme of twice-weekly yoga sessions delivered significant gains in flexibility and balance in a study reported in the International Journal of Yoga.
5 NUT JOB
Give your heart a helping handful. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition found eating a 28g serving of nuts five or more times a week significantly lowered several inflammatory biomarkers linked to cardiovascular disease.
6 GO GREEN
Eating a single Kiwi fruit every week raises ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart attack-inducing blood clots, found research in Nutrition Journal.
7 SPRING FORWARD
Sunday March 26th: Instead of skipping your run because you lost an hour to clocks going forward, set your alarm for some miles in the morning, says Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute in North Carolina, US. By running when it’s light out, you trick your internal clock into accepting the new schedule.
8 TRYP YOUR PROTEIN SWITCH
Tryptophan primes your small intestine to absorb more muscle building/repairing amino acids from your food, according to researchers behind a study published in Amino
Acids. Nuts, seeds, cheese, lamb and pork are good sources of tryptophan.
9 - 13 GREEN ENERGY
Another reason to eat your greens: they’re a great source of lutein, which triggers the release of AMPK, dubbed the ‘marathon enzyme’ because it switches your mitochondria – the powerhouses in your muscle cells – into fat-burning mode. A study in
PLOS One confirmed this enhances stamina during endurance exercise. Top lutein sources are: Kale, spinach, broccoli, cress and Swiss chard.
14 CHEW THE FAT
The research also found that consuming fats at the same time can triple your body’s absorption of lutein, so think oily fish, avocado or peanut butter.
15 KEEP TRACK
The track is a great place for nailing speedwork
sessions, but research in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical
Fitness cautions that you may need to pay attention to not just your split times, but the total time you spend on the oval. The study of 5K runners found doing more than 25 per cent of training on a tartan track surface was associated with plantar heel pain.
16 PYRAMID SCHEME
Want a session that’ll deliver maximum gains in minimum time? Ian Burrell, who finished 25th in the 2015 World Marathon Champs in Beijing despite working full time as a lawyer, recommends this key workout:
WHAT A fartlek ‘pyramid,’ with 1-minute jogs between fast segments.
WHY ‘ It adds a nice mix of speed and strength together to goose up the legs – it’s gruelling,’ says Burrell.
WHEN Twice during a 12-16-week marathon training cycle, in week 6 or 7 and once more in week 9 or 10.
HOW Starting at marathon pace, run segments of 1,2,3,4 and 5 minutes, then 4, 3, 2 and 1. Do the second 3-minute effort at half-marathon pace and the second 2 and 1-minutes at 10K pace. Then repeat the entire pyramid.
17 SEE A 3D MOVIE
An in-store treadmill trot under the gaze of lightly amused shop staff is one thing; a full biomechanical analysis is quite another and it’s something that can reveal the kind of information that could help you minimise injuries and become a more efficient runner. At Run3d Clinics in Oxford and London (run3d.co.uk), five infrared cameras record you running from the side, front, back and above, capturing 200 frames per second. The resulting data is compared with a huge biomechanical database of uninjured runners to detect any deviations. ‘ This allows us to identify the factors causing or likely to cause overuse injuries,’ says clinic director Dr Jessica Bruce.
18 - 19 STRETCH YOUR ENDURANCE
The key to your next great race or PB may be in your warm-up. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found well-trained distance runners ran significantly further before reaching exhaustion following a
dynamic stretching session than they did after no stretching.
Make time for static stretching in your life, too. It may not lower your injury risk but, according to recent Japanese research, static stretching can lower arterial stiffness and thus heart attack risk.
20 PULL THE UDDER ONE
Your perfect postrun rehydration option may already be chilling nicely in your fridge. Unfortunately it’s not the Sauvignon Blanc… a study in the British Journal
of Nutrition found milk was more effective at hydrating the body after exercise than either water or a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution.
21 USE THE ULTRA- FIT FORMULA
In modern-day running maths, 26.2 is no longer enough for many runners, but can you really train adequately for an ultra while holding down a full-time job and spending time with your family? Yes you can, especially if you target a ‘short’ ultra, says 14-time Western States 100-mile champion and coach Ann Trason (trasonrunning.com). ‘ For a 50K [31-mile] race, apply the 10/10/10 rule from a marathon plan,’ says Trason. ‘ Lengthen your long runs by 10 per cent, slow long-run pace by 10 per cent and recover with 10 per cent more rest or cross-training days. For a 50-miler, the formula is 20/20/20.’
29 SMART MOVE
Forget those admonishments from exasperated parents and teachers – fidgeting, it turns out, can be a very good thing, at least as far as your health is concerned. Those constant small movements keep your calorieburn ticking over during otherwise sedentary periods and can combat obesity and heart disease, according to a Mayo Clinic Proceedings review. They’re still annoying, though…
30 GIVE YOURSELF SOME WINGS
Sceptical as we are of slogans, it seems you might be able to take this one as read, rather than think it’s a load of bull. In a study published in the Journal of Strength
and Conditioning Research, runners who drank two cans (500ml) of Red Bull energy drink one hour before a 5K time trial improved their performance by an average of 30 seconds compared with a placeboimbibing group. There were no differences in rate of perceived exertion or heart rate. And no, there was no vodka in there…
31 JOIN THE RESISTANCE
Some carbs can actually help you peel off the pounds, which is music to our ears. Resistant starch is an undigestible fibre found in grains, beans and potatoes (especially cooked and cooled); it promotes weight loss by filling you up, shutting down hunger hormones and foiling your body’s attempts to turn it into sugar. Unlike other carbs, which get turned into body fat when we eat them in excess, resistant starch passes on through. What’s more, it may also reduce cancer risk and boost your immune system, says Dr Christine Gerbstadt, a nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
32-37 Licence to grill Power up with these grilled cheese sarnie upgrades from nutritionist Matthew Kadey. For each recipe, grill the sandwich until both sides are crispy and the cheese has softened.
Stay fuller for longer with the fibre and plant protein from black beans.
TOP 1 slice wholegrain bread with mashed black beans, sliced roasted red pepper, grated smoked cheddar cheese, thinly sliced avocado and a second bread slice. Antioxidant-rich apples and omega 3packed walnuts add crunch.
TOP 1 slice wholegrain bread with thinly sliced apple, grated cheddar cheese, chopped sage, chopped walnuts and a second bread slice. Nitrates from beetroot and omega fats in salmon may improve your muscle endurance.
TOP 1 slice rye bread with smoked salmon, lemon juice, a smear of cream cheese, sliced roasted beetroot, dill and a second bread slice coated with cream cheese. Roasted chicken is high in protein and figs give you bone-building calcium.
SPREAD fig preserve on 1 slice wholegrain bread and top with chopped rosemary, sliced roast chicken, baby spinach, fontina cheese and a second bread slice. The vitamin C in tomatoes helps protect runners from colds.
SPREAD basil pesto on 1 slice sourdough bread and top with thinly sliced prosciutto ham, grated mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, rocket and a second bread slice. Energise your runs with the iron in steak, and keep your gut healthy with the probiotics in kimchi (see 87-91).
TOP 1 slice wholegrain bread with grated havarti cheese, thinly sliced cooked sirloin steak, chopped kimchi and a second bread slice.
38 - 40 RAISE-THEBAR SNACKS 41 - 46 CRANK YOUR METABOLISM
Research on mice published in the FASEB Journal found adding rutin to the rodents’ diets mimicked the effects of cold on brown fat and boosted metabolism. You can get rutin from mulberries, (unpeeled) apples, buckwheat, elderflower tea, figs or a supplement (£14.99 for 500mg, hollandandbarrett.com).
47 BREATHE EASY
Asthma sufferers have another reason to soak up some extra sunshine vitamin. A Cochrane Review of seven international studies showed that a vitamin D supplement reduced the incidence of severe attacks in subjects with mild to moderate asthma.
48 HINGE BENEFITS
Turn up the heat on knee pain. In a study in The Journal of Strength
and Conditioning Research, patients with chronic knee pain who applied low-level continuous heat packs to sore knees six hours before exercise enjoyed reduced knee pain and increased knee strength.
49 SOCIAL CLIMBING
Social media can help your running, but only if you avoid comparing yourself to others, says coach Lora Johnson (crazyrunninggirl.com), who instead recommends analysing what friends post. ‘ If someone shares a favourite interval routine, consider how it might boost your fitness,’ says Johnson.
50 REFINE DINING
Supersizing your lunch could downsize your belly. In a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects who ate their main meal at lunchtime experienced higher average weight loss, greater reduction in BMI and improved insulin resistance compared with those getting the majority of their calories at dinner, despite both groups eating the same total number of daily calories.
51 TRAIN TO THE MAX
How much oxygen your body can take in and use per minute, per kg of your body weight – aka your VO2 max – is a key measure of aerobic fitness; it’s routinely monitored in elite athletes. But you don’t have to be an elite to get yours measured in the lab and benefit from precision training based on your results. ‘ It doesn’t matter what level you are, the test is tailored to you as an individual,’ says Vincent Christan, head physiologist at the Nuffield Health Sports Performance Lab in London (nuffieldhealth. com). ‘ Your results help to identify your strengths and weaknesses, from which an effective training programme can be created.’
A Vo2-max test demands your all – sport science labs traditionally placed mattresses against the wall behind treadmills to cushion the blow for those flying off the back. At Nuffield a harness suspended from the ceiling sweeps you off your feet if you lose control. Your dignity may suffer a little.
52 SWEAT, THE DETAILS
If your post-run aroma is a source of concern, clean up your diet. In a study published in Evolution
and Human Behavior, women judged clean-eating men (lots of fruit and veg) to have the most aromatic sweat, using adjectives such as ‘ floral’, ‘ fruity’ and ‘sweet’ to describe the scent. Oddly, eating fat, meat, eggs and tofu also produced pleasant-smelling perspiration. The bad news? Stinky sweat came from consuming carbs.
53 LOVE THE JOURNEY
To boost long-term motivation and gain maximum enjoyment in your running life, remember that running is about more than just results, says Clint Wells, the top masters finisher at last April’s Boston Marathon (he clocked 2:24:55). ‘ Enjoy the buildup to a marathon. Join a group and make it social,’ says Wells.
54 PASSIVE GAINS
Some news on the debate over passive v active rest in interval sessions: a study in the Journal of Strength and
Conditioning Research found that in a session consisting of 10 sets of 20m sprints, passive recovery (walking back to the start position and standing still until the next sprint) between efforts led to significantly faster splits, lower perceived exertion, less blood-lactate accumulation and lower post-workout heart rate than active recovery ( jogging between sprints). For short, sharp speedwork at least then, it seems total rest is best.
55 - 63 BEAT THE ELEMENTS
Bad weather doesn’t have to put your training on ice… if you wear the right kit. COLD Ashmei Merino gloves, £ 30, ashmei.com; Arc’teryx Trinio Beanie, £ 30, arcteryx.com; Patagonia Merino Air Hoody, £110, patagonia.com RAIN Gore Running Wear ONE Active Run Jacket, £230, wiggle.co.uk; Run Thin Ankle Sock, £ 30, sealskinz.com SUN Oakley EV Zero Path Polarized, £170, uk.oakley.com; Riemann P20 SPF 20, £13.99 for 100ml, boots.com WIND Ashmei Lite Jacket, £125, ashmei.com; Gore Fusion Windstopper Active Shell Pants £99.99, goreapparel.co.uk
64 THE IMMORTALITY WORKOUT
New research suggests it may be possible stop the clock on age-related muscle decline. The study, in Medicine
& Science In Sports & Exercise, put older men (aged 65-83) through a 12-week weight-training programme of leg presses and leg extensions; it found this increased their muscle fibre size and capillary networks to a level matching that of younger men.
65 FOR YOUR SHINS
Take these steps from podiatrist Dr Stephen Pribut to keep shin splints at bay: Limit running on concrete Don’t overstride (aim for 160-190 steps per minute) Stretch your calves and your hamstrings postrun
66 Climb it, change
Running up stairs is a great way to build strength and endurance. The plyometric motion works the same muscles as lunges and squats, and targets the gluteus medius. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that short bouts of stair climbing five days a week for eight weeks improved VO2 max by 17 per cent.
TRY THIS stair-running session from Paul Romeo, who oversees stadium-step workouts as a coach for Koko Fitclub (kokofitclub.com). After a warm-up, run up a set of stairs five to 10 times at 80 per cent effort. Walk down between reps and rest at the bottom if you’re still out of breath.
68 HEALTHY START
We’re often told that breakfast is good for our waistlines, but a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found overall daily calorie intake was very similar for consistent breakfast eaters and consistent skippers. However, the breakfasters had higher overall diet quality and greater intake of wholegrains, fruit, fibre, calcium, potassium and folate.
69 TRAIN NINE DAYS A WEEK
US elite Meb Keflezighi ran in his fourth Olympics last year, aged 41, and his longevity is no fluke. He has made adjustments to his training over the years. Before his 2014 Boston Marathon win, for example, he switched from a seven-day training cycle to a nine-day schedule to ensure recovery between hard workouts.
The cycle involves three target sessions – an interval workout, tempo run, and long run – each followed by two days of recovery, says Scott Douglas, coauthor (with Keflezighi) of
Meb for Mortals (Rodale). And if Meb doesn’t feel good after two easy days, he’ll take another. ‘ The point isn’t that nine is better than seven,’ says Douglas. ‘ It’s that you should be flexible.’
This approach isn’t exclusively for older runners: Keflezighi got the idea from Paula Radcliffe, who used an eight-day ‘ week’ in her heyday.
Of course, seven-day cycles suit non-professionals, so you could try thinking instead in two-week cycles, aiming for five hard days in every 14.
70 SIDE ON
Looking to shed lbs? Order the chips. In a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, subjects rated a meal eaten with chips as more satisfying and filling than one eaten with a side dish of either baked potato, mashed potatoes, potato wedges or pasta – despite the overall calorie content of the meals being identical. Which means adding chips may subtract calories later in the day.
Tame the trail
To move from road running to a trail race, Colorado-based trail-running coach Ellen Miller recommends training offroad at least twice a week to help your body adapt to the uneven surfaces. Miller also offers these pointers on adapting your technique: Shorten your stride Lift your feet higher Pay attention to the ground ahead Expect to run slower than you do on the roads
76 DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH 77 …BUT JUST THE ONE 78 HILLS WITHOUT SPILLS
79 - 81 FEAT IN THE CROWDS
Coach Jenny Hadfield ( jennyhadfield.com) advises on how best to navigate a crowded race and ensure a fast, strong finish that leaves you with a smile on your face (or, at least, the absence of a grimace):
GO WITH THE FLOW ‘ Trying to get ahead early by surging and weaving around runners is a big – and common – mistake. It uses up tons of energy, causes physical and mental stress and drives up your heart rate. The more energy you burn early, the worse you’ll fare in the final miles.’
THINK INSIDE THE BOX ‘ Most large races have start pens based on estimated finish time, so line up near the front of yours and towards the centre of the road to give yourself room to navigate in either direction. Mass starts are trickier, as it’s hard to know how close to the front you should be but, again, avoid the sides, where you might get boxed in.’
MIND THE GAP ‘ If you find yourself stuck behind runners going slower than you’d like, exercise patience and, when possible, wait for a natural opening. If one doesn’t appear, tap one of the runners on the shoulder and let him/her know you’ll be passing. This minimises energy-sapping weaving and the risk that you’ll get tripped and fall.’
82-84Try a steak out!
Good news for those who like a rare (or medium) treat: the conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in red meat helps you strip fat while also maintaining muscle mass, according to research from the University of Wisconson, US.
Add garlic and onions: they boost your absorption of the minerals in red meat, such as iron and zinc.
85 VITAMIN BEE
Most honey has mild antibiotic qualities, but research shows this can be compromised by contact with saliva or blood. Manuka honey derives its antibacterial activity from a substance called Methylglyoxal (MGO), which retains its qualities in the body. Research at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, found an MGO level of 300mg/kg is key for unlocking the health benefits from Manuka. Try specialist producer The True Honey Co. 300+ MGO Manuka honey, £ 37.99 for 250g, truehoneyco.co.uk
86 ... AND RELAX 87 - 91 PRO ACTIVE
If you’re looking for the health boost of probiotics, skip the supps. University of Copenhagen research found probiotic supplements had no effect on gut bacteria. Naturally fermented foods have been shown to deliver a probiotic punch that can improve your immune response, hormone regulation and protein absorption. Kefir packs triple the beneficial probiotic hit of standard
yoghurt. Greek yoghurt contains bacteria that could cut your risk of colon cancer, reported a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Kimchi 100g daily boosts immune system activity by 75 per cent, found research at Pusan National University, South Korea. Sauerkraut helps you absorb muscle-repairing nutrients, reports research in the Journal of Science. Kvass boosts digestion to speed recovery, according to University of Michigan research.
Fuel like a legend
OLD SCHOOL FUEL GRETE WAITZ’S PR-RACE STEAK On the eve of her first marathon, in 1978, Grete dined on steak, red wine and ice cream, according to her husband, Jack. The next day she won her first of nine New York City marathons; a year later she became the first woman to run the marathon in under 2:30.
Season a fillet steak with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side. Plate up and cover loosely with foil for 5 minutes. Serve with potatoes or rice and antioxidant-rich red wine.
NEW SCHOOL FUEL ELIUD KIPCHOGE’S PRE-RACE UGALI Many of today’s top Kenyan athletes, such as Olympic Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, fuel themselves with a traditional meal of ugali (a cornmealbased porridge) paired with eggs or meat, and greens.
Add 150g finely ground cornmeal to 355ml of boiling water. Stir until thick, so porridge holds its shape, adding up to 120ml more water, as needed, to moisten the cornmeal without making it soupy. To replicate a full Kenyan meal, serve hot with sautéed kale or collard greens and stewed mung beans.
- 96 GO NUTS FOR A SIMPLE SNACK UPGRADE
If you find that you’re peckish between your (invariably healthy) main meals, grab a handful of almonds, as research suggests the fibre in their skins may act as a
prebiotic, which will enhance the effect of probiotics (see 87-91, left).
And that’s not the only reason to go this particular type of nut: in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, subjects who ate 35g of almonds per day over 12 weeks lost more total fat and more visceral adipose tissue (belly fat) than those on a diet with the same calories but no almonds. The almond eaters also displayed a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure.
97 COACH CLASS
You might think that running coaches are just for elite athletes? ‘ Not so,’ says coach Jason Fitzgerald (Strengthrunning. com). ‘A coach, whether in-person or online, can help you reach goals faster and safer than using a stock plan or winging it by yourself.’
Commonwealth Games marathon bronze medallist and two-time Olympian Liz Yelling (yellingperformance.com) agrees. ‘A coach not only provides structure but can tailor the plan towards your goals, maximising training priorities within your lifestyle and helping you better understand your personal responses to training,’ she says. The best coaching relationships are two-way – you have someone to listen to you and get feedback from – something you won’t get from a training journal. You will also have someone else to blame when you find yourself wasted after a particularly brutal training session.
98 - 99 SPEED DATING
A date with a running buddy is good news for your training and motivation, but what will help you more, running with someone you have to work hard to keep up with, or someone who can’t match your pace? It all depends, says coach Jamie Adcock. ‘On easy or recovery days, it’s best to run with someone whose company you enjoy, who runs at your comfortable pace or a bit slower,’ says Adcock. ‘ Trying to keep up with a faster runner during these runs would defeat their purpose and leave you fatigued, and possibly injured. However, when you’re doing speed workouts or other hard sessions, your faster pal will keep you on pace to hit your targets.’
100Jog your memory
Train your brain to lock in information with a judiciously timed post-work workout. Research published in the journal Current Biology found that heading out for a run four hours after a learning task increases activity in the hippocampus – not a higher education facility for African wildlife, but a key area of the brain involved in memory. 101 GO SUB-30 A foolproof plan to get your Parkrun/5k time under the half-hour mark: ‘ If you’re not running four to five miles three to four times a week, build up to that base,’ says exercise physiologist and running coach Holly Jamison. ‘ Then add weekly 400m repeats, with a 10-minute jogging warm-up and cool-down, and two minutes of rest between each rep. Aim for 2:14 for 400m (9:00 min/mile pace) to build the speed you’ll need to average 9:39 min/mile for a sub-30. Start with four reps, and add one or two each week to hit eight by the second-to-last week before the 5K.’ 102 - 104 DITCH THE STITCH Three ways to beat one of the banes of our running lives, courtesy of exercise physiologist and running coach Angela Bekkala: ‘ Slow down or stop and breathe slowly and deeply. Press the stitch and/or stretch your arms overhead.’ ‘ Extend the arm on the same side as your stitch and bend to the opposite side.’ ‘ Run tall – slumping restricts the diaphragm, the muscle beneath your lungs that helps you breathe.’ 105 THE LONG AND SHORT
Got a marathon and a 5K in the diary? Weekly anaerobic threshold (AT) runs will prep you for both, says Rebekah Mayer, national run training manager for Lifetime Run in the US. ‘ These workouts train your body to sustain a hard pace as your muscles learn to quickly metabolise lactic acid – and your mind learns to manage fatigue,’ says Mayer. ‘ The pace needs to be hard enough for conversation [more than a few words at a time] to be difficult. A 20-minute run at AT pace, with a five-minute jog before and after, is a solid 5K or marathon workout.’ 106 CELEBRATE RUN-WITHOUTTELLINGANYONE-ABOUT-IT DAY Give all your non-runner friends a break from the tyranny of sharing (be that face- to-face or on social media) on this holiday for runners that, yes, we have just invented. Leave your smartphone at home and just run – no selfies, no hashtags, no tweets. Ponder life’s deep questions, such as: if a runner goes for a run, and no one sees the data, did it still happen? The answer is yes. You’ll know.