There has been a lot of talk about ice baths and other recovery methods. Last summer, while in the heat of running 3000-4000 vertical meters per week in August, I was using ice baths after every workout and was able to blow thru limits of work capacity in a given week.
However during that time I exchanged some tweets with Matt Price on Twitter, who pointed out that some of these recovery methods may blunt inflammatory response and therefore the adaptation to the input (i.e. exercise) may be blunted. He advises to use them strategically, for example after hard workouts when close to race day.
A few tweets about ice baths with Matt’s at the end:
Hard working Ian Corless over at Talk Ultra offers episode 19, where he covers, as usual, lot of topics, including post Cavalls del Vent interviews with Joe Grant, Anton Krupicka and Anna Frost. The reason for linking up this particular episode, however, is a section where he interviews Barry Murray of Optimum Nutrition 4 Sport and they discuss the paleo diet and how to apply it to athletes. Barry seems to have experience with elite level athletes and periodizing this type of diet for people of that calibre. Lots to learn and apply!
Head on over and check out Talk Ultra’s Episode 19 – Conway Murray Grant Frost & Krupicka!
And don’t miss the info over at Barry’s website.
Tim Noakes talking about a high-protein, high-fat diet to the Skinny news.
Lower carb, high protein, paleo… Carbohydrate intolerance… We’ve been trying in our house and have found more energy overall and a lot of very yummy food once we replaced refined carbs with sweet potatoes, pumpkin and the like, along with more protein.
Reverse Periodisation via Reverse Periodisation by Nick Grantham looks at the opposite of the popular periodisation method of training established by Tudor Bompa and popularized to triathletes and cyclists by Joe Friel.
This is quite interesting when you look at the people dominating ultra-distance running events: Anna Frost, Kilian Jornet and indeed many of the other runners who are winning have come from shorter, faster, more intense skyrunning type races. Looking at it from a larger picture than a macrocycle (i.e. over the years), these people began their careers running fast and intense, and are now brining that speed to longer distances.
I wonder what their training would be like during a macro or meso-cycle.
Tired and about to hit the gym, looking to Sir Chris Hoy for motivation! (631 kg leg press for 5 reps.)
An different take on Endurance from some writers at T-Nation. If you are not familiar with that site, beware: its +/- a bodybuilding site and many of the endurance folks I know abhor the gym (tho their loss, imo!). Anyways, here they are performing what could be described as a kettlebell swinging stage race: attempting 10,000 swings in one week with a kettle bell. It highlights the participants high capacity for work. Oftentimes in long runs and similar we can dial down the intensity by running more slowly or hiking. When you are swinging a kettle bell that option doesn’t really exist, apart from rest between swings.
This is an interesting experiment as the participants tried some different things like breathing ladders, high rep sets and other tricks to get thru the mental toughness required to accomplish the task. Then there is the post work data, including fat loss, muscle gain and a look at lactate buffering capacity.
Apart from wishing I had the same physical capacity as these folks to do this kind of work, the following bit resonated with my recent ultra running experiences:
“But it passes. I was as stunned as anyone, but if you just keep going, you shake it off and enter this wonderful land where you feel indestructible. That’s not quite right, because you still feel horrible in a way – and your markers of stress will almost certainly reflect it – but it’s like you learn to ignore it.
Head on over and read Ten Thousand Swings to Fat Loss.
Produced by Cycle sport in August of 2011, this weekend long read was written by Lionel Birnie who was embedded with Team Sky during the 2011 Criterium Dauphine, won by team Sky racer Bradley Wiggins. Interesting, given how news recently broke about Mr. Wiggins, currently leading the 2012 TdF, canceling a similar setup with journalist Paul Kimmage during the 2010 TdF, among other bits.
Anyways, it provides a look into life on the road during one of the more important smaller stage races, and also into Bradley Wiggins:
To the uninitiated, the screen shows a jumble of charts and numbers but the Training Peaks software plots every effort Wiggins has made on a bicycle this year. “We really didn’t have much of a picture of Brad as an athlete,” he says. “The first job was to build up an accurate picture and then tailor his training to the demands of the event.” Every time Wiggins has ridden his bike this year, whether on the road or the turbo, in a race or training, he has recorded his power output. Kerrison, who previously led the revolution in Australian swimming, has analysed it all and knows to the watt how much work Wiggins has done.
This bit was surprising, they bring their own mattresses!
Cookson’s role on the team is broad. He helps lug the riders’ mattresses from hotel to hotel.
“People joke about it, but having a good night’s sleep is one of the most important parts of recovery,” he says. “It also helps minimise the risk of allergies.”
Read the full story: All aboard the magic bus | Cycle Sport.
So we here at Endure.it really like Rickey Gates’ writing style. This time we’re linking up a fun weekend read that he wrote for the December 2011 issue of Trail Running magazine. In it he relates some stories about Kilian, running with Kilian and a little origin information from the Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet.
Some interesting bits:
“I discovered that there is much to be gained through suffering and struggle,” he recalls of his early training missions; pretty heavy thoughts for a 12-year-old.
In July 2007 I met 18-year-old Kilian at a team relay race in the Italian Alps where his three-person team entrusted him with the longest and most technical leg of the course. “Il Bambino,” as the locals were calling him, was everything one would expect from a teenager—quiet and awkward with a smattering of pimples across his face. Everything, except that he arrived 30 minutes ahead of the next competitor.
Chief technical clothing designer for Salomon, Serge Chapuis, says of Kilian “he is an athlete who knows the human body perfectly. He’s intimately aware of the body’s potential and adept at translating needs into actual equipment.”
As we begin the descent down to the American River I begin to think that I’m hearing humming. Then whistling. Only then do I realize that it is coming from Kilian. Whistling!
And my favorite line:
He puts his earphones in and we watch Bragg pull away. We never did too much talkin’ anyway.
Head on over and read Just Kilian, by Rickey Gates.
As a bonus, this is the video alluded to in the beginng of the article:
Its July, so the Tour de France is on. The Tour is always near the top of those “Top XX sporting events” lists, but the qualitative nature of those lists never tells the whole story.
Here’s a training data nerd’s eye view of the Tour de France by Joe Friel. The second paragraph is a bit heavy on jargon, but this is hard science on proper data from a guy who knows what he’s talking about. Check out how Joe quantifies how hard the Tour de France is.
I saw that tweet over the weekend and it reminded me of a two part series on marathon training written by Gordo Byrn:
- Marathon Training In The Real World
- Marathon Training In The Real World – Part II
Gordo starts by looking at the average results for all marathons in the US in 2005 and finds that:
…the results didn’t surprise me, but they might surprise you. Average male finish time was about 4.5 hours, with the ladies just over 5.0 hours. That is for stand-alone marathons — not running after 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of running.
He then breaks out the simple limiters for people who are running at those speeds and goes on to suggest what they need to do in order to get faster. And that almost brings us around to the tweet at the start of the post: do the simple things first, and then as the tweet says, do them better. With all of the noise out there we can get caught up trying new training tricks and shortcuts, when really we just need to get to work, doing the simple things and doing them well.
2012 will mark the 4th year that racers converge on Loja, Andalucia, Spain for a 5 day running stage race known as the Al Andalus Ultimate Trail. The race is a semi-supported event where participants run each day from a start location to a finish location, where they spend the evening and then start the next day. Apart from the first stage, where you start from the host hotel in Loja, the racers spend the night in campsites dotted around the mountains located to the south of Loja.
The race distance has varied through the years, and in 2012 runs 230 kms with a long day on the 4th stage of 70 kilometers. Doing the math that leaves an average of 40km per day for the other 4 days, almost a marathon per day. With the elevation gains and drops, think of it as 4 marathons and one ultramarathon, rolled into 5 consecutive days. Oh and it gets hot. On the long day in 2011 as I rolled into the second-to-last checkpoint I saw 50 Celsius on the sign of a nearby pharmacy (the checkpoint was in a village).
As the race is semi-supported your race kit bag is carried for you from start line to finish line, meaning during the stage you only need to worry about your calories for the stage. Stage finishes are camping areas near to villages, so the protocol on finishing a stage is:
- arrive, start recovery and find your gear and tent (all set up for you).
- shower (massage optional) and clean your gear.
- eat any freeze dried meal you brought along (stages finish about 14:00 and bars/restaurants don’t serve dinner until 20:00).
- rest, swim (there are often rivers or pools nearby) chat with other racers or hit a bar in the closest village for snacks etc.
- at 20:00 head into the closest village (walking distance) for dinner.
The stages are quite challenging and the heat and hills punishing. Check out the website and don’t miss the galleries in the past editions (2011, 2010, 2009).
For further reading, check out these two race reports:
- A Triumph For Team GB at the 2011 Al Andalus Ultra Trail (AAUT).
- Al Andalus Ultra Trail 09 – by Colm McCoy
Written by Dr. Jeff Shilt, this article is one that I find myself having to refer to when making training plans. It is an invaluable look into biomechanical fitness (BF) and something easily overlooked as our cardiovascular recovery outpaces BF recovery:
Biomechanical fitness is the ability of your musculoskeletal system (bones, tendons, muscles) to withstand the demands of increased training load and stress.
Given that definition, it follows that if you can maintain your musculoskeletal system (MS) healthy that’s one less thing keeping you from putting in the miles. The article contrasts the recovery times of our cardiovascular system to the MS and also looks at the recovery times of the different aspects of the MS. Jeff covers the details in this short article and ends with the following:
In summary, I believe that training below the limits of your musculoskeletal system, rather than your cardiovascular system, will lead to fewer overuse injuries. So, what should the initial training load be? The answer to that question isn’t a simple one. The rate at which your musculoskeletal system can safely adapt to change is highly variable and is dependent up your age, sex, nutritional status, years in the sport, individual limiters, and age in which you begin training for the sport. But, assuming the limiting factor is your musculoskeletal system, the approach should be long-term and allow your tissues time to remodel.
Read Biomechanical Fitness at Endurance Corner.
A really great race report from Timothy Olson who crushed the Western States record during this run. He shares ups, downs, humor and the raw feelings you have when runnning long. Great stuff!
I found myself going total animal style; grunting, growling, and blowing steam from my nose. I love the intensity of losing yourself in the trail. I focused on each step and every breath even if they were a little worn. I arrived at the point in the race that I live for, the simple moments when you’ve reached down to your core and all you can do is keep running. I dreamt of this happening for months, all day waiting for the heart to take over. My legs did everything they could; it was now time to see what I’m made of.
Somewhere in the next few miles, I looked back to ask my pacer how he was doing, but he wasn’t there? I knew he fell a couple times earlier and was having some stomach issues. I was sorry to have lost him out there, but it also gave me encouragement. I figured if I can drop my pacer, the others couldn’t be gaining on me much. We were really going hard and I hope they find him out there someday.
Life to the Utmost: Timothy Olson’s 2012 Western States 100 Race Report.
Geoff Roes’ 2012 Iditarod Trail Invitational (350-miles) Race Report covers the champion ultra runner’s participation in something that is deemed a race, borders on expedition and is worthy of the word epic.
350 miles, Alaska winter, on foot. There’s not much more to add; head on over and read the excellent report and if you want more, don’t miss the links to his self shot videos, one of which is included below.
As I post this I’m suffering the results of yesterday’s physio session, one that targeted my hips, iliotibial band, external calve muscle and other bits. Part of the rehab is opening my hips and strengthening, so this recent news is welcome:
The results presented at the meeting suggest a new approach to dealing with iliotibial band pain. While traditional rehab has focused on lengthening and loosening the stubborn band, early results from a study by the University of Calgary’s Running Injury Clinic show that strengthening the hip muscles may be more effective – not only for rehab, but for preventing the injury in the first place.
Read the full article. (Via @sweatscience)
Suffering is one thing; knowing how to suffer is quite another. You look at the dizzying peaks and say to yourself: What? Up there? Mad notion… and the experience of the hardest most exhilarating cycling you can ever accomplish is on you. The great gauntlet on two wheels, the triumph of inner resolve over disbelief.
There’s nothing for me to add to this; head on over and read Glory Through Suffering over on Rapha.cc.
There is always someone out there doing more than you. Here is a piece by Dan Harm following what he describes as “the best winter of training I have ever had”. Dan was definitely doing more than me during the winter of 2011-2012. So what was that winter made up of?
In conjunction with a newly acquired attitude this winter, I also implemented certain objective changes to my training regimen. Below are descriptions of the substantial modifications I believe will pay off the most in the long run:
- No junk base miles
- Hanging upside down
- Gym Jones
The post is long, its inspirational, and it is a window into a world that I have seen a few times, usually when I get a glimpse into the lives of people who can go long and do it fast and well. Read it with the knowledge that few people do this kind of work, but I’d wager that those who do are not MOPers.
If you do like it, don’t miss the prelude to this post, You’re a Week. I’m a Machine.. It has a photo of an ice bath the way they should be done!
Kilian Jornet knows endurance. He has published a translated chapter of his not-yet-released-in-English book, Correr o Morir (Run or Die).
When the book first came out in Spanish I had wondered about the title, finding it a little dramatic and unsure of the reasons why. He seems like such an easy-going guy in the many videos and interviews of him online.
But then you read the manifesto on the blog post and chapter one of his book that follows it. It is clear that the mental focus and dedication is there. Everything is stripped to the essential requirements for the task, nothing more:
I lived in an eighteen-square-metre studio flat in the Grand Hotel in Font-romeu. I shared it with a friend, though there were usually also five or six other people sleeping on the floor…. we usually made a pot of pasta with tomato sauce, which we warmed up when we came back from training, when our strength was failing, before going on again until, once more, we began to weaken. The thing was to take in as many calories as possible so as to be able to keep going for as long as we could endure. Facing the bunk beds, on a chair, was a small television set which always played the same DVD: La tecnica dei campioni, featuring footage and technical analyses of the greatest mountain skiers of the time. Before training, a video session helped to motivate us to give our all as we attempted to imitate the skiing style of Stéphane Brosse and the way Guido Giacomelli used his ski poles. Our clothes were piled on the floor, under the window, in two heaps.
On he goes to discuss the extreme focus on a life pointed at training and competing.
I have seen this type of focus in the writings of climbers like Mark Twight, people who, because of their sport, can find themselves in kiss or die situations. Seeing it in a champion like Kilian who competes in a sport where death isn’t the literal outcome of failure but the figurative outcome is a window into the mental attitude and hard self assessment required to reach a high level.
Kiss the glory or die trying. Losing is death, winning means breathing. The struggle is what makes a victory, a winner.
Pro riders Ted King and Tim Johnson decided to ride the 216 miles of highway 100 in Vermont. A local amateur rider by the name of Ryan Kelly decided to go along. There was rain, suffering, a few wrong turns and by the end Ryan was pretty crushed. We’ve all reached a little too far at some point, here you can watch it happen to someone else!
I’m a sucker for hard-man endurance literature. You know, the kind common to cycling stories where you read about suffering, pain and interminable climbs up mad slopes by men whose veins flow with otherworldly materiel.
Ricky Gates has some stories to tell and On a Shoestring is one of my favorites, in most part because it opened my eyes to what a hard core mountain runner life is like.
For the first time in my life, I’m wishing for a louder accordion because, according to the Doppler effect, a louder accordion could only mean closer proximity. Three hundred vertical feet to go. Looking back down the rocky slope, I can see the Pole in second place, only a few hundred feet back. A jolt of adrenaline hits me and for a moment I forget the accordion. I forget the 30-percent incline. I forget about trying to understand what the spectators are yelling. I forget where I am, what month it is, what shoes I’m wearing and who I should be missing, so far away from home.
Head on over and read On a Shoestring, by Rickey Gates.
If you happen to pay attention to the technical side of endurance training, there is a useful measuring stick that can be used for determining your state of endurance: decoupling.
In 2011 I wrote a comprehensive piece about it as I was training for a running stage race. If you want a tool to evaluate your performance on your longer runs, head on over and read about using decoupling with running. Don’t miss the extra links at the end of the article.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to going long – lots of theories, but when you do the work and see the results, you learn the truth. Here, Mark Twight shares his experiences on building, losing, and re-building endurance.
One or two queries have insisted – as I once did – that combining predominantly short-duration, high-intensity work (circuits and gym stuff) with an over-distance effort once every 10-14 days, and a couple of medium-distance time trial type efforts is "very effective" and that great endurance may be developed.
Read There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
If you have ever run with a bottle in your hand – a.k.a. hand bottles – you may have noticed that the liquid gets quite warm. Well, there is a story to that. You have to go back to IronMan Hawaii 2007 for a clue. Torbjørn Sindballe wore a type of ice glove on his hand, because it was found that this worked as a very effective cooling method. The idea of cooling from the hands went high tech with the US military, and the solutions that are coming out of Stanford may not suit long distance endurance athletes well, but there is two step low tech solution:
- Get ice at aid stations – store a few cubes in your hat.
- Hold a cube in one or each hand while running.
There’s not much more to it than that. Well, not much more (from Just Cool It):
Mammals have specialized blood vessels in their palms and other hairless skin surfaces—ears, nose, cheeks and soles of the feet—that are designed to dissipate heat. (These radiator-like structures—venous plexuses and arteriovenous anastomoses—were described as early as 1858 in Gray’s Anatomy.) By redirecting blood away from the capillaries and into these blood vessels, the body can shed heat quickly.
So a few things to consider when running in the heat:
- Don’t close your fists, run so that the wind can at least cool your palms.
- Don’t carry stuff in your hands.
- Try and get some ice in your hands.
I’ve actually tried this at length during 2011 while training and then racing Al Andalus. All of this was undertaken in Spain, with temps from 35-50 degrees Celsius. Most of the time when I managed to get some ice I saw an almost immediate (within a minute or two) decrease in my heart rate. This is purely anecdotal, but supporting science is out there. So the next time you run with hand bottles to ensure you are hydrated, remember that it probably comes at the cost of cooling.
Every once in a while I need to re-read this article for the following bit, as I simply find it hard to believe:
After a few weeks of the HGH, I began to notice subtle changes. My skin started getting… better. Sun blotches that I’d had on my arms for a year faded away. One morning I woke up and a scar on my forehead—which I’d gotten from a mountain-bike endo two years earlier—was more or less gone. Even though I was training like a madman, I looked more rested. Younger. A little fresher.
Then I started to realize that my eyesight really was improving. I’d been thinking about getting glasses to read fine print on maps, but now there was no need. The glasses I used for night driving stayed in the glove compartment, unused, unnecessary.
“DRUG TEST“ follows Stuart Stevens’ foray in to the world of doping, and how he prepared for the 2002 Paris-Brest-Paris Randonee. An interesting story filled with lots of doping-in-sport history.
Two sources of information from the man Chrissie Wellington and Haile Gebrselassie turn to for nutrition advice, Asker Jeukendrup. There is a lot of useful information in these, but I would wager that a large percentage of folks would do well with just the two following points:
- You can get down 90grams of CHO per hour, but 30 of that needs to fructose and the other 60 glucose or maltodextrin. The trick is that the two sources use different pathways out of the gut. 4 calories/gram of glucose + 3 calories per gram for fructose means 33o calories per hour. Very important when Asker points out that they found a liner relationship between calories consumed (and kept down) and performance.
- You can train your gut to uptake more calories per hour. (I can get 400/hour with maltodextrin + fructose in a homemade gel.)
Read all about it at Training the Gut, and then listen to this podcast.
So many ultra-running folks I know use nuts, dates and almonds for fuel, I would be curious to see where Asker’s advice stands when mixing in these fatty foods.